Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Existential Comics

Tuesday Morning Links!

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* The course descriptions for Marquette’s Fall 2017 English classes are up at the department website. Check them out! I’m teaching Tolkien and a grad seminar on utopia. 

* Also in Marquette news! Marquette to host ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ conference in April.

Becoming a parent forces you to think about the nature of the problem — which is, in a lot of ways, the problem of nature […] the realities of aging and sickness and mortality become suddenly inescapable. […] [My wife] said something during that time I will never forget. “If I had known how much I was going to love him,” she said, “I’m not sure I would have had him.” Mark O’Connell on transhumanism and immortality.

* From the great Ali Sperling: Reading Lovecraft in the Anthropocene. And this review of Alan Moore’s Jerusalem from the great David Higgins!

* Adam Roberts reviews New York 2140. Another review, from a climate scientist. And an interview with Stan. My review comes out in LARB this weekend…

The Most Cringeworthy Monuments to Colleges’ Innovation Jargon.

Perverse outcomes: UC Berkeley deletes 20,000 audio and visual lectures in the name of compliance with the ADA.

Speculative Fiction and Survival in Iraq.

* Is it really so hard to understand that when your students go broke just trying to graduate they aren’t exactly moved to donate later?

harcourt_fenton_mudd_2267* The liberal arts at Harvey Mudd College, whose graduates out-earn Harvard and Stanford.

* You-might-be-from-Wisconsin-if at Ask MetaFilter.

President Roosevelt signed the order on February 19, 1942, almost exactly 75 years ago. By spring, American citizens would be arriving at the Fresno and Pinedale camps: our neighbors.

* Wisconsin is apparently harassing trans state employees.

* Chaos, again. This is fine. Even James Comey. Twilight of Reince Preibus. Ten Questions for President Trump. Ten More Questions for President Trump. Remember when it was scandalous that Obama, years before he became a politician, once sold his house?

It is through the Justice Department that the administration is likely to advance its nationalist plans — to strengthen the grip of law enforcement, raise barriers to voting and significantly reduce all forms of immigration, promoting what seems to be a longstanding desire to reassert the country’s European and Christian heritage. It’s not an accident that Sessions, who presumably could have chosen from a number of plum assignments, opted for the role of attorney general. The Department of Justice is the most valuable perch from which to transform the country in the way he and Bannon have wanted. With an exaggerated threat of disorder looming, the nation’s top law-enforcement agency could become a machine for trying to fundamentally change who gets to be an American and what rights they can enjoy.

The emerging effort — dozens more rules could be eliminated in the coming weeks — is one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades. It is the leading edge of what Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, described late last month as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”

* “Forever war, but too much.”

An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the American government has been detained for more than two days after flying into Los Angeles International Airport, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed on Saturday. Profiles of immigrant arrested in Austin. Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws. (Note this lawsuit was filed in 2014.This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World. And if it were a book, it’d seem laughably contrived: A letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Resisting ICE. Here we go again.

* 4chan and the Great Meme War.

* Russia and the Cyber Cold War.

* And while we’re on the subject: The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation. I think this is a very good reminder of the need to stay calm and detached from the chaos of the news cycle.

Instead, a new model is proposed: the president keeps everyone in a constant state of excitement and alarm. He moves fast and breaks things. He leads by causing commotion. As energy in the political system rises he makes no effort to project calm or establish an orderly White House. And if he keeps us safe it’s not by being himself a safe, steady, self-controlled figure, but by threatening opponents and remaining brash and unpredictable— maybe a touch crazy. This too is psychological work, but of a different kind.

* Democrats keep trusting demographics to save them. It hasn’t worked yet — but maybe this time…

NASA unveils plan to give Mars an ‘Earth-like’ atmosphere.

House Republicans Unveil Bill To Repeal Obamacare. The GOP health bill doesn’t know what problem it’s trying to solve.

Austerity measures don’t actually save money. But they do disempower workers. Which is why governments pursue them in the first place.

* No! It can’t be! Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win.

* Losing West Virginia.

