Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘decadence

Some Sunday Links

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* Decadence watch: Please be advised we are between five and nine years away from President Tebow.

* The Non Sports Fan’s Guide to Maybe Enjoying the Super Bowl. A List of Things to Say to Sound as if You Understand the Super Bowl, Dummy. Go… Giants? I think I have that right.

* The set list from last night’s fantastic Mountain Goats show in Saxapahaw. And from Vu, an interesting New York Magazine read on Mountain Goats superfandom from 2009.

* The headline reads, “No kidney transplant for dying East Bay dad who is illegal immigrant.”

* Death, Debt and Climate Change.

There were 2900 temperature records set in the United States in January. Exxon Mobil reported yesterday that its quarterly profits had increased to $9.6 billion on revenues of over $70 billion. It’s 60 degrees on February 1 in New York City. These facts are connected. I continue to think that one reason Bloomberg evicted OWS was that he lost patience with waiting for it to get cold enough to drive the Occupiers out.

I have proposed that “debt is death.” It sounds a bit melodramatic. You can in fact map connections between the debt-financed globalized industries, direct violence caused by their expansion, and the indirect but nonetheless deadly violences of climate change.

* Ben Valentine considers statue porn. This and the last two via zunguuzungu’s always essential Sunday Reading.

* The strange case of Michael Swango, serial killing doctor. Via Neil.

* Then Republican governors saved the economy.

* SNL takes a visit to President Gingrinch’s Moon Utopia.

* And just for the Hunger Games fans: a speculative map of Panem. Via io9.

Friday Night Links

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* In case you missed it, I was on WUNC’s The State of Things today talking about science fiction and the end of the world. I’m in the second segment, about twelve minutes in. Here’s an MP3.

* Which undergraduate colleges are producing the most PhDs? You might be surprised.

* Game of the night: 3 Slices.

* Ferris Bueller’s Second Day Off? Not so fast, says everyone.

* At the end of Contact, Ellie Arroway discovers a secret message encoded in the digits of pi, presumably from the creator of the universe. With that in mind, check this out.

* The headline reads, “North Korea makes using a cellphone a war crime during 100 day mourning period.”

* The headline reads, “Nicolas Cage used real magic to prepare to be Ghost Rider.”

* The United States now spends some $200 billion on the correctional system each year, a sum that exceeds the gross domestic product of twenty-five US states and 140 foreign countries. An ever-increasing share of domestic discretionary spending, it would seem, is devoted to building and staffing earthly hells filled with able-bodied young men who have been removed from the labor force. If we added up all the money federal, state, and local governments invest in the poorest zip codes through credits and transfer payments—food stamps, Medicaid, teacher salaries, et cetera—and balanced that against all the value the government extracts from those zip codes through sin taxes, lotteries, and the incarceration complex, we might well conclude that the disinvestment outweighs the investment. Any apparent gains made in the last thirty years in narrowing the employment and education gap between African Americans and whites vanishes once you include the incarcerated population. Before asking the government to spend a fortune improving student-to-teacher ratios, it may be prudent to first ask the government to stop devoting public resources to ripping the heart out of inner-city economies. n+1: Raise the Crime Rate.

The earth is alive, asserts a revolutionary scientific theory of life emerging from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The trans-disciplinary theory demonstrates that purportedly inanimate, non-living objects—for example, planets, water, proteins, and DNA—are animate, that is, alive. With its broad explanatory power, applicable to all areas of science and medicine, this novel paradigm aims to catalyze a veritable renaissance.

* n+1 revists the bad 2000s: Did these bands suck? Was there something that Pitchfork had missed? Although Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, M.I.A., and Animal Collective all produced sophisticated, intelligent music, it’s also true that they focused their sophistication and intelligence on those areas where the stakes were lowest. Instead of striking out in pursuit of new musical forms, they tweaked or remixed the sounds of earlier music, secure in the knowledge that pedantic blog writers would magnify these changes and make them seem daring. Instead of producing music that challenged and responded to that of other bands, they complimented one another in interviews, each group “doing its own thing” and appreciating the efforts of others. So long as they practiced effective management of the hype cycle, they were given a free pass by their listeners to lionize childhood, imitate their predecessors, and respond to the Iraq war with dancing. The general mood was a mostly benign form of cultural decadence.

* And Twitter announces new micro-censorship policy. “Micro-censorship” is an amazing euphemism, isn’t it? Well-coined. It almost doesn’t even sound bad! It’s only micro-censorship…

Saturday Night

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But We Still Have Enough Cash to Invade Syria

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Lacking the money to pay its operating expenses, Mountain View’s SETI Institute has pulled the plug on the renowned Allen Telescope Array, a field of radio dishes that scan the skies for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. Via MeFi.

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April 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

A Few Sunday Links

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The Next Shoe

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February 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

University in Ruins

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John Tierney at the Atlantic has your university in ruins roundup. Many of these links have already appeared on this blog individually—but taken together, all at once, they paint a pretty bleak picture of the state of the American university system. Enjoy your Saturday, Ph.D. students!

