Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘1984

Another Day of Extreme Cold, Another Link Post

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* CFP: ASLE co-sponsored roundtable at MLA 2020: Indigenizing the Future: (Re)Imagining the Future of the Environment. Jan. 9-12 2020 Seattle, WA. Deadline March 1.

* CFP: The State of the Single-Author Study (also MLA 2020, deadline March 15). As Sean Guynes-Vishniac noted hopefully an SF studies scholar will participate as this has been a major site of research in recent years, largely due to the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series.

* #freelance #altac

* Just for the record: Polar vortex: what is it and how is it linked to climate change?

* A free book of science fiction from around the world about climate change, introduced by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Greta Thunberg: Act As If Our House Is on Fire. Because It Is.

* Kamala Harris picked a fight with the wrong fandom.

Sanders’s bill, the “For the 99.8% Act,” would tax the estates of the 0.2 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million, while the rest of the country “would not see their taxes go up by one penny under this plan,” according to aides to the Vermont senator, who is considering a 2020 presidential bid.

Democrats Must Reach Out to Moderates in 2020 — By Waging a Vicious Class War.

* Socialism for Realists.

* How a frustrated blogger made expanding Social Security a reasonable idea.

* Joshua Tree national park ‘may take 300 years to recover’ from shutdown. And another shutdown is just a few short weeks away!

Modern Weather Forecasts Are Stunningly Accurate.

How much better? “A modern five-day forecast is as accurate as a one-day forecast was in 1980,” says a new paper, published last week in the journal Science. “Useful forecasts now reach nine to 10 days into the future.”

* Cop watch: This Is What Truancy Laws Do. Feds used fake Michigan university in immigration sting. ICE force-feeding detainees on hunger strike. An asylum seeker’s quest to get her toddler back.

OxyContin Maker Explored Expansion Into “Attractive” Anti-Addiction Market.

* Once you have your sensitivity raised about a particular condition, you see the abuses they suffer everywhere. Florida School Staffers Charged With Using Dark Room, Whistle to Torment Autistic Kids.

* You can report the news in a way that doesn’t inform anyone.

* Bipartisan agreement that Donald Trump is God’s chosen instrument for destroying the United States.

* No helmets, no problem: how the Dutch created a casual biking culture.

* What happened when Oslo decided to make its downtown basically car-free?

* I basically pitched this story in Graz, talking about the difference between Aquaman and Namor: Namor, ecoterrorist.

The Beginning of the End of Capitalist Realism.

* Today in the liberal media’s endless drumbeat for war.

* 1984.

* It looks like I’ve accidentally made a terrific financial decision.

“We find that LEGO investments outperform large stocks, bonds, gold and other alternative investments, yielding the average return of at least 11% (8% in real terms) in the sample period 1987-2015,” write the authors of a study titled LEGO – The Toy of Smart Investors. “Small and huge sets, as well as seasonal, architectural and movie-based sets, deliver higher returns. LEGO returns are not exposed to market, value, momentum and volatility risk factors, but have an almost unit exposure to the size factor. A positive multifactor alpha of 4-5%, a Sharpe ratio of 0.4, a positive return skewness and a low exposure to standard risk factors make the LEGO toy an attractive alternative investment with a good diversification potential.”

* The contemporary fascination with women who were tabloid media spectacles in the 1990s has turned at last to Lorena Bobbitt.

* What You Should Know Before You Start Watching Porn.

* Scenes from the Anthropocene.

* And just in time for teaching SimCity later this semester: Behind one of the most iconic computer games of all time is a theory of how cities die—one that has proven dangerously influential.

Monday Links!

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* Academic freedom in Wisconsin.

* This is silly, but I confess I found it an interesting wrinkle: Wonder Woman Actor Says Chief Is Actually a Demi-God.

* People shouldn’t live in Arizona.

* Sinofuturism in LARB.

* Why work?

Democrats Don’t Need Trump’s Voters To Retake The House. The overall message of 2017 special elections is that Republicans are in trouble. Why Paul Ryan’s race for Congress next year bears watching, even if he’ll be hard to beat. An Associated Press study of U.S. House races found that Republicans may have gained up to 22 additional seats in the 2016 election due to redistricting. The AP’s analysis also found four times as many states with GOP-skewed state legislative maps as Democratic-skewed ones. Voter suppression is a greater threat to U.S. democracy than Russian election tampering, if you can imagine it.

