Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Episode 8

Happy Valentine’s Day Links!

leave a comment »

* Very excited to welcome Adam Kotsko to Marquette later this week for his talk “Animated Nihilism: Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman and the Strange Fate of the Adult Cartoon.”

* There was a nice interview with me at the ArchivesAWARE! site, kicking off a new series on Archives and Audiences.

* SFRA Review #323 is out! Check out the details on the upcoming SFRA conference in Milwaukee.

* CFP: The Journal of Dracula Studies. CFP: Žižek Studies special issue on “Žižek: What Went Wrong?”

* The Simpsons: What Went Wrong?

* A science-fiction narrative imagining an alternate universe in which Donald Trump never became President: he’s just a regular guy in New York City.

The Problem With Annihilation’s Messy Release.

Fantastic Beasts and What Could Have Been. They’re really not nailing this.

* Kim Stanley Robinson: The Radical Philosophy Interview.

KSR: Capitalism is still very feudal in its distribution of wealth. One of the great triumphs of Marxist historiography is to describe accurately the transition from feudalism to capitalism, why it happened and the differences. At a presentation I once gave with Jameson, I said something like capitalism is just feudalism liquidified. In the break he said, ‘Kim, it’s actually a big accomplishment for Marxists to be able to describe the change from feudalism to capitalism.’ I then brought up something he had taught me, Raymond Williams’s concept of the residual and the emergent, and said, ‘but there’s a lot more residual than people have imagined.’ That’s one of the only times I saw Fred startled by something I said. Although I think there’s an exchange of ideas between us, mainly he’s the teacher, I’m the student. He’s explained things that I never would have understood, and I treasure him for that. So it was nice to see him think, ‘Mmm, that’s an interesting thought.’

The residuals out of feudalism would be the power gradient and the actual concentration of wealth per se. In the feudal period, kings might not even have been as proportionally rich as top executives are now in relation to the poor. And if peasants weren’t murdered by passing soldiers, they were living with their food source at hand and working a somewhat decent human life. That isn’t largely true now of the dispossessed. So, capitalism is like feudalism in that, but worse.

* The Good Place and Divine Justice. Meet the Philosophers Who Give ‘The Good Place’ Its Scholarly Bona Fides. TV’s Dystopia Boom. Breakfast and Groundhog Day. Rod Serling: human rights activist as science fiction showrunner. Why the Culture wins. Netflix created a monster with its Cloverfield stunt, and Altered Carbon won’t be the last victim. Reproductive Futurism and Its (Dis)contents. Why I barely read SF these days. Against dystopia.

* My Butch Lesbian Mom, Bruce Springsteen.

* The Sublimated Grief of the Left Behind. How Academe Breeds Resentment. International Grad Students’ Interest in American Higher Ed Marks First Decline in 14 Years. Columbia University Gets In Bed with Trump. I’m a Stanford professor accused of being a terrorist. McCarthyism is back. How Hard Do Professors Work? Shameless and Hypocrisy at the MLA. And meanwhile, on the Singularity beat: Teaching assistant robots will reinvent academia. Universities in the Age of AI.

Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy.

White Supremacists Are Targeting College Students ‘Like Never Before.’

* The Olympic hero for our time.

* To U.S. Border Patrol, the Canadian border is 100 miles wide. A good overview of how Trump’s ICE differs, and doesn’t, from Obama’s; the major distinction seems to be empowering street-level officer to make policy-level determinations about enforcement. A Short, Brutal History of ICE. ICE Wants to Be an Intelligence Agency Under Trump. ICE Grants Stay To Arizona Father Whose 5-Year-Old Son Is Battling Cancer. Kansas chemistry instructor arrested by ICE while taking his daughter to school. ICE detains man at traffic court after DACA status expires, then frees him after outcry. Public Defenders Walk Out Of Bronx Courthouse After College Student Detained By ICE. Cuban immigrant awaiting removal dies in ICE custody. Green card veteran facing deportation starts hunger strike. Trump administration considered testing “abortion reversal” on unwilling prisoner. Give all immigrants the right to vote.

* Know your police rape loopholes.

* How not to die in America. I Had to Bury My 26-Year-Old Son Because He Couldn’t Afford Insulin. Texas Woman Dies Because She Couldn’t Afford $116 Copay. What Aetna did here might not even be illegal.

* America: (Still) Not a Democracy. That’s not to say things still can’t get worse.

* In the richest country in human history.

FEMA Contract Called for 30 Million Meals for Puerto Ricans. 50,000 Were Delivered.

* Even the Democrats (still) won’t talk about climate change. Democrats’ ‘Resistance’ to Trump Is Eroding, and So Are Their Poll Numbers. What Happened To The Democratic Wave?

A map of the world after four degrees of warming. There’s even more good news below the map!

An Urgent Crisis of Leadership, Climate, and Water is Unfolding in South Africa.

* And in Kentucky: Sometimes they get no water. Other times just a trickle. Often, they say, their water is so discolored it resembles milk or Kool-Aid or beer.

The African Anthropocene.

* Floods and pollution.

* Just six months from victory in Afghanistan.

Fitness tracking app Strava gives away location of secret US army bases. Podcast listeners are the advertising holy grail. A Driver’s Suicide Reveals the Dark Side of the Gig Economy. slavery.amazon.com. Whole Foods as Amazon Hell. What Amazon Does to Poor Cities.

I’m the Wife of a Former N.F.L. Player. Football Destroyed His Mind. Concussion Protocol.

Here’s Everything We Used to Know About Han Solo’s Early Years. A Primer on All Things Wakanda.

* Monopoly: Cheaters Edition.

Arizona Man Sells His $6.5 Million Ranch Because Of Constant, Violent Alien Attacks.

Supercut of Instagram travel photo clichés. Photos of Total Strangers Pretending to Be in Serious Relationships.

Why is Civilization 5 still more popular than Civilization 6?

* The arc of history is long, but Hot sauce king Billy Mitchell is in danger of having his Donkey Kong records stripped away.

Why Woody Allen hasn’t been toppled by the #MeToo reckoning — yet. This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry.

* Suicide and the opioid epidemic.

* Cancel student debt and grow the economy. Let’s Stop Normalizing Student Debt.

* College compiles first-ever index of slaves and their enslavers in NY. Slavery and the American University.

* Nation of Second Changes: Stories of people who received a pardon from Barack Obama.

* The Alt-Right Is Killing People.

The Median Young Family Has Nearly Zero Wealth.

* #NeverTweet.

Why Antonio Gramsci is the Marxist thinker for our times.

* I call it my brand: Marxism as Organized Sarcasm.

Worf’s Dad Is Repeatedly Disgraced When Predictive Text Writes Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Nintendo’s new cardboard extensions for Switch are blowing users away.

* Case Western in the news!

* Can’t stop the signal: here come the Firefly novels.

* Pets allowed.

‘Speaking’ orca is further proof they shouldn’t be kept captive.

* The mutant crayfish that ate Europe.

* And this guy gets it: Nigel, the world’s loneliest bird, dies next to the concrete decoy he loved.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 13, 2018 at 10:01 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday Links!

leave a comment »

* Some current calls for papers: Science Fiction and Communism. Beyond Humanism. Sesame Street at 50.

* Coming soon to Marquette! The Center for the Advancement of the Humanities will host Adam Kotsko on Feb. 15th at 3:30 p.m. in Marquette Hall 105, as he discusses “Animated Nihilism: RickandMorty, BoJackHorseman and the Strange Fate of the Adult Cartoon.”

* My favorite weird found-poetry I’ve discovered on this trip: in Switzerland and Germany first-person shooters are called “ego shooters.”

* My favorite thing on the Internet in a long, long time: Rey and Kylo set to just about every song you’ve ever heard of.

* Star Trek: Discovery is exciting, but not much else.

To put it another way, if this was just called Discovery, if the serial numbers were filled off and this was just another science fiction show with aliens and parallel universes and FTL drives, I doubt we’d be talking about it. It would be significantly less annoying in some ways (my brain would appreciate not having to fit any of this into continuity, that’s for damn sure), but it would be far more forgettable—a pretty, messy piece of nonsense with some decent performances and occasionally unexpected story twists. Hell, maybe we’d like it more, if only because our standards would be lower and it would still be possible to convince ourselves that someday, this would all make sense.

io9 was even harsher, if anything. I’m still a fan of the series but the extremely poor plotting of the second half of season one has made complete hash of their very promising initial setup. It’s much harder for me to argue the series is genuinely good, as opposed to liking it because it is Star Trek and I like pretty much everything Star Trek.

