Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday Links, Plus a Very Canavan Podcast!

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There’s No Sheriff on This Planet: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson. The latest in my irregular series of conversations with KSR. The transcript is just the highlights — for the full effect you’ll have to listen.

* Extrapolation 60.1 is out! Articles on rape motifs in contemporary fantasy, Japanese print SF, and Nihād Sharīf’s The Conqueror of Time.

* Endgame ephemera! Avengers: Endgame, or, why this is all your fault. Avengers and the Endgame of Liberalism. And the Russo brothers are on a quest to make sure you know that Endgame being good had nothing to do with them.

* The Night King? Never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened. Bonus appearance by the coffee cup! If these are the final two choices, the only way to win the Game may be not to play.

* “Like Groundhog Day — and while we’re at it, like The Good Place — Russian Doll is Kafka played on easy mode.”

* Watch The Wandering Earth on Netflix!

* Ted Chiang has a new book, why haven’t you bought it yet?

* A new climate change story from Paolo Bacigalupi at MIT Technology Review. Killer ending.

* Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life. One million species at risk of extinction, UN report warns. Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace. An open letter to David Wallace-Wells. We are ruled by psychopaths.

* Greta Thunberg, autism, and climate activism.

* For roughly 18 months, AirPods play music, or podcasts, or make phone calls. Then the lithium-ion batteries will stop holding much of a charge, and the AirPods will slowly become unusable. They can’t be repaired because they’re glued together. They can’t be thrown out, or else the lithium-ion battery may start a fire in the garbage compactor. They can’t be easily recycled, because there’s no safe way to separate the lithium-ion battery from the plastic shell. Instead, the AirPods sit in your drawer forever. AirPods Are a Tragedy.

It’s time to speak about batshit jobs.

Today, batshit jobs are more widespread than ever. You’re likely doing a batship job if you’re working in advertising trying to maintain mass consumption, in air traffic, industrial farming and forestry, in mining, in the car industry, and first of all if you’re working in oil drilling, fracking, coal mining.

To become dilligent batshit workers we have to be trained, and we have to be able to block out the harm that our work participates in. The beauty of the school strikes is that a generation of young people are preparing themselves to refuse batshit work.

*  It seems to me that anyone who considers this for more than ten minutes has to recognize that “student demand” is a construct: it is the product of a pervasive, cross-institutional pedagogy in social and educational value in which students are immersed from (at least) primary school onward.  If students are demanding STEM in record numbers, this is a because they have been systematically invited to embrace a number of interlocking beliefs: that

  1. STEM fields matter to the welfare and future of human societies more than other fields — that social problems respond best to technocratic solutions; 
  2. college is a course of career training; 
  3. college is an investment that ought to be maximized in order to yield the highest possible return in the form of lifelong higher income;
  4. STEM fields represent areas of continuing high-growth, recession-proof employment. 

“Student demand” is a fact insofar as it reproduces these assumptions, which are already endemic to the privatized, market-driven university.  Other forms of “student demand” (for example, demands for a more racially and ethnically diverse faculty that better reflects regional and national demographics) are routinely ignored.

* Marquette Academic Senate calls for administration neutrality on unionization.

* Measuring the tenure-track success of pre-2009 Ph.D.s is like measuring the ice stability of Greenland’s glaciers before industrialization. Researcher’s suicide reflects bleak prospects for post-Ph.D. life. Adjuncts and Freelancers: Reading Signs of Eventual Destruction.

* Turning Point USA’s dark coup on college campuses.

A lot of older academics will point to the 1970s or the 1990s to say that crisis has always been the default, and there’s truth to this. But they didn’t have the same debt loads back then.

* “Second Chance: Life without Student Debt.”

* For Colleges, Climate Change Means Making Tough Choices.

* People Are Clamoring to Buy Old Insulin Pumps.

What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right. As capitalism starts to crumble, hate finds a familiar foothold.

Liberalism: the other God that failed. The Senate is a much bigger problem than the Electoral College. Here’s how many millennials get help from their parents to pay rent and other bills. Twitter users answer the question: “When did you become radicalized by the U.S. health care non-system?” 42% of Americans are at risk of retiring broke.

* America smartly sets its sights on the one flaw in the Constitution the Founders actually bothered to fix.

* If the president does it, it’s not obstruction.

