Posts Tagged ‘Congress’
* A nice endorsement of Octavia E. Butler from Steve Shaviro. Some bonus Shaviro content: his favorite SF of 2016. I think Death’s End was the best SF I read this year too, though I really liked New York 2140 a lot too (technically that’s 2017, I suppose). I’d also single out Invisible Planets and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, both of which had some really good short stories. In comics, I think The Vision was the best new thing I’ve seen in years. There’s a lot I bought this year and didn’t have time to look at yet, though, so maybe check back with me in 2019 and I can tell you what was the best thing from 2016.
* Duke warns professors about emails from someone claiming to be a student, seeking information about their courses — many in fields criticized by some on the right. Some Michigan and Denver faculty members have received similar emails but from different source.
* I don’t think Children of Men was ever actually “overlooked” — and I’m shocked it was considered a flop at a time — but it certainly looks prescient now.
* From Tape Drives to Memory Orbs, the Data Formats of Star Wars Suck. Remembering Caravan of Courage, the Ewok Adventure Star Wars Would Rather You’d Forget. Anti-fascism vs. nostalgia: Rogue One. How to See Star Wars For What It Really Is. And a new headcanon regarding the Empire and its chronic design problems.
* The seduction of technocratic government—that a best answer will overcome division, whether sown in the nature of man or ineluctable in capitalist society—slides into the seduction in the campaign that algorithms will render rote the task of human persuasion, that canvassers are just cogs for a plan built by machine. And so the error to treat data as holy writ, when it’s both easier and harder than that. Data are fragile; algorithms, especially when they aggregate preferences, fall apart. Always, always, power lurks. The technocrats have to believe in mass politics, believe for real that ordinary people, when they organize, can change their own destinies. Whether that happens depends on the party that gets built, and the forces behind it.
* Four Cabinet nominations that could blow up in Donald Trump’s face. Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliances. Why Donald Trump Might Not Be All That Good for Art. How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler. This all certainly seems on the up-and-up. And today in teaching the controversy: Nuclear diplomacy via Twitter is a bad idea.
* The arc of history is long, but Google Search will not longer return Holocaust-denying websites at the top of page one.
* It wasn’t just your imagination: more famous people did die in 2016.
* An excerpt from the conversation between Tim Morton and Jeff VanderMeer from my and Andy Hageman’s issue of Paradoxa is up at LARB. You can read our introduction too! The issue has been printed and will be on its way to subscribers (and available for purchase) soon.
* acting as if nothing terrible has happened
is a failed strategy you yell and this docility
has ruined and crushed us and afraid as I am
I cannot hold your vehemence against you
at this political moment as I watch you dig
your fingers into the rubble you’re sitting on
and you say maybe it’s impossible to believe
in politeness or civilization anymore…
* Ken Liu’s “Paper Menagerie” is the first story to hit the Hugo / Nebula / World Fantasy Award trifecta. Read it!
* Being a parent really is a second childhood: I’m even terrified of nuclear war again. “A tense new battle over nuclear arms erupts between Donald Trump and his staff.” Tweeting our way to Armageddon.
* Ted Chiang talks adapting Arrival.
* Looking back: The collapse of the Obama coalition. What could explain it? More data that couldn’t possibly explain it. Having presided over the catastrophic collapse of his party and the possible end of American democracy, Obama gives himself high marks. Why Did Planned Parenthood Supporters Vote Trump?
*A consummate bullshit artist, Bucky Fuller’s career was built on failure, if not outright fraud. With few of his ideas achieving commercial success, he amounted to nothing more than a hand-waving proponent of outlandish notions. Worse still, he was an aggressive manager of his own profile and patents, an authoritarian technocrat who sought not students but compliant disciples to disseminate his muddled messages. The lynchpin of this view: even the geodesic dome, Fuller’s greatest “success,” rested on a concept borrowed (to be charitable) from an aspiring student sculptor. Buckminster Fuller in the 21st Century.
* Don’t make the joke, don’t make the joke: Sex robots will ‘come a lot sooner than you think’, scientist claims.
* Elsewhere in the rise of the machines.
* A&E Cancels KKK Docuseries Following Criticism. That whole network needs a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
* BREAKING: All pro sports are bad.
* Actually, my speciality is evil ethics.
* They did it: They found the worst Star Wars take.
* Meanwhile, in Japan: Can the Emperor abdicate?
* And wherever we are on the political spectrum: let’s give the giant meteor a chance.
* Since, in fact, we lack the ability to realise even a single one of these demands in the foreseeable future, and since all other apparent solutions are unavailing, the unwelcome thought begins to insinuate itself — we are going to live in a world with Daesh and its massacres no matter what we do.
* Presenting The Bee. Exciting new “Beyond Criticism” project from Lili Loofbourow.