* Advice from a Contingent Faculty Member on Career Directions for PhDs in English.

* Sam and Max Hit the Road: The Design Document. What a great game that was.

* “A fascinating new kind of job that only a human can do: robot babysitter.”

The myth of America’s immigration problem.

* Beautiful Coal and Disastrous Droughts.

* Seen accurately. American collapse is a catastrophe of human possibility without modern parallel . And because the mess that America has made of itself, then, is so especially unique, so singular, so perversely special — the treatment will have to be novel, too. The uniqueness of these social pathologies tell us that American collapse is not like a reversion to any mean, or the downswing of a trend. It is something outside the norm. Something beyond the data. Past the statistics. It is like the meteor that hit the dinosaurs: an outlier beyond outliers, an event at the extreme of the extremes. That is why our narratives, frames, and theories cannot really capture it — much less explain it. We need a whole new language — and a new way of seeing — to even begin to make sense of it. Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse: The Strange New Pathologies of the World’s First Rich Failed State.

* If your highest value is the preservation of American institutions, the avoidance of “dysfunction,” the discourse of norm erosion makes sense. If it’s democracy, not so much. Sometimes democracy requires the shattering of norms and institutions. Democracy, we might even say, is a permanent project of norm erosion, forever shattering the norms of hierarchy and domination and the political forms that aid and abet them.

* What does living in a dictatorship feel like?

* Cixin Liu and Chinese science fiction, in the London Review of Books.

* The Voynich Manuscript has been cracked again. Everybody take a drink!

* Sic semper: Twilight of Chief Wahoo.

* Huge, if true: some millennials think James Bond could be sexist.

* Emma, the fifteen-second horror movie.

* Here’s What One Day In The Dysfunction Of Restoring Puerto Rico’s Electricity Looks Like. FEMA To End Food And Water Aid For Puerto Rico.

* ICE Deports Palestinian Man Living In The U.S. For Almost 40 Years Despite Outcry. Father detained by ICE after dropping 4-year-old off at daycare. 2 dads nabbed by ICE as they drop off kids at NJ school; 3rd takes shelter in church. Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown is a recipe for national decline.

* Even By Our Awful Standards, Americans Have Basically Stopped Saving Money.

* CES Was Full of Useless Robots and Machines That Don’t Work.

* An ER visit, a $12,000 bill — and a health insurer that wouldn’t pay.

* Baltimore Cops Kept Toy Guns to Plant Just in Case They Shot an Unarmed Person.

* The future just ain’t no good.

* “In honor of the new Mr. Rogers biopic, here’s his Marquette Commencement address from 2001.”

* A new life awaits you in the off-world colonies.

* #DontCallItAComejack.

* What does it mean to die?

Why Reddit’s face-swapping celebrity porn craze is a harbinger of dystopia.

* The life of the mind. Working at university in 2016. Statement of teaching philosophy.

* Of course you had me at a Civilisation V mod about the risk of superintelligent AI.

* And happy birthday, old friend.

First Day of School Links!

leave a comment »

* Some late but very nice press for my Octavia Butler book: I was on an episode of the nationally syndicated radio show Viewpoints Radio this week, and the book had a lovely review in LARB!

CFP: Artificial Life: Debating Medical Modernity (April 19-21, UC Riverside).

* $75 million dollars to philosophy at Johns Hopkins.

* And on the pedestal these words appear.

12 People Face Misdemeanor Charges for Giving Food to The Homeless in El Cajon.

A girl-power moment for Medieval Times, where a woman has the lead for the first time. I have wanted to take my kids to Medieval Times ever since listening to the Doughboys episode about it a few months ago.

* Like the story about the sexual assaults of the US gymnastics team, there is something about Eliza Dushku’s story of being abused as a child by adults who were trusted with her care that is just so heartbreaking.

* Meanwhile, McKayla Maroney is facing a $100,000 for violating her NDA with USA Gymnastics.

A list of the teen-sex movies that I grew up on in the late 1970s/ 1980s. Keep in mind: Every one of these was considered a *comedy.*

‘Every day I am crushed’: the stateless man held without trial by Australia for eight years.

* ICE Keeps Raiding Hospitals and Mistreating Disabled Children. Feds planning massive Northern California immigration sweep to strike against sanctuary laws. DHS and DOJ Want to Arrest Mayors of Sanctuary Cities.

How one employee ‘pushed the wrong button’ and caused a wave of panic. America’s emergency notification systems were first built for war, and then rebuilt for peace. A false alarm in Hawaii shows that they didn’t anticipate how media works in the smartphone era. These are fascinating but I still have every confidence that the explanation we have been given for this event is bullshit and that the truth will come out in a decade or so. Pandemonium and Rage in Hawaii.

* “Wisconsin school apologizes for slavery homework assignment.”

* Foxconn boondoggle nearing $4.5 billion.

* “Almost 35 years ago, she let a stranger hold her newborn. It has haunted her ever since.”

Activists charged with Confederate statue toppling no longer face felonies.

Chelsea Manning files to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland.

The True History of Luke Skywalker’s Monastic Retreat.

Tea if by sea, cha if by land: Why the world only has two words for tea.

How the Female Stars of The Breakfast ClubFought to Remove a Sexist Scene, and Won.

* Tired of winning. So tired.

* And of course you had me at “Gorgeous Images of the Planet Jupiter.”

Last Weekend Before Classes Links!

leave a comment »

* CFP: Granfalloon: A Kurt Vonnegut Gathering. MLA 2019 CFP: Stephen King at 45. Call for applications: The S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship.

* A special issue of Palimpsest on The Life and Work of Octavia E. Butler.

* Staging Octavia Butler in Abu Dhabi. Parable of the Butler as an opera.

Syllabus: Good Grief: Humor and Tragedy in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature.

There has not in living memory been a better time to be a fascist. We live in a utopia: it just isn’t ours.

American kids are 70 percent more likely to die before adulthood than kids in other rich countries.

* Very nice long read in the Guardian on what depression is and isn’t.

Millions Are Hounded for Debt They Don’t Owe. One Victim Fought Back, With a Vengeance.

* Black Mirror did this one already: Future biotechnology could be used to trick a prisoner’s mind into thinking they have served a 1,000 year sentence, a group of scientists have claimed.

* The 90s, World War II, and the War on Terror. Great little bit of cultural analysis in comic form, derived from a Chris Hayes essay from 2006.

* Tiny books of the resistance.

* Can the humanities be defended? Well, it depends.

The best way to remember 2017 will surely be through the stories it told about what might come after.

The Fierce Urgency of “How.”

Trump’s offshore drilling plan defies ‘wishes of every coastal state, city and county.’ Insurance after climate change. Welcome to West Port Arthur, Texas, Ground Zero in the Fight for Climate Justice. Climate change and the global south. A Radical New Scheme to Prevent Catastrophic Sea-Level Rise.

UBI already exists for the 1%. A Simple Fix for Our Massive Inequality Problem.

5 things to know about Puerto Rico 100 days after Hurricane Maria.

But the most notable difference in the table is political: no public institution with a Democratic governor chose Vance; only one public institution with a Republican governor chose Coates (the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga). Hillbilly Elegy is the kind of book you want parents and politicians to know students are reading to persuade white, Midwestern Republicans to feel good about releasing funds to support higher education. If you are running a flagship state university campus like the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and your Republican governor and legislature have come after funding and tenure, you are more than happy to choose Vance’s book.

* The woman behind the “Shitty Men in Media” list. How I Learned to Look Believable. Why Dan Harmon’s sexual-misconduct confession is actually worth listening to.

* “Every single neighbor I’ve had has died of cancer.” This Town Is So Toxic, They Want It Wiped off the Map.

* This is not to garner pity for sad trannies like me. We have enough roses by our beds. It is rather to say, minimally, that trans women want things too. The deposits of our desire run as deep and fine as any. The richness of our want is staggering. Perhaps this is why coming out can feel like crushing, why a first dress can feel like a first kiss, why dysphoria can feel like heartbreak. The other name for disappointment, after all, is love. On Liking Women.

