Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Archive for the ‘Look at what I found on the Internet’ Category

Thursday Links!

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Over the past decade numerous stories have come out about Soviet and American military personnel who were given orders to fire nuclear weapons between the 1960s and 1980s. Their conscience stopped them, only to learn later that it was a mistaken order. We now have another horrifying story to add to that growing list of possible post-apocalyptic futures.

Former Air Force airman John Bordne is now an elderly man. But in the early morning hours of October 28, 1962 he and his fellow airmen nearly launched their nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Air Force has only now given Bordne permission to tell his story of how America nearly started World War III.

* Time travel short film of the day: “Therefore I Am.”

Kurt Vonnegut’s Electric Literature.

* Stored grain can’t melt steel beams.

* NASA is taking astronaut applications.

* The BBC will adapt His Dark Materials.

* Bullets dodged: Aaron Sorkin once pitched a Pixar movie about talking office supplies.

How We Think About Technology (Without Thinking About Politics).

The rating game: How Uber and its peers turned us into horrible bosses.

* Another McKenzie Wark piece on the Anthropocene.

Don’t believe the Democratic Party is in crisis? Then read this tweet. How badly has the Obama era damaged the Democratic party?

The book includes diary entries about the tensions between Mrs. Bush and Nancy Reagan (“Nancy does not like Barbara”) and his private comments about Michael S. Dukakis, his 1988 opponent (“midget nerd”). It reports that as defense secretary for the elder Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney commissioned a study of how many tactical nuclear weapons would be needed to take out an Iraqi Republican Guard division, if necessary. (The answer: 17.)

* Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The Most Militarized Universities in America.

* These teams earned the most from “paid patriotism.”

Prose and poetry—all art, music, dance—rise from and move with the profound rhythms of our body, our being, and the body and being of the world. Physicists read the universe as a great range of vibrations, of rhythms. Art follows and expresses those rhythms. Once we get the beat, the right beat, our ideas and our words dance to it—the round dance that everybody can join. And then I am thou, and the barriers are down. For a while. Ursula K. Le Guin, y’all.

Students suspended or expelled over allegations of sexual assault rarely succeed in lawsuits against the institutions that punished them. That’s starting to change.

* Ada #8: Gender, Globalization, and the Digital.

* “What’s your secret?” ““Oh, we just kick out the bad ones.”

* Elmo looks into the Ark of the Covenant.


* And Meet Dakotaraptor: the feathered dinosaur that was ‘utterly lethal.’ Cutie!


Wednesday Links!

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As yet unmade series of Star Trek is shit, say Trekkies. I’m excited but trepidatious — and I think the anthology model might really be the way to go.

* As yet unmade Greatest American Hero reboot is shit.

All six editors and all 31 editorial board members of Lingua, one of the top journals in linguistics, last week resigned to protest Elsevier’s policies on pricing and its refusal to convert the journal to an open-access publication that would be free online.

Accelerationism Without Accelerationism.

The Man Who Brought Zombies to America.

New Data on Adjuncts.

* The end of Twitter.

“Unusual claims like evidence for alternate universes require a very high burden of proof,” Chary noted in the study.

John Boehner: ‘God told me’ Paul Ryan becoming Speaker was part of his divine plan. Truly, he moves in mysterious ways.

* Entering the “living parody” stage of the campus culture debate: Amid controversy, ‘Stonewall’ screening postponed.

* I’ve seen this movie, and it doesn’t end well: Man finds his doppelganger sitting in his seat on a flight.

* This one either: The Melting Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Heading Towards Irreversible Collapse.

Why does Facebook want the machines to win at Go?

* Join the AAUP, people!

The Idea of a “Male Brain” and a “Female Brain” Is Likely a Myth.

* The arc of history is long, but Disney May Be Officially Retiring Slave Leia From All ‘Star Wars’ Merchandise.

* And you had me at hello: famous statues reimagined as action figures.


Thank God It’s Monday Links

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* I have a pair of appearances in the new Eaton Journal of Archival Research in Science Fiction: one the transcript of the archival research panel at the last ICFA, and the other a writeup of the Octavia E. Butler papers at the Huntington. Boing Boing liked it, so should you!

Islam and Science Fiction: An Interview with Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad.

* Deadline extended: “In More’s Footsteps: Utopia and Science Fiction.”

* There’s only 37 stories, and we tell them over and over.

* The reason for the season: China Miéville: Marxism and Halloween – Socialism 2013.

* African American Review has a special issue devoted to Samuel R. Delany.

