Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Flashforward

Weekend Links

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* CFP: Midwest Modern Language Association 2013 on Art & Artifice, November 7-10. Right here in Milwaukee!

* A disturbing catch from the MetaFilter thread on MOOCs: Obama has quietly decoupled Pell grants from accreditation, opening the door for full-throated neoliberal profiteering.

Last year, similar language tying federal aid to “value” was explicitly limited to a group of relatively minor aid programs. The Pell grant and loan programs that make up $140 billion in annual aid were excluded. No such restrictions appear here (although the President did refer to only “certain types” of aid in the speech itself.) But the real kicker is at the end: a new, alternative system of accreditation that would provide pathways for higher education models and colleges to receive federal student aid based on performance and results.

The existing accreditation club has been around since the end of the 19th century. It has had an exclusive franchise on determining federal financial aid eligibility since the middle of the 20th century. Opening a new doorway to the Title IV financial aid system would be an enormouschange, particularly when coupled with the phrase “higher education models and colleges.” The clear implication is that the higher education models that would eligible for federal financial aid through the alternate accreditation system wouldn’t have to be colleges at all. They could be any providers of higher education that meet standards of “performance and results.”

MOOCiversity, ho!

Think about it: When was the last time a college or university president produced an edgy piece of commentary, or took a daring stand on a contentious matter? 

* Disaster capitalism, Chicago style.

There aren’t any hurricanes in the Midwest, so how can proponents of privatization like Mayor Rahm Emanuel sell off schools to the highest bidder?

They create a crisis.

The Drone Industry Wants a Makeover. Dissent on drones.

* Malcolm Harris explains yellowism.

* The delightfully named Ben Kafka explains bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy, Kafka argues, can be everybody’s enemy, and can thus serve as the organizing principle for otherwise untenable alliances, like the one between eighteenth-century liberals and democrats, or between some contemporary working-class voters and the neoliberal elites they vote for. Sowing contempt for bureaucracy, in the form of lambasting all government efforts as inherently inefficient, full of “lazy” and “parasitical” civil servants and their “bloated” pensions, remains a potent tactic of right-wing populism, but whereas conservatives of old evoked a nostalgic class paternalism to cure paperwork’s ills, the American Right offers a myth of self-sufficiency, of everyone for themselves, with no claims to be filed and no burdens to be shared. Bureaucracy, on the other hand, comes to stand for the inevitable outcome of all types of collective power, the emblem of neutered individualism. And since paperwork is an evil that proliferates no matter what the form of government, it can seem irrelevant to mount any political fights to reform it. Politics is thus reduced to the pettiness of sorting out strictly personal grievances, which in turn worsens bureaucracy, as these sorts of selfish claims are precisely what bureaucracy exists to process.

* Duke professor proposes that students be required to produce a video summary of the dissertation. I actually think this kind of distillation can be really useful and productive — someone once told me you know you’re done with your dissertation when you can summarize its argument in one sentence — but making it an actual requirement is silly.

North Carolina is the only state that will clearly mark all people who are not U.S. citizens – everyone from business executives with “green cards” to students on visas – with a newly designed driver’s license coming this summer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislation in all the states. History contains absolutely no examples of times when this kind of thinking has ever gone wrong, so I’m sure it’s a really good idea.

In other words, in the midst of a major national debate over America’s finances, 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% — 6%! — are correct.

A cottage at 71/2 West End Court in Long Branch where one-time renter Bruce Springsteen wrote “Born to Run” is up for sale for $349,900, said real estate agent Susan McLaughlin of Keller Williams Realty. Anyone want to go halfsies?

World Press Photo Of The Year: Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories: Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by and Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put into intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.

* Even Megan McArdle has stopped believing in meritocracy.

* And io9 on how your favorite cancelled science fiction series would have continued. Start your FlashForward fan fics now…

I Was Given to Understand There’d Be Some Sort of ‘Flashforward’ Event Today

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Written by gerrycanavan

July 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Select Links While I’m Away (Part 2)

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* You know your discipline is in crisis when a 28% drop in job listings in a single year is good news.