Justice Department Announces Court Order Revoking Naturalized Citizenship, Citing Fingerprint Issue. Washington state AG sues Motel 6 over giving ICE info on 9,000 guests. 200,000 Salvadorans may be forced to leave the U.S. as Trump ends immigration protection. Trump may deport thousands of Indian H-1B visa holders as they wait for green cards. To fulfill Trump’s vision on immigration, sheriffs are trampling over constitutional principles. The head of ICE is calling for mayors and local city councilmen to be arrested. Private Prison Continues to Send ICE Detainees to Solitary Confinement for Refusing Voluntary Labor. ICE to move forward with deportation of paraplegic boy’s caregiver. When Deportation Is a Death Sentence. Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words. And of course.

* The university after Trump.

This is how nuclear war with North Korea would unfold.

If the President Is Uniquely Dangerous, Treat Him That Way.

* Child protective services and artificial intelligence.

* The Dogecoin century.

* The end of computer security. An amazing coincidence.

* How students pay for graduate school.

* Bringing back indentured servitude. Let’s let kids mortgage their social security while they’re at it.

We Finally Know Why People Are Left- Or Right-Handed.

The case for (and against) the tiger living on LSU’s campus.

College football has the money to pay players. The College Football Playoff proves it.

* North Carolina gerrymander ruled illegal, again.

* Living with Slenderman.

You Won’t Live to See the Final Blade Runner Movie.

* #MeToo, Inc.

Uh Oh—CRISPR Might Not Work in Most People.

* The law, in its majestic equality.

* Roads to nowhere.

* Police departments nationwide agree: guns officially have more rights than people.

* Solo, oh no. Star Wars fatigue is real. Why So Many Men Hate The Last Jedi But Can’t Agree on Why. The Last Jedi and fandom. The best anti-Last-Jedi piece I’ve seen. Poe Dameron apologetics.

* Teaching the controversy the Duke way.

* Marxism and Nintendo? I love my Switch, so anything that keeps me from not feeling too bad about owning it… Nintendo’s Resurgence Was the Best Tech Story of 2017. More at MetaFilter.

* Airline travel has become so safe even I’m barely afraid of it anymore.

Southwest Flips on Big Three Airlines in Cartel Case.

* Boomeranging the boomerang effect.

* Web comic of the month: “Three Jumps.”

* The Handmaid’s Tale after Margaret Atwood.

* Fox (TV) after Disney.

* Flight of the Conchords forever.

* The coping economy.

* Stop speculating about Trump’s mental health.

* Segregation today.

* The end of the Mickey Mouse Copyright Era? We’ll see.

* Hamilton in London. Hamilton in Milwaukee. Next up: Saga, the Musical?

As for the bots themselves, #R2DoubleD and #TripleCPU are indeed a very cool sight to behold but (in my opinion) don’t come close to anything ever approaching “arousing.”

* Carrie Fisher’s private philosophy coach.

* google Uno truth

* Updated rules for Settlers of Catan.

* Choose Your Own Adventure, in graph form. Interactive map of every Quantum Leap time jump.

* What happens to the mind under anesthesia?

* Know your airport codes.

* The rise of the machines.

* In fact, it’s cold as hell.

* And you’ve already seen it, but just for the record. Almost been one year. Trump Has Created Dangers We Haven’t Even Imagined Yet. There’s no way out.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 13, 2018 at 10:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas Eve Eve Links Links

leave a comment »

* 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

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday Night Links!

leave a comment »

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ Will Be R-Rated: ‘The Revenant’s Mark L. Smith Frontrunner Scribe. Patrick Stewart would play Picard again, but only for Tarantino. Still pretty firmly on board.

* Pretty strong contender for the moment the Singularity happened: an AI teaches itself chess in four hours and beats the strongest human-designed AI that exists, which itself can beat any human. AI is now so complex its creators can’t trust why it makes decisions.

It is significant that it is women of colour, a doubly marginalised group, who are at the forefront of finding new ways to figure uneven development during this, our time, of successive systemic crises. Imbalances between cores and (internal and external) peripheries appear in the novels of Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor that also brought Caribbean, Yoruba, and Igbo folk culture into the core of genre sf at the same time as working to explode it. More recently, N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth novels (2015-2017) feature a fantasy world repeatedly wracked by cataclysmic geological upheavals that can easily be read as a metaphor for anthropogenic climate change. But as their coded commentary on #BlackLivesMatter, hardened borders, and refugee-panics indicate, these profound shocks are also those to which capitalist cores expose their internal and external peripheries. From world sf (via, if we must, World Sf) to world-sf.

* The short story phenomenon that’s sweeping the world: Men React to “Cat Person.” Based on the original short story by 

* Dragon debris.

* When an algorithm writes science fiction.

André 3000 lands big role in sci-fi film, ‘High Life’ — about convicts sent on a mission to a black hole, penned by Zadie Smith.

* One of my graduate students, Brian Kenna, has a terrific review of the new Tolkien publication Beren and Lúthien in the Los Angeles Review of Books, focusing both on Tolkien and gender as well as the weird inaccessibility of Christopher Tolkien’s editorial decisions. Check it out!

Every English major joke is a small concession to the same logic that leads administrators to trim humanities programs, or leads lawmakers to strike the NEA and NEH from the budget as wasteful, though these offices claim at best fractions of fractions of our larger national expenses. Humorless Man Yells at English Major Jokes. Facing My Own Extinction.

* How to Teach a Cyborg.

* Stony Brook Professor Detained in Cameroon.

8 Grad Students Are Arrested Protesting the GOP Tax Bill on Capitol Hill. College and the End of Upward Mobility. How Harvard’s Hypocrisy Could Hurt Your Union. Private Colleges Had 58 Millionaire Presidents in 2015. Charles Koch Gave $50 Million To Higher Ed In 2016. What Did He Buy?

* In the richest country in human history. How Big Medicine Can Ruin Medicare for All. Girl has blunt message for Aetna after her brain surgery request was denied.

Drug trial shows promising results to fight Huntington’s disease. This is a very promising finding: whether or not this particular treatment becomes “the cure” or not, the fact that you can shut off huntingtin production without negatively impacting the adult brain suggests some version of this treatment could diminish or entirely prevent the emergence of the disease. “I really think this is, potentially, the biggest breakthrough in neurodegenerative disease in the past 50 years.”

* Here’s what happens when noble, determined people win — and find themselves in an unwinnable situation.

After Trent Franks, men worry if asking subordinates to bear their child is still okay. For Female Lobbyists, Harassment Often Accompanies Access. Al Franken’s selfish, damaging resignation speech. Time POTY more or less gets it right for once. The Unsexy Truth about Harassment. Weinstein as Crime Boss. As More College Students Say “Me Too,” Accused Men Are Suing For Defamation. Dirty Old Men on the Faculty. Over two thousand entries on a Google doc detailing sexual harassment in the academy. Our Professors Raped Us.

“You can have my vote if you have sex with me,” Ms. Alarid recalled the lawmaker saying, although he used cruder language for sexual intercourse. He told Ms. Alarid she had the same first name as his wife, so he would not get confused if he called out in bed. Then he kissed Ms. Alarid on the lips, she said.

Shocked, Ms. Alarid, who was 32 at the time, pushed him away. Only after he was gone did she let the tears flow.

When her bill came up on the floor of the New Mexico House of Representatives the next day, March 20, 2009, it failed by a single vote, including a “No” by the lawmaker, Representative Thomas A. Garcia.

As Ms. Alarid watched from the House gallery, she said, Mr. Garcia blew her a kiss and shrugged his shoulders with arms spread.

Official Toll in Puerto Rico: 64. Actual Deaths May Be 1,052. Just one story of thousands: Lives at Risk Inside a Senior Complex in Puerto Rico With No Power.

‘Holy crap’: Experts find tax plan riddled with glitches. The Republican tax bill: four takeaways. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lets corporations loose to do what they will—and then imposes pain to make the numbers work. And inevitably.

The first wintertime megafire in California history is here. California’s wildfires are not “natural” — humans made them worse at every step. Incarcerated women risk their lives fighting California fires. It’s part of a long history of prison labor. California Is Running Out of Inmates to Fight Its Fires.

* The ‘poisoned landscapes’ we leave behind. As the climate changes and seas swell, coastal colleges struggle to prepare. Fracking Is a Huge American Money Pit.

Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media.

* thisisfine.jpg

* “Here are the keys, Don, gas is in the tank.”

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly. Deportation under Trump.

Millennials now biggest voting group in U.S., 2-1 Democratic.

Dem lawmaker calls for extra protections to ‘safeguard’ Senate pages if Moore is elected. That’s MILWAUKEE’S OWN Dem lawmaker Gwen Moore.

