Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘game studies

612 Frozen Hellscape Links for All Your Frozen Hellscape Needs

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* In case you missed it, I posted my syllabi for the spring last week: Classics of Science Fiction, Game Studies, and Methods of Inquiry: The Mind. And just in time for my games course: Marquette announces that esports — competitive video gaming — will be a varsity sport next year.

* Another just-in-case-you-missed-it: I was on the most recent episode of Random Trek talking about Voyager episode 7.18, “Human Error.”

* I was interviewed for this Octavia E. Butler audio documentary at the BBC, though it’s geolocked at the moment and even I can’t listen to it…

* Polygraph 22 (“Ecology and Ideology”), coedited by me, Lisa Klarr, and Ryan Vu in 2010, has been put up in its entirety at the Polygraph site. Some sort of retrospective involving the three of us is coming in Polygraph 25 on Marxism and climate change…

* And you can read our introduction to The Cambridge History of Science Fiction for free at CUP! Put in a purchase order with your institutional library today!

* CFP: Marxism and Pornography.

* CFP: Canadian Science Fiction.

* CFP: After Fantastika.

* Science Fiction and Social Justice: An Overview.

* Special issue: Queerness and Video Games.

Speculative Anthropologies.

* Absolutely worst week of weather since we moved to Wisconsin. Ancient Plants Reveal Arctic Summers Haven’t Been This Hot in 115,000 Years. Sea levels could rise by metres amid record Antarctic ice melt, scientists warn. And meanwhile, in Australia.

* For and against hopepunk.

* The hope in dystopia.

* The radical hope of Octavia E. Butler.

* Snowpiercer was a documentary.

Fantastic Beasts and Muggles: Antihumanism in Rowling’s Wizarding World.

* The next Cixin Liu: Supernova Era.

Red Moon, Red Earth: the radical science fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson.

* A year-end (oops) roundup post about great science fiction stories from 2018.

The Largest J.R.R. Tolkien Exhibit in Generations Is Coming to the U.S.: Original Drawings, Manuscripts, Maps & More.

* At its core was an algorithm so powerful that you could give it the rules of humanity’s richest and most studied games and, later that day, it would become the best player there has ever been.

* What’s a dirty secret that everybody in your industry knows but anyone outside of your line of work would be scandalized to hear?

* The University in Ruins: Colleges Lose a ‘Stunning’ 651 Foreign-Language Programs in 3 Years. The life and death and life? of the English major. Getting Students to Study Literature.

Proceedings Start Against ‘Sokal Squared’ Hoax Professor. Landmark controversy could determine once and for all whether journal editors are people.

* The MSU autopsy.

Being Poor in America’s Most Prestigious M.F.A. Program.

The median salary for a full-time writer in America is $20,300.

* When you kill the humanities, you kill the sciences’ revenue stream.

4. The real analogy to make here is how many monuments do you see to, say the “genocidal regime” in Germany? Are there statues of Hitler at the University of Berlin? Of course not. There are “historical remnants” across Germany. But that is different than erecting monuments.

Racism and the Wisconsin Idea. And while we’re beating up on Wisconsin: Mandela Barnes Is First African-American In Decades To Hold Statewide Office In Wisconsin.

How Ph.D.s Romanticize the ‘Regular’ Job Market. Okay, y’all, let’s talk quick about what my experience was getting an #altac job. And from the archives: Alt-Ac Isn’t Always the Answer.

* Federal judge allows to proceed a suit in which white student says an admissions officer told her she might improve her odds of getting into medical school by discovering Native American or African American lineage.

* Baby Boomers to steal college from their grandchildren, again.

* Hampshire College struggles to stay afloat.

* College of Theseus.

* The university at the end of the world.

How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation. Generation Layoff.

A $21,000 Cosmetology School Debt, and a $9-an-Hour Job.

Not lazy, not faking: teaching and learning experiences of university students with disabilities.

In this context, diversity banners are not evidence of Maoism on the march. They are evidence of an institution whose ideals are at odds with its social function. Few in higher education want to work in a laundering operation that exchanges parental capital for students’ social capital so that they can turn it back into material capital again.And yet…

The Data Colleges Collect on Applicants. Chinese schools are using ‘smart uniforms’ to track their students’ locations.

