Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘1970s

Monday Links

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The Ambiguous Utopia of Iain M. Banks.

* Steven Chu waves the white flag on the tar sands. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… If only Obama had won!

* Colorado to split into two states over gun control? America has become a bad fan fiction of itself.

* The Constitutional Amnesia of the NSA Snooping Scandal: John Judis remembers the 60s and 70s.

* Leak, Memory.

Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom.

* And Dan Harmon says he won’t retcon season four. Of course, he hasn’t seen it yet…

Quote of the Night, Kim Stanley Robinson Edition

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“So there are lots of Brunners now; but Brunner was first, and The Sheep Looks Up still stands as a powerful warning. Two years after it came out, in 1974, the Club of Rome published a study called The Limits to Growth, which warned that the natural resources of the planet could not sustain an ever-expanding population consuming ever greater amounts of resources, and unleashing on the planet ever greater amounts of pollutants and poisons. For thirty years after this report came out, conservative think tanks and governments never tired of mocking the Club of Rome for their prediction, pointing to the always-increasing world population and resource consumption and noting that no disaster had struck, that here we all were consuming happily away, with only a few of us starving and the whole engine of capitalism humming along. But then around the time of the new millennium the scientific community began to speak up about climate change and habitat degradation and fisheries loss and topsoil loss and groundwater depletion and all the rest of it; and sometime in the last few years the scientific community started going off like the fire alarm in a hotel—saying exactly the same thing that the Club of Rome had said a quarter century earlier! So as a culture we had been like the man in the story who throws himself off the top of the Empire State Building and reports as he passes the tenth story that everything is fine, that the dangers have been exaggerated, and so on. The happy report has simply been premature.”

—Kim Stanley Robinson, Introduction to The Sheep Look Up (Centipede Press edition 2010)

Written by gerrycanavan

December 5, 2011 at 12:26 am

Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye

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We got up and paid our quintuple bill; then we went out into the street. I said goodbye and went off with Laur, I, Janet; I also watched them go, I, Joanna; moreover I went off to show Jael the city, I Jeannine, I Jael, I myself.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

Goodbye to Alice Reasoner, who says tragedy makes her sick, who says never give in but always go down fighting, who says take them with you, who says die if you must but loop your own intestines around the neck of your strangling enemy. Goodbye to everything. Goodbye to Janet, whom we don’t believe in and whom we deride but who is in secret our savior from utter despair, who appears Heavenhigh in our dreams with a mountain under each arm and the ocean in her pocket, Janet who comes from the place where the labia of sky and horizon kiss each other so that Whileawayans call it The Door and know that all legendary things come therefrom. Radiant as the day, the Might-be of our dreams, living as she does in a blessedness none of us will ever know, she is nonetheless Everywoman. Goodbye, Jeannine, goodbye, poor soul, poor girl, poor as-I-once-was. Goodbye, goodbye. Remember: we will all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we will all be free. I swear it on my own head. I swear it on my ten fingers. We will be ourselves. Until then I am silent; I can no more. I am God’s typewriter and the ribbon is typed out.

Go, little book, trot through Texas and Vermont and Alaska and Maryland and Washington and Florida and Canada and England and France; bob a curtsey at the shrines of Friedan, Millet, Greer, Firestone, and all the rest; behave yourself in people’s living rooms, neither looking ostentatious on the coffee table nor failing to persuade due to the dullness of your style; knock at the Christmas garland on my husband’s door in New York City and tell him that I loved him truly and love him still (despite what anybody may think); and take your place bravely on the book racks of bus terminals and drugstores. Do not scream when you are ignored, for that will alarm people, and do not fume when you are heisted by persons who will not pay, rather rejoice that you have become so popular. Live merrily, little daughter-book, even if I can’t and we can’t; recite yourself to all who will listen; stay hopeful and wise. Wash your face and take your place without a fuss in the Library of Congress, for all books end up there eventually, both little and big. Do not complain when at last you become quaint and old-fashioned, when you grow as outworn as the crinolines of a generation ago and are classed with Spicy Western Stories, Elsie Dinsmore, and The Son of the Sheik; do not mutter angrily to yourself when young persons read you to hrooch and hrch and guffaw, wondering what the dickens you were all about. Do not get glum when you are no longer understood, little book. Do not curse your fate. Do not reach up from readers’ laps and punch the readers’ noses.

