Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Disney World

What? THURSDAY Links? In This Economy?

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* Sneak preview: the landmark Paradoxa “climate fictions” issue, edited by the great Ali Sperling!

The 2020 Hugo Awards: The Political Hugo.

Hold the Starships — an Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson on Mars Settlement, Socialists in Space, Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Immortality, and the Purpose of Science Fiction.

A Second Coronavirus Death Surge Is Coming. Almost one-third of Florida children tested are positive for the coronavirus. Most air conditioning systems don’t protect against the coronavirus. In some cases, they can actually facilitate spread. How Arizona blew it. UnitedHealth posts most profitable quarter in its history. Disney World Fully Reopens to Crowds as Florida Surpasses 300K Coronavirus Cases. 51.3 million.

* First Coronavirus Vaccine Tested in Humans Shows Early Promise. The University of Oxford candidate, led by Sarah Gilbert, might be through human trials in September.

* More Than 40 Mayors Outline Their Vision for a Green Coronavirus Recovery.

* It’s the “bring their own chairs” part that makes it art. Budget ‘Bloodbath’ at University of Akron.

* Minimum wage workers cannot afford rent in any U.S. state.

* Giving the NYPD the power to declare journalists enemy combatants at whim seems bad actually. Biden winning by so much that maybe even Biden couldn’t blow it. The media is covering this election all wrong.

Another Monument to White Supremacy That Should Come Down? The Electoral College.

* Doomsday Clock only ended in December, but DC is already trying to sequelize Watchmen again. And elsewhere on the Watchmen beat: The Simpsons Watchmen Parody Is As Weird As You’d Expect.

* How did they write a graverobbing Gatsby prequel and then make it about Nick Carraway? Obviously the book is Jay Gatz.

* The most interesting thing you can just barely understand: How Gödel’s Proof Works.

* Know your risk.

* Today in tech.

* The important questions.

* The postal service is such an obviously beneficial and necessary public good they have no choice but to destroy it on principle.

What It’s Like to Be Single in Your 60s With $233,921 in Student Debt.

* All the blue checks got hacked and Twitter still wasn’t fun anymore. I did like talking the MCU with you all this morning, though. Backgrounder: Hackers Convinced Twitter Employee to Help Them Hijack Accounts.

* America’s child care problem is an economic problem.

* The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born.

* Abolition is not a suburb.

* If you’re sufficiently rich and sufficiently diversified you make your money on the swing, not on the value. Chaos as investment strategy.

* And knives out for Joss Whedon. Just incredible to see his reputation transform like this.

After a Quiet Month in Which Absolutely Nothing Happened: The Return of Saturday Morning Links!

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* In case you missed it: Grad School Vonnegut #5! Harrison Bergeron! It’s also bad! Next week is Bluebeard, and then Sirens of Titan, so we’re back to Good Vonnegut for a bit…

* And once you’re done with that, listen to Octavia’s Parables!

* I also had a review essay in the latest American Literature on some of the new work being done in comics studies: “Comics Grow Up.”

* Someone made a YouTube explainer essay of my Snowpiercer necrocapitalism essay, weirdly sponsored by a luxury watch change…

* It’s been a bit since I’ve recommended anything, so let me give two very quick game recommendations for those with ears to hear: Ori and the Blind Forest is a terrific Metroidvania game for the Nintendo Switch (among other platforms), and Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a terrific DM-less D&D engine for your meatspace tabletop. More recommendations will emerge as circumstances warrant.

* Proposals invited! 2021 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in Science Fiction Studies.

* CFP: Decolonising Science Fiction. CFP: Taco Bell Quarterly. CFP: The Labour of COVID section of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labour.

* In light of the mass protests across the United States and around the world, the executive committee of the Science Fiction Research Association asserts unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. IAFA Statement on BLM.

* The kids are all right: Pentagon War Game Includes Scenario for Military Response to Domestic Gen Z Rebellion.

An Open Letter to Marquette University. Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay — Chances Are They’re Not.

* Aware that the gatekeepers will never agree, this admirer of George Saunders, Michael Chabon, Colson Whitehead, Jonathan Lethem, Junot Diaz, Elif Batuman, and Jonathan Franzen who’s been less impressed by, for instance, Denis Johnson, Lorrie Moore, and Jennifer Egan has come to regard Kim Stanley Robinson as the greatest living American novelist.

* Ten Minutes with Kim Stanley Robinson. Is This A Unique Time for Science? We Ask Sci-fi Writer Kim Stanley Robinson. The Climate Case for a Jobs Guarantee. Imagining American Utopia.

* Penguin Classics Launches Science Fiction Series. Zones of Possibility: Science Fiction and the Coronavirus. This American Life on Afrofuturism. We Are Living in the Retrofuture. Announcing the 2019 Nebula Awards Winners.

* Academic Publishing: An Odyssey.

* Read it and weep, my friend.

Minneapolis Had This Coming. The Minneapolis Uprising in Context. America is a tinderbox. When Police View Citizens as Enemies. The Thick Blue Line. Tribute to Breonna Taylor. Scenes from the struggle in Philadelphia. If you’re not getting any fouls, you’re not working hard enough. Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop. Just weeks after the shooting, Weirton and the Police Department did something almost unheard-of in America’s long and troubled history of police shootings: They quickly fired one of the officers for his actions in the fatal encounter. From the archives: On Social Sadism. Then: A Bullet to the Eye Is the Price of Protesting in Chile. Now: A Bullet to the Eye Is the Price of Being a Journalist in America. The American Nightmare. Getting killed by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in America. US police fail to meet basic human rights standards. The Deep Amnesia of Our National Conscience. The Black Lives Matter movement could be the vaccine the country needs. The End of White Supremacy, An American Romance. Neoliberal Capitalism Depends on White Supremacy. This is fascism. The liberal attachment to previous movements as peaceful, nonviolent, and respectable obscures the historical efficacy of riots, blockades, and looting as legitimate forms of revolt. Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police. Abolish these police departments. Imagining the nonviolent state. The Supreme Court Broke Police Accountability. Now It Has the Chance to Fix It. Why Was a Grim Report on Police-Involved Deaths Never Released? Policing and the English Language. The Pandemic Is the Right Time to Defund the Police. The president of the Minneapolis City Council says the city’s Police Dept. will be dismantled and replaced with a “transformative new model of public safety.”

 

Cop Shows Are Undergoing a Reckoning—With One Big Exception. Amid George Floyd protests, is it time for cop TV shows to be canceled for good? Video Games Have To Reckon With How They Depict The Police.

Black Bereavement, White Condolences. How Moderate Teachers Perpetuate Educational Oppression. #ImagineBlackFreedom.

Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide. The Police Are Rioting. We Need to Talk About It. Police turn more aggressive against protesters and bystanders alike, adding to disorder. Cops Love to Falsely Claim People Have Messed With Their Food. Cops and the Culture War. Vehicle Attacks Rise As Extremists Target Protesters. Far-Right Extremists Are Hoping to Turn the George Floyd Protests Into a New Civil War. How The Antifa Fantasy Spread In Small Towns Across The US. The Trump effect: New study connects white American intolerance and support for authoritarianism. Something terrible is happening.

* A third of Americans now show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, Census Bureau finds amid coronavirus pandemic. The unluckiest generation in U.S. history.

* Sorry Roosevelt — ya cancelled.

When Will Capitalism End?

* Sometimes the mask slips right off. We Need a Class War, Not a Culture War. The Insecurity Machine. How the Criminal Justice System Preys on the Poor. Trump Team Killed Rule Designed To Protect Health Workers From Pandemic Like COVID-19. An ‘Avalanche of Evictions’ Could Be Bearing Down on America’s Renters. A Tidal Wave of Bankruptcies Is Coming. Warning signs of the coming catastrophe. The Real Economic Catastrophe Hasn’t Hit Yet. Just Wait For August. Another Crash Is Coming. Weird coincidence.

* Welcome to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. “A Political Form Built Out of Struggle”: An Interview on the Seattle Occupied Protest. Get In The Zone: A Report From The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone In Seattle. CHOP Residents Are Working Out a New Footprint With the City.

* It’s not obesity. It’s slavery. COVID-19 Deaths by Race and Ethnicity in the US. ‘All the psychoses of US history’: how America is victim-blaming the coronavirus dead.

