Posts Tagged ‘Fermi paradox’
Where most contemporary histories of the future imagine climate change as either an annoying irritation or else the end of history — the disaster that will end civilization — in New York 2140 Robinson cuts more of a middle path. Climate change does indeed prove utterly catastrophic in this novel, laying waste to the coastal cities where a startling percentage of the world’s population currently lives, and devastating a huge amount of infrastructure and fixed capital, costing trillions of dollars — but humans are incredibly versatile problem-solvers, and we adapt. Technical solutions like sea walls and skybridges are really only the start of what would be necessary in a flooded Manhattan. Think of the immense social changes, the legal, economic, and architectural structures that would need to be innovated when huge areas of major cities are permanently underwater, or indeed become part of the intertidal zone. Even by 2140, nearly 100 years after the start of the crisis, the long work of retrofitting civilization to rising sea levels goes on, and not all of it is even that unhappy; it’s no secret that the capitalists use the same phrase to denote both crisis and opportunity, creative destruction….
* Getting ready for Marquette’s big Buffy at 20 conference: Every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ranked. Buffy the Vampire Slayer video games, ranked from best to worst. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a feminist parable for everyone – including Anthony Stewart Head. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest show in the history of television. The Enduring Legacy. Genocide of the Vampires. How Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Most Hated Season Became Its Most Important. On “The Body.” Twenty years later, the world needs Buffy more than ever. A few more at MeFi. And from the archives, David Graeber.
* This isn’t a complete picture — it is too nostalgic for a lost age of exclusion, and misses completely the despair caused by the total collapse of the profession — but all the same I found it a powerful critique of the university today: Our Hallways Are Too Quiet.
* Probably the best piece of art criticism ever written: Appraising the Brady Bunch’s Art Collection.
* More Lovercraft from the great Ali Sperling! H.P. Lovecraft’s Weird Body.
* The New York Times reviews Lower Ed by the great Tressie McMillan Cottom.
* On zeitgeist: Ozymandias statue found in mud.
* Rutgers also diverted $11 million in student fees and $17.1 million from its general fund to cover the athletic shortfall. The average undergraduate now pays more than $300 in activities fees exclusively for the university’s N.C.A.A. teams.
* Bodies on the Gears at Middleburg. And from the right: Middlebury Reckons With a Protest Gone Wrong. From Mother Jones to Middlebury: The Problem and Promise of Political Violence in Trump’s America.
* Are the Democrats totally screwed? The Democratic Party Seems to Have No Earthly Idea Why It Is So Damn Unpopular. Outsmarted: on the Liberal Cult of the Cognitive Elite. There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble. The SEIU at the end of the world.
* Trump can’t even do a standard thing like firing all the US Attorneys without turning it into a train wreck. But here’s how he can turn it around. Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media. Descent into Liberalism. Fantasizing about President Pence. Of no fixed address. Here’s How Much ‘Trumpcare’ Fucks You, Based On How You Get Your Insurance Now. Who wins and who loses under the Republicans’ health care plan. A Trumpcare flashback. Truly, freedom isn’t free.
Then, before you know it, the Wall Street Journal is an oracle of truth. You’re rooting for Cold War II. The FBI is your BFF. You’re a Democrat.
* This is so evil: Bill Would Let Employers Demand Workers’ Genetic Tests.
* Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is heaven — for spies!
* Towards a Unified Theory of Why Men Send Dick Pics. Obviously, more research is required.
* Neonazis! I hate these guys. Indiana Jones and the Okay Fine We’ll Try Again.
* Twenty-First Century Headlines: Radioactive Boars in Fukushima Thwart Residents’ Plans to Return Home.
* Star Trek: Discovery announces exciting “the captain is probably evil and in any event will die at the end of the season” arc.
* Knives out for Marvel: they finally made a mistake big enough to be noticed. More from Noah Berlatsky.
