Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

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Wednesday Night Links!

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Readers in a frenzy as Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments released early. Why It Matters That Amazon Shipped Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” a Week Early. Look for my review of The Testaments in LARB soon!

* Maybe the aliens are already tired of us.

The coming death of just about every rock legend.

* CFP: Extrapolating Nostalgia: Special issue of Science Fiction Studies.

* The job so nice they posted it twice: Assistant Professor of Fantasy/Science Fiction Literature.

Author Walter Mosley Quits ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ After Using N-Word in Writers Room. Why I Quit the Writers’ Room.

* The real Dickinson scandal appears only at the margins of Wild Nights with Emily, at the start and at the end. The movie begins with a disclaimer: “The poems and letters of Emily Dickinson are used in this film with permission of Harvard University Press.” But why does anyone need permission from Harvard to make a movie about Emily Dickinson? The answer involves theft, adulterous affairs, a land deal gone wrong, a feud between families, two elite colleges, and some of the most famous poems in American literature.

* As of today there are no longer any children who were alive on 9/11. Never forget the worst comics page in history.

* “The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. Yet the theory and practical influence of neoliberalism marches splendidly on, because it is so useful to society’s most powerful people—as a scholarly veneer to what would otherwise be a raw power grab.”

* Liberalism can’t defend itself.

* Whose Apollo Program?

* Another world is possible.

* Shock of shocks: Administration Within UW System Grew While Faculty Numbers Declined.

* The great enrollment crash.

* California to force NCAA to pay athletes. More at the MetaFilter thread.

* Ronan Farrow exposes MIT. The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites. The Moral Rot of the MIT Media Lab.

Her University Publicly Accused Her of Using Meth. Here’s How It Came to That, and Here’s What Happened Next.

* Another trip inside Cheating, Inc.

* The WSJ takes aim at the English major, again. Some college major data from the Center on Education and the Workforce.

* Hard not to think we’ve grown obsolete.

* Another free speech exception.

* Inside Liberty University.

“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”

Ah, they’ve got nothing on Columbia or NYU.

Elite schools say they’re looking for academic excellence and diversity. But their thirst for tuition revenue means that wealth trumps all.

* I worked at a website that rated professors for political bias. This is what I learned.

* ‘UVA has ruined us’: Health system sues thousands of patients, seizing paychecks and putting liens on homes. “Johns Hopkins deliberately puts poor people who seek its care into medical debt so they lose their homes so Johns Hopkins can buy the land for its expansion.”

Congress Promised Student Borrowers A Break. Education Dept. Rejected 99% Of Them.

Over 60, and Crushed by Student Loan Debt.

The administrators who handle sexual-misconduct investigations aren’t sticking around for long. That’s because they have one of the toughest jobs on campus.

* Inside the cuts at Marquette. Under the circumstances I feel overly relieved that we’ve moved up in the US News rankings.

* When Active-Shooter Drills Scare the Children They Hope to Protect.

* Daughter should have been armed, it’s the only way to prevent these things unfortunately.

* Richest Could Lose Hundreds of Billions Under Warren’s Wealth Tax. They wouldn’t even notice it missing.

UBI Already Exists, We Just Need to Redistribute It.

* Climate change is here. Climate change isn’t an intangible future risk. It’s here now, and it’s killing us. Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world. The heat is on. James Cameron says “people need to wake the fuck up” about climate change. Invest $1.8 trillion to adapt. Climate change also means retreat. In an era of climate change, everything feels strange. Even the places we call home. Mississippi Beaches Have Been Vacant For 2 Months As A Toxic Algae Bloom Lurks Offshore. Tired: The Anthropocene. Wired: The Carnivalocene. The novel in the Anthropocene. Winter Isn’t Coming. Prepare for the Pyrocene.

Island of 50,000 People in the Bahamas Is 70% Under Water. Hurricane Dorian Survivors Were Turned Away & That’s A Chilling Look At Our Future.

NOAA staff warned in Sept. 1 directive against contradicting Trump. I knew he’d slip up eventually!