* Now they tell us: Asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is ‘very rare,’ WHO says. A Devastating New Stage of the Pandemic. America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further. The world is putting America in quarantine. The Covid-19 virus attacks like no other ‘respiratory’ infection. Neurological and neuropsychiatric complications of COVID-19 in 153 patients. Some things mankind was not meant to know. The Climate Crisis and COVID-19 Are Inseparable. Ah, memories. How the Virus Won. The coronavirus surge is real, and it’s everywhere. A Devastating New Stage of the Pandemic.

* Market Logic Is Literally Killing Us. 100% facemask use could crush second, third coronavirus waves. Reopening too soon: Lessons from the deadly second wave of the 1918 flu pandemic. What past disasters can teach us about how to deal with covid-19. Who Are We Reopening For? Reopening the Economy Will Send Us to Hell. I miss restaurants. That Office AC System Is Great — at Recirculating Viruses. How the coronavirus spreads in those everyday places we visit. C.D.C. Recommends Sweeping Changes to American Offices. People Don’t Trust Public-Health Experts Because Public-Health Experts Don’t Trust People. Parties — Not Protests — Are Causing Spikes In Coronavirus. These 20-Somethings Survived Coronavirus, But Their Symptoms Won’t Go Away. Social Distancing Is Not Enough. Humans are not meant to be alone. The Coronavirus Is On Track to Be the Fastest Ever Developed. Coronavirus may never go away, even with a vaccine. We Don’t Even Have a COVID-19 Vaccine, and Yet the Conspiracies Are Here. The U.S. Has Officially Unflattened the Curve With Its Worst Day of the Coronavirus Pandemic Yet. The next 100 days.

Masculinity As Radical Selfishness: Rebecca Solnit on the Maskless Men of the Pandemic.

The best COVID-19 response in the world.

* Covid-19 Makes Things Tricky For Haunted Houses.

* Žižek vs. the virus.

* From the no-such-thing-as-good-news files.

* Meanwhile: In Some States This Fall, Masks at Public Colleges Will Be ‘Encouraged’ but Not Required. Text games that simulate the fall semester from the perspective of students and faculty. Large number of LSU football players placed in quarantine. Simulations of classrooms don’t bode well.

* Unions are once again anti-doctrinal. Massive cuts at U Alaska. Colleges say campuses can reopen safely. Students and faculty aren’t convinced. How the Pandemic Will Change Teaching on Campus. Principles for a Post-COVID University. The Existential Threat to Higher Education is Not What You Think. Faculty Are Not Cannon Fodder. University Leaders Are Failing. Zoom and Gloom: Universities in the Age of COVID-19. Welcome to the Socially Distanced Campus. Off campus. A coalition of unions representing 20,000 workers is organizing to reject Rutgers’s austerity response to the pandemic. Disaster capitalism on campus. Extinction Event. The Case for Liberal Arts Education in a Time of Crisis. How to stop the cuts. And just to stick the knife in.

The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work.

What Is College Worth?

For Colleges, Protests Over Racism May Put Everything On the Line.

Principal warns NYC parents about potential chaos next school year. U.S. schools lay off hundreds of thousands, setting up lasting harm to kids. Student Trauma Won’t Just Disappear In the Fall, Counselors Warn. 70 cases of COVID-19 at French schools days after reopening. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction releases guidelines for reopening schools in the fall. Wisconsin schools should expect coronavirus threat for next 18 months, according to new state guidance. We’re homemakers, stay-at-home parents and paid workers. All at the same time. This Summer Will Scar Young Americans for Life. Pandemic Reveal: Heterosexual Motherhood is a Hostage Situation. The Next Pandemic: Homesickness. Covid-19 Is Straining the Concept of the Family. Let’s Break It.

John Chisholm is the district attorney for Milwaukee, where homicides were double the normal rate during the first five months of 2020; Chisholm estimates that a quarter of these were related to domestic violence, including an incident on April 30th in which a man with a history of domestic abuse killed five members of his family, four of them teen-agers. Chisholm told me that there’s no set date for when courts will be fully operational again. “The backlog concerns me the most,” he said. “It’s going to stretch our protective services, and we will have more people with unresolved cases still circulating in close proximity to the victims.”

* Bosses in the US Have Far Too Much Power to Lay Off Workers Whenever They Feel Like It. The Coronavirus Is Exposing Wall Street’s Reckless Gamble on Bad Debt. The Looming Bank Collapse.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic Changed Literature More Than You Think.

* Before the End.

J.K. Rowling and the Echo Chamber of TERFs. The Harry Potter book series helped me realize I’m nonbinary. Now I know that had nothing to do with J.K. Rowling. I’m A Trans Harry Potter Fan, And There Are A Few Things I Want J.K. Rowling To Know. Generation X and Trans Lives.

* All the signs were there.

* Meanwhile: Transgender Health Protections Reversed By Trump Administration.

* ‘She just started blooming’: the trans kids helped by a pioneering project.

Biden’s Disability Policy Plan Is Surprisingly Good.

Mail-in Voting Triggers an Unhinged Trump Rant. House adopts bill to make DC 51st state; Senate GOP opposes. Will he go? And a little bit of old eve-stakes speculation: Famed Democratic pollster: Warren as VP would lead to Biden victory.

* The Prophecies of Q.

* Facebook researched the affect of its own platform on polarization and found that “Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” and then largely shelved its study, the WSJ reports.

The authors found that the 6-hour-forecast errors were smaller for the revised model than for a version of the model without the cloud-microphysics revisions. Hence, instead of being able to discount estimates of high sensitivity, as Rodwell and I had done, their result provides some of the best current evidence that climate sensitivity could indeed be 5 °C or greater. Climate change and redlining. Climate change threatens U.S. mortgage market. Gulp.

* Facebook markets their Slack alternative by showing how it can suppress unionization.

* Profiles in Things That Almost Look Like Courage: Mad Dog Denounces Trump.

How Bill De Blasio Lost New York City.

* U.S. Border Patrol migrant camp from above.

* Turns out if you give people money then they aren’t as poor anymore.

Disney fans say Splash Mountain, a ride inspired by ‘Song of the South,’ should be re-themed. And Disney agrees!

* The end of the Forrest Fenn treasure hunt.

* The queerness of Bruce Springsteen.

* Rumors of Goonies 2.

* Who Framed Roger Rabbit: An Oral History. Street Fighter: The Movie — What Went Wrong. Queer Empire: On the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. How to Miss What Isn’t Gone: Thoughts on Modern Nostalgias While Watching “The Office.”

* Humanity against Cards against Humanity.

* Racism and the porn industry.

* How Deadpool Found His Way Into a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Mural.

D&D is trying to move away from racial stereotypes. America is going to recognize the common humanity of orc and drow before it does black people.

* Deeply unpleasant Lord of the Rings character combination chart.

* Never ask questions about Animal Crossing lore. Ever.

“What’s Actually Happening”: Looking for History in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.”

Comics Are for Everyone: Rethinking Histories of Comics Fandom.

Warren Ellis Accused of Grooming Young Women for Decades.

‘Watchmen’ Writer Cord Jefferson on Black Superheroes & The Tulsa Massacre. ‘Watchmen’ Writer on Trump in Tulsa, Bad Cops, and America’s White Supremacy Problem.

John Boyega is doing what Star Wars wouldn’t.

* How racist was Flannery O’Connor?

* The Long Battle Over ‘Gone With the Wind.’

* The arc of history is long, but NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag.

Berlin authorities placed children with pedophiles for 30 years.

* She Gets Calls And Texts Meant For Elon Musk. Some Are Pretty Weird.

There Is No Writer Quite Like Arundhati Roy.

I think during the discussions about The Last Jedi I pointed out that the Holdo Maneuver is such a radical reconsideration of how physics works in Star Wars that it will necessarily become a preoccupation of all future entries in the series, and, well: The Inciting Incident of Star Wars‘ High Republic Is a Horrifying Technological Disaster.

Boots Riley’s ‘Dark, Absurd’ Next Project Will Star Jharrel Jerome as a 13-Foot-Tall Man.

* How Coronavirus Will Change Board Games (7 Guesses).

*  I figured out the precise chronological order of all the MCU movies (so far) by scene.

* Forty years for me but still I’m putting up huge numbers.

* The Case against Mars.

Recreating the ‘Left Behind’ Books From Memory.

* fMRIs (still) don’t work.

* Hitler’s alligator escapes justice.

* What-Is-Genre Hedgehog sees his shadow, another six years of “What is genre?”

* US states but every state is named like West Virginia.

