Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Wednesday Links!

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(…though Tuesday’s links are still perfectly good…)

* I’m really excited to see that the Jameson talk on the army as a figure for utopia I talked about at the end of my Battle: Los Angeles essay is becoming a book (with some collected responses).

* One of my favorite Ted Chiang stories, “Understand” has been adapted as a radio drama at the BBC. Go listen!

* If you’re local, don’t forget! Mad Max: Fury Road discussion on campus today at 5 PM!

We Don’t Need to Reform America’s Criminal Justice System, We Need to Tear It Down.

Superheroes in a Time of Terror: Rushdie’s 1001 Nights.

Language and the Postapocalyptic World.

Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days.

The FBI’s probe into the security of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mail has expanded to include a second private technology company, which said Tuesday it plans to provide the law enforcement agency with data it preserved from Clinton’s account.

Against Joe Biden.

* Two great tastes: For decades, researchers have debated whether a major asteroid strike or enormous volcanic eruptions led to the demise of dinosaurs almost 66 million years ago. According to a new study, the answer might be somewhere in between: The asteroid impact accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes, and together, these catastrophes led to the mass extinction.

The Vancouver public-speaking and drama instructor sees his reasons for assigning Alcor US$80,000 of life insurance benefits to have his brain cryopreserved as strictly pragmatic.

* Kristof said that more preschoolers are shot dead each year than are on-duty police officers. For children aged 0-4, that is accurate for the past six years. For children aged 3-5, the statement is true in most years, but not in every year. We rate the claim Mostly True.

* Twenty-first century problems: Can Crowdfunding Save This Town from White Supremacy?

Yale Just Released 170,000 Incredible Photos of Depression-Era America.

* Free college, pro and con.

* Stay classy, Milwaukee.

Texas’s war on birthright babies.

A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters might want to start using the metric as well. The researchers found that credit scores — or whatever personal qualities credit scores might represent — actually play a pretty big role in whether people form and stay in committed relationships. People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships and marriages and then stay in them. In addition, how well matched the couple’s credit scores are initially is a good predictor of whether they stay together in the long term.

* This might be even worse than the drill bits: Greenfield Police Using Pink Handcuffs, Wearing New Pins For Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

* Get a head start on next week: “It’s time to abolish Columbus Day.”

* And at this point I have no idea what sort of milk I should be drinking. Thanks, Obama.

Tuesday Links!

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* Events coming up at Marquette English: tomorrow’s Mad Max: Fury Road discussion and next week’s reading from visiting poet Carolyn Forché.

* SFFTV 8.3 is out! With:

Kathleen McHugh, “Seeking a film for the end of the world”
Mark Young, “Xenochrony: aural media and neoliberal time in Shane Carruth’s Primer
Lars Schmeink, “Frankenstein’s offspring: practicing science and parenthood in Natali’s Splice
J.P. Telotte, “Sex and machines: the ‘buzz’ of 1950s science fiction films”

* Great stuff coming from the UCR Sawyer Seminar on Alternative Futurisms:

October 6: Panel on Asian American Speculative Fiction

October 15: Science Fiction Studies symposium on Retrofuturism(s)

October 16-17: Revising the Past, Remaking the Future Conference

* Nightmare in Oregon. Nightmares everywhere.

Make. Good. Work. (or, On the Academic Job Market).

* And elsewhere on the academic job market watch: how long am I marketable?

The Humanities at the End of the World.

* Humanities majors’ salaries, by the numbers.

* USC has an exciting fix for contingent employment in academia: contingent employment in academia.

How pregnant women and mothers get hounded out of higher education.

* Steven Salaita: Why I Was Fired.

Marina Warner on the history of the fairy-tale.

* The Amazing Inner Lives of Animals.

* The Uses of Orphans.

The Decline of Play and Rise in Children’s Mental Disorders.

* Reading Lolita at 12.

* A Centre for Laziness Studies.

