Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘blockage

Oops, Forgot a Title Links

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* I have a review out today of Aurora and Seveneves (both great!) in The Los Angeles Review of Books. My review actually has a lot in common with two other reviews they’ve run recently, one from Tom Streithorst on Mad Max: Fury Road and the other from Sherryl Vint on Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife.

* I always said the point of the five-year Ph.D. was “produce more adjuncts,” but UC Irvine has gone and formalized it.

* RT @cnewf: USC fundraising staff: 450. USC TT faculty in Arts & Sciences:460.

* Scenes from the class struggle at Arizona State.

University of Iowa Receives 18,000 Volume Science Fiction Library.

* The Toast interviews @AfAmHistFail.

* On working dads.


* Sweet Briar lives. Joy Over Sweet Briar’s Reopening Is Tempered by Questions About the Road Ahead. Lessons from Sweet Briar. Sweet Briar Savors the Promise of Revival, but Fund-Raising Challenge Is Vast. Sweet Briar’s ‘No Nonsense’ New President Faces a Tall Task. Reinventing Sweet Briar. I just want someone to look into all their weird investment losses and figure out what was happening there.

How to Teach Your White Kids to Fight Racism.

* The flag might actually come down.

* For every “justifiable” gun homicide, there are 34 criminal gun homicides, 78 gun suicides, and two accidental gun deaths.

Rhodesia and American Paramilitary Culture.

The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why.

* CCC, call your PR office.

The brutal truth is that most of American political history is an experiment in seeing what will happen if national political elites agree not to offend white supremacist Southern white men.

* “Sanders surge is becoming a bigger problem for Clinton.”

According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, she leads Sanders by 47 percentage points.


But set Obama’s impressive electoral victories aside and the Democrats look less like an emerging majority and more like a party in free fall: Since Obama was sworn in six years ago, Democrats have suffered net losses of 11 governorships, 30 statehouse chambers, more than 900 statehouse seats, and have lost control of both houses of the U.S. Congress. They’re certainly finding every possible way to blow it.

* Scenes from the charter school scam: Milwaukee Public Schools edition.

For as long as women have been doing time, prisons have had to contend with the children they carry.

The Martian Author Andy Weir Explains All the Ways Mars Wants to Kill You.

* Erasmus Darwin, supervillain.

* Think Progress on suicide and trans* identity.

* Use/Mention distinction really hits the big time.

* What happens when the sea swallows a country?

* It’s just impossible to elect anyone who is actually on the left. Look what happens.

* It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of McDonalds.

* Amazon developing exciting new ways to destroy publishing.

Clash of Clans is made by the Finnish game studio Supercell. It launched in August 2012 and rapidly became one of the top five highest-grossing titles in Apple’s App Store. In 2013, when Yao and his invitation-only clan, North44, were at their peak, Clash of Clans helped create $555 million of revenue for the company. The next year, Supercell’s revenue tripled to $1.7 billion — a seemingly inexplicable sum produced by a roster of games that, like Clash, are free to download and can be played without spending a dime. So how is Supercell generating all that money? By relying on players who don’t simply want to enjoy the game but who want to win. Players who, like Yao, are willing to spend a great deal of cash.

* Against porn. May have spoken a bit too directly to me given that I read it while watching the Rashida Jones documentary Hot Girls Wanted, which is utterly, soul-crushingly depressing.

‘Star Trek’ Fan Invited to Pitch ‘Star Trek Uncharted’ TV Series to Paramount. The best part: it actually sounds like a good idea.

* And the arc of history is long, but Walter White From ‘Breaking Bad’ Will Appear in a Future Episode of ‘Better Call Saul.’

Written by gerrycanavan

June 23, 2015 at 7:53 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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The Five-Year Ph.D. as Improved Plumbing, Redux

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In this respect, the restructuring of the Graduate Center follows a rather banal and callous neoliberal trend across higher education today: the gutting of social sciences and humanities; assembly-line style speed-up in PhD production time; and the loss of spaces for long-term, dedicated, and quality research and writing. Title refers to this. Via @claudiakincaid.

The Five-Year Ph.D. as Improved Plumbing

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Marc Bousquet, How the University Works:

From the perspective of casualization, the possibility of a toxic buildup of degree holders is not, as commonly maintained by job-market theorists, the result of “too many” graduate students. On the contrary, it is precisely the nature of permatemping to arrange that there are always “just enough” graduate students and other nondegreed flex workers to be delivered “just in time” to serve the university’s labor needs. It is in the interest and logic of the system to have as many graduate students as it can employ while producing the fewest number of degrees—or, better yet, to produce persons with degrees who don’t make a claim for permanent academic employment. This is one reason that graduate school administrations have recently promoted the Marie Antoinette or “let them eat cake” theory of graduate education: “Why, if they cannot find teaching work, let them be screenwriters!” This is a kind of excrement theory for managers, through which the degree holder figures as a horrible stain or blot, an embarrassment that the system is hysterically trying to scrape from its shoes. By institutionalizing the practice of preparing degree holders for “alternate careers,” the system’s managers are creating a radiator or waste pipe to flush away persons whose teaching services are no longer required precisely because they now hold the degree.

The five-year Ph.D. works exactly the same way  — flush out the used-up instructors faster and cleaner. It’s better plumbing. We know this is true (alas) because these proposals don’t ever talk about admitting fewer students to Stanford. The result of reducing time-to-degree while keeping admitting the same number each year will be be more graduate students passing through Stanford, not fewer — but the ones that do pass through will disappear more easily, making fewer demands on the institution materially and affectively as they go. Despite its claimed goals, most of which are perfectly laudable in the abstract, this is the unhappy purpose to which the five-year-degree proposal actually directs itself: not the production of fewer Ph.D.s, but a mechanism to get rid of the “used-up” Ph.D. better than we do now.

The five-year Ph.D. with alternative job training is therefore not, as Claire Potter has it, “an accounting reform posing as educational reform”; it’s an efficiency measure designed to better manage the cheap labor on which the contemporary university demands and better dispose of the people whose time in the system is up. Bousquet again:

Nearly all of the administrative responses to the degree holder can already be understood as responses to waste: flush it, ship it to the provinces, recycle it through another industry, keep it away from the fresh meat. Unorganized graduate employees and contingent faculty have a tendency to grasp their circumstance incompletely—that is, they feel “treated like shit”—without grasping the systemic reality that they are waste. Insofar as graduate employees feel treated like waste, they can maintain the fantasy that they really exist elsewhere, in some place other than the overwhelmingly excremental testimony of their experience. This fantasy becomes an alibi for inaction, because in this construction agency lies elsewhere, with the administrative touch on the flush-chain. The effect of people who feel treated like waste is an appeal to some other agent: please stop treating us this way—which is to say to that outside agent, “please recognize that we are not waste,” even when that benevolent recognition is contrary to the testimony of our understanding. (And, of course, it is only good management to tell the exploited and superexploited, “Yes, I recognize your dignity. You are special.”)

By contrast, the organized graduate employee and contingent faculty share the grasp of the totality of the system that proceeds from the understanding that they are indeed the waste of that system. They know they are not merely treated like waste but, in fact, are the actual shit of the system—being churned inexorably toward the outside: not merely “disposable” labor (Walzer) but labor that must be disposed of for the system to work. These are persons who can perform acts of blockage. Without expelling the degree holder, the system could not be what it is. Imagine what would happen to “graduate programs preparing future faculty” if they were held responsible for degree-granting by a requirement to continue the employment of every person to whom they granted a Ph.D. but who was unable to find academic employment elsewhere. In many locations, the pipeline would jam in the first year!