When UCB Tried To Pay Workers In Money They Could Only Spend At UCB.

* Civil War ends.

* Scientists say most likely number of contactable alien civilisations is 36. I can call the first six if someone else can take over the phone tree from there.

* My Little Pony Fans Are Ready to Admit They Have a Nazi Problem.”

* This is how you get Skynet.

* And 2020, man, I just don’t know.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 27, 2020 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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CoronaFRI!vus

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Why the Coronavirus Has Been So Successful. No other country has been this far into the pandemic and still had the number of cases growing at the rates the U.S. is seeing. Without Urgent Action, Coronavirus Could Overwhelm U.S., Estimates Say. I’m not saying we won’t get our hair mussed.

* David Harvey: Anti-Capitalist Politics in the Time of COVID-19. The Politics of the Pandemic. You and Your Boss Have the Same Interests Right Now. That Is a Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity. Sara Nelson Says People Are Ready for Solidarity. COVID-19 Emergency Tenant Protections. Homeless families occupy vacant homes in LA. Dealing With Coronavirus Requires Bold Action. The Democratic Leadership Won’t Take It.

* 9% of Working Americans (14 Million) So Far Have Been Laid Off As Result of Coronavirus; 1 in 4 Workers Have Had Their Hours Reduced; 2% Have Been Fired; 20% Have Postponed a Business Trip; Shock Waves Just Now Beginning to Ripple Through Once-Roaring US Economy. U.S. Jobless Claims Jump to Two-Year High Amid Closures. 2700% increase in unemployment claims in Ohio — midweek. [Calfornia] averages 2,000 unemployment applications a day. Two or three days ago, it received 40,000. On Tuesday, 80,000 applications were filed. JP Morgan is forecasting -14% RGDP growth in Q2. That’s so bad it isn’t even on the historical axis.

So, It’s Bad. Free, Widespread Testing Is The Only Way America Goes Back to Normal. This Is How We Can Beat the Coronavirus. Coronavirus will radically alter the U.S. US sales of guns and ammunition soar amid coronavirus panic buying. The Stimulus Plan That We Need Now.

* Curb Your Enthusiasm: “The Virus.”

* I’m reminded somehow of the way you end a SimCity game by unleashing every disaster on your city as once. The Midwest Is Preparing To Get Hit With Major Floods During The Coronavirus Outbreak. How the Coronavirus Crisis May Hinder Efforts to Fight Wildfires. Locust crisis poses a danger to millions, forecasters warn. Earthquake in Utah. A Huge Chunk of Yellowstone Is Pulsing.

* Weeks Before Virus Panic, Intelligence Chairman Privately Raised Alarm, Sold Stocks. Senator Dumped Up to $1.7 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness.

* Coronavirus Is Speeding Up the Amazonification of the Planet. Amazon Workers Shut Down Warehouse After Employee Is Infected With Coronavirus. The tech execs who don’t agree with ‘soul-stealing’ coronavirus safety measures.

Mitt Romney’s $1,000 Isn’t Our Universal Basic Income. Americans may see first round of checks from US government by April 6. I really should have known.

* Before Virus Outbreak, a Cascade of Warnings Went Unheeded. In Coronavirus Testing Ramp-Up, U.S. Called Private Sector in Late. How the CDC Botched Basic Science in Its Attempt to Make a Coronavirus Test. Don’t Let Trump Off the Hook.

* I had a lot of question about this, so perhaps it will be useful to you too: No, The World Health Organization Is Not Recommending Against Ibuprofen For Coronavirus Symptoms.

The world’s fastest supercomputer identified chemicals that could stop coronavirus from spreading, a crucial step toward a treatment. Japanese flu drug ‘clearly effective’ in treating coronavirus, says China. Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID‐19: results of an open‐label non‐randomized clinical trial.

“I’m Not An Epidemiologist But…”: The Rise Of The Coronavirus Influencers. This is certainly a problem but I became attuned to the reality of coronavirus precisely through these sorts of non-experts while Trump and the CDC were still lying to everyone. I haven’t seen anything better for learning true information about this crisis than Reddit’s upvote/downvote system.

* Today in the trolley problem. Today in the simulation argument. Today in career goals. Today in Star Trek Studies. Today in Watchmen fan fiction. Weird time.

* Rikers Island inmate has contracted coronavirus: officials. How coronavirus could explode at Riker’s Island. Reducing prison population protects us all from coronavirus.

You Need Me to Have a Mask. ‘It Feels Like a War Zone’: Doctors and Nurses Plead for Masks on Social Media. A New York Doctor’s Coronavirus Warning: The Sky Is Falling. Simple math offers alarming answers.

* Rural America Isn’t Ready for a Pandemic.

* This picture tells a story about America.

* As Cities Around the World Go on Lockdown, Victims of Domestic Violence Look for a Way Out.

* The COVID-19 Crisis and International Students. Colleges offering dorms as hospital overflow for virus cases. A Brief Letter to an Institution that Believes Extensions are the Accommodations We Need Right Now.

* ‘Panic-gogy’: Teaching Online Classes During The Coronavirus Pandemic. As Schools Look for Guidance, Educators Are Left Asking, ‘What?’ New Coronavirus Package Could Unravel Protections For Students With Disabilities. Is online school illegal? With schools closing from coronavirus, special education concerns give districts pause.

* Waaaaaay ahead of you.

GameStop claims it is ‘essential retail’ to remain open amid coronavirus shutdowns. It didn’t work.

Minnesota and Vermont Just Classified Grocery Clerks as Emergency Workers.

* There’s plenty of food.

* The Quiet Emptiness of a World under Coronavirus.

* The desire for public sex is, of course, nothing new. In his book Tell Me What You Want, sex researcher and Kinsey Institute fellow Justin Lehmiller found it was one of the seven most common fantasies, but the way people are having it in a coronavirus-ridden world definitely is. Now, instead of treating it as nothing more than a novel thrill to “spice things up,” some people are using it as an act of resistance against the virus-induced lockdowns that have squashed so many of the liberties we hold dear. Sex etiquette during the coronavirus.

* Kim Stanley Robinson releases a chapter from his latest novel, though weirdly it’s listed as “news.”

I spent four months pretending to live on Mars. Here’s what I learned about staying sane and passing time.

* I’m beginning to think you just can’t trust billionaires: When he joined the race last year, the billionaire said he would employ his campaign staff through the November election, even if he weren’t the nominee. But Bloomberg dropped out after a poor showing on Super Tuesday, and he has since fired staffers in multiple waves. His campaign had announced earlier in March that it would launch an independent expenditure group to take on Trump that would employ former campaign staffers in swing states.

The Sanders worldview wins even as Bernie loses.

* You know it’s bad when politicians are leaving elected office to join the priesthood.

* A false accusation nightmare in the Times.

* Moffat leaving Doctor Who seemed like a good exit ramp for me, so I haven’t seen any of the new episodes — but wow, this latest retcon looks like a mess, as well as a pretty clear “find some way to tie this off and wrap it up” directive from the BBC.

* Rethinking the Apocalypse: An Indigenous Anti-Futurist Manifesto.

* Octavia Butler gave us a few rules for predicting the future.

An “Extinction Event” for the Comic Shop or “Too Stupid to Quit, Too Dumb to Die”?

The Ending of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, Revisited.

* Star Wars in ruins: The Most Problematic ‘Rise Of Skywalker’ Plot Twist Ruined Disney’s ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy. Disney has embarrassed itself issuing Episode 9 retcons but it really ought to explain why it’s being so elliptical about this one issue for no apparent reason.

* And Star Wars resurgent: The Mandalorian Casts Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano.

* Because you demanded it: A new Disney Princess historical fiction series finds Belle in the French Revolution.

* And they were nearly almost done, too! I swear!

* Hey, it’s me, the first sign of civilization in a culture.

* Coming soon: The Collapsing Empire, Book 3. A Cixin Liu story collection. And some free coronavirus reading: Short Changes, a story collection by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Father’s Day Links!

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* Statement of teaching philosophy.

* CFP: Empirical Ecocriticism.

* But anyone with a modicum of utopian imagination should be asking, what are the opportunities secreted within this emerging network of control? When older forms of democratic possibility are being foreclosed or rendered obsolete, what new (and perhaps better) possibilities can be found? How can the emerging order, which has thus far depended so much on deliberately produced ignorance, and on keeping its political allegiances occulted, be politicised? Utopian thinking beyond Brexit.

