Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Adam Roberts

Tuesday Morning Links!

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* The course descriptions for Marquette’s Fall 2017 English classes are up at the department website. Check them out! I’m teaching Tolkien and a grad seminar on utopia. 

* Also in Marquette news! Marquette to host ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ conference in April.

Becoming a parent forces you to think about the nature of the problem — which is, in a lot of ways, the problem of nature […] the realities of aging and sickness and mortality become suddenly inescapable. […] [My wife] said something during that time I will never forget. “If I had known how much I was going to love him,” she said, “I’m not sure I would have had him.” Mark O’Connell on transhumanism and immortality.

* From the great Ali Sperling: Reading Lovecraft in the Anthropocene. And this review of Alan Moore’s Jerusalem from the great David Higgins!

* Adam Roberts reviews New York 2140. Another review, from a climate scientist. And an interview with Stan. My review comes out in LARB this weekend…

The Most Cringeworthy Monuments to Colleges’ Innovation Jargon.

Perverse outcomes: UC Berkeley deletes 20,000 audio and visual lectures in the name of compliance with the ADA.

Speculative Fiction and Survival in Iraq.

* Is it really so hard to understand that when your students go broke just trying to graduate they aren’t exactly moved to donate later?

harcourt_fenton_mudd_2267* The liberal arts at Harvey Mudd College, whose graduates out-earn Harvard and Stanford.

* You-might-be-from-Wisconsin-if at Ask MetaFilter.

President Roosevelt signed the order on February 19, 1942, almost exactly 75 years ago. By spring, American citizens would be arriving at the Fresno and Pinedale camps: our neighbors.

* Wisconsin is apparently harassing trans state employees.

* Chaos, again. This is fine. Even James Comey. Twilight of Reince Preibus. Ten Questions for President Trump. Ten More Questions for President Trump. Remember when it was scandalous that Obama, years before he became a politician, once sold his house?

It is through the Justice Department that the administration is likely to advance its nationalist plans — to strengthen the grip of law enforcement, raise barriers to voting and significantly reduce all forms of immigration, promoting what seems to be a longstanding desire to reassert the country’s European and Christian heritage. It’s not an accident that Sessions, who presumably could have chosen from a number of plum assignments, opted for the role of attorney general. The Department of Justice is the most valuable perch from which to transform the country in the way he and Bannon have wanted. With an exaggerated threat of disorder looming, the nation’s top law-enforcement agency could become a machine for trying to fundamentally change who gets to be an American and what rights they can enjoy.

The emerging effort — dozens more rules could be eliminated in the coming weeks — is one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades. It is the leading edge of what Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, described late last month as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”

* “Forever war, but too much.”

An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the American government has been detained for more than two days after flying into Los Angeles International Airport, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed on Saturday. Profiles of immigrant arrested in Austin. Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws. (Note this lawsuit was filed in 2014.This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World. And if it were a book, it’d seem laughably contrived: A letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Resisting ICE. Here we go again.

* 4chan and the Great Meme War.

* Russia and the Cyber Cold War.

* And while we’re on the subject: The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation. I think this is a very good reminder of the need to stay calm and detached from the chaos of the news cycle.

Instead, a new model is proposed: the president keeps everyone in a constant state of excitement and alarm. He moves fast and breaks things. He leads by causing commotion. As energy in the political system rises he makes no effort to project calm or establish an orderly White House. And if he keeps us safe it’s not by being himself a safe, steady, self-controlled figure, but by threatening opponents and remaining brash and unpredictable— maybe a touch crazy. This too is psychological work, but of a different kind.

* Democrats keep trusting demographics to save them. It hasn’t worked yet — but maybe this time…

NASA unveils plan to give Mars an ‘Earth-like’ atmosphere.

House Republicans Unveil Bill To Repeal Obamacare. The GOP health bill doesn’t know what problem it’s trying to solve.

Austerity measures don’t actually save money. But they do disempower workers. Which is why governments pursue them in the first place.

* No! It can’t be! Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win.