* Hope in the Midst of Ecological Dystopia: Cli-fi books for the young-adult reader.

Agribusiness against the Amazon.

* “When I say state’s rights,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

* From the mixed-up files of the top Republican gerrymanderer.

* Today in the wisdom of markets.

* For every grift, a mark: Meet The Hyperloop’s Truest Believers.

When the State Enforces “Straight Pride.”

What’s Missing From “White Fragility”: Robin DiAngelo’s idea changed how white progressives talk about themselves—and little else.

* And speaking of white fragility.

Indigenous Women in Canada Are Still Being Sterilized Without Their Consent.

TWO MONTHS BEFORE my operation, I dreamed I was a character in a video game. As sometimes happens in video games, I died. When I respawned, I had a new face, the face of another woman altogether. Upon discovering this in the dream, I collapsed into my companion’s arms and told her, through tears, that all I had ever wanted was to become unrecognizable to myself.

* The rise of anti-trans “radical” feminists, explained.

Care Work Is the Next Feminist Frontier.

In Chicago, more than 16,000 students are homeless.

* The Center for American Progress Is a Disgrace.

* Don’t Be Fooled — Kamala Harris’s “Criminal Justice” Plan Is Not Progressive.

* Baby Boomers are charmed by his rose-tinted revisionism. Younger Democrats see the past more clearly. The Historical Amnesia of Joe Biden’s Candidacy.

* Joe Biden can’t stop lying. He lies for popularity, he lies to protect billionaires’ profits, and he lies to cover his own misdeeds. If he were to quit lying, Biden would be exposed for who he actually is: a happy stooge of industry trying to squash the rising demand for a better world.

* Imagine if we had a democracy.

* Trump’s already cancelling elections.

* Corey Robin on Clarence Thomas’s theory of race.

* The case for changing the voting age to zero.

The Fall of the Meritocracy.

Yes, GamerGate Was a Misogynist Hate Campaign.

* Rethinking cities, from the ground up. Cars are pushing out bikes and pedestrians to the applause of the influential and powerful.

* Ex-lawyer who stole from clients in part to finance his ‘Excuseman’ character given 3 years in prison.

* sometimes I just get overwhelmed by how regular and normal our country is

* extremely normal very normal

Document reveals the FBI is tracking border protest groups as extremist organizations. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has accidentally revealed the whereabouts of a future “urban warfare” training facility that is expected to include “hyper-realistic” simulations of homes, hotels and commercial buildings in Chicago and Arizona. The Capricious Use of Solitary Confinement Against Detained Immigrants.

Made In America: For $9.50 An Hour, They Brew Tear Gas For Hong Kong.

* California Bill Makes App-Based Companies Treat Workers as Employees. UPDATE: Uber already refusing to comply.

* Republicans Republicaning, part 7998.

How We Shut Down the Nation’s Largest Child Detention Center.

* The US military may have spent millions to help prop up a Trump resort. Gee, I hope someone was fired over that blunder!

* TSA PreCheck: It absolutely shouldn’t exist, and is absolutely an incredible value.

* Frenchest news item of all time: man dies having “adulterous relationship with a perfect stranger” on business trip; court rules it was a work accident.

* The struggle to save Day-Glo.

* Whatever happened to Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar?

* The original Civilization, running inside an Excel spreadsheet.

* A history of Tetris randomizers.

* How we became nostalgic for Minecraft.

* 44 African Architectural Styles.

* Where there were more than 2,000 staff cartoonists at work a century ago, and 180 as recently as the 1980s, contemporary estimates are grim: a 2011 survey by The Herb Block Foundation, an educational nonprofit, estimated that fewer than 40 such jobs still exist.

* Harry Potter Fandom in an Illiberal Democracy.

Woman Shares 18th Century Student Disciplinary Records In Response To ‘Millennials Are The Worst’ Claim.

* A people’s history of labor history.

* They solved the Geedis mystery.

The Lost Issue of Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s Animal Man From 1988 – “Dominion.”

* Maid of honor shows up to wedding in T. rex costume after being told she could wear anything.

* Cheese can’t fake the funk.

