Posts Tagged ‘Avatar’
I find teaching in the summer very agreeable in some ways and very difficult in others: I really feel as though a “life during wartime” spirit of camaraderie develops in the classroom, which is nice, but at the same time it can be difficult to cover the amount of material I’d normally cover in a semester (especially since it’s so hard to assign the usual amount of either reading or writing). This summer in particular I’ve really had to accept that summer classes are just different — my class meets only two days a week, for an impossible 3 1/2 hours at a stretch.
My plan is to break each class period into roughly three one-hour chunks, with two short breaks between each. There’s a lot more in-class stuff than I usually do, and even more little clips and exercises that I have planned that won’t be the major focus of the day and so aren’t listed in the syllabus. No papers — just take-home midterm, take-home final, forum posts, and quizzes.
People who know my classes or my work can probably tell that I’ve chosen texts I know inside and out, including a bunch I’ve written on. This is not an accident.
With all those caveats, here’s the gameplan:
|M||June 29||INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE
in class: Ted Chiang, “Liking What You See: A Documentary”
in class: excerpts from Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica (2000s), Interstellar, Mass Effect, etc.
|W||July 1||in class: film, Avatar (2009)|
|M||July 6||Avatar discussion continues: Annalee Newitz, “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar?” [web]; Slavoj Žižek, “Return of the Natives” [web]
Kim Stanley Robinson, “The Lucky Strike”
in class: Kim Stanley Robinson, “A Sensitive Dependence on Internal Conditions”
|W||July 8||Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (first third)|
|M||July 13||Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (second third)|
|W||July 15||Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (whole book)|
|M||July 20||TAKE-HOME MIDTERM DUE TO D2L BY 5:30 PM
James Tiptree, Jr., “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” [ARES]
in class: Ursula K. Le Guin: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
in class: film, “The Space Traders” (1994)
|W||July 22||Mark Bould, “The Ships Landed Long Ago” [ARES]
Samuel R. Delany, “The Star Pit” [ARES]
in class: TV, Star Trek: Deep Space 9: “Far Beyond the Stars” (1998)
|M||July 27||Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (parts one and two)|
|W||July 29||Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (part three)|
|M||August 3||Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (whole book)
in class: excerpt from Octavia E. Butler, Adulthood Rites
|W||August 5||Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Volumes 1 & 2
in class: zombie film and television, zombie games
LAST DAY OF CLASS
|M||August 10||TAKE HOME FINAL DUE TO D2L BY 12:00 PM|
* Don’t miss my flash review of The Avengers: Age of Ultron! As I say in the update, thanks to my friend Ryan Vu for priming the pump (and look for his brilliant review of Captain America 2 in a few months in SFFTV).
* 2030 is set largely in the titular year, 100 kilometers south of Ho Chi Minh City. The initial title card establishes that 80% of the population has been evacuated due to the rising sea level as an effect of global warming.
* Late last week, using the hashtag #talkpay, people began tweeting about how much money they make—a radical thing to do in a culture that treats disclosing your salary as the ultimate taboo.
* I’ve been buried in final book manuscript revisions, and have been noticing that I’m increasingly using the term “management” rather than “administration” in my analyses of university governance. Part of the reason is that my employer, the University of California, uses Senior Management Group as a formal employment classification. But it’s also because the friendlier aspects of the term “administration” seem decreasingly part of everyday academic life. Friendliness was administration as support structure, as collaborator, as partner, as the entity that did not take orders from obnoxious egocentric faculty prima donnas the way that frontline staff often had to do, but that accepted balanced power relations and a certain mutual respect that could make decisions move relatively quickly and equitably. It would avoid command and control of the kind that prevailed in the army and in most corporations, where executive authority consisted of direct rule over subordinates.
* Well, I guess that settles it: In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans.
* “No one has walked on the moon in my lifetime,” I told them. “Yet you try to tell me that it’s my generation who has lost their wonder? That it’s the young people of today who have let everything slip and fall into ruin? You don’t understand. You had the dream and the potential and the opportunities, and you messed it all up. You got hope and moon landings and that bright, glorious future. I got only the disasters.”
* In some ways Ex Machina may be considered a feminist film by sheer dint of our low standards, the scarcity of stories that explore female desire beyond the realm of sex and romance.
* This 5-year-old girl knows a lot more about presidents than you do. At this point I say put her in charge.
* If you’re 33 or older, you will never listen to new music again—at least, that’s more or less what a new online study says. The study, which is based mainly on data from U.S. Spotify users, concludes that age 33 is when, on average, people stop discovering new music and begin the official march to the grave.
* The arc of history is long, but Cheez-Its is finally going to sell a box of just the burned ones.
* The same joke but with this Iceland law allowing anyone to murder any Basque on sight.
* If you want a vision of the future, imagine James Cameron directing Avatar sequels, forever.
* How Student Loans For Preschool Make A Bad Problem Worse. Kill it with fire!
* Alan Wald reviews Marjorie Heins’s Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge.
* Every cop is a criminal: The New Yorker on civil forfeiture.
Many states, facing fiscal crises, have expanded the reach of their forfeiture statutes, and made it easier for law enforcement to use the revenue however they see fit. In some Texas counties, nearly forty per cent of police budgets comes from forfeiture. (Only one state, North Carolina, bans the practice, requiring a criminal conviction before a person’s property can be seized.) Often, it’s hard for people to fight back. They are too poor; their immigration status is in question; they just can’t sustain the logistical burden of taking on unyielding bureaucracies.