Bernie and Jane Sanders, under FBI investigation for bank fraud, hire lawyers.

Senate GOP expected to add new penalties for the uninsured into their health bill. Privately, health plan worries Senate bill would “cause most small employers’ premiums to go up.” Coverage Losses Under the Senate Health Care Bill Could Result in 18,100 to 27,700 Additional Deaths in 2026. Crazy waivers: the Senate bill invites states to gut important health insurance rules. Medicaid Cuts May Force Retirees Out of Nursing Homes. You’re Probably Going to Need Medicaid. Pure Class Warfare, With Extra Contempt. Can the moderates save us? Even Ron “Horrible” Johnson: ‘We should not be voting’ on healthcare this week. (But, you know, partial credit at best.) The principled support for the bill is apparently pass it no matter what’s in it just cause Team Red. Trump and Social Darwinism. Keep calling.

What we have just witnessed can, I think, be legitimately referred to as the popping of the Blair-Clinton bubble. That is, the ending of the assumption that a tepid, compromised, market-friendly, bureaucratic centrism that nobody actually liked was the only form left-of-centre politics could take, because everyone was convinced that everyone else thought so.

What It Was Like to Star in the Trump-Themed Julius Caesar.

Centrist Democrats are now the great defenders of social justice? Please.

Trump’s Deflections and Denials on Russia Frustrate Even His Allies.

* Remember when we had laws and dumb stuff like that? God, we were such dorks.

NJ Assembly Passes Bill Requiring Kids Be Taught to Interact With Police. Maybe give some of the same training to off-duty cops next?

Cops Sent Warrant To Facebook To Dig Up Dirt On Woman Whose Boyfriend They Had Just Killed.

* I wasn’t one, but congratulations to all the Locus Award winners!

The Many Lives of the Medieval Wound Man.

* Pale Blue Dot. The Weinersmith Test for Artificial Intelligence. Everything happens for a reason. Hot lava. Markov dating.

Alarmingly, one source speaking to THR claims that upon the announcement to the crew that Ron Howard would step in to take over the film a day after Miller and Lord’s firing, applause broke out. Report: Lucasfilm Was So Concerned About Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo Performance It Brought in an Acting Coach. What a mess.

* The race to save Florida’s devastated coral reef from global warming.

* Crimebook noplane freedomhate.

High Court Mostly Revives Trump Travel Ban, Will Hear Appeal.

* High-stakes scenarios and market failure.

The amount of work that once bought an hour of light now buys 51 years of it.

* Everyone, get your guesses in! Last call for Kennedy bets.

* This is no time for optimism.

* Prince Was a Secret Patron of Solar Power.

Flashback: David Bowie’s Failed Attempt to Adapt George Orwell’s ‘1984.’

150 times actors were forced to say the title of the movie they’re in.

* Riot at Disney tonight, details TK.

Superhero Rescues Put Everyone in Danger, Urge Scientists.

* This is why we can’t have nice things. Do not panic; the authorities are in complete control. Bitch I might be. Happy last week of summer school.

* And I’ve said it all along: don’t blame me, blame the world.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 26, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Trumpsday Reading

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tumblr_oknrrm94td1romv9co1_500Trump is targeting up to 8 million people for deportation. Making America Cruel Again. The triumph of cruelty. Inside the White House-Cabinet battle over Trump’s immigration order. 24 Hours at JFK. ‘Breathtaking violation of rights.’ Constitutional crisis. Hero Lawyers. Stop that plane: The frantic race to halt a deportation. A Q&A With the ACLU. Our New Itinerary. Travel ban causes high anxiety for Milwaukee’s international students. The little-noticed bombshell in Trump’s immigration order. Half Of World’s Refugees Are Running From U.S. Wars. Trump’s First Weeks Leave Washington— and the White House Staff—Panting. The leaks coming out of the Trump White House right now are totally bananas. Yes, all this happened. Gasp! Trust Records Show Trump Is Still Closely Tied to His Empire. Ivanka lied about the leaving the Trump organization too. Make War with Mexico Great Again. Trainwreck in Yemen. Even Australia. Onward to Iran! 14 Versions Of Trump’s Presidency, From #MAGA To Impeachment. Trump and the Republicans Are on a Suicide Mission Together. Editing Trump. Authoritarian Government Watch. We just let this one go without even making a big deal about it. And this one was crazy too! A Series of Unfortunate Events. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. Seems legit. This is not normal. #TheResistance. A Reader for Trumplandia. Trump: A Resister’s Guide. SNL 1, 2, 3. Oh man. The law, in its majestic equality. 4 in 10. A whole year? Jesus. The numbers. A 3,900 percent increase. It takes 3.5% of a population engaged in sustained nonviolent resistance to topple brutal dictatorships. Here’s how much the anti-Trump protests cost, at Trump paid-turnout rates. Disobey.