* Conversely, my research indicates you should never text your students.

* I just had to do one of these with my daughters’ preschool. The twenty-first century is awful.

* Ranking Milwaukee: The 6th Most Dangerous City in America, and the #1 Worst for Black People.

* The politics of the campaign mixtape.

DraftKings Employee With Access To Inside Info Wins $350K At FanDuel. This is an insane story.

* The return on the tontine.

MSF Response to Spurious Claims That Kunduz Hospital Was “A Taliban Base.”

* Toshi Reagon’s Parable of the Sower.

What Happens When a Super Storm Strikes New York?

* Well here’s a story I’m certainly hoping is a hoax.

* First, they came for my assault rifle.

* Nihilistic password security questions.

* The end of the Perkins loan.

* “Few forces are better positioned to fight the corporate university than graduate student workers.”

* Ta-Nehisi Coates leads diverse group of MacArthur ‘genius’ grant recipients. Academics Win MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowships.

* On Rules, Cheating, and Deflategate.

‘Workers’ or slaves? Textbook maker backtracks after mother’s online complaint.

* The end of Moore’s Law?

* The end of UNC?

Our economy is broken. Could a universal basic income, child allowances, and worker-owned cooperatives fix it? I’m so old I can remember when “New New Deal” was Obama’s brand.

* If it’s good enough for Zappos…

* Generation Debt.

These students were ruined by predatory colleges. Now they’re getting even.

* “Whole Foods To Stop Profiting From Prison Labor.” You know, in these tough times, most companies would be happy to just break even with prison labor.

This is the official signal that a nuclear war could be about to break out.

An Environmentalism for the Left. Environmentalism as a religious idea.

The Plot Against Student Newspapers.

* Weird coincidence: Alabama, Which Requires ID to Vote, Stops Issuing New Licenses in Majority-Black Counties.

* Marquette v. Cosby.

* Noncitizens and the census. This is a really interesting problem for which the proper solution — let noncitizen permanent residents vote — is of course entirely off the table.

It’s been 4 years since Stephen Colbert created a super PAC — where did all that money go?

* Recycling may not be worth it. “Plastic Bags Are Good for You.”

Justine Siegal Becomes First Female Baseball Coach In MLB History. That’s… recent.

Breathtaking The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings illustration by Jian Guo.

This Abandoned Wasteland Was Once America’s Largest Mall.

* Hydrofracking ruins everything.

* “Bangalore’s lake of toxic foam – in pictures.”

Someone bought for $12 and owned it for a literal minute.

Research shows that in Pennsylvania’s public schools skin color, not economics, determines how much money districts get.

End zero-tolerance school discipline.

A tumor stole every memory I had. This is what happened when it all came back.

* The law, in its majestic finality…

* Masters of the Universe: An Oral History.

Tesla’s new Model X has a ‘bioweapon defense mode’ button. “This is a real button,” Musk says.

NASA Has Already Hired Someone To Make Sure We Don’t Destroy Mars, Too. Teach the controversy: does Mars even exist?

* Here comes the gender-bent Twilight. I’m actually fascinated by this project.

Ethiopian Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Film ‘Crumbs’ Is Headed To Theaters.

* Uber, but for canceling Comcast.

* Yelp, but for destroying the very concept of sociality.

* The Algorithm and the Watchtower:The form of power that Big Data employs is not so much panoptic as it is pan-analytic.”

As the American people got fatter, so did marmosets, vervet monkeys and mice. The problem may be bigger than any of us.

* If you want diabetes, pal, you’ve got to pay for it.

* What’s the most American ______ ever made?

* “We’re one step closer to a working lightsaber.”

* And I don’t want to take all the credit, but…


Written by gerrycanavan

October 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Monday Morning Links

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* Doomsday officially here.

In the seven years since the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened, hundreds of thousands of seed samples have gone into its icy tombs. And not one has come out—until now.