In their different ways, Mayer, Haffner, and Jarausch show how habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness make terrible things possible. They call attention to the importance of individual actions of conscience both small and large, by people who never make it into the history books. Nearly two centuries ago, James Madison warned: “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks—no form of government can render us secure.” Haffner offered something like a corollary, which is that the ultimate safeguard against aspiring authoritarians, and wolves of all kinds, lies in individual conscience: in “decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large.” It Can Happen Here It Happened Here 18 Months Ago.

The Trump administration’s policy of separating families is designed to erase hope—with devastating consequences for thousands of children. Extinguishing the Beacon of America. Conservative Religious Leaders Are Denouncing Trump Immigration Policies. A Legal Resident, an Arrest by ICE and Father’s Day in Jail. In Father’s Day plea, wife of man held by ICE after delivering pizza asks for his release.

* Yeah, that’ll do it: The National Institutes of Health on Friday canceled a mammoth study of moderate drinking after determining that officials had irrevocably compromised the research by soliciting over $60 million from beer and liquor companies to underwrite the effort.

* I should have seen this coming, but it still shocked me: NASA’s Lunar Orbiter pics from 1967/8 were deliberately fuzzed and downsampled to hide US spying capabilities.

If You’re A Facebook User, You’re Also a Research Subject.

* Feminize Your Canon.

James Bridle’s essay on disturbing YouTube content aimed at children went viral last year. Has the problem gone away – or is it getting worse?

How does a Google-averse generation figure out how to deal with acne, fake friends, and boy trouble? On Instagram, of course.

* Well, sure: Americans Are Unprepared for a Nuclear Attack.

Trump’s EPA Greenlighted a Pesticide That Harms Kids’ Brains. Hawaii Just Said, “Hell No.”

* High tech lock is “invincible to people who do not have a screwdriver.”

* Adventure House: the sequel to the Haunted Mansion that never was.

* And Wired Has Your Secret History of the Racy Module That Almost Ruined D&D.

Saturday Morning Links!

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* Great piece at n+1 on the late Daniel Quinn. I think this persuaded me to teach Ishmael this fall; I’ve been thinking about doing it for years and the time seems right. I really loved the book when I was 18, and think about it a lot even now.

* Kim Stanley Robinson at the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology: Science Fiction Is the Realism of our Time.

* And a bonus podcast: my friend Isiah Lavender on Minister Faust’s podcast, talking about the pan-African response to Black Panther. (Isiah’s actually in the extended edition, available for free on Faust’s Patreon.)

* Wauconda forever.

The science fiction of this century is one in which great existential threats are known: they are real, and terrible. Something is terribly wrong. Will we listen?

* A decade ago, The Wire series finale aired. The show was a Marxist’s idea of what TV drama should be.

Sweet Jesus, Will the NYT’s Conservatives Ever Write About Anything but the “Intolerant Left” Ever Again?

* Artificial intelligence has a hallucination problem.

* Turns out they already made a Sopranos prequel.

It’s Time to Abolish ICE.

There Is No Case for the Humanities.

There Is No Campus Free Speech Crisis: An Unreasonably Long Thread.

* “‘Schools will stay closed until we get what we are asking for,’ Oklahoma teachers union president says.” And next: Arizona?

* “Foreigners could ease Japan’s labor shortage, but Tokyo prefers robots.”

Deputy sheriff jails ex-wife after she complained on Facebook about him. This should be an automatic firing, followed by prosecution.

Trump’s Latest Pardon Shows The Best Way To Get One: Go On Fox News.

*  How do 11 people go to jail for one murder?

* Buckle up.

New evidence the Stormy Daniels payment may have violated election law.

* Rules for Reading Jordan Peterson.

* Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

In conclusion, Area X is a land of many contrasts.

Christmas Eve Eve Links Links

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* There’s a lovely review of my Butler book by Nisi Shawl in the new Women’s Review of Books. It’s not available online so you’ll have to take my word for it, unless your library subscribes…

* And I’m so happy to report that Extrapolation 58.2-3 is finally out, the special issue on “Guilty Pleasures: Late Capitalism and Mere Genre” I edited with Benjamin Robertson. Check out the intro to see what it’s all about, and then check out articles on Dragonlance, the Star Wars and Star Trek expanded universes, Sweet Valley High, Blondie, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones and fantasy roleplaying games…

CFP: Academic Track at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, San José, California. CFP: Punking Speculative Fiction. CFP: Histories of the Future: Proto-Science Fiction from the Victorian Era to the Radium Age. CFP: Chapter Proposals for “Ecofeminist Science Fiction.” CFP: Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

An Incomplete Timeline of What We Tried.

* I thought this was great.

* Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism. Ladies and gentlemen, the great Ted Chiang.

Science fiction when the future is now. With appearances from Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken Liu, and Lauren Beukes.

* The best anti-Last-Jedi piece I’ve seen is Alyssa Rosenberg’s at the Washington Post. And the best pro-Last-Jedi piece from Dan Hassler-Forest at LARB. Somewhere in the middle is Abigail Nussbuam’s excellent piece at Asking the Wrong Questions.

* Lightsabers, by the numbers. Secret history of the porgs. Star Wars from below. Thank goodness somebody realized how terrible this would be. The Last Jedi and the necessary disappointment of epilogues. The films that inspired The Last Jedi. Behind the scenes. In defense of Canto Blight. Anti-nostalgia and anti-salvation. Star Wars without the Empire. How to Read Star Wars.

* Winter Is Coming: Climate Change in Westeros.

* How the Sesame Street Puppeteers Play Their Characters. It was only a year or three ago that I realized that on a basic level I’d still believed Big Bird was real; I had never thought or processed the fact that his lips were being moved by a puppeteer’s hands.

* So old I can remember when Sweet Briar was an inspiring story about a college being saved.

* On faculty and mental illness.

Study finds humanities and social science Ph.D.s working outside academe are happier than their tenure-track peers.

* Podcast alert: how does Samuel R. Delany work?

* Bang. Pow. To the Moon.

* Comedy writers name their most influential episodes: 1, 2.

* SHOCK REPORT: The tax bill is bad.

This Congress’s clear priorities: corporations, not children.

* It’ll also tax large endowments. Meanwhile in the academy: We Will Not Be Your Disposable Labor: Graduate Student Workers’ Fight Goes Beyond the GOP Assault. ‘A Complete Culture of Sexualization’: 1,600 Stories of Harassment in Higher Ed.

* Defund every agency that had any part in this. Murder Convictions Overturned, Two Men Are Immediately Seized By ICE. What happens to children whose parents are deported? 92 Somali immigrants deported in “slave-ship” conditions. ICE is abusing immigrant detainees with strip searches and threats. Shock of shocks, it turns out legal immigration is bad too.

The majority of US workers live in “employment monopsonies” where there is little or no competition for workers.

Why Doug Jones’s narrow win is not enough to make me confident about American democracy.

* Ghosts of 2012.

* First #J20 defendants found not guilty.

* The media wealth of African Americans in Boston is $8.

* People are using Uber instead of ambulances.

* The New York Times oddly reports on a Harry Reid boondoggle in a way that makes it sounds like aliens might be real.

* The Fred Moten century.

The Adult Bodies Playing Teens on TV.

* Monopolies are bad, no matter how much you like the brands involved. Avengers vs. monopoly.

“Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideas.

* The madness of prison gerrymanders.

* Desegregation never happened.

* Climate refugees in Louisiana. Disability and disaster response in the age of climate change. Losing the wilderness.

* The FoxConn boondoggle gets worse and worse.

* The Next Crisis for Puerto Rico: Foreclosures.

* Revising agricultural revisionism.

* Against optimism.

* Against being born.

* On the sadcom.

Your Favorite Superhero Is Probably Killing the Planet.

* Professor X Is a Jerk!

* The Daily Stormer’s style guide.

* Opoids and homelessness. 3,000,000 pills to 3,000 patients in two years. The Opioid Crisis Is Getting Worse, Particularly for Black Americans. What happens after an American city gives a homeless person a one-way ticket out of town.

* The US gymnastics scandal somehow gets worse and worse.

‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread.’

* The Forgotten Life of Einstein’s First Wife.

* The Ghost Economy.

* WHAT YEAR IS IT: How to prepare for a nuclear attack.

Lumberjanes’ Noelle Stevenson is Rebooting She-Ra for Netflix. Sir Ian McKellen Would Totally Play Gandalf In Amazon’s TV Tolkien Adaptations. The Next Bechdel Test.

