Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

Thursday Night Bummerwatch

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* With all the bad news today, this is the one that really breaks my brain: Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You. That’s completely lunatic. I just can’t believe it’s a real event that happened.

* My friend Brent Bellamy has a working bibliography of U.S. post-apocalyptic fiction.

Inequality, MOOCs and The Predator Elite.

Think about the writing-for-free model that has taken over journalism.  His point can be supported by the millions made by Arianna Huffington, while many of her writers worked for little or nothing.  Yes, writing is one of what Lanier is calling the “pleasant” jobs — as is teaching (I didn’t say easy.  But dedicated writers and educators alike see what they do as rewarding and important work.)  Why should journalists or educators be working for little to no money, living at the edge of poverty, while the people at the top of this sort of economic structure are reaping enormous fortune?  According to Lanier, this is a conscious breach of the all-important social contract that not only provides what he calls the “hump” of middle class citizens — that middle area surge on the economic chart where the majority of people fall — but that large, sustained middle class keeps the rest of the system going.  Without it, the economy fails, as does democracy itself.

A Dangerous Supplement: Speculative Realism, Academic Blogging, and the Future of Philosophy.

Silicon Valley’s Awful Race and Gender Problem in 3 Mind-Blowing Charts.

* And MetaFilter goes inside World War Z, a film “already being called the biggest flop in film history.” So at least there’s that.

Wunderkind

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 12, 2013 at 9:56 am

Monday Morning

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* Occupy Wall Street is a month old today, with Obama saying yesterday that Martin Luther King would have approved. (His daughter thinks so, too.The parent group has now raised over $300,000.

* Courting King’s disapproval, Adam Kotsko questions nonviolence as a tactic.

In such a context, I’m not sure how effective non-violent methods can really be. They presuppose a level of decency and shame that I’m not sure our militarized police forces possess, at the end of the day. If they did, they wouldn’t show up with riot gear in response to what amounts to a bunch of people kind of hanging out. They wouldn’t use property damage as an excuse to exercise collective punishment. More specifically in this case: they wouldn’t arrest people who are trying to close their bank accounts.

* Cornell West arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court.

* Freddie deBoer: Blogging is a system of control.

* Derek Slater: No I’m Not Going to Law School.

* And the experts who were the only people not to see the first disaster coming say things can’t possibly get any worse. Enjoy your day!

Just Another Sunday Links

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* I hate to condemn poor Aaron to a life spent gathering links for me, but his Sunday Reading series has rapidly become a core part of my Internet experience. I’d never lie to you; some of the links below I stole from him. We just need to get him that intern and we’ll be all set.

* David Foster Wallace on 9/11 (from 2007): “Just Asking.”

* Read Catherine Liu: Disaster capitalism keeps creating a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurial education reformers. David Sirota just wrote a powerful piece on public education: The Shock Doctrine Comes to Your Classroom . Sirota’s thesis is that the financial crisis has been a golden opportunity for rapacious for-profit companies in the education industry to divert public education funds into their own swollen pockets. Instead of paying teachers and building school infrastructure, administrators are spending more and more of their budgets on standardized tests and other instruments that produce big profit margins, but little pedagogy. The New York Times has recently taken note of what critics of education reform have been repeating over and over again: radical reforms and gadget fetishism do not produce measurable improvements in classroom learning. Sirota focuses on the darker side of the technophile narrative in public education: even as public education budgets are shrinking, the share that goes to high tech and for profit testing companies keeps growing.

* Profiles of the Jobless: The ‘Mad As Hell’ Millennial Generation.

* Matt Taibbi on the coming civil war.

I’ve always been queasy about piling on against the Republicans because it’s intellectually too easy; I also worry a lot that the habit pundits have of choosing sides and simply beating on the other party contributes to the extremist tone of the culture war.

But the time is coming when we are all going to be forced to literally take sides in a political conflict far more serious and extreme than we’re used to imagining. The situation is such a tinderbox now that all it will take is some prominent politician to openly acknowledge the fact of a cultural/civil war for the real craziness to begin.

Most people aren’t thinking about this because we’re so accustomed to thinking of America as a stable, conservative place where politics is not a life-or-death affair but more something that people like to argue about over dinner, as entertainment almost. But it’s headed in another, more twisted direction. I’m beginning to wonder if this election season is going to be one none of us ever forget – a 1968 on crack.

* According to this report, NPR has no idea who is right. It cannot provide listeners with any help in sorting through such a dramatic conflict in truth claims. It knows of no way to adjudicate these clashing views. It is simply confused and helpless and the best it can do is pass on that helplessness to listeners of “Morning Edition.” Because there is just no way to know whether these new rules try to make life as difficult as possible for abortion providers, or put common sense public policy goals into practice in Kansas. There is no standard by which to judge. There is no comparison that would help. There is no act of reporting that can tell us who has more of the truth on their side. In a word, there is nothing NPR can do! And so a good professional simply passes the conflict along. Excellent: Now the listeners can be as confused as the journalists.

* North Carolina as swing state. That’s a good electoral map for the Democrats, but somewhat unexpected; you’d expect Obama to be doing significantly worse here than he is.

* The Darker Side of Blogging.