* Officials with Alberta’s environment agency inspected the water lines on Tuesday afternoon and proclaimed it safe, while the town completed the required repairs by the end of day. Town’s Water Turns Pink In Horrifying Ghostbusters Throwback.
* Requiem for a Dil. We’re Looking for People with Management Potential. An Experiment to Determine if Rats Can Be Made to Hate Thanksgiving. It’s Not So Bad. Sad Truths: Mythological Creatures Edition. I wish human beings were as peaceful and loving as bonobos. We all have our struggles.
* Nostalgia for the childhood you never had: The Japanese opening for the X-Men Animated Series.
* The arc of history is long, but Rookie Doctors Will Soon Be Allowed To Work Up To 28 Hours Straight.
* Interesting: The New Avatar Theme Park Is a Giant Spoiler.
In an interview conducted inside the park, Cameron said that the park is set in a timeline after the five movies. A time when the war between humans and Na’vi is over. A time when the Na’vi have begun to welcome humans onto their planet with opens arms.
* And dibs on the screenplay: Right now, in a vault controlled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, there sits a 752-pound emerald with no rightful owner. This gem is the size of a minifridge. It weighs as much as two sumo wrestlers. Estimates of its worth range from a hundred bucks to $925 million. Over the past 10 years, four lawsuits have been filed over the Bahia emerald. Fourteen individuals or entities, plus the nation of Brazil, have claimed the rock is theirs. A house burned down. Three people filed for bankruptcy. One man alleges having been kidnapped and held hostage. Many of the men involved say that the emerald is hellspawn but they also can’t let it go.
* The route Google Maps recommends if you’re headed to Ferrum College from the west involves what may be the loneliest and most roller-coaster-like stretch of roadway ever to earn a state route number from Virginia. It’s a narrow ribbon of pavement with no center line, a twisting trail you drive imagining that if you go over the edge, weeks could pass before anyone found the wreckage. Only at the other end do you spot a yellow sign that reads, “GPS Routing Not Advised.” Small, Rural Colleges Grapple With Their Geography.
* Old and busted: AI. New hotness: IA.
* As an added experiment, the researchers applied their model to the current distribution of human populations on Earth. They found that, under all the same assumptions, 12.5 percent of the global population would be forced to migrate at least 1,000 kilometers, and up to a third of the population would have to move more than 500 kilometers.
* In a paper published in the May issue of the journal Astrobiology, the astronomer Woodruff Sullivan and I show that while we do not know if any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations currently exist in our galaxy, we now have enough information to conclude that they almost certainly existed at some point in cosmic history.
…what our calculation revealed is that even if this probability is assumed to be extremely low, the odds that we are not the first technological civilization are actually high. Specifically, unless the probability for evolving a civilization on a habitable-zone planet is less than one in 10 billion trillion, then we are not the first.
* Because poetry is considered so small, so irrelevant, it’s tempting for poetry critics to look for the BIG themes in poems to demonstrate that poetry matters. I continue to learn from critics who take on this labor. However, because ALL African literary criticism is assumed to matter the more it focuses on the BIG SOCIOPOLITICOECONOMICDISASTERTHATISAFRICA, I am inclined to turn to quieter moments—spaces for the intimate, the friendly, the quiet, the loving, the depressed, the depressing, grief, and melancholy. I’m drawn to the register that is not the shout, and never the headline. I linger at the quotidian to insist that the African imagination considers livability and shareability.
* For everyone, he claims, is shortchanged when the guiding principle and “key driver” of the institution is no longer thought, but money (ix). Faculty are silenced, yes, by the drive to conformity and homogeneity. But students are also cheated when they are treated simply as “human capital”: “When the university is reduced to the function of preparation for jobs and not for life, life itself gets lost under the jobs” (85). Most broadly and seriously of all, society as a whole suffers as the university abandons its traditional role as “that institution that has a responsibility to counter the incipient violence of natural force” (40). The fate of the university is bound up with the fate of democracy and citizenship at large. If society is to change, and injustice and inequality challenged, we need now more than ever an institution whose role is to be “’critical’ of the existing world state of affairs, dissident with respect to it” (6).