tumblr_okptgkqlob1romv9co1_500* I had a very brief segment on Wisconsin Public Radio last week discussing 1984 and the Trump administration.

The worst, most terrible things that the United States has done have almost never happened through an assault on American institutions; they’ve always happened through American institutions and practices. These are the elements of the American polity that have offered especially potent tools and instruments of intimidation and coercion: federalism, the separation of powers, social pluralism, and the rule of law. All the elements of the American experience that liberals and conservatives have so cherished as bulwarks of American freedom have also been sources and instruments of political fear. In all the cases I looked at, coercion, intimidation, repression, and violence were leveraged through these mechanisms, not in spite of them.

There is a style of political reasoning which the Trump moment lends itself to, which can be called conspiracism. Against omniscience.

Everyday Authoritarianism is Boring and Tolerable.

* V-Milwaukee!

* Vaughn Prison Uprising.

* Screaming about Trump into a Well: A Text Adventure.

The Democratic Response to Gorsuch Is Easy: Just Say No. Why Democrats Should Oppose Neil Gorsuch. Make Republicans Nuke the Filibuster to Confirm Neil Gorsuch.

Football players at private institutions in college sports’ most competitive level are employees, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel stated this week, and will be treated as such if they seek protection against unfair labor practices.

* Chris Ware on George Herriman. A rebuttal.

* The African Speculative Fiction lecture series at the University of London.

* Inside the Disney Vault.

The Hot New Brand of Higher Education.

* Riot at Berkeley. #Milosexual and the Aesthetics of Fascism.

* After-the-Horse-Has-Left-the-Barn Department. Well at least you’re sorry.

Who Cares If the Dow Jones Hit 20,000?

Under A New System, Clinton Could Have Won The Popular Vote By 5 Points And Still Lost.

The U.S. military’s stats on deadly airstrikes are wrong. Thousands have gone unreported.

* Academics boycotting the U.S.

* The end of Locked-In Syndrome… in the Twilight Zone.

* Same.

* The new issue of the SFRA Review is up.

The Youth Group That Launched a Movement at Standing Rock.

* Poker and the machines.

Guns, hostile lawmakers, and professional bigots are more dangerous to academic freedom than left-wing activists are.

* Other Space, the best SF series no one but me watched.

* Against the Constitution. Against the Supreme Court.

Video Game Voice Actor Strike Now Second-Longest In SAG History.

* Zelda map size comparisons.

How a Cult That Believes Cats Are Divine Beings Ended Up in Tennessee.

* How to Kellyanne Conway.

Why the voting age should be lowered to 16.

* February 17 is the next time the general strike isn’t actually going to happen.

In the Trump International Penal Colony and Golf Resort.

* Marquette in the ne — come on, again?

* Also they enslaved and tortured generations of animals, but that’s not important right now.

* no no no no no no no no

* If you want a vision of the future.

* …and now it’s canon.

* Decolonizing Science Fiction.

How an Interstellar Starship Could Actually Explore Alpha Centauri.

How Astronauts’ Brains Are Changed By Spaceflight.

* In the future, everyone will be hated by thousands of strangers for 15 minutes.

* The Milwaukee Bucks Century.

* The war comes to Whitefish Bay.

Pension giant TIAA is leading a global wave of deforestation and the destruction of small farmers’ livelihoods.

The richest society in human history.

* And like Nietzsche said: it is forgetting, not remembering, that makes life possible.

