Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘death drive

Wednesday, Wednesday

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p0hzpqghfzua11sjdckyNOAA just released its summer outlook, predicting which areas are going to see unusually hotter temperatures this year. Unsurprisingly for those who have been watching the string of heat records that have been falling like dominoes, almost every area of the United States is included. Things Have Gotten Much Worse Since An Inconvenient Truth.

Love in the time of climate change: Grizzlies and polar bears are now mating.

How highways wrecked American cities.

The amount of money it would take to eliminate extreme poverty is now lower than the amount of money spent on foreign aid every year.

Is Donald Trump’s Hair a $60,000 Weave? A Gawker Investigation.

* The Democratic primary has entered its Gnostic phase.

The Marijuana Industry’s War on the Poor.

* Scenes from the class struggle at Oberlin. A reasonably good ethnographic study of a subject which seems to have become utterly impossible to talk about dispassionately.

* And speaking of “impossible to talk about dispassionately”: The canon of English literature is sexist. It is racist. It is colonialist, ableist, transphobic, and totally gross. You must read it anyway.

Diversity as a Tenure Requirement?

The Baylor board of regents fired school president Ken Starr on Tuesday amid the sexual assault scandal involving the Bears football team, according to HornsDigest.com. Baylor not commenting on reports of President Kenneth Starr’s firing.

Enrollments Slide, Particularly for Older Students.

The terms “World Science Fiction” or “Global Science Fiction” are becoming legitimate fields of interest at a time where human life is indistinguishable from technological interference and scientific thought. We are technology. We are post-human. And we understand both the “global” and “world” adjectives only through the eyes and screens technology has afforded us. If we loosely understand science fiction as the imaginative exercise with which we deal with science and technology, then it becomes a major tool in understanding a reality that increasingly grows less believable and more fragile, in which crisis has become our quotidian condition. We are desperately looking for others because, in a globalized culture and economy, they might not exist anymore. We might have exterminated them, and we fear our genocidal complicity.

Soviet Brutalist Architecture, Photographed By Frederic Chaubin.

* Some truly crazy news about Peter Thiel and Gawker today.

But if the extremely wealthy, under a veil of secrecy, can destroy publications they want to silence, that’s a far bigger threat to freedom of the press than most of the things we commonly worry about on that front. If this is the new weapon in the arsenal of the super rich, few publications will have the resources or the death wish to scrutinize them closely.

Here’s the thing: from where I live, the world has drifted away. We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary. The money has gone to the top. The wages have gone to the top. The recovery hasgone to the top. And what’s worst of all, everybody who matters seems basically pretty okay with that. The new bright sparks, cheerfully referred to as “Young Gods” believe themselves to be the honest winners in a new invent-or-die economy, and are busily planning to escape into space oracquire superpowers, and instead of worrying about this, the talking heads on TV tell you its all a good thing- don’t worry, the recession’s over and everything’s better now, and technology is TOTES AMAZEBALLS!

* Twitter’s death drive.

* The end of passwords.

* Freddie Gray verdict: US police officers who kill rarely get punished, but they might get rich.

The Do Not Call list was supposed to defeat telemarketers. Now scammy robocalls are out of control. What happened?

* Understanding intelligence.

Would the U.S. Drop the Bomb Again?

* John Scalzi has a new space opera.

Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember?, or, “Johnny B. Goode in the Anthropocene.”

But it did guarantee that one rock song will exist even if the earth is spontaneously swallowed by the sun: “Johnny B. Goode,” by Chuck Berry. The song was championed by Ann Druyan (who later become Sagan’s wife) and Timothy Ferris, a science writer and friend of Sagan’s who contributed to Rolling Stone magazine. According to Ferris, who was the album’s de facto producer, the folklorist Alan Lomax was against the selection of Berry, based on the argument that rock music was too childish to represent the highest achievements of the planet. (I’m assuming Lomax wasn’t too heavily engaged with the debate over the Sex Pistols and “Saturday Night Fever” either.) “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock song on the Voyager disc, although a few other tunes were considered. “Here Comes the Sun” was a candidate, and all four Beatles wanted it to be included, but none of them owned the song’s copyright, so it was killed for legal reasons.

The Pitch Meeting for Animaniacs.

How One in Ten Humans Could Be Wiped Out Within the Next Five Years.

The Business of Too Much TV.

On the Trail of Nabokov in the American West.

* And presenting Reverse CAPTCHA.

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Wednesday Morning!

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021814-nu-union-150* Man tragically unable to remember saying Barack Obama would make a great president says Hillary Clinton will make a great president. Meanwhile, the rest of us are reduced to talking about Obama’s secret achievements.

