Posts Tagged ‘film’
* 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!
* The liberal arts at Harvey Mudd College, whose graduates out-earn Harvard and Stanford.
* 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.”
* 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.
* 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…
* 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.
* “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.
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.
* A nice endorsement of Octavia E. Butler from Steve Shaviro. Some bonus Shaviro content: his favorite SF of 2016. I think Death’s End was the best SF I read this year too, though I really liked New York 2140 a lot too (technically that’s 2017, I suppose). I’d also single out Invisible Planets and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, both of which had some really good short stories. In comics, I think The Vision was the best new thing I’ve seen in years. There’s a lot I bought this year and didn’t have time to look at yet, though, so maybe check back with me in 2019 and I can tell you what was the best thing from 2016.
* Duke warns professors about emails from someone claiming to be a student, seeking information about their courses — many in fields criticized by some on the right. Some Michigan and Denver faculty members have received similar emails but from different source.
* I don’t think Children of Men was ever actually “overlooked” — and I’m shocked it was considered a flop at a time — but it certainly looks prescient now.
* From Tape Drives to Memory Orbs, the Data Formats of Star Wars Suck. Remembering Caravan of Courage, the Ewok Adventure Star Wars Would Rather You’d Forget. Anti-fascism vs. nostalgia: Rogue One. How to See Star Wars For What It Really Is. And a new headcanon regarding the Empire and its chronic design problems.
* The seduction of technocratic government—that a best answer will overcome division, whether sown in the nature of man or ineluctable in capitalist society—slides into the seduction in the campaign that algorithms will render rote the task of human persuasion, that canvassers are just cogs for a plan built by machine. And so the error to treat data as holy writ, when it’s both easier and harder than that. Data are fragile; algorithms, especially when they aggregate preferences, fall apart. Always, always, power lurks. The technocrats have to believe in mass politics, believe for real that ordinary people, when they organize, can change their own destinies. Whether that happens depends on the party that gets built, and the forces behind it.
* Four Cabinet nominations that could blow up in Donald Trump’s face. Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliances. Why Donald Trump Might Not Be All That Good for Art. How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler. This all certainly seems on the up-and-up. And today in teaching the controversy: Nuclear diplomacy via Twitter is a bad idea.
* The arc of history is long, but Google Search will not longer return Holocaust-denying websites at the top of page one.
* It wasn’t just your imagination: more famous people did die in 2016.
* An excerpt from the conversation between Tim Morton and Jeff VanderMeer from my and Andy Hageman’s issue of Paradoxa is up at LARB. You can read our introduction too! The issue has been printed and will be on its way to subscribers (and available for purchase) soon.
* acting as if nothing terrible has happened
is a failed strategy you yell and this docility
has ruined and crushed us and afraid as I am
I cannot hold your vehemence against you
at this political moment as I watch you dig
your fingers into the rubble you’re sitting on
and you say maybe it’s impossible to believe
in politeness or civilization anymore…
* Ken Liu’s “Paper Menagerie” is the first story to hit the Hugo / Nebula / World Fantasy Award trifecta. Read it!
* Being a parent really is a second childhood: I’m even terrified of nuclear war again. “A tense new battle over nuclear arms erupts between Donald Trump and his staff.” Tweeting our way to Armageddon.
* Ted Chiang talks adapting Arrival.
* Looking back: The collapse of the Obama coalition. What could explain it? More data that couldn’t possibly explain it. Having presided over the catastrophic collapse of his party and the possible end of American democracy, Obama gives himself high marks. Why Did Planned Parenthood Supporters Vote Trump?
*A consummate bullshit artist, Bucky Fuller’s career was built on failure, if not outright fraud. With few of his ideas achieving commercial success, he amounted to nothing more than a hand-waving proponent of outlandish notions. Worse still, he was an aggressive manager of his own profile and patents, an authoritarian technocrat who sought not students but compliant disciples to disseminate his muddled messages. The lynchpin of this view: even the geodesic dome, Fuller’s greatest “success,” rested on a concept borrowed (to be charitable) from an aspiring student sculptor. Buckminster Fuller in the 21st Century.
