* I have a review out today of Aurora and Seveneves (both great!) in The Los Angeles Review of Books. My review actually has a lot in common with two other reviews they’ve run recently, one from Tom Streithorst on Mad Max: Fury Road and the other from Sherryl Vint on Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife.
* Sweet Briar lives. Joy Over Sweet Briar’s Reopening Is Tempered by Questions About the Road Ahead. Lessons from Sweet Briar. Sweet Briar Savors the Promise of Revival, but Fund-Raising Challenge Is Vast. Sweet Briar’s ‘No Nonsense’ New President Faces a Tall Task. Reinventing Sweet Briar. I just want someone to look into all their weird investment losses and figure out what was happening there.
According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, she leads Sanders by 47 percentage points.
* But set Obama’s impressive electoral victories aside and the Democrats look less like an emerging majority and more like a party in free fall: Since Obama was sworn in six years ago, Democrats have suffered net losses of 11 governorships, 30 statehouse chambers, more than 900 statehouse seats, and have lost control of both houses of the U.S. Congress. They’re certainly finding every possible way to blow it.
* Scenes from the charter school scam: Milwaukee Public Schools edition.
* It’s just impossible to elect anyone who is actually on the left. Look what happens.
* Clash of Clans is made by the Finnish game studio Supercell. It launched in August 2012 and rapidly became one of the top five highest-grossing titles in Apple’s App Store. In 2013, when Yao and his invitation-only clan, North44, were at their peak, Clash of Clans helped create $555 million of revenue for the company. The next year, Supercell’s revenue tripled to $1.7 billion — a seemingly inexplicable sum produced by a roster of games that, like Clash, are free to download and can be played without spending a dime. So how is Supercell generating all that money? By relying on players who don’t simply want to enjoy the game but who want to win. Players who, like Yao, are willing to spend a great deal of cash.
* ‘Star Trek’ Fan Invited to Pitch ‘Star Trek Uncharted’ TV Series to Paramount. The best part: it actually sounds like a good idea.
* And the arc of history is long, but Walter White From ‘Breaking Bad’ Will Appear in a Future Episode of ‘Better Call Saul.’
* What that means is that in South Carolina, the Confederate flag abides by its own rules. While governors—as well as the president—can usually order that all state and national flags within their jurisdiction be flown at half-staff, this one is exempt. Instead, the Confederate flag’s location can be changed only by a two-thirds vote by both branches of the General Assembly. “In South Carolina, the governor does not have legal authority to alter the flag,” said a press secretary for Haley. “Only the General Assembly can do that.” Take down the flag.
* Tech isn’t really making a “sharing” economy. So what is it making? The Servitude Bubble.
* Performance-Based Funding Can Be Fickle, One University’s Close Call Shows. Florida State would have lost $16.7 million if its median graduate had earned just $400 less.
* The sheep look up: don’t drink the water edition.
* Did abortion cause the drought? I say teach the controversy.
* It’s a weird, weird world: Obama is going to be on WTF. I’ll never accept this is real.
11. Enthusiasts have hitherto only loved the world in various ways; the point is to hate it (too).
* Another pedagogy gimmick, but at least it’s cheap: roleplaying games.
* SethBling wrote a program made of neural networks and genetic algorithms called MarI/O that taught itself how to play Super Mario World. This six-minute video is a pretty easy-to-understand explanation of the concepts involved.
* Everything you want, in the worst possible way: please god don’t ever let Captain Worf happen.
* No pricey pension plans, some argued. No promotions based solely on seniority. No set hours for a given workweek. No prohibitions against layoffs. Unions! Catch the fever!
* The arc of history is long, but Mitch Horwitz is doing a Netflix comedy series with Maria Bamford.
* Didn’t we do this one already? All six Star Wars films at once.
* And if you want to know why there’s no future for our civilization, just read this.
Science Fiction Film and Television seeks submissions for a special issue on the Mad Max franchise.