* “Lest I be misinterpreted, I emphatically affirm that education confers some marketable skills, namely literacy and numeracy.” Don’t give an inch, brother!

How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult.

* “‘Ambiance and atmosphere models’ contractually obligated to pretend they’re party guests are in record demand from local agencies.”

*An exclusive analysis of data from the 50 largest local police departments in the United States shows that police shoot Americans more than twice as often as previously known.

Bodycam footage of the incident, released after the verdict, showed Mr Shaver on his knees asking officers not to shoot him just before he was killed.

Subsequently, The Intercept, working with the ACLU of Texas, obtained several DPS dashcam videos that show immigrants being detained on the road for trivial violations and then carted away by the Border Patrol.

Mark Hamill Made Up an Absurdly Grim Backstory for Luke Skywalker Ahead of The Last Jedi. The “True Nature of the Force” is More Complicated Than You Think. I made the “the Force is the villain” prediction way back in 2015, too, and still think some version of it is going to land. Star Wars vs. the Nazis. The First Impressions for Star Wars: The Last Jedi Are Overwhelmingly GoodAnd the only review I needed from the only voice I trust.

An extremely petty breakdown of everything dumb in the Jurassic World 2 trailer.

The Hollywood Drama Around Annihilation Shows Why We Can’t Have Smart Things.

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met.

* Very 2017 Headlines: Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers?

* Modern politics.

* LEGO politics.

* No one makes a living on Patreon.

* Dial B for Blog is back! Again!

* Podcasts have truly arrived: they’re being turned into superhero movies.

* Tis the season: reference-writing guidelines for avoiding gender bias.

* The fascinating history of the first commercial jetliner.

A classified government document opens with “an odd sequence of events relating to parapsychology has occurred within the last month” and concluded with an alarming question about psychics nuking cities so that they became lost in time and space. If this sounds like a plot out of science fiction, it is – but it’s also a NSA memo from 1977.

A New Optical Illusion Was Just Discovered, And It’s Breaking Our Brains.

* A female translator reckons with The Odyssey.

* When a DNA test tells who your daddy isn’t.

* Stalk your friends the Wired way.

* From Zoey’s eyeballs to megabucks: This 6-year-old made $11 million on YouTube in one year.

* And Slaughterhouse-Five is coming to TV. Can’t wait to see what they cook up for season two…

Written by gerrycanavan

December 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday Morning Links!

leave a comment »

At the age of 15, she was given a smartphone for the first time. Her first move, she says, was to go online and search for her family.

If you got a call offering a free cruise, you might be entitled to at least $300. I did! Check your numbers.

* Artist’s Statement, by Kara Walker.

* The Alt-Right On Campus: What Students Need To Know.

* President Of Charlottesville Synagogue Recounts Scene During Weekend Rally. More Witnesses. More. Documentary.

* Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist. All the President’s Klansmen. Goodbye, Pepe.

* Here are all the Republican members of Congress who have called out the president. Republican Jewish Coalition breaks with Trump on Charlottesville, asks for ‘greater moral clarity.’ Gwen Moore Calls for Trump’s Removal.

Durham protester charged in Confederate statue vandalism. Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues One Day After Voting On Issue. Virginia. Richmond! The Capitol. Even Robert E. Lee didn’t think Americans needed all those Confederate statues. Leave the Durham memorial on the ground. News you can use. Trump Gives White Supremacists an Unequivocal Boost. Trump Warns Removing Confederate Statues Could Be Slippery Slope To Eliminating Racism Entirely. Trump Blasts Critics Who Judge Neo-Nazi Groups By Most Extreme Members. Now you’ve gone and made Ron Johnson ‘not entirely’ comfortable. Poor guys.

* Do your duty.

* Trump’s lack of discipline leaves new chief of staff frustrated and dismayed. White House officials and informal advisers say the triggers for his temper are if he thinks someone is lying to him, if he’s caught by surprise, if someone criticizes him, or if someone stops him from trying to do something or seeks to control him. Disgusted Robert Mueller Eats 2 20-Piece Chicken McNugget Meals In One Sitting In Attempt To Get Into Trump’s Mind.

They Got Hurt At Work — Then They Got Deported.

The curious case of a man detained by ICE who can’t stay, but can’t be sent back either.

* Today in Millennials killing things.

* White racists and genetic testing. Doxxing White Supremacists Is Making Them Terrified.

Today, Cloudflare reversed its long-held policy to remain content-neutral and booted The Daily Stormer out from behind its DDoS protection service.

* Never Say Never Again.

* ‘Elder Orphans’ Facebook Group Creates Community For Adults Aging Alone.

* THE COURT: The purpose of jury selection is to ensure fairness and impartiality in this case. If you think that you could not be fair and impartial, it is your duty to tell me. All right. Juror Number 1.

JUROR NO. 1: I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him.

The Voter Purge Crusade That Preceded Trump’s Sketchy Elections Commission.

* A good year for television adaptations of black SF!

The Patterns Around Octavia Butler.

Superhero Comics’ Long History of Beating Up Nazis.

WSU grad student designs map of precinct-level election results.

* Free Speech Year at Berkeley! I bet it goes great.

* Sonic Mania has a great mechanic for playing with a five-year-old, but I swear Sonic used to be faster.

* In an age without heroes.

* Why is Star Wars trying to make us hate Luke Skywalker?

* And a perennial reblog: The Soviet Hobbit.

Sunday’d Reading!

leave a comment »

* Presenting the International Journal of James Bond Studies.

* On graduate labor and the Yale commencement protest.

A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

“Self-defense” in America safeguards the privileges of white men as possessors of property, arbiters of sexual access, and inflictors of violence.

* Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared!

* Flynn, Sessions, etc.

* So old I can remember when Eric and Donald Jr. were going to run the business and not have a political role. (January.)

* Cool, thanks for looking into it.

* Same joke but with the one of the highest capitalized companies on the planet claiming poverty to avoid not being quite so sexist.

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.

Google’s AI Is Now Creating Its Own AI.

The Republicans Broke American Politics, and Media Elites Are Blind to It. A week that reveals how rotten today’s Republican Party is.

The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. It’s too late, of course, the cultists will believe in it for all time.

* Horrific hate crime in Portland. Seems to be part of a disturbing trend.

* New Orleans principal loses job after wearing Nazi-associated rings in video. Glowing 2015 profile.

* Meanwhile, in Arizona. In New Jersey.

* New Jersey not doing great in my newsfeed today generally. Though this was good.

* U.S. Airstrike Killed Over 100 Civilians in Mosul, Pentagon Says. The U.S. Is Helping Allies Hide Civilian Casualties in Iraq and Syria.

* ‘Mostly Toddlers’ Among 31 Drowned.

* A spectre is haunting Goldman Sachs.

* Trump going to the mattresses.

How Alleged Russian Hacker Teamed Up With Florida GOP Operative.

* Democrats doing much better, still can’t win a damn thing. The only answer is to keep offering them nothing and telling them they’re stupid, until they finally come around. Wake up, liberals: There will be no 2018 “blue wave,” no Democratic majority and no impeachment. Donald Trump Is A Big Reason The GOP Kept The Montana House Seat.

* The end of Breitbart?

* Remember how terrible the AHCA is?

* Can Trump pardon by tweet?

* Trump and the drug war.

* RNC PR BS but even more so.

* Sheriff Clarke and some totally appropriate, not at all batshit insane behavior.

* A GoFundMe Campaign Is Not Health Insurance.

* A 31-year-old undocumented Honduran bicyclist, Marcos Antonio Huete, was hit by a car in Key West, Florida, on his way to work. The policeman’s camera shows him inquiring about the victim’s immigration status before offering medical assistance. He was later detained by the Border Patrol.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers ate breakfast at a Michigan restaurant, got up, and detained three employees on Wednesday morning.

* “We want you to think Luke is bad” is an awfully large part of Last Jedi hype. I have to think that means they won’t actually do it…

* Title IX Policy shift at the University of Oregon: Faculty members at the University of Oregon will no longer be required to notify campus authorities when students confide in them that they’ve been sexually assaulted or harassed but say they don’t want the information reported.

* Wealth, I realized, is the adult version of magic: an incredibly powerful but ultimately arbitrary resource that transfers primarily through inheritance. It has some logic to it— but also enough randomness that those without can hope for a spontaneous windfall in the form of an improbably lucrative investment or a secret inheritance.