* Huge, if true: High Rise director Ben Wheatley: societal collapse is imminent.

* Huge, if true: Bernie Sanders can’t save America.

Countless gynecologists failed to diagnose my rare condition – until Planned Parenthood rescued me.

Endometriosis: the hidden suffering of millions of women revealed.

* Comic Crit reads Aurora and Seveneves.

Last year, a group of researchers at West Virginia University uncovered one of the biggest frauds in automotive history while working under a small $50,000 grant.

* “Our society needs a massive reset in terms of its priorities [regarding autism],” Silberman said. “One of the main problems facing families now is their children aging out of services. Yet almost all of the funding into research goes into investigating causes.” […] “Many things are being ignored by going after the cause of the alleged epidemic that may not even be one,” said Silberman. “It is amazing to me, after all this arguing about whether or not vaccines cause autism that we still haven’t done a basic prevalence study of autism among adults.”

The problem is, you can tear down an institution in a year.  It takes 25 — if you’re the best — to build it back up again. But it’s too late now. By breaking the rules of the search, Harreld helped violate the trust of the community and the values of the university. Iowa’s tradition has been sullied. If Harreld remains and wants to be a serious university president, his job is not going to be “going from good to great,” but rather repairing the damage that the Board of Regents, the governor and he, himself have done.

Cities bear rising cost of keeping water safe to drink. It’s always worse than you think.


We Lost Our Daughter to a Mass Shooter and Now Owe $203,000 to His Ammo Dealer.

* What could possibly go wrong? You Can Now Rent H.P. Lovecraft’s Old Apartment.

Inside every dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine is a little valve that directs the flow of water. For decades, most of these valves have come from a factory in the northwestern corner of Illinois, but not after today.

* Somebody get me Samuel L. Jackson.

* n+1 against the Patriots.

* The nonprofit-Coca-Cola-industrial complex.

* Fun fact: There have been 4,286 Robins.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

* Andy Daly, prophet.

If They Build It, Will We Come? Meet The Tech Entrepreneurs Trying To Take Back The Porn Industry.

* Being Pippi Longstocking.

* Hot desking, the worst.



Weekend Links!

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* I have a short essay in the New Orleans Review‘s science fiction issue. Check it out! (Sorry, it’s not online.)

* CFP: Special Issue of American Literature: “Queer about Comics.”

* Academics of color experience an enervating visibility, but it’s not simply that we’re part of a very small minority. We are also a desired minority, at least for appearance’s sake. University life demands that academics of color commodify themselves as symbols of diversity—in fact, as diversity itself, since diversity, in this context, is located entirely in the realm of the symbolic. There’s a wound in the rupture between the diversity manifested in the body of the professor of color and the realities affecting that person’s community or communities. I, for example, am a black professor in the era of mass incarceration of black people through the War on Drugs; I am a Somali American professor in the era of surveillance and drone strikes perpetuated through the War on Terror.

Universities love a flagship building that sets them apart from the rest. But are they being designed with learning and research in mind?

Cornell Grad Students Form Unrecognized Union.

* The Irony of Catholic Colleges.

* The end of content.

* The end of tenure.

* Fake traffic is rotting the Internet.

* So weird: John Boehner, House Speaker, Will Resign From Congress.

* The College President-to-Adjunct Pay Ratio.

* The Journal of Academic Freedom has a special section devoted to Steven Salaita.

* Science proves you like being ripped off by airlines.

Fordham, Marquette rescind honorary degrees they gave Cosby.

Here’s More Evidence That Galactic Super-Civilizations Don’t Exist. Yet!

What a massive sexual assault survey found at 27 top U.S. universities. Counterpoint: The latest big sexual assault survey is (like others) more hype than science. Counter-counterpoint: The University of Chicago’s message to the Class of 2019: Don’t be a rapist.

* Speech and the campus newspaper at Wesleyan. And from the Southern Poverty Law Center: Campus Newspaper Thefts since 2000.