Guest Editor: Dan Hassler-Forest
The original Mad Max (1979) was a hard-edged low-budget exploitation film with sf elements, frantically put together in twelve weeks by a small crew working in and around Melbourne on a $325,000 budget. Its worldwide success led to two incrementally more ambitious sequels that expanded the first film’s dystopian vision significantly: Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) in 1982, and Hollywood behemoth Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985.
The film trilogy became hugely influential in its depiction of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the sequels in particular establishing a visual style that soon became a default for visual representations of punk dystopias in film, television, comic books, video games, and music videos. At the same time, a wide range of comics, novels and novelizations, and video games expanded the films’ storyworld significantly.
When the fourth film in the franchise was released to much acclaim three decades after the original trilogy ended, it proved to be neither prequel, sequel, nor reboot. Mad Max: Fury Road instead revived the franchise as a variation on established themes, full of references to earlier films, but without a clear chronological relationship to its precursors. The film’s gender politics, ideology, and aesthetics have been widely debated, and new films and transmedia expansions are once again being prepared.
SFFTV invites fresh approaches to Mad Max as a sf entertainment franchise and transnational cultural phenomenon, with possible emphases on:
* politics and ideology
* fossil fuel and peak oil in sf
* post-apocalyptic narratives
* franchising and transmedia world-building
* sequels, spin-offs, and novelizations
* ecological disaster sf
* transnational cinema
* exploitation cinema and cult film
* materiality and sf: film vs. digital cinema
* transnational celebrity: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
* representations of race and ethnicity
* gender politics and queer theory
* sf literature influences
* music video aesthetics
* “the indie blockbuster”: independent cinema in post-classical Hollywood
* representations of children and childhood
* George Miller and auteur theory
* Mad Max and transnational exploitation cinema
* Mad Max 2 and queer theory
* Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and 1980s corporate synergy
* Mad Max: Fury Road and digital cinema
Articles of 6,000-9,000 words should be formatted using MLA style and according to the submission guidelines available on our website. Submissions should be made via our online system at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com:80/lup-sfftv. Articles not selected for the special issue will be considered for future issues of the journal.
Any questions should be directed to the editors, Dan Hassler-Forest (email@example.com), Mark Bould (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sherryl Vint (email@example.com), and Gerry Canavan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2016, with anticipated publication in spring 2017.
* New journal: Series: The International Journal of TV Serial Narratives.
* The full syllabus for my upcoming summer science fiction course is finished, if you’re interested. I’ve also updated the “online articles” section of my website with a link to Marquette’s online repository of my articles, which has some stuff people have been asking for (like my Snowpiercer essay).
* “The hardest things are the title and the name of the girl.” Oh, so it’s ridiculously easy.
* Every Single Federal Employee’s Social Security Number Was Hacked: Report. Incredible. I almost wonder if this breach could actually be so large that the government has to shift responsibility for fraud away from individual consumers.
* At its worst, however, Left Forum is Comic Con for Marxists—Commie Con, if you will—and an absolute shitshow of nerds and social rejects.
* On the heels of last week’s shocking news that the Transportation Security Administration has a whopping 95 percent failure rate at finding bombs and weapons, we are now learning that the TSA further failed to identify 73 airport workers with links to terrorism.
* Barbasol’s inclusion was mostly a fluke — the movie’s art director, John Bell, said he grabbed it off a prop shelf with little thought; in the book, smugglers used Gillette — but the shaving-cream maker now calls it one of its biggest victories: John Price, a marketing vice president for parent company Perio, called it “one of the most recognized brand integrations of all time.”
* One phenomenon that has so far flown under the radar in discussions of peer-to-peer production and the sharing economy but that demands recognition on its own is one for which I think an apt name would be crowdforcing. Crowdforcing in the sense I am using it refers to practices in which one or more persons decides for one or more others whether he or she will share his or her resources, without the other person’s consent or even, perhaps more worryingly, knowledge. While this process has analogs and has even itself occurred prior to the digital revolution and the widespread use of computational tools, it has positively exploded thanks to them, and thus in the digital age may well constitute a difference in kind as well as amount.