Rejoice, little book!

For on that day, we will be free.

How to remember and discover Joanna Russ.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (and Several More)

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* Between the tax compromise and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, I think Obama did a tremendous amount to help his chances for reelection this week. Rachel Maddow rightly calls the DADT repeal the president’s victory:

Politically, the thing to not lose touch with here is that this is the President’s victory. This is something about which the President took a lot of criticism, a lot of abuse, a lot of skepticism from his otherwise most loyal supporters. He continually insisted that this was possible that it would get done.

Guilty as charged. I confess I also love the sweet sound of right-wing screams, especially when their own caucus collapsed in the face of this “generational change.” Even Richard Burr voted the right way!

* It looks like Harvard and Yale will return ROTC to their campuses in light of the repeal. Frankly I’d prefer to see the trend going the other way—we need tighter restrictions on military recruiting, not loosening of the few restrictions that already exist—but I suppose this was unavoidable.

* Seen on Facebook: Obama wants to let gays vote. That’s why I’m voting Tea Party.

* Watch out Texas: bad news coming.

* Aside from the matter of actual violence, drugs, and squalor, there was the fact that in the 1970s New York City was not a part of the United States at all. It was an offshore interzone with no shopping malls, few major chains, very few born-again Christians who had not been sent there on a mission, no golf courses, no subdivisions…

* The message to Nicky Wishart and his generation is very clear: don’t get any fancy ideas about being an engaged citizen. Go back to your X-Box and X-Factor, and leave politics to the millionaires in charge. Via MeFi.

* And still more trouble for Britain: There are a growing number of grassroots organisations campaigning about the over-professionalisation of childhood football. Give Us Back Our Game launched four years ago. “The game has been taken away from children by over-competitive coaches and parents,” says founder Paul Cooper. It has several offshoots, including Football Football, an initiative to revive inner-city football. Then there’s the Children’s Football Alliance, which champions “mixed ability” football, and the Don’t X The Line campaign against over-the-top parental behaviour at children’s football matches. Also via MeFi.

* Consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs is evolutionarily novel, so the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume these substances.

* And Fringe announces its move to the Friday night death slot with style.

Mad Men Season 11, Hallucinogenic Spores, and Adamantium Bones

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* Put This One finds a wonderful image from Mad Men, Season 11. (Thanks, Jacob!)

* The Chicago Tribune explains why doing research in the archives is so fun. The answer may surprise you! Hint: Fungus on books, they say, is a likely source of hallucinogenic spores.

* The American Family Association ups the ante on the whole “Ground Zero mosque” pseudo-scandal: No more mosques in America, period.

* The Founding Fathers never intended to separate church and state. And they were 17 feet tall and had adamantium bones.

* Rachel Maddow on the war on brains.

* And Political Wire brings the news that we’re actually going to eliminate birthright citizenship: 49% of Americans already want to, before the fools and liars in the media have even had their chance to beat the drum.

* The climate situation is just obscenely dire.

* And just in time for our triumphant return: Huge hand-drawn panorama of London, 1845.

Monday

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* New maps of science fiction: a 1977 survey attempted to map political and cultural patterns in science fiction fandom. Via MeFi.

* The NAACP was right: the National Tea Party has now expelled the Tea Party Express from its ranks because of its founder’s racist comments.

* I wasn’t that worried about November until Joe Biden predicted victory.

* Why California can’t legalize marijuana.

* And The House Next Door rewatches Exit Through the Gift Shop with the various conspiracy theories in mind.

Vietnam, 35 Years Later

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Elsewhere in the 1970s: The Big Picture’s post today is “Vietnam, 35 Years Later.”