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 5, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Another Very Busy Couple of Weeks, Another Absolutely Too Long Linkpost

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* ACLA 2016: The 21st Century Novel at the Limit. Feminism and New Generations of Old Media. Aesthetic Distance in a Global Economy.

* And one for NEMLA: Women Authors from the Great War.

Special Issue CFP: Queer Female Fandom.

* You broke peer review. Yes, I mean you.

* Graduate students are employees when that’s bad for them, and students when that’s bad for them.

* Last year, Yale paid about $480 million to private equity fund managers as compensation — about $137 million in annual management fees, and another $343 million in performance fees, also known as carried interest — to manage about $8 billion, one-third of Yale’s endowment. In contrast, of the $1 billion the endowment contributed to the university’s operating budget, only $170 million was earmarked for tuition assistance, fellowships and prizes.

Why financial aid might make college more expensive.

* Scenes from the schadenfreude at UIUC.

* TurnItIn doesn’t even work.

First, Do No Harm? The Johns Hopkins System’s Toxic Legacy in Baltimore.

* SF short of the month: the found footage / time travel narrative “Timelike.” “Suicidium” is pretty good too. Both are very Black Mirror.

* Salon’s Michael Berry interviewed me and a bunch of other SF scholars recently on the greatness of Dune.

* No more fire, the water next time: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Global Warming and White Supremacy.

* Hobbes v. Snoopy.

* Science fiction and class struggle, in Jacobin.

* Precrime comes to Pennsylvania.

* Seven habits of unsuccessful grad students. Job market secrets from the English department at U. Iowa. How to avoid awkward interactions during your tenure year.

* Clinton’s ed plan poised to continue the bad disruptivation of the Obama administration. Yay!

Northwestern Football Players Cannot Form Union, NLRB Rules. Former Berkeley Football Player Sues Over Concussions. UNC-Chapel Hill Reports New Possible NCAA Violations.

* Coca-Cola and the denialists.

* Life extension and prison.

* Abandoned college campuses of Second Life.

Yes, your gadgets are ineluctably engineering your doom.

* What If Stalin Had Computers?

* The NLRB might (finally) shut down the temp economy.

On average, it’ll take four minutes for you to get to the end of this piece, and quite frankly you should be spending those four minutes asleep.

Crowdfunding Is Driving A $196 Million Board Game Renaissance.

* Sesame Street and neoliberalism, but like for real this time.

Why 35 screenwriters worked on The Flintstones movie.

Yes, We Have “No Irish Need Apply.”

* Epigenetics: Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children’s genes.

* Evergreen headline watch: “Michigan Fails to Keep Promise to Native Americans.”

UC Davis workers: “We exposed students to asbestos.”

* Understanding Neal Stephenson.

* The Bucks as case study for the stadium scam. Bucks affiliate the Biloxi Shuckers and their endless tour.

They had no inkling about what was really going on: Gubb was a serial fraudster who made a living by renting houses, claiming to be a tenant, then illegally subletting rooms to as many residents as he could cram in—almost always young women desperate for a piece of downtown living.

How a jerk scams a free quadruple espresso at Starbucks 365 days a year.

* US and Boeing developing a targeted EMP weapon. Looking forward to the surplus sale.

* Another car remotely hacked while driving. If a Cyberattack Causes a Car Crash, Who Is Liable?

How Much Of California’s Drought Was Caused By Climate Change?

By 2100, Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean. You probably can’t undo ocean acidification even if you find a way to pull carbon out of the air.

* The climate hackers.

* The ice bucket challenge may have been a much bigger deal than you thought.

In just eight years, Pinellas County School Board members turned five schools in the county’s black neighborhoods into some of the worst in Florida.

* The bail trap.

* The end of Columbia House.

* An oral history of Six Feet Under.

* Death penalty abolition in Connecticut.

* Being Stephen Colbert.

* Happy Earth Overshoot Day.

* The new Cold War is a Corn War.

* Donald Trump and fascism. This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.

* Writing the second half of the Harry Potter series replacing Cedric Diggory with a Slytherin.

Banksy’s Dismaland.

* Twilight of the Bomb.

* Interactive widget: How to fudge your science.