* Every culture tells a different story about why it cages animals, which nearly all of them do. The stories evolve, and the cages do too.

Marc Davis in His Own Words: Imagineering the Disney Theme Parks.

Occupations by frequency as mentioned in the lyrics of David Bowie.

* The art of the Anthropocene: @LegoLostatSea.

* Disney still innovating ways to ruin the Muppets faster and faster; now the series don’t even need to be made to be bad.

* A thread/sincere plea: if you a member of the mainstream/popular press and are writing an article about fandom, you can officially nix any of the following, as it has already been written in 20+ other “101” style articles about fans/fan culture…

We were creating space for ourselves, centering our own positive stories.

* And, once again, Star Trek by the numbers.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Wednesday Morning Links!

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* Coming soon! Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling. I have a short piece in this one ruminating on Rogue One and the problems of multiple authorship in contemporary franchise production.

The computer simulation hypothesis reveals how the American liberal elite questions everything except the insufficiency of liberalism itself.

Seriously, what I find far more ominous is how seldom, today, we see the phrase “the 22nd century.” Almost never.

The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

Not half-light, not dimness, not relative dark: total, pitch darkness. Darkness so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face, or even be sure whether your eyes are open or closed. Lost within an ancient cave, the man and woman started off separate and alone, confronting mind-bending isolation that played tricks on their senses and produced ever-more-disorienting hallucinations. Fumbling and crawling, never sure which next step might break their necks or worse, they navigated through an alien environment marked by vermin, severe cold, tight confines, sudden drops, yawning pits, and sharp rocks. Eventually, they found each other deep below the earth, then painstakingly made their way to the surface. And the entire time, circling silently about them in the darkness, intimately near yet incredibly far away, has been a crew of producers and camera operators documenting their every move.

By the time Noura Jackson’s conviction was overturned, she had spent nine years in prison. This type of prosecutorial error is almost never punished.

After the trial, Weirich spoke to the local news media. ‘‘It’s a great verdict,’’ she said. Noura was sentenced to a prison term of 20 years and nine months. Weirich’s victory helped start her political career. In January 2011, she was appointed district attorney in Shelby County, after the elected district attorney left to join the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam. Weirich, a Republican, became the first woman to hold that post. She then won election in 2012 and 2014 with 65 percent of the vote, running on a law-­and-­order message against weak opponents. A friend said her husband, who is also a lawyer, began talking about moving the family into the Governor’s Mansion one day.

Universities and colleges struggle to stem big drops in enrollment.

* A soccer star from Gaithersburg won a college scholarship. But ICE plans to deport him.

* 18 Texas sheriffs sign up to join forces with federal immigration officers.

All U.S. Catholics are called to oppose mass deportations under Trump. Here’s why.

‘The moment when it really started to feel insane’: An oral history of the Scaramucci era.

The Rise and Fall of the “Freest Little City in Texas”: How a libertarian experiment in city government fell apart over taxes, debt and some very angry people.

Coast Guard ‘will not break faith’ with transgender members, leader says.

* The fire next time.

* The president of golf.

* The chaos, legislative fumbling, and legal jeopardy should not obscure the ways that the administration is remaking federal policy in consequential ways. Evergreen headlines: The Past Week Proves That Trump Is Destroying Our Democracy.

Trump helping his son draft a misleading statement could be witness tampering.

* Always, always: unreal that it’s still this high.

* Cory Booker gets one right.

America’s former envoy to Afghanistan says the war can’t be won. Is there even a strategic goal at this point?

* The plate tectonics of Middle-Earth.

* White Capital, Black Labor. We don’t need a TV show about the Confederacy winning. In many ways, it did.

* This has got to be illegal.

* Squishy sentience.

With one dietary change, the U.S. could almost meet greenhouse-gas emission goals.

* And happy birthday, Brittle Paper!

Weekend Links Absolutely Positively Guaranteed to Help You Find Love This Valentine’s Day

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Was this a luxury? Sure. But it was also the steppingstone to a more aware, thoughtful existence. College was the quarry where I found it.

