* Tomorrow at Marquette! The English Department pop culture group geeks out over The Hunger Games.
“In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”
The point of engagement in this sense is not to involve the public in making decisions, but make them feel involved in decisions that others will make. That this may be done with the best of intentions is important, of course, but ultimately besides the point. Like “stakeholder,” “engagement” thrives in a moment of political alienation and offers a vocabulary of collaboration in response. So if civic engagement is in decline, one thing that is not is the ritualistic performance of civic participation. The annual election-cycle ritual in American politics is a case in point here. In one populist breath, we routinely condemn the corruption of politicians who, it is said, never listen to the average voter. And in the next, we harangue the average voter for failing to participate in a process we routinely describe as corrupted. So it’s not the “apathy” or “disengagement” of the public that we should lament or criticize—it’s the institutions that give them so many reasons to be disengaged in the first place.
JR: In the past you have said that you are a short-term pessimist and a long-term optimist. Could you expand on this a bit: why are you pessimistic about the short term? What changes do you anticipate taking place between the near and far futures that change your pessimism to optimism?
IB: On a personal level, it’s damage limitation; a sanity-keeping measure. Expect the worst and anything even only half-decent seems like something to celebrate. The pessimism comes from a feeling that as a species we seem unable to pass up any opportunity to behave stupidly, self-harmfully (the Copenhagen climate talks being but the latest example). The long-term optimism comes from the the fact that no matter how bad things seem and how idiotically and cruelly we behave. . . well, we’ve got this far, despite it all, and there are more people on the planet than ever before, and more people living good, productive, relatively happy lives than ever before, and—providing we aren’t terminally stupid, or unlucky enough to get clobbered by something we have no control over, like a big meteorite or a gamma ray buster or whatever—we’ll solve a lot of problems just by sticking around and doing what we do; developing, progressing, improving, adapting. And possibly by inventing AIs that are smarter and more decent than we are, which will help us get some sort of perspective on ourselves, at the very least. We might just stumble our way blindly, unthinkingly into utopia, in other words, muddling through despite ourselves.
* The growth of auxiliary activities was the primary driver in spending increases by the schools, the report concludes. From 2005 to 2012, $3.4 billion was spent on instructional and research facilities. The cost for nonacademic auxiliary facilities was $3.5 billion from 2002 to 2012. Limit athletic fees, check construction to control college costs, study says.
* It’s a start: Massachusetts Town Proposes First Complete Ban On All Tobacco.
* The Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) is under attack by critics who say academe is colluding with the mainstream media to push a feminist agenda in video games. How deep does this conspiracy go?
* When we think about the collapse of communism, we should emphasize and celebrate the attractiveness of a social market economy — not free enterprise.
* Today, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced through the New York Times that it may stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession, opting instead to issue tickets without detaining the suspect. This would feel like an important step toward reasonable weed policy if New York state hadn’t already mandated it 37 years ago.
* The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars. Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets to Seize.
* Is Pre-K academically rigorous enough? That’s a real question this real article is asking.
* Grace Dunham is now an adult and she read this book before it was published. She is managing her sister’s book tour and they are best friends. Are we really going to overlook this?
* Also on the subject of Lena Dunham: this is an extremely clickbaity headline, but the testimony from a juvenile sex offender is fascinating and horrible.
* In America, today’s parents have inherited expectations they can no longer afford. The vigilant standards of the helicopter parents from the baby boomer generation have become defined as mainstream practice, but they require money that the average household earning $53,891 per year— and struggling to survive in an economy in its seventh year of illusory “recovery”— does not have. The result is a fearful society in which poorer parents are cast as threats to their own children.
* Although it looks like a traditional typeface, Dyslexie by Christian Boer is designed specifically for people with dyslexia.
* In its gentle sadness, its deceptively light tone, and its inherent contradictions, this is the perfect ending to The Next Generation. One of these days, the crew will be dispersed. The Enterprise will be put in mothballs. Starfleet will complete its transformation into a body that none of them particularly want to serve in. But for now, their voyages continue.
* Peak Prequel: Sony Rumored to Be Prepping Aunt May Spider-Man Spin-Off Movie.
* And the best news ever: HBO Will Make Asimov’s Foundation With Interstellar‘s Jonathan Nolan. I may lose my mind over this show. I may even do a podcast. And a lot of what went wrong with Interstellar wasn’t even Jonathan Nolan’s fault!