What’s Wrong with Sesame Street

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A critique of Sesame Street from 1971. Some people are never happy.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 7, 2009 at 1:12 am

Late Sunday Links

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Late Sunday links.

* Rachel Maddow kicks ass on another visit to Meet the Press. They should just give Rachel Meet the Press; I hope eventually they do. It’s the only version of the show I could imagine actually watching.

* The networks are apparently afraid of SF; Day One has apparently been downgraded to a miniseries and the V remake is rumored to be forbidden to use the world “alien.”

* Octavia Butler’s papers will go to the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, joining Christopher Isherwood’s, Charles Bukowski’s, and Jack London’s.

* Playgrounds of the 1970s. A version of the Officer Big Mac at right was active in Ledgewood, NJ, well into the 2000s. (Is it still there?)

* Judith Butler: Save California’s universities. My only quibble is that she appears to be writing in the wrong country’s newspaper.

* More Nate Silver: That the conservative intelligentsia reacted giddily to news of the Americans losing is telling. It’s telling of a movement that was long ago knocked off its intellectual moorings and has lost the capacity to think about what people outside the room think about. Flagged by Bitter Laughter. More thoughts along the same lines from Cogitamus and Contrary Brin.

* My happiest time was after Mao came into power. Our social status improved. People were allowed to express their views. Before, people had no right to speak out. After the founding of new China, the first parade, I was on the front row during the first parade. Foreign journalists from America and the Soviet Union took lots pictures of me. I was carrying a flower basket, walking down Huaihai road, it was very festive, and there was much excitement. I went out during the parade every year for many years, rain or shine. Why the Chinese support the Communist party.

Late Night Links

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Late night links.

* The 1990s are back! My hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, reviews DVD releases of The State and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.

* John Scalzi rates science fiction films by the only rubric that has ever made sense, their explosions. There seems to be some grade inflation at work here.

* Grist has a new feature called “No, there’s not a debate about the science of climate change,” debunking denialist memes currently in circulation.

* The Atlantic investigates the elusive green economy.

In 1977, the country appeared poised on the brink of a new age, with recent events having organized themselves in such a way as to make a clean-energy future seem tantalizingly close at hand. A charismatic Democrat had come from nowhere to win the White House. Reacting to an oil shock and determined to rid the country of Middle East entanglements, he was touting the merits of renewable energy and, for the first time, putting real money into it— $368 million.

But things peaked soon afterward, when Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House. “A generation from now,” Carter declared, “this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken—or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

Oh, Jimmy.

* And MetaFilter investigates how to fall out of a plane.

Even More AIG Blogging

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I guess I’m doing some AIG blogging today. A few more links for people looking for background and commentary on this.

* Good background on the collapse of Wall Street and the shady and/or illegal practices that have characterized the behavior of these large firms over the last few years can be found in Michael Lewis’s piece for Vanity Fair from December.

That’s when Eisman finally got it. Here he’d been making these side bets with Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank on the fate of the BBB tranche without fully understanding why those firms were so eager to make the bets. Now he saw. There weren’t enough Americans with shitty credit taking out loans to satisfy investors’ appetite for the end product. The firms used Eisman’s bet to synthesize more of them. Here, then, was the difference between fantasy finance and fantasy football: When a fantasy player drafts Peyton Manning, he doesn’t create a second Peyton Manning to inflate the league’s stats. But when Eisman bought a credit-default swap, he enabled Deutsche Bank to create another bond identical in every respect but one to the original. The only difference was that there was no actual homebuyer or borrower. The only assets backing the bonds were the side bets Eisman and others made with firms like Goldman Sachs. Eisman, in effect, was paying to Goldman the interest on a subprime mortgage. In fact, there was no mortgage at all. “They weren’t satisfied getting lots of unqualified borrowers to borrow money to buy a house they couldn’t afford,” Eisman says. “They were creating them out of whole cloth. One hundred times over! That’s why the losses are so much greater than the loans. But that’s when I realized they needed us to keep the machine running. I was like, This is allowed?”

Here’s an interview with Lewis.

