Posts Tagged ‘We’re screwed’
“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.
* I saw this movie: Brains of rats connected allowing them to share information via internet.
* Beyond the MOOC: While other universities move quickly to offer courses online for free, Carnegie Mellon University is instead starting for-profit efforts designed to capture segments of the education market. I’ll promote this a bit more as the date gets closer, but I’ll be speaking at a “What’s the Matter with MOOCs?” event at UWM in mid-March.
* Justice, American style: The city’s complaint in federal court claims that if Ms. Truong is entitled to damages for the nearly three years she spent in jail awaiting trial, then Mr. Ryan is as much to blame as the city because he took too long to get the coerced confession tossed out of court by the judge.
* Will a Republican friend-of-the-court brief tip the Supreme Court in favor of gay marriage? I’m pretty sure it’ll have more luck than Obama’s.
* These numbers are unprecedented: by 2014 President Obama will have deported over 2 million people – more in six years than all people deported before 1997. That “before 1997″ actually means since 1892.
“We need union jobs today, not tomorrow,” said Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “The resolution balances our desire to protect the fragile ecosystem of the earth, while acknowledging the economic benefits of a high-road strategy to develop the doomsday technologies of the future.”
* Never forget: The entire staff of the West Wing died on Voyager.
The social events of the 1948 holiday season had to be canceled. And with good reason: Experts called the third floor of the White House “an outstanding example of a firetrap.” The result of a federally commissioned report found the mansion’s plumbing “makeshift and unsanitary,” while “the structural deterioration [was] in ‘appalling degree,’ and threatening complete collapse.” The congressional commission on the matter was considering the option of abandoning the structure altogether in favor of a built-from-scratch mansion, but President Truman lobbied for the restoration.
* And American history, Breitbart style: Journalists on the campaign trail saw Johnson drunkenly board a plane armed with nuclear weapons and then accidentally drop them on the United States. We all saw it!
* Bernard Pollard doesn’t think the NFL will exist in 30 years… because it’s just becoming too darn safe.
* Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees from a public university system. Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity. No classroom time is required under the Wisconsin program except for clinical or practicum work for certain degrees.
* Also in local news: Milwaukee sheriff says the police won’t protect you, so get a gun.
* And with each new technology, the same hyperbole, the same evangelism. On-line education is great. MOOC is a wonderful concept. But most of the institutions in the world that are over 400 years old are universities and there is a reason for that. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the impending demise of the traditional university may be much exaggerated.
My baby’s selfish decision to start vomiting ruined my plans to finally see The Hobbit. So instead I’ll clear some tabs:
* If you want a vision of the future, imagine me and @adamkotsko arguing about revenge in Tarantino, forever.
* Meritocracy watch, from the archives: In both data sets, Krueger and Dale, like other researchers, find that students who attended more selective colleges tend to earn higher salaries later on than those who attend less selective colleges. However, the researchers not only looked at the schools that students attended but also where they were accepted and rejected. They found that where a student applies is a more powerful predictor of future earnings success than where he or she attends.
* Thomas Frank blames academia for Occupy’s failures. Now the lead editorial of the next Jacobin is devoted to denouncing Frank.
* FBI Considered It’s A Wonderful Life Communist Propaganda. Don’t ever change, you lovable scamps!
* Could a captive tornado power an entire city? What could possibly go wrong?
9) Americans have decided they want catastrophe. There is NO significant force in US society pushing against having a disaster.
10) The US is trying to become a petro-state through fracking. It won’t help most Americans, and it will do massive environmental damage. It will also accelerate global warming. Yes, Obama is better on global warming than Republicans, but he’s not enough better to matter, he is, in fact, making it worse. Your grandchildren will ritually curse your very names.
* ‘Armed Militia’ of Soldiers Plotted to Take Over Army Base, Assassinate Obama. We’re just going full-bore dystopia all the time I guess.
It’s worse to imagine a world with Obama getting a second term than it is to imagine a world without pizza. Because with Obama in a second term, there will be no pizza. For anyone.
* I found out today with great sadness that Congress has killed the Jacob Javits Fellowship. That thing paid for my MFA. It was a great program.