The layoffs and program reductions will save Rider close to $2 million annually once the changes take effect next school year, the university said. The university has a $216 million operating budget and faces a current deficit of $7.6 million, a school spokesman said.

In the Midst of Union Battle, Duquesne University Just Laid Off All but One of Its English Adjuncts.

* O Adjunct! My Adjunct!

The Philosophy of Adjuncting: A Syllabus.

“This is going to be like a combination of fantasy football and which body part can you live without.”

* There is no college bubble.

Study on online charter schools: ‘It is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year.’

* A Florida college will force job applicants to bid salary.

* What I Learned From Cutting 300 Pages Out Of My Epic Trilogy.

* The Secret Lives of ‘Star Wars’ Extras.

School and prison, school as prison, yes. But the most troubling possibility, I think, is school or prison. By using this locution, I don’t intend to invoke the uplift narrative that posits education as a means of avoiding criminality or, really, criminalization—a narrative that the “school-to-prison pipeline” concept has already undone. The or of my “school or prison” marks not a choice between alternatives but an identity produced through the indifferent interchangeability of functions.

* Arbitration is terrible.

The more unequal your society is, the more your laws will favor the rich.

* Haruki Murakami’s Monopoly. And why not: Selections from H.P. Lovecraft’s Brief Tenure as a Whitman’s Sampler Copywriter.

How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Revived Modern Myth-Telling. The Catholic Fantasies of Chesterton and Tolkien.

“It Follows”: Contemporary Horror and the Feminization of Labor.

53 years after his firing, college professor gets apology.

Penny booksellers are exactly the sort of weedy company that springs up in the cracks of the waste that the Internet has laid to creative industries. They aren’t a cause; they’re a small, understandable result. Penny booksellers expose the deep downside to efficiency capitalism, which is that everything, even literal garbage and rare high art, is now as easy to find and roughly as personal as a spare iPhone charging cable.

The Winner of the Latest GOP Debate Was, Hands Down, Patton Oswalt.

We must resist the market forces destroying our universities.

George Romero digs up a lost scene from Night Of The Living Dead.

* Teach the controversy: “The destruction of Alderaan was completely justified.”

* And while we’re at it: Jar Jar Binks was a trained Force user, knowing Sith collaborator, and will play a central role in The Force Awakens.

This Chart Shows How The US Military Is Responsible For Almost All The Technology In Your iPhone.

* Chimera watch: A Man is His Son’s Uncle, Thanks to a Vanished Twin.

* Crisis in the ACC.

Google, Tesla, others wait for DMV’s self-driving rules.

Bikini islanders seek US refuge as sea levels threaten homes. But it’s not all bad news! No, Climate Change Won’t Make the Persian Gulf “Uninhabitable.”

* It really depends what the meaning of “interdisciplinary” is.

* I’ll allow it, but listen, you’re on very thin ice: Wes Anderson would like to make a horror movie.

Things My Newborn Has Done That Remind Me of the Existential Horror of the Human Experience.

After 40 Years, Dungeons & Dragons Still Brings Players To The Table.

* Really now, don’t say it unless you mean it.

* Huge if true: Milwaukee County Sheriff Predicts Black Lives Matter Will Soon Join Forces with ISIS.

* Ethics 102.

* And there’s nothing sweet in life.


Written by gerrycanavan

November 2, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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What Day Is It? Links

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* Jaimee’s book was reviewed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week. We spent the weekend in DC for her book launch and reading at the Folger, which was amazing. She just absolutely killed it. Buy her book! And come to her reading in Milwaukee next week…

Part of the issue is an image problem around the impact of humanities research on the wider world. The public should know about Priscilla Wald, an English professor at Duke University, whose explanation of the “outbreak narrative” of contagion is changing the way scientists think about the spread of infectious diseases. Yeah they should! Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing… and ignored.

* “The Time Traveller,” a story in tweets by Alberto Chimal.

* “Nuclear War” Turns 50: A Fun Game about Human Extinction.

Slave labor either physically built the modern American university or was the wealth vehicle that conditioned its making.

* Professorial anger, then and now. A bit more here.

Every NYT Higher-Ed Thinkpiece Ever Written. How to write an essay about teaching that will not be published in the NYTChronicle, IHE, or anywhere else.

* Bousquet against alt-ac.

* The semipublic intellectual.

* What happens when you fiddle with just one knob on the infernal machine: rich people get richer.

* Billionaires and superstorms.

* Nice work if you can get it.

* Meanwhile.

Are Public Universities Going to Disappear?