* “Paradox,” by Naomi Kritzer.

* The Journal of Prince Studies.

* 80% of workers think managers are unnecessary. The other 20% mistakingly think they are managers.

* It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the one our Founders built: The Donald Trump droid is live at Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’ How a President’s Name Became a Racial Jeer. 55 Ways Donald Trump Structurally Changed America in 2017. Fascism has already come to America. Life expectancy declines for the second straight year. On brand.

* Heartbreaking interview with Heather Heyer’s mother.

* Jordan Peele, auteur.

* Dilbert: A Reckoning.

Still, it does make you ponder all the ways this industry works in service of power, and by extension those who abuse it. So many of comedy’s institutions are, at their core, PR machines. Branded content is Funny Or Die’s bread and butter. Every week SNL promotes someone’s new movie or TV show or album. Late night talk shows, with few exceptions, use jokes to bookend celebrity press tours. Comedians host awards shows because otherwise we might see them for the rituals they are—the wealthy and famous celebrating their own wealth and fame. Comedy normalizes power; it’s so successful at normalizing power that it feels weird to even write that as a criticism. Well, what’s wrong with normalizing power? Lots of things, but to start it lets monsters play the straight man in comedy sketches. It makes them relatable, which makes them less threatening. But power is always a threat, even more so when it seems innocuous, even more so when it seems… funny.

* 2018 is already terrible: there’ll be no more Zelda DLC.

* And remembering the reason for the season: Behold the official policy for destroying the head of Chuck E Cheese.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 23, 2017 at 10:06 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Friday Morning Links!

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* ICYMI! SFFTV CFP: “When the Astronaut is a Woman: Beyond the Frontier in Film and Television.” At the link there’s also details for SFFTV’s year-round reading period.

* Climate Scientists Warn That All Super Mario Levels Will Be Underwater by 2025.

* On academic mobbing.

* Okay, but it’s only barely half.

Duke University’s non-tenured faculty have reached a tentative agreement in their first union contract, which includes higher pay and longer-term teaching appointments.

* Yours, Mine, but Not Ours: Why the politics of national security means that we’re all living in failed Hobbesian states.

* Ethnic cleansing remains the one arena of policy where this White House can focus. Emboldened by Trump, U.S. Border Officials Are Lying to Asylum Seekers and Turning Them Away.

Judge Derrick Watson is soft on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Threatens Stranger in Emails: ‘Watch Your Back , Bitch.’

* I sincerely hope the lawsuits associated with this pronouncement bankrupt Anthem.

* Game of Thrones fan fiction getting serious now.

At the end of the second Obama administration, there seemed to be more time and world in which to noodle around with those questions than there is today. In this new age of anxiety and emergency, existential threats seem very close indeed. Our own game of thrones has taken a terrifying turn. Winter is other people.

It is ridiculous how beyond debate the collusion case has become and how little it matters anyway.

* It’s going to pass.

* Why Are We So Unwilling to Take Sylvia Plath at Her Word?

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (dir. John Hughes, 2017). This will definitely hold up in court. I hope this is still legally binding. At this point I’d at least hear them out. When you stare too long into the abyss. From A to Z.

“I set a goal to only eat meat that I killed and helped butcher myself” is the most Hannibal Lecterish thing this guy has ever said. So far.

* The war on drugs goes speculative.

* Income Inequality Will Survive the Nuclear Apocalypse.

And Here’s Your First Look at an Insanely Detailed Model of Disney’s Star Wars Land.

Please Enjoy Weekend Links!

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* Get your abstracts in! CFP: Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling. And a CFP for a special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies on “The Intersections of Disability and Science Fiction.”

* The schedule of classes for Marquette English is up at Spring 2017. I’ll be on research leave, if you’re wondering why I’m not listed…

* Best Tumblr in forever: Sad Chairs of Academia.

* How to Live Less Anxiously in Academe.

How Skin-Deep Judgments of Professors Might Influence Student Success.

“There are many things I do not know because I photocopied a text and then relaxed as if I had read it.”

* The extent to which Trump is floating absolute gibberish cannot be undersold. Even Costanza is superseded in his time. Once more with feeling: On Bullshit.

america-is-already-great-3-8ad19eWhat did Trump lie about at the debate, mondo-hugeo chart edition. Donald Trump’s first presidential debate confirmed he has no idea what he’s talking about. Prince Georging, Meflection, and Gobbing: A brief guide to Trump’s rhetorical tricks. A Trump Glossary. You’ll get ’em next time, buddy. What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump. This May Be The Most Horrible Thing That Donald Trump Believes. When Trump said that not paying taxes ‘makes me smart,’ undecided voters in N.C. gasped. How Donald Trump Set Off a Civil War Within the Right-Wing Media. How to bait Donald Trump. Gray’s. Sports. Almanac. How to evade your taxes the Trump way. More. Even more! Trump Foundation lacks the certification required for charities that solicit money. Cuba! I sold Trump $100,000 worth of pianos. Then he stiffed me. Donald Trump and the truth about race and real estate in America. America is already great. There’s still heroes in the world. And then there’s what happened just this morning.

 

 

* The most American-democracy thing that’s ever happened: But Republicans said the White House didn’t make a forceful case, putting themselves in the awkward position of blaming the president for a bill they enacted into law over Obama’s veto.

Beyond Clinton or Trump: Nuclear Weapons and Democracy.

Wisconsin Is Systematically Failing to Provide the Photo IDs Required to Vote in November. What a shocking and unexpected consequence of these well-intentioned, commonsense laws.

Note: The original headline for this piece was “George W. Bush is Not Your Cuddly Grandpa. George W. Bush can rot in hell.”

Five questions we need to answer before colonizing Mars. Elon Musk’s spectacular plan to colonise Mars lacks substance. Fun and exciting, not boring and cramped! Is Elon Musk’s Crazy Mars Plan Even Legal?

* What could possibly go wrong? UVM Medical College to Eliminate Lectures.

No Punishment for ‘Run Them Down’ Tweet.

Baltimore vs. Marilyn Mosby.

Why New Jersey’s Trains Aren’t Safer.

* Nicholson Baker goes to school. Reader, I bought it.

* In Praise of Bob Ross.

* Has Pope Francis Failed?

* Another review of Alice Kaplan’s book on The Stranger.

* “Liberalism is working”: Teen accused of stealing 65-cent carton of milk at middle school to face trial.

Measles are gone from the Americas.

Silicon Valley’s rhetoric of magical innovation relies on a hidden abode of rare earth mining and hydro-cooled server farms.

* On Premier League Fantasy Football.

How ‘Daycare’ Became ‘School.’

* The 25 Best Superpowers in the Superpowers Wiki.

*Wonder Woman Writer Greg Rucka Says Diana Has ‘Obviously’ Had Relationships With Women. She was on an island of only women for millennia! So yeah.

* One effect of superhero culture: a proliferation of fan events where Marvel movie heroes and ‘Walking Dead’ stars walk away with six figures (more than most get paid for their real jobs) for a weekend’s work.

The world passes 400ppm carbon dioxide threshold. Permanently.

And yet, looking back at The Jetsons intro sequence today, I wonder where the icecaps are in that little illustration of earth. Is some land missing from Central America? Has the North gained land mass? Such questions become more troubling in the context of current concerns about global warming and, once asked, open the floodgates for similar observations. In the intro sequence, flying cars convey the Jetsons and other families from their floating bungalow to other floating buildings like The Little Dipper School, Orbit High School, Shopping Centre, and Spacely Space Rockets Inc. What was once a cute innovation—why not live in floating cities?—becomes troubled by its energy costs and its purpose. Why do the Jetsons and other families live in orbit? What has happened below to force them into the skies?

* Today in on-the-nose metaphors: NASA Is Sinking Into the Ocean.

Every society gets the post-apocalypse it deserves.

* Big as horror movie.

There were no casualties in the landslide which occurred earlier this month, but the facility’s new rock climbing facility was completely wiped out. Yes, I suppose they would be.

Codex Silenda, A Handcrafted Puzzle Book With Pages That Must Be Solved to Unlock the Next One.

* The ADA at Disney.

* Cheating in school as communism.

* Today in neoliberal consumerism: Want to Make Ethical Purchases? Stop Buying Illegal Drugs.

* The Dark, Gritty Tick goes to series. Spoon! But like a dirty, chipped spoon, a spoon that really reflects the darkness of our society and our souls.