* Science proves parenthood is a serious bummer.

How We Could Detect an Alien Apocalypse From Earth.

* Who mourns for the Washington Generals?

* Well, it makes more sense than the official story: ‘Aliens prevented nuclear war on Earth’: Former NASA astronaut makes unexpected claim.

* Is Howl the Netflix of podcasts? Watch Earwolf’s user base revolt.

* The kids today and the end of funny. The unfunny business of college humor.

Racial Bias Affects How Doctors Do Their Jobs. Here’s How To Fix It.

* Here comes Star Wars Land.

NBC chairman threatens ALF reboot if Coach reboot is successful. Just give them what they want! Pay anything!

Controlling the Narrative: Harper Lee and the Stakes of Scandal.

* Hell, with same-day delivery.

Locked in Solitary at 14: Adult Jails Isolate Youths Despite Risk.

* I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave.

Mars One Is Still Completely Full of Shit.

A Troll in the Lost City of the Dead.

In 2010, anonymous emails started popping up in the inboxes of Department of the Interior officials. The messages accuse museums across the country of failing to deal with their massive collections of Native American bones. Those remains are there illegally, the emails allege, and should be returned to the tribes to which they belong. They’re all signed “T.D. White.”

* Science proves the universe is slowly dying

* How DC has played Suicide Squad all wrong.

* The law, in its majestic equality, permits both rich and poor to sleep outside.

Dutch Artists Celebrate George Orwell’s Birthday By Putting Party Hats On Surveillance Cameras.

Ancient whistle language uses whole brain for long-distance chat.

* “We’re Fighting Killer Robots the Wrong Way.”

An early YA novel gets lost in the Freaky Friday canon.

* My dad was right! Social Security really is a Ponzi scheme.

Don’t freak out, but scientists think octopuses ‘might be aliens’ after DNA study.

* Don’t bring your dogs to work.

* Today in Wikipedia hoaxes.

* Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal continues to overthink Superman in the best possible way.

Architects are trying to raise $2.8 billion to build this city from Lord of the Rings.

You Know Who Hates Drones? Bears. They love pools though.

* Don’t say it unless you mean it.

* And we shall Truffle Shuffle no more forever.

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 23, 2015 at 10:13 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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The Tuesday Links

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It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.

The governors of eight Northeastern states petitioned the EPA to crack down on coal burning in the Midwest.

So, to recap, nationalization of the health insurance industry in 2009 would have cost no more (and almost certainly a lot less) than $240 billion. The savings in waste resulting from replacing the health insurance racket with an extension of Medicare would have resulted in no less than $158 billion a year. That’s an annualized return on investment of 66 percent. The entire operation would have paid for itself in less than 18 months, and after that, an eternity of administrative efficiency for free. And, of course, happy shareholders.

The owners of Kiko, Hercules and Leo could not be reached Monday night.

Seven in 10 college seniors (71%) who graduated last year had student loan debt, with an average of $29,400 per borrower. From 2008 to 2012, debt at graduation (federal and private loans combined) increased an average of six percent each year.

* Academia as horror show: The Chronicle‘s 2013 “Influence” List.

* The end of tenure at Kean University?

* BREAKING: MOOCs don’t work.

* Brad DeLong says save Berkeley by (partially) transforming it into a finishing school for the superrich of Asia.” What could go wrong?

* The latest numbers on PhDs with job commitments at graduation.

* The next shoe to drop.

A vote being held tomorrow and Wednesday could secure union recognition for New York University graduate students, which the administration withdrew and then withheld from them — with help from congressional Republicans and Obama’s now-Treasury Secretary — for the past eight years. If the United Auto Workers emerges victorious in the vote, NYU will become only private sector U.S. university to bargain collectively with graduate student teachers and researchers — though such workers will remain excluded from U.S. labor law. 

* “This comic is shaping up to be, in many ways, a departure from the sometimes light-hearted series.” He’s taking, impossibly, about the Serenity comic followup Leaves on the Wind.

There’s a 1,200-year-old Phone in the Smithsonian Collections.

* Good news! FBI can secretly turn on laptop cameras without the indicator light. 1984 as instruction manual.

* The NSA has been spying on World of Warcraft.

