Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘accountability

Get June Started Right with June Links

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* CFP for the first issue of Fantastika Journal.

* David Higgins reviews Paradoxa 27: The Futures Industry.

Ending Their Wars: On Memorial Day, socialists honor the victims of war and struggle for a world free of it.

* This Is What Extinction Sounds Like.

* “Society doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian.”

* So here’s my question: if this is all so “common sense” and “modest” then why do you have to lie so much about process and intentions? Why are people who drone on about “accountability” for others allowed to act without any accountability to the institutions they are supposed to represent?

* The Life Cycle of Genres.

Where genre is concerned, this means that our goal is no longer to define a genre, but to find a model that can reproduce the judgments made by particular historical observers. For instance, adjectives of size (“huge,” “gigantic,” but also “tiny”) are among the most reliable textual clues that a book will be called science fiction. Few people would define science fiction as a meditation on size, but it turns out that works categorized as science fiction (by certain sources) do spend a lot of time talking about the topic.

[whispers] Well, my dissertation and book-when-I-finally-get-around-to-massively-revising-it does define science fiction as a meditation on size…

* Bonus Ted Underwood content! The Real Problem with Distant Reading.

* In response to McGurl’s call we intend to create a digital database along with a visualization tool that can be used to map the professional itineraries and social networks of everyone who ever studied or taught creative writing at Iowa since the Workshop’s inception to the present date.

Duke University enters hotel business with $62 million project. You know, nonprofit for educational purposes.

University Of Akron President Resigns After Financial Controversies.

Is It Time for Universities to Get Out of the Hospital Business?

* …if you take up these old positions about what a higher education in the humanities should involve, you end up dancing with some very conservative people. I found myself in very strange company when I began to hold out for education, not as a credentialising process, but what I think of as encouragement for the revolutionary force of individual curiosity–pursued without limit.

* On some campuses, a dogmatic form of identity politics clearly has taken hold. But what’s too often missing from this picture is the very thing that opponents of political correctness so often decry: a sense of proportion and judgment, and an awareness that what transpires on the radical edges of elite universities is not always an accurate barometer of what’s happening in the wider world.

* Rule-Breaking Iceland Completes Its Miracle Economic Escape.

Middle Eastern Writers Find Refuge in the Dystopian Novel.

* Which City Has the Most Unpredictable Weather? Of course Milwaukee makes the top-ten for major metropolitan areas.

* It’s 2016. Why is anyone still keeping elephants in circuses?

* How rich does a black criminal have to be to get treated like a white one?

* Vindicated! A new meta analysis in Perspectives in Psychological Science looked at 33 studies on the relationship between deliberate practice and athletic achievement, and found that practice just doesn’t matter that much.

* 11 History Books You Should Read Before Writing Your Military SF Novel.

* On Early Science Fiction and the Medieval.

* Literature and prestige.

* Careerism and totalitarianism.

 Genocide, she insisted, is work. If it is to be done, people must be hired and paid; if it is to be done well, they must be supervised and promoted.

* Trump and the university.

* On Progressive Racism.

Progressive racism is how racism is enacted by being denied: how racism is heard as a blow to the reputation of an organisation as being progressive. We can detect the same mechanism happening in political movements: when anti-racism becomes part of an identity for progressive whites, racism is either re-located in a body over there (the racist) or understood as a blow to self-reputation of individuals for being progressive. This term “progressive whites” comes from Ruth Frankenberg important work on whiteness studies. She argues that focusing on whiteness purely in negative terms can  “leaves progressive whites apparently without any genealogy” (1993, 232).  Kincheloe and Steinberg in their work on whiteness studies write of “the necessity of creating a positive, proud, attractive antiracist white identity” (1998, 34). Indeed, the most astonishing aspect of this list of adjectives (positive, proud, attractive, antiracist) is that antiracism then becomes just another white attribute in a chain: indeed, anti-racism may even provide the conditions for a new discourse of white pride.