* Eliot Spitzer, hilarious national joke though he may be, says the real scandal is “that AIG’s counterparties are getting paid back in full.”

But wait a moment, aren’t we in the midst of reopening contracts all over the place to share the burden of this crisis? From raising taxes—income taxes to sales taxes—to properly reopening labor contracts, we are all being asked to pitch in and carry our share of the burden. Workers around the country are being asked to take pay cuts and accept shorter work weeks so that colleagues won’t be laid off. Why can’t Wall Street royalty shoulder some of the burden? Why did Goldman have to get back 100 cents on the dollar? Didn’t we already give Goldman a $25 billion capital infusion, and aren’t they sitting on more than $100 billion in cash? Haven’t we been told recently that they are beginning to come back to fiscal stability? If that is so, couldn’t they have accepted a discount, and couldn’t they have agreed to certain conditions before the AIG dollars—that is, our dollars—flowed?

The appearance that this was all an inside job is overwhelming. AIG was nothing more than a conduit for huge capital flows to the same old suspects, with no reason or explanation.

(Via Vu.) Spitzer also speaks about the (misdirected) “populist rage that is metastasizing very quickly,” which is a topic I just finished writing an email about. My interlocutor had a good line I’ll just go ahead and quote:

Every problem we have is met with demands for a kind of vengeful series of recriminations instead of a focus on what public policy should focus on – the institutional framework that allows/encourages people to behave in a certain way and that leads to disastrous results.

Obama needs to channel this rage into a movement for systemic reform of capitalism, not just pump capital into institutions that have been broken for not years but decades. Otherwise, he and we will find ourselves in this same place soon enough, with all same players crying “Oops!” again.

* Dan Hind has a somewhat similar take, via Lenin’s Tomb, though it must be said that both links are instructive examples of how difficult it can be to divide justice from vengeance in times like these. What I like about Hind in particular is the way he traces the crisis to what I agree is a major point of origin, the explosion of public and consumer debt beginning in the early 1970s, which didn’t “just happen” but which was, again, the result of a system of incentives instituted by those in power. The credit crisis is a symptom of a much larger disease; Obama needs to think much bigger than he seems to be.

* Dr. Bluman has some thoughts about legality and fraudulent conveyance in the comments to a post I keep pushing down the page.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 20, 2009 at 5:27 pm

‘Empire of Consumption’

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The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil, and that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part of through the distribution of largesse here at home, and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad.

Retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich talks to Bill Moyers about the consumerist origins of American foreign policy, what Charles Maier called the ’empire of consumption.’ Of course, once again Carter comes up::

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I would be one of the first to confess that – I think that we have misunderstood and underestimated President Carter. He was the one President of our time who recognized, I think, the challenges awaiting us if we refused to get our house in order. 

BILL MOYERS: You’re the only author I have read, since I read Jimmy Carter, who gives so much time to the President’s speech on July 15th, 1979. Why does that speech speak to you so strongly?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, this is the so-called Malaise Speech, even though he never used the word “malaise” in the text to the address. It’s a very powerful speech, I think, because President Carter says in that speech, oil, our dependence on oil, poses a looming threat to the country. If we act now, we may be able to fix this problem. If we don’t act now, we’re headed down a path in which not only will we become increasingly dependent upon foreign oil, but we will have opted for a false model of freedom. A freedom of materialism, a freedom of self-indulgence, a freedom of collective recklessness. And what the President was saying at the time was, we need to think about what we mean by freedom. We need to choose a definition of freedom which is anchored in truth, and the way to manifest that choice, is by addressing our energy problem.

He had a profound understanding of the dilemma facing the country in the post Vietnam period. And of course, he was completely hooted, derided, disregarded.

More immediately important, though, is this about Obama, McCain, and general election 2008:

BILL MOYERS: …Do you expect either John McCain or Barack Obama to rein in the “imperial presidency?” 

ANDREW BACEVICH: No. I mean, people run for the presidency in order to become imperial presidents. The people who are advising these candidates, the people who aspire to be the next national security advisor, the next secretary of defense, these are people who yearn to exercise those kind of great powers.