* Today in the apocalypse: Why some scientists are worried about a surprisingly cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean.

* Ahmed’s Clock, Banneker’s Clock, and the Racial Surveillance of Invention in America.

* “Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges.”

A recent study suggests that acetaminophen—found in Tylenol, Excedrin and a host of other medications—is an all-purpose damper, stifling a range of strong feelings. Throbbing pain, the sting of rejection, paralyzing indecision—along with euphoria and delight—all appear to be taken down a notch by the drug.

Volkswagen and the Era of Cheating Software. Volkswagen hires BP’s Deepwater defense team as the lawsuits start. But it’s not all bad news.

Stojcevski was sent to the Macomb County Jail in Mt. Clemens, Mich., on June 11, 2014, to serve a 30-day sentence after failing to appear in court over a ticket for careless driving, according to the lawsuit. During the 16 days between his imprisonment and his death, the lawsuit alleges, staff at the jail knowingly allowed him to suffer through “excruciating” acute withdrawal without treatment.

Inside the collapse of Scott Walker’s presidential bid.

* Inside Retraction Watch.

* Inside Salvador Dali’s Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Rather than fighting for more and better work, we should fight for more time to use as we please. Proposals like a universal basic income may well lead to this. Most importantly, in thinking about the time bind, we should keep in mind what it would mean to be really free from it. We should keep in mind the full possibilities of liberation: what we want is not to be allowed to work more or in better conditions, but to be allowed to live as we see fit.

* Counterpoint: Against UBI.

* I had nightmares like this: What If the Answer Isn’t College, but Longer High School?

* A Urine Collection Bag from Apollo 11 marked with the initials “NA.”

* The Bowe Bergdahl case is a weird choice for Serial season two, but I suppose nearly anything would be.

Netflix Data Reveals Exactly When TV Shows Hook Viewers — And It’s Not the Pilot.

* DC reboots the Spectre.

* Happy Birthday, everyone.

* …the digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015, digital sales have instead slowed sharply.

* Honestly this would work pretty well for academics too.

* Listen, this is just getting silly now.

We have burned all the furniture for fuel and we’re starting to chop away at the deck. We are a terrible, dispirited society and we finally have the terrible, dispirited Muppets we deserve.

What Can ‘Star Trek’ Teach Us About American Exceptionalism?

* Rude hand gestures from around the world.

* And I’m devoting the rest of my career to the Mysteries of the Unknown books, now that I’ve been reminded they exist.


Written by gerrycanavan

September 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

New Spring 2016 Course: “The Lives of Animals”

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I’ll be teaching two courses in the spring: a second run of my “Magic and Literature” gateway to the major and a senior capstone called “The Lives of Animals.” The first isn’t changing that much from last year, but here’s the description of the latter…

ENGLISH 4997/5997

Course Title: The Lives of Animals

Course Description: We are currently living through a historical moment that many scientists have begun to call “the Anthropocene”: the moment when the activities of human beings become visible in the geological and climatological record of the planet, recognizable many thousands or even millions of years hence. These activities unhappily coincide—and, to an overwhelming extent, have directly caused—what appears to be the beginning of the sixth mass extinction event experienced on Earth since the first evolution of life. The extinction and endangerment of huge numbers of animal species—as well as new research in biology, genomics, and cognitive science that have utterly blurred the once-clear, once-reliable distinction between “human” and “animal”—now calls on us both intellectually and ethically to reconsider the exclusion of animal life from consideration in human political and cultural institutions. This course seeks to answer that call, serving as an introduction to the interdisciplinary scholarly work in the ecological humanities that is increasingly grouped under the heading of “animal studies.” It will also intersect with fervent debates currently raging about the status of animals in the United States and around the world, including contemporary debates about zoos and aquariums; vegetarianism and medical testing; habitat preservation; and even the potential legal personhood of chimps, gorillas, dolphins, and other higher-order mammals. It will, in addition, serve as the research capstone to your English major experience at Marquette, affording you the academic tools and the creative space to independently develop a project of significant literary-critical scholarship on the troubled and troubling figure of “the animal,” exploring some of the different ways animals have been taken up as a problem by writers and thinkers working in multiple historical periods, media, genres, and literary-cultural forms.