* This seems heathy. This too! Things are great.

The forgotten history of how Abraham Lincoln helped rig the Senate for Republicans.

* Dialectics of Milwaukee: ‘It’s clear that the secret is out about Milwaukee,’ increased tourism spending shows. There seems to be a surge of unsettling things happening on the Milwaukee education landscape, some of them just more of the same (low student achievement, divisive politics) and some of them not so typical (corruption). Glendale would provide $37 million to help redevelop struggling Bayshore — with $57 million debt paid off.

Sandra Bland, It Turns Out, Recorded Her Own Video of Traffic Stop Confrontation. ICE provides local police a way to work around ‘sanctuary’ policies, act as immigration officers.

* On April 30, my Liberal Studies class, framed as Anthropology and Philosophy of Science, was the site of a horrific event. Two of my students were killed while four more were injured.

Study: Therapy dogs reduce children’s fear, anxiety during dentist appointments.

Aging baby boomers are about to push Alzheimer’s disease rates sky high.

The Saga Of ‘Star Citizen,’ A Video Game That Raised $300 Million—But May Never Be Ready To Play.

* Dystopia watch: Oh Good, a Subway System Is Making Riders Stare at Ads Before They Can Buy a Ticket. Amazon’s staffing up a news vertical full of crime stories designed to scare you into buying a spying, snitching “smart” doorbell. We’ve lived so long that the founding of Amazon Prime is something we can be nostalgic about now.

* Let’s just go with a daily reminder that Philip K. Dick wrote a novel where all films were just called disneys.

* Who Owns the Moon Watch: Why the Moon Is Suddenly a Hot Commodity.

* How angry pilots got the Navy to stop dismissing UFO sightings.

* And the biggest danger about an asteroid strike? Lawyers.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 7, 2019 at 12:31 pm

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So, So, So Many Wednesday Links!

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* Just in time for my next trip to Liverpool, the research from my last trip to Liverpool five years ago is finally published! “‘A Dread Mystery, Compelling Adoration’: Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker, and Totality.”

* Social Text interviews Fredric Jameson: “Revisiting Postmodernism.”

Is this sympathy for these arts of the past why in your recent work you returned to questions of modernism and realism?

The series you are alluding to [The Poetics of Social Forms] was always planned that way. I mean, I started with utopias, that is, science fiction and the future; then I went to postmodernism, which is the present, and so I’m making my way back into a certain past—to realism and then on to allegory and to epic and finally to narrative itself, which has always been my primary interest. Maybe indeed I have less to say about contemporary works than about even the recent past; or let’s say I have built up a certain capital of reading but am not making any new and exciting investments any longer. It’s a problem: you can either read or write, but time intervenes, and you have to choose between them. Still, I feel that I always discover new things about the present when working on these moments of the past. Allegory, for example, is both antiquated and surprisingly actual, and the work on museum pieces suddenly proves to make you aware of present-day processes that you weren’t aware of.

* George Saunders has finally written a novel, and I’d bet it’s not what you were expecting.

* Marquette will pilot a J-term.

* Earth First, Then Mars: An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.

* Relatedly: Would it be immoral to send out a generation starship?

The Tuskegee Experiment Kept Killing Black People Decades After It Ended.

* A Brief History of Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses. Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Map of Ulysses.

ClcQJJfWQAA_kon* Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash. More. More. More! The only credible answer is that it is difficult or perhaps even impossible for him to produce these comparatively small sums. If that’s true, his claim to be worth billions of dollars must either be a pure sham and a fraud or some artful concoction of extreme leverage and accounting gimmickry, which makes it impossible to come up with actual cash. Even the conservative NRO! Unraveling Con. The United States of Trump. Will Trump Swallow the GOP Whole? This number in Donald Trump’s very bad fundraising report will really worry GOP donors. The Weird Mad Men Connection. There is “Incredibly Strong Evidence” Donald Trump Has Committed Tax Fraud. And these had already happened before the FEC report: Ryan Instructs Republicans to Follow Their ‘Conscience’ on Trump. Scott Walker agrees! Top GOP Consultant Unleashes Epic #NeverTrump Tweetstorm. Donald Trump Agreed to Call 24 Donors, Made It Through Three Before Giving Up. And the polls, my god, the polls. There Is No Trump Campaign. If things go on this way, can the Democrats retake the House? Endgame for the grift, just as Alyssa Rosenberg tried to warn us. How to Trump.