* Disaster: The Game!

* Unexpected and interesting: Joss Whedon isn’t just finishing Justice League; he’s been working on it for a while.

* Not So Random Trek.

* Truly, ours is the darkest timeline.

* Spiders appear to offload cognitive tasks to their webs, making them one of a number of species with a mind that isn’t fully confined within the head.

The average person keeps thirteen secrets, five of which he or she has never shared with anyone else.

* A chance meeting with Mr. Rogers.

* RIP, Denis Johnson.

* Crayola by the numbers.

If you’d bought $1,000 of Bitcoin in 2010, you’d be worth $35M.

* Uber: a cheap scam all the way down.

* Original draft of Revenge of the Sith actually treated Padme as an interesting character.

* Obituaries My Mother Wrote for Me While I Was Living in San Francisco in My Twenties.

* These birds have the right idea.

* This one cuts me. When you’re in your thirties. Call CPS. #TheResistance.

* Everything was connected, and I was fucked.

* Can someone please explain the physics of Casper?

* And N6946-BH1 is all of us right now.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 28, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve Closed Every Tab I Had Open and I’m Not Sorry Links

leave a comment »

* There are no links now. There is only the Orb.

* Twilight of the NEH.

* Chelsea Manning is free.

* CFP: Suvin Today?, A Roundtable Discussion, The Society for Utopian Studies (November 9-12, 2017 in Memphis, TN).

* CFP: In Frankenstein’s Wake.

Queer Artist Transforms Octavia Butler’s ‘Parable of the Sower’ Into Opera.

* Great literature, by the numbers. The Bachelor/ette, by the numbers.

But if you read Spencer’s three-pronged narrative as Sam Wilson’s story, it looks very different. It becomes the story of an impeccably qualified black hero whose time in the spotlight is abruptly cut off by the return of an old white man who once had his position and of a public so thirsty for the moral certainty of the Greatest Generation that it can’t see the nightmarish perversion of it that’s right in front of them until it’s too late.

* Utopia in 2017.

* LARB on the unionization struggle at Yale. A Case for Reparations at the University of Chicago. Crisis at Mizzou. Two sets of universities, two countries, two futures.

The engine of irrationality inside the rationalists. Why the “Conceptual Penis” Hoax is Just a Big Cock Up. Some Work Is Hard.

* The Ethos of the Overinvolved Parent: Colleges are adjusting to increasing contact with adults who are more ingrained in their children’s lives than ever.

* A brief history of Esperanto.

Science fiction’s new golden age in China.

* Science fiction doesn’t predict the future, it influences it.

The Secret History of William Gibson’s Never-Filmed Aliens Sequel.

Feds use anti-terror tool to hunt the undocumented. Arrests of Undocumented Immigrants Without Criminal Records Spikes 150%.

The camp is the end of the liberal order, the end of the post–World War II world, the end of human rights.

* Felony charges against inauguration protesters represent ‘historic crossroads.’ The airport lawyers who fought Trump’s Muslim ban are facing a Justice Dept. crackdown.

* Horror in Manchester. Terror in Kansas.

I thought I understood racism and mass incarceration. But nothing prepared me for what I saw in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

* The Death of the Suburban Office Park and the Rise of the Suburban Poor.

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Centre.

Sheriff Clarke leaving Milwaukee County for position with Department of Homeland Security. Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.’s departure will be good for department and Milwaukee County. Plainly, indisputably unfit. But not so fast!

* Downward spiral: Special Prosecutor? Independent Counsel? Special Counsel? What’s the Difference? Meet Bob Mueller. A forgotten lesson of Watergate: conservatives may rally around Trump. Did Trump Commit a Crime in Sharing Intelligence With Moscow? Trump Gave Russians Secrets News Orgs Are Being Asked To Withhold. Trump’s disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say. Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign. Notes made by FBI Director Comey say Trump pressured him to end Flynn probe. Trump straight-up told the Russians he fired Comey to obstruct justice and it just. doesn’t. matter. ‘He Looks More and More Like a Complete Moron.’ Even while I was just trying to put this post together more bombshells dropped: Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case. And this one! Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent. And this one! It sure seems like Michael Flynn lied to federal investigators about his Russia ties.  Shot. Chaser. Donald Trump has committed the exact offense that forced Richard Nixon to resign. Have Trump’s Problems Hit a Breaking Point? Articles of Impeachment for Donald J. Trump. “Don’t See How Trump Isn’t Completely F*cked.” Presidential impeachments are about politics, not law. This is the exact situation impeachment was meant for. Let’s hurry up. Nate Silver runs the numbers. When Will Republicans Dump Trump? Oh honey. But why not him?

* Meanwhile, on Fox News.

* Understanding the self-pardon.

* This seems fine. This seems fine. This seems fine. This seems fine. This seems fine. This seems fine. This one really does seem fine. This seems fine. This is definitely not fine.

* You think?

* Here at the end of all norms.

Trump Team Stands by Budget’s $2 Trillion Math Error.

Any Half-Decent Hacker Could Break Into Mar-a-Lago.

* Can the Anti-Trump Resistance Take the Philadelphia DA Office?

* SNL and the profiteers. Trump and the Hall of Presidents.

* MSNBC replaying its Bush-era history note for note.

* I think maybe I want to trade with the Netherlands.

* At least we can still laugh.

* Star Trek: Discovery is definitely bad. This single photo proves it! Honestly, though, I thought that aside from the strong leads the new trailer looks cheap and bad, with terrible-looking secondary characters and a narrative I have very little interest in. I was very glad when The Incomparable explained to me that none of this had anything to do with the actual plot of the show.

If The Last Jedi Really Has the Biggest Reveal in Star Wars History, What Could It Be? I’m hoping the poster is wrong, rather than (the only possibility) they’re making Luke bad.

* On Twin Peaks.

* The Secret History of Dragonlance.

Jordan Peele’s Next Project Is a Terrifying Lovecraftian Story About Race in 1950s America.

* Today in making fascism fun: 1Password’s new Travel Mode.

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts. The end of the penguins. Miles of ice collapsing into the sea. Scientists say the pace of sea level rise has nearly tripled since 1990. The Greening of Antarctica.

* Millennials and their damned avocados.

Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats.

It wasn’t just petty infighting that tanked Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It was the lack of any coherent program for the country. But don’t worry! There’s a plan.

* Laura Kipniss is apparently being sued for Unwanted Advances. The book seemed to be absolutely begging for a lawsuit; if the publisher wasn’t absolutely scrupulous it was extremely negligent.

A Very High Degree of Certainty in Future Military Operations: H.R. McMaster and the tragedy of American empire.

* Being Timothy Zahn.

* Maybe let’s not gene-sequence human intelligence.

* Can capitalism survive the rise of the machines?

* Statement of Teaching Philosophy. And on the pedestal these words appear. The circle of life. One fear. So you want to write a book. Why work so hard.

* Listen to what science teaches us, people!

* And the circus is (finally) closed.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mother’s Day Links!

leave a comment »

* Happy Mother’s Day! You Will Hate Your Husband After Your Kid Is Born.

* Humbled to be a finalist for a 2017 Locus Award.

I’d like to apologize in advance, but after consulting with my colleagues in other departments at Reality Publishing Corporation, I’m afraid we can’t publish your book, Zero Day: The Story of MS17-010, as things stand. However, I’d like to add that it was a gripping read, very well written, and we hope to see more from you in future! The World Is Getting Hacked. Why Don’t We Do More to Stop It?

It is the iPad that sits on a counter at the entrance, with a typed little note: “Here is a glimpse of what you’re missing over at the main terminal right now.”

* A pair of provocatively negative takes on Donna Haraway’s recent work.

Meet The Techno-Libertarians Praying for Dystopia.

Genetically engineered humans will arrive sooner than you think. And we’re not ready.

Transforming deaf culture at Gallaudet.

* The future is here, it just hasn’t been properly risk assessed yet.

* Teeth and the class struggle.

Why Milwaukee is among top cities for sex trafficking, what’s being done about it.

* Exploitation and Abuse at the Chicken Plant.

When Will Republicans Stand Up to Trump? Will they even ever criticize him on the record? Oh honey. No one in politics has less courage or shame than Paul Ryan. But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish. How Worried Should I Be? And just in case you need the reminder: The FBI Is Not Your Friend.

* Cuomo 2020!

At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts.