Emulator lets you turn NES games 3D.

U.S. owes black people reparations for a history of ‘racial terrorism,’ says U.N. panel.

Striking Prisoners Say Their Guards Have Joined In.

* The Longreads Reading List on Utopias.

* Die a hero, or… Has Whedon Changed, Or Have We Done Changed?

It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave. I wonder how many are actually caring for or financially supporting un-, under-, and unable-to-be-employed parents and siblings.

Let’s Stop Talking About Stranger Things Season Two Before We Ruin It. Friends, I have some terrible news.

* Leave the hot moms alone.

* There’s bad luck, and then there’s: Man Bitten On Penis By Spider For The Second Time This Year.

* Today in terrible ideas I could not denounce more strongly: Is it time for Star Trek: The Next Generation to go Kelvin?

* And at least the kids get it.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 29, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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From the Archives! Interview with Cory Doctorow on Disney, SF, Violence, Meritocracy, Goodhart’s Law, Fandom, and Utopia

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Several years ago I taught Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom for a Writing 20 class at Duke called “Writing the Future,” which resulted in a lenthy interview between my students and Doctorow. For many years the interview was archived at the course site at duke.edu, but it looks like it’s been pulled down; even the Wayback Machine has been thwarted. Since I’m fond of the interview, and frequently return to some of the things he says in it, I’m reposting it here. Enjoy!

The interview took place in Spring 2010.

“Trying to Predict the Present”: An Interview with Cory Doctorow

W20: What did this novel mean to you when you first wrote it, and how has the meaning changed in the nine years since? How might the novel be different if you wrote it today?

CD: That’s a really tough question to answer—not specifically because of the change in circumstances, but because of the change in the writer over time. The more time you spend writing, the more different your approach to the work is. That was the first novel I ever finished—it’s fundamentally different to write a book when you know you can finish a book than to write a book when you don’t know if you can a finish a book—and I actually think those differences would swamp any differences that arose from circumstances or politics or new wisdom or whatever. Just the idea of writing a book, when you know you can write a book, completely overpowers any of the other changes.

I don’t know if that makes sense. It probably doesn’t answer your question very well.

One of the things I realized in the course of writing the book, and that I think a lot of people miss when they read the book, is that Whuffie has one of the fundamental problems that accrues to money or property, which is that the more you have the easier it is to get more. That’s a pretty a pretty enormous gap in the Utopian character of Whuffie. A properly Utopian system is one in which you have something that’s a lot like merit, not like circumstance—where people are rewarded based on how great they are, not based how great they used to be. And I think Whuffie is primarily one of those systems that rewards you for having gotten lucky or doing something good some time ago, and then continues to reward you for that forever at the expense of other people.

I think Whuffie would follow a power-law distribution, just like in-bound links to blogs, for exactly the same reason.

W20: We talked a little bit about this, and it leads to the second question, whether or not large corporations are starting to create a system that’s sort of like Whuffie, but at the same time proprietary. We were thinking of Google, YouTube, Facebook especially, but even something like LinkedIn—isn’t this something like Whuffie that’s starting to materialize? Blog linkage would be the same sort of thing, facing the same sorts of problems you’ve just been talking about.

CD: I based Whuffie at the time more on Slashdot’s Karma, and I don’t know that Faceook has an exact analogue to it. I guess Facebook has this thing where you can see who has the most inbound links, who has the most friends, and you can “digg” up yourself by getting more of those.

I think that in general we have a pathological response to anything we measure. We tend not to measure the thing we care about; we tend to measure something that indicates its presence. It’s often very hard to measure the thing that you’re hoping for. You don’t actually care about how calories you eat; you care about how much weight you’re going to gain from the calories you eat. But as soon as we go, oh, well, calories are a pretty good proxy for weight gain, we start to come up with these foods that are incredibly unhealthy but nevertheless have very few calories in them. In the same way, Google doesn’t really care about inbound links because inbound links are good per se; Google cares about inbound links because inbound links are a good proxy for “someone likes this page; someone thinks this page is a useful place to be, is a good place to be.” But as soon as Google starts counting that, people start finding ways to make links that don’t actually serve as a proxy for that conclusion at all.

GDP is another good example. We don’t care about GDP because GDP itself is good; we care about GDP because the basket of indicators that we measure with GDP are a proxy for the overall health of the society—except as soon as you start measuring GDP, people figure out how to make the GDP go up by doing things like trading derivatives of derivates of subprime subderivates of derivatives, but which actually does the reverse of what we care about by undermining the quality of life and the stability of society.

So I think that one of the biggest problems that Google has, taking Google as probably the best example of someone trying to build a reputation currency, is that as soon as Google gives you any insight into how they are building their reputation system it ceases to be very good as a reputation system. As soon as Google stops measuring something you created by accident and starts measuring something you created on purpose, it stops being something that they want to measure. And this is joined by the twin problem that what Google fundamentally has is a security problem; they have hackers who are trying to undermine the integrity of the system. And the natural response to a problem that arises when attackers know how your system works is to try to keep the details of your system secret—but keeping the details of Google’s system secret is also not very good because it means that we don’t have any reason to trust it. All we know when we search Google is that we get a result that seems like a good result; but we don’t know that there isn’t a much better result that Google has either deliberately or accidentally excluded from its listings for reasons that are attributable to either malice or incompetence. So they’re really trapped between a rock and a hard place: if they publish how their system works, people will game their system; if they don’t publish how their system works it becomes less useful and trustworthy and good. It suffers from the problem of alchemy; if alchemists don’t tell people what they learned, then every alchemist needs to discover for themselves that drinking mercury is a bad idea, and alchemy stagnates. When you start to publishing, you get science—but Google can’t publish or they’ll also get more attacks.

So it’s a really thorny, thorny problem, and I elide that problem with Whuffie by imagining a completely undescribed science fictional system that can disambiguate every object in the universe so when you look at something and have a response to it the system knows that the response is being driven by the color of the car but not by the car, or the shirt but not the person wearing it, or the person wearing it and not the shirt, and also know how you feel about it. So it can know what you’re feeling and what you’re feeling it about. And I don’t actually think we have a computer that could that; I don’t think we have Supreme Court judges or Ph.D. philosophers that can do that.

W20: That’s sort of a fantastic self-criticism, actually—you’re exposing what’s so great about Whuffie and what’s so impossible about it all at once.

CD: Sure, and that’s why I think Whuffie feeds the fantasy of a meritocratic society. There’s something particularly self-serving about people who are doing very well imagining that society is meritocratic: it means that the reason you are doing so well is because you have merit, not because you were lucky or because you screwed someone else. So I’m always suspicious of people who are doing extremely well telling you how meritocratic society their society is. I’m also somewhat suspicious of people doing very poorly who tell you how meritocratic society is, because I think that’s often aspirational: they’ve basically bought the story that if only they work hard and are good and pure of heart they’ll catch up to the people who have been rich for a hundred generations. So I think the idea of meritocracy is a really tricky one because the embrace of meritocracy is seductive for reasons that transcend logic.

W20: I don’t know if I’ll include this in the interview, to shame my students or not, but this is something that comes up a lot in Duke classes. Duke students believe very much in meritocracy because they’re the winners of the system.

CD: Yeah, sure. I think we have a problem in that we end up with this tautological definition of merit in a meritocracy. How do we know what’s meritorious? It’s the thing that’s on top. You have this very Milton Friedman way of measuring accomplishment: you come up with some self-serving thing that makes you better, and declare whatever outcome you have as the best possible one. And I think that’s pretty nakedly not a great way of apportioning social resources or measuring the quality of life.

W20: Let me switch gears to the next question, which is kind of a shadow version of the last one. We talked a little bit about smartphones, and about closely they seem to match the things you describe in the book as the start of the Bitchun society, these little handheld devices. So on the one hand we have the question of whether or not it can still be Bitchun if it’s run by corporations, if they’re provided not by these collectives but by Apple. And then, as a secondary question, to what extent was this novel your personal prediction for society’s future, and what did you not predict that you wish you had?

I’ve never really done anything predictive in my life. I always say that I try to predict the present. Which is to say that you take those elements that seem futuristic that are kind of floating around in the present, but because they’ve snuck up on us so gradually, because we were boiled frog-style so gently in them that we end up not even noticing that they’re there.