* I know Reason is the enemy and all, but their report on this mishandled sex assault case at Amherst is genuinely stunning.
* A program designed to help female college freshmen resist sexual assault is creating a lot of buzz among victims’ advocates and college educators. Most were encouraged to learn that incidents of rape had been cut in half among participants in a Canadian study of the program, which involved four three-hour sessions in which the women learned to recognize the danger of coercive situations and to fight back, verbally and physically.
* Counterpoint: Anne Frank’s Diary Should Have Been Burned.
* RT @SaintRPh: Guy lives next to airport. Painted this on roof to confuse passengers as they fly overhead. He lives in Milwaukee.
* Nearly Half of Senior Tenured Professors Want to Delay Retirement. Yeah, you’ll never get rid of me.
* Fans aren’t the irrational ones. They know how to seize pleasure from the world and hold tight even as it hurts them. If fandom is simply an obedient response to the signals of the consumer market, it is an obedience which threatens to overrun its master while saying yes.
What my experience has taught me must become every instructor’s priority — that is, if we are in the profession because we want to develop engaged citizens. I have learned to teach students to notice how they are being groomed to join a “docile and contingent workforce” whenever they are not encouraged to think in ways that feel like a challenge. I couldn’t do this if I were busy cowering to avoid complaints. Besides, I want my students to be passionately engaged and to feel empowered about speaking up both inside and outside of my classroom. The real question, then, is: how can professors broach controversial topics in a way that does not lend itself to complaints that are grounded more in emotion than in intellectual inquiry? The solution is simple, but implementing it requires courage and tenacity: professors need to directly discuss power and power differentials, no matter the subject area.
But that is not really something that makes professors special. Rather, it is good for people to make their lives less fearsome and their minds less fearful. Those of us who have some of that privilege in our working lives should hold our heads high and try to be allies to others who are working to get their share of it. There’s no shame in having security, only in keeping other people from it.
* In the wake of the UW System Board of Regents’ decision last week to “pretend to have tenure,” System leaders are coming to acknowledge more and more in their public statements the correctness of the worries they have simultaneously attempted to depict as alarmist. The very grave problem posed by section 39 of the JFC omnibus motion is finally on the public radar of UW administrators, though they continue to soft-pedal its severity.
* Unless you are in highly unusual circumstances, really, do not think of adjuncting as a long-term career.
* Scenes from the class struggle at Cooper Union: Five Trustees, Including Daniel Libeskind, Abruptly Resign.
* The accusations against Mr. Walker, one of several new claims of academic misconduct involving Texas athletes, illustrate how the university has appeared to let academically deficient players push the limits of its policy on academic integrity as it has sought to improve its teams’ academic records.
* But the emerging field of Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election is something else altogether. Of the dozen or so people who have declared or are thought likely to declare, every one can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.
* And then there was Rand, scooping the Democrats again.
* Concerned that kindergarten has become overly academic in recent years, this suburban school district south of Baltimore is introducing a new curriculum in the fall for 5-year-olds. Chief among its features is a most old-fashioned concept: play.
* From infancy to employment, this is a life-denying, love-denying mindset, informed not by joy or contentment, but by an ambition that is both desperate and pointless, for it cannot compensate for what it displaces: childhood, family life, the joys of summer, meaningful and productive work, a sense of arrival, living in the moment.
* New government research shows that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women, a startling finding that experts say poses disturbing questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the armed forces.
* The constant cycle of phone upgrades — in which consumers buy phones once a new model comes out every two or so years — is having serious effects on the environment, according to a new study.
* Information wants to be free! With regard to the pornographic material Osama Bin Laden had in his possession at the time of his death, responsive records, should they exist, would be contained in the operational files. The CIA Information Act, 50 U.S.C 431, as amended, exempts CIA operational files from search, review, publication, and disclosure requirements of the FOIA. To the extent that this material exists, the CIA would be prohibited by 18 USC Section 1461 from mailing obscene matter.