Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘BCR


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* If you became the last person on Earth, what would you do? Realistically. Via Kottke.

* At Slate: the international war over exit signs.

* Focus describes the job I’m training for as the 3rd best in America. Inside Higher Ed’s state of humanities departments describes my chances of actually getting it.

* Kotaku has a preview of the game that will prevent that from ever happening.

* “What’s the point of having a Philosophy department in an American university?”

In Our Underachieving Colleges (CT review still on its way: DD to blame if I never get round to it) Derek Bok claims that the standard assumptions within most departments in research universities is that the undergraduate curriculum is for attracting and then teaching majors, and, further, that our attention to the majors should be shaped by the aim of preparing them well for graduate school. This means that the curriculum is designed for a tiny minority of the students who take classes, and even many of them, probably, would be better off doing something other than going to graduate school (that’s me, not Bok, saying the last bit).

I don’t think of the curriculum, or the mission of my department in my institution, that way at all.

If I did I would campaign to remove our classes from the list of classes that meet breadth requirements and ask other majors not to require our classes. In most places, including in my department (even now, when we have a glut of majors, no doubt owing to the high quality instruction in my department and the newly found glamour in our field) most of the enrollments in Philosophy courses (as in most Humanities departments) come from non-majors trying to fulfill breadth, general ed, or other-major-specific requirements. If I were in the position of having to justify my own department’s existence, and was unconstrained by the comments of my colleagues, I would focus on the service we do to students for whom the course they take from us is the only Philosophy course they take.

* Gawker spoils the end of Remember Me, which apparently has the same surprise! ending as 80% of the stories we got when I was reading the slushpile for Greensboro Review and Backwards City Review earlier this decade. Sounds like quite a film.

* A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows flu shots in children has dramatic success in reducing the instance of flu in a community.

* And Alan Grayson introduces H.R. 4789, Medicare buy-in for all. “The government spent billions of dollars creating a Medicare network of providers that is only open to one-eighth of the population. That’s like saying, ‘Only people 65 and over can use federal highways.’ It is a waste of a very valuable resource and it is not fair. This idea is simple, it makes sense, and it deserves an up-or-down vote.”

The Death of the Literary Journal

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Here at VQR we currently have more than ten times as many submitters each year as we have subscribers. And there’s very, very little overlap. We know—we’ve checked. More on what’s happened to American letters, and the American literary journal, at Mother Jones.

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January 21, 2010 at 10:20 pm

‘Liberal Douchebags’

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Plemons was tall and skinny and good-looking, with light brown skin. He had joined the Army late, at twenty-seven, after discovering that his master’s degree in writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro didn’t make him employable. “I wanted to pay off some debt and also be part of this war,” he said. “Whether it’s our war or Obama’s war, I’m kind of glad the focus is on Afghanistan. Not so much fighting war as providing security. I believe in the United Nations and NATO and the diplomatic side. It’ll take a couple of generations for real progress to come about.” His attitude made him “what the Army calls a liberal douche-bag—a term of endearment, I guess.” He went on, “A lot of guys here are eighteen, nineteen years old. They were twelve years old when 9-11-2001 happened. They’re ready to be warriors, they’re young—part of it’s posturing. They want to make a difference in the way they can, and the way they were trained to is to fight.”

One of my very best friends (and a personal superhero) is interviewed this week at the New Yorker‘s “Interesting Times” blog about his service as a medic in Afghanistan.

Plemons had been one of the speakers at the service. I had been struck by his remarks. He had said that soldiers had “dual lives” and had to hide one of their identities from their loved ones, “like superheroes.” He had concluded, “We cannot be swayed by feelings that could corrupt us: feelings of guilt, anger, and revenge. In the end, grief shall not take us, and we shall remember.”

Come home safe.

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November 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm

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Still Waiting

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Still waiting.

* It’s not exactly Douchiest College honors, but Duke is #14 on the Times‘s ranking of top 200 universities worldwide.