When we peel back its progressive pedagogical covering, the teaching-tool defense is embodied in unequal reasoning. It is embodied in racist logic: our national inability to value the same, to reason the same, to think the same for different racial groups.

What effects has “ban the box” had so far? Two new working papers suggest that, as economic theory predicts, “ban the box” policies increase racial disparities in employment outcomes. So disheartening.

Shady accounting underpins Trump’s wealth. No! I won’t believe it!

What’s the Matter with San Francisco: How Silicon Valley’s Ideology Has Ruined a Great City.

* Well, the establishment’s also pretty bored by literary work that deals with our treatment of the rest of being — you know, other animals, the rest of life on Earth, the creatures beyond the man-apes. Like the tragedy of how our men treat our women, the tragic way humans treat nonhumans is still, to many U.S. fiction arbiters, also irrelevant as a conversation, often dismissed as a boutique topic that’s the fodder of cranks and tree huggers. Women and the rest of species in existence: two flaming badges of uncool.

* Harambe launches a thousand thinkpieces.

The Black Film Canon: The 50 greatest movies by black directors.

Jessica Valenti: my life as a ‘sex object.’

* How an industry helps Chinese students cheat their way into and through U.S. colleges.

Nearly half of young black men in Chicago out of work, out of school. All told, over that same 14-year stretch, Chicago’s black population decreased by an estimated 200,000 residents, or nearly 19 percent. Illinois now has the highest unemployment rate in the United States.

If you were designing the worst place to be poor in decades ahead, you’d come up with a low-density, auto-dependent, aging and declining suburb.

* AP FACT CHECK: Clinton misstates key facts in email episode. Hillary Clinton vs. Herself. Hillary Clinton Remains the Most Likely 45th President of the United States.

After Being Called Out, Trump Hastily Donates the Veterans’ Aid Money He Said He’d Already Donated. Meet David French: the random dude off the street Bill Kristol decided will save America from Trump.

* This is good fun but pretty seriously slanders Magneto and the Joker.

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The Republicans’ Military Budget Could Make Every Homeless Person In America A Millionaire.

The Male Gaze in a Math Book.

* Coming from Pixar, 2022: Swarm of bees follows woman’s car for two days to rescue their queen.

* The paralogisms of pure dismissal.

* Fandom Is Broken. A Retort. I’m mostly just impressed with how hard I nailed it.

* Baby abandoned at SF State now one of its grads.

Quitting Your Job to Pursue Your Passion is Bullshit.

* Timeline maps.

* Hyperattention and hyperdistraction.

* Not a Review of Neoreaction a Basilisk. I for one welcome our artificially intelligent overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted writer and educator, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground zinc caves.

* Make Bayesianism Work for You.

A Renegade Muscles In on Mister Softee’s Turf.

“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”

A Fascinating Video Essay Explores the Key Reason Why Calvin and Hobbes Remains So Beloved Today.

* This is a little old, but DC has basically gone ahead and made it real, so…

David Mitchell buries latest manuscript for a hundred years.

Algorithms: The Future That Already Happened.

Judith Butler on the Value of the Humanities and Why We Read.

* Time to panic about Rogue One.

* I still can’t believe The Cursed Child is a real thing. Even photographs can’t convince me.

[somberly drags FerrisBueller.privilege.Salon.docx to the trash can]

Business Of Disaster: Insurance Firms Profited $400 Million After Sandy.

* Over a third of coral is dead in parts of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists say.

* And to imagine the ocean of the future: picture a writhing mass of unkillable tentacles, forever.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 1, 2016 at 8:31 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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‘The Case for Faculty Self-Governance’

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In my ideal system, literally no university would ever do an outside search for dean or provost, ever, and there would be a minimum time served requirement before any new faculty hires could do administrative tasks. This would ensure that all administrators are absolutely tied to the future of their current institution and would be anticipating rejoining the regular faculty in the future. If they screwed over their colleagues, they would have to live among them as a peer for decades to come.

