Posts Tagged ‘We’re screwed’
* The schedule for the final third of my Cultural Preservation course. This has been one of the best teaching experiences I’ve ever had; I’m hoping things go as well next spring when I do it all again.
* Starting out with two strikes with this guy and he hasn’t even found out where I work yet.
* Nietzsche was right: it turns out without forgetting it is quite impossible to live at all.
* Elsewhere in the American nihilism files: NASA study concludes it’s not just you, we really are doomed.
* Meanwhile, we can’t even agree on the incredible, undeniable, world-historical usefulness of vaccines. One map sums up the damage caused by the anti-vaccination movement.
* Surely we’ll start the school day later, when every bit of science backs this up… Oh.
* Don’t be evil: Google’s anti-copyright stance is just a way to devalue content.
* No one could have predicted a completely unregulated peer-to-peer hotel network would lead to bad outcomes. Next up: Hey, Uber, your unregulated taxi was just some random creep’s unsafe car!
* For the true believers: A Brief History of the Quidditch World Cup.
* If we make the world a paradise where everyone is immortal, will we still be able to have all these awesome jails? Aeon Magazine reports.
* As of 2010-2011, the most recent year with available data, recent humanities and liberal arts majors had 9 percent unemployment. That’s right about on par with students in computer and math fields (9.1 percent), psychology and social work (8.8 percent), and the social sciences (10.3 percent). And it’s just a bit above the average across all majors of 7.9 percent. The larger problem, as always, is that there’s still not enough work for young people post-recession.
* Promisingly specific: Projecting ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ in Theaters Requires Special Instructions.
* Game of the Weekend: 2048, an addictive simplification of Threes!, in your browser.
* CFPs for MLA 2015 from the discussion group for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and utopian literature: Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Concept of Culture (guaranteed session) and From Siberia to the Planet Mars (fingers crossed).
* America’s fraternities, and the lawyers who serve them. Great piece.
When pilgrims were landing on Plymouth Rock, you could already visit what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico to stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy Native American silver.
The first wagon train of the Oregon Trail heads out the same year the fax machine is invented.
Nintendo was founded in 1888. Jack the Ripper was on the loose in 1888.
1971: The year in which America drove a lunar buggy on the moon and Switzerland gave women the vote.
NASA’s Gemini program was winding down at the same time as plate tectonics, as we know it today, was becoming refined and accepted by the scientific community.
When the pyramids were being built, there were still woolly mammoths.
The last use of the guillotine was in France the same year Star Wars came out.
Oxford University was over 300 years old when the Aztec Empire was founded.
* President Obama Pens Personal Apology to an Art Historian. Spoiler: it’s a pretty lousy apology!
* The film ‘Back to the Future’ provides the OED’s earliest recorded example of a colloquial sense of ‘hello’, used to imply (sometimes disbelievingly or sarcastically) that the person addressed is not paying attention, has not understood something, or has said something nonsensical or foolish. – See more at: http://oupacademic.tumblr.com/post/52859022183/the-film-back-to-the-future-provides-the-oeds#sthash.3jb8w2Nr.EuYbel9A.dpuf
* Making the rounds again: Kurt Vonnegut Diagrams the Shape of All Stories in a Master’s Thesis Rejected by U. Chicago.
* In Louisiana, which offers some of the most lucrative tax giveaways to Hollywood, the Legislative Auditor’s Office reported that the subsidies cost the state $170 million in lost tax revenue in a single year. By one estimate, the state is handing $70,000 per episode to the cast of Duck Dynasty – all while pleading poverty to justify deep cuts to public health care programs and to retirement benefits for police officers, firefighters and teachers.
* About a dozen faculty members and 30 students at St. Mary’s College, a public school in Maryland, have proposed a plan to limit the salary of the highest-paid employee to 10 times that of the lowest-paid employee.
* [grabs popcorn] Emails Suggest Scott Walker Knew Of Illegal Campaign Coordination.
* Wednesday’s proposed reforms efforts — reached in negotiations between the civil liberties group and the state DOCCS — entail an end to the solitary confinement of prisoners under 18-years-old, pregnant women and prisoners with developmental disabilities. You mean to tell me they were using solitary confinement on — what? What?
* Missouri Likely To Drop Its Lifetime Food Stamps Ban For Drug Convicts. You mean to tell me they were — really?
* Cop Allegedly Shot And Killed Teenage Boy After Mistaking His Wii Controller For A Gun. “Allegedly” doing a whole lot of work in that sentence given that plain facts of the matter on which everyone agrees.
* Twitter lost $645 million last year, almost as much as its total revenue.
* The Pentagon’s whitewashed history of the Vietnam War provokes troubling questions about how the invasion of Iraq will one day be remembered.
