Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

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Weekend Links

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* CFP: Midwest Modern Language Association 2013 on Art & Artifice, November 7-10. Right here in Milwaukee!

* A disturbing catch from the MetaFilter thread on MOOCs: Obama has quietly decoupled Pell grants from accreditation, opening the door for full-throated neoliberal profiteering.

Last year, similar language tying federal aid to “value” was explicitly limited to a group of relatively minor aid programs. The Pell grant and loan programs that make up $140 billion in annual aid were excluded. No such restrictions appear here (although the President did refer to only “certain types” of aid in the speech itself.) But the real kicker is at the end: a new, alternative system of accreditation that would provide pathways for higher education models and colleges to receive federal student aid based on performance and results.

The existing accreditation club has been around since the end of the 19th century. It has had an exclusive franchise on determining federal financial aid eligibility since the middle of the 20th century. Opening a new doorway to the Title IV financial aid system would be an enormouschange, particularly when coupled with the phrase “higher education models and colleges.” The clear implication is that the higher education models that would eligible for federal financial aid through the alternate accreditation system wouldn’t have to be colleges at all. They could be any providers of higher education that meet standards of “performance and results.”

MOOCiversity, ho!

Think about it: When was the last time a college or university president produced an edgy piece of commentary, or took a daring stand on a contentious matter? 

* Disaster capitalism, Chicago style.

There aren’t any hurricanes in the Midwest, so how can proponents of privatization like Mayor Rahm Emanuel sell off schools to the highest bidder?

They create a crisis.

The Drone Industry Wants a Makeover. Dissent on drones.

* Malcolm Harris explains yellowism.

* The delightfully named Ben Kafka explains bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy, Kafka argues, can be everybody’s enemy, and can thus serve as the organizing principle for otherwise untenable alliances, like the one between eighteenth-century liberals and democrats, or between some contemporary working-class voters and the neoliberal elites they vote for. Sowing contempt for bureaucracy, in the form of lambasting all government efforts as inherently inefficient, full of “lazy” and “parasitical” civil servants and their “bloated” pensions, remains a potent tactic of right-wing populism, but whereas conservatives of old evoked a nostalgic class paternalism to cure paperwork’s ills, the American Right offers a myth of self-sufficiency, of everyone for themselves, with no claims to be filed and no burdens to be shared. Bureaucracy, on the other hand, comes to stand for the inevitable outcome of all types of collective power, the emblem of neutered individualism. And since paperwork is an evil that proliferates no matter what the form of government, it can seem irrelevant to mount any political fights to reform it. Politics is thus reduced to the pettiness of sorting out strictly personal grievances, which in turn worsens bureaucracy, as these sorts of selfish claims are precisely what bureaucracy exists to process.

* Duke professor proposes that students be required to produce a video summary of the dissertation. I actually think this kind of distillation can be really useful and productive — someone once told me you know you’re done with your dissertation when you can summarize its argument in one sentence — but making it an actual requirement is silly.

North Carolina is the only state that will clearly mark all people who are not U.S. citizens – everyone from business executives with “green cards” to students on visas – with a newly designed driver’s license coming this summer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislation in all the states. History contains absolutely no examples of times when this kind of thinking has ever gone wrong, so I’m sure it’s a really good idea.

In other words, in the midst of a major national debate over America’s finances, 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% — 6%! — are correct.

A cottage at 71/2 West End Court in Long Branch where one-time renter Bruce Springsteen wrote “Born to Run” is up for sale for $349,900, said real estate agent Susan McLaughlin of Keller Williams Realty. Anyone want to go halfsies?

World Press Photo Of The Year: Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories: Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by and Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put into intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.

* Even Megan McArdle has stopped believing in meritocracy.

* And io9 on how your favorite cancelled science fiction series would have continued. Start your FlashForward fan fics now…

Tuesday!

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* Great research opportunity for any PhD student studying science fiction, fantasy, horror, and/or utopia: the R.D. Mullen Fellowship. I loved the time I spent in that archive.

* CFP: The cultural impact of Dr. Who, at DePaul University. Saturday, May 4.

* Sarah Jaffe on emotional labor and gendered employment.

On Getting a Ph.D. This is stirring, but all the same my unhappy advice hasn’t really changed since the last time a rebuttal to the just-don’t-go doomsayers was making the rounds.

* Now CUNY is pushing for a five-year Ph.D. I still feel the same way about this, too!

* “Skilled, Cheap, and Desperate”: Non-tenure-track Faculty and the Delusion of Meritocracy.

* …But the most unfortunate part is that not one of the expert-amateurs seems to have given much thought to what MOOCs imply: that teachers are unnecessary. MOOCs don’t use teachers; they have curriculum designers and they have video presenters. Actors are the best for that latter role, seriously.

The latest on Pat McCrory’s war with UNC.

“If you want to take gender studies that’s fine. Go to a private school, and take it,” McCrory said. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”

Again, I’d personally be very surprised if those gender studies classes weren’t paying for themselves and more.

College majors, median earnings, and unemployment.

Yale Suing Former Students Shows Crisis in Loans to Poor.

* Where Girls Do Better Than Boys in Science.

girls-lead-in-science-exam-but-not-in-the-united-states

* The wisdom of the market, in all its glorious efficiency: Confessions of a corporate spy.

* On corporate apology.

* We’re a tour group from the future.

* California’s coming war over fracking.

* Over the last three months wind farms produced more electricity than any other power source in Spain for the first time ever, an industry group has said. To steal a line from Twitter: oh, if only we had wind!

Six media giants control 90% of popular culture.