But this one is still my favorite:

* Meanwhile, the DNC’s oppo file on Trump seems surprisingly thin. This Is the Only Good Oppo Research the DNC Has on Trump.

In a Chicago Tribune article from 1989 (which Buzzfeed actually discovered just under a week ago), Donald Trump reveals that he “doesn’t believe in reincarnation, heaven, or hell.” As far as the DNC is concerned, though, it’s Trump’s apparent lack of faith in God’s eternal kingdom, specifically, that’s damning enough for use as ammo.

* Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonment.

* Cognitive dissonance watch: Could Congress Have Stopped Omar Mateen From Getting His Guns? Gun control’s racist reality: The liberal argument against giving police more power. How I Bought an AR-15 in a Five Guys Parking Lot.

Anti-Brexit British MP Assassinated on the Street.

Venezuelans Ransack Stores as Hunger Grips the Nation.

The TSA Is Bad Because We Demand That It Be Bad. One Woman’s Case Proves: It’s Basically Impossible to Get Off the ‘No-Fly List.’

* The hack that could take down New York City.

* Rethinking teaching evaluations.

* Study Finds 1 out of 10 Cal State Students is Homeless.

What Are College Governing Boards Getting From Their Search Firms?

Saying victims are to blame, at least in part, for their sexual assaults is a legal tactic used by many colleges accused of negligence.

How Not to Write About College Students and Free Speech.

* Once they killed a president with a diet of beef bouillon, egg yolks, milk, whiskey and drops of opium, delivered rectally.

* A map of North America, in Tolkien’s style. Keep scrolling! There’s many more links below.

AorakiMaps-tolkein

On Thursday, Philadelphia became the first major US city to adopt a tax on carbonated and sugary drinks. I’d rather see an outright ban than an attempt to turn it into a permanent revenue stream. New “soda tax” measures show just how narrow the liberal vision has become.

* Missing Barnes and Noble.

It’s not the right question to ask “how do I get 200 students with laptops in a lecture hall to learn my course material?” Why are they in a lecture hall for 50 minutes, three days a week for 15 weeks or whatever the schedule is? Why do they need to learn the material in your course?

* The illusion of progress: Ditching the headphone jack on phones makes them worse.

* The mind behind UnREAL.

* We’re All Forum Writers Now.

Space Travel Has ‘Permanent Effects,’ Astronaut Scott Kelly Says.

* Sherryl Vint on China Miéville’s The Census-Taker, a book that wasn’t especially well-received by the other critics I’ve read.

At the moment, Netflix has a negative cash flow of almost $1 billion; it regularly needs to go to the debt market to replenish its coffers. Its $6.8 billion in revenue last year pales in comparison to the $28 billion or so at media giants like Time Warner and 21st Century Fox. And for all the original shows Netflix has underwritten, it remains dependent on the very networks that fear its potential to destroy their longtime business model in the way that internet competitors undermined the newspaper and music industries. Now that so many entertainment companies see it as an existential threat, the question is whether Netflix can continue to thrive in the new TV universe that it has brought into being.

* Waukegan group offers tours to raise awareness for proposed Ray Bradbury museum.

* What’s happening in Oakland is incredible.

* #TheWakandaSyllabus. Trump 101. A response to the Trump Syllabus.

* Secrets of my blogging: Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.

Homeless in Seattle: five essays.

* Jay Edidin on How to Be a Guy: After Orlando.

* Cunning Sansa, or Dim Sansa? Game of Thrones’ bungled Arya plot explains why George R.R. Martin’s taking so long to finish the books.

* Presenting the world’s ugliest color.

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife. I want to believe!

* “People believe that a plane is less likely to crash if a famous person is among the passengers.”

* Death of a startup.

* Such a sad story: Alligator Drags Off 2-Year-Old at Disney Resort in Orlando. My son turns two today, which is almost too much to bear in juxtaposition with this headline.

* The Pixar Theory of Labor.

* The boys are back in town. It’s too late for you. It’s too late for all of us now.

Now new research helps explain the parental happiness gap, suggesting it’s less about the children and more about family support in the country where you live.