* The care work of the (mostly female) academic: “I estimate that someone cries in my office at least once every three weeks.”

* Playboy‘s science fiction.

* An incredibly rare Tolkien-annotated map of Middle-Earth was just discovered in a used bookstore.

* Highly irregular: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be considered the eighth book in the Harry Potter series.

In a final speech to the synod, Pope Francis endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States, while taking some clear swipes at conservatives who hold up church doctrine above all else, and use it to cast judgment on others.

What Happens if a Former CEO Actually Goes to Prison?

Cop Attacks High School Student In Her Classroom.

The Hoverboard Scene In Back To The Future 2 Nearly Killed A Stuntwoman. Amazing story.

* Look, I’m not made of stone.

* A Google Tour Through The Underground: How to Read a Russian Novel Set in the Moscow Metro.

* NLRB Returns to Grad Student Unions.

* Bring on the climate trials: ICN has demonstrated that as early as the late 1970s, Exxon scientists were briefing top executives that climate change was real, dangerous, and caused by their product. By the early 1980s, their own climate models were predicting—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since. Meanwhile.

* David Mitchell on A Wizard of Earthsea.

* College sports: still the worst.

A statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian city of Odessa has been given a sci-fi twist – by being transformed into Darth Vader.

* Portugal has apparently smartly baked the potential for coups in its official constitutional order.

Emolument took data from both the US and UK and found that while science grads get a bit of a headstart straight out of university in terms of pay, in later life it’s people with humanities degrees who tend to get bigger pay cheques.

* How to Make a Virtuoso Violinist: One mother’s devastating study of 100 musical prodigies.

A DEA Agent Who Helped Take Down Silk Road Is Going to Prison for Unbelievable Corruption.

The Ecological Uncanny: On the “Southern Reach” Trilogy.

* Boondoggle watch: The City of Milwaukee has been awarded a $14.2 million federal grant for construction of a spur connecting the streetcar with the lakefront.

* “Many Colleges’ New Emergency Plan: Try to Account for Every Possibility.” Well, that’ll work.

Should a Cal State Fullerton math professor be forced to have his students use $180 textbook, written by his boss? Why is Cal State letting the math department chair require his own book?

The Man Behind the Dragon Tattoo: Former Internationalen editor Håkan Blomqvist on the socialist politics of his colleague Stieg Larsson.

“They didn’t hire me, they hired me minus 35 pounds,” Fisher recently quipped.

* The arc of history is long, but Subway will finally pay for calling an eleven-inch sandwich a “footlong.” Next up: they shouldn’t be allowed to call that bread.

* Miracles and wonders: Landmark Huntington’s trial starts.

* Star Wars but with philosophers.

* “Blood alcohol concentration predicts utilitarian responses in moral dilemmas.”

* Sesame Street will introduce an autistic muppet.

* I hate it when Yglesias is right, but sometimes he’s right: Democrats are in denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble. Down-ballot the Obama years have been a complete disaster in ways no one in the party seems ready or able to face.

Wesleyan University’s student assembly is considering substantial cuts to the student newspaper’s budget, in a move that is surely *completely unrelated* to a truly stupid recent uproar when the paper published an unpopular op-ed. The paper is soliciting donations to stay alive.

* My brilliant colleague C.J. Hribal on his old house.

* The secret linguistic life of girls.

* Talkin’ Trash with Brian Thill and Pinar Yoldas.

Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal.

* A literary history of whales.

The Deadly Legacy of HIV Truthers.

Things Men In Literature Have Died From.

Exploring ‘Cartozia Tales,’ The Crowdfunded Fantasy Anthology for Readers of All Ages.

* Nabokov v. Kafka on drawing the monster.

* “Gentlemen, I just don’t belong here”: throwing shade the Le Guin way.

* Guys, we are definitely living inside a simulation. And possibly just a few years away from either crashing it or figuring out how to hack it.

* And teach the controversy: Luke Skywalker, Sith Lord. I really think this is just an effective viral marketing ploy, but I’ll concede I’m starting to have my doubts.


Written by gerrycanavan

October 27, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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The Sadness(es) of BACK TO THE FUTURE

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Longtime readers will know I have a very soft spot for Back to the Future, a series of films I have adored since I was a child and now internalized to a degree that is perhaps unwise. So it’s something of a mixed bag to have lived too long and made it to October 21, 2015, both in the obvious sense that we never got our hover cars and also in the more abstractly philosophically sense that this is the last day depicted in the series, and thus we are now definitely and irrefutably living in that weird space of sadness after the future itself.

