Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Adorno

Thursday Night Links!

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tumblr_ohvslqjhdo1romv9co1_500* My brilliant colleague Ainehi Edoro was chosen as one of the most 100 influential Africans.

* The Octavia Project. And elsewhere in the VanderMeers’ vast empire…

* CFP: Octavia E. Butler at ALA 2017.

* More fighting over tenure and post-tenure review at Wisconsin.

* Victory at Standing Rock.

* Cixin Liu: As a science-fiction writer, it’s my duty to warn the human race that the robot revolution has begun — even if no one has noticed yet.

* Teaching the controversy: Listening While Feminist: In Defense of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

* We’re gonna need a better gerrymander: If Democrats want to solve the problem of legislative maps that are biased against them they need to pursue a strategy that is more likely to produce maps that compensate for geography.

“It is striking to see how committed they are to allowing this train wreck to occur,” he said. “And more surprisingly, how little careful attention has been given (at the top at least) to just how vulnerable—given Bush v. Gore—the current (system for counting votes in the) electoral college is.” But wait! There’s more! Why I Will Not Cast My Electoral Vote for Donald Trump.

* Trump vs. conflicts of interest: Maybe the Answer Is That He Can’t Divest.

How Many Generals Is Too Many? I think the number is worrying, but agree with Kevin that the central issue is that he has chosen an extremely popular, recently retired general for DoD. Civilian control of the military is an important value, or it used to be.

* This is bad: Trump Launches Tweet Attack on Carrier Steel Union Boss for Fact-Checking Him. (UPDATE: This is what happens when Donald Trump attacks a private citizen on Twitter.) This is bad: Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr. CEO Tapped as Labor Secretary. This is bad: Trump Considers FDA Chief Who Says People Should Use Medicines “At Their Own Risk.” This is bad: Trump to be part-time president, keep lucrative job with Celebrity Apprentice. This is bad: Does Donald Trump Believe Nuclear War Is Inevitable?

* This one though I do approve of: Chris Christie has the lowest approval rating one pollster has ever found for a state governor.

* There are no second acts in American life, they said.

* Point/Counterpoint: How Sci-Fi and Fantasy Can Save the World. What Can Artists Do to Oppose Trump? Nothing.

* That’ll solve it! Or, if you prefer, only the super-rich can save us now.

* Worst Game of Thrones spinoff ever.

* …and the portions are too small!

* The Swing-O-Matic: Change the settings to see how shifts in party preference and turnout by different demographic groups would affect the 2016 presidential election.

* We need to admit that right-wing harrassment and conspiracy theories are baked into the business model of social media at this point. And with right-wing political hegemony for the foreseeable future, it will only get worse, because the range of “acceptable opinion” will shift even further to the right. Asking nicely and filling out all the proper paperwork will not change this underlying material reality.

* The tricky part is that many expect the expert agency’s views to change shortly after January 20th, when Trump’s O.C.R. is installed. (Dear Colleagues: Never mind, we take it back.) Come January, advocates of transgender rights, who have enthusiastically supported judicial deference to O.C.R., will have reason for an extreme pivot, given that the new O.C.R. is unlikely to view “sex” as an “internal sense of gender.” It is awkward now for Grimm’s lawyers to argue zealously for the notion that the agency knows best, when only weeks from now, and in coming years, that doctrine is more likely to harm than to help transgender students.

Inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal antidrug campaign in the Philippines, our photojournalist documented 57 homicide victims over 35 days. And in case you’ve forgotten.

Located in the city’s Girangaon (Village of the Mills) neighborhood, Trump Tower Mumbai illustrates every pathology of the neoliberal turn away from comprehensive city planning.

* What happens if someone dies on Mars?

* Uber as Ponzi scheme.

* The arc of history is long, but New Jersey Will No Longer Seek to Collect Loans from Families of Dead Students.

* Check ignition, and may God’s love be with you.

* Harvard will not be a sanctuary campus. It’s for your own good, kids!

* Ugh, maybe it actually is.

* Disney ought to pay this former employee for the movie rights to this AMA.

* Today in news from the mysteriiiiiiiious Orient: Japan’s sex problem is so bad that people are quitting dating and marrying their friends.

* Trump propaganda game getting real.

* Chimpanzees See Butts Like We See Faces.

* The ultimate fear isn’t of the second coming of Hitler: history never repeats itself so obviously, and a sense of shame over the Nazi past remains pervasive in all corners of German life. No, the fear is that the present antidemocratic wave may prove too strong even for Germany—the only country in the history of the world that ever learned from its mistakes. From The New Yorker‘s “The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming.”