* Move over, Wisconsin, North Carolina wants in: Tea Party Legislature Targets University of North Carolina In Major Assault On Higher Learning.

Walker aide: UW System cuts are flexible, complaints unwarranted. Oh, okay.

The Art of the Deal, or the Man Who Would Be King: University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross.

The UW: Update from the Struggle.

How is it anything more than laughable that an otherwise reasonable person could believe that this shooting had more to do with a parking space than skin color and religion? How could it be that there is not only silence but active efforts to complicate and explain away something as utterly predictable as white man plays God? Any single instance of white supremacy, whether it is this shooting or the maintenance of de facto segregation in my city, is over-determined. There are dozens of “just so” arguments that stand ready to supplant a direct identification of racial violence at work. White supremacy itself is a coward who hides behind historic contingencies.

Inside Edition Used The Chapel Hill Homicides To Set Up A Segment On How To Find Parking At The Mall.

The study, published this week in Science Advances, is based on hand-curated data about placements of 19,000 tenure-line faculty members in history, business and computer science at 461 North American institutions with doctoral programs. Using a computer-aided, network-style analysis, the authors determined that just 25 percent of those institutions produced 71 to 86 percent of tenure-line professors, depending on discipline. Here’s a link to the full article, which has a definition of “merit” (as/against “prestige”) I can’t make heads or tails of.

* Being Yanis Varoufakis.

The grievously neglected American poet Winfield Townley Scott, who had once loved Lovecraft’s work and written beautifully about it, eventually came to feel that Lovecraft’s fiction was “finicky,” “childish,” and “antagonistic to reality.” But its very childishness and hatred of reality are central to it. If, as Thornton Wilder once claimed, no true adult is ever really shocked, that being “shocked” is always a pose, then Lovecraft never achieved adult status. But he held on tightly to the truths of adolescence: that the universe does not wish us well; that love is not to be found anywhere; and resurrection, if it ever truly occurs, would be a catastrophe.

* If you aren’t reading Jason Shiga’s Demon, you really should start; chapter 11 just went out to subscribers and it’s great.

The social network’s ideal model is for ads to make up about one in 20 tweets that the average user sees — the same level that Facebook strives for. “We’re well below that now,” he said. I’m sure if you keep up what you’re doing you’ll get there faster than you think.

* Also on the comics beat: The few that have been able to reach him believe him to be a deity – one who turned the scorched desert into a lush oasis. They say he can bend matter, space, and even time to his will. Earth is about to meet a new god. And he’s a communist.

Universities are struggling to determine when intoxicated sex becomes sexual assault.

An undergraduate student was found responsible for sexually assaulting Camila Quarta, CC ’16, in April 2013. Since then, 481 undergraduate students have taken courses in which he has served as a teaching assistant. I have mixed feelings about the desire to use employment as a proxy for justice, but preventing this sort of thing from happening does seem to me to fall well within the requirements of Title IX.

* At LARoB, the deeply unpleasant task of historicizing incest.

To Restore Academic Integrity in Sports, Hold Head Coaches Accountable. “Restore.” You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means…

* Shocked, shocked to find out admissions are being manipulated at a university.

I’m Brianna Wu, And I’m Risking My Life Standing Up To Gamergate.

When Girls of Color Are Policed Out of School.

* MetaFilter post on the Coup in Yemen.

Why Jon Stewart Was Bad for the Liberals Who Loved Him. I’ve come around to the inevitable conclusion that this is all just a very clever viral marketing campaign for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. 

* Do humans need air to live? Look, I’m not a scientist.

Tricknology is the word she used to describe how the AHA got its way. Hightower and her neighbors wanted to see an end to the stigma associated with living in public housing. They wanted the projects to become as they once were: stable family neighborhoods where “you didn’t know you were poor.” But the AHA had other plans. It had chosen to view public housing as unfixable.

* Good Magazine has your guide to the legendary Saved by the Bell Hooks Tumblr.

* Hey, gadgets: stop snitchin’.

The Weird Specifics Of Marvel And Sony’s Secret Spider-Man Deal.

The FBI is targeting tar-sands activists.