* Losing West Virginia.

Contrary to What You Learned in Sex Ed, You Can Get Pregnant While Pregnant.

* Mid-decade gerrymander in Georgia.

* Autism and Addiction.

* What We’ve Learned from Giving Dolphins LSD.

In a world first, a teenager with sickle cell disease achieved complete remission after an experimental gene therapy at Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris, researchers say.

* Possible lynching outside Seattle, in 2017.

* The end of suburbia.

* In the richest country in human history, children have “lunch debt.”

The only way in which a game is guaranteed to end is when the player abandons their device. Everything else is game design.

“These devices don’t have emotional intelligence,” said Allison Druin, a University of Maryland professor who studies how children use technology. “They have factual intelligence.” How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants.

* Finding a jury of your peers in a racially segregated society.

* A colony in a nation.

Divination hasn’t disappeared; it’s taken over the world.

But these second-order obstacles aren’t enough to explain the current collapse of poll-driven political certainty. They’re just excuses, even if they’re not untrue. Something about the whole general scheme of polling—the idea that you can predict what millions of undecided voters will do by selecting a small group and then just simply asking them—is out of whack. We need to think seriously about what the strange game of election-watching actually is, in terms of our relation to the future, our power to choose our own outcomes, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the mysteries of fate. And these questions are urgent. Because predictions of the future don’t simply exist in the future, but change the way we act in the present. Because in our future something monstrous is rampaging: it paces hungrily toward us, and we need to know if we’ll be able to spot it in time.

When I said that opinion polls are sibyls and soothsayers, it wasn’t just a figure of speech. Opinion polling has all the trappings of a science—it has its numbers and graphs, its computational models, its armies of pallid drones poring over the figures. It makes hypotheses and puts them to the test. But polls are not taken for what they are: a report on what a small number of people, fond of changing their minds, briefly pretended to think. Instead, we watch the tracking graphs as if the future were playing itself out live in front of us. The real structure of the electoral-wonk complex is more mystical than materialist: it’s augury and divination, a method handed down by Prometheus to a starving and shivering humanity at the faint dawn of time. Behind all the desktop screens and plate-glass of his office, the buzz of data and the hum of metrics, Nate Silver retreats to a quiet, dark, and holy room. He takes the knife and slits in one stroke the throat of a pure-white bull; its blood arcs and drizzles in all directions. He examines its patterns. And he knows.

There’s a never-ending fount of stories you can write about when someone is breaking away from canon or not, and create many controversies all the way through preproduction and production and even until a movie opens, about whether or not they’re breaking canon. Is it a blasphemous movie or not? At some point, you gotta stop and say, Is there this expectation that it’s like we’re doing Godfather Part I and II, only it’s going to nine movies? And we’re just gonna cut them into this kind of Berlin Alexanderplatz that never ends? We’re gonna suddenly take a moment to really savor the fact that these movies exist in an identical tone? The reality to me is that you can’t have interesting movies if you tell a filmmaker, “Get in this bed and dream, but don’t touch the pillows or move the blankets.” You will not get cinema. You will just get a platform for selling the next movie on that bed, unchanged and unmade. James Mangold on Logan.

* The making of The Silmarillion.

* And we have but one choice: the Ring must be destroyed.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Weekend Links!

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c5zayqzuwailjt1* Angela Davis at Marquette, March 29.

CFP: From Sanctuary to Sabotage: Fighting the Fascist Creep at and beyond Universities.

“Virtually nothing about our standard model of sleep existed as we know it two centuries ago.”

* Modern love.

20 Years Ago, Starship Troopers Showed Us What Happens When Fascism Wins.

11 things I learned about academia by analysing 14 million RateMyProfessor reviews.

tumblr_om94ksmnrs1romv9co1_250* Remember that Iowa lawmaker who wanted to purge universities of Democrats? Guess what!

* When the CIA read Foucault.

* Nice, low-key interview with Kim Stanley Robinson on Flash Forward TV.

Abigail Nussbaum walks you through her Hugo short fiction nominations.
* Trump and the Myth of Nuclear Flexibility.

* Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War.

* My alma mater in the news!

* America divided into states with the population of California. Which is to say, if we allow ourselves a crudely democratic understanding of what representative democracy should be, there would only be 16 senators in a Senate that fairly represented people living in California.

america

America has locked up so many black people it has warped our sense of reality.

* Exiting the Roach Motel, or, What’s the Matter with the Democratic Party?

The Democratic Party is a roach motel for leftists. We go in full of vision and energy, like the Sanders kids, like the Ellison supporters, and we get crushed and stuck in the slime. Sanders and Ellison had to play by the rules and call for continuing support for the Dems after their losses. Having played the game, they were stuck with the rules in the roach motel. Once you go in, you may never come out.

* Slavery and the academy.

* Twilight of the meritocrats.

* Palantir and ICE. Freeze on H-1B Visas. Customs Giving Literacy Tests At JFK Is A Thing Now. Deportation fears impacting criminal case. Don’t Get Your Undocumented Friends in Trouble: A How-To. Are you listening, SXSW?

* White House aide Sebastian Gorka said Wednesday that objections to President Donald Trump’s creation of a new office to highlight crimes committed by undocumented immigrants are “un-American.” All right, then, I’ll go to Hell….

* “Accompanied by his wife Jessica, a U.S. citizen who is six months pregnant with their first child.” Trump administration considering separating women, children at U.S.-Mexico border. Detained after a press conference, Daniela Vargas was seven when she came to the U.S. A 13-Year-Old Girl Sobbed While Recording Her Immigrant Father Get Arrested By ICE Agents. ICE Plans To Deport Oregon Immigrant With 5 Children, No Criminal Background. Immigration agents deport Houston father of two who previously held immigration reprieve. After Decades In The U.S., NY Immigrant With Years-Old Pot Misdemeanor Faces Deportation. Does even a single person with a conscience work for this administration?

* Kushner and Flynn. Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention. Your cheat sheet to four potential investigations of Russia and President Trump. Mysteries of Jeff Sessions. Recusal is not enough. Isn’t it pretty to think so? The Innocent Explanation. Why Trump Sounding ‘Presidential’ Only Makes Him More Dangerous. Style and Substance. Trumpism and heroism. You Cretins Are Going To Get Thousands Of People Killed. This one broke while I was tagging the post.

* Hard to blame them: European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for Americans.

* Four mosques have burned in seven weeks. Nearly half of the country’s Jewish community centers have received bomb threats in 2017. Today’s arrest (an apparent copycat) covered less than 10% of that.

* Destroying the planet is too important to let a silly little thing like national borders get in the way. The end of the Great Lakes. Gutting the Chesapeake Bay. Massive Permafrost Thaw Documented in Canada, Portends Huge Carbon Release. Antarctica hits record high temperature at balmy 63.5°F.

* The rich are different: they control everything.

* Adam Roberts rereads The Time Machine.

* The Feminist Bookstore Movement.

* Fascinated by this: Price of Lab-Grown Burger Falls from $325K to $11.36.

* A rough stat from up the street: Only 1 in 5 black students enrolled at UW-Milwaukee graduates in 6 years.

* Team Plagiarizes Golden State Warriors. Team Is Undefeated.

* Could different borders save Europe?

“We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again,” he wrote. “Ms. Conway has acknowledged her understanding of the standards and has reiterated her commitment to abiding by them in the future.”

* A diabetic boy’s parents ‘didn’t believe in doctors.’ Now they’re guilty of his murder.

* Are the Yuuzhan Vong coming back?

After oil was discovered on their Oklahoma reservation, the Osage Nation became the richest people per capita in the world. Then they began to be murdered off mysteriously. In 1924 the nascent FBI sent a team of undercover agents, including a Native American, to the Osage reservation.

* 69 Cock Lane is yours for £449,950, but is it Britain’s naughtiest address?

* Study: half of the studies you read about in the news are wrong (And yes, this could be one of them).