In Wisconsin, ID law proved insurmountable for many voters. Meet Trump’s voter suppression task force.

“The Rent Eats First”: Fighting Gentrification in California.

* Gaslighting and Dolezal/Tuvel (and academia more generally).

* Abolish Jeff Sessions.

Jason Chaffetz Has Been Telling House Republicans He Will Join Fox News. There should be a ten-year ban on politicians and political staff going to media (and vice versa), like with lobbying and the military.

* Man who doesn’t understand the first thing about diabetes says diabetics deserve to be sick.

For 15 years, Pixar was the best on the planet. Then Disney bought it.

Depletion of dissolved oxygen in our oceans, which can cause dead zones, is occurring much faster than expected, a new study finds.

New York Times publisher sends personal appeal to those who canceled over Bret Stephens, then publishes garbage column by Erick Ericsson for some reason. Six Ways The New York Times Could Genuinely Make Its Op-Ed More Representative of America.

* As far as I’m concerned they should do the whole movie this way.

* No! That’s not true! That’s impossible!

Yale History’s Major Comeback.

* The future looks bright. Hunt Tories, not foxes. Fandom, or, academia. Still one of my favorite sets of images on the Internet. Tumblr, perfected.

* And at least there’s something to look forward to.

Fritrump Links!

leave a comment »

* Trump’s America Conference at University College Dublin.

* Midwest area research opportunity: Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of American Popular Culture, Northern Illinois University.

* See Marquette University’s $600M plan to transform its Milwaukee campus.

Teens sue Wisconsin over nightmare conditions in juvenile jails.

Like everyone, I mocked the tweet. Deep down, I never thought it could happen to me. Now I wish I had stopped to think things through, because I didn’t know how to respond. A terrorist had actually kidnapped my baby. By all indications, he had rigged the poor little tyke with a bomb set to go off in one hour. Somehow, miraculously, I had wound up in the same room with him. And now I faced a terrible choice: do I torture the terrorist, or let my baby be blown up, by the bomb that he had rigged the baby with, and then left the baby at some remote location while winding up in a situation where he could be tortured by me?

Starvation in northern Nigeria’s Borno State is so bad that a whole slice of the population — children under 5 — appears to have died, aid agencies say.

* Amazing Twitter project: @Stl_Manifest.

It is for the rest of us to add justice and peace to that list and to end the forever war and all the death, torture, pain, and hatred it has caused.

* Behold, the Trump boom!

* Behold @realRealDukat.

* Astoundingly Complex Visualization Untangles Trump’s Business Ties. Trump: the lie list. Trump’s phone as security risk. Trump and the Republicans Are on a Suicide Mission Together. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era. You’re a little late. Is Trump Morally Unfit or Are We Facing a Constitution Crisis? Pretty dick move, Germany. This one’s unreal even by Trump standards. Sad! One week down.

* Not only is Obama, at only fifty-five, set to have one of the longest post-presidential careers of any president, but now freed from the shackles of the office — which often forced him to temper his true beliefs and triangulate — Obama can become the progressive hero his most fervent supporters always wanted him to be. Or so the theory goes.

* #TheResistance.

Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself: Psychometrics and the (counter)revolution in marketing that is helping bring fascism to power around the world.

* In a new book, The Blood of Emmett Till (Simon & Schuster), Timothy Tyson, a Duke University senior research scholar, reveals that Carolyn—in 2007, at age 72—confessed that she had fabricated the most sensational part of her testimony. “That part’s not true,” she told Tyson, about her claim that Till had made verbal and physical advances on her.

ND House passes eliminating reporting of small oil spills.

* Creeping Trumpism.

* Trump Has Never Been Popular.

* Was it ever?

* Mark Weston at Time pitches a tax strike until the coasts get adequate representation in government.

* Diabetes and mortality.

* What the Hell Is the Opening Crawl for The Last Jedi Going to Be?

* Why don’t we drink pigs’ milk?

* Why don’t some people get brain freeze?

Ten Ways Reading The Silmarillion Makes The Lord of the Rings Better, Part 1.

* Metallic hydrogen.

* Frightening times.

“Go on, go back home,” shouted one person as the 22-year-old Gambian, named as Pateh Sabally, bobbed up and down in the icy waters of the city’s main waterway.

I write out of disarray, from a field of compatriots in disarray. We’re drifting like astronauts, distantly tethered by emails like the one I just got from a friend: ‘i feel like he is making everyone sick, and bipolar./i feel like I am so incredibly ill-equipped to deal with any of this./i’m taking blind advice from all comers without feeling like anything is remotely adequate./ i feel nostalgic for all of life before Nov 8, 2016.’ Music helps and hurts. In a college classroom I played Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Winter in America’, stirring up my old Nixon-era sense of abjection, and cried in front of my students. Of course, such behaviour makes us eligible for the web-scorn of alt-right triumphalists (‘Anguished by Trump, Lena Dunham Flees to Posh Arizona Resort, Asks Rocks for “Guidance”’). At these moments we’re the special snowflakes we were wishing to see in the world, the canaries in our own dystopian coal mines. But we’ll brandish our sensitivities proudly (if not our safety pins, which may be too smug and lame a gesture), since they’re what we’ve got, and are anyway better than robotic numbness, better than ‘normalisation’.

* Paging Kim Stanley Robinson: Are scientists going to march on Washington?

The starships of the future won’t look anything like the Enterprise.

* First as tragedy, then as farce, as the feller said.

* Great moments in headlines: Georgia lawmaker shot behind adult entertainment store; was carrying thousands of dollars in storm relief money.

* If you want a vision of Thanksgiving.

* And two Northwestern University professors have demonstrated it’s possible to be good at neither research nor teaching. Of course this is no news to me.

Skilled researchers and effective teachers are neither substitutes nor complements for each other — in fact, they have no relationship at all, according to a study by two Northwestern University faculty published by the Brookings Institution Thursday.

c3hv_wzvcaeczd7

It’s Week One of Year Zero and I’m Declaring Total Tab Bankruptcy

leave a comment »

gauld-declutteringvertical-panel_-1-010617* CFP: SFRA 2017. CFP: 14th Annual Tolkien at UVM Conference. CFP: Toxic Fans. CFP: Whiteness and the American Superhero. CFP: The Gibson Critics Don’t See. Call for Applications: R.D. Mullen Fellowships. CFP for MLA 2018: Creative Economies of Science Fiction. And also at MLA 18, the science fiction panel I’ll be chairing: Satire and Science Fiction in Dystopian Times.

* This thread on Gene Roddenberry and Grace Lee Whitney makes some flat assertions that are actually just well-supported speculations, but is nonetheless is a shocking and dispiriting revisionist history of Trek that’s well worth considering.

gauld-declutteringvertical-panel_-4-010617* The part I was born to play.

Race and Zootopia.

* Rick & Morty and theodicy.

* Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data.

* The novel in the age of Obama.

* The Life-Changing Magic of Decluttering in a Post-Apocalyptic World.

Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries.

* From my colleague Rebecca Nowacek: Don’t Retreat. Teach Citizenship.

* Student evaluations: still bad.

* Keywords for the Age of Austerity: Alternative.

* I’m not normally one to defend college admin, but: Trade school fires president after he let homeless student stay in library during sub-zero weather.

* Without communism, there’s something missing from dystopian stories.

* Junot Diaz remembers Octavia Butler.

Legislation in two states seeks to end tenure at public colleges and universities. Missouri Lawmaker Who Wants to Eliminate Tenure Says It’s ‘Un-American.’

* The university as asylum. The university and the class system.

* The Changing English Major. The collapse of history as a discipline. A liberal arts college without English majors? Massive cuts at the University of Alberta.

* MLA Rejects Israel Boycott. MLA by the numbers (from the right).

* When a school hires adjuncts, where does the money go?

UBI already exists for the 1%.

* 26, 171.

* Shockingly enough, legalizing murder means more murders.

Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You?

Somali refugee in Milwaukee publishes book.

* When the homeless die, it’s up to forensic investigators to find their families.

* The End of the Rural Hospital.

* Secrets of my success: Cracking a Joke at Work Can Make You Seem More Competent.