Contrary to What You Learned in Sex Ed, You Can Get Pregnant While Pregnant.

* Mid-decade gerrymander in Georgia.

* Autism and Addiction.

* What We’ve Learned from Giving Dolphins LSD.

In a world first, a teenager with sickle cell disease achieved complete remission after an experimental gene therapy at Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris, researchers say.

* Possible lynching outside Seattle, in 2017.

* The end of suburbia.

* In the richest country in human history, children have “lunch debt.”

The only way in which a game is guaranteed to end is when the player abandons their device. Everything else is game design.

“These devices don’t have emotional intelligence,” said Allison Druin, a University of Maryland professor who studies how children use technology. “They have factual intelligence.” How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants.

* Finding a jury of your peers in a racially segregated society.

* A colony in a nation.

Divination hasn’t disappeared; it’s taken over the world.

But these second-order obstacles aren’t enough to explain the current collapse of poll-driven political certainty. They’re just excuses, even if they’re not untrue. Something about the whole general scheme of polling—the idea that you can predict what millions of undecided voters will do by selecting a small group and then just simply asking them—is out of whack. We need to think seriously about what the strange game of election-watching actually is, in terms of our relation to the future, our power to choose our own outcomes, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the mysteries of fate. And these questions are urgent. Because predictions of the future don’t simply exist in the future, but change the way we act in the present. Because in our future something monstrous is rampaging: it paces hungrily toward us, and we need to know if we’ll be able to spot it in time.

When I said that opinion polls are sibyls and soothsayers, it wasn’t just a figure of speech. Opinion polling has all the trappings of a science—it has its numbers and graphs, its computational models, its armies of pallid drones poring over the figures. It makes hypotheses and puts them to the test. But polls are not taken for what they are: a report on what a small number of people, fond of changing their minds, briefly pretended to think. Instead, we watch the tracking graphs as if the future were playing itself out live in front of us. The real structure of the electoral-wonk complex is more mystical than materialist: it’s augury and divination, a method handed down by Prometheus to a starving and shivering humanity at the faint dawn of time. Behind all the desktop screens and plate-glass of his office, the buzz of data and the hum of metrics, Nate Silver retreats to a quiet, dark, and holy room. He takes the knife and slits in one stroke the throat of a pure-white bull; its blood arcs and drizzles in all directions. He examines its patterns. And he knows.

There’s a never-ending fount of stories you can write about when someone is breaking away from canon or not, and create many controversies all the way through preproduction and production and even until a movie opens, about whether or not they’re breaking canon. Is it a blasphemous movie or not? At some point, you gotta stop and say, Is there this expectation that it’s like we’re doing Godfather Part I and II, only it’s going to nine movies? And we’re just gonna cut them into this kind of Berlin Alexanderplatz that never ends? We’re gonna suddenly take a moment to really savor the fact that these movies exist in an identical tone? The reality to me is that you can’t have interesting movies if you tell a filmmaker, “Get in this bed and dream, but don’t touch the pillows or move the blankets.” You will not get cinema. You will just get a platform for selling the next movie on that bed, unchanged and unmade. James Mangold on Logan.

* The making of The Silmarillion.

* And we have but one choice: the Ring must be destroyed.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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What Day Is It? Links

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* Jaimee’s book was reviewed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week. We spent the weekend in DC for her book launch and reading at the Folger, which was amazing. She just absolutely killed it. Buy her book! And come to her reading in Milwaukee next week…

Part of the issue is an image problem around the impact of humanities research on the wider world. The public should know about Priscilla Wald, an English professor at Duke University, whose explanation of the “outbreak narrative” of contagion is changing the way scientists think about the spread of infectious diseases. Yeah they should! Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing… and ignored.

* “The Time Traveller,” a story in tweets by Alberto Chimal.

* “Nuclear War” Turns 50: A Fun Game about Human Extinction.

Slave labor either physically built the modern American university or was the wealth vehicle that conditioned its making.

* Professorial anger, then and now. A bit more here.

Every NYT Higher-Ed Thinkpiece Ever Written. How to write an essay about teaching that will not be published in the NYTChronicle, IHE, or anywhere else.