* Faculty on Strike at UIC.

Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Days, Neuroscientist Says.

* Last Night on Jeopardy No One Wanted to Answer Qs About Black History.

Noose Found Around The Neck Of Statue Honoring Civil Rights Icon At Ole Miss.

* On Teaching While Black.

What Does it Mean that Most Children’s Books Are Still About White Boys?

The J.R.R. Tolkien Manuscripts: Public Showings in 2014.

* Here are the hoops a college football team has to jump through to be allowed to form a union.

* 84-Year Old Nun Sentenced To Prison For Weapons Plant Break-In.

Academic freedom with violence.

Has humanity produced enough paint to cover the entire land area of the Earth? The dream remains alive.

* Whistle-blower fired from Hanford nuclear site.

“We do not agree with her assertions that she suffered retaliation or was otherwise treated unfairly,” URS said, adding Busche was fired for reasons unrelated to the safety concerns. “Ms. Busche’s allegations will not withstand scrutiny.”

Busche is the second Hanford whistle-blower to be fired by URS in recent months. Walter Tamosaitis, who also raised safety concerns about the plant, was fired in October after 44 years of employment.

* A new China Miéville short story collection, scheduled for November 2014.

* A world of horrors: There is no such thing as a child prostitute.

In the same way that certain styles of dance simulate sex, the Winter Olympics simulates scraping one’s February-chapped nostrils against the surface of a Kleenex whose aloe content is useless and reaching out for the warm escape of death. It’s an art of failed suicide attempts.

* A preliminary sketch of the data reveals, of course, that by 2050 films will be reviewing us.

* “First, why would we even think about letting it go through?”

“This whole thing is totally and completely bonkers.”

Grace Kerr sometimes jokes with her family that “Amanda was not that great. Zach is awesome.” What she means is that her son is finally happy, and is helping others.

* Diseased and unsound meat: Hot Pockets®!

In Act Of Protest, Ai Weiwei Vase Is Destroyed At Miami Museum.

* News You Can Use: Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo.

A portrait of Steve Jobs made entirely out of e-waste.

* The Ice Caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Candy Crush: Addictive Game, Incredible Business, Horrible Investment.

How the north ended up on top of the map.

* Inside Kappa Beta Phi, the Wall Street Fraternity.

* And our long national nightmare is over: Obama apologizes for disparaging art historians.

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Don Draper

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Written by gerrycanavan

November 18, 2008 at 2:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Apocalypse as Pornography

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One of the major questions we’ve been wrestling with over in the culturemonkey discussion group about futurity is the question of whether people consumer apocalyptic fantasy because they fear it or because they long for it. (And of course there’s no easy answer to this question— we recoil in fear from apocalypse because we’re afraid it’s what we really want, just as the little pessimist inside all of us is eager for the inevitable disaster to just hurry up and get it over with, and so on, spiraling down and down the psychoanalytic rabbit hole. Both/and.) Just to throw fuel on this fire, a pair of Times articles out yesterday and today help shine light on why it is that end-the-world fantasy (Children of Men, Cloverfield, climate-related apocalypse, Life Without People on the Discovery Channel just this week) is such a commercially vibrant field right now:

‘Voters Show Darker Mood Than in 2000’

While not universal, that tone pervaded dozens of interviews conducted over the last week with Americans of all political stripes in 8 of the 24 states that hold primaries or caucuses on Feb. 5, as well as with historians, elected officials, political strategists and poll takers. As the candidates fan out to New York and California and here to the heartland, they are confronting an electorate that is deeply unsettled about the United States’ place in the world and its ability to control its own destiny.

and probably quicker to the point in terms of locating the likely origin for this new pessimism:

‘Worries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage’

But it’s hard not to believe that the economy will pay a price for the speculative binge of the last two decades, either by going through a tough recession or an extended period of disappointing growth. As is already happening, banks will become less willing to lend money, households will become less willing to spend money they don’t have and investors will become more alert to risk.

Welcome to the new moderation.

I love how mere “moderation” is figured in and of itself as a kind of disaster.

Still, I can’t ignore this link from Bldgblog which Ryan left in the culturemonkey comments, which shoots past mere longing for the end of the world to bring us to a very Ballardian understanding of apocalypse as a kind of pornography—and the problems this death drive causes when you’re trying to motivate people to change the way they live:

As it is, we’re being told that we should worry about climate change… because it resembles one of the most exciting tropical adventures ever to befall the human race.

Who’s going to get upset about that?

Needless to say, I think this is an exceptionally good point.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 24, 2008 at 2:55 pm