* If Black Mirror Had a Showroom.

* The suit asks that the embryos be transferred to Mr Loeb so that they can be born and receive their inheritance.

* This might be the worst science journalism piece I’ve seen in years.

* Goddamnit, Pixar.

* Scientists Think the Speed of Light Has Slowed, and They’re Trying to Prove It.

Paradox Girl Is One of the Best Time Travel Series We’ve Read All Year. I bought these tonight on this recommendation and I can confirm it’s super fun.

* And this makes me feel worse about both extinction-level events and car crashes.

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 8, 2016 at 8:01 pm

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Good Morning, It’s Monday Links

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* TNG and the limits of liberalism (and, not incidentally, why I always recommend The Culture novels to Star Trek fans). And one more Trek link I missed yesterday: An oral history of “The Inner Light.”

* Your obligatory 9/11 flashback this year was all about Air Force One. And if you need more there’s always Tom Junod’s “The Falling Man.”

Sofia Samatar: Risk Is Our Business.

Who’s Afraid of AAARG?

We are, after all, rigged for gratification, conditioned to want to “feel good.” We seek pleasure, not pain; happiness, not misery; validation, not defeat. Our primary motivators are what I have previously called the “Neuro P5”: pleasure, pride, permanency, power, and profit — however these may be translated across socio-cultural contexts. Whenever technologies that enhance these motivators become available, we are likely to pursue them.

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.

* “Why a forgotten 1930s critique of capitalism is back in fashion.” The Frankfurt School, forgotten?

* CFP: “Activism and the Academy.”

* Your MLA JIL Minute: Assistant Professor of Science Fiction/Fantasy Studies at Florida Atlantic University.

Rereading Stephen King’s It on Its 30th Anniversary.

* Rereading The Plot Against America in the Age of Trump.

How ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Built Modern Conservatism.

* Weird temporality in It Follows, by way of The Shining.

* States vs. localities at Slate. Wisconsin vs. Milwaukee is the example in the lede.

Donald Trump and the Fall of Atlantic City. Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign.

* And just in case you’re wondering: What happens if a presidential candidate dies at the last second?

* Once again: A News21 analysis four years ago of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states found that while some fraud had occurred since 2000, the rate was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million registered voters in that 12-year span. The analysis found 10 cases of voter impersonation — the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls.

* 21st Century Headlines: “Airlines and airports are beginning to crack down on explosive Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones.”

* Rebranding watch: Lab-Grown Meat Doesn’t Want to Be Called Lab-Grown Meat.

Passing My Disability On to My Children. Facing the possibility of passing on a very different genetic condition — which, as it turned out, I wasn’t a carrier of– I was very much on the other side of this before we had our children.

* Addiction and rehabilitation, a minority report.

Why Do Tourists Visit Ancient Ruins Everywhere Except the United States?

* Oh, now he’s sorry!

* Jason Brennan (and, in the comments, Phil Magness) talk at Bleeding Heart Libertarians about their followup paper on adjunctification, “Are Adjuncts Exploited?: Some Grounds for Skepticism.”

Why Do Americans Find Cuba Sexy — but Not Puerto Rico?

* This Friday at C21: Brian Price on Remakes and Regret.

* From the archives: Some Rules for Teachers.

* And we’ll never see prices this insane again.

Wednesday Links!

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* The end of UW: Gov. Scott Walker to propose 13 percent cut, more freedom for UW System. UW System predicts layoffs, no campus closings under budget cuts. Layoffs, Building Closures, Slowdown on Admissions. But “few details.”

* But there’s always money in the banana stand.

In praise of zombies. A response to yesterday’s anti-Canavanist IHE polemic.

Giving students access to an important, brilliant, historically significant corpus of art seems to be an entirely appropriate activity for the undergraduate classroom at a university. After you have taken a Zombie Course, you may discover you have actually just taken a Great Books (or in the case of Ware, a Great Box) course without realizing it, and you may also decide that any Great Books course worthy of its name cannot afford to ignore the recent surge of brilliant zombie art. If anything, we need more Zombie Courses than we have, and one hopes — in time — even full-blown Zombie Majors (or at the least Zombie Double-Majors).

* Multiple Choice and Testing Machines: A History.

“What I would say about the university today,” he says, “is that we’re living through an absolutely historic moment – namely the effective end of universities as centres of humane critique, an almost complete capitulation to the philistine and sometimes barbaric values of neo-capitalism.”

