Posts Tagged ‘existentialism’
* “Whoa,” said the gangster/minotaur, awed at how close he’d just come to losing his forearm. He was beginning to understand that this wasn’t the relatively straightforward world of street-level dope dealing anymore; this was Dungeons and Dragons.
* I’m glad somebody finally paged KSR: “Why Elon Musk’s Mars Vision Needs ‘Some Real Imagination.'”
* “People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.” This is how computer scientist Pedro Domingos sums up the issue in his 2015 book The Master Algorithm. Even the many researchers who reject the prospect of a ‘technological singularity’ — saying the field is too young — support the introduction of relatively untested AI systems into social institutions.
* One teaching artist sees it differently. “There will always be bad artists with a lot of money who want to go to art school,” she said. On the Future of the MFA.
* There’s More to Life Than Being Happy: On Viktor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning. Relatedly: The World’s Happiest Man Wishes You Wouldn’t Call Him That.
* Degree programs in French, geology, German, philosophy and women’s studies are suspended, effectively immediately. Eight additional majors within existing departments, six teaching programs and four graduate programs have been shut down. The university is planning a teach-out program for currently enrolled students. Tenured faculty members in affected programs will be reassigned to different departments. The future of the campus’s nursing, dental education and medical imaging programs is still under discussion. Degree programs in environmental geology and environmental policy were cut previously, in July.
* Advice for how to use Twitter as an academic. Of course, as everyone knows, the only winning move is not to play.
* From David M. Perry: “My non-verbal son communicates through ‘Hamilton.'”
* Dylan, Christ, and Slow Train Coming. Teaching the controversy: Kurt Vonnegut in 1991: “Bob Dylan Is the Worst Poet Alive.” Imperialism-in-Artistry: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Win Is Proof Adichie Is Right about Beyonce. Local Boy Makes Good. But not too good: The Nobel Prize Committee Have Given Up on Trying to Get in Touch with Bob Dylan.
* The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of “imaginative power,” and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.
* Another gerrymandering primer. I’m inclined to make a joke about Obama’s proceduralism even ruining his post-presidency but this really is a major issue worth throwing his weight against.
* Atlas Obscura: The Land of Make Believe.
* And then there’s this one: Earlier this October, at a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice, London paid its rent to the Queen. The ceremony proceeded much as it had for the past eight centuries. The city handed over a knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails to Barbara Janet Fontaine, the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial position in England. The job was created in the 12th century to keep track of all that was owed to the crown.
* Thank god the Mac version isn’t ready yet: Civ VI is out.
* A dark, grittier Captain Planet: Leonardo DiCaprio wants to make a Captain Planet movie.
* Hungerford makes Infinite Jest represent how commercial publishers and their enablers in the mainstream media engineer a novel into a canonizable success. The market is corrupt, she says. But is it any more corrupt or distasteful than the publication and marketing of her university press book? “Post 45” is a scholarly association; Hungerford is one of nine Board members. Two other Board members are the series editors for the “Post 45” imprint. The “Advance Praise” for Making Literature Now includes effusive comments by two people whom Hungerford praises in the book, a blurb by a former colleague at Yale, and other comments so hyperbolic that they appear to have been written under the influence of laughing gas. Hungerford put out a misleading trailer for the book in the Chronicle, excising the misogyny charge that’s essential in her closing chapter, perhaps because she feared anyone who had read Infinite Jest would see through that charge and not order Making Literature Now. Her title is grandiose because her data is extremely limited. Rather than the survey that the title implies, Making Literature Now is literary tourism combined with two takedowns.
* A major new report suggests serious underemployment among liberal arts majors, affecting as many as 50% of recent graduates in some majors.
* Liu Cixin has an essay on Death’s End up at Tor: Chinese Literature and Apocalyptic SF: Some Notes on Death’s End (and has a review up already as well). My review probably won’t be published for another few weeks, so I’ll just say again: just buy it!
* Once more, with feeling: Student evaluations are useless.
* David Fahrenthold’s reporting on Trump’s foundation has yielded a major scoop, evidence of self-dealing in public documents that would appear to be trivially against the law. Even wilder: this is their defense.
* America: taste the rainbow.
* Instapundit has been suspended from Twitter for a tweet about the Charlotte protests. The tweet in question seems pretty indefensible to me, though Reynolds tries at the link, and regardless of its defensibility suspending him for it seems likely to have very bad consequences both for Twitter and for left academics on a pragmatic level. 9:04 AM UPDATE: He’s already back on.
* “Actuaries shamelessly, although often in good faith, understate pension obligations by as much as 50 percent,” said Jeremy Gold, an actuary and economist, in a speech last year at the M.I.T. Center for Finance and Policy. “Their clients want them to.”