* This is the future liberals want. Though of course the meme is good too.

* But not this one: “basically a Fitbit for your man bits that tracks thrust speed and velocity.”

* Disney is super proud of itself for this incredibly progressive leap forward. Next: Scar, Ursula, and Captain Hook were all gay, too!

* There’s nothing sweet in life: Protesting Dr. Seuss Week.

* Nobody hates college more than the people who run colleges.

A transgender boy just won the Texas girls’ state wrestling championship.

* No More Saturday Marches. While the Iron Is Hot: The Case for the Women’s Strike.

* The line must be drawn — here!

* Ethical zoo.

* A People’s History of Daria.

These colleges are better than Harvard at making poor kids rich.

* George W. Bush, with the soul of an artist.

* Massive Open Online Rubber Arrow through the Head.

* You know what? Fine.

* Statement of teaching philosophy.

* This week’s I Was There Too interviews someone I’ve always wondered about, the actor who replaced Crispin Glover in Back to the Future Part Two. The Biff episode was good too though if you follow Back to the Future arcana you’ve probably heard a lot of it before.

* Trump’s worst crime is forcing me to agree with David Frum.

* Neoliberalism in everything: “Ark Encounter doesn’t live up to economic promise.”

* NASA’s about to learn a valuable lesson about the Internet.

* And the positive reviews have done it: I’m going to ruin my career and buy a Nintendo Switch so I can play the new Zelda.

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Written by gerrycanavan

March 4, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Christmas Hangover Links

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* This was fun: My Tolkien/The Force Awakens mini-essay got picked up by Salon.

* Is Star Wars setting up Poe Dameron as its first queer protagonist? Rey is not a role model for little girls. The prior texts against which this film needs to be judged are not those long-ago movies, but rather the trailers for this new movie. And bah humbug! Double humbug! Double triple bah humbug!

* And for the devotee: How Did This Get Made? covered The Star Wars Holiday Special this week — with bonus oral history.

A Christmas Carol: Dedicated to Scrooge, And His Art Collection.

* New York University is known for bestowing lavish perks on its leaders. Its new president, Andrew Hamilton, will be no exception. NYU sort of hitting it out of the park this week generally. The latest extravagances in the college sports arms race? Laser tag and mini golf.

Economists Say ‘Bah! Humbug!’ to Christmas Presents.

Phylogeny of elves finds that santa’s workers are actually dwarves.

* The death of the Wisconsin idea: Under the proposed policies, faculty members could be laid off for financial reasons or if academic programs are discontinued for education reasons, including long-term strategic planning that includes “market demand and societal needs.”

* Let this be our Christmas story. Why? Well, that requires some explaining and perhaps even a stronger rationale than I’m yet able to muster. Because it has no cheer, redemption or family bonding. It’s about power, money, greed, recklessness and what can only be termed the sort of roughshod ridiculousness and surreal unintentional comedy that comes from being powerful enough or serving people with sufficient power that the ordinary sort of fear of getting caught and having to explain yourself simply doesn’t apply.

* Call for ideas: the Museum of Capitalism.

* From Bleeding Heart Libertarians: “Universities may indeed be exploiting adjuncts, but they cannot rectify this mistake without significant moral costs.”

* What really happened in the Christmas truce of 1914? The Real Story Behind the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I.

* The Typical American Lives Only 18 Miles From Mom.

* The strange case of Case Western Reserve University law school.

* El Niño, explained: A guide to the biggest weather story of 2015. Records smashed on East Coast’s warmest ever Christmas Eve.

African-Inspired Space Opera Yohancé Is Going To Be Our Next Obsession.

‘Unprecedented’ gas leak in California is the climate disaster version of BP’s oil spill.

* I knew cheese was a drug.

* And no. Just no. Disagree.

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Star Wars Day! Yay! Episode III Procrastination of the Procrastination

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(episode one, the procrastination menace) (episode two, attack of the procrastination)

* Secrets of a lonely childhood revealed!

* A Brief Visual History of People Waiting in Line for Star Wars.