Readings: Will be partially determined collaboratively in our initial class meetings by your interests, but will include key philosophical, scientific, and documentary texts about animal consciousness and “animal personhood,” as well as literary texts drawn from a list including Aesop’s Fables; Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels; J.M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals; the Planet of the Apes franchise; Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; the short fiction of Octavia E. Butler, Margaret Atwood, Leo Szilard, Sofia Samatar, and James Tiptree Jr.; Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; and Disney films about animals like The Lion Kingand The Jungle Book.

Assignments: reflective personal statement, annotated bibliography, major research paper, conference-style presentation, weekly forum posts, class participation

Tuesday Night Links!

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* Climate Fiction Short Story Contest judged by Kim Stanley Robinson. Fall fiction contest judged by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer.

* Whoa: Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel.

* Whiteness, Political Economy, and the MFA.

The majority of these reasons have to do with student desire. It is obvious that people have to want the degree for universities to feel motivated to create programs. But there are many economic pressures that induce colleges and universities to expand and aggressively advertise and recruit for programs in creative writing. We do not think it is an overstatement that, prior to the 1990s and the intensifying financial pressures that brought about the corporatization of the university, English departments tended to have a studious lack of interest that bordered on disdain about the teaching of creative writing. And top-tier schools still tend to not offer graduate degrees in creative writing. Of the top 10 universities according to USNWR rankings, only Columbia has an MFA program.

The story of how these financial pressures show up in the college where we work — a small liberal arts college that admits self-identified women and people assigned female at birth who do not fit into the gender binary — might provide a useful illustration here. In 1990, the board of the college voted to go co-ed. In response, students went on a strike that they won after two weeks; the board backed down and the school did not go co-ed. Despite the outpouring of support, the college still had significant enrollment issues. Administration responded to this in the 90s by focusing on co-ed graduate programs. Between 1990 and 2013, graduate students went from 25 percent of the total enrollment at the college to 40 percent. The MFA in creative writing was targeted for growth. During the same period, the number of MFA graduates in the creative writing program more than doubled, from an average of 13 to 34 annually. This growth was not under department control. In 2005, after a long discussion, the department decided that they wanted to admit a smaller, more selective class. It was clear that “targeted for growth” meant adding more students, not more resources. But the president of the college held the acceptance letters until the department agreed to admit everyone on the fairly large wait list. This resulted in the largest class ever admitted.

* An excerpt from Claire Vaye Watkins’ upcoming novel, Gold Fame Citrus, “a sweeping, apocalyptic vision of the Southland after the water wars turn California into a roaming sand dune sea.”

Interdepartmental research shows that during that 12-month period when body cameras were in use, instances of some types of force by San Diego police officers actually rose by 10%.

* If You Live In These States You’ll Soon Need A Passport For Domestic Flights. I can’t imagine that this will actually come to pass, but I just got my driver’s license renewal and Wisconsin is treating its default ID as not-airplane-ready.

In honor of the ten years since speculative fiction author Octavia Butler’s untimely transition, the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network and the Octavia E. Butler Society are joining forces to create simultaneous West and East coast events February 25-28, 2016 in L.A. and at Spelman College in Atlanta respectively. The two organizations will also be collaborating on a special edition of the academic journal Palimpsest that highlights her written work and impact on humanity.

The majority of white people who take the implicit association test (IAT) for racial bias do demonstrate biases against dark-skinned people.

* Higher education as Veblen good.

Dispatches From the Future’s Past: How a collection of sci-fi fanzines helps us understand the prehistory of the Internet.

