Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Ecotopia

Fall Syllabus #2: Environmental Protection!

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My other course is also super exciting: a version of the “Material Cultures” course I developed with an NEH grant a few years back devoted to “Environmental Protection.” Some of the assignments are pulled from the ecologically focused modules of the old Cultural Preservation course, others are new to this one.

Again, below you can find the course description and week-by-week schedule; full syllabus is here…

Recently, “sustainability” has become a powerful concept in both academic discourse and popular debate; however, since the time of Heraclitus in Ancient Greece philosophers have recognized that change is inevitable and that there is always tension between what we should preserve and what is disposable. This course will use interdisciplinary scholarship to probe the central question underlying all environmental protection: what should we value enough to pass on to future generations? It will ask students to confront this dilemma by interrogating what precisely makes a natural resource sufficiently valuable to cherish and keep. In our time, the concept of “value” is dominated by economic language, but this view is crucially incomplete: what gives objects value is not their exchangeability but the fact that humans care about them and are willing to preserve and maintain them. A park is just open land, after all, until someone declares it worthy of protection. Establishing and asserting these sorts of non-economic values has long been a defining characteristic of study in the humanities, which have always appreciated how shared heritage links us to the past, creates meaning and relevance in the present, and allows us to shape our collective future. In that spirit we will examine a wide variety of political, philosophical, and aesthetic questions around sustainability, and environmental protection, and develop a framework for engaging pressing contemporary debates about the preservation of our shared natural heritage.

T Aug 28 FIRST DAY OF CLASS
Charles Stross, “Designing Society for Posterity” (Web)
Th Aug 30 Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future(Chapters 1-3, plus epilogue)
T Sep 4 Johan Rockstrom et. al, “Planetary Boundaries” [D2L]
John Bellamy Foster, “Ecology against Capitalism” [D2L]
Naomi Klein, “Climate Rage” [Web]
Th Sep 6 Nathaniel Rich, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” [Web]

Responses to Rich from Robinson Meyer, Naomi Klein, Alyssa Battistoni, and Matto Mildenberger and Leah C. Stokes [Web]

T Sep 11 Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (first half)
Th Sep 13 Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (second half)
T Sep 18 S.B. Banerjee, “Necrocapitalism” [D2L]
Arundhati Roy, “The Greater Common Good” [Web]
Vandana Shiva, “Earth Democracy” [Web]
Th Sep 20 Clare Kendall, “A New Law of Nature” [Web]
Mihnea Tanasescu, “When a River Is A Person” [Web]
Manuela Picq, “Can the Law Prevail Over Chinese investments in Ecuador?” [Web]
T Sep 25 case study: Mars

Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars2-3, 94-96,133-158, 168-179 [D2L]
Chris McKay, “Does Mars Have Rights?” [D2L]

Th Sep 27 Daniel Quinn, Ishmael (first half)
T Oct 2 Daniel Quinn, Ishmael (second half)
Lisa Wells, “The Blaze” [Web]
FIRST PAPER MINI-WORKSHOP
Th Oct 4 CLASS CANCELLED FOR MILWAUKEE COUNTY ZOO TOUR
T Oct 9 Kathy Rudy, “Where the Wild Things Ought to Be” [D2L]
Kim Stanley Robinson, “Empty Half the Earth of Its Humans. It’s the Only Way to Save the Planet” [Web]
FIRST PAPER DUE
Th Oct 11 FALL BREAK—NO CLASS
T Oct 16 Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History” [D2L]
McKenzie Wark, “Critical Theory after the Anthropocene” [Web]
film (in class): Ramin Bahrani, “Plastic Bag”
Th Oct 18 Daniel Hartley, “Against the Anthropocene” [Web]
Margaret Atwood, “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” [Web]
Ted Chiang, “The Great Silence” [Web]
T Oct 23 Richard McGuire, Here
Th Oct 25 Richard McGuire, Here
SECOND PAPER MINI-WORKSHOP
T Oct 30 Graeme Wood, “Re-Engineering the Earth” [Web]
Eduardo Porter, “To Curb Global Warming, Science Fiction May Become Fact” [Web]
Adam McGibbom, “There Is No Quick Fix for Climate Change” [Web]
Phil Torres, “Engineering the atmosphere: Is it possible? And would it prevent catastrophe, or cause it?” [Web]
Alexander C. Kaufman, “The King of Climate Fiction Makes the Left’s Case for Geoengineering” [Web]
Peter Frase, “Geoengineering for the People” [Web]
Th Nov 1 case study: refreezing the Arctic
Robin McKee, “Could a £400bn plan to refreeze the Arctic before the ice melts really work?” [Web]
SECOND PAPER DUE
T Nov 6 Kim Stanley Robinson, introduction to Future Primitive [D2L]
Ernest Callenbach, “Chocco” [D2L]

99% Invisible, “Ten Thousand Years” [Web]
Sarah Zhang, “The Cat Went Over Radioactive Mountain” [Web]
Alan Bellows, “This Place Is Not a Place of Honor” [Web]
WIPP Exhibit, “Message to 12,000 A.D.” [Web]

Th Nov 8 Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home
T Nov 13 Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home
Th Nov 15 Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home
T Nov 20 Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home
Th Nov 22 THANKSGIVING BREAK—NO CLASS
T Nov 27 Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation
Th Nov 29 Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation

FINAL PAPERS/PROJECTS MINI-WORKSHOP

T Dec 4 Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation
film (out of class): Annihilation
LAST DAY OF CLASS
Th Dec 6 CLASS CANCELLED DUE TO INSTRUCTOR TRAVEL
W Dec 12 FINAL PAPERS/PROJECTS DUE BY 10 AM VIA D2L DROPBOX

 

Monday Morning Links Has Tied the Record for Most Wins in a Single Season

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* Ecotopia 2121: Visions of Our Future Green Utopia.

Kids Can Sue Over Climate Negligence, Judge Says.

This is all to say that it would be very surprising, not to mention ill-advised, for DC/WB to go forward with the franchise without making significant adjustments. Every other studio has either scrapped a franchise or made significant changes to movies that had far higher multipliers than BvS. Also, people should be careful not to simply look at the total gross of a movie to gauge its success, particularly franchise movies. For instance, although BvS will have a similar gross to Guardians of the Galaxy and be in the ball park of Deadpool, the high multipliers for those movies indicate that fans crave sequels or are eager to watch similar movies. BvS’s low multiplier suggest that people were curious to check out the movie and/or were lured in with the heavy marketing, but ultimately decided that the movie was not for them.

Inside the New DC Fan Schism.

* Feminists of Wakanda.

The feminist critique of comics has made “not asking” a lot harder. That, in itself, is a victory. The point is not to change the thinking of the active sexist. (Highly unlikely.) The point is  to force the passive sexist to take responsibility for his own thoughts.

* Huge, if true: They Don’t Just Hide Their Money. Economist Says Most of Billionaire Wealth is Unearned.

The Coming Left-Wing Majority.

How to Place “Humanities” Next to “Future” Without the Adjective “Dire” (or, Why Entry Level Courses Matter).

Faculty Salaries Show Strong Recovery From Recession. NO COMMENT

What We’re (Really) Talking About When We Talk About “Time to Read.”

Every time MaxMind’s database has been queried about the location of an IP address in the United States it can’t identify, it has spit out the default location of a spot two hours away from the geographic center of the country. This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate. If any of those IP addresses are used by a scammer, or a computer thief, or a suicidal person contacting a help line, MaxMind’s database places them at the same spot: 38.0000,-97.0000. Which happens to be in the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s house.

* Rejected Princesses. The backstory.

* Unraveled: The Mystery Of The Secret Street Artist In Boston.

* Scenes from the Dem primary: Bernie Sanders, socialist mayor (1985). Past cases suggest Hillary won’t be indicted.

The U.S. Is Failing Miserably on Six of 10 Markers of Gender Equality.

* What could possibly go wrong? Gun Company Turns Real Handgun Into Clone Of The Nintendo ‘Duck Hunt’ Zapper.

For the First Time In A Century, Wild Tiger Populations Are Beginning to Rebound.

The Wire Creator Eyes Series on Spanish Civil War.

At HubSpot, the software company where I worked for almost two years, when you got fired, it was called “graduation.” We all would get a cheery email from the boss saying, “Team, just letting you know that X has graduated and we’re all excited to see how she uses her superpowers in her next big adventure.” One day this happened to a friend of mine. She was 35, had been with the company for four years, and was told without explanation by her 28-year-old manager that she had two weeks to get out. On her last day, that manager organized a farewell party for her.

* Consider this: for almost 2,000 years and counting the entirety of Western culture has been brainwashed. The fields of biology, economics, religion, and psychology are built on a lie. Even those who self-consciously reject this falsehood are subconsciously shaped by it. It’s unavoidable and all pervasive. It’s made us who we are. Indeed, it’s turning us into monsters. What is this lie exactly? It’s the assumption that humans are born bad.

I called Sweden’s new national number to talk to a random Swedish person.

* What Are The Demographics Of Heaven?

The criminal justice system encourages prosecutors to get guilty verdicts by any means necessary—and to stand by even the most questionable convictions. Can one crusading court stop the lying and cheating?

* And getting ready for Wednesday: a people’s history of the Crying Jordan meme.

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Wednesday Night Links!

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* How Bad Was It? Mitch McConnell Triumphant. Losers, not unlucky. And they probably managed to pre-lose the Senate in 2016 in the bargain. If you want a vision of the future. Decision 2014: The Higher-Ed Outlook. The biggest loser in this election is climate (as always). President Obama Has Earned Our Disapproval.

* Amazon wants to give you ten dollars: Spend $45 or More on Select Amazon Gift Cards, Get a $10 Promotional Credit for Yourself.

* I’ve seen some really polarizing opinions on this piece today: Confessions of a Young, Prolific Academic. I understand why people aren’t on board, but all the same I’m attracted to pieces that present the joyful side of academic work.

* Ecotopia today: Esteemed evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson believes the only way we can avoid a catastrophic mass extinction is to set aside half of the planet in permanently protected areas for the 10 million other species who live on Earth.

* 21 Photos Of Nature Winning The Battle Against Civilization.

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Writing the future: A timeline of science fiction literature.

It seems like every 30-something couple has an embarrassing financial secret: their boomer parents are covering their mortgages, child-care costs and other expenses. The Bank of Mom and Dad: confessions of a propped up generation.

New Bill Watterson Comic Is A Simple But Perfect Celebration Of Comics.

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* Alone as a queer, young, black sci-fi nerd: then I discovered Samuel Delany.

* Why Banksy Is (Probably) a Woman.

* Uber defends price surge that charged Durham man $455 on Halloween.

* Prequelism infects David Chase. There is still no cure. Won’t you give what you can today?

* Why Isn’t Hogwarts Using All That Magic To Explore Space? It’s a Kind of Magic. Like Methods of Rationality minus the cult (and one page instead of ten thousand).

And Dartmouth Professors Vote to Abolish Greek System. Nonbinding, purely symbolic, but points for trying…

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Monday Morning Links

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* Of course you had me at “Sun Myung Moon’s lost ecotopia.”

In 2000, Moon paid an undisclosed amount for roughly 1.5 million acres of land fronting the Paraguay River. Most of that property was in a town called Puerto Casado, about 100 miles downriver from Puerto Leda. Moon’s subsidiaries wanted the land to open commercial enterprises ranging from logging to fish farming. But a group of Puerto Casado residents launched a bitter legal battle to nullify the deal. While that controversy continued to divide Paraguayans, the Puerto Leda project proceeded under the radar. Moon turned the land over to 14 Japanese men—“national messiahs,” according to church documents, who were instructed to build an “ideal city” where people could live in harmony with nature, as God intended it. Moon declared that the territory represented “the least developed place on earth, and, hence, closest to original creation.”

* Right now I am sitting at my computer, writing a post that I will receive no money for and which is not part of any career plan. It’s a little thing, obviously. But why do I do it? Because human beings aren’t little efficiency machines. Human life is what you experience when you aren’t busily accruing material resources.

* 1994 literature syllabus from David Foster Wallace, featuring Stephen King, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Harris, and Mary Higgins Clark.

* For six years during my twenties, I worked as one of the principal ghostwriters for a mass-market series for teenaged girls called Sweet Valley High.

* Student Persistence in Bioelectricity, Fall 2012 (Duke University MOOC).

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New data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College suggest that some of the students most often targeted in online learning’s access mission are less likely than their peers to benefit from — and may in fact be hurt by — digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction.

* Five Experts Give College Scorecard a Barely Passing Grade.

* Accepting the Oscar for Marlon Brando, 1973.

* 9 Sexist Things That Happened At The Oscars.

* The Debt Everyone Is Freaking Out About Does Not Exist.

* “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists,'” said Gibbs, now an MSNBC contributor.

* And an Angela Davis biopic comes out April 15.

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Ernest Callenbach, Last Words to an America in Decline

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Written by gerrycanavan

May 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Wednesday

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* Doctor Who: 100% true. Fact.

* On the set of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. I would be very excited about this show if the protagonist weren’t yet another fantasyland Sorkin Republican.

* Connecticut has abolished the death penalty.

* Obama comes to Carolina, never mentions Amendment One.

* Most of what we think about Mexican immigration is wrong. (via)

* The end of the world and the impossibility of an alternative to financial capitalism are not just defining features of contemporary global imagination: they sustain one another. After all, if we might all be radioactive smudges on the tarmac come Tuesday, why not be out for as much as we can grab today? Why build a sustainable growth model if it might be underwater in thirty years? Unrestrained free-market capitalism requires that its vassals live in the moment, borrowing against their own futures, and for the past two generations of neoliberal policymaking, there have been logical reasons for us to do so.

* Obama v. Obama on the drug war.

* Vermont Continues Working Towards A Universal Health Care System.

* And some sad news: Rest in peace, Ernest Callenbach, father of Ecotopia.

1491

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I asked seven anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians if they would rather have been a typical Indian or a typical European in 1491. None was delighted by the question, because it required judging the past by the standards of today—a fallacy disparaged as “presentism” by social scientists. But every one chose to be an Indian. Some early colonists gave the same answer. Horrifying the leaders of Jamestown and Plymouth, scores of English ran off to live with the Indians. My ancestor shared their desire, which is what led to the trumped-up murder charges against him—or that’s what my grandfather told me, anyway.

As for the Indians, evidence suggests that they often viewed Europeans with disdain. The Hurons, a chagrined missionary reported, thought the French possessed “little intelligence in comparison to themselves.” Europeans, Indians said, were physically weak, sexually untrustworthy, atrociously ugly, and just plain dirty. (Spaniards, who seldom if ever bathed, were amazed by the Aztec desire for personal cleanliness.) A Jesuit reported that the “Savages” were disgusted by handkerchiefs: “They say, we place what is unclean in a fine white piece of linen, and put it away in our pockets as something very precious, while they throw it upon the ground.” The Micmac scoffed at the notion of French superiority. If Christian civilization was so wonderful, why were its inhabitants leaving?

The Atlantic has a lengthy piece from 2002 on what the Americas were like before the Europeans invaded, tying this into current political struggle over the exploitation of places like the Amazon rainforest.

Guided by the pristine myth, mainstream environmentalists want to preserve as much of the world’s land as possible in a putatively intact state. But “intact,” if the new research is correct, means “run by human beings for human purposes.” Environmentalists dislike this, because it seems to mean that anything goes. In a sense they are correct. Native Americans managed the continent as they saw fit. Modern nations must do the same. If they want to return as much of the landscape as possible to its 1491 state, they will have to find it within themselves to create the world’s largest garden.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 8, 2009 at 1:21 am