* National Adjunct Walkout Day is coming soon.

Higher Education Is Not a Mixtape.

The Climate Science Behind New England’s Historic Blizzard. Massive Blizzard Exposes How Decrepit New York City’s Infrastructure Is.

All Our Grievances Are Connected.

* How the Left Won Greece.

* Forget immoral; the latest legal challenge to Obamacare is still nonsense.

Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait Takes On the Entire Internet. It’s a terrible op-ed that makes an important point badly in the midst of saying a bunch of incorrect things, all in the service of a fundamentally bad framing — so of course it’s all we can talk about.

To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients.

It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step.

* Associate Dean of What?

Drone, Too Small for Radar to Detect, Rattles the White House.

Defending those accused of unthinkable crimes.

* One aspect of that danger is the “abstract authority” of astrologers, now mirrored by the black-box algorithms of the cloud. The opacity of the analytic method lends forecasts their appearance of authoritative objectivity. In “Astrological Forecasts”, Adorno notes “the mechanics of the astrological system are never divulged and the readers are presented only with the alleged results of astrological reasoning.” “Treated as impersonal and thing-like,” stars appear “entirely abstract, unapproachable, and anonymous” and thus more objective than mere fallible human reason. Similarly, as Kate Crawford pointed out in an essay about fitness trackers for the Atlantic, “analytics companies aren’t required to reveal which data sets they are using and how they are being analyzed.” The inaccessible logic of their proprietary algorithms is imposed on us, and their inscrutability masquerades as proof of their objectivity. As Crawford argues, “Prioritizing data—irregular, unreliable data—over human reporting, means putting power in the hands of an algorithm.” As Adorno puts it, “The cult of God has been replaced by the cult of facts.” 

* America and fractal inequality.

100% of the women of color interviewed in STEM study experienced gender bias.

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography of Important Recent Studies.

* Reasons You Were Not Promoted That Are Totally Unrelated to Gender.

Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade.

* Marissa Alexander is out of jail after three years.

What has happened before will happen again, subprime auto edition.

Huckabee Complains That Women Can Cuss In The Workplace: ‘That’s Just Trashy.’

Oklahoma GOP wants to restrict marriage to people of faith.

* Corey Robin, against public intellectuals.

* I linked to a story about this the other day, but here’s the resolution: Vanderbilt Football Players Found Guilty of Raping Unconscious Student. Of course the next horrifying story in this wretched, endless series is already queued up.

* American Sniper focuses in tight on one man’s story of trauma, leaving out the complex questions of why Kyle was in Iraq being traumatized in the first place. The Iraqis in the film are villains, caricatures, and targets, and the only real opinion on them the film offers is Kyle’s. The Iraqis are all “savages” who threaten American lives and need to be killed. There’s some truth in this representation, insofar as this is how a lot of American soldiers thought. Yet the film obviates the questions of why any American soldiers were in Iraq, why they stayed there for eight years, why they had to kill thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians, and how we are to understand the long and ongoing bloodbath once called the “war on terror.” It does that precisely by turning a killer into a victim, a war hero into a trauma hero.

Freakishly Old System Of Planets Hint At Ancient Alien Civilizations. Okay, I’m in for three films with an option on a television reboot.

* Vulture says Jason Segel is good as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, but I’ll never accept it.

The Psychology of Flow: What Game Design Reveals about the Deliberate Tensions of Great Writing.

The Politics Of The Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?

* It’s finally happening, and of course it’s starting in Florida: ‘Zombie cat’ crawls out of grave.

* And while this may be of interest only to those whose children have made them watch untold hours of Dora the Explorer, it’s certainly of interest to me: Swiper the Fox has a totally bananas backstory.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Friday Fridays On

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* Man arrested after threats to Rep. McDermott. Man arrested after threats to Sen. Bennet. Hedge fund manager arrested after threats to 47 government officials. And then there’s this. It’s been a tough week.

* I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation’s military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack. I bet you’re wrong!

* Climate change makes the sun rise earlier in Greenland. It’s either totally true, or someone trolling the climate debate really effectively.

* Speaking of really effective trolls: Ladies and gentlemen, the Washington Times.

* The Assange hook is weird, but the overall point is right. Two spaces after a period: just don’t do it.

* Everyone is talking about the Joseph Conrad / Ford Maddox Ford science fiction novel I’ve had sitting on my shelf all semester. It’s available for free at Project Gutenberg.

