Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘extrasolar planets

Wednesday Links!

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* The end of UW: Gov. Scott Walker to propose 13 percent cut, more freedom for UW System. UW System predicts layoffs, no campus closings under budget cuts. Layoffs, Building Closures, Slowdown on Admissions. But “few details.”

* But there’s always money in the banana stand.

In praise of zombies. A response to yesterday’s anti-Canavanist IHE polemic.

Giving students access to an important, brilliant, historically significant corpus of art seems to be an entirely appropriate activity for the undergraduate classroom at a university. After you have taken a Zombie Course, you may discover you have actually just taken a Great Books (or in the case of Ware, a Great Box) course without realizing it, and you may also decide that any Great Books course worthy of its name cannot afford to ignore the recent surge of brilliant zombie art. If anything, we need more Zombie Courses than we have, and one hopes — in time — even full-blown Zombie Majors (or at the least Zombie Double-Majors).

* Multiple Choice and Testing Machines: A History.

“What I would say about the university today,” he says, “is that we’re living through an absolutely historic moment – namely the effective end of universities as centres of humane critique, an almost complete capitulation to the philistine and sometimes barbaric values of neo-capitalism.”

* National Adjunct Walkout Day is coming soon.

Higher Education Is Not a Mixtape.

The Climate Science Behind New England’s Historic Blizzard. Massive Blizzard Exposes How Decrepit New York City’s Infrastructure Is.

All Our Grievances Are Connected.

* How the Left Won Greece.

* Forget immoral; the latest legal challenge to Obamacare is still nonsense.

Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait Takes On the Entire Internet. It’s a terrible op-ed that makes an important point badly in the midst of saying a bunch of incorrect things, all in the service of a fundamentally bad framing — so of course it’s all we can talk about.

To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients.

It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step.

* Associate Dean of What?

Drone, Too Small for Radar to Detect, Rattles the White House.

Defending those accused of unthinkable crimes.

* One aspect of that danger is the “abstract authority” of astrologers, now mirrored by the black-box algorithms of the cloud. The opacity of the analytic method lends forecasts their appearance of authoritative objectivity. In “Astrological Forecasts”, Adorno notes “the mechanics of the astrological system are never divulged and the readers are presented only with the alleged results of astrological reasoning.” “Treated as impersonal and thing-like,” stars appear “entirely abstract, unapproachable, and anonymous” and thus more objective than mere fallible human reason. Similarly, as Kate Crawford pointed out in an essay about fitness trackers for the Atlantic, “analytics companies aren’t required to reveal which data sets they are using and how they are being analyzed.” The inaccessible logic of their proprietary algorithms is imposed on us, and their inscrutability masquerades as proof of their objectivity. As Crawford argues, “Prioritizing data—irregular, unreliable data—over human reporting, means putting power in the hands of an algorithm.” As Adorno puts it, “The cult of God has been replaced by the cult of facts.” 

* America and fractal inequality.

100% of the women of color interviewed in STEM study experienced gender bias.

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography of Important Recent Studies.

* Reasons You Were Not Promoted That Are Totally Unrelated to Gender.

Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade.

* Marissa Alexander is out of jail after three years.

What has happened before will happen again, subprime auto edition.

Huckabee Complains That Women Can Cuss In The Workplace: ‘That’s Just Trashy.’

Oklahoma GOP wants to restrict marriage to people of faith.

* Corey Robin, against public intellectuals.

* I linked to a story about this the other day, but here’s the resolution: Vanderbilt Football Players Found Guilty of Raping Unconscious Student. Of course the next horrifying story in this wretched, endless series is already queued up.

* American Sniper focuses in tight on one man’s story of trauma, leaving out the complex questions of why Kyle was in Iraq being traumatized in the first place. The Iraqis in the film are villains, caricatures, and targets, and the only real opinion on them the film offers is Kyle’s. The Iraqis are all “savages” who threaten American lives and need to be killed. There’s some truth in this representation, insofar as this is how a lot of American soldiers thought. Yet the film obviates the questions of why any American soldiers were in Iraq, why they stayed there for eight years, why they had to kill thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians, and how we are to understand the long and ongoing bloodbath once called the “war on terror.” It does that precisely by turning a killer into a victim, a war hero into a trauma hero.

Freakishly Old System Of Planets Hint At Ancient Alien Civilizations. Okay, I’m in for three films with an option on a television reboot.