* Journalism in ruins. What will Google and Facebook do when they’ve killed off every industry they’re parasitic on? BuzzFeed’s Unpaid 19-Year-Old Quiz Genius on Her Tricks, the Layoffs, and Jonah Peretti. Do You Still Have A Job At BuzzFeed?

* How to build a Medicare-for-all plan, explained by somebody who’s thought about it for 20 years.

* The Foxconn deal just gets worse and worse.

Whiteness in 21st century America has an endgame, and it is this: to divest itself from the shame of its power, while working to revive the fear it needs in which to thrive.

In the face of climate apocalypse, the rich have been devising escape plans. What happens when they opt out of democratic preparation for emergencies? Call me crazy but the horse may have left the barn on this one.

Our national amnesia and insouciance is so advanced (sort of like those of our president) that we have already forgotten that Malibu burned down this fall and the celebrities had to flee, many losing their multimillion-dollar mansions. Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds. Billionaire Miami Beach Developer Dismisses Rising Sea Levels as ‘Paranoia.’ Ancient Plants Reveal Arctic Summers Haven’t Been This Hot in 115,000 Years. The Democrats are climate deniers. What It’s Like to Be a High School Senior and Lose Everything in the Worst Fire in California History. Managed retreat. This is what extinction feels like from the inside. Everything is not going to be okay.

* Consider de-extinction.

Soy boom devours Brazil’s tropical savanna.

* The end of the monarch butterfly.

Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, would have to pay $4.1 billion in the first year under U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax, based on his current net worth of $137.1 billion. Article never quite gets around to mentioning that that’s about three weeks of Bezos’s earnings.

* Meanwhile: Hospitals Are Asking Their Own Patients to Donate Money. The wallet biopsy.

* Politicians have caused a pay ‘collapse’ for the bottom 90 percent of workers, researchers say.

* Joe Manchin’s Daughter Was Responsible For Increasing EpiPen Prices By 400%.

* “If True, This Could Be One of the Greatest Discoveries in Human History”: The head of Harvard’s astronomy department says what others are afraid to say about a peculiar object that entered the solar system.

Mysterious radio signals from deep space detected.

Surely You’re a Creep, Mr. Feynman.

* Surviving R. Kelly.

The Bulletproof Coffee Founder Has Spent $1 Million in His Quest to Live to 180.

J’Accuse…! Why Jeanne Calment’s 122-year old longevity record may be fake.

CBS All Access playing with fire with my precious baby wants to create the next generation of Trekkies with multiple animated Star Trek series. On the plus side, Michelle Yeoh is good. On the down side, she will be playing a fascist, and the show will be poorly lit.” Star Trek 4.

* Trump scandal watch 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

* What even is Fox News?

* The ACLU made the Border Patrol reveal its terrifying legal theories.

* Face it, tiger, you just need a new Constitution.

* Twilight of the UCB.

* Bandersnatch stats. The Illusion of Free Will: On “Bandersnatch” and Interactive Fiction. The biggest thing missing from Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’s horror story about a career in games. Paging the Reddit detectives.

* Ainehi Edoro on the New Image of Africa in Black Panther.

* I have a problem with Black Panther: Anyone committed to an expansive concept of Pan-African liberation must regard ‘Black Panther’ as a counterrevolutionary film.

Was Jane Jetson a Child Bride?

Dozens of college-age men dead from ‘accidental’ drownings—but a team of retired detectives say the boys were drugged and killed by a shadowy gang with a sinister symbol.

The year was 2005. That same year, National Book Award-winning author George Saunders traveled to Kathmandu to meet Bomjon, or “Buddha Boy” as the Western press had dubbed him. Saunders trekked deep into the unruly jungle that’s shadowed by the distant Himalayas and recalled his adventure for GQ, reporting back that he felt as though he’d experienced a miracle. A divine presence. Dark Secrets of Nepal’s Famous Buddha Boy.

‘Nobody Is Going to Believe You.’ How is Bryan Singer still working?

* Sex after Chernobyl.

Winners of the 2018 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest. There’s more posts after the links, I just liked a bunch of these.

* Uber and Lyft singlehandedly wipe out US transit gains.

* AAVE and court stenography.

General Strike: Fierce Urgency of Now.