Adam has a post building on my mismanagement post from yesterday arguing for maximally strong faculty governance as the solution to the administrative class’s production of permanent crisis. I agree wholeheartedly. The class of transient, careeriest administrators has brought waste, looting, and an irresponsible boom-bust cycle to higher education everywhere they have taken hold, regardless of how nice or good any individual administrator is. Hence my satirical, wildly unpopular proposal for reverse tenure for admin: they only get to leave with faculty approval, otherwise they have to stay and deal with the fallout from whatever short-sighted stat-juking they instituted while they were polishing their CV.

But Adam’s proposal is what I would actually implement systemwide if I could snap my fingers and just do it: limited admin terms for tenured faculty, constitutionally behold to faculty senates, would produce a class of administrators invested in the institution’s long-term health rather than its very-short-term movements and manipulations, without producing pocket fiefdoms or another class of unaccountable gods to contend with down the road. As Adam says:

This system would also presumably inculcate broader loyalty to academia as such, pushing against the destruction of the teaching profession via adjunctification, etc., etc. But even if it didn’t have such wide-ranging effects, it would at least keep administrators from actively destroying their own institutions, simply out of self-interest.

Check out his whole post.

Thursday Links!

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* In case you missed it yesterday: “Universities, Mismanagement, and Permanent Crisis.”

Chomsky: How America’s Great University System Is Being Destroyed.

* “Faculty and Students Are Walking Out Today for Catholic Identity.”

* CFP: Porn Studies Special Issue: Porn and Labour.

Igbinedion’s production company Igodo Films recently shared Oya: Rise of The Orishas in full online. They also revealed that the Oya project has been adapted for the silver screen with principal photography on the feature-length film version scheduled to begin later this year in Brazil. The London-based filmmaker shared in a recentinterview that he made the short film in order to prove that there is a market for sci-fi films revolving around African characters and storylines. In this regard, Oya joins Ethiopian post-apocalyptic flick Crumbs in forging a path for future film projects from the continent within the realm of speculative fiction. In addition to the full-length project, Oya‘s creators have also confirmed plans for a comic book adaptation of the film, which is currently available for pre-order.

* Neil Gaiman reviews Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. Sounds bizarre and great.

Study: Killers are less likely to be executed if their victims are black. What could explain it?

First full body transplant is two years away, surgeon claims.

* London, the city that privatised itself to death.

* Once-homeless Baylor player ineligible, allegedly for accepting a place to live.

How Facebook is changing the ways we feel.

The creators of that (great!) Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fan film might be in trouble.

* Meanwhile everything old is new again: Duck Tales, Inspector Gadget, even Danger Mouse.

* The day we all feared is upon us.

It’s important that the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots succeed, either at achieving an outright ban or at sparking debate resulting in some other sensible and effective regulation. This is vital not just to prevent fully autonomous weapons from causing harm; an effective movement will also show us how to proactively ban other future military technology.

Meet Your Republican 2016 Front-Runner.

* Canada, petrostate.

Thousands of oil refinery workers are striking for safer working conditions. Their fight is central to the struggle against climate change.

* Choose Your Own Adventure: So You’ve Accidentally Gotten Pregnant in South Dakota.

* And xkcd maps the future and the past.

stories_of_the_past_and_future

Universities, Mismanagement, and Permanent Crisis

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Some loose, probably incautious thoughts, adapted from a couple of Twitter rants essays I’ve been writing the last few days.

A multi-generation, multimillion-dollar institution (like a college) that has to administrate by emergency decree has in nearly every case been grotesquely failed by its leadership. And in the US today that describes nearly every college and university, in management rhetorics and policies dating back at least to the mid-2000s (when I first entered the profession as a graduate student).

If your college faced drastic emergency cuts after 2008, it was mismanaged. You expanded on an unsustainable basis, made the wrong commitments, spent too much.

If your college faces drastic emergency cuts now because enrollments will tick (slightly) downward in the 2010s, it was mismanaged. You had 18 years warning that this demographic wave was going to hit, 18 years to plan for what to do when it did.