My friend Jim Griffin always says that anything invented before you’re 20 was there forever; anything invented before you’re 30 is the coolest thing ever; and anything invented after that should be illegal. And I think one great way that a science fiction writer can help overcome that, or call attention to that, is to have a look at what’s around you and the stuff that feels futuristic and just write about it as if it hadn’t been invented yet, as if it were something you were making up for a science fiction story. And so everyone goes, “Wow, look at that, it’s this incredibly futuristic thing that we have right here about to happen”—and then they look around again and say “Oh my god, it’s happened!”, even though it was there before you started.

So I guess the best example of this was a presentation I once heard someone give on gold-farming at a games conference about five years ago. And then I wrote a short story “predicting” there would be gold-farming in the future. And people who discovered the story first and then read the article, or read more articles as the phenomenon increased—there’s now 400,000 people who earn their living goldfarming—assume that I predicted it. And really what I’d done is written about something in the present as though it were being invented in the future.

I didn’t answer the part about whether smart phones can be Bitchun. And no, I don’t think so—I think the problem with smartphones is not necessarily that they’re run by corporations but the specific corporations that run them. Phone companies are basically a regulatory monopoly wrapped around a soft chewy core of greed and venality. The phone companies have always disguised a complete aversion to change, progress, and democracy by wrapping it up in high-minded talk about how they’re guardians our natural infrastructure. There’s a famous case called Hush-a-Phone in which finally customers won the right to attach a Privacy Cone—like the cone you put around your dog’s head when it has stitches—to the receiver of your phone. Because up until then Bell argued that connecting anything to a phone endangered the network, including, you know, putting stickers on it. And you see this today. Why can’t you get an open phone that you could run any software on? Oh, you could crash the network.

So I think the specifically the fact that cells are run by phone companies and then also run by control-freak companies like Apple that have decided that you shouldn’t be allowed to decide what software you want to run. And Apple has made this unholy alliance with the music industry, who are also great believers that you shouldn’t be able to inspect the workings of your device, and that you shouldn’t be able to use protocols anonymously, and so on. That unholy trinity of the entertainment industry, Apple, and the phone companies means you’ll never get anything remotely great out of mobile phones until someone breaks the deadlock.

W20: What about that last part, what did you not predict that you wish you had? I guess this doesn’t make sense as a question because you don’t predict anything.

You know, in terms of staying power, there are a few things that I predicted would still be in Disney World that have just shut down. The Adventurer’s Club, which I still think is the best Disney has ever done, is now shut. But I guess I could say that in my future they’re reopened it; I could fix that by adding a sentence that says, “The first thing they did was reopen the Adventurer’s Club,” and we’d be back in business.

W20: We were surprised to check your archives and find out that you’d liked the Johnny Deppification of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Given your character we thought you might have wanted it to stay the same.

I really like that. In fact we rode it last week, as we’re stuck in L.A. The new Lincoln Bot is good too; The new Lincoln Bot is awesome, actually: he’s lip-synching, he’s gesturing. The last Lincoln Bot, he was really, um—what they did is go back and research all of his historical gestures, and they put every single into his 90-second speech. They’d made it look like he had Tourette’s.

W20: I’m going to skip a question because we’re now talking about Disney World. They were really interested in why it was you set the novel in Disney World, how it fed into the plot or the themes of the novel. They were wondering if Disney World came first, or did it fit into the idea you had for the story line?

CD: No, it was definitely that Disney came first. I’d always wanted to write a book about Disney World. It’s always inspired me, going to Disney World. I find it inspiring as a piece of art and a piece of social engineering. And inspiring not in the entirely good sense, but inspiring in the sense that every time I go there I have a bunch of thoughts. It really gets both my creative and critical juices flowing, to go to Disney World. I’m not the only one; if you read Baudrillard, he spent all this time there too.

It definitely started with Disney, and to be totally frank one of the cool things about writing a book set in Disney World is that it makes your Disney trips tax-deductible. Which is sort of an interesting, science fictiony thing: anything you choose to write a book about becomes tax-deductible. There’s a reason why Iain Banks took a year off from writing thrillers to write a book about whiskey; his whiskey became tax deductible for a year!

Disney has always had a love-hate relationship, or at least an ambivalent relationship, with audience participation. And with remix, obviously, which is ironic given all the ways Disney has borrowed from the culture before it to make new and I think very good cultural artifacts, by and large.

The Mickey Mouse Club, in the early days, actually met and made their Mickey stuff, and did their own Mickey activities. There’s always been this aspect of, you know, take Mickey and make him part of your world—make your Disney memories classic memories of your life that stick with you forever. All that stuff has always been part of Disney’s DNA. At the same time they’re very proprietary: that shalt not copy, we own all rights in all media now known and yet to be invented throughout the universe, and so own. There’s also some of that.

But when you go to Disney World, what you find is that Disney’s implicit and sometimes explicit social contract with its visitors is that you are a resident of Disney World while you’re here. This is your place too. I once did one of the Disney management courses at the Disney Institute, and one of the things they said is that after a couple of days in Disney World people who are staying there start picking up trash when they see it.

So they want to form a social contract with says that you and we are in this together—which I think is one of the reasons Disney doesn’t go after people who put entire ride-throughs of their rides on YouTube, or why by and large they don’t stop you from taking photos even of the photo ops where they sell you the photo. There’s never a time when they tell you to put away your camera because you’re “on stage”; you can always have your camera out, you can always be shooting. And that’s because it’s your place too; you’re supposed to be making memories and taking them home because that’s where they’re getting their value from.

And yet they’re not completely into this; there’s a place at which the social contract breaks down and becomes a commercial relationship again. And I think it’s pretty natural that fans of Disney World, who’ve been told for generations to form a social contract with Disney where they treat it as their own place, and also become not just guests but custodians of it, start to act like custodians of it.

There’s a great book by Greg Egan called Quarantine—it’s his first novel. In it, there’s a conspiracy of kind of bad guys, and one of the things they do to anyone who is on their trail is put a chip in their brain that makes them absolutely loyal to the conspiracy: they can’t betray the conspiracy, they’re neurologically incapable of betraying the conspiracy. And the way that they get out of it is really clever: what they do is have this mental game in which they say, “Only people who have this chip can be truly loyal to the conspiracy. Therefore the people who put the chips in our head aren’t members of the true conspiracy. They’re members of a false conspiracy because they can choose to betray the conspiracy and we can’t. Therefore it is our duty as members of the true conspiracy to betray the people who put the chip in our heads that make us loyal to them.”

I always thought that was a really interesting little bit here, to say: Who are you to say that you’re the true keeper of the flame? Maybe I’m the true keeper of the flame. You’re just a corporation who’s in it to make as much money as you can from these assets. And maybe that converges sometimes with being the best custodian, and maybe sometimes it doesn’t; maybe sometimes you’ll go off and chase the quarterly profits at the expense of long-term value. Meanwhile, I have no commercial interest in it – therefore I’m a better custodian than you, I should have more say in it that you do. And I think that relationship beats in the heart of big Disney fans, the people you see who know the park like the back of their hand.

W20: So then my follow-up question about whether Disney is a utopia or an anti-utopia has again already been answered in the sense that it’s both, right—that it has these utopian qualities and then these other kinds of countervailing qualities that push against it.

CD: Yeah, that’s right.

W20: So, then, two more questions. The first one—we’ve had a lot of talk about ecology and the environment in our course, and we got a little hung up on what you meant by Free Energy, whether this was something you were imagining seriously as a post-scarcity economics or if it was just something that was some magical thing.

CD: This is Free Energy in the kind of crank sense—zero point energy, cold fusion, perpetual motion machines. The perpetual motion machine has been a feature of Utopianism since Newton I guess. It’s science fiction shorthand, I think, for all of the above—an entropy reversing ray, another universe from which you can siphon off energy, whatever it is. You know, theoretically, fusion, if we ever get, fusion becomes more or less free energy. Not even cold fusion; moderate temperature fusion is more or less free energy forever, because it turns water into electricity.

W20: I think the feeling of the students who asked this question really had to do whether or not this was kind of like the short-circuiting you were talking about with regard to Whuffie; that you kind of skip over the post-scarcity engine that makes this thing work, and that without something like Free Energy (which may or may not actually be possible, probably not) we could never actually get to the Bitchun society because we’d constantly be falling back in to the scarcity wars, constantly falling back into exploitation.

CD: I don’t know that scarcity is necessarily what drives exploitation. I think abundance can drive exploitation too. The record industry certainly responded to a death of scarcity in its core product as a social evil. I don’t know that abundance is necessarily the necessary precondition.