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist recently said he would donate 100,000 hens to countries with high poverty levels, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa but including Bolivia. Bolivia produces 197m chickens annually and has the capacity to export 36m, the local poultry producing association said.

* “Why Chris Pine says you can’t make Star Trek cerebral in 2016.” Respectfully disagree. Meanwhile, sad news in advance of next month’s release of Star Trek Beyond.

That Scrapped Star Wars TV Show Would’ve Starred a Sympathetic, Heartbroken Emperor. Sounds like they were aiming at a version of Daredevil‘s Kingpin plot.

* Laying down my marker now that Flashpoint won’t save The Flash from its downward spiral. Meanwhile, DC seems utterly spooked by the failure of Batman v. Superman and has opened the set of Justice League to reporters to try to spin a new narrative. Lynda Carter is your new POTUS on CW’s Supergirl. Syfy’s Krypton Show Already Sounds Goofy as Shit.

There really was a creepy fifth housemate lurking in cult British TV show The Young Ones.

* In praise of She-Ra.

* Two thousand miles away from the U.S. A-bomb tests in 1945, something weird was happening to Kodak’s film.

Why NASA sent 3 defenseless Legos to die on Jupiter. Earth’s New ‘Quasi’ Moon Will Stick Around for Centuries. Astronomers say there could be at least 2 more mystery planets in our Solar System.

Proportional Pie Chart of the World’s Most Spoken Languages.

* True stories from my childhood having purchased the wrong video game system: 10 of the best Sega Genesis games that deserve a comeback.

* Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

* And Quantum Leap is back, baby! I have five spec scripts in my desk ready to go.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 22, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Wednesday Links Have Been Deemed an Essential Service

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* MetaFilter has your shutdown megapost, including the list of all the “nonessential” government services that will be closed during the shutdown, including WIC, NIH, the CDC, and the EPA. Here (via Twitter) is the memo from 1995 by which OMB makes its determinations. But don’t worry; progress wealth transfer to rich people continues even in the face of this disaster. zunguzungu: “Essentially Vicious.”

* “Where the GOP Suicide Caucus Lives.” They will rule or ruin in all events. Blame the Constitution for this mess.

* Meanwhile, liberals have already been rolled on spending cuts with respect to the shutdown and it’s likely to only get worse.

* Recentering Science Fiction and the Fantastic: What would a non-Anglocentric understanding of science fiction and fantasy look like?

* Peter Frase takes up Graeber’s “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.”

* One in ten [student] borrowers across the country, 475,000 people, who entered repayment during the fiscal year ending in September 2011 had defaulted by the following September, the data showed. That’s up from 9.1 percent of a similar cohort of borrowers last year.

* Louisiana refuses to release former Black Panther despite court order.

Herman Wallace, who was held for more than 40 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana jails, is still being confined inside the prison although Judge Brian Jackson ordered on Tuesday that he be immediately released. Wallace, 71, is suffering from lung cancer and is believed to have just days to live.

* The charter school mistake.

We should do what works to strengthen our schools: Provide universal early childhood education (the U.S. ranks 24th among 45 nations, according to the Economist); make sure poor women get good prenatal care so their babies are healthy (we are 131st among 185 nations surveyed, according to the March of Dimes and the United Nations); reduce class size (to fewer than 20 students) in schools where students are struggling; insist that all schools have an excellent curriculum that includes the arts and daily physical education, as well as history, civics, science, mathematics and foreign languages; ensure that the schools attended by poor children have guidance counselors, libraries and librarians, social workers, psychologists, after-school programs and summer programs.

Schools should abandon the use of annual standardized tests; we are the only nation that spends billions testing every child every year. We need high standards for those who enter teaching, and we need to trust them as professionals and let them teach and write their own tests to determine what their students have learned and what extra help they need.

* The words men and women use on Facebook.

* American wages have declined 7% since 2007.

* DDoS attack on the health care exchanges? Or just a whole lot of people wanting to buy insurance?

* What The Monopoly Properties Look Like In Real Life.

* The Occupy Visa.