I lost some friends because of these difficulties, especially when I could not convince some whom I trusted and who knew this person that a problem existed that was worth being concerned about. It now seems self-dramatizing to write all of this down, mainly because nothing “real” came of the threats other than unwanted contact. Yet when someone is sending email that involves your family, that makes it clear he has researched property records and knows the acreage your house was built upon, you tend to worry about the crossing of lines. I also wonder if in now revisiting these episodes from the past, I will trigger another outbreak. I realize that if my objective is to ensure that something so unpleasant never unfolds again, silence is my best strategy. Yet I have always felt that remaining taciturn makes it seem as if the events never happened. It also leaves me alone with them. The stalking occurred, and it changed my relation to the internet.

Having gone through something quite similar (twice) in my own blogging past—both times much less frightening than Jeffrey’s experience—I really related to this.

* And is Exit Through the Gift Shop “real”? Ron English says it is. Problem solved.

Wednesday Night Pre-SotU Links

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* The State of the Union address Obama would give in a more honest world. Honestly not looking forward to the speech tonight; the policies have mostly all already been announced, so I imagine the new stuff will just be pointless rhetorical digs at progressives and the Left. Even the good stuff isn’t much; State of the Union promises are often just that. Bonus points at least to Bob McDonnell for finally realizing the opposition response needs an audience.

* This is a link to a typical incendiary blog post. Via @drbluman.

* Barbara Herrnstein Smith vs. Stanley Fish in the New York Times.

* Pessimism watch: Cap and trade is not looking good. Lieberman and Nelson positively gleeful about upcoming opportunities to stab the Democratic caucus in the back. Republicans once again reject their own ideas in their efforts to screw over Obama. But this time Lucy won’t kick the football. iPad questionable at best. And Howard Zinn has died. He’s memorialized at The Nation.

Other Stuff

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* Details on the U.S. operation of Port-Au-Prince’s last working airstrip from Crooks & Liars, a possible (or partial) answer to complaints about its allocation. A second airport is now working at Jacmel, administered by tiny American charity Joy in Hope. From Ryan, I see the Caribbean is still at risk for more earthquakes.

* Yahoo News is hiring bloggers.

* Gawker has your roundup of clips from the ongoing NBC late-night fiasco.

* Louis Menand and how to rescue the professoriate from professionalization.

The ultimate problem is this: How do you create a system for the production of knowledge that is, on the one hand, rigorous and peer-reviewed and, on the other, committed to aims and obligations beyond its own survival? The professoriate itself is well aware of the dilemma, Menand observes, and has enthusiastically promoted what sounds like a solution: “interdisciplinarity.” The hope is that if professors join in conversation with one another, they’ll remember to be interesting to people outside their building.

Theoretically, this solves everything. The disciplines are still accountable only to themselves, but they’re also engaged with something broader—i.e., other disciplines. They are still autonomous without being hermetic. Except that, Menand explains, interdisciplinarity finally does nothing to alter the ways in which the individual disciplines produce their professors. Rather than a therapy for academic neurosis, interdisciplinarity is in fact yet one more symptom of it. “Interdisciplinary anxiety,” he writes, “is a displaced anxiety about the position of privilege that academic professionalism confers on its initiates and about the peculiar position of social disempowerment created by the barrier between academic workers and the larger culture. It is anxiety about the formalism and methodological fetishism of the disciplines and about the danger of sliding into aimless subjectivism or eclecticism.”

Really, Wednesday Already?

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* The 15 Worst Comics of the 2000s. The Mark Trail entry, while unexpected, is pretty amazing all by itself.

* Avatar and the American Man-Child: ‘Don’t you want to be an Indian little boy?'” My piece, as well as SEK’s, gets mentioned.

Where the movie goes wrong, then, is in making the sociopathic immaturity of a spoiled Western brat into the ideal form for the child-human that it wants anti-modernity to be. After all, while even your Rousseauvians understand the noble savage as a contradiction of modernity, as a cleansing bath washing away its discontents, the Na’vi only confirm Sully’s most childish presumptions of privilege: their world turns out to be nothing but toys to play with, nothing but one long summer camp fantasy of being the fastest, bestest, most awesomest ninja-Indian ever, and then a big giant womb to hide in when it all gets to be a bit much. There are no consequences there, nothing you can do to make mommy stop loving you (though Lord how he tries!). Like toys and parents to a three-year old, it is unthinkable that they say no or exist without you, and all they can ever ask is that you play with them.

* Polls prove the American public hates and loves the Afghan War as it hates and loves itself.

* Peace, tolerance, due process, oh my: Conservatives discover Star Trek is a Utopia.

* Tarantino is reportedly writing a prequel to Inglourious Basterds. I feel almost entirely certainly this is a terrible idea, and may in the end prove that those of us who liked the movie were fooling ourselves about its depth all along.

* Select Criterion Collection films are now streaming on Netflix.

* Andrew Breitbart goes deep inside the anti-American conspiracy that is the White House Christmas tree. Not a hoax!

* FiveThirtyEight.com’s Most Valuable Democrats of 2009.

* And, via Chutry, a nice encapsulation of what blogging is for.

Here’s my single favorite thing about blogging: being able to educate oneself in public. Going through this process—trying to move forward, stumbling, groping, occasionally finding—in full view of the world does not always stroke one’s ego. Each week you find yourself writing not about what you know but about what you perhaps hope to learn from the process of watching, reading, and struggling to think through and articulate.