* Our most important finding is that family formation negatively affects women’s—but not men’s—academic careers. For men, having children can be a slight career advantage and, for women, it is often a career killer. Women who do advance through the faculty ranks do so at a high personal price: They are far less likely to be married with children than are their male colleagues.
* And your periodic reminder that hoarding kills.
At least $18.5 trillion is hidden by wealthy individuals in tax havens worldwide, representing a loss of more than $156 billion in tax revenue, according to new figures published today by international agency Oxfam.
The missing money is twice that required for every person in the world to be living above the $1.25-a-day “extreme poverty” threshold.
* Syllabus minute: I have W.H. Auden envy.
Some projections showed Athletics might not be able to make payments starting in the 2030s when the debt service balloons. The debt is structured so that for the next 20 years, Cal only needs to make interest payments on the debt. The principal kicks in in the early 2030s, resulting in payments between $24 million and $37 million per year.
Look, if it’s good enough for an idea man who settled out of court on securities fraud, it’s good enough for me.
* What If? on The Twitter Archive of Babel. The Twitter Archive of Babel contains the true story of your life, as well as all the stories of all the lives you didn’t lead….
* You and I are gonna live forever: 72 is the new 30.
* Settling nerd fights of the 1990s today: Is This the Smoking Gun Proving Deep Space Nine Ripped Off Babylon 5?
* The Star Wars Heresies: Star Wars and William Blake. Tim Morton’s essay in Green Planets has a similar impulse with respect to Avatar.
* And in even more insane mashup news: WWE Keeps Pressure On Glenn Beck.
* Welcome to the future: Another grandmother gives birth to her own grandchild.
* Whiteness and Breaking Bad: America isn’t flooded with pure meth, and it’s not because our chemists are too ethical. The illegal drug market simply doesn’t reward peerless expertise in the same way celebrity cooking shows do.
The white guy who enters a world supposedly beneath him where he doesn’t belong yet nonetheless triumphs over the inhabitants is older than talkies. TV Tropes calls it “Mighty Whitey,” and examples range from Tom Cruise as Samurai and Daniel Day Lewis as Mohican, to the slightly less far-fetched Julia Stiles as ghetto-fabulous. But whether it’s a 3-D marine playing alien in Avatar or Bruce Wayne slumming in a Bhutanese prison, the story is still good for a few hundred million bucks. The story changes a bit from telling to telling, but the meaning is consistent: a white person is (and by extension, white people are) best at everything.
* Teachers are striking in Chicago. Meanwhile: How Michelle Rhee Is Taking Over the Democratic Party. Thank goodness Obama’s winning, so he can finally crush the teachers’ unions once and for all!
* Solitary confinement in schools? Jesus Christ.
* Richard Posner is making sense: The notion of using the criminal law as the primary means of dealing with a problem of addiction, of misuse, of ingesting dangerous drugs — I don’t think that’s sensible at all.
“I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represent — for our industry,” the consultant, Jerry Ashton, wrote in a column for a trade publication, InsideARM.com. “It was lip-smacking.”
* Star Trek 2 has a title: Star Trek Into Darkness. Early returns: Pretty terrible! Star Wars on Poverty. Lord of the Rings That Bell.
I have an idea for a fourth. I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world. Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.
But what happened before that? And before that? And…
* The director of Looper has a metaphor for a model of time travel logic I don’t think I’ve seen before: the universe as a body with an immune system that seeks to push out foreign objects.
* The problem isn’t that this is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life; the problem is that it’s seven of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life glued together haphazardly, their inexorable badness amplified by their awkward juxtaposition. Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski wanted to make a movie unlike any other, and they certainly did: Cloud Atlas is a unique and totally unparalleled disaster.
* Tressie McMillan Cottom reviews the captivating documentary The Queen of Versailles, which I caught at the local independent movie house this weekend. It’s quite good—a stunning portrait of the wealthy’s perspective of the “normal” workings of the economy and of the 2008-2009 economic collapse.
* And when polls fail: Do 15% of Ohio Republicans really think Romney killed bin Laden? Probably not.
* It isn’t the law that is struggling to catch up to drone technology; it’s us. Like it or not, the NextGen computerized autonomous national airspace is coming. It’s not a joke, and it’s not science fiction. Coming to terms with that is important. Disbelief won’t help at this point. The coming shift in our national airspace will push our boundaries. We’ll be able to mount legal challenges against particularly egregious uses of the technology — it’s unlikely that the sheriff of Montgomery County, Texas, will get much mileage out of his wet dream of a remote-controlled aircraft armed with tear gas and rubber bullets — but we won’t be able to imagine every permutation this technology will take. This is going to be some Minority Report–level shit.
* James Cameron: Avatar was always imagined as a six-picture hexalogy. Stick around for a fun Doctor Who spoiler/rumor if that’s your thing.
* Rethinking depression in teenage girls: “Depression? Really? How About Anger and Powerlessness?”
* No! No! I won’t believe it! Military expert says there’s no way Batman’s TDKR ‘Bat’ could fly.
* Battle Royale is an obvious can’t-miss hit for a post-Hunger-Games, post-Walking-Dead TV landscape. Just about the only way it could miss is if network executives changed it so the kids weren’t killing each other, just beating each other up…
* And you can take it to the bank: Human immortality could be possible by 2045, say Russian scientists. Guaranteed!