* The Tides of Lust: Samuel Delany reviews the first Star Wars movie, 1977. In the Butler archives there’s a ton of her thoughts on the Star Wars franchise, including her class notes for the Clarion classes where she discussed it. Really interesting stuff.

* And speaking of which: a CFP for a Butler essay collection.

* Evacuate? In my moment of triumph? J.J. Abrams also apologizes for Star Trek Into Darkness.

* Apropos of this New Yorker cartoon, this profile of Ahmed Best is one of the best things I’ve read about Phantom Menace.

12360359_10153376574063869_4285188336294404539_n* People are still arguing in the mentions of this Tumblr post on jury nullification, over two years later.

There’s No College P.C. Crisis: In Defense of Student Protesters.

* Rewind: How the U.S. Military Turned Santa Claus Into a Cold War Icon.

* Out today: Adam Roberts’s The Thing Itself.

* Low Pay, Long Commutes: The Plight Of The Adjunct Professor.

I expected to find at least a couple prisons within a mile of a toxic site — after all 89 percent of all New Jersey residents live within a mile of a toxic site. What I didn’t expect is that over half of New Jersey’s state prisons would be toxic sites. The WNYC map, using information from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection website, identifies seven out of the 13 New Jersey state prisons as toxic sites. Plus, these toxic prison sites are often surrounded by more contaminated sites.

In US, poverty dampens genetic influence on IQ.

The Silent Collapse Of The Death Penalty In The United States.

The Convoluted Profits of Academic Publishing.

The Disaster Most Likely to Cause Global Famine Is Not an Earthquake, Storm, Tsunami, or Flood. I knew it, it’s capitali–oh, no, drought, it’s drought.

And Streaming TV Isn’t Just a New Way to Watch. It’s a New Genre.

Monday Night Links!

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* Northrop Frye by way of Adam Roberts: The basis of critical knowledge is the direct experience of literature, certainly, but experience as such is never adequate. We are always reading Paradise Lostwith a hangover or seeing King Lear with an incompetent Cordelia or disliking a novel because some scene in it connects with something suppressed in our memories, and our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting… As a structure of knowledge, then, criticism, like other structures of knowledge, is in one sense a monument to a failure of experience, a tower of Babel or one of the “ruins of time” which, in Blake’s phrase, “build mansions in eternity.” Adam makes the same connection to SF I make:

I think this resonates so strongly with me partly because science fiction was something I fell in love with as a child-reader. I still love it; still write it and write about it. But I’m increasingly conscious of the ways in which the exercise is based upon a kind of structural hermeneutic inadequacy. ‘Our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting’ is almost a too perfect thumbnail of the adult apprehension of SF; and SF criticism always a kind of running-to-catch-up uttering various post-facto justifications. What’s neat about this Frye quotation is the sense it conveys that, actually, all criticism is in the business of doing this.

“Industrial-era education” as rhetorical whipping boy.

* Lukewarm Obama scandals coming day-by-day now. Hello, second term!

“Of the 41 percent of Republicans who consider Benghazi to be the worst political scandal in American history…

* Lili Loofbourow covers the struggle against privatization of higher ed in Chile for Boston Review.

* NPR profiles Duke’s Own Fred Moten.

So This Is How It Begins: Guy Refuses to Stop Drone-Spying on Seattle Woman.

* Peter Frase has more on Universal Basic Income as utopia.

* Why all babies say “mama.”

* Kurt Vonnegut’s final exam prank.

And let this be our culture’s epitaph. We could do worse.

Utopia in Unembarrassed, Unironic Mode

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Adam Roberts has been reading the Culture novels backwards, and it’s a very good thing: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

A New Book of This Arbitrary Length of Time: Yellow Blue Tibia

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It’s been a long while since I had a Book of This Arbitrary Length of Time, but Adam Roberts’s Yellow Blue Tibia really is as good as they say, maybe better. I may have to structure part of the introduction or conclusion to my dissertation around it.

I’d say more, but perhaps it’s best if you go in cold.