* White supremacist PACs and Trump. The stain of Trump. “A GOP senator might vote for Hillary Clinton. Here’s how rare that is.” Trump has underperformed the real estate market by a mere 57% since 1976. Alas, Mitt.
* I’m calling it: Trump will drop out of the race by July 5 at the latest. He will blame the unfair media and political correctness, allude to some wack-ass conspiracy involving Black Lives Matter and/or Hezbollah, and go to his grave telling everyone he knows that if he had stayed in the race, he would’ve beaten Clinton.
* You may be done with your quasi-legal homebrew server, but your quasi-legal homebrew server is not done with you: The FBI has been conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information for months.
* We narrowed Clinton’s vice-presidential possibilities to 27. Now you pick one. For a long time I’ve thought it definitely be one of the Castro brothers, probably Julian, but Elizabeth Warren has made such a push lately I’ve started to think it could actually be her. Of course you can pick Trump’s too, from such a weak field it includes his own daughter.
* Let me close with a broad statement. In the news you will see some rather hysterical statements about how all bets are off this year. That is true to an extent: on the Republican side, the national party’s positions and their rank-and-file voters’ preferences are far out of whack. In a deep sense, their decision process in 2016 became broken. But that does not mean that opinion is unmeasurable. Far from it. In the aggregate, pollsters still do a good job reaching voters. And voters are still people whose opinions move at a certain speed. To my thinking, polls may be the best remaining way to assess what is happening.
* But just in case: I Spent the 90s Fighting Fascists on the Streets of Warsaw.
* If you’re not sick of these yet: What Hamilton Forgets About Hamilton.
* Because you demanded it! Kevin Smith Says That His Mallrats Sequel Will Be a 10-Part TV Series.
* Same joke but for The Passion of the Christ 2.
* Sixty Million Car Bombs: Inside Takata’s Air Bag Crisis: How the company’s failures led to lethal products and the biggest auto recall in history.
* The case for Lady Stoneheart showing up in season six of Game of Thrones. Let me say I have my doubts.
* I had a review of Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest in The Los Angeles Review of Books last week. Can’t wait for Death’s End.
* “Star Trek style teleportation would take billions of years.” Not if you reverse the polarity of the inertial dampeners, you nitwits!
* The same website has a piece hyping cryonics, so you know it’s legit.
* Meanwhile: AI ‘could leave half of world unemployed.’
* The Mount St. Mary’s situation is even more astounding than you’d think when you refocus attention back on the “culling” survey itself. A Violation of Trust. From embarrassing to appalling to surreal. Twenty-first-century legal paradoxes: You can’t re-hire me, I wasn’t legally fired.
* The end of SCOTUS. Laying out the recent vote totals like that really does give credence, alas, to the idea that Democrats started it and now Republicans are going to finish it.
* The end of Louisiana. Worth it for, what, fourteenth place in the GOP primary?
* Climate and Empire. (Sounds like a book Asimov would write today if he were still alive.)
* Bernie Sanders and Palestine. The Washington Post found a political scientists who thinks he wouldn’t get blown out. Could Superdelegates Really Stop Bernie Sanders? Clinton now managing exceptions in Nevada, and has shockingly few staffers in South Carolina. And it’s fine. It’s fine.
* Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department. To be fair, though, those don’t seem super hard to get.
* From the nice-work-if-you-can-get-it files: Concordia executive gets $235,000 in severance after 90 days on the job. No public bidding on major University of Nebraska contracts. Michigan Coach’s jet travel valued at more than $10,000 a day.
* The Coen Brothers and the defeat of the American left. I knew it was them.
* Day late, buck short: Suffragette valentines.
* The EPA calls it the most severe exposure to a hazardous material in American history. The only people in Libby, Montana, who didn’t see it coming were the victims, who are dying to know if it’s really possible to poison an entire town and get away with it.
* 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.