We’re doing a small Back to the Future event tonight on campus where I plan (of course) to talk a little bit about the familiar problems posed when you start to overthink the nominally happy end of the movie: the very big problem of the briefly glimpsed Second Marty, who travels into 1955 totally unequipped to replicate the events we’d just witnessed, as well as the longer-term problem of our Marty, Marty 1, who is the last survivor of an obviated timeline and thus surrounded for the rest of his life by the uncanny duplicates of the people he once loved but with whom he now shares no memories or any genuine connection.

But I also want to talk about the original script a little bit, which I find a really fascinating document. Most people know that in the original script the time machine is a refrigerator — changed so that kids wouldn’t climb into them hoping to travel in time — and that the lightning strike is the blast from an atomic test (the two together forming an image that stuck with Spielberg long enough for him to use it to ruin Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). But there’s some other really amazing stuff in there too. The thing is shot through with fears about oil depletion and the end of progress: it’s the subject of a lecture at Marty’s high school in the beginning of the script and something he keeps trying to ask the people of the 1950s about later, to no effect. That sort of science fictional nostalgia for a future that no longer seems possible is really a major theme in the original script, which is reduced to jokes about UFOs and “all the fallout from the atomic wars” in the produced film — the sense that the zany Jetsons future of technological world-transformation we once collectively looked forward to has been lost and the only one left for us is a much more depressive vision of imminent deprivation and catastrophe. (In this sense any eventual 2000s-era “dark, gritty reboot” would actually just be a return to the themes of the original script.)

But something weird happens at the end. In the original script Marty is the co-creator of time travel when he accidentally spills some Coca-Cola on the time device; Coke’s unique chemical formula turns out to contain tremendous energy inside it, easily providing the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to power the Flux Capacitor. Marty’s trip to the past ultimately tips Doc off to Coke’s unknown energistic property, and so when Marty returns to the future at the end of the film he isn’t hopping into a very similar timeline where he just happens to have grown up rich instead of poor, but into an incredible retrofuturistic world of free energy and robot servants and flying cars — precisely the cartoonishly optimistic milieu that is relocated to 2015 for the gag at the end (and later, the sequel). (Doc’s pouring of the half-empty soda can into Mr. Fusion at the end of the film is, I think, the last remaining trace of this original idea.)

In this way “Back to the Future” was actually originally a pun: Marty goes not just back to his future but back to the future, the good future we were supposed to get, instead of the lousy one we actually did…

Written by gerrycanavan

October 21, 2015 at 11:07 am

Monday Morning Links!

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Call for Papers: “Reframing Science Fiction.”

* Chris Ware: Why I Love Comics.

* Ghosts of Marquette.

Utopias, past and present: why Thomas More remains astonishingly radical.

* I just can’t believe “crip theory” is really a brand with staying power, but it’s showing up in job titles now.

Margaret Atwood on our real-life dystopia: “What really worries me is creeping dictatorship.” Oh, if only it were “creeping!”

* All Things Must Pass: McDonald’s franchisees say the brand is in a ‘deep depression’ and ‘facing its final days.’

Who’s to Blame for Mass Incarceration?

* Teach the controversy: Is UC spending too little on teaching, too much on administration? More links below the chart.

The Plan to Make California Wet By Bringing Back Beavers.

Monica Morrison has now let herself be named in her lawsuit against the University of Miami for its mishandling of Colin McGinn’s harassment.

Buck Rogers and the Copyright Trolls.

* Free the cheese bandits. Free all political prisoners.

* I still think Democrats are severely discounting the possibility that Clinton gets indicted.

* Vox, the website that explains the news, suggests Nordic genetic superiority might explain Denmark’s social institutions. Interesting, but not dispositive! I get that this is supposed to be a troll, but all the same…

Wealth therapy tackles woes of the rich: ‘It’s really isolating to have lots of money.’

Fukushima Looks Like An Apocalyptic Ghost Town 4 Years After The Nuclear Disaster.

A few days ago, a reddit user posted a thought-experiment about living in Las Vegas and working in San Francisco, commuting four days a week by airplane. Their back-of-the-envelope calculations have them saving about $1100/month.

* I’ll allow it: Larry David Fulfills Destiny, Plays Bernie Sanders In SNL Cold Open. Bonus David Content! Larry David’s Daughter’s Instagram Will Make You Wish She was Your Best Friend.

* Beowulf vs. Satan vs. Grendel vs. Dracula.

* I’ve seen this movie: Aer Lingus Passenger Flips Out, Bites Fellow Passenger, Dies.