* What would Lovelock do now, I ask, if he were me? He smiles and says: “Enjoy life while you can. Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.” Have a good weekend, everyone!
* Link of the year: Teju Cole Wrote a Short Story on Twitter by Retweeting Others.
* The state of exception: Court Upholds Willy-Nilly Gadget Searches Along U.S. Border.
* Can J.P. Morgan really go 2 years without breaking the law? I’ll take the under.
* Notre Dame’s Moral Dilemma Over Birth Control. John Dear, Jesuit known for peace witness, dismissed from order. And from the archives: An Oklahoma high school suspended a 15-year-old student after accusing her of casting a magic spell that caused a teacher to become sick, lawyers for the student said on Friday.
* Dallas shock: It turns out a cop can get fired for something.
* Bad for the brand: Ex-Gitmo Detainee, Released by Bush, Is Suspected in Benghazi Attack.
* The New Inquiry’s issue on “Bloodsport” is unusually great.
* Nature Bombshell: Observations Point To 10°F Warming by 2100. This is why I think geoengineering is inevitable, for better or for worse.
* And congratulations Milwaukee, the 10th worst-run city in the US.
But what was truly fascinating about that phone call was that if it was trolling the Bad Fan, it was also trolling me: the sort of feminist-minded sucker who took the speech at face value, for nearly an hour, until I suddenly realized, in a flash of clarity, that it was a fake-out for the police. (Skyler realized long before I did.) Once my analytical skills flared back into being, I was stunned by the moment’s effectiveness. I mean, on one level, that speech was just what it looked like: Walt venting every toxic feeling he’d ever had about his wife. On another level, it was the opposite: it was Walt pretending to be an abusive husband, as a gift to Skyler. It was an apology to her, as well as an attempt to get her off the hook legally, to honor Holly saying “Mama.” Walt’s language was pretty much a PowerPoint presentation of abuser behavior, designed to make Skyler’s case in court proceedings. And yet it still had the sting of catharsis, letting Walt say what he felt: that Skyler is a whiner, a nag, a drag, responsible for anything that happened to her…
* Blattman, who is known for his frank approach to decoding college and graduate school for students on his blog (he once wrote a “how-to” post on e-mailing professors), outlines protocol for would-be advisees in a new post called “If you want to be my student.” Described as “advice on how to manage [me],” it links to a page on Blattman’s website for Ph.D. students.
* David Souter: Fund the humanities or face national extinction.
* And the CDC officially wants you to be terrified: “We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era.”
* “It’s like somebody opened a drain on most of the economic progress made by black families in the last 30 years,” said Mishel. “That’s three decades down the drain.”
* This is what the worship of death looks like. bell hooks (from 2001) explains George Zimmerman.
* Ian Bogost has a great piece on MOOCs in an otherwise totally skippable LARoB feature on the subject.
MOOCs are a financial policy for higher education. They exemplify what Naomi Klein has called “disaster capitalism”: policy guilefully initiated in the wake of upheaval. The need to teach more students with fewer resources is a complex situation. It’s partly caused by hubris, especially the blind search for higher institutional status through research programs, and it’s exacerbated by the tax base crises of the ongoing and seemingly permanent Great Recession. MOOCs offer the next logical step in this process of “cost containment.” But those who would call current funding models “unviable” and offer MOOCs as a convenient alternative fail to admit that the very need for an alternative presumes that we want to abandon public education in favor of a corporate-owned infrastructure in the first place.
MOOCs are an academic labor policy. As a consequence of the financial policy just described, MOOCs are amplifying the precarity long experienced by adjuncts and graduate student assistants, and helping to extend that precarity to the professoriate. MOOCs encourage an ad-hoc “freelancing” work regime among tenured faculty, many of whom will find the financial incentives for MOOC creation and deployment difficult to resist. This is particularly true of public institution faculty who have gone years without raises. Many institutions offer tens of thousands of dollars of direct compensation for MOOC development and teaching. And, in some cases, MOOCs offer direct access to student tuition and direct competition among faculty for those new resources, extending the “entrepreneurial” institutional politics of professional schools (and corporate life more generally) to all disciplines.
MOOCs are speculative financial instruments. The purpose of an educational institution is to educate, but the purpose of a startup is to convert itself into a financial instrument.The two major MOOC providers, Udacity and Coursera, are venture capital-funded startups, and therefore they are beholden to high leverage, rapid growth with an interest in a fast flip to a larger technology company or the financial market. The concepts of “disruption” and “innovation,” so commonly applied to MOOCs, come from the world of business. As for EdX, the MOOC consortium started by Harvard and MIT, it’s a non-profit operating under the logic of speculation rather than as a public service. If anything, it will help the for-profits succeed even more by evangelizing their vision as compatible with elite non-profit educational ideals.