* Along the way to a world of driverless cars there are many potential roadblocks: infrastructure issues, different technical standards, restrictive state licensing policies, and more. But something more problematic might be the one most likely to derail this important technology: excessive lawsuits. To avoid the chilling effect that excessive litigation might have on this life-saving innovation, Congress may need to provide a certain amount of legal immunity for creators of driverless car technologies, or at least create an alternative legal compensation system for when things go wrong.
* There are no ifs, maybes or caveats allowed in American sports and now in American culture—you’re either a champion or you’re a loser: a nothing.
* Sad! These three campaign gurus for Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have had some time to reflect on their loss to The Donald. And do they ever have stories to tell.
* Not all heroes wear capes: Traveler sues TSA for missed flight.
* Mongolia will become a global pioneer next month, when its national post office starts referring to locations by a series of three-word phrases instead of house numbers and street names.
Why, it couldn’t be simpler!
* And the future just isn’t very stable: Carbon nanotubes have been pegged as the wonder material that could finally allow us to build a space elevator. A discouraging new study suggests these microscopic strands aren’t as resilient as we thought—and all it could take is a single misplaced atom to bring the whole thing crashing down.
* The new issue of Extrapolation is out! This one was put together before I was an editor, but it’s still really great stuff.
* Dear English Major: A 7-Step Guide to Your Final Semester as an English Major.
* It’s syllabus prep week at universities all across America. Here’s a provocative one from Vanderbilt: PHIL 213: Police Violence and Mass Incarceration.
* Give me the child at 18 or so, and I will give you the man: Nine Percent of 114th U.S. Congress Are Alumni of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
* Why we can’t have nice things, 2015 edition: The Senate’s 46 Democrats got 20 million more votes than its 54 Republicans.
* I say teach the controversy: “Creationist: Aliens Will Go to Hell and Not Even Jesus Can Save Them.”
* Actual Supreme Court decisions: To remain silent, one must first speak.
* Dog bites man: 2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record Globally By Far.
* On the 60th anniversary of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” the Los Angeles Review of Books has assembled a group of female authors, artists and performers who, dedicated to examining the faces, bodies and voices of the young girl, consider the significance of Nabokov’s pubescent protagonist as both a literary conceit and an object of patriarchal fetish.
* As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set ’em free.
* People diagnosed with serious mental illness — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression — die 20 years early, on average, because of a combination of lousy medical care, smoking, lack of exercise, complications of medication, suicide, and accidents. They are the most discriminated-against and neglected group in the U.S., which has become probably the worst place in the developed world to be mentally ill.
* “The little girl come to my door,” 71-year-old Larry Wilkins told NBC News. “She told me that her mom and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down. She asked if she could stay here.”
* “I’m no longer watching television in which middle-aged men figure out how to be men. I’d rather watch shows about teenaged girls figuring out what it means to be a monster.”
* A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below 25 grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those earning more than 150 grand a year give away only 2.7 percent. A UCLA neuroscientist named Keely Muscatell has published an interesting paper showing that wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy: If you show rich people and poor people pictures of kids with cancer, the poor people’s brains exhibit a great deal more activity than the rich people’s. (An inability to empathize with others has just got to be a disadvantage for any rich person seeking political office, at least outside of New York City.) “As you move up the class ladder,” says Keltner, “you are more likely to violate the rules of the road, to lie, to cheat, to take candy from kids, to shoplift, and to be tightfisted in giving to others. Straightforward economic analyses have trouble making sense of this pattern of results.”
* I can’t believe I’d never read this before: the original script to Back to the Future is wonderfully bananas, including the “nuke the fridge” scene from Crystal Skull thrown in as a sweetener.
* Peak neoliberalism: eventheliberal Kevin Drum says an AI revolution that will be “pretty brutal for the 90 percent of the population that occupies the middle classes and below” will be a “basically positive” development.
* PS: Drum might have been overestimating the timetable here. In 10 years, your job might not exist.
* The paper makes no claims about in-person classes or very large online courses, but says that the study’s findings provide “the first evidence that increasing class sizes in the online context may not degrade the quality of the class.” And the paper says that “these results could have important policy and financial implications.”
* Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed.’ Well, that’s debatable.
* Police say at least 30 people are sleeping permanently in Madrid airport’s terminal 4 but the number goes up in winter.
* In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a “Vision Zero” plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. “We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads,” says Hans Berg of the national transport agency. Swedes believe—and are now proving—that they can have mobility and safety at the same time.
* Science fiction poetry: “Sci-Fi Violence.”
* It’s good to get ahead of things: Should Martians Pay U.S. Taxes?
* And the winner of the Worst Thing Written in 2015 has been announced. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you again in 2016.