* Bousquet against alt-ac.

* The semipublic intellectual.

* What happens when you fiddle with just one knob on the infernal machine: rich people get richer.

* Billionaires and superstorms.

* Nice work if you can get it.

* Meanwhile.

Are Public Universities Going to Disappear?

* The care work of the (mostly female) academic: “I estimate that someone cries in my office at least once every three weeks.”

* Playboy‘s science fiction.

* An incredibly rare Tolkien-annotated map of Middle-Earth was just discovered in a used bookstore.

* Highly irregular: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be considered the eighth book in the Harry Potter series.

In a final speech to the synod, Pope Francis endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States, while taking some clear swipes at conservatives who hold up church doctrine above all else, and use it to cast judgment on others.

What Happens if a Former CEO Actually Goes to Prison?

Cop Attacks High School Student In Her Classroom.

The Hoverboard Scene In Back To The Future 2 Nearly Killed A Stuntwoman. Amazing story.

* Look, I’m not made of stone.

* A Google Tour Through The Underground: How to Read a Russian Novel Set in the Moscow Metro.

* NLRB Returns to Grad Student Unions.

* Bring on the climate trials: ICN has demonstrated that as early as the late 1970s, Exxon scientists were briefing top executives that climate change was real, dangerous, and caused by their product. By the early 1980s, their own climate models were predicting—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since. Meanwhile.

* David Mitchell on A Wizard of Earthsea.

* College sports: still the worst.

A statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian city of Odessa has been given a sci-fi twist – by being transformed into Darth Vader.

* Portugal has apparently smartly baked the potential for coups in its official constitutional order.

Emolument took data from both the US and UK and found that while science grads get a bit of a headstart straight out of university in terms of pay, in later life it’s people with humanities degrees who tend to get bigger pay cheques.

* How to Make a Virtuoso Violinist: One mother’s devastating study of 100 musical prodigies.

A DEA Agent Who Helped Take Down Silk Road Is Going to Prison for Unbelievable Corruption.

The Ecological Uncanny: On the “Southern Reach” Trilogy.

* Boondoggle watch: The City of Milwaukee has been awarded a $14.2 million federal grant for construction of a spur connecting the streetcar with the lakefront.

* “Many Colleges’ New Emergency Plan: Try to Account for Every Possibility.” Well, that’ll work.

Should a Cal State Fullerton math professor be forced to have his students use $180 textbook, written by his boss? Why is Cal State letting the math department chair require his own book?

The Man Behind the Dragon Tattoo: Former Internationalen editor Håkan Blomqvist on the socialist politics of his colleague Stieg Larsson.

“They didn’t hire me, they hired me minus 35 pounds,” Fisher recently quipped.

* The arc of history is long, but Subway will finally pay for calling an eleven-inch sandwich a “footlong.” Next up: they shouldn’t be allowed to call that bread.

* Miracles and wonders: Landmark Huntington’s trial starts.

* Star Wars but with philosophers.

* “Blood alcohol concentration predicts utilitarian responses in moral dilemmas.”

* Sesame Street will introduce an autistic muppet.

* I hate it when Yglesias is right, but sometimes he’s right: Democrats are in denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble. Down-ballot the Obama years have been a complete disaster in ways no one in the party seems ready or able to face.

Wesleyan University’s student assembly is considering substantial cuts to the student newspaper’s budget, in a move that is surely *completely unrelated* to a truly stupid recent uproar when the paper published an unpopular op-ed. The paper is soliciting donations to stay alive.

* My brilliant colleague C.J. Hribal on his old house.

* The secret linguistic life of girls.

* Talkin’ Trash with Brian Thill and Pinar Yoldas.

Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal.

* A literary history of whales.

The Deadly Legacy of HIV Truthers.

Things Men In Literature Have Died From.

Exploring ‘Cartozia Tales,’ The Crowdfunded Fantasy Anthology for Readers of All Ages.

* Nabokov v. Kafka on drawing the monster.