* There are many ways to destroy a person, but the simplest and most devastating might be solitary confinement. Deprived of meaningful human contact, otherwise healthy prisoners often come unhinged. They experience intense anxiety, paranoia, depression, memory loss, hallucinations and other perceptual distortions. Psychiatrists call this cluster of symptoms SHU syndrome, named after the Security Housing Units of many supermax prisons. Prisoners have more direct ways of naming their experience. They call it “living death,” the “gray box,” or “living in a black hole.”
* The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.
* Stat of the day: There are three times as many gun dealers as grocery stores in America.
* College Humor, against malaria. I thought Ellie Kemper, Tony Hale, and Rhys Darby alone were worth it.
* Vera Farmiga set to play Norman Bates’ infamous mother in A&E’s Psycho prequel series. We had some fun with this on Twitter earlier today, as this Storify may attest. And here’s one that was Facebook only: Before “North by Northwest” there was “Where’s my compass?”
* Who’s ruining Justice League this week? The Wachowskis.
* Put this one on humanity’s tombstone: But where the United Nations envisioned environmental reform, some manufacturers of gases used in air-conditioning and refrigeration saw a lucrative business opportunity.
They quickly figured out that they could earn one carbon credit by eliminating one ton of carbon dioxide, but could earn more than 11,000 credits by simply destroying a ton of an obscure waste gas normally released in the manufacturing of a widely used coolant gas. That is because that byproduct has a huge global warming effect. The credits could be sold on international markets, earning tens of millions of dollars a year.
That incentive has driven plants in the developing world not only to increase production of the coolant gas but also to keep it high — a huge problem because the coolant itself contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer. That coolant gas is being phased out under a global treaty, but the effort has been a struggle.
* College debt and the upper middle class. Well, that’s almost everyone; can we act now?
* “Over the course of fifty episodes, Breaking Bad has turned its fans into some of the worst people on the internet.” This is certainly true with respect to discussions of Skylar, as the piece notes. As my totally 100% accurate quote from fake Vince Gilligan noted last night: “Dear Internet, I literally could not have made it any clearer that Walt is a villain and Skylar one of his many victims.” How is this even up for debate? More Breaking Bad tweets from this morning at Storify.
* Returning home from work Wednesday evening, area woman Caitlin Levy suddenly realized that, quite unusually, she had not been harassed or propositioned for sex even once the entire day, the puzzled 28-year-old told reporters.
Noting that she had experienced a lingering sense of ease and safety all day long that “just felt off,” the paralegal told reporters that, strange as it may sound, she somehow could not recall one single instance from the past 10 hours in which she had been gawked at, hit on repeatedly, or otherwise leered at by a male as she conducted her daily routine.
“Huh, that’s weird,” said Levy, remarking on the fact that at no point during her day did a total stranger attempt to provoke her with suggestive language. “No unwanted sexual advances, no creepy comments, no obscene gestures, nothing.”
“Can that be right?” she asked as she ran down a checklist of emotionally scarring behaviors she has been confronted with every day of her life, in some form or another, since age 13. “No, that’s impossible. I must be forgetting something.”
Satellites recorded an unprecedented rate of ice sheet melt in Greenland this month. Over the course of four days in July virtually the entire surface melted—an area larger than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations.
On average about half the surface area of the ice sheet melts in summer. But between 08 and 12 July 2012 the melt spread from 40 percent to 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet.
A massive phytoplankton bloom has been found underneath the Arctic pack ice in the Chukchi Sea. The under-ice bloom, previously thought impossible, will require a complete rethinking of Arctic ecosystems – and is a potent indicator of global warming’s effects on the far north.
* New dystopian novella from Margaret Atwood. It’s a $2.99 Kindle single.
* A spring heat wave like no other in U.S. and Canadian history peaked in intensity yesterday, during its tenth day. Since record keeping began in the late 1800s, there have never been so many temperature records broken for spring warmth in a one-week period–and the margins by which some of the records were broken yesterday were truly astonishing. Wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, commented to me yesterday, “it’s almost like science fiction at this point.“
* Some student loan borrowers with the biggest debt loads didn’t fully understand what they were getting into when they borrowed the money, a survey of those borrowers has found. I’m shocked, shocked!
* …let’s start by setting forth two uncontroversial propositions. The first proposition is that the health care law is constitutional. The second is that the court could strike it down anyway.
Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarized version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation “Greatest happiness of the greatest number” is a good slogan, but at this moment “Better an end with horror than a horror without end” is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
* Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization. At least that’s one of us!