The End of Culture

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January 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Links for Thanksgiving Eve

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* The Southern Poverty Law Center has courted controversy in naming the Family Research Council a hate group. Good for them.

* Collapsing empire watch: China and Russia will no longer use the US dollar in bilateral trade.

* The Hammer has fallen.

* A new poll shows much of the opposition to the Affordable Care Act comes from people who wish to expand it. More here. Another poll shows Obama is still surprisingly popular right here in North Carolina—at least compared to leading Republicans.

* Can Sarah Palin with the 2012 Republican primary? Wealthy, College-Educated Republicans edition.

It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains–that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant. A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder. Via Alex.

* Another round of accurate but misleading movie descriptions.

* And the Harry Potter series, from Hermione’s point of view.

World’s Greatest Trick Play Ever – Links

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* Olbermann lives. The Nation calls it a victory for “bold progressives.” Our first!

* pulparchive.com is a classic SF magazine cover a day.

* Breaking news: Democratic party leaders are completely worthless.

Look, if Democrats can’t repeal a policy more than two thirds of the American people, including a majority of conservatives want gone then they can’t expect people to vote for them.

* Climate scientists to get serious in opposing the nihilists who just took over the House.

* Hard to believe an obvious lie would gain traction in conservative circles.

* Alas, Ireland.

* The Supreme Court has turned down its first challenge to the Affordable Care Act. But don’t get too excited; it was on procedural grounds.

* Der Spiegel on the end of America.

The United States of 2010 is dysfunctional, but in new ways. The entire interplay of taxes and investments is out of joint because a 16,000-page tax code allows for far too many loopholes and because solidarity is no longer part of the way Americans think. The political system, plagued by lobbyism and stark hatred, is incapable of reaching consistent or even quick decisions.

The country is reacting strangely irrationally to the loss of its importance — it is a reaction characterized primarily by rage. Significant portions of America simply want to return to a supposedly idyllic past. They devote almost no effort to reflection, and they condemn cleverness and intellect as elitist and un-American, as if people who hunt bears could seriously be expected to lead a world power. Demagogues stir up hatred and rage on television stations like Fox News. These parts of America, majorities in many states, ignorant of globalization and the international labor market, can do nothing but shout. They hate everything that is new and foreign to them.

Sounds about right.

* World’s greatest trick play ever.

* And scientific proof that 30 Rock is funnier than S#*! My Dad Says. On this there can be no debate.

Three for Friday

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* College Writing Class Assignments with Real-World Applications.

10. Write a cover letter to a bank manager that claims your B.A. in literature gives you advantages that people who have degrees in business, finance or economics simply don’t have.

Damn straight. Alternatively, the literature student might consider getting a quick certificate in banking from Stephen Colbert “University.”

* America’s Ten Deadest Cities. Clocking in at #4: my beloved Cleveland, who population has nearly halved since 1950. (Thanks, Steve!)

* The aim of the Attribution of Climate-Related Events workshop was to discuss what information is needed to determine the extent to which human-induced climate change can be blamed for extreme weather events – possibly even straight after they have happened. Via this post from Kevin Drum talking more generally about adaptation, prevention, and reparation for climate change.

Dead Empire Bounce

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Decadence watch: Camden, NJ, saves its libraries. But… for how long?

Written by gerrycanavan

August 12, 2010 at 5:34 am

Friday Night Everything

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* The long-awaited (but oddly dissatisfying) Lost epilogue has appeared online, though who knows for how long or with whose permission.

* Decadence watch: municipalities are cutting back on public transit, de-paving roads, cutting back on education and even city lights, and closing public libraries. Naturally, the wars continue apace.

* Elena Kagan post-mortems from Jonathan Chait and Glenn Greenwald.

* Neal Stephenson talks SF at Gresham College. The link has another, shorter talk from David Brin as well. Thanks to Melody for the link.

* Silly games of the night: Epic Coaster and Color Theory.

* Visiting the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

* Power stations of the retrofuture.

* Marmaduke (by Franz Kafka).

* America’s first test-tube baby has turned her back on her heritage.

* You had me at huge Back to the Future trilogy timeline.

* Google says there are 129,864,880 books In existence. I swear, I swear, mine’s coming.

* And neither English nor philosophy makes this list of the ten lowest-paying college majors. Take that, everyone I knew in college!

SOS

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Orly Taitz could actually win the Republican primary for Secretary of State in California tomorrow.

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June 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm

‘Field Notes for the Apocalypse’

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“I haven’t seen much in my infrastructure-rich neighborhood that makes me believe taxpayers are suddenly going to start asking to fund the projects that will keep our systems from falling down on our heads,” Huler writes near the end of On the Grid, unleashing in the end the jeremiad he’s been holding back all along. “I feel like a late-empire Roman, just hoping things hold out long enough for my kids to stay relatively safe. I’m left with the melancholy belief that we’re going to stand around bickering while the pipes clog and the wires fall and the roads crumble.”

I have another book review in Independent Weekly, this one on America’s collapsing infrastructure. It’s a feel-good piece.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 26, 2010 at 1:45 am