* Bitter Laughter reports by way of Nate Silver that public option opt-out may be a compromise that can actually get through the Senate—and Steve Benen agrees it’s not a bad thing.

* Also in health care: Olbermann’s hour-long “Special Comment” from last night, which wasn’t nearly as unbearable as I imagined it would be when I heard it was coming.

* A second NJ-GOV poll—albeit one taken before Fatgateshows Corzine up, this time by three.

* Lots of talk today about this New York Times genealogy of Michelle Obama, focused on an enslaved ancestor who was raped by her owner.

* Pee before you fly. It’s funny how low-cost, outside-the-box carbon solutions—like Stephen Chu’s suggestion that we paint our roofs white—are never taken seriously. It’s like our society has a death wish.

* The literary journal is dead. Long live the literary journal.

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October 8, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Monday Links, Mostly Political

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Monday links, mostly political.

* Thirty years of political misrule have eviscerated the social safety net in this country. These stories from Georgia are unbelievable, and they are not unique.

What Clark didn’t know was that Georgia, like many other states, was in the midst of an aggressive push to get thousands of eligible mothers like her off TANF, often by duplicitous means, to use the savings elsewhere in the state budget. Fewer than 2,500 Georgia adults now receive benefits, down from 28,000 in 2004—a 90 percent decline. Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois have each dropped 80 percent of adult recipients since January 2001. Nationally, the number of TANF recipients fell more than 40 percent between then and June 2008, the most recent month for which data are available. In Georgia last year, only 18 percent of children living below 50 percent of the poverty line—that is, on less than $733 a month for a family of three—were receiving TANF.

* British academics telling us what we already know to be true: social problems stem from economic inequality. More at MeFi.

* 3% of DC is HIV positive. I know the disease remains a serious epidemic, especially in poorer communities, but I would have never put the number that high. That’s astounding, and horrible.

* The nonreligious are now the third biggest grouping in the US, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the just-released American Religious Identification Survey. According to the article, the molestation scandal has hit the Catholic Church especially hard.

Given his background, I thought this from Sullivan was striking:

It is impossible to know where this is heading, but the latest survey is a reminder to exercise a little scepticism when you hear of America’s religious exceptionalism. Yes, America is far more devout than most of western Europe; but it is not immune to the broader crises facing established religion in the West. The days when America’s leading intellectuals contained a strong cadre of serious Christians are over. There is no Thomas Merton in our day; no Reinhold Niebuhr, Walker Percy or Flannery O’Connor. In the arguments spawned by the new atheist wave, the Christian respondents have been underwhelming. As one evangelical noted in The Christian Science Monitor last week, “being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence”.

* Language Log on the perverse career incentive not to write. I wonder often whether the blogging I began two years before entering graduate school killed me dead before I started.

* Science and public policy: a lecture on climate change, public misinformation, and actually existing media bias from Stanford’s Stephen Schneider. Via MeFi.

Grown-Up Calvin and Hobbes

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Found on the Internet: grown-up Calvins and Hobbeses. I’ve seen a couple links to this one and it made me want to poke around.

That’s Susie Derkins, of course.

This one, I think, is my favorite:

A few others. I found these via a Google image search, so I confess I don’t know where they came from.

(original context)

This last one is less a grown-up Calvin than an updated one, but there’s a similar poignance to it all the same. And I know from the file name it comes from Jim Rugg, who I published way back in Backwards City #1:

It’s quite reminiscent of this better-known “end of Calvin,” which I’ve linked before.

If you’re not done yet, there’s always Fight Club.

(a couple via NeilAlien and this Marvel Peanuts MeFi thread, but mostly just via Google)

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March 2, 2009 at 4:55 am

Poems for the First Hundred Days

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Poems for the first hundred days, a new blog from friend-of-the-BCR Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker.