President Obama’s Second Inaugural Was Supposed to Sound Something like Lincoln’s

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President Obama’s second inaugural was supposed to sound something like Lincoln’s: the speech of a man tired of war, and eager to move the nation beyond its bloody reach. In truth, it was the speech of a man who has perfected a form of war that can be written off as a kind of peace. He was able to put the pain of war in the past because his efforts to expand painless war have come to fruition. At Esquire, Tom Junod follows up “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama” in light of his second inaugural address.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

Links for the Weekend

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What Search Committees Wish You Knew. This is a reasonably good article with one piece of deeply terrible advice. Do not tell a search committee anything about your personal life or your relationships that will harm your chances until after you have received a written offer. Being open and honest about your two-body problem will not help you in the least. UPDATE: When I posted this on Twitter, @academicdave had a much harsher take, and found the piece pretty wanting. I don’t know. I think it’s useful for applicants to try to humanize their imagination of the search committee a bit (which can be hard). And then of course once you’ve done that you have to put brakes on that impulse, because they’re still not your friends, and they don’t really care about you much at all.

* Ads without Products has a great pedagogical post on teaching writing and critical perversity. I think I’m going to steal some of this language for my course next semester.

So how do I teach “practical criticism”? In the seminar groups that I lead, I model and encourage the following “flow chart” of thought: Anticipate what other intelligent readers of this piece might say about it. Try to imagine the “conventional wisdom” about it that would emerge as if automatically in the minds of the relatively well-informed and intelligent. And then, but only then, figure out a perverse turn that you can make within the context of but against this conventional wisdom. “Of course that seems right, but on the other hand it fails to account for…” “On first glace, it would be easy and to a degree justifiable to conclude that…. But what if we reconsider this conclusion in the light of….”

Students tend to demonstrate resistance, early on, to this practice. For one thing, especially in the first year, they don’t really (and couldn’t possibly) have a fully developed sense of what the “conventional wisdom” is that their supposed to be augmenting, contradicting, perverting. At this early stage, the process requires them to make an uncomfortable Pascalian wager with themselves – to pretend as though they are confident in their apprehensions until the confidence itself arrives. But even if there’s a certain awkwardness in play, it does seem to exercise the right parts of the students’ critical and analytical faculties so that they (to continue the metaphor) develop a sort of “muscle memory” of the “right” way to do criticism. From what I can tell, encouraging them to develop an instinct of this sort early measurably improves their writing as they move through their degree.

But still (and here, finally, I’m getting to the point of this post) there’s a big problem with all of this. I warn the students of this very early on – generally the first time I run one of their criticism seminars. There’s a big unanswered question lurking behind this entire process. Why must we be perverse? What is the value of aiming always for provocative difference, novelty, rather than any other goal?  Of course, there’s a pragmatic answer: Because it will cause your writing to be better received. Because you will earn better marks by doing it this way rather than the other. Because you will develop a skill – one that can be shifted to other fields of endeavour – that will be recognised as what the world generally calls “intelligence.” But – in particular because none of this should simply be about the pragmatics of getting up the various ladders and depth charts of life – this simply isn’t a sufficient response, or at least is one that begs as many questions as it answers. What are, after all the politics of “novelty”? What are we to make of the structural similarity between what it takes to impress one’s markers and what it takes to make in “on the market,” whether as a human or inhuman commodity? What if – in the end – the answers to question that need (ethically, politically) answering are simple rather than complex, the obvious rather than the surprising?

* A possible example of critical perversity from Deadspin: Everything You Need To Know About Pennsylvania’s Lawsuit Against The NCAA (And Why You Should Support It). Though frankly I’m pretty sympathetic to the claim that the NCAA has no jurisdiction over criminal conspiracies, much less that it followed a rational procedure to adjudicate competing claims in this case.

Bousquet asked the audience why police departments are far more diverse than English departments, by and large. Noting the silence in the audience following his question, Bousquet noted, “We have made it too difficult for those who are not advantaged” to enter the profession. Asked whether he believes faculty diversity is a priority for elite institutions, such as the one he now teaches at, Bousquet said such institutions are “constantly trying to work on the question of diversity.

“For me, the question is why do they fail so much, despite all of those efforts. And I think one of the reasons, amongst many, is the irrationalism of faculty compensation.” Bousquet adds, “Eighty percent of faculty are working like for $15,000 a year” taking into account adjuncts and graduate students.

* “Sustainable Teaching Fail”: The conditions of non-tenure-track faculty are setting us up to be failures as effective pedagogues.