* Vulture says Jason Segel is good as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, but I’ll never accept it.

The Psychology of Flow: What Game Design Reveals about the Deliberate Tensions of Great Writing.

The Politics Of The Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?

* It’s finally happening, and of course it’s starting in Florida: ‘Zombie cat’ crawls out of grave.

* And while this may be of interest only to those whose children have made them watch untold hours of Dora the Explorer, it’s certainly of interest to me: Swiper the Fox has a totally bananas backstory.

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January 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

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Bask in the Warm Glow of Martin Luther King’s Dream with These Exciting Sunday Links

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* CFP: Modernism’s Child (Centre for Modernist Studies, University of Sussex, April 20, 2015).

* CFP: Obsidian Call for Submissions: Speculating on the Future: Black Imagination & the Arts.

* Martin Luther King’s other dream: disarmament.

* Our most cherished MLK Day ritual: remembering there is no figure in recent American history whose memory is more distorted than Martin Luther King Jr.

* 13 Words of the Year from Other Countries. Another set of possible candidates.


In the Netherlands, the Van Dale dictionary group chose dagobertducktaks, “Scrooge McDuck tax,” a tax on the super rich. The “youth language” category choice wasaanmodderfakker (someone with no ambition in life, from a blend of aanmodderen, “muddle,” and motherf***er). The “lifestyle” category choice was vergeetverzoek, “forget request,” a request to a search engine that sensitive information be removed.

* For-Profit College Investor Now Owns Controlling Share of Leading Education Trade Publication. IHE’s ownership statement says that editors retain full editorial independence.

* Aaron Bady told me “Trust Us Justice: 24, Popular Culture and the Law” was a great talk forever ago, but I didn’t have time to get to it until this week. But it was indeed great, and something that will be useful in my classroom to boot.

* Comics studies is not a busman’s holiday. Great rant. This goes for science fiction studies too! It’s hard and miserable work and you should leave it all to us!

Photomediations Machine: Exploring the Anthropocene.

* Lili Loofbourow in the New York Times: “TV’s New Girls’ Club.”

Above all, promiscuous protagonism is interested in truths that are collectively produced. Its greatness stems not from a single show runner’s bleak and brilliant outlook but from a collaborative vision of art that admits a spectrum of shades. The central question driving this movement forward is no longer “How did these mad men come to be?” but rather “How did these women get so good at staying sane?”

* If anything I think Matt Reed’s concerns about the inevitable cuts to #FreeCommunityCollege don’t go far enough.

* Behold, Phase 2! That was quick.

* Free Community College Is Nothing to Celebrate, or What Piketty Means for Education.

* And from the leading light of the anti-schooling left: The hidden costs of free community college.

One of the ways we talk about the value of education is in terms of a student’s future “competitiveness.” It sounds like it should correlate directly with wages, but they’re competing against other workers like them. And from a worker’s perspective, a rising educational tide keeps wages under control for all boats. More schooling doesn’t necessarily mean better jobs, it means more competition for the same set of jobs. The so-called “skills gap” is a myth; if employers needed educated labor so badly, they would pay like it. Instead, the costs of training more productive workers have been passed to the kids who want to be them, while the profits go to employers and shareholders. The state assuming some of those costs for some of those students doesn’t solve anyone’s problems. Rather, it’s another boon for the ownership class.

Philly’s adjuncts seek to rewrite their futures.

* New talk of splitting off Madison from the rest of the UW system.

Mikalsen said the most persistent rumbling of late is that the universities would operate as a public authority, with the state playing a much reduced role in overseeing hiring practices, construction bids and other internal matters that university officials have long said could be done more efficiently and cheaply with more autonomy. The trade-off would come in reduced state aid, Mikalsen said.

* Louisiana is going to gut its state university system so Bobby Jindal’s no-hope presidential campaign has something to talk about. Unreal.

* And it sounds like UNC is next.

1970s Film: Vintage Marquette University. More links below the video!

It’s a bit of a weird way to be selling the world’s biggest sporting event—and we’re gonna build a super-cool stadium and then tear it down again because everyone knows stadiums suck—but points for honesty, at least.

* The second interesting thing about the Packers, or football, I’ve ever heard. Here of course was the first. Go Pack, times two!

Nobody Expects the Facebook Inquisition. Also from Burke: An Ethic of Care.