* Bullying in higher ed.

* If you want to know why your bracket’s already busted (Georgetown!), my friends at The March to Indy is the source.

* Democrats giddy with CBO score. More Americans getting behind health care reform. Democratic Health Care Skeptics Fall Into Line For Reform. Lynch: Obama Told Me He Might Try To Get Public Option Next Year. Reid: I’ll Try Again For A Public Option This Year.

* What’s not debatable is that this process highlighted — and worsened — the virtually complete powerlessness of the Left and progressives generally in Washington. If you were in Washington negotiating a bill, would you take seriously the threats of progressive House members in the future that they will withhold support for a Party-endorsed bill if their demands for improvements are not met? Of course not. No rational person would. More here.

* Will the Supreme Court strike down health care reform? Probably not.

Jon Chait, however, points to another reason to worry: “nobody who recalls Bush v. Gore could completely rule out five Republican justices deciding on a wildly activist ruling on a high-stakes political fight.” This is true insofar as it proves that it wouldn’t be fear of being logically inconsistent that makes it unlikely that Scalia and Kennedy would stay their hand.There is a big difference, though. Bush v. Gore was decided from a position of great political strength: the only two legislative bodies in a position to do anything about the ruling strongly supported the Court’s actions. In this case, however, the White House and very possibly at least one house of Congress will be controlled by people who would be infuriated by an adverse decision, and unlike with an election, Congress would still be in a position to retaliate if it returned to unified Democratic control. It would be shocking if the Supreme Court were to announce a major doctrinal innovation in those circumstances.

* Teabaggers still don’t know what they’re so angry about.

* What’s happening with cap and trade?

* Kuwait says peak oil by 2014.

* No one could have predicted that randomly taking FlashForward off the air for six months would go badly. I recall kind of liking the last aired episode, but haven’t really missed this show at all, and won’t be watching.

* Action Comics #1 to reclaim its top spot as most expensive comic book next week.

* How will Warner Brothers make money after Harry Potter’s over? A DC Comics superhero blockbuster every summer.

* If Dr. Horrible 2 is feature-length, I hope they do bring Penny back. I really don’t see a film working without her.

* The ten most important gay moments in comic book history.

* Zombie apocalypse survival flowchart.

* And the Iraq War is seven today. They grow up so fast…

April 29

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FlashForward had major series events planned for March 15 and April 29 that have now been shot to hell by schedule reshuffling; they won’t even be back until March 18, with thirteen episodes to go. Showrunner David Goyer talks to Sci-Fi Wire about how they’ll try to make it work.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

The International Corporate Conspiracy to Kill Science Fiction on Television

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Nothing says “Hope you enjoyed the first good episode of FlashForward” like a four-month hiatus.

Midday Links

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A few midday links.

* In my previous election prediction thread I forgot to mention tomorrow’s marriage equality vote in Maine, on which Adam Bink has an update at Open Left. I always think people will do the right thing on these marriage equality votes and I am always disappointed, so this year I’m expecting to lose but still hoping to be wrong.

* Looking past health care: can a climate bill actually pass the Senate? Steve Benen has more.

* The Climate Race: How Climate Change Is Already Affecting Us. Via Boing Boing. In the American Southeast:

* Average daily temperature about 2 degrees higher with the greatest increase in winter.
* Days below freezing (32 degrees) reduced to four to seven per year.
* Average fall precipitation 30% higher since 1901, with the exception of South Florida.
* Moderate to severe droughts in spring and summer have increased 12% and 14%, respectively.
* Destructive potential of hurricanes has increased since 1970, due to an increase in sea surface temperature.

* 23 Private College Presidents Made More Than $1 Million. I was a little surprised not to see Brodhead’s name on the list, until I remembered how much money we pay Coach K.

* Elsewhere in North Carolina, a majority favors the public option.

Fifty-four percent of North Carolina residents surveyed by Elon University said they would support a public option. Forty-one percent said they would use a public option plan should one become available.