But this is more like the physicist who sits down at the start of the Gedankenexperiment: let us assume a perfectly spherical cow of uniform density. Every Gedankenexperiment necessarily elides certain details, because that’s not what the experiment is about. The thought experiment is not about

how we would get infinite energy, the thought experiment is about what we would do if scarcity vanished. There’s a different thought experiment about how we could get infinite energy; Damon Knight wrote a book called A for Anything that’s very good about that. A very cynical book, I think, but very good. And so there’s a lot of different variations on that theme.

W20. Last question and then I’ll let you go. Thanks for doing this. This was about whether you want to live in the Bitchun Society personally: Would you deadhead, erase memories, flashbake, use backups? What wouldn’t you do? Basically the question is: is the Bitchun Society Cory Doctorow’s Utopia?

CD: I would definitely backup; I would probably flashbake; I don’t think I would deadhead though it’s hard to say what you’d do after 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 years. Nobody really knows the answer to that question. And I think that by and large the Bitchun Society would be better than the one we have now; I don’t know that it’s Utopia. But one of the advantages of the Bitchun Society as opposed to other Utopias is that it doesn’t require a tabula rasa as an interim step.

I think Utopianism has genocide lurking in its bowels; I think a lot of Utopians are saying, “First we eradicate all the systems that are present. We settle all the grievances, we wipe the slate clean, we level the earth, we pave everything, and then we start from go.” The Bitchun Society doesn’t require that at all; it does have a lot of social upheaval in it, but it doesn’t begin “First what we do is kill anyone who has a beef with anyone else in the Middle East, and then we settle up with whoever is left.” That’s a bad solution.

All the Friday Night Links!

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* We are ruled by fools: The amount of airtime granted to climate change on both the Sunday shows and the nightly news was up, too — to a total of 27 minutes, and an hour and 42 minutes, respectively, for the entire year.

* So long and thanks for all the fish: Freedom Industries has declared bankruptcy.

“Why Is The Rest Of The Country Fixated On A New Jersey Traffic Jam And We Have No Clean Water?”

Fracking Chemicals In North Carolina Will Remain Secret, Industry-Funded Commission Rules.

Judge Rules Detroit Is Trying To Give Banks ‘Too Much Money.’

Remember that most of the “steps” any insurance company or pharmacy makes you go through are pretty much nothing but hoops, in the purest sense of the word. These are obstacles being placed in your path in hopes that you will become discouraged and give up—and they won’t have to pay for your medication or treatment. Show them that you are not going away.

* The headline reads, “Six Years After Chemical Ban, Fewer Female Snails Are Growing Penises.”

* TFA isn’t working.

Every Scary, Weird Thing We Know the NSA Can Do.

The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History.

Total Disaster as Springsteen Tries to Sell Recordings of Live Shows.

* The rule of law still has a few bugs in it.

* Star Wars retcons we can get behind.

* Someone stop J.J. Abrams before he kills again.

* BREAKING MUST CREDIT CANAVAN’S RAZOR: The point of the STEM push is to lower STEM wages, not help people get jobs that don’t exist.

* BREAKING: Comedians are psychopaths psychotics. See comments.

* Johnson’s No More Formaldehyde Baby Shampoo.

Even half of Utah supports marriage equality.

* Turns out California wrote their don’t-use-Google-Glass-while-driving law in a way that’s seemingly impossible to enforce.

The Myth Of The Absent Black Father.

UNC Stops Professor Mary Willingham From Researching Athletes’ Low Reading Levels.

* Rob Nixon is giving a talk at UWM’s Century for 21st Century Studies next Friday.

* Wisconsin may eliminate ban on 7-day work weeks. Workers will be allowed to “volunteer” for extra work.

This medieval manuscript curses the cat who peed on it.

* This transphobic publication hounded a woman to suicide. You’ll never guess what happened next.

Pope Benedict Defrocked 400 Priests For Molesting Kids.

We Would Have Eliminated Poverty Entirely by Now if Inequality Hadn’t Skyrocketed.

They almost put Disney World in Saint Louis.

* And Lex Luthor: Hero!

And a Few More Weekend Links

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* Someone has adapted China Miéville’s The City and the City for the stage in Chicago. Sold.

* Republicans legislating what answers should get full credit on homework in Oklahoma.

Last year’s program copped to the death of Hollywood cinema-as-art. All that was left was looking backward over a once-hallowed institution and weeping over the corpse. This year, though, the tears have dried. What we see instead is a clear vision of the utility of cinema. The 85th Academy Awards, like no show before it, will elevate films that are openly ideological, weaponized tools of the state.

Evil Middle School Teachers Prank Students with Fake Disney World Field Trip.

* And your headline of the decade: U.S. Government Plans To Air Drop Toxic Mice To Fight Snake Invasion.

MLK Day Links

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tumblr_mgtgpfnLyP1qap9gno1_50017 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes You Never Hear. The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV. Beyond Vietnam, 1967. And of course “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

* Jacobin gets profiled in the New York Times—and because the magazine was founded by a man, it gets to be in “Books,” not “Style”!

* Graduate school from admissions to job applications, from Karen “The Professor is In” Kelsky: Graduate School Is a Means to a Job.

* Inequality in American Education Will Not Be Solved Online.

To summarize: the answer to underfunded, lower effectiveness primary and secondary education requires subsidizing a private, VC-funded bet made on a roulette wheel fashioned from the already precarious prospects of a disadvantaged population.

Bowling Green State University announced Friday that it will cut the size of its faculty by 11 percent, eliminating 100 full-time faculty jobs, The Toledo Blade reported. The reduction will be made by not filling positions of those who resign or retire, and also by not renewing many one-year teaching contracts. Officials said that more than $5 million would be saved, and that the funds would be invested in other priorities. In addition, administrators said that there would be no impact on the quality of instruction students receive. Also chocolate and puppies for everyone.

* Purdue University’s new president doesn’t really care for universities. Sounds like the perfect guy for the job!

* More new revenue streams: Carleton University has started a commercial rent-a-mathematician service, a calculated move to bring in some cash and also fix real-world problems. Will explain science fiction for food…

Surviving the Next Apocalypse: a Modest Curriculum.

* Because everything in college sports is running so smoothly, the NCAA has decided it’s time to eliminate a whole bunch of rules.

Some Ph.D.’s Choose to Work Off the Tenure Track. “Choose” is doing a lot of work in that headline.

* “What a deformed monster is a standing army in a free nation”: the U.S. and military spending.

* Kid Kills 5 in Family in New Mexico, Planned Slaughter at WalMart.

The weapons included not just the AR-15 but more.  He had gotten them out of his  father’s unlocked closet, not a gun-safe, after he had a “minor disagreement” with his mother.  He shot her in her bed, then the three little kids, in their beds.  Mulitple times.  Perhaps with the semi-auto rifle.   Waited a few hours, then shot dad when he came home.

Then:  Loaded up van with weapons and started to drive to local Walmart, where he planned to slaughter many more,  then kill himself.  Called friend, though, who suggested he stop by church and maybe think about it.  Security guard there calls cops.

5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day. Ohio church sponsors private gun buyback.

“If the district attorney agrees to send me to prison for a long time, then I will confess and plead guilty,” Hubatch told Madison police Detective Tom Helgren after his arrest on Monday, according to a criminal complaint. “Otherwise, I have nothing else to say, and if released I will do it again.” The versatile law degree, University of Wisconsin edition.

CVS Manager Fatally Strangles Homeless Man for Shoplifting Toothpaste. No charges filed because America.

* Where to Be Born: 1988-2013. Do your research, kids.

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* 50 collective nouns. The best of these I’ve heard recently was totally fake, but funny, on the new Paul F. Tompkins “Analyze Fish” Jaws podcast: “a jar of jellyfish.”

* Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Shapes of Stories,” Tumblrfied.

* ‘Quadruple helix’ DNA discovered in human cells. I feel certain this is where the X-factor that creates mutants is located.

* I’m taken in by the needless honesty of a telepathic shield maker that bothers to say “only one failure since 1998.”

* Fracking on the San Andreas Fault? What could possibly go wrong?

* “Escape from Tomorrowland,” filmed without Disney’s knowledge at Disney World.

* And your text adventure of the day: Reset.

Postcards from Orlando

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Most of our time in Florida was spent at the actual conference itself—but we did take a few pictures, which are now at Flickr.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 24, 2010 at 12:15 am