Perhaps that means “check your privilege” is a phrase to retire because it invites that kind of ease, a lack of awareness about what that statement hopes for and requires. If it’s not an expression of an ethic of care, trying to radar-ping the world around it to find out who else shares or might share in that ethic, and not a threat with power behind it, then what it usually leads to is the moral evacuation of a conversation and the production of a sort of performative austerity, of everyone in a community pretending to virtue they do not authentically embrace and avoiding the positive or generative use of the forms of social power they might actually have genuinely privileged access to.

* Eric Holder ends the scandal of civil asset forfeiture, at least for now.

Florida police use images of black men for target practice.

“Our policies were not violated. There is no discipline that’s forthcoming from the individuals regarding this,” Dennis said.

While the ire of environmental activists remains fixed on the Keystone XL pipeline, a potentially greater threat looms in the proposed expansion of Line 61, a pipeline running the length of Wisconsin carrying tar sands crude. The pipeline is owned by Enbridge, a $40 billion Canadian company, which has been responsible for several hundred spills in the past decade, including one in 2010 near Marshall, Mich., reportedly the largest and most expensive inland oil spill in American history.

The stark disparities of paid leave: The rich get to heal. The poor get fired.

Few New Parents Get Paid Time Off.

* “Carry bolt cutters everywhere”: life advice from Werner Herzog.

Last night “The Daily Show’s” Jessica Williams delved into a baffling Alabama law: HB 494. The law takes state funds — funds that are scarce in the Alabama justice system — to appoint lawyers for fetuses.

How Gothic Architecture Took Over the American College Campus.

Solar Is Adding Jobs 10 Times Faster Than the Overall Economy.

* “Zero Stroke Was A Mental Illness That Affected An Entire Country.”

* Love, marriage, and mental illness.

The $4 billion worth of subsidies represents a record high outlay at the very time Christie says budget shortfalls are preventing him from making actuarially required pension payments. What could explain it this incomprehensible paradox? It’s been thirty-five years and the media is simply incapable of admitting that when Republicans claim to care about deficits they are lying.

* Some bad news, y’all, overparenting doesn’t work either.

Parents investigated for neglect after letting kids walk home alone.

I’ll never punish my daughter for saying no.

* Group projects and the secretary effect.

* Making the school day longer will definitely fix it. I suppose every generation feels this way but I really feel like the 1980s and 1990s were the last good time to be a kid.

* Teach the controversy: Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists. Meanwhile, everything in the ocean is dying.

* But it’s not all bad news: Ron Howard recording new narration for recut of Arrested Development season four.

* Ghost stores of Wal-Mart.

The biggest downside to a Walmart opening up in your community is that after all the protests, the negotiations, and, almost inevitably, the acceptance, the retail giant might just break its lease, pack up shop, and move a mile down the road. The process starts all over again, and Walmart’s giant, hard-won original behemoth of a structure sits abandoned, looming over its increasingly frustrated neighbours.

Duke University announced it would broadcast the Muslim call to prayer from its iconic chapel, then backed down after threats of violence.

Kepler has given many gifts to humanity, but we should be careful throwing around words like “habitable” when talking about worlds 1,000 light years away, about which we only know sizes and orbits. It’s not my intention to put a damper on things, or to take the wonder and imagination out of astronomy. Science requires both imagination and creativity, but also analytical thought and respect for observational evidence. And after only 20 years of exoplanet discoveries, the observational evidence is rich, beautiful, and stands on its own. We don’t know the odds that life will arise on other worlds, but we’ve got a few tens of billions of rolls of the cosmological dice.

“What Are the Children Who Grow Up to Become Police Officers Learning in School?”: Lessons from Philadelphia’s Mandatory African American History Classes.

* Kotsko shrugged: The perpetual adolescence of the right. Along the similar lines, but thinking of ethics instead of intellectualism, I always think of David Graeber’s “Army of Altruists” from Harper’s, almost a decade-old now, on the way elites have cordoned off all meaningful work for themselves and their children alone.

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty. But wait! Let’s quibble about the numbers!

* Hidden laborers of the information age.

* The Cathedral of Consumption: We’re Not Living in an Algorithmic Culture So Much as a Computational Theocracy.

* Just this once, everybody lives: Netflix Renews Deal for ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Luther,’ More BBC Series.

* Around the mid 2000s it became popular in Sweden for teenage boys to wear rubber bands around their legs on top of their jeans. The more rubber bands you had and variety in colors the more alpha you became to the other teenage boys.