By Age 40, Your Income Is Probably as Good as It’s Going to Get. I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations on Twitter and Facebook in the last few days about the extent to which this applies to (a) academics in general (b) tenure-track academics (c) tenure-track academics in the humanities (d) tenure-track academics in the humanities today as opposed to a generation ago. But I’ve resolved to go ahead and be completely depressed by this fact simply in the interest of precaution and due diligence.

* Uber and Airbnb monetize the desperation of people in the post-crisis economy while sounding generous—and evoke a fantasy of community in an atomized population.

South Carolina Inmate Receives 37 Years In Solitary Confinement For Updating Facebook.

“If a South Carolina inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped, he could still wind up with fewer Level 1 offenses than an inmate who updated Facebook every day for two weeks,” the EFF said in its report.

*Chief backs up officer who shot at suspect, failed to report incident.

The police officer was wearing a body camera during the incident but it was not turned on.

Oh, what terrible luck!

NYPD Beat the Shit Out of a Brooklyn Street Vendor, Then Lied About It.

Mother Has Miscarriage After Cop Beats Her Because He Didn’t ‘Appreciate Her Tone.’

The Imprisoner’s Dilemma.

* Silicon Valley as cult.

Casting some bodies as inherently rational and others as incapable of true speech makes those with bodies most at risk for harm unable to protest.

* The arc of history is long, but: Putin Banned From ‘Mighty Taco’ Restaurant.

* Also the arc of history is long, etc., Little League Team Stripped of Title.

* Arc of history etc. etc. Montana GOP Legislator Wants to Ban Yoga Pants.

* Oh, I give up: Internet Neo-Nazis Are Trying to Build a White Supremacist Utopia in Namibia.

* All-time classic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereals, Hitler edition.

* An oral history of that scene on last week’s The Americans. Standard rules apply, do not click, pretend it never happened.

The Lincoln Memorial could have been a pyramid. See all the forgotten proposals. Wash that “good Vox” taste out of your mouth with this “bad Vox” chaser: The best hope for federal prison reform: a bill that could disproportionately help white prisoners.

Amazing Photo Of An Intoxicated Gorilla About To Punch A Photographer. Exactly what it says on the tin.

* Hulu thoughtfully removes any obligation you may have felt to care about its upcoming 11/23/63 adaptation.

* Somber news this Valentine’s Day.

* And the premiere for the improbably effective Better Call Saul is up on YouTube, if you missed it and want to hop aboard the think piece train before it leaves the station.

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 14, 2015 at 8:18 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Night Links

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* I saw this movie: Brains of rats connected allowing them to share information via internet.

It bears repeating: The candidate’s adviser sent us a letter on which both “department of history” and “faculty of arts and sciences” were misspelled.

Advice From Tenure-Track Faculty To Those Entering The Profession.

* Beyond the MOOC: While other universities move quickly to offer courses online for free, Carnegie Mellon University is instead starting for-profit efforts designed to capture segments of the education market. I’ll promote this a bit more as the date gets closer, but I’ll be speaking at a “What’s the Matter with MOOCs?” event at UWM in mid-March.

Boots on Campus: Yale Flap Highlights Militarization of Academia.

Student Debt Nearly Tripled In 8 Years, New York Federal Reserve Reports.

* The Dan Harmon backlash, at the AV Club and TNR (of all things).

* Justice, American style: The city’s complaint in federal court claims that if Ms. Truong is entitled to damages for the nearly three years she spent in jail awaiting trial, then Mr. Ryan is as much to blame as the city because he took too long to get the coerced confession tossed out of court by the judge.

* What is happening with Bob Woodward? Seriously, WTF Is Up With Bob Woodward?

Will a Republican friend-of-the-court brief tip the Supreme Court in favor of gay marriage? I’m pretty sure it’ll have more luck than Obama’s.

These numbers are unprecedented: by 2014 President Obama will have deported over 2 million people – more in six years than all people deported before 1997. That “before 1997” actually means since 1892.

AFL-CIO Executive Council Endorses Comprehensive Doomsday Policy for Working Families.