* And somehow I always knew it would end like this: Japan Engineers Design Robotic Bear to aid in Assisted Suicide.


Happy Weekend Links!

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* CFP: Octavia E. Butler Legacy and Society Call for Papers.

I want to complain to the studio execs who commissioned the current season of “21st century”; your show is broken.

* But maybe a big reboot is coming! Astronomers may have found giant alien ‘megastructures’ orbiting star near the Milky Way.

The Many, Many Times Astronomers Mistook Mundane Phenomena for Aliens. Cult of the cosmic — How space travel became the unofficial religion of the USSR.

* Another potential redirection for the series: Women who sniff this Hawaiian mushroom have spontaneous orgasms.

“To call for capitalism to pay its way is to call for the abolition of capitalism.”

* World federalism isn’t dead, it’s never even been tried!

The Alphabet of Assassination.

US intelligence knew bombed Afghan site was a hospital.

* Potentially major finding: Huntington’s disease protein controls movement of precious cargo inside cells, study finds.

Colleges Are Spending 7 Times More on Athletics Than They Are on Academics.

* Speaking my language: A strong El Niño may mean a warmer, drier winter in southern Wisconsin.

* World’s most depressing tour of LA planned for October 21, 2015. Come to Marquette English’s BTTF events instead!

Watch Doc and Marty travel to the real 2015, where everything is terrible.

* You can time travel with Marquette another way, too: here’s a sneak preview of our Spring 2016 course offerings.

* Scenes from the class struggle against that one weird Cornell ad: 1, 2.

First-year composition, in other words, is more than a course in grammar and rhetoric. Beyond these, it is a course in ethical communication, offering students opportunities to learn and practice the moral and intellectual virtues that Aristotle identified in his Nicomachean Ethics as the foundation for a good life. And that’s why America is such a paradise today.

* Good news: it’s your spouse who’s ruining your career, not your kids.

How Harvard Fights Unions.

* The dark art of curriculum review.

By the same token, I know that an emphasis under a major has the same student-learning outcomes as the parent major, so I can create a new program without expanding the number of assessment reports that I have to do. This just means that a major is basically a magical bag of holding for emphases: I can fit as many emphases as I want inside a major without becoming encumbered by more paperwork!

Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting.

* A judgmental map of Milwaukee.

* When Marquette tore down a historic mansion to build the AMU.

* I’m sure the policy is being written as we speak: When May I Shoot a Student? Guns on Campus: A Terrible Idea.

* Pretty good selfie-based horror short. 

* Die Hard was the gold standard of unprequelizable films. Kudos to all involved in this important project.

* Playboy without Playboy.

Wayne Simmons, a regular Fox News commentator who claimed to have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for almost three decades, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly fabricating his agency experience.

Through the Plexiglass: A History of Museum Dioramas.

* How the NSA broke cryptography.

Huntington Library and UC Riverside teaming up to hire humanities professors.

* Why Google Ngrams are garbage.

How The Black Dot Campaign Grew Into A Dangerous Viral Hoax.

People being shot by toddlers on a weekly basis in the US.

Artists got ‘Homeland is racist’ Arabic graffiti into the latest episode of ‘Homeland.’

CCP Adjunct Professor, Black Lives Matter Activist Suspended After Speaking at Rally.

Aunt Loses Lawsuit Against 12-Year-Old Nephew Who Allegedly Broke Her Wrist With a Hug. But there’s more! Aunt Didn’t Want to Sue Nephew, Lawyer Says, Insurance Company Left Her “No Choice.”

Žižek, social reformist: The lesson here is that the truly subversive thing is not to insist on ‘infinite’ demands we know those in power cannot fulfil. Since they know that we know it, such an ‘infinitely demanding’ attitude presents no problem for those in power: ‘So wonderful that, with your critical demands, you remind us what kind of world we would all like to live in. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where we have to make do with what is possible.’ The thing to do is, on the contrary, to bombard those in power with strategically well-selected, precise, finite demands, which can’t be met with the same excuse.

* I’m so glad this turned out to be the case: Standing Desks Are Mostly Bullshit.

These Are the American Cities That Could Be Buried Underwater by 2200.

The Man Who Builds Luxury Bomb Shelters for Paranoid One Percenters.

* Jeb makes an almost pathetically transparent bid for my endorsement.

* Sorry!, and the Nature of Suffering.

* Just don’t tell Shia: FX is turning Y: The Last Man into a TV series.

* And teach the controversy: Your Favorite Band Sucks.


Written by gerrycanavan

October 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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