* “Gentlemen, I just don’t belong here”: throwing shade the Le Guin way.

* Guys, we are definitely living inside a simulation. And possibly just a few years away from either crashing it or figuring out how to hack it.

* And teach the controversy: Luke Skywalker, Sith Lord. I really think this is just an effective viral marketing ploy, but I’ll concede I’m starting to have my doubts.


Written by gerrycanavan

October 27, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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It’s Been Much Too Long And Now There Are Much Too Many Links

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* Job ad (probably best for Midwest-located scholars): Visiting Assistant Professor of English (3 positions), Marquette University.

* There’s a new issue of SFFTV out, all about the Strugatskiis.

* CFP: Octavia E. Butler: Celebrating Letters, Life, and Legacy – February 26-28, 2016 – Spelman College.

* Episode 238 of the Coode Street Podcast: Kim Stanley Robinson and Aurora.

* The weird worlds of African sci-fi.

* Afrofuturism and Black Panther.

* To save California, read Dune.

* All episodes of I Was There Too are great, but last week’s Deadwood-themed episode was especially so.

* Jameson’s essay on Neuromancer from Polygraph 25 (and his new book The Ancients and the Postmoderns: On the Historicity of Formsis available at Public Books.

“My college has had five deans in the last 10 years. They want to make their mark. That’s fine, but the longer I’m in one place as a faculty chair, I see why faculty are cynical and jaded,” Dudley said. “Every time there is turnover, there is a new initiative. There is a new strategic plan. So many faculty are just at the point where they say ‘just leave us alone.’ “

Pomp and Construction: Colleges Go on a Building Tear.

6 Ways Campus Cops Are Becoming More Like Regular Police.

* Diversity and the Ivy Ceiling.

* What academic freedom is not.

7) Academic freedom is not a gratuitous entitlement for privileged faculty but essential in achieving societal progressivity. Those with academic freedom are more likely to produce higher quality research and effective teaching that benefits society, if not always the ruling elites. I frequently state in class: “If I am not free, you aren’t free! For me to do my job, I must speak freely and teach outside the lines to help you expand your frame of knowledge and question your world.” There may not be a” truth, however earnest the search, but the attempt to find it must be unfettered. Society spends billions of dollars on higher education, and the investment is more likely to reap dividends if revisionism, and not orthodoxy, prevails.

* Why Is It So Hard to Kill a College? Why do you sound so disappointed?

An LSU associate professor has been fired for using curse words and for telling the occasional sexually-themed joke to undergraduate students, creating what university administrators describe as a “hostile learning environment” that amounted to sexual harassment.

* Josh Marshall: Here’s an (fun in a surreal, macabre way) article about a recent example of how Twitter has dramatically increased the velocity at which bullshit is able to travel at sea level and at higher altitudes. In fact, the increase is so great that Twitter has become a self-contained, frictionless bullshit perpetual motion machine capable of making an episode like this possible. This is the story of Zandria Robinson, an African-American assistant professor of sociology at the University of Memphis who made some that were both genuinely outrageous and also a peerless example of jargony academic nonsense-speak, became a target of right-wing media and twitter-hounds, then got fired by the University of Memphis because of the controversy, thus making the University a target of left-wingers on Twitter and driving Twitter to cross-partisan paroxysms of outrage and self-congratulation. Except that she wasn’t fired and actually wasn’t even an employee of the University of Memphis in the first place. Thanks, Twitter.

Supreme Court to Consider Case That Could Upend Unions at Public Colleges.

* Adjuncting is not a career, TIAA-CREF edition.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 19: Resilience.

* Fraternities, man, I don’t know.

* Right-wing SF and the Charleston attack.

* Fusion is mapping the monuments of the Confederacy. Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy? Because our textbooks and monuments are wrong.

* Tomorrow’s iconic photos today.


* There’s a dark side to everything: the secret history of gay marriage.

* Andrew Sullivan’s victory lap.

* Gay rights in America, state by state (updated 26 June 2015).

* The Y2Gay Problem.

How do you tell a person to choose between having food to eat and getting married?