* The FBI has been using the Geek Squad as all-purpose informants.

tumblr_ok9jpxvvno1romv9co1_500

Trump Promised to Resign From His Companies — But There’s No Record He’s Done So. Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue. Mark Hamill, National Treasure. Searching for Time-Travelers on the Eve of the Trump Inauguration. Donald Trump, David Foster Wallace, and the hobbling of shame. A mere 34. It would be crazy not to impeach him. Keep America Great. Oh, you think? The DeVos Democrats. That’ll solve it. Here’s What You Can Do to Beat Trump. Preventing 2017 America from becoming like 1934 Germany: A watchlist. Philip K. Dick vs the Time of Trump. Here’s what Sci-Fi Can Teach Us About Fascism. Stop making sense, or, writing in the age of Trump. The stories coming out of this White House are bananas. Watch this story. And this one! How jokes won the election. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. This is fine. UPDATE: This is fine.

c2jp4ubwgaais-g

* Seems legit.

* This one too.

* But this one takes the cake.

* Meanwhile, the 2020 Dem frontrunner…

* But Jeet Heer thinks we can do even worse.

* Democrats in the Wilderness. Oh, they’ve got this.

* The Electoral College Is Even Worse Than You Think. But it can always be worse.

tumblr_ojwjs8g2yh1romv9co1_500What Would Happen in the Minutes and Hours After North Korea Nuked the United States?

* The Obama speeches. A politics that surrenders every level of government to its opposition cannot win the future. It has already lost the present. But this was good.

Want to Raise Successful Boys? Science Says Do This (But Their Schools Probably Won’t).

* Teachers who drink and drinkers who teach.

Bumblebee is first bee in continental US to be listed as endangered.

The Suburbanization of the US Working Class.

You Can Write a Best-Seller and Still Go Broke.

Thousands of Skittles end up on an icy road. But that’s not the surprising part.

Forced to watch child porn for their job, Microsoft employees developed PTSD, they say. The people behind the AI curtain.

* Ha ha ha, he’s the sheriff of my county, what a character, this is not frightening at all.

* Lessons from Octavia Butler: Surviving Trump.

* I still think every adult who let this get to trial should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

MST3K is that for me. It saved my life, at least twice. There’s no hyperbole in that declaration.

Sherlock‘s bizarrely self-aware problem with women.

* About that biometric password you’re born with and will never be able to change.

Women only said 27% of the words in 2016’s biggest movies.

Most primate species are now threatened with extinction.

* Neanderthals were people too.

When a Video-Game World Ends.

* Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich.

* Twilight of the cruelty factory circus.

* “We Will Miss Antibiotics When They’re Gone.”

* “Genderless Nipples account frustrates Instagram.”

* Disability and as-seen-on-TV.

Wolf-Sized Otters Prowled the World Six Million Years Ago.

Not all that long ago, as the editor in chief of Gawker.com, Daulerio was among the most influential and feared figures in media. Now the forty-two-year-old is unemployed, his bank has frozen his life savings of $1,500, and a $1,200-per-month one-bedroom is all he can afford. He’s renting here, he says, to be near the counselors and support network he has come to rely on lately.

* I still believe in Arrested Development Season Five.

* Your blast from the past: Prodigy Online’s MadMaze.

* Superheroes and the kids today.

* Episode 8 has a name.

* Autism causes vaccines.

* And RIP, Mark Fisher. A memorial fund for his wife and son. His piece on depression.

1456585852-20160227

Written by gerrycanavan

January 24, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Good Morning, It’s the Weekend

leave a comment »

3055253-inline-batmansoundsa-z* Teach the controversy: are students cuddly little bunnies to be drowned, or shot with Glocks? This story is actually worse than even the original reporting indicated.

I’ve argued here before (I think) that probably the greatest thing for-profit colleges could do to scrub the designation “for-profit” of its negative connotation is to win a few sportsball championships. That’s how traditional not-for-profit colleges did it. There was a time when the idea of a residential college for wealthy young men was considered very strange (and also very effeminate). College sports “butched” up college and it also gave the millions who would never in a million years qualify for admission a fictive relationship with a system that is, by design, unequal. Sportsball and For-Profit Legitimacy.

The Grand Jury in the Tamir Rice Case May Not Have Taken a Vote on Charges.

* Salary cuts, layoffs at ISIS. Meanwhile, incredible if true accusations from the FBI against a Kent State professor.

* Planet Nine.

* David Bowie and the Anthropocene.

Making a Murderer’s creators have finally responded to criticisms of missing evidence.

A French Communist Utopia in Texas.

* Jesuit adjunctivitis.

* Saying “no” at Oberlin.

* Medieval robots.

* Liberalism and eugenics.

Swedish TV Accidentally Runs Kids’ Show Subtitles On A Political Debate.

The Big Search to Find Out Where Dogs Come From.

* Coates v. Sanders. Killer Mike vs. Coates. Guthrie v. Trump (Sr.). Meanwhile: Democrats in disarray!

Bloomberg wants to save everyone from Trump. But a lot of people don’t know who he is.

* Four tendencies in liberalism.

How One Man Tried to Write Women Out of CRISPR, the Biggest Biotech Innovation in Decades.

* Counterpoint: Harley Quinn is an insanely flawed character almost impossible to reconcile with feminist norms.

Forget Schrödinger’s Cat: The Latest Quantum Puzzle Is About Three Pigeons in Two Holes.

Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder.

Chess forbidden in Islam, rules Saudi mufti, but issue not black and white. This part of the history of games I always find fascinating.

* It’s called anthroponuclear multiple worlds theory, and it’s basically my actual cosmology.

* The singular “they” is your word of the year. A chronology of early nonbinary pronouns. A little more. Bring back he’er, him’er, his’er.

* When DoD paid Duke U $335K to investigate ESP in dogs. But more research is required.

* Virtual reality porn, the god that failed.

* Concept art for Episode 8 (not really). At least it might help tide you over.

* What if not having a beard is nonhygenic? Checkmate.

Plastic to outweigh fish in oceans by 2050, study warns. Meanwhile, the same headline they run every January, just with all the numbers incremented by one.

* Twilight of De Niro. AND BEYOND.

* The end of parking.

* Sold in the room: Orphan Black Writer Making Time-Travel Movie For Netflix.

* A Brief History of Jumbo.

* Good luck, East Coast!

And it’s possible that there is a “mirror universe” where time moves backwards, say scientists. Of course the poets always knew.

12628504_850148431768366_9085295778990888653_o

Written by gerrycanavan

January 22, 2016 at 8:30 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Getting into the Real Good Procrastination Now Links

leave a comment »

* Bush-era flashback and general-election-2016 flashforward, courtesy of Chris Hayes: George Saunders’s The Braindead Megaphone.

* Today in stadium boondoggles: St. Louis has stadium debt, but doesn’t have a team.

* An ecological argument sure to catch fire: What we can do is learn to offer each other patience, compassion, courage, and love. We can learn to accept that just as every human life has its natural end, so too does every civilization. Contrary to what Purdy argues, we don’t need more politics. We need more hospice. We need to learn how to die.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. While neoliberal capitalism has been remarkably successful at laying claim to the future, it used to belong to the left — to the party of utopia. Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’s Inventing the Future argues that the contemporary left must revive its historically central mission of imaginative engagement with futurity. It must refuse the all-too-easy trap of dismissing visions of technological and social progress as neoliberal fantasies. It must seize the contemporary moment of increasing technological sophistication to demand a post-scarcity future where people are no longer obliged to be workers; where production and distribution are democratically delegated to a largely automated infrastructure; where people are free to fish in the afternoon and criticize after dinner. It must combine a utopian imagination with the patient organizational work necessary to wrest the future from the clutches of hegemonic neoliberalism.

tumblr_nzx16hOyNR1qap9gno1_500* Eugene V. Debs, accelerationist.

Keep your scythe, the real green future is high-tech, democratic, and radical.

Inside the Police-Industrial Complex.

* Sesame Street has heard your gentrification jokes, and they have decided they are really into it.

* From my friend James Tate Hill: On Being a Writer Who Can’t Read.

* On the Run on trial.

* Keywords for the Age of Austerity 25: Competencies.

Before I Can Fix This Tractor, We Have to Fix Copyright Law.

* Relax, nerds: It Turns Out the Next Game of Thrones Book Isn’t Late at All.

* The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland. A counterpoint.

* My favorite little bit of fan fiction/overthinking from The Force Awakens, I think. Elsewhere on the Star Wars front: The 13 Most Nonsensical Theories About The Identity of Supreme Leader Snoke.

* The end of Mad Max?

MST3K is that for me. It saved my life, at least twice.

* An interview with Ahmed Best. From the archives.

* Successful squirrel cyber attacks as of January 2016.