As every college administration invokes generalized, free-flowing “emergency” as its justification for arbitrary policy after arbitrary policy — all of which need to be implemented now, en toto and without debate, even the ones that contradict the other ones — they are arguing that their management up to now has been so wildly and irredeemably poor that the university has been thrown into total system crisis. And yet the solution to the emergency is, inevitably, always more (and more draconian) administrative control, always centralized under the very same people who took us over the cliff in the first place!

Nor is there ever any accountability, or so much as an explanation, for how the crisis was ever allowed to happen in the first place. (Very often, of course, the guilty parties have already fled the state.)

Eternal organizations designed to last forever simply should not have to implement policy on a crisis basis — much less be forced to implement every policy in this way. Colleges and universities should have been managed so carefully up to now so that they can afford to phase in new policy changes over time, running experiments and pilot programs where necessary to ensure success. That’s what neoliberal shibboleths like “nimble” and “flexible” would actually mean in a world of rational management — graceful, deliberate movements, not wild lurching and uncontrolled crash-landing.

Careful management, good management, is the full and sole justification for the administration class that has bloated so entirely over the college landscape since the 1980s (and whose growth is still accelerating, even in the face of permanent cuts everywhere else). Simply put the promise of the management class was that they could manage colleges better than faculty. Even by their own estimation they have completely failed at this task on every possible level. Thirty years of running it like a sandwich has every college in the country living admission cycle to admission cycle, cutting budgets and services and wages every year, careening from supposed emergency to supposed emergency without any stabilization or improvement.

Even bracketing endowments and donations altogether, generally speaking colleges have a built-in client base, already own all the land and buildings, can borrow freely, and don’t pay taxes. I could devise a harder test of management acumen. So it seems to me the approximately 100% of college administrations that are now claiming emergency and desperation year after year need to cop either to their own incompetence, or else their dishonesty, or else their active malice.

Canavan’s Razor would tell us that permanent crisis is a management strategy, the unacknowledged goal of every plan. But whichever precise combination of incompetence, dishonesty, and malice best describes a particular university administration is irrelevant. The management class simply has no reason to exist at all if their interventions in the university produce not stability but crisis, after crisis, after crisis, after crisis, after crisis…

 

Monday Morning Links!

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* You’ve been waiting for it: the inevitable “Too Many Cooks” followup, “Unedited Footage of a Bear.” Here’s your instant criticism on the Adult Swim infomercial phenomenon.

* I got hooked on this after a Facebook recommendation, so why shouldn’t you? Papers, Please.

* No one could have predicted: Cuban Oil May Prove A Boon For U.S. Companies.

* NYT: Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses.
* Andrew Liptak at Kirkus has your brief history of the Culture.

* UW-Superior to suspend 5 academic programs.

* Your guide to academic interviewing from The Professor Is In: The Question Is Not the Question. It’s a little hard for me to believe how absolutely clueless I was about all this back when, but this lesson was by far the most helpful thing I learned from my mock interview. Absolutely do a mock interview if you have the option.

* M.F.A.s: An Increasingly Popular, Increasingly Bad Financial Decision.

* Dissent on the invention of jaywalking.

* Tragedy in Brooklyn as two police officers are assassinated. Aside from how horrible this event is in itself, I’ve been stunned how immediately and how viciously this has been politicized, not just by known bad actors like Giuliani but even by middle-of-the-road empty suits like Pataki.

* NYPD Officer Repeatedly Punches 12-Year-Old Black Boy As Colleagues Subdue Him, And A Lawyer Sees The Whole Thing. Prosecutor Says He Knew Some Witnesses Were Lying To The Ferguson Grand Jury. Meet the Pro-Slavery Fairview Park Auxiliary Cop. Family of toddler critically injured by SWAT team facing $1 million in medical bills. Woman Tries To Trademark ‘I Can’t Breathe’ To Sell Merchandise. “I Can Breathe,” and the Occasional Fear of Covering Protests.

