Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Friday Night Links

with 2 comments

* In case you missed it, I was on WUNC’s The State of Things today talking about science fiction and the end of the world. I’m in the second segment, about twelve minutes in. Here’s an MP3.

* Which undergraduate colleges are producing the most PhDs? You might be surprised.

* Game of the night: 3 Slices.

* Ferris Bueller’s Second Day Off? Not so fast, says everyone.

* At the end of Contact, Ellie Arroway discovers a secret message encoded in the digits of pi, presumably from the creator of the universe. With that in mind, check this out.

* The headline reads, “North Korea makes using a cellphone a war crime during 100 day mourning period.”

* The headline reads, “Nicolas Cage used real magic to prepare to be Ghost Rider.”

* The United States now spends some $200 billion on the correctional system each year, a sum that exceeds the gross domestic product of twenty-five US states and 140 foreign countries. An ever-increasing share of domestic discretionary spending, it would seem, is devoted to building and staffing earthly hells filled with able-bodied young men who have been removed from the labor force. If we added up all the money federal, state, and local governments invest in the poorest zip codes through credits and transfer payments—food stamps, Medicaid, teacher salaries, et cetera—and balanced that against all the value the government extracts from those zip codes through sin taxes, lotteries, and the incarceration complex, we might well conclude that the disinvestment outweighs the investment. Any apparent gains made in the last thirty years in narrowing the employment and education gap between African Americans and whites vanishes once you include the incarcerated population. Before asking the government to spend a fortune improving student-to-teacher ratios, it may be prudent to first ask the government to stop devoting public resources to ripping the heart out of inner-city economies. n+1: Raise the Crime Rate.

The earth is alive, asserts a revolutionary scientific theory of life emerging from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The trans-disciplinary theory demonstrates that purportedly inanimate, non-living objects—for example, planets, water, proteins, and DNA—are animate, that is, alive. With its broad explanatory power, applicable to all areas of science and medicine, this novel paradigm aims to catalyze a veritable renaissance.

* n+1 revists the bad 2000s: Did these bands suck? Was there something that Pitchfork had missed? Although Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, M.I.A., and Animal Collective all produced sophisticated, intelligent music, it’s also true that they focused their sophistication and intelligence on those areas where the stakes were lowest. Instead of striking out in pursuit of new musical forms, they tweaked or remixed the sounds of earlier music, secure in the knowledge that pedantic blog writers would magnify these changes and make them seem daring. Instead of producing music that challenged and responded to that of other bands, they complimented one another in interviews, each group “doing its own thing” and appreciating the efforts of others. So long as they practiced effective management of the hype cycle, they were given a free pass by their listeners to lionize childhood, imitate their predecessors, and respond to the Iraq war with dancing. The general mood was a mostly benign form of cultural decadence.

* And Twitter announces new micro-censorship policy. “Micro-censorship” is an amazing euphemism, isn’t it? Well-coined. It almost doesn’t even sound bad! It’s only micro-censorship…

2 Responses

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  1. […] on a link from Friday: How the craziest f#@!ing “theory of everything” got published and […]

  2. […] blocking of content only in countries where censorship is required. Stop me if this sounds a bit familiar. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]


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