Inept ATF Uses Children and People With Low IQs In Sting Operations.

Texas Student Asks Campus Cop, “You Gonna Shoot Me?” So Cop Shoots Him. Dead.

Novelist Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, 2312, and Shaman) debates the merits of utopian thinking with Aeon Magazine’s Marina Benjamin and political theorist Alex Callinicos.

* Nice work if you can get it: Fox News Paid Fired Executive $8 Million to Keep Quiet.

* TNI #23 is out.

* The trailer for season five of Community is out.

* And Disney can now ruin Indiana Jones, too. This is the darkest timeline.

Just a Few Tuesday Links

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Friday Afternoon Linkblogging

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Friday afternoon linkblogging!

* 28% of Republicans claim to believe Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and another 30% “aren’t sure.” Results for the South are even worse. So it’s official: our national discourse is completely broken.

* Entertainment Weekly asks: Was 1984 the greatest year in movies ever? I’ve always been partial to 1999: Rushmore, The Matrix, Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, Magnolia

* Vanity Fair has your sketchbook history of the drug war.

* Steampunk monkey nation.

* Jericho may be returning once again as a TV movie to wrap up loose plot points. My recollection of the finale was that there weren’t very many loose plot points left, but your memory may vary.

* Chris Hedges: “The Rise of Gonzo Porn Is the Latest Sign of America’s Cultural Apocalypse.”

* And Scientific American explores the quiet end of the Neanderthals.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 31, 2009 at 5:55 pm

‘Orwellian Politics of the Crudest Sort’

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Joe Klein: Maybe I’m getting old, maybe it’s that I’ve seen this act so often before, maybe it’s that the people I talk to when I go out on the road really are having a harder time paying for things like health care, gasoline and college tuition, but I’m finding the Republican attempts to derail the conversation from the actual state of the country really depressing and disgraceful this year. They practice Orwellian politics of the crudest sort. They are trying to sell a big lie–that the election is about the social issues of the 1960s, or Barack Obama’s patriotism or his eloquence, or the “angry left,” when it’s really about turning toward a more moderate path after the ideological radicalism and malfeasance of the past eight years.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 7, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Rudy

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The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even — so it was occasionally rumoured — in some hiding-place in Oceania itself…

Written by gerrycanavan

September 4, 2008 at 2:27 am

Links!

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Links!

* A metrical analysis of the presidential campaigns reveals Barack Obama will win, as his name is a trochee. (via Bookslut)

* I don’t mean to brag, but I beat Al Giordano to this conclusion about the John Edwards adultery kerfuffle of 2008 by over two weeks.

* Researchers at DefCon in Vegas have demonstrated that they can make “high security” Medeco key-blanks out of the plastic used in credit-cards, and then whittle them into working keys by referring to low-resolution photos of original keys. Easily the best key-related story since the great Bic/bike lock story of Aught Four.

* Also at Boing Boing: 1984 and Brave New World as pulp novels.

* When Lois was too curvy and Superman too gay. Via io9.

* “Serenity: The Other Half.” A Firefly comic.

* And The Big Picture blog has big pictures of yesterday’s Olympic opening ceremony.

Irony: It’s a Good Thing

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From the comments:

Disagree with you on the New Yorker cover.

I’m even not sure who these mythical people are supposed to be who are with it enough to have heard of the New Yorker in the first place yet still clueless enough to take the cover at face value.

People who walk by magazine stands? People who have it emailed to them? People who see it posted on a bulletin board or as the new desktop background of someone who just had it emailed to them?

We have a politics of image and symbolism. You can’t throw this kind of stuff out there into the public sphere and not expect it to be misused and abused.

I think the “oh, everyone gets the joke” thing comes from a fairly parochial point of view.

Now, I agree with Shankar on a wide range of issues, but I still think this anxiety is simply overheated. First, the image’s meaning is unmistakable, because frankly it deconstructs itself; it’s impossible for anyone with either a modicum of political intelligence or cultural savvy to take this image at face value. Obama doesn’t dress like that; Michelle Obama doesn’t look like that; presidential candidates don’t burn flags or stand in front of pictures of Osama bin Laden. That’s not to say that there aren’t still people who won’t get the joke, despite all its obvious tells—sadly, there probably are—but I just don’t think there are especially large numbers of people in that category, nor to the extent that there are do I see much compelling reason to dumb down the culture in an effort to cater to them.