High incarceration may be more harmful than high crime.

* Appeals Court Rules People Institutionalized for Mental Illness Still Have Right to Guns.

* If Apple Were A Worker Cooperative, Each Employee Would Earn At Least $403K.

* In Defense of Economic Disobedience.

* Justine Sacco Is Good at Her Job, and How I Came To Peace With Her.

* #realtalk: Serial Sucked And Wasted Everyone’s Time. I’ll allow it, SNL.

How the NFL leaves players broken — and broke.

* Incognito mode: Americans aren’t getting married, and researchers think porn is part of the problem.

* It’s almost 2015, which means it’s time to convince ourselves that the Obama administration hasn’t been a complete and total disaster. Over to you Matt.

Indeed, this is one of the crowning lessons of Pay Any Price: that the United States is suffering from a widespread crisis of accountability, one that transcends distinctions between the public and private sectors and that encompasses both. The sources of power, real power, seem more remote and mysterious to Americans than ever before. It is no coincidence that this November’s midterm elections saw the lowest voter turnout in 72 years (a pathetic 36.3 percent). Most Americans now spend their lives hostage to forces they can neither understand nor control nor hope to shape in any meaningful way. People see themselves as objects to be acted upon, not as thinking subjects. If the architects of our post-9/11 politics believed they were subverting democracy in order to save it, that we should pay any price to keep our people safe, they should be applauded for succeeding in at least one, crucial, part of their proposition. We have paid, again, and again, and again.

Is string theory revealing reality’s deep laws? Or, as some detractors have claimed, is it a mathematical mirage that has sidetracked a generation of physicists?

* An orangutan held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a “non-human person” unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported on Sunday.

* And why do you hate the South? I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it!

Bottomless Thursday Links, No Refills

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Cheryl Abbate has decided to leave Marquette. Marquette has apparently decided to suspend John McAdams, though who knows for how long. As an untenured junior faculty member (who has, incidentally, been a subject of McAdams’s unsubstantiated attacks in the past, as has nearly every other professor I know on campus), I feel somewhat constrained speaking about all this, and so I won’t — but I’m unhappy about the first and queasy about the second, and will be free to discuss this all at length with you in a mere four or five years. It’ll still be relevant then, I’m sure: I expect this whole tangled mess to be a go-to example on Academic Freedom and Repellent Speech for many years to come, not to mention the lawsuits. It’s a very complicated and miserable situation that seems like it just got a whole lot more complicated and miserable. I’m sorry for a campus and for the students that are going to be dealing with the fallout from this situation for a long time.

* CFP at Milwaukee’s Own C21: “Indigeneities.”

* Climate change comes to Shishmaref, Alaska. Arctic is warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth.

* Hugely disappointing news from Vermont: they’ve giving up their plan for single payer. I really thought this was how it would finally come to America.

* The word you’re looking for is “racism.” Just say racism.

* But dead men loot no stores. Property-based ethics.

* Financial aid and class struggle.

* In defense of “hands up.”

In recent weeks and months, the power of the gesture has never been clearer: “hands up” transforms the visual sign of surrender into one of political resistance. Nevertheless, it’s worth looking at the complex cultural and historical work the move engages—the multiple moves it makes. As my students register, “hands up” isn’t quite the Black Power salute, given that it rehearses a moment of full-body interpellation by the police. But as one student observes, part of its force is rooted in this very repetition. To throw one’s hands up in the stadium, in the street, and (perhaps most powerfully) for the camera is to convert that gesture of surrender into something else: a shared performance that makes visible the deeply historical and split-second choreographies of power in which bodies deemed criminally other—deemed threatening, which is to say deemed black—become the objects of state violence. “Hands up” cites and reroutes these choreographies, a physical disruption not unlike playing dead in solidarity with the dead, a form of protest to which it is closely aligned.