* It is telling that elite professors and universities who design MOOCs aren’t using them for their own students. Those of us who value education and its role in fostering both literacy and democracy should pass on them too.
* Patton Oswalt: A Closed Letter to Myself about Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes.
* Sarah Kendzior vs. the prestige economy. Good interview.
* The investigation was ongoing, but Undersheriff James Szczesniak said there was no evidence yet that Martino “had any ill intent.” There could be a dozen perfectly legitimate reasons why he’d have 30 to 40 pipe bombs in his apartment.
* What’s more important: a college degree or being born rich? The answer will totally not surprise you!
“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a Columbia University earth scientist.
From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages, to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.
For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.
* Rather than enlarge the moral imagination and critical capacities of students, too many universities are now wedded to producing would-be hedge fund managers, depoliticized students, and creating modes of education that promote a “technically trained docility.” Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities are now driven principally by vocational, military and economic considerations while increasingly removing academic knowledge production from democratic values and projects. The ideal of the university as a place to think, to engage in thoughtful consideration, promote dialogue and learn how to hold power accountable is viewed as a threat to neoliberal modes of governance. At the same time, higher education is viewed by the apostles of market fundamentalism as a space for producing profits, educating a docile labor force, and a powerful institution for indoctrinating students into accepting the obedience demanded by the corporate order. Neoliberalism and the Politics of Higher Education: An Interview With Henry A. Giroux.
* “We believe the current (higher education) leadership is pursuing a bad model that will decrease affordability for students and parents, eliminate good jobs, increase inequality and reintroduce a class-based system where the rich will receive a good, four-year liberal arts education, and everyone else will get trained for jobs that will last 10 years and then disappear.” The SEIU considers higher education.
This has been the one constant in my experience. Each of the ten academic years I’ve been at my current institution has been subjected to some fundamental reorganization, to the point where my colleagues have a joke about it: it’s a Mao-esque permanent revolution. In this time, my department has been based in two faculties under four (soon to be five) deans, housed in three (soon to be four) “schools”, with four different heads of school, and my department has had five chairs. The university writ large has seen a massive building program, the consolidation of branch campuses on the main campus, the reduction in faculties from eight, to five, and then a year later four. Physically, my department has moved offices twice in two years, and for some three times. We’re facing yet another physical move in the summer of 2014, as our extant offices are redeveloped into on-campus housing for students. My own major has been reduced to a minor twice; once in 2005, for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious but corresponded with the sacking of two colleagues. Following the byzantine process of validation, which I’ve now achieved a certain proficiency at, it relaunched three years later, only to have it suddenly pulled on that Saturday morning, three years ago.
* Disinvestment watch: State Budgeters’ View of Higher Ed.
* 72 percent of professors who have taught Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) don’t believe that students should get official college credit, even if they did well in the class. More importantly, these are the professors who voluntarily took time to teach online courses, which means the actual number of professors who discount the quality of MOOCs is probably much (much) higher.
* Walmart “is in the early planning stages of a service that would see in-store customers rent space in their vehicles and their time to the mega-retailer to deliver products it sells online. The move would combat same-day delivery ideas from Amazon and reportedly what’s in the works with Google, which might have already signed on Target for such a service.”
* Idaho teacher investigated for saying ‘vagina’ during biology lesson. What should she have said?
* The group of 12 young people who had their feet washed and kissed by the pope included two young women – the first time a pope included females in the rite. The ceremony has traditionally been limited to men, since all of Jesus’ apostles were men. Via TPM, that “has traditionally been limited” thing appears to have some real force.
* With natural gas production on the rise—it has jumped 26 percent since 2007, chiefly because fracking now makes it economically viable to pursue gas trapped in shale deposits—and unconventional practices such as dewatering ramping up domestic oil development, the wastewater deluge is expected to get worse. Operators are injecting more water than ever into drilling wells, while boring new wells to accommodate the overflow. Yet nobody really knows how all this water will impact faults, or just how big an earthquake it could spawn. In the West, small quakes don’t often cause much damage because of stricter seismic regulations but also because the underground formations—buckled, with younger rock—absorb all but the biggest events. Induced quakes, however, are happening primarily in flatter states, amid more rigid rock, making them more destructive—a stone makes a bigger splash when it’s hurled into a glassy pond than a river of raging whitewater. Fracking’s Latest Scandal? Earthquake Swarms.
* Things you didn’t even know you needed to worry about: Are Exploding Manhole Covers In Washington DC Caused By Shocking Levels Of Leaking Natural Gas?
The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé.
The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century.
* Contagion was right: How The Meat Industry Is Fueling The Rise Of Drug-Resistant Diseases.