Research shows that encouraging all women to breastfeed comes with serious risks. Will our perception of it ever catch up?

* The end of forever: what happens when an adoption fails?

* When Isaac Asimov predicted 2019.

* The United States of Rage.

Facebook knowingly duped game-playing kids and their parents out of money.

How The Lord of the Rings Changed Publishing Forever.

* Maybe fixing schools isn’t actually about cutting budgets down to nothing and calling it a day.

* Automation at Amazon. Automation everywhere.

* The future is here, it just isn’t very evenly distributed: Wielding Rocks and Knives, Arizonans Attack Self-Driving Cars.

The Fascinating ’80s Public Access Films Produced by a California UFO Cult.

“Black babies in the United States die at just over two times the rate of white babies in the first year of their life,” says Arthur James, an OB-GYN at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus. When my daughter died, she and I became statistics.

How Sears Was Gutted By Its Own CEO. Sears bankruptcy court OKs $25 million in bonuses for top execs.

Math against crimes against humanity: Using rigorous statistics to prove genocide when the dead cannot speak for themselves.

* The Future of the Great Lakes.

The Owner of One of the Biggest Comedy Clubs in the Country Tells Us Why She Said No to Booking Louis CK. Walking away from Louis C.K.The end.

* Fake-porn videos are being weaponized to harass and humiliate women: ‘Everybody is a potential target.’

I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America.

2018: The Year In Ideas: A Review Of Ideas. What Will History Books Say About 2018?

* The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda.

* 538 really covering its bases: How Kamala Harris Could Win The 2020 Democratic Primary. How Pete Buttigieg Could Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination.

* This Is What Happens When You Try to Sue Your Boss.

Tesla chief Elon Musk’s corporate jet flew more than 150,000 miles last year, or more than six times around the Earth, as he raced between the outposts of his futuristic empire during what he has called “the most difficult and painful year” of his career, according to flight records obtained by The Washington Post.

In the time it has taken for a child to grow up in Chicago, city leaders have either closed or radically shaken up some 200 public schools — nearly a third of the entire district — a comprehensive new tally by WBEZ finds. Boston’s economy is booming, but schools seem cash poor. Why? Hidden crisis: D.C.-area students owe nearly half a million in K-12 school lunch debt.

* Yes, there are online preschools. And early childhood experts say they stink.

Gym Class Is So Bad Kids Are Skipping School to Avoid It.

* The end of tag.

* The generation gap in the age of blogs.

Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in Her Teeth.

AI Algorithm Can Detect Alzheimer’s Earlier Than Doctors.

* The secret of my success: A small literature demonstrates that names are economically relevant. However, this is the first paper to examine the relationship between surname initial rank and male life outcomes, including human capital investments and labor market experiences. Surnames with initials farther from the beginning of the alphabet were associated with less distinction and satisfaction in high school, lower educational attainment, more military service and less attractive first jobs. These effects were concentrated among men who were undistinguished by cognitive ability or appearance, and, for them, may have persisted into middle age. They suggest that ordering is important and that over-reliance on alphabetical orderings can be harmful.

Waukesha college helps answer ‘What’s next?’ for people with autism.

* Today in dark, dark headlines: Female veterinarians committing suicide in record numbers.

We’re Working Nurses to Death.

* Grifts in everything: GoFundMe Provides Refunds To Donors Duped By Viral Campaign.

* The DNA grift.

* “Look, a lot of Twitter is bad. No question. But only Twitter can take you on a journey like this. What a website.”

It is one of the neoliberal commandments that innovation in markets can always rectify any perceived problems thrown up by markets in the first place. Thus, whenever opponents on the nominal left have sought to ameliorate some perceived political problem through direct regulation or taxation, the Russian doll of the [neoliberal] thought collective quickly roused itself, mobilized to invent and promote some new market device to supposedly achieve the ‘same’ result. But what has often been overlooked is that, once the stipulated market solution becomes established as a live policy option, the very same Russian doll then also rapidly produces a harsh critique of that specific market device, usually along the lines that it insufficiently respects full market efficiency. This seemingly irrational trashing of neoliberal policy device that had earlier been emitted from the bowls of the [neoliberal thought collective] is not evidence of an unfortunate propensity for self-subversion or unfