Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Einstein

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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Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiinks!

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* Once more, with feeling: Should You Go to Graduate School?

* CFP: Not Reading: University of Chicago English Graduate Conference.

* What are Muppets, anyway? Monsters from an evolutionary perspective.

* No.

* The Fictions and Futures of Transformative Justice: A conversation with the authors of Octavia’s Brood.

* The Elements of Bureaucratic Style.

Yikes! New Behind-the-Scenes Book Brutalizes the Clinton Campaign. More. More.

* Dungeons and Dragons and the class system.

* Bruno Latour: The New Climate.

* Which country shall we bomb today?

* Notes on Walls.

* Against “Fearless Girl”: 1, 2, 3. And a counterpoint.

* The Secret at the Heart of A.I.: No one really understands how it works.

Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense.

* How artificial intelligence learns to be racist.

* The new Star Wars theme park seems like a place my kids will completely love.

The Nightmare Scenario for Florida’s Coastal Homeowners.

* The Retail Apocalypse Is Suburban.

California State University cannot justify administrative growth, manager raises, audit says.

The coming British bloodbath.

* The fake news long con: The Anne Frank Center.

The United States of Work.

* Inside Every Utopia Is a Dystopia.

* “I always have SO MANY QUESTIONS about the economies of post-collapse fictional societies.”

* The Ugly Duckling.

* Every Sci-Fi Star Map. Keep scrolling, we’re not done yet!

* Why the FBI Kept a 1,400-Page File on Einstein.

American energy use, in one diagram. 410. There hasn’t been a cool month in 628 months. A closer look at how rich countries “outsource” their CO2 emissions to poorer ones. Countries Need to Move to Zero-Carbon Energy Now–Here’s Why.

* Are zoo animals happy?

* Who Speaks for the Trees?

Ancient stone carvings confirm how comet struck Earth in 10,950BC, sparking the rise of civilizations.

“Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.”

* Why are doctors giving anti-psychotic drugs to toddlers? Kids Who Use Touchscreen Devices Sleep Less at Night. Let the children play.

* A New Study Confirms What You’ve Long Suspected: Facebook Is Making People Crazy.

* History as a never-ending struggle to delay the Nazi takeover of the world.

* Star Trek: Discovery delayed again, again. Ian McShane says a Deadwood movie script’s made its way to HBO. Every New (and Returning!) Development Thrawn Brings to the Star Wars Universe. ‘Locke and Key’ Pilot From Carlton Cuse Set at Hulu. Can Batman Beyond save the DCEU? And because you demanded it!

Mystery of why shoelaces come undone unravelled by science.

* What’s the most American movie ever made?

NASA announces one of Saturn’s moons could support alien life in our solar system. NASA Considers Magnetic Shield to Help Mars Grow Its Atmosphere. Space Leaves Astronauts Partially Blind, and We May Finally Know Why. Simulation suggests 68 percent of the universe may not actually exist.

* Recycling is in trouble — and it might be your fault.

* Why United Was Legally Wrong to Deplane David Dao. How Much Money Will David Dao Make From United Airlines?

* Moderate drinking is good for you, if you don’t control for wealth.

* Nintendo doesn’t want you to be happy.

* Jeff VanderMeer amends the apocalypse.

* It might be easier to make a list of who isn’t working for Putin.

The Landmark Sexual Assault Case You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.

* Put a rainbow on it.

* There’s just one story and we tell it over and over.

Editing the Constitution: Wisconsin conservatives are pushing for a constitutional convention. What are their motives? Oh, I bet it’s fine.

* Fifteen Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Film and TV Projects with Black Talent to Get Excited About.

* First protected DREAMer is deported under Trump.

* Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev a federal informant?

Trustees of the Whittier Law School said on Wednesday that it would close down, making it the first fully accredited law school in the country to shut at a time when many law schools are struggling amid steep declines in enrollment and tuition income.

* If you want a vision of the future. The thing is though. The hero’s journey.

* And just in case you haven’t heard: Capitalism is violence.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 24, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Whatchu Talkin’ ’bout, Everyone?

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* Rest in peace, Gary Coleman. Alongside his more famous appearances not enough has been said about his appearance on The Simpsons.

* My friend Traxus is blogging again, this time about apocalypse culture.

* Hillary Clinton is the most popular politician in America. VP in 2012, President in 2016? She’d be 69, which would make her older than everyone but Reagan. But of course women live longer than men.

* Weird collisions between the content of my summer course and links I find on Gravity Lens: A Brief History of Batman-Themed Pornography. Not safe for work.

* Great posts from Crooks and Liars and Digby about how the facts don’t matter when it comes to media pseudo-scandals like the Sestak controversy.

* This world is a strange madhouse. Currently, every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on political party affiliation. Relativity, climate change, and the right.

* And if math class were like English class (and the other way around). Via the Valve. I have to admit I like both versions better our way.

Memento Mori

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It’s obvious that the key to the universe is hidden in this photo of Einstein’s blackboard from the day he died.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 20, 2010 at 11:32 am

Vacation Links

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I have a long Thanksgiving break this year (something I must admit I’m very thankful for). Here’s a few links to celebrate my good fortune.

* Google is now hosting thousands of images from Life magazine dating back to the 1800s. At right: my guy Albert Einstein. More good off-the-top-of-your-head searches at the Valve.

* Boston College will stop offering incoming students email addresses; instead, they will redirect email to a private service of the students’ choice. In other words, the moronic email addresses they made up as a joke in eighth grade will now follow BC students forever.

* The new MacBook Pros (like mine!) come saddled with major DRM problems. The good news is that your machine is only crippled for media you purchase legally; pirated media still works just fine.

* Pushing Daisies has been canceled. It’s a shame.

* Two pop-criticism reviews of Quantum of Solace I liked: “Guilt-Flavored Ice Cream” and “Quantum of Anti-Imperialism.”

* Nabokov, on YouTube.

Einstein vs. The Nation

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“This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor… This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!

Einstein, anti-nationalist, via Cogitamus.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 15, 2008 at 3:54 am

Einstein: Not Religious

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People sometimes try to muddy the issue, but let’s be serious: Einstein didn’t believe in God.

In the letter, he states: “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

Written by gerrycanavan

May 14, 2008 at 4:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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