Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Super Ultra Mega Monday Links, Supplemental

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* Anyway, I have no solution to this. It just really struck me at the symposium, because the whole thing felt good. It was rich and exciting and fun. And we were talking about ideas, in much the same way that scholars talk about ideas (four of us teach at universities for goodness’ sake!). So you tell me. Why do scholars have to be so miserable? What is it about our culture–let’s say US academic culture, to keep it simple–that creates this desire for the downtrodden, humiliated, suffering (humanities) scholar? Of course we like suffering artists as well… hmm. But artists suffer and are adored, while scholars suffer and are despised. Artists, when they suffer, are ritual sacrifices; scholars are the meanest sort of criminals.

* A new survey shows that Americans, on average, think that Santa Claus should make $140,000 / year. “Perhaps more interesting is that 29% think Santa should make nothing at all whereas 29% think he should make $1.8 billion.”

* You Can’t Make a Living: Digital Media, the End of TV’s Golden Age, and the Death Scene of the American Playwright. The author, Alena Smith, has been making waves in an entirely different context today.

* In a creditocracy, the goal is to keep debtors on the hook for as long as possible, wrapping debt around every possible asset and income stream to generate profit. Figuring out which debts we can legitimately refuse may turn out to be the only way of salvaging popular democracy. Education is the best place to start. Though it is supposed to serve as the incubator for a free-thinking, active citizenry, it is fast becoming its opposite—a chop shop where the life choices and optional political imagination of young people are downsized to fit the lifelong demands of financial contracts.

* This city where sidewalks burn and sewers fill with oily ooze is a city built here almost specifically for that very reason; Los Angeles, in many ways, is a settlement founded on petroleum byproducts, and the oil industry for which the city was once known never actually left. It just got better at hiding itself.

* The Police in America Are Becoming Illegitimate. Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014.

* After Tamir Rice Was Shot, Cleveland Police Allegedly Handcuffed His 14-Year-Old Sister.

* Luke Cage was created in 1972. Four years earlier, in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed. Five years before that, in 1963, Medgar Evers was shot and killed. Eight years before that, in 1955, a young Black man named Emmett Till was tortured, then shot and killed. These events, and numerous others with frightening similarity, happened in a line, and in the early years of the first decade to reap the social benefits of the Civil Rights Movement, Marvel Comics gives the fans (and the world) a Black male superhero whose primary superhuman aspect… is that he’s bulletproof.

* A One-Way Trip to Mars? Many Would Sign Up.

* What the World Doesn’t Need Are Steampunk Luxury Condos.

* Democrats have a truly heroic devotion to continuing to lose despite ever-increasing demographic advantage.

* What Tolkien got wrong.

My defense was simple but impassioned: Tolkien explicitly stated in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings that he was merely translating the Red Book of Westmarch, not writing an original story. Since Tolkien claimed the Red Book is over 6,000 years old, it must be in the public domain and so open to everyone to reinterpret and repurpose as they see fit. The Red Book didn’t belong to the Tolkien Estate, it belonged to the world.

* Parable of the Polygons.

* And/but the kids are all right.

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