Art and literature are misunderstood all the time. That’s their nature. They’re nonetheless good things to have in the public sphere, even when they’re misused and abused at the margins.

I’m also not clear on what the actual objection to the cover is supposed to be. Most of the concern on the left seems to be that the cover isn’t “useful,” which may or may not be true, but it’s neither here nor there with regard to its cultural value. (And I’d add that for what it’s worth the image may actually prove itself pretty useful to Obama—the best response to this sort of under-the-radar bullshit is mockery and marginalization, which is what we all agree this is.)

Then there are the claims that the image is tasteless or offensive. Now, I write from a very privileged subject position, white heterosexual upper-middle-class American male, and it’s certainly possible that this cartoon trips sensitivities I just don’t have. I’m open to that. But I haven’t seen any compelling explanation of just what about this extremely pro-Obama cartoon is actually supposed to be offensive; instead, its offensiveness and tasteless are simply taken for granted, as if everyone in the world but me and Jon Stewart’s writers had forgotten what irony is.

Irony: it’s a good thing, and a powerful weapon. Didn’t we learn from Orwell that without irony language is just Newspeak?

‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said. ‘We’re getting the language into its final shape — the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words — scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.’

He bit hungrily into his bread and swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, then continued speaking, with a sort of pedant’s passion. His thin dark face had become animated, his eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown almost dreamy.

‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well — better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning, or ” doubleplusgood” if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already. but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words — in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was B.B.’s idea originally, of course,’ he added as an afterthought.

A sort of vapid eagerness flitted across Winston’s face at the mention of Big Brother. Nevertheless Syme immediately detected a certain lack of enthusiasm.

‘You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,’ he said almost sadly. ‘Even when you write it you’re still thinking in Oldspeak. I’ve read some of those pieces that you write in The Times occasionally. They’re good enough, but they’re translations. In your heart you’d prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?’

Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on:

‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,’ he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. ‘Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?’

‘Except-‘ began Winston doubtfully, and he stopped.

It had been on the tip of his tongue to say ‘Except the proles,’ but he checked himself, not feeling fully certain that this remark was not in some way unorthodox. Syme, however, had divined what he was about to say.

‘The proles are not human beings,’ he said carelessly. ‘ By 2050 earlier, probably — all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron — they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’

Written by gerrycanavan

July 16, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Allegory of the Cave in Science Fiction

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The allegory of the cave in science fiction, from Orwell to Wall-E.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 8, 2008 at 2:28 pm

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* Oscar buzz for Darjeeling? And does that suggest it will be good or bad?

* George Lucas on track to ruin another classic movie franchise: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is very nearly the worst possible title for Indy IV, with almost any variant (…and the Crystal Skull, …and the Kingdom of Crystal, … and the Kingdom of the Skull) being superior. I’m quite suspicious about the alien connection, too—it’s got to be a Chariot of the Gods situation, because Close Encounters just isn’t going to work. MetaFilter has a little bit more.

* Only the best need apply. $21k for full time June 25 – Aug 20 employment.

* Analyzing the logos of terrorist organizations.

* Bitter Laughter duckspeak thoughtcrime doubleplusungood 9/11.

Two years ago when I taught 1984, I realized that not a single person in my class knew what Osama bin Laden really wanted–what his grievances were, what his ideology looks like, etc. All they knew was that he was inimical to “us,” and that he was the enemy. “Enmity” is mightily empty category, and a dangerous one at that, if you refuse to allow it to have content.

And that’s exactly what bin Laden is for Americans, an enemy without content. The fact of the matter is that Osama bin Laden is not isomorphic with himself. That is, “Osama bin Laden,” as that name is understood in this country, is a simulacrum of the actual man. We do not need to listen to what he has to say because we know what he is — after all, he is our creation. He represents for us something to fight against, the implement against which we sharpen our knives and define ourselves. His words are not relevant since they communicate a version of himself that does not square with our understanding of him. Why would we both listen or give credence to his video musings?

* Michael Tomasky on Citizen Gore.

* George Saunders on the teevee.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2007 at 12:51 pm