* In nuclear silos, death wears a snuggie.

* Writing as an act of faith. Via Steve.

* Flowchart of the day: Should I work for free?

* Tweet of the day, by a mile.

Take out the vowels in Reince Priebus’ name and you get “RNC PR BS.”

It’s the only thing that makes losing Michael Steele any easier.

* If you’re ask sick of people talking about astrology as I am, you might enjoy Adorno’s “Theses against Occultism.” Via Vu.

* And I think I’ve done this one before, but what the hell: alternate universe movie posters.

‘Inglourious Basterds’

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It’s a bit hard for me to understand the person who has heard of both Quentin Tarantino and the Holocaust, who then willingly goes to see a Quentin Tarantino movie about the Holocaust, and yet leaves the theater afterwards claiming to feel “offended.” Putting aside the highly fraught question of what exactly it is we mean when we say we are “offended,” do you really expect us to believe you didn’t know in advance what you were walking into? (See TNR for an example of this sort of strange reaction. Writing as if his meaning were clear beyond all possible clarification, Isaac Chotiner proclaims: “[T]he film is one of the most morally repulsive movies of the past decade.” In what respect, Charlie?)

Traxus and I spent some time after the film trying to puzzle all this out, but our discussion bounced around the question of whether Inglourious Basterds was completely without moral content (my initial inclination) or else the morally weightiest of Tarantino’s films (Traxus’s take and the one I eventually came around to, though it’s not exactly incompatible with the first).

Spoilers about the end of the film follow.

What we were specifically trying to work out was the way the film-within-a-film works as an (obvious) metacommentary on the whole, with a shot-reverse-shot logic that repeats itself almost exactly inside and outside Nation’s Pride. This, Traxus was arguing, suggests a kind of formal moral equivalence between the Nazi enjoyment of their propaganda film and our enjoyment of ours, on at least two levels. First there is the level of content, which we both agree is the weaker of the two. (Nazis constitute a threat that is now so vanquished as to seem completely impossible and even cartoonish, and the impossibly excessive fantasy of a alternate history in which Hitler is machine-gunned to death by Jewish-American GIs breaks whatever remaining hold the catharsis of the moment might have held on us.) But on the level of subject position Traxus has, I think, a much better point—the can’t-miss-it repetition of shot-reverse-shot, over and over, really does suggest the audience’s willing construction of this violence in a way that approaches actual moral weight.

But for my money it’s the scene that follows the cinema massacre that finally implicates the audience in this fantasy of brutal violence. Faced with the unhappy choice between letting Nazi Hans Landa walk away from the war a false hero or else executing him against orders, Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine squares the circle by carving a swastika into Landa’s head (but otherwise letting him live). It’s an act he’s done earlier in the movie, but the callback is (first) a moment of genuinely pleasurable narrative cleverness that (second) turns rapidly disturbing as the actual scarring is performed on-screen. Several bloody shot-reverse-shots later, Aldo says something like “I think this is my masterpiece” directly into the camera, followed by an immediate cut to the credits: WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY QUENTIN TARANTINO, with Tarantino thereby claiming his guilt/authorship over all these events and, by implication, once again accusing us of our participation in them.

Only here do I feel as though Tarantino has drawn out my dark side. Everywhere else, the violence in Inglourious Basterds is not pleasurable, at least not for me. (There’s also not all that much of it, hyperbolic reviews aside; most of the film is calm dialogue.) I don’t revel in violence, even against Nazis, and I’m no more glad to see an actor playing Hitler pretend to be shot than I would be to see him pretend to get away. The cinema fantasy scene and the film’s other violent set pieces have, I think, no real vibrancy to them; it’s only Hans Landa who gets under my skin and exposes my inner possibilities of hate to light. (And I don’t think it’s exactly fair to blame Tarantino for something that was inside me all along.)

While not exactly parodic, the rest of the violence does take on (for me) a cover-charge quality, a price that must be exacted to get to the good stuff. And there’s quite a bit of good stuff here; this is a great and enjoyable film, with good acting, typically skilled directing, and a better-than-expected script. If it’s not exactly a perfect film, it may well be a perfect Tarantino film. And I would humbly suggest that anyone who likes Tarantino’s other films, but hates this one, isn’t evaluating this one on the merits but is instead letting the fear of irreverence towards the Holocaust cloud their aesthetic judgment. It is, to butcher Adorno, still possible to make an exploitation flick after Auschwitz.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 25, 2009 at 4:01 am

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