* From Back to the Future II to Stephen King’s saving-JFK novel 11/23/63, the lesson one learns again and again is that trying to improve the world through time travel is a fool’s game, creating far worse problems than whatever you’d hoped to fix. Most of time travel fiction these days is one way or another designed to help us swallow the bitter pill that this life is the one we’re stuck with, that trying to make things better will only backfire.
* Going to go ahead and greenlight this one too: Family flee home after finding spiders which can cause four-hour erection followed by death in ASDA bananas.
* In the Criminal Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups, the police and the police.
* Teaching the controversy: “Should police officers be required to provide medical aid to people they’ve shot?”
* Take that, every authority figure in my personal history! A new study finds that fidgeting — the toe-tapping, foot-wagging and other body movements that annoy your co-workers — is in fact good for your health.
* And now, truly, more than ever: “Tonight the Character of Death Will Be Played by Brad Pitt.”
* I want to complain to the studio execs who commissioned the current season of “21st century”; your show is broken.
* But maybe a big reboot is coming! Astronomers may have found giant alien ‘megastructures’ orbiting star near the Milky Way.
* Another potential redirection for the series: Women who sniff this Hawaiian mushroom have spontaneous orgasms.
* Potentially major finding: Huntington’s disease protein controls movement of precious cargo inside cells, study finds.
* Speaking my language: A strong El Niño may mean a warmer, drier winter in southern Wisconsin.
* You can time travel with Marquette another way, too: here’s a sneak preview of our Spring 2016 course offerings.
* First-year composition, in other words, is more than a course in grammar and rhetoric. Beyond these, it is a course in ethical communication, offering students opportunities to learn and practice the moral and intellectual virtues that Aristotle identified in his Nicomachean Ethics as the foundation for a good life. And that’s why America is such a paradise today.
By the same token, I know that an emphasis under a major has the same student-learning outcomes as the parent major, so I can create a new program without expanding the number of assessment reports that I have to do. This just means that a major is basically a magical bag of holding for emphases: I can fit as many emphases as I want inside a major without becoming encumbered by more paperwork!
* Die Hard was the gold standard of unprequelizable films. Kudos to all involved in this important project.
* Wayne Simmons, a regular Fox News commentator who claimed to have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for almost three decades, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly fabricating his agency experience.
* Žižek, social reformist: The lesson here is that the truly subversive thing is not to insist on ‘infinite’ demands we know those in power cannot fulfil. Since they know that we know it, such an ‘infinitely demanding’ attitude presents no problem for those in power: ‘So wonderful that, with your critical demands, you remind us what kind of world we would all like to live in. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where we have to make do with what is possible.’ The thing to do is, on the contrary, to bombard those in power with strategically well-selected, precise, finite demands, which can’t be met with the same excuse.
* I’m so glad this turned out to be the case: Standing Desks Are Mostly Bullshit.
* Just don’t tell Shia: FX is turning Y: The Last Man into a TV series.
* And teach the controversy: Your Favorite Band Sucks.
* A thoughtful, if ultimately mostly negative, review of The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction. I’m either too narcissistic or not narcissistic enough to argue with the reviewer point-by-point — and in any event it’s probably unprofessional to get too deep into how the sausage is made — but I will note that we definitely thought about all these issues as we were putting the volume together, and tried to address them in our introduction and general organization. I’ll also add that “for better or worse” we didn’t really see our book as operating independently from the James and Mendlesohn volume; we were trying to do something that extended that book rather than merely replicating it with identical chapters focused on the US. No book can be all things to all people, but hopefully other people find the balance we struck more pleasing than Cheney did…
* On Monday, however, a county attorney in Virginia gave defenders of the college new hope that they could stop the ticking clock and save the institution. The county attorney filed suit in Virginia court charging that the president and board of the college have violated several state laws and failed in their duties to keep the college running. And the suit seeks an injunction to stop activity to close the college and to replace the president and the board.
* A great Existential Comic on the transporter problem. You’d never get me in one of those things.
* Senate Bill 593 ties professors’ pay to teaching assignments, requiring a minimum of eight courses for the profs to earn their full salary. If academic research requires a lighter course load, universities could supplement professors’ salaries with money from their nonprofit foundations. Why only eight courses? We’re leaving money on the table!
* Hell, just let Maisie Williams play the Doctor next. Or Kiernan Shipka. But one of them definitely.
* “I retweet not in anger. But it’s an impressive rise for a dude who three years ago was replying to Uberfacts tweets with dick jokes.”
* Everything old is new again: Anglo Saxon remedy kills hospital superbug MRSA.