Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Wednesday Night Everything

with 5 comments

* Details are emerging about Wes Anderson’s next film, Moon Rise Kingdom:

[The film] is set in the 60s. Two young adults fall in love and run away. Leaders in their New England town are sticking the idea that they’ve disappeared and go in search of them. Norton will play a scout leader who brings his charges on a search. Willis is in talks to play the town sheriff who’s also looking, and who is having an affair with the missing girl’s mother, the role McDormand is in talks to play. Murray, a regular in Anderson films, will play the girl’s father, who has his own issues.

Let Bleeding Cool have the final word for now: “The film is set in the 60s and has a script by Anderson and Roman Copolla. The potential for obsessive compulsive production design and a soundtrack full of hipper-than-thou needle drops is actually quite frightening.”

* Why Humanities? Talks from the Birkbeck College Conference. Via @traxus4420, who smartly proclaims it the “antidote to stanley fish’s studied moronism.”

* Rep. John Shimkus, candidate for House Energy Committee chair in the new Congress, explains why we don’t have to worry about climate change. New Jersey governor and potential presidential candidate Chris Christie frets that it’s all just so complicated.

* According to the International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook peak oil happened in 2006. So there’s that.

* From now on, every time you say “It’s on like Donkey Kong” you have to give Nintendo a quarter.

* Holy crap: what hospitals do with foreskins. Via Kottke.

* Child abuse at 0% in lesbian households. You read that right.

What I didn’t see was a party that supports single-payer health care, free universities, the redistribution of wealth from the top one percent, an end to corporate-owned elections. I also want a party that hopes to abolish the death penalty, the internal combution engine and the U.S. Senate, an anti-democratic body that should go the way of the House of Lords. My friend and sometime editor David Fellerath quits the Democratic Party.

* Only the super-rich can save us now: PNC Bank Will No Longer Fund Mountain Top Removal.

* Ad the co-chairmen of the Catfood Commission has returned from hibernation with a triumphant plan to fix the deficit that absolutely no one likes, not even the other members of the Commission itself.

5 Responses

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  1. Sounds like Colini plagiarized me for the beginning of his essay:


    November 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

  2. (that’s tongue in cheek, by the way; i know sarcasm can’t be registered online)


    November 11, 2010 at 9:02 am

  3. There’s another way to look at this. This Wired article made me ask the question: if we were redesigning the core curriculum right now, to deal with the problems of today, what would it look like? Waste studies and statistical literacy strike me as classes that could very well be central for a curriculum. The questions that would be important to me would be:

    1) What do we want the mission of the university to look like? It goes without saying that value maximization is not the goal. But are “well-rounded individuals” or “promoting values” any better goals? Maybe not. Creating global citizens? That seems a bit depressing – I’d rather convince people not to fly to Bonn for a meeting or for “culture.” Freedom of thought? I’m not so sure I believe in freedom of thought (throw the Stanley Fish card, if you’d like). For me personally, the most convincing goal of education would be life (this is not vitalism, although it may sound that way): supporting a life that people actually want to live. This might mean not having a weeklong conference on Lacan (I was dead serious when I told you that, in her demand that Fred retain some contact with reality, Susan Willis is a better philosopher than any of the circle of Marxists who came last week, regardless of the sophistry you might want to spin about the “concept of reality”). It might mean not reading the canon of Western philosophy in order to engage in arguments (sometimes, it might mean not arguing).

    2) What kinds of core courses would go along with the mission that we formulate? The model for quite some time has been to offer tons of courses, so that there’s something for everyone. Is that the model we continue? Or do we make certain courses mandatory, etc.? Some of the private colleges that offer an education in the classics have very strictly-defined curricula. Their students are complete idiots. But what if we had a strict curriculum that actually fit the world, as it is (and not some imaginary world of lyceums and togas)?

    3) What is the relation between the economy and the academy? I think humanists are all too ready to set aside their concerns about the tenability of global capitalism in order to defend what they do. “Yes it’s all a Ponzi scheme, but we want our share of that Ponzi scheme.” Fair enough. But is that in good faith? It’s a bit of a fine line between throwing those departments that don’t “produce enough value” under the bus and recognizing that academia is propped up on imaginary quantities.


    November 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

    • Those are really good questions, but isn’t step (0) still the question of how to engage a managerial class of deans and administrators who don’t care about these questions, or really about anything but value maximization and/or protecting their own outsized salaries?


      November 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

      • Yeah. I think that goes without saying.


        November 11, 2010 at 5:01 pm

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