Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Thursday Links!

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* I have a short piece up at the Cambridge UP blog: “We’re Sorry, the Final Frontier is Closed.” It talks a bit about the recent revival of space frontier and space opera fantasy in big-budget films like Jupiter Ascending, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Interstellar…

Scientists determine the nation’s safest places to ride out a zombie apocalypse.

Woodland ‘fairy door’ tradition ‘out of control.’

Now the trustees of Wayford Woods have announced ‘fairy control’ methods which will curb the “profusion of elfin construction”.

Trustee Steven Acreman said the trend was “in danger of getting out of control” but stressed he was not “anti-fairies”.

“It’s a very complex situation and nobody’s admitting that they’re evicting the fairies,” he said.

“These beliefs persisted into recent times,” says Butler. “For example, in 1895 Michael Cleary convinced his family and community that his wife, Bridget, was a changeling. This was confirmed by a traditional fairy doctor, who attempted a herbal cure. When that didn’t work, they threatened her with fire, doused, and finally burned her to death.” Well, that’s certainly less charming.

So by all means, criticize teachers when it is warranted. But resist education reformers at all costs, particularly when they rationalize their reforms as a way to address the problems of the teaching force. Education reformers, no matter their intentions, are the enemies of a unionized teaching force. They are the enemies of public education.

Sweet Briar’s Sudden Closure Plans Leave Students and Employees Scrambling.

“The faculty and staff,” Mr. Brown said, “are feeling traumatized by this—not just by the loss of the institution, but by the way it has been handled. They seem to have no answers about anything, and that is what feels so deeply troubling.”

I hadn’t even thought about how impossible it will be for Sweet Briar faculty to sell their homes. What a nightmare.

Who Gets the Endowment? I really hope higher ed media watches the dispersal of Sweet Briar’s endowment and property very closely.

* And of course Forbes has a handwavey plan to save Sweet Briar by firing all the faculty and replacing them with MOOCs.

The Woman Behind #NAWD.

* Neoliberalism and magic.

Indeed, at the heart of the standard capitalist narrative is magic, as if the will to realize the abstract ideal of a cornucopia for all will itself — through fervent wishing and belief that can only be called religious — bring about the imagined state. It is the “invisible hand” idea from Adam Smith — the conviction that there really is a hidden force that given free rein sets everything aright. It is the God meme in capitalism and its writings, Smith’s among them, that is to capitalism what the Torah is to Judaism, the Gospels to Christianity, and the Koran to Islam: holy texts whose authenticity and reality must not be challenged or questioned unless as an adolescent moment of doubt, eventually subsumed by the re-embrace of total belief.

* I’ve always wanted a Trek anthology series. And with the ever-lowering cost of CGI effects it could be finally be done…

* In the short term, the contract faculty who teach the majority of courses at York University are striking for higher wages. In the long run, contract teaching needs to be abolished.

* The Unintended Consequences of Borrowing Business Tools to Run a University.

In some cases, regulation, not deliberative choice, has led campus leaders to rely on business advice. For example, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights II, signed into law in 1996, requires many of us to hire compensation consultants to ensure that “disqualified persons”—presidents, provosts, vice presidents for finance and administration, etc.—have not received an “excessive benefit” such as inappropriate compensation.In all situations that I have observed, this process has had unintended consequences. Using sophisticated tools developed for industry, the consultants have demonstrated that many higher-education leaders are undercompensated.

GASP! NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED! I wonder if a “compensation consultant” has ever, in history, determined that a CEO was receiving “excessive benefit.”

Raped on Campus? Don’t Trust Your College to Do the Right Thing. I’d see the story about Oregon’s admin raiding the campus health center for ammo to use against its own students, but I’d never seen the outrageous legal justification for it before now.

If you are a student and seek counseling at your college’s counseling center, your medical records are most likely not protected by the typical medical-privacy laws, otherwise known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Instead, they fall under the aegis of Ferpa, just as Oregon said. And compared with Hipaa, Ferpa is about as protective as cheesecloth.

This Is What It’s Like To Go To Court In Ferguson, Missouri. DOJ Finds Ferguson Police Routinely Discriminate. Ferguson Police Tolerate Sexual Harassment of Female Officers. What Is Wrong With the Ferguson Police Department? Particular lowlights from the DoJ report.

* Ferguson, Inc: The city’s protest movement tries to find a path forward.

What’s happening here is fundamentally simple: the surveillance state enforcing surveillance as the normative form of care. The state cannot teach its citizens, because it has no idea what to teach; it can only place them under observation. Perfect observation — panopticism — then becomes its telos, which is justifies and universalizes by imposing a responsibility to surveil on the very citizens already being surveilled.

Lao Science Fiction On the Rise.

* 1906 novel predicted what New York would be like in 2015 exactly.

CSU profs: Stagnant pay pushing us out of middle class.

American Airlines To Phase Out Complimentary Cabin Pressurization.

* More Companies Are Run By Men Named “John” Than By Women. Just lean in!

Writers Block: TV Writers’ Rooms Have Even Fewer Women, Minorities Than Last Year.

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Douglas Adams made me a writer: Neil Gaiman salutes his friend and inspiration.

The power of play: The effects of Portal 2 and Lumosity on cognitive and noncognitive skills.

Lots of Cases of Synesthesia Are Based on Alphabet Magnets.

Where’s The Funding For Women’s Soccer?

* Why Don’t Men Kick Each Other in the Balls?

Stop Calling Children’s Gun Deaths “Accidental.”

* A singular event that has never happened in history before: Kenosha officer admits to planting evidence in homicide case.

* 2016 watch: Bernie’s Reasons Why Not.

* And Boing Boing has your gallery of Star Trek comic book covers.

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