Angry Militia Leader: Stop Mailing Us Dildos.

* Life in Wisconsin: Was it a ‘frostquake’ or an Air Force sonic boom? And then there’s the education beat.

* If left-liberal people don’t stop embarrassing themselves with this Ted Cruz eligibility stuff I might vote for Cruz in protest. Okay, no, but seriously this is embarrassing.

More Than Half of Americans Reportedly Have Less Than $1,000 to Their Name.

This Professor Fell In Love With His Grad Student — Then Fired Her For It. And you’ll never guess what Caltech did next!

* I’m considered adding a running closer to these link posts that’s just headlines from the day’s Journal-Sentinel that amuse me. Today, that’s Shorewood man pursues insanity defense in voter fraud case.

* But for now, nothing gold can stay: Mysterious Wow! Signal Came From Comets, Not Aliens, Claims Scientist.

tumblr_o0oi4dLpSo1rm4grxo3_r1_500

Tolkien, THE FORCE AWAKENS, and the Sadness of Expanded Universes

with 40 comments

(some spoilers near the end of the post, though I try to be vague)

Not long after completing The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien briefly began work on a sequel called The New Shadow, set 100 to 150 years later during the reign of Aragorn’s son Eldarion. (The main link between the two stories is the minor character Beregond, the noble but disgraced soldier of Gondor whose son, Borlas, would have been a major character in The New Shadow.) The New Shadow reveals that the eucatastrophic fairy-tale ending of The Return of the King was extremely short-lived; with the Elves and the Wizards gone from Middle-earth, the Dwarves moving underground, and the Hobbits now isolated in what amounts to an enclave in the Shire, Men are quickly falling back into their old bad habits. In fact the Men of Gondor already seem to have forgotten much of the details of the War of the Ring, even though it remains in living memory: they seem not to remember, or take seriously, the fact that they once strode with gods and angels in a war against pure evil, and were victorious. Instead, children play at being Orcs for fun; the death of Elessar has been an occasion for political striving and reactionary plots; and even something like a secret death cult of devil-worshipping rebels seems to be spreading through the elites of Gondor.

Tolkien wrote 13 pages of it.

He later wrote:

I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow — but it would have been just that. Not worth doing.

Instead, Tolkien turned his attention back to the imaginative project that had more or less defined his life: The Silmarillion, begun between 1914 and 1917, which he tinkered with on and off until his death in 1973. The Silmarillion has always marked, I think, the grey line between being a casual Tolkien fan and becoming a Tolkien enthusiast — a path that then leads one even further into Christopher Tolkien’s twelve-volume History of Middle-Earth and the discovery of Tolkien’s own very elaborate (and somewhat fannish) self-commentary on his legendarium alongside many multiple alternate drafts of the narratives that form the barely glimpsed mythological background of The Lord of the Rings. 

The Silmarillion is nominally a prequel — ostensibly it is the Elvish legends that Bilbo translated and appended to the Red Book while he was retired in Rivendell — but the published version of the book includes a two-page summary of the War of the Ring that culminates in a brief, New-Shadow-style glimpse past Aragorn’s reign. We are reminded of the sapling of the White Tree that Aragorn and Gandalf find in the mountains near Gondor, which Aragorn plants in Minas Tirith as a symbol of his reign, and told that “while it still grew there the Elder Days were not wholly forgotten in the hearts of the Kings.” While it still grew there — which is to say, it doesn’t grow there anymore.

I don’t know that I would call this material “sinister,” but I taught The Silmarillion this semester after having tried and failed to read it as a child, and I think it would certainly be fair to call it “depressing.” What looks, in The Lord of the Rings, like a fairy-tale about how good and decent folk are able to do the impossible and defeat evil (with just a little bit of help from the divine, here and there) becomes in The Silmarillion and The New Shadow and Tolkien’s pseudo-theological commentary only the briefest, most temporary respite from a nightmare history in which things always turn out wrong, millennia after millennia after millennia. In fact Arda, the planet on which the continent of Middle-earth rests, is a cursed and fallen place, infused with evil and wickedness at its material core, and the only thing to do is raze the place and start over, as Eru Ilúvatar will at long last at the very end of time. To study Tolkien beyond Lord of the Rings is to come to a keen understanding of how tragic this history actually is, how Return of the King looks like a happy ending mostly because that’s where Tolkien (quite deliberately and self-consciously) decided to stop writing. But the Fourth Age was no better than the Third, and likely quite worse, and on and on through the degenerative millennia that bring us to the end of the Sixth Age and the beginning of the Seventh with the fall of the Third Reich and the development of the atom bomb.

I’ve been thinking about The New Shadow since it became clear that The Force Awakens would be borrowing from the Expanded Universe the notion that the Battle of Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi did not mark a full or permanent victory for the Rebel Alliance. The Force Awakens is The New Shadow, sinister and depressing, except they decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I joked in the link post earlier this morning that you can tell who read the EU novels and who didn’t based on whether your reaction to The Force Awakens is sadness — but the events of The Force Awakens, as sad as they are, are really only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how horribly Luke, Leia, and Han are punished in the EU novels, over and over, as everything they attempt to build turns to ash and the galaxy repeatedly falls into chaos, war, and catastrophe. In the farthest reaches of the EU universe, the Star Wars Legacy comics, set around 140 years or so after the Battle of Yavin, Luke’s descendent Cade Skywalker wanders a Galaxy that is again in war, as it always is, with a resurgent Empire again ruled by Sith masters — and when one casts oneself into the mists of time in the other direction (in material like the Knights of the Old Republic games, set thousands of years before A New Hope) one finds more or less the same basic story of genocidal total war playing out there too. Star Wars has always been, in the EU at least, a universe more or less without hope, that only looked hopeful to casual fans because they were looking too closely at just a very slender part of it.

This is why, while I can certainly understand the impulse to complain about The Force Awakens as derivative, I really think this is more repetition with a difference than mere or base or stupid repetition. One Death Star is a horror; two Death Stars and one Starkiller Base and whatever horrific murder innovation the First Order will come up with for Episode 9 is something more like the inexorable logic of history, grinding us all to dust. Likewise, it’s true that The Force Awakens hits many of the same story beats as the Original Trilogy, but almost always in ways that are worse: the death of Obi-Wan was sad but mysterious, suggestive of a world beyond death which the Jedi could access, while the death of The Force Awakens‘s version of Obi-Wan is not only brutally material but visceral, and permanent, as far as we have any reason to believe right now. The loss of Alderaan is sad, but the loss of what appears to be the entire institutional apparatus of the resurgent Republic is unthinkably devastating; aside from the loss of life it would take decades for the Galaxy to recover from such an event, even if they weren’t having to fight off the First Order while doing it. The film is extremely vague about the relationship between the Republic and “the Resistance,” but it appears to be a proxy guerrilla war against the First Order fought inside their own territory, secretly funded by the Republic — and prosecuted by Leia, Akbar, Nien Nunb, and all our heroes from the first movies, whose lives are now revealed as permanently deformed by a forever war they can never put down or escape. (If you want to ask me where Lando is, I think he said “good enough” after Endor and walked away, and that sort of makes me hope they never find him, never drag him back into it.) It’s horrible to lose a parent to addiction, or to mental illness, or to ordinary everyday cruelty, however you want to allegorize Vader’s betrayal of his children — but how much worse would it be to lose a child to it, how much worse would such a thing taint every aspect of your life and poison all your joy.

That Star Wars implies a world of sorrow belied by the spectacle of Jedi‘s happy ending isn’t a surprise to me — I told you, I read the EU books — but I can see why it’s a surprise to someone whose last memory of these people is smiles, a fireworks display, hugs, and a picnic. Return of the Jedi never asked us what we thought would happen when those people woke up the next morning and the Empire still had 90% of its guns, ships, territory, generals, and soldiers, ready to descend into vicious, scorched-earth fanaticism as they slid into defeat; it just wasn’t that kind of story. The Force Awakens is that kind of story, and I find that interesting enough to be excited about 8 and 9, to see where they try to take this story now that it turns out fairy-tales aren’t real and that deeply entrenched totalitarian systems don’t have exhaust ports, trench runs, or single points of failure. So I think the emerging critical consensus that The Force Awakens infantilizes its audience by re-presenting us with the same images we all saw as children is actually deeply wrong: The Force Awakens condemns Luke, Leia, and Han to actually live inside history, rather than transcend it, and it condemns us too.