Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Surprise! Thursday Links!

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* I’m in something of an unusual situation, uniquely poised to obsessively explore the game while I’m on medical leave, but I’ve really been enjoying Gloomhaven. Reading D&D sourcebooks to yourself because you have no friends to play with never felt so good! If it’s even remotely your thing, check it out.

* Reading Marx on Halloween. UPDATE: Forgot this one! China Miéville: Marxism and Halloween.

* Can’t believe I have to wait for April for this: Revealing The Doors of Eden, a New Novel from Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The Doors of Eden takes the evolutionary world-building I used for Children of Time and Children of Ruin and applies it to all the ‘What ifs’ of the past. It’s a book that feeds on a lot of my personal obsessions (not just spiders*). The universe-building is perhaps the broadest in scope of anything I’ve ever written. At the same time, The Doors of Eden is a book set in the here and now, and even though there’s more than one ‘here and now’ in the book, I spent most of a summer trekking around researching locations like a film producer to try and get things as right as possible. Sometimes, when you plan a journey into the very strange, it works best if you start somewhere familiar.

Writing the book turned into a very personal journey, for me. It’s the culmination of a lot of ideas that have been brewing away at the back of my mind, and a lot of obsessions that have had hold of me for decades. I have quite the trip in store for readers, I hope.”

(*Book not guaranteed to be entirely free of spiders.)

* There are six seasons, not four. Kurt Vonnegut explains.

* CFP: Society for Utopian Studies 2020: Make, Unmake, Remake. CFP: The Peter Nicholls Essay Prize 2020 at Foundation. CFP: The Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference 2020: Rendition.

* A space anthropologist warns inequality gets worse on Mars.

* Afrofuturism and solarpunk.

* I may have gotten to mention that the new issue of Science Fiction Film and Television is out, with articles on Charlton Heston’s SF films, the Anthropocene politics of outer space media, and a partial report from the franchise fiction roundtable at ICFA 40.

* After Deadspin.

it’s a real feeling, to watch people you admire – entire crews of them – get fucked again and again by parasitic industries and self-important executives whose pockets are as deep as they themselves are shallow

University of Chicago projected to be the first U.S. university to cost $100,000 a year.

The “We” in WeWork was the customers working in the offices, living in the apartment buildings, and learning in the schools—not the people determining where any of this was built, and in what quantity. If money is indeed piling up on the balance sheets of large corporations and in the coffers of the Saudi Treasury as proceeds for burning the planet—and if that money is ultimately at the disposal of a farseeing Japanese cell phone mogul—one might ask if it could be managed differently if it were in the hands of, well, “We,” instead of flooded into commercial real estate for the purpose of acclimatizing office workers to ever smaller workspaces. Getting a better grip on the capital stocks and flows that enable WeWork and its mutant cousins may require a “mission to elevate the world’s consciousness,” but there’s an older and simpler word for it, too.

* Inside the Kincade Fire: Within Feet of the Flames. California’s Wildfires Are the Doom of Our Own Making. PG&E power outage could cost the California economy more than $2 billion. The Toxic Bubble of Technical Debt Threatening America.

Explaining to my children why the world is burning.

* ‘The climate doesn’t need awards’: Greta Thunberg declines environmental prize.

* Man who has personally ordered scores of assassinations has intense appreciation for moral nuance.

* …telling graduate students to eschew public-facing writing and outreach in favor of “impressive” or “legitimate” publications is the wrong advice for the many job candidates who will end up employed outside of the select circle of wealthy institutions.

* If Virginia ratifies the ERA next year, it would go back to Congress for what would be an utter shitshow fascinating vote.

* Pete Buttigieg, unfrozen caveman Democrat.

* Game of Thrones somehow manages to choose the more boring of its two boring prequel options. That’s commitment to a bit.

Dynamic Underwater Photos Look Like Dramatic Baroque Paintings.

* I should write a piece about how my attitudes about piracy have turned around in the last 5 years. Now I feel like anybody who circulates files of classic cinema is the equivalent of people in Ray Bradbury‘s Fahrenheit 451 who keep literature alive by memorizing & reciting it.

Cops aren’t liable for destroying home of innocent people, 10th Circuit rules. They were looking for a shoplifter.

His expenses to rebuild the house and replace all its contents cost him nearly $400,000, he said. While insurance did cover structural damage initially, his son did not have renter’s insurance and so insurance did not cover replacement of the home’s contents, and he says he is still in debt today from loans he took out.

“This has ruined our lives,” he said.

“Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos, who the fuck is going to notice the quality of our pods,” the former CEO allegedly said. Juul says the lawsuit is “baseless.”

* To die well, we must talk about death before the end of life.

Why I Haven’t Gone Back to SCOTUS Since Kavanaugh. Some things are worth not getting over.

* The algorithm predicted black patients would cost less, which signaled to medical providers that their illnesses must not be that bad. But, in reality, black patients cost less because they don’t purchase healthcare services as much as white people on average. New York is investigating UnitedHealth’s use of a medical algorithm that steered black patients away from getting higher-quality care. This is like the (likely apocryphal) story about the algorithm trained to find tanks in pictures, only to identify instead which days were sunny and which days were cloudy — only here we decide to listen to the computer and redefine what a tank is.

* From the archives: David Bowie explains that the internet is an alien lifeform.

* Take the blue pill, and…

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