Police Investigating Texas Officer For Tasing 76-Year-Old Man. Ohio Detective Berated Girlfriend of Black Man Shot and Killed by Cops. California Cop Tweets That He Will ‘Use (His) God Given And Law Appointed Right To Kill’ Protesters. Wesleyan University Forced to Pay Police Overtime for Protesting Police Brutality.  UPenn President Criticized For Joining Protesters’ ‘Die-In.’ Cops Off Campus.

“There is an unbroken line of police violence in the US that takes us all the way back to the days of slavery.”

Supreme Court Says Ignorance Of The Law Is An Excuse — If You’re A Cop.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the same standard doesn’t necessarily apply to police. In a splintered 8-1 ruling, the court found that cops who pulled over Nicholas Heien for a broken taillight were justified in a subsequent search of Heien’s car, even though North Carolina law says that having just one broken taillight is not a violation of the law.

Policing is a Dirty Job, But Nobody’s Gotta Do It: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World.

* Capitalism and Eric Garner.

Of course Americans are OK with torture. Look at how we treat our prisoners. The Luxury Homes That Torture and Your Tax Dollars Built. They Said ‘No’ to Torture: The Real Heroes of the Bush Years. Skinny Puppy demands $666,000 in royalties from U.S. government for using their music in Guantanamo torture.

* This is one of the better readings of Sorkinism and its worship of white masculinity I’ve seen.

* Need to learn to think like an administrator? There’s a retreat for that.

* Socialize Uber.

* ASU English goes 5/5 — without a pay increase. ASU English by the Numbers. Meanwhile, you’ll never guess.

The Arizona Board of Regents on Friday approved a 20 percent raise in base pay for Arizona State University President Michael Crow that pushes his total annual compensation to nearly $900,000.

The $95,000 raise is his first increase in base pay since 2007, before the recession, and could be enough to place him back among the top 20 earners for public-college presidents.

Straight Talk About ‘Adjunctification.’ Come for the one or two sensible points, stay for the nightmare flame war…

The ‘Job Market’ That Is Not One.

* Meanwhile meanwhile: According to a report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, citing anonymous sources, U-M offered Harbaugh $8 million per year to coach the Wolverines.

* Gasp! The secret to the Uber economy is wealth inequality.

The Judicial Ethics of Serial.

This risk of bias is not a reason to question content like Serial that draws attention to the problems inherent in our criminal justice system. It’s a reason to question a system of judicial elections that makes judges vulnerable to their influence.

The Elf on the Shelf is preparing your child to live in a future police state, professor warns. Yeah. “Future.”

Teach For America could miss recruitment mark by more than 25 percent.

* Both I Was Gang Raped at a U-VA Frat 30 Years Ago, and No One Did Anything and Jackie’s Story and UVA’s Stalinist Rules, working from opposite directions, suggest that universities should just not be in the business of adjudicating sexual assault claims at all.

This Is Why One Study Showed 19% Of College Women Experience Sexual Assault And Another Said 0.6%.

* Trigger warnings and law school.

Five Stories About Addiction.

Oberlin College denies requests from students to suspend failing grades after protests.

This past Friday, over 1,300 Oberlin students signed a petition for college administrators asking for understanding and “alternative modes of learning” as they continue to cope with what’s happening across the country.

They asked for the normal grading system to be “replaced with a no-fail mercy period,” and said “basically no student …especially students of color should be failing a class this semester.”

This actually really threw me. I think I must be getting old.

* Surveilling students, 21st century style.

* Scientists Are Using Twitter Data To Track Depression.

* It’s unclear how many people changed their views in the course of the yearlong debate. And questions remain. The most obvious one is whether the boycott has had any effect. In one specific sense, no. The ASA said it would not work with any Israeli universities, but it has not yet had any offers to do so. On a broader level, though, the vote has left an indelible mark. “We got into the mainstream press and triggered a number of conversations not visible before about Israel-Palestine,” says the ASA’s president, Lisa Duggan, a professor at New York University. “In that sense we had done what we wanted to do.”