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February 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm

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Don’t Mention the War

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Good luck to a good friend who deploys overseas today.

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January 8, 2009 at 5:01 am

‘The Stoned Ape Theory’: Confirmed!

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October 19, 2008 at 1:27 pm

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BCR Is Dead, Long Live BCR

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All indications are that BCR will be shutting down after the distribution of its seventh issue, which I’m told by the new editors is happening very soon.

It’s really too bad, especially because the just-released second chapbook, Marcia L. Hurlow’s Green Man in Suburbia, is something that Jaimee, Tom, Jennifer, and Marcia herself are all rightly very proud of, and I really would have liked for it to have more of its moment in the sun.

But don’t mourn. Don’t weep. Small-press literary magazines aren’t really made to last.

While I’m hawking Amazon links, though, let me add that longtime friend-of-the-show Dan Albergotti has just had his first book of poems released, entitled The Boatlands. I recommend picking up both…

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March 20, 2008 at 11:30 pm

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You All Stink – 2

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The Willesden Herald, having already shat on your dreams once this year when it declared that no one deserved to win their annual contest, is back with twenty-seven reasons why your short story is no good. As a former editor of a literary journal, I can confirm that yes, your short story stinks, for many of these reasons. Via Bookslut.

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March 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm

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Catch-Up Day

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I’m using today to catch up on a few things I’ve let slide, but it would hardly be a day at all if I didn’t link to stuff on the internet:

* Radar Magazine has the skinny on how to survive just about any apocalypse.

* Nabokov’s last, unfinished novel sits in a Swiss vault while Dmitri Nabokov decides whether or not to destroy it as his father asked before his death. This has the form of a moral dilemma, but it actually isn’t one. The dead are gone, Dmitri; we owe them nothing. Publish the stupid thing already.

Does it matter what V.N. would feel, since he’s long dead? Do we owe no respect to his last wishes because we greedily want some “key” to his work, or just more of it for our own selfish reasons? Does the lust for aesthetic beauty always allow us to rationalize trampling on the artist’s grave? Does the greatness of an artist diminish his right to dispose of his own unfinished work?

No, yes, yes, yes. Publish! My heirs have free reign to do the same to me.

* Via Boing Boing, there’s an interview with comic artist Peter Backwards City #1″ Conrad [PDF] at The Reverse Cowgirl, including pages from a recent project about sex workers.

* Speaking of BCR, it just occurred to me to check if Verse Daily had published any poems from our last issue. It turns out they did, two of my favorites: Lynne Potts’s “Whole Worlds Had Already Happened” and Tim Lockridge’s “On Realizing That I Tend to End with Nature Imagery.”

* Have geneticists discovered a way to increase the human lifespan to 800 years?

* UFO spotted in Texas.

* And finally, AICN reports that the prolonged writer’s strike may have revived the thought-dead Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica.

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January 17, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Stick Figures in Peril

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Investigating the origins of the bizarre warning sign below (originally found at Boing Boing) leads to the world’s coolest Flickr group, Stick Figures in Peril.

Here’s my entry, from our honeymoon:

A related group, Warning Signs, is something I’ve linked to before, but it too is awesome.

Aficionados should refer to “Signs of Life” in their copies of Backwards City #2 for more sign-related hijinx. I could put it online, but I feel weird about it; I don’t live there anymore.

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November 10, 2007 at 6:17 pm

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Backwards City

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The excerpts from the last Gerry-and-Jaimee-fueled issue of Backwards City are now up at Check them out, if you’re interested…

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October 9, 2007 at 5:54 am

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Damn you, Columbus

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Mark Twain once remarked of Christopher Columbus that “it was wonderful to find America—but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.”

A good point he had, too.

Bitter Laughter wishes you a happy Columbus Day, by way of Howard Zinn. Columbus already foiled my plans to mail out all the Backwards City #6s today; what more does this fiend have in store?

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October 8, 2007 at 4:48 pm

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