A Newspaper Report on Administrative Bloat: Some Remarks on the Sum of the Details and on Some of the Specific Details.

Why Is College So Expensive if Professors Are Paid So Little?

* “Canada’s oldest independent arts university has struggled financially in recent years, and currently faces a $13-million debt.” So of course the solution is to build a new campus for $25 million.

Cornell’s Pitch to Humanities and Social-Sciences Ph.D.s: All of You, Apply Here.

If 2008 taught us anything, it’s that the whole culture has followed the economic quants far enough down the complexity rabbit hole. I would argue that it might be the scholarship that neoclassical economists dismiss most forcefully that we should look to for help in questioning the self-interested models that the financial sector asserts are real. As these books help us realize, it is humanists who are best trained to pull back the curtain on what we are talking about when we talk about finance.

* Criminal charges for Volkswagen? A CEO just got 28 years in prison after nine people died from his salmonella-tainted peanuts, and VW probably killed more people than that in California alone.

* Men haven’t gotten a raise in forty years.

* Sheboyganfreude: Scott Walker suspends presidential campaign.

* Eleanor Rigby, greenlit for six seasons and a movie.

One dad’s sad, expensive, and brief encounter with Ron Weasley.

* “Hit Charade: Meet the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts.”

I Confronted Donald Trump in Dubai.

* Disproving Godwin.

* Why does light have a top speed?

No, I’m Not Piercing My Daughter’s Ears.

A Glossary of Gestures for Critical Discussion.

* Gymnastics and the abusers. Incredible, incredibly disturbing read.

* “Preventing Ethnic Fraud.” Should Universities Be Policing Professors’ Ethnicity Claims?

Games connect you with the sublime infinity of the mathematical universe, but they intersect with the real world only in secret and for pretend. Only in your head.

A new scandal, though, is putting Johnson’s rise at serious risk. It involves the mayor replacing civil servants with private citizens funded by the Wal-Mart empire and tasked with the twin purposes of working to abolish public education and bring in piles of cash for Kevin Johnson. The rising star, it seems, set up a fake government—and some people are starting to notice.

The Road to a 100% Clean-Powered Planet.

The rise, and rise, of literary annotation.

Selfies Killed More People Than Sharks This Year.

* And it was certainly nice of them to name the whole generation after my kid.

Weekend Links!

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* The future of war, from the author of The Forever War. And a nice flashback from the archive: Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True.

The dead zones of hypercapitalism.

* There’s some really weird, interesting stuff happening in X-Men fandom right now. It’s almost the inverse of the “Bad Fan” problem that tends to plague Quality TV shows like Breaking Bad: fans so devoted to “appropriate” affective investment in a story that the story itself can no longer be pleasurable to them…

* Insane: The EPA is accusing Volkswagen of illegally using software to cheat emissions standards, allowing the German automaker to sell half a million cars that produce nitrogen oxide, which creates smog, at up to 40 times the legal limit. Criminal charges?

New details released Friday by researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University reveal that 96 percent of NFL players the group has examined showed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease impacting the brain. It seems hard to believe this sport can have much future.

A Brief History of Toilet-Based Animal Attacks.

* Against Cary Nelson.

* The first, last, and only alignment chart you’ll ever need.

* Counterpoint: no, Jesus Christ, save money in your twenties if you can.

* Counterpoint: no, PhD programs exist to produce future professors. They can’t be saved independently of that, and why would you try?

* Counterpoint: no, actually that popular antidepressant was totally unsafe for teens.

#IStandWithAhmed and the Criminalization of the American Schoolyard.

The University As Ed Tech Startup.

Ursula Le Guin’s guide to the impossible craft of storytelling.

Meet the Engineers Trying to Prevent the Destruction of Humanity.

* Sometimes, though, it’s the little things.

* And the word’s come down: The FBI Says Retweets Are Endorsements.



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