It’s crucial to recognize here that the health care reform that is under discussion is far less ambitious than what the public would actually support; nothing close to 41% of the state will be eligible for the very limited version of the public option that is actually going to be voted on.

* How is televised science fiction doing in the ratings? What this list really shows, Dollhouse aside, is how bad TV SF is right now. Even the shows I do watch—FlashForward, Fringe—aren’t exactly what I’d call good.

Dollhouse, Flashforward, and a Few SF Links

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Dollhouse, Flashforward, and a few SF links.

* Both Dollhouse tonight and Flashforward yesterday were noticeable improvements over a string of weak episodes, but problems persist. On Flashforward, the characters remain essentially interchangeable ciphers, with almost no tension or mystery surrounding their relationships or their individual participation in these events. (This is perhaps the one area where the show really should have cribbed more from Lost.) But the tease that China may have been involved is a nicely paranoid reading of the disastrous consequences of the Flashforward for the Western hemisphere and a clever post-9/11 twist on the novel, which has no such subplot—and the connection of the isolated L.A. office to a larger investigatory framework has been much needed. And the episode was just more fun.

The Sierra episode of Dollhouse was good, but I can’t help feeling as though the show is being quietly retooled yet again; the actions of most of these characters just aren’t commensurate with either half of last season. In particular, most of last season was devoted to a multi-episode arc in which the Dollhouse staff struggled to stop the dolls from “glitching”—but now the exact same glitches are considered perfectly acceptable to everyone involved. Echo is allowed to openly discuss her newfound continuity of memory without consequence or even particular interest from the staff, while Victor and Sierra are apparently now allowed to openly date. What has happened to account for this radical shift in Dollhouse policy? Dr. Saunders’s disappearance and the generally chaotic atmosphere that plagues the Dollhouse week to week should incentivize them to keep a closer eye on the dolls, not give them freer reign.

Likewise, the idea in the episode that the Dollhouse staff had been “misled” about Priya’s situation—a fairly clear attempt to retcon one of the characters’ most heinous crimes—doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny; patients in mental institutions can’t consent to secret medical experimentation (or, for that matter, sex slavery) any more than kidnapped women can. There’s no excusing what’s been done to Priya either way, and that Topher supposedly believed he was somehow “helping” her barely qualifies as a fig leaf. I think I preferred the harder edge of Original Recipe Adelle and Topher 1.0.

Other things rankle, too. The violent final scenes in the Evil Client’s House are well-acted, but the sequence of events makes little sense outside the heat of the moment. What did Priya and Topher think was going to happen, and why were they so utterly unprepared for what obviously would? Topher would have given her a ninja update at the very least.

Seeing so much praise for this episode from critics and the Twittotubes just shows again how badly people want this show to be better than it really is. I’m still enjoying Dollhouse, but abandoning the 2019 arc and failing to sign Amy Acker as a regular are starting to look like fatal flaws for the series. Even an heavily hyped episode that (for once) didn’t focus on Echo doesn’t compare to last season’s stellar second half (1.6-1.11 and 1.13). I hope the upcoming focus on Senator Wyndham-Price and the inevitable introduction of Summer Glau help pick things up.

No new episodes until December, in any event.

Meanwhile:

* Harlan Ellison has won $1 from Paramount Pictures in his suit regarding Star Trek‘s “The City on the Edge of Forever.” In fairness, $1 was all he asked for.

* Christopher Hayes reviews Ralph Nader’s “practical Utopia,” Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!.

* And Gregory Cowles reviews Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City for the New York Times.

Lethem’s Manhattan is an alternate-­reality Manhattan, an exaggerated version where an escaped tiger is rumored to be roaming the Upper East Side and Times readers can opt for a “war-free” edition dominated by fluffy human-­interest ­stories. Instead of terrorist attacks, an enervating gray fog has descended on the financial district and remained there for years, hovering mysteriously. (Mysterious to the novel’s characters, anyway; investigators may want to subpoena DeLillo’s airborne toxic event.) 

Looks good.