* When docents go rogue.

* When image recognition goes rogue.

Greece just defaulted, but the danger is only beginning.

* Puerto Rico and debt.

Now We Know Why Huge TPP Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From the Public.

Let that sink in for a moment: “[C]ompanies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals….” And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets; they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies’ ability to collect what they claim are “expected future profits.”

* The Rise and Fall of LSD.

* How FIFA Ruined Soccer.

* Rape on the night shift.

* Self-driving cars and the coming pro-driving movement.

* Class and the professorate.

* “I’ve been a boy for three years and I was a girl for six.” Frontline on growing up trans.

* Why are colleges investing in prisons in the first place? Don’t answer that.

* The view from over there: 38 ways college students enjoy ‘Left-wing Privilege’ on campus.

How to Avoid Indoctrination at the Hands of ‘Your Liberal Professor.’

* Against students.

You Were Right. Whole Foods Is Ripping You Off.

* “You have the wrong body for ballet.”

* The toy manufacturing sublime.

* Barack Obama is officially one of the most consequential presidents in American history. I really don’t think going on WTF is that big a deal.

* What Went Wrong: Assessing Obama’s Legacy. [paywalled, sorry]

* Debating polygamy: aff and neg (and more).

Alex Hern decided not to do anything for a week – unless he’d read all the terms and conditions first. Seven days and 146,000 words later, what did he learn?

Philip K Dick’s only novel for children to be reissued in UK.

Postcapitalist Posthumans.

* Preschool justice.

* The World Without Work. The Hard Work of Taking Apart Post-Work Fantasy.

* The Sweatshop Feminists.

Keita “Katamari Damacy” Takahashi is still making the best games.

The Assassin Who Triggered WWI Just Got His Own Monument.

Every state flag is wrong, and here is why.

US military admits it carried out secret race-based experiments to test impact of mustard gas on US soldiers.

Don Featherstone, Inventor of the Pink Flamingo (in Plastic), Dies at 79.

* A people’s history of the Slinky.

* How to fix science.

J.K. Rowling Announces “Not a Prequel” Play About Harry Potter’s Parents. There’s just no way we’re not going to get an official “next generation” sequel series in the next few decades.

Court Affirms It’s Completely Legal To Swear Loudly At Police.

* Oh, but we have fun, don’t we?

* They’re making a sequel to Lucy, more or less just for me.

* Kotsko flashback: Marriage and meritocracy.

If in the Mad Men era the mark of success was the ability to essentially ignore one’s family while enjoying access to a wide range of sexual experiences, now the situation has reversed: monogamy and devotion are the symbol of success. And the reason this can make sense as a symbol of elite arrival is that the trappings of a bourgeois nuclear family can no longer be taken for granted as they were in the postwar heyday of the “traditional family” — they are the exception rather than the norm. In the lower and working classes, successful marriages are increasingly difficult to sustain amid the strain and upheaval that comes from uncertain employment and financial prospects (a problem that is compounded by the systematic criminalization of young men in minority communities). While marriage is still a widely-shared goal, the situation now is similar to that with college: a relatively small elite get to really enjoy its benefits, while a growing number of aspirants are burdened with significant costs (student debt, the costs of divorce) without much to show for it.

I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery.

* When police kill the mentally ill.

* Despair bears

A broken bail system makes poor defendants collateral damage in modern policing strategies.

Drug cops took a college kid’s savings and now 13 police departments want a cut.

The 20 Best Lines From the Supreme Court Dissent Calling to End the Death Penalty.

* Inside Rikers Island.

Someone is turning the Saved By The Bell Wiki into a thing of beauty.

* Dystopia now: “Predictive Policing.” You’re being secretly tracked with facial recognition, even in church. Air pollution and dementia. Rivers of death. The dark future of ‘Advantageous’: What happens when the difference between child-rearing and job training collapses?

* Plus, there’s this creepy shit.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine Abramsverse Star Trek sequels, forever.

* No one else apply for this.

* And they said my English major would never be useful.


Written by gerrycanavan

July 2, 2015 at 8:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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