* Like Uber, but for veillance. Of course the university is at the cutting edge:

We’ve got an early warning system [called Stoplight] in place on our campus that allows instructors to see what a student’s risk level is for completing a class. You don’t come in and start demonstrating what kind of a student you are. The instructor already knows that. The profile shows a red light, a green light, or a yellow light based on things like have you attempted to take the class before, what’s your overall level of performance, and do you fit any of the demographic categories related to risk. These profiles tend to follow students around, even after folks change how they approach school. The profile says they took three attempts to pass a basic math course and that suggests they’re going to be pretty shaky in advanced calculus.

* #FeministSexualPositions. (NSFW, obviously.)

* I guess I just don’t see why you’d bring your baby to work.

Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise. I can’t believe “elevated warp nascelles perched on extended towers are super vulnerable to attack” didn’t even make the top ten.

Space, ze final frontière.

* Dave Goelz explains how to Gonzo.

* Apocalypse zen: photos of stairs in abandoned buildings.

* And I guess that settles it. Little Boy Who Claimed to Die and Visit Heaven Admits He Made It Up.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 18, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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All Your Weekend Links at No Cost to You

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* The great Gabriel García Márquez has died. The Paris Review interview. Autumn of the Patriarch, Forgetting to Live.

In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.

* Earthseed as New-Age transreligion.

* I asked William Pannapacker how to responsibly advise students who want to go to graduate school in the humanities. He said you can’t.

UNC’s New Grading System Could Show What That ‘A’ Is Really Worth. Tentatively, this seems like a good improvement on the existing system, though I’m not in love with the administration’s “now we can finally catch unscrupulous faculty!” line.

* Supposedly we’re supposed to be outraged by Snowden not infiltrating the Putin government and leaking details about his massive surveillance state apparatus. Or something. I can’t make heads or tails of it to be honest.

* In defense of edited collections.

Harvard Accused Of Retaliating Against Professor Who Defended Sexual Assault Survivors.

* Rape culture and athletics at FSU.

The #AskEmmert Q&A Is Going Poorly.

* The theology of ethical consumerism.

After comparing the average achievement of children whose parents regularly engage in each form of parental involvement to that of their counterparts whose parents do not, we found that most forms of parental involvement yielded no benefit to children’s test scores or grades, regardless of racial or ethnic background or socioeconomic standing. The zero point of most liberal (as opposed to leftist) interventions in poverty is that “merit” broadly defined is structured (a little) by genetic lottery and (a lot) by class position, which means that strategies for equality that are filtered through education and achievement will always just wind up replicating existing structures of power and existing privileges rather than disrupting them. I don’t see any answer for this problem beyond deliberate redistribution of wealth.

* The failure of desegregation.

Study: People of color breathe air that is 38 percent more polluted than white people’s.

* The Nation reviews The Years of Living Dangerously.

New York Times Admits It Agreed to ‘Gag Orders’ in Israel.

* A huge part of the function of Western media is producing and distributing state propaganda. Freddie has just a short recent list.

* American politics is a cesspool, New Jersey politics doubly so.

* Q will visit the Abramsverse.

Here’s How Long That Teen Would Have to Pee in the Portland Reservoir to Make It Unsafe to Drink. But what’s 38 million gallons between friends?

* On writing disabilities in SF and fantasy. Doctor Who and the Women.

In the moments that follow, both the Doctor and his companion ask River why she didn’t just say her wrist was broken, and she explains – in this horrible, horrible moment – that the Doctor must be protected from knowing how much it hurts people to be around him; that humans must hide their weakness from him so that he will not feel upset.

* China and postcapitalism.

* Third child as status symbol.

* Grad students unionize at UConn.

* Monsters walk among us: People who think they’re attractive tend to be more comfortable with economic inequality.

The Last Golden Days of Marijuana Smuggling.

* They have come to the conclusion that God, / Requiring a heaven and a hell, didn’t need to / Plan two establishments: ‘X-Men’ Director Bryan Singer Accused of Sexually Assaulting Underage Boy. More details on the case at Boing Boing.

* I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.

* The arc of history is long, but it bends towards grandfather clauses that allow obscenities to continue for decades after they are banned.

Inmates to strike in Alabama, declare prison is “running a slave empire.”

* The New York Times profiles the great Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black.

* Actors laughing between takes.

* And let’s go ahead and put Krypton at the top of the list of places to invade next.