* Lincoln explains the modern GOP.

“Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.”

* But don’t worry! There’s a hack for that! The self-evident Calvinball lunacy of this trillion-dollar-coin thing is all the proof I need that our system is broken and our elites are insane.

Politicians Should Learn Bigger Lessons From Their Pet Causes.

But too many politicians, and this especially includes self-described fiscal conservatives, simply can’t draw the obvious conclusion from all this: namely that you shouldn’t support help for the poor and the sick and elderly only if you personally happen to know someone who’s poor or sick or elderly. All of these people exist whether or not they happen to be family members.

* Blue Mars: What Mars would look like with oceans and life.

* A California appeals court has found that raping a sleeping woman isn’t illegal if she’s unmarried. I swear to God, I don’t even know where to begin with this bullshit anymore.

* Elsewhere in rape culture atrocities: Basically an entire town colludes to protect their football team from rape prosecution.

House GOP lets the Violence Against Women Act expire for first time since 1994. I mean really.

* Inside Chernobyl’s Abandoned Hospital.

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* More Evidence Shows That Pro Sports Teams Don’t Boost The Economy.

* There Are Two Law School Grads for Every Lawyer Job.

* The Original Star Wars Trilogy As Maps.

Commander Riker lorem ipsum.

* Everything that’s wrong with football, in ten seconds. WHAT A HIT! I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN WAIT TO SEE IF THE PLAYER HAS BEEN HURT OR KILLED! VIOLENCE! EXCITEMENT! YELLING!

* Google is not an illegal monopoly, so they can go on ruining all their products with dumb attempts to monetize your data. Hooray!

* And George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year. Sold!

And Even More Monday Links

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Depressing Sunday Links

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Establishment Democrats are enthusiastically betraying their constituents, and gloating about it. I’ve already committed to not giving money and not volunteering in 2012, but the sticker’s coming off the car if the deal as described goes through. I’m done.

While the New Deal stoically awaits the guillotine, some links, many shamelessly stolen from zunguzungu’s supersized edition of Sunday Reading:

* Congressional Black Caucus: Use the 14th Amendment.

* Jeffrey Sachs: “Every part of the budget debate in the U.S. is built on a tissue of willful deceit.”

* The basic error was that Buchanan approached American politics in procedural or legal terms at a moment when the reigning political conflicts in American life were no longer in any sense shaped or resolved by procedural or legal processes. Obama as James Buchanan. More here from John Judis:

Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to, and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.

* In a nutshell, what’s going on is something that hasn’t happened in American politics for 50 years: an ideologically coherent social movement with clear political aspirations has taken shape out of murkier antecedents and disparate tributaries and at least for the moment, it has a very tight hold on the political officials that it has elected. The movement is not interested in the spoils system, its representatives can’t be quickly seduced into playing the usual games. And the movement’s primary objective is to demolish existing governmental and civic institutions. They’ve grown tired of waiting for government to be small enough to drown in a bathtub, so they’re setting out with battleaxes and dynamite instead.

Social movements that aren’t just setting out to secure legal protection and resources for their constituency, but are instead driven to pursue profound sociopolitical transformations are unfamiliar enough. What makes this moment even more difficult to grasp in terms of the conventional wisdom of pundits is that this isn’t a movement that speaks a language of inclusion, hope, reform, innovation or progress. It speaks instead about restoration of power to those who once held it, the tearing down of existing structures, about undoing what’s been done. This movement is at war with its social and institutional enemies: it has nothing to offer them except to inflict upon them the marginalization that the members of the movement imagine they themselves have suffered.

* Ezra Klein dangles the carrot: maybe Obama won’t capitulate on the Bush tax cuts again. Sure, maybe.

* Surely there must be a name, in advertising parlance, for the figure of the anthropomorphized food item that happily consumes a non-anthropomorphized version of itself?

* The great teddy bear shipwreck mystery.

* On misremembering the victims of injustice as small children.

* Julian Sanchez: “The very existence of such massive trade in “defensive patents” is, in itself, pretty strong evidence that there’s something systematically quite wrong with the American patent system—because a patent that’s useful for “defensive” purposes is very likely to be a bad patent. I love that Planet Money and This American Life got non-IP people talking about this.

* And I may have done this one before, but what the hell: Inside an abandoned East Berlin amusement park.