They’re not running to see if they can make the Pentagon smaller. They’re not. So when I – as a distant observer of politics – one of the things that both puzzles me and I think troubles me is the 24/7 coverage of the campaign.

Parsing every word, every phrase, that either Senator Obama or Senator McCain utters, as if what they say is going to reveal some profound and important change that was going to come about if they happened to be elected. It’s not going to happen.

BILL MOYERS: It’s not going to happen because?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Not going to happen – it’s not going to happen because the elements of continuity outweigh the elements of change. And it’s not going to happen because, ultimately, we the American people, refuse to look in that mirror. And to see the extent to which the problems that we face really lie within.

We refuse to live within our means. We continue to think that the problems that beset the country are out there beyond our borders. And that if we deploy sufficient amount of American power we can fix those problems, and therefore things back here will continue as they have for decades.

It’s a truly exceptional interview. Read the whole thing. Via MeFi.

Gerry Through the Ages

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I was pretty productive this morning until I caught a link to this Yearbook Yourself site; now I’ve gone and wasted half the morning playing with it.

If you can ignore the commercials on every page, it’s good fun. As you’d expect, the funniest results seem to cluster around the 1970s and ’80s…

1974

1976

1978

1980

1982

1984

1988

I was born too late.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 18, 2008 at 3:24 pm

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Good News for culturemonkeys (All about the 1950s)

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Never say Hollywood can’t learn from its mistakes. The producers have figured out how to please everyone: maintain earnestness regardless of the inherent absurdity of the genre, be ‘topical’ by way of empty allegory, be spectacularly violent, never stop moralizing. Meet these requirements, and a great deal of variety is possible: one has free reign to be jokey or serious, bright or gloomy, undisguisedly sexist, racist, homophobic, or none of the above, ‘critical,’ or ‘wish fulfillment.’ Or all of the above. These labels are simply not the creator’s responsibility. Restore the superhero’s propaganda function, in short, and in so doing prove Sontag’s thesis that “pure camp” is always so for the future and not the present.** The comic book-loving nerds of my generation are now faced with the dubious realization of our pubescent dreams: the nerds have taken over Hollywood, and the responsibility thus falls to the Figure of the Superhero to ‘teach us’ something about the “human condition.”

Good news for culturemonkeys: Ryan has a great post on superhero cinema over there. (And here too.) It’s more or less the definitive post on Dark Knight. But a few quick thoughts. First, I think Acephalous’s attempt to rehabilitate the film from attempts to understand it solely as a “balls-out obvious apolog[y] for the authoritarian, repressive ‘excesses’ of global capitalism” is instructive, and definitely worth reading.

Second, Ryan writes that we are currently experiencing the”repetition-as-farce of the ’50s”—but this doesn’t strike me as a new phenomenon. Isn’t it more the case that postwar American culture is perpetually returning to the ’50s as a site of degrading, doomed unity?

This is to say that Jameson’s claim that WWII is the moment of highest American nostalgia par excellence is, I think, fundamentally correct, with the revision that it’s more the period from Dec. 1941 to August 29, 1949, the day the Russians exploded their first atomic bomb. The ’50s are the memory of “the good ’40s” combined with and juxtaposed against the reality of 8/29/49—they are the dawning but perpetually unfinished recognition of how it all will go / is going / has already gone wrong. In other words, the ’50s themselves were a repetition-as-farce the first time around of the ideologically unacceptable, apocalyptic shock at the end of the previous decade—and we find ourselves going back to the ’50s for answers whenever we get shocked again.

That’s why, when 1973 is the year of disaster for American capitalism, Happy Days premieres in January 1974.

More Intergenerational Warfare

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More intergenerational warfare: On July 15, 1979, Jimmy Carter gave his famous malaise speech. How much better would the world be today if we—by which I mean they—had just listened to him then?

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

In little more than two decades we’ve gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It’s a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our Nation.

The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them…

Instead we they elected a guy who tore solar panels off the roof of the White House for no reason at all.