“We need union jobs today, not tomorrow,” said Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.  “The resolution balances our desire to protect the fragile ecosystem of the earth, while acknowledging the economic benefits of a high-road strategy to develop the doomsday technologies of the future.”

* Never forget: The entire staff of the West Wing died on Voyager.

How Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the EmpireTurned Star Wars into Science Fiction.

Women Work Harder Than Men, Study Says.

* The Turn against Nabokov.

* When the White House was completely gutted.

The social events of the 1948 holiday season had to be canceled. And with good reason: Experts called the third floor of the White House “an outstanding example of a firetrap.” The result of a federally commissioned report found the mansion’s plumbing “makeshift and unsanitary,” while “the structural deterioration [was] in ‘appalling degree,’ and threatening complete collapse.” The congressional commission on the matter was considering the option of abandoning the structure altogether in favor of a built-from-scratch mansion, but President Truman lobbied for the restoration.

* When Martin Luther King played pool.

“Preserved” plushies in jars.

* Help wanted: must be infallible.

* They’re making a movie out of The Drowned World.

Shale Gas Fracking Will Be Around For a Long, Long Time.

* And American history, Breitbart style: Journalists on the campaign trail saw Johnson drunkenly board a plane armed with nuclear weapons and then accidentally drop them on the United States. We all saw it!

‘Who Says Meritocracy Says Oligarchy’

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The Nation excerpts Chris Hayes.

The dynamic Michels identifies applies, in an analogous way, to our own cherished system of meritocracy. In order for it to live up to its ideals, a meritocracy must comply with two principles. The first is the Principle of Difference, which holds that there is vast differentiation among people in their ability and that we should embrace this natural hierarchy and set ourselves the challenge of matching the hardest-working and most talented to the most difficult, important and remunerative tasks.

The second is the Principle of Mobility. Over time, there must be some continuous, competitive selection process that ensures performance is rewarded and failure punished. That is, the delegation of duties cannot simply be made once and then fixed in place over a career or between generations. People must be able to rise and fall along with their accomplishments and failures. When a slugger loses his swing, he should be benched; when a trader loses money, his bonus should be cut. At the broader social level, we hope that the talented children of the poor will ascend to positions of power and prestige while the mediocre sons of the wealthy will not be charged with life-and-death decisions. Over time, in other words, society will have mechanisms that act as a sort of pump, constantly ensuring that the talented and hard-working are propelled upward, while the mediocre trickle downward.

But this ideal, appealing as it may be, runs up against the reality of what I’ll call the Iron Law of Meritocracy. The Iron Law of Meritocracy states that eventually the inequality produced by a meritocratic system will grow large enough to subvert the mechanisms of mobility. Unequal outcomes make equal opportunity impossible. The Principle of Difference will come to overwhelm the Principle of Mobility. Those who are able to climb up the ladder will find ways to pull it up after them, or to selectively lower it down to allow their friends, allies and kin to scramble up. In other words: “Who says meritocracy says oligarchy.”

Consider, for example, the next “meritocracy” that graduates of Hunter encounter. American universities are the central institution of the modern meritocracy, and yet, as Daniel Golden documents in his devastating book The Price of Admission, atop the ostensibly meritocratic architecture of SATs and high school grades is built an entire tower of preference and subsidy for the privileged:

At least one third of the students at elite universities, and at least half at liberal arts colleges, are flagged for preferential treatment in the admissions process. While minorities make up 10 to 15 percent of a typical student body, affluent whites dominate other preferred groups: recruited athletes (10 to 25 percent of students); alumni children, also known as “legacies” (10 to 25 percent); development cases (2 to 5 percent); children of celebrities and politicians (1 to 2 percent); and children of faculty members (1 to 3 percent).

This doesn’t even count the advantages that wealthy children have in terms of private tutors, test prep, and access to expensive private high schools and college counselors. All together, this layered system of preferences for the children of the privileged amounts to, in Golden’s words, “affirmative action for rich white people.” It is not so much the meritocracy as idealized and celebrated but rather the ancient practice of “elites mastering the art of perpetuating themselves.”