* And they say there’s no accountability: Top Financier Skips Out On Train Fare, Gets Barred From His Profession For Life.

The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

* Cuba’s cool again. Please be advised.

Werner Herzog Inspirationals.

* Parks & Rec is SF now.

All The Scenes That Could Have Been Cut From The Hobbit Trilogy.

* Oh, so now Tim Burton doesn’t think it’s cool to make the same movie over and over.

Father Makes Son Play Through Video Game History, Chronologically.

18 Badass Women You Probably Didn’t Hear About In 2014.

* The Racket would have been insane.

* Reading the gospel of New Athiesm leaves you with the feeling that atheism is simply a reprimand — a stern “hush hush” to the querulous children of faith. But the problem with this view is that it drains atheism of the metaphysical force of its own position. What makes atheism so radically different from agnosticism is precisely its desire to meet the extraordinary truth claims of religion head-on with rival propositions about the world. Hitchens’s claim that “our belief is not a belief” could not be more wrong. On the contrary, as the literary critic James Wood writes, “atheism is structurally related to the belief it negates, and is necessarily a kind of rival belief.” He claims being an agnostic would be “a truer liberation” since it would mean disregarding the issue altogether. The atheist, on the other hand, is always trapped in a kind of negative relationship to the God whose existence she denies in the first place, but whose scandalous absence she is forever proclaiming — a paradox memorably captured by Samuel Beckett’s Hamm when he exclaims, “The bastard! He doesn’t exist!”

The One Character JK Rowling Regrets Killing—It’s Not Who You’d Expect.

* Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal explains evolution.

* Congratulations, Bitcoin, the worst investment of 2014.

* And you had me at let’s bring Star Trek back to TV. Yes, let’s! Maybe we can just skip Star Tr3k altogether.

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 18, 2014 at 8:52 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Special Bonus Sunday Reading: ‘Keywords for an Age of Austerity’

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On Twitter Adam Kotsko pointed me to a great blogging series from John Patrick Leary: “Keywords for an Age of Austerity.”

1 – Innovation

2 – Stakeholder

2.5 – Learning Outcomes

Like the other words in this series—innovation and stakeholder—learning outcomes is a superficial concept that crumbles under even slight scrutiny. But its empirically verifiable meaninglessness conceals the zeal for empirical measurability that it demonstrates. And in the education world, these kind of measurements are only ever about cutting back.

3 – Nimble

4 – Entrepeneur

5 – Curator

The word’s combination of moral purpose and creativity aligns it closely with the “innovator” and the “entrepreneur.” In the most enthusiastic celebrations of each, marketing ingenuity and aesthetic imagination are scarcely distinguishable from one another.

6 – Conversation

7 – Silo

8 – Accountability

Measurement is key in enfocring the notion of accountability in schools, and it is what many critics of NCLB fixate on: the high-stakes testing regimes, teacher evaluations,  school grades, and so on. And yet there is something persistently vague about its usage. In my cursory reading of the text of NCLB, the term is never defined more clearly than it is above, except to specify that it refers to common standards and enforcement provisions. The law at times also seems to conflate the sanctions for failure—that is, being “held accountable,” or punished—with meeting the standard itself, or “being accountable,” a big difference.

9 – Content

10 – Sustainability

As a lifestyle and marketing term, “sustainable” can paradoxically express the same capitalist triumphalism—of an ever-expanding horizon of goods and services, of “growth” without consequences—that the conservationist concept was once meant to critique. “Sustainable development,” fuzzy as it is, was intended to remind us of the limited supply and unequal exploitation of natural resources. But if “sustainable” most literally means an ability to keep on doing something, its popularity as a consumerist value suggests that there is a fine line between “sustainable” and “complacent.” We can “sustain” grossly unequal cities—that is, they won’t fall apart utterly—with Lyft and Airbnb, rather than mass transit and affordable housing. For a while, anyway. Whether we will sustain our desire to live in them is another question.

11 – Civility

12 – DIY