Wednesday Links

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* There’s an Earthlike planet in Alpha Centauri. This is the best news I’ve ever heard and I’m halfway to my space victory already I just have to research Fusion and Ecology.

* Compared to this the discovery of a planet with four suns and another all-diamond planet just seems boring.

* The other day they drove the Space Shuttle through Los Angeles.

* University of Phoenix to close 115 locations.

* Like Lee Bessette I’m pretty skeptical of this move towards a “teaching track.” Has establishing multiple tiers like this ever improved labor conditions?

* World’s biggest geoengineering experiment ‘violates’ UN rules. I’ve been fascinated for years that large-scale geoengineering projects are now within the reach not just of nations, but of individuals. Things are going to get interesting, in the “ancient Chinese curse” sense.

* Title suggestions for Future Die Hard Movies.

* The Problem with Presidential Precedent.

* Will California end the death penalty this year? They should.

* Firefly animated spinoff? I really think at this point I’d rather just be happy with what we got than ride a bad version of the thing I love into the ground. #geekheresy

* The Strange Death of Alfalfa.

* Debt Collector Illegally Seizes Disabled Vet’s Savings, Tells Him ‘You Should Have Died.’

* How Buffy Predicted Geek Misogyny. I’m not sure predicted is really the right tense here. What an Academic Who Wrote Her Dissertation on Trolls Thinks of Violentacrez. Michael Brutsch, ViolentAcrez, and Online Pseudonyms. On Ruining Violentacrez’ Life. I’m told r/creepshots is already back, masquerading as a “fashion police” subreddit.

* Gallup and Josh Marshall teases crisis as a real divergence seems possible between the popular and the electoral vote.

* Some debate highlights: a brutal on-the-spot fact-check that will be part of presidential debate prep for years to come. How epistemic closure hurts a candidate. The binder story that launched a thousand memes wasn’t even true. Leaked Debate Agreement Shows Both Obama and Romney are Sniveling Cowards. And whoever is elected, the planet loses. What an embarrassing spectacle for the people of the future to witness. Not that it’s anything new.

* Trove of Kafka Documents Must Be Released, Israeli Judge Rules. You can pick them up at the Castle…

Out There

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The Hubble has discovered a planet comprised primarily of steam.

But because the planet is also in a much closer orbit to its star than Earth is to the Sun (Just over a million miles away compared to Earth’s 93 million miles, with a year of just 38 hours), its surface temperature is way hotter: an average 446 degrees fahrenheit, according to estimates from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center.

That means that the water on the surface of GJ 1214b is doing weird things besides turning into steam.

“The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like ‘hot ice’ or ‘superfluid water’, substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience,” Berta explained.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm

‘Planet Habitability Index’

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Written by gerrycanavan

January 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm


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* ‘Democrats Gleeful at Prospect of Running Against Gingrich.’ That’s the first bit of Gingrich-related news that’s made me nervous.

* io9 has the trailer for Joss Whedon’s long-delayed The Cabin in the Woods.

Duke University trustee Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha have donated $50 million to Duke for a permanent endowment to support need-based financial aid for undergraduate students from the United States and other countries, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Monday.

* Randy Balko vs. paramilitary creep.

* Aaron Bady on the Oakland Commune.

* How Doctors Die.

* Henry Aaron: So… here is my prediction. The Supreme Court will sustain the individual mandate, and it will do so not by the narrow 5 to 4 split that has become so familiar, but by a vote of 7 to 2. Or 8 to 1. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sottamayor, and Kagan are virtually certain to find the mandate constitutional. But also voting to sustain it, I believe, will be Justices Scalia and Kennedy, based on reasoning similar to that of Silberman and Sutton. Justices Roberts and Kennedy are in play and I am assuming that either or both will vote to affirm the mandate. Justice Thomas, who has staked out a far-reaching opposition to federal regulation in many currently accepted forms, will say that the mandate exceeds Congress’s constitutional authority.

* Apocalypse now: Radioactive water from Fukushima might have found its way into the Pacific ocean and experts believe it could contain strontium.

* Apocalypse tomorrow: In fact, according to the latest science, says Anderson, “a 4 degrees C future is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable.”

* “If you have got a population of 9 billion by 2050 and you hit 4 degrees, 5 degrees or 6 degrees, you might have half a billion people surviving.”

* And today from America’s finest news source: Global Warming May Be Irreversible by 2006.

* But it’s okay that we’ve ruined this planet; after all, there’s always Keppler 22b.


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