* Veterans, Ron D. Moore, and Battlestar Galactica: 1, 2. A representative, evocative question:

ES: There’s a particular quote that I’ve seen as signatures in military forums or quoted, and for some reason military members identify it. That’s Tigh’s New Caprica silioquoy: “Which side are we on? We’re on the side of the demons, chief. We’re evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.” Why do you think that quote resonates with veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq in particular?

Parts 3 and 4 coming soon.

* The latest from Randall Munroe’s “What If?”: Will the Internet ever surpass FedEx’s bandwidth? What would happen if you tried to fly a normal Earth airplane above different Solar System bodies? What if I took a swim in a typical spent nuclear fuel pool?

“Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump’s birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an orangutan,” Balber wrote in the letter.

* Personal saint Woody Guthrie’s previously unpublished novel House of Earth is available for purchase.

* Special pleading watch: nearly all of the 600 recess appointments since the Reagan presidency would have been nullified if the hyperformalist interpretation applied to Barack Obama were applied universally.

* We should only work 25 hours a week, argues professor. Sold!

* Some local pride! Milwaukee in top ten list for best urban forests.

* And congrats to our friend Allison Seay for a great review of her new collection To See the Queen. Some excerpts.

Lots of Wednesday Links

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* It’s damn cold in Chicago: water is freezing to the sides of burning buildings.

* The reality of being an adjunct. MOOCs for Credit. Why We Should Talk About the Football Coach’s Salary When Faculty are Let Go. Please consider not doing a PhD.

  • According to this link (which has information I cannot independently verify), the athletic budget for 2011 was $16 million, a 9.2% increase over the previous year. $9 million of that budget came from student fees.
  • The reduction in faculty is expected to save $5.2 million.

* Lynda Barry’s course at the University of Wisconsin. I should be taking this.

Liberal pundits and Republican congressmen agree: Barack Obama’s second inaugural was the most liberal speech of his presidency. They may be right. But just what kind of liberalism is this?

Obama’s speech was a far cry from the message of the modern Republican Party. But much of it would fit snugly in a handbook from Human Relations: Discrimination will not be tolerated. Active citizenship is everyone’s responsibility. Work harder.

Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team – comprised of Airmen, civilians and contractors from every race, creed, background and religion – standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the US arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense. Would he, though? Would he really?

* Cheat to win: Virginia wants to rig the Electoral College too.

In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state…

It’s also worth noting, again, that this constitutes a massive disenfranchisement of African American and other nonwhite voters, who tend to cluster near urban areas. When you couple this with the move on Monday to redraw the state’s electoral maps — eliminating one state senate district and packing black voters into another, diluting their strength — it’s as if Virginia Republicans are responding to Obama’s repeat victory in the state by building an electoral facsimile of Jim Crow.

Brain scans performed on five former NFL players revealed images of the protein that causes football-related brain damage — the first time researchers have identified signs of the crippling disease in living players. The impending death of pro football. See also: Junior Seau’s Family Is Suing The NFL.

There’s a gold rush going on right now. Man is breaking the earth, looking for natural gas — just as we always have. It’s a mad scene, with hucksters on every side of the issue. And that’s just on the surface. You won’t believe what’s happening underground. Thank You for Fracking.

U.S. scientists will retire most research chimps.

House Republican Leader Blames Gun Violence On ‘Welfare Moms.’

* Searching for Star Wars artifacts in the California desert.

* Rejected movie ideas: Age-Reversed Home Alone Reboot.

* Internet argument perfect storm: The woman who hired a hitman to murder her abusive husband.

* Happy Objectify A Man in Tech Day.

* Supreme Court upholds radical notion that the Environmental Protection Agency has the right to protect the environment.

* Loyalty oaths in Arizona high schools.

How it feels to be stalked.

* War machine decides blood is blood: Pentagon Lifts Ban on Women in Combat.

* The LA that never was.

* And from the too-good-to-check file: The Fascinating Business Cards of 20 Famous People.

martin2

President Obama’s Second Inaugural Was Supposed to Sound Something like Lincoln’s

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President Obama’s second inaugural was supposed to sound something like Lincoln’s: the speech of a man tired of war, and eager to move the nation beyond its bloody reach. In truth, it was the speech of a man who has perfected a form of war that can be written off as a kind of peace. He was able to put the pain of war in the past because his efforts to expand painless war have come to fruition. At Esquire, Tom Junod follows up “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama” in light of his second inaugural address.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

Thursday Night

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Any guild with half an ounce of integrity would be marching in the streets if their employers made that kind of threat to open up their market to all comers. We professors, on the other hand, have to navel gaze about the implications of our own obsolescence before anyone chooses to lift a finger. If there really are only ten universities in twenty years and that Ph.D. of yours ends up as a really expensive wall hanging, don’t say you weren’t warned. The professoriate is the worst guild ever.

As with discourse about climate change policy, the persistence of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other forms of argument about the value of officially sanctioned torture represents a victory for those who would justify such abuse. Zero Dark Thirty has performed no public service by enlarging the acceptability of that form of debate. Sounds like it was good enough even-the-liberal Jon Stewart.

After complaining for weeks that the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” erroneously implies that torture yielded key information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a trio of senior senators now want to know whether CIA personnel deliberately misled the filmmakers on that point.

Wanted: Tenure-track professor of political science specializing in constitutional law to teach four courses per semester. Juris doctor degree highly desirable. Occasional weight-lifting required.

* Social Text forum on cruel optimism.

* Hitting Peak Topsoil.

* Obama has aged fifteen years in four.

* Via my friend @DanHF: a celebration of Tarantino’s Death Proof.

* And who had Mali in the places-to-invade-next pool? You’ve won some exciting violence.

And Even More Monday Links

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Friday Night Links, Special ‘Jesus Year’ Edition

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