Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Archive for February 2010

Monkey Comics

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm

How It Works

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To begin with, talk shows [..] are popular and powerful because they appeal to a segment of the population that feels disenfranchised and even victimized by the media. These people believe the media are predominantly staffed by and consistently reflect the views of social liberals. This view is by now so long-held and deep-rooted, it has evolved into part of virtually every conservative’s DNA.

To succeed, a talk show host must perpetuate the notion that his or her listeners are victims, and the host is the vehicle by which they can become empowered. The host frames virtually every issue in us-versus-them terms. There has to be a bad guy against whom the host will emphatically defend those loyal listeners.

This enemy can be a politician – either a Democratic officeholder or, in rare cases where no Democrat is convenient to blame, it can be a “RINO” (a “Republican In Name Only,” who is deemed not conservative enough). It can be the cold, cruel government bureaucracy. More often than not, however, the enemy is the “mainstream media” – local or national, print or broadcast.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Fixing the Climate?

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According to several sources familiar with the process, the lawmakers are looking at cutting the nation’s greenhouse gas output by targeting, in separate ways, three major sources of emissions: electric utilities, transportation and industry.

Power plants would face an overall cap on emissions that would become more stringent over time; motor fuel may be subject to a carbon tax whose proceeds could help electrify the U.S. transportation sector; and industrial facilities would be exempted from a cap on emissions for several years before it is phased in. The legislation would also expand domestic oil and gas drilling offshore and would provide federal assistance for constructing nuclear power plants and carbon sequestration and storage projects at coal-fired utilities. More from Treehugger.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 28, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Still OoT But With Unexpected Hotel Wifi Links

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* Ripped from the pages of Infinite Jest, a playable version of Eschaton. (via)

* Via Pete Lit, federal government to use its immense buying power to benefit society.

By altering how it awards $500 billion in contracts each year, the government would disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels of pay, health coverage, pensions and other benefits, the officials said.

This looks to me like perhaps a first case of the end-runs Obama will have to make around our broken legislative institutions if he hopes to avoid a failed presidency. Another good sign: the final embrace of sidecar reconciliation to finish the job on health care.

* Of course, that headline in the New York Times gets it wrong, as Steve Benen has been desperately trying to explain to anyone who will listen: Democrats don’t need to pass health care via reconciliation because health care already passed through the regular order. Regardless, the Republicans are promising a full-on freakout if reconciliation is used; what might they do?

* “Pentagon fesses up to 800 pages’ worth of potentially illegal spying, including peace groups and Planned Parenthood.” Hey, thanks for admitting it! Of course we won’t prosecute you; you were just protecting the homeland!

* Eliza Dushku to ruin another Joss Whedon production.

* The pornography of infinity: China Miéville on J.G. Ballard.

* J.D. Salinger v. Raiders of the Lost Ark.

* Wikipedia’s list of landings on other planets. Did the Soviets think there was life on Venus? They certainly seem to have thought there was something there. Via Boing Boing.

* Secret origins of the cellar door line from Donnie Darko.

* FantasySCOTUS.

* Really good reading of the U.K. version of The Office that focuses on Gervais’s critique of celebrity culture to explain, among other things, how David Brent could possibly have won a promotion on a 5-2 vote of the company board or been hired by a consulting firm—as well as why the U.S. version, in dropping this thematic angle, will always be intrinsically inferior.

* If I were a Brigham Young student, here’s the process I would have to undertake to grow my beloved beard.

* Students at the University of Mississippi want Admiral Akbar as their new mascot. I wholeheartedly endorse this effort.

* Also Via MeFi: Personal pop-culture rules. “No Robin Williams” and “anything involving dinosaurs” are two I think I follow.

* And Matt Yglesias selfishly takes a stand against one of our most-beloved cultural institutions. No special rights for late-in-the-alphabet people!

OoT

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I’m out of town this weekend for the wedding of an Unnamed Relative with whom some of you may be acquainted. Be back Monday.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 26, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in meta

Candide 2.0

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All Possible Worlds is the digital extension of the New York Public Library’s current “Candide at 250: Scandal and Success” exhibition; one of the highlights is Candide 2.0, a “networked edition” of the text annotated by professors, novelists, playwrights, and translators. I’ve been having an email conversation with the curator, Alice Boone, about reading Candide as a kind of proto-science-fiction novel, which I’ve always thought it was; something between a thought experiment and a dystopia, Candide was even on my “SF, Modernity, and Empire” exam list at one point.

More than that, though, Candide is one of those books I read as a teenager and could just never forget; it’s probably one of the ten novels most responsible for building my young leftist, atheist self…

Written by gerrycanavan

February 25, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Thursday Night

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* 10 words you need to stop misspelling.

* Why you can’t discuss health care with the GOP. Related: “A guide to debunking Republican talking points at the health care summit.”

* David Simon on the mythos behind his new show, Treme: What is it about Americans that makes us Americans? The one thing we have unarguably given the world is African-American music. If you walk into a shebeen in South Africa, or whatever version of a bar they have in Kathmandu, if they have a jukebox, you’re going to find some Michael Jackson, some Otis Redding, some John Coltrane. It has gone around the world. That is the essential American contribution to worldwide culture. The combination of African rhythms and the pentatonic scale and European instrumentation and arrangement. That collision of the two happened in a 12-square block area of a city called New Orleans that had a near-death experience in 2005. Via Alyssa Rosenberg.

* Yet another reason I need an iPhone: they now play Final Fantasy I & II.

* Two from Gawker’s “Science Fact Is Stranger Than Science Fiction” round-up: cities that will likely be destroyed by earthquake in the next century and genetic link discovered between misery and death.

To confirm the biochemical link between misery and death, and the genetic variation that breaks it, the researchers turned to epidemiological studies to prove that carriers of that specific genetic variation were less susceptible to death due to inflammation-related mortality causes under adverse social-environmental conditions.
They found that people with the most common type of the IL6 gene showed an increased risk of death for approximately 11 years after they had been exposed to adverse life events that were strong enough to trigger depression. However, people with the rarer variant of the IL6 gene appeared to be immune to those effects and showed no increase in mortality risk in the aftermath of significant life adversity.

* And rest in peace, Boner Stabone.