A pure functioning meritocracy would produce a society with growing inequality, but that inequality would come along with a correlated increase in social mobility. As the educational system and business world got better and better at finding inherent merit wherever it lay, you would see the bright kids of the poor boosted to the upper echelons of society, with the untalented progeny of the best and brightest relegated to the bottom of the social pyramid where they belong.

But the Iron Law of Meritocracy makes a different prediction: that societies ordered around the meritocratic ideal will produce inequality without the attendant mobility. Indeed, over time, a society will become more unequal and less mobile as those who ascend its heights create means of preserving and defending their privilege and find ways to pass it on across generations. And this, as it turns out, is a pretty spot-on description of the trajectory of the American economy since the mid-1970s.

Sign of the Times

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 1, 2012 at 9:18 am

Closing All My Tabs Links

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* For all my brothers and sisters: “What did you do the summer before you went on the academic job market? What do you wish you had done?” Duke Lit’s Job Market Resources page has been ramped up considerably in the last year, which helps.

* To immerse yourself in literary theory as an impressionable young person is a little like squinting at a piece of toast until the face of Jesus materializes. It’s a slight perceptual shift (all you have to do is unfocus your eyes) but risky, because there’s no going back to plain toast after Jesus. Similarly, once you have engaged in enough feminist readings of “The Iliad” or performed close textual analyses of “Alf” or written papers limning the intertextual relationship between “Videodrome” and “Madame Bovary” — once, in other words, you’ve glimpsed the social, political, historical and ideological underpinnings of every text ever constructed — you’ll never again see stories the same way again. They’ll shed their innocence and expose their dirty secrets and reveal the world as a darker, more dangerous place than it once seemed. (Thanks, Lindsey Fiona!!)

* Recent college grads facing mal-employment, while incoming Duke students are rightly anxious about debt. Not anxious enough, frankly.

* Affirmative action for white kids: Asian-Americans and diversity today.

D.I.Y. Detroit: How the Alternative Press shaped the art of a city left for dead.

* At Mother Jones: The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science. Related: Kate Shepard explains the Climategate fraud. Also: Confessions of a Climate Change Convert.

* This CIA press release about their eco-friendly document destruction processes has got to be an Earth Day prank.

* Rule of law watch: Gov. Chris Christie Considers Defying Court Order.

* Debunking Trig Trutherism once and for all.

* A gaffe is when you accidentally say what you actually think: Minnesota state House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R), who is strongly pushing for passage of a voter ID law, has now backed away from comments he made in a radio appearance on Wednesday — when he said of the act of voting: “I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right.”

* The great thing about neoliberalism is that it’s the answer to every question. The answer is the same regardless of whether your public institutions have too little money, or too much. More on how austerity works from Glenn Greenwald.

* Ideal and actual representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

* Inside Obama ’12. John Judis explores one area in which this will be a tough sell.

Obama has tried to carve a liberal niche within this retrograde political framework by charging that the Republican plan to cut the deficit would get rid of Medicare and would keep the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. That’s all well and good, but Obama is still playing on Republican turf. And it might not work. The last Democratic presidential candidate who based his campaign on deficits was Walter Mondale in 1984. Mondale probably would have lost to Ronald Reagan in any case, but he would have won more than Minnesota and the District of Columbia. The other Democratic candidate who tried to make deficits an issue was Al Gore in 2000, and he lost to a candidate he should have defeated easily. And you can be sure that Bill Clinton in 1992 didn’t focus on deficits in running against George H.W. Bush.

Via digby.

* I’d never heard of either Kiki Kannibal or StickyDrama, but I read this Rolling Stone article on her weird, tragic adolescence from beginning to end (a rarity for anything they publish not written by Matt Taibbi).

* Parallel worlds are still the hottest trope in SF: Here’s a trailer for indie drama Another Earth, and a description of SyFy’s next new terrible show.

Portal 2 news! The story is much more complicated and interesting than I noticed while I was playing.

* And mission (creep) accomplished: Unmanned drones now flying missions in Libya.