* Don’t make the joke, don’t make the joke: Sex robots will ‘come a lot sooner than you think’, scientist claims.
* Elsewhere in the rise of the machines.
* A&E Cancels KKK Docuseries Following Criticism. That whole network needs a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
* BREAKING: All pro sports are bad.
* Actually, my speciality is evil ethics.
* They did it: They found the worst Star Wars take.
* Meanwhile, in Japan: Can the Emperor abdicate?
* And wherever we are on the political spectrum: let’s give the giant meteor a chance.
* I’ve started something new and a little bit experimental at Marquette this month: I’m teaching one of the courses in the pilot January session. Mine is a departure for me in a number of ways; in addition to being a very abbreviated, intensive session, it is also entirely online and links literary study with short-story writing in a way our intro classes typically haven’t. Three days in, I’m enjoying the experience a lot! Designing and producing the course materials over the fall was a hectic experience, to say the least, but having all the material ready and up front on launch day certainly makes the day-by-day operation of the course easier.
* Elsewhere on the Marquette beat: the university has recently purchased a first edition of The Hobbit. I’ve asked to teach my Tolkien class again in the fall, so maybe they’ll let me look at it, if not touch it…
* Also coming this fall: The five stages of fascism. This piece from the Post has filled me with renewed dread that Trump is actually going to be very good at this. He seems to understand exactly how superficial and how fundamentally stupid the American public sphere has become. I don’t think he’ll have any trouble manipulating the press exactly how he wants to.
* I loved this piece on the Reddit community that is sure Sinbad played a genie in a movie in the 1990s. I asked Jaimee afterwards if she remembered the film; she remembered it immediately and is now furious with me. Of course it reminded me of my own benighted quest to find the TV show intro theme where someone opens a door and gets a paint roller over their head. Yes, you remember that one too, no, it doesn’t exist…
* Putin, Comey, Putin, Comey: Almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary. And it’s likely to get a whole lot worse very soon.
* Still more on the original ending of Rogue One, with confirmation that it was very different.
* Strange days: Brianna Wu says she’s running for Congress.
* And you can’t argue with science: Apparently cat owners might be more into bondage and BDSM than everyone else.
Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” We can take this to be the standard liberal-progressive way of looking at the arc of history.
There are two other possible variations:
the reactionary right: “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward vengeance.”
the revolutionary left: “The arc of history is long and it’s going to keep getting longer unless we put a stop to it.”
* Enrollment trends place different facilities pressures on institutions of different sizes, the report found. Many small institutions that recently borrowed money to renovate or build in a bid to attract more students are now facing enrollment declines. They have seen enrollment drop by 3 percent since 2012 even though they’ve increased facilities development by 4 percent. Comprehensive institutions are opening new space just as they’re hit by enrollment stagnation — they increased their space by almost 14 percent cumulatively since 2012 but only posted a 1 percent enrollment increase over the same time period.
* Thus the nation-state is not with the common people – it is an enemy of the peoples. Some timely political theory from Abdullah Ocalan.
Essentially, the nation-state is a militarily structured entity. Nation-states are eventually the products of all kinds of internal and external warfare. None of the existing nation-states has come into existence all by itself. Invariably, they have a record of wars. This process is not limited to their founding phase but, rather, it builds on the militarization of the entire society. The civil leadership of the state is only an accessory of the military apparatus. Liberal democracies even outdo this by painting their militaristic structures in democratic and liberal colours. However, this does not keep them from seeking authoritarian solutions at the highpoint of a crisis caused by the system itself. Fascist exercise of power is the nature of the nation-state. Fascism is the purest form of the nation-state.
* Democrats: we’re with him.
* Democrats shouldn’t assume their “Trump loves Putin” argument is a political winner. Oh, I think that ship has sailed.
* Let’s Geek Out Over All The Fascinating Technology Used In Rogue One. Rogue One and the troubling promise of one Star Wars film per year every year until you are dead. And I think Wired has the best “let’s try to figure out what Rogue One was originally going to be like” breakdown yet.
* Just in time for my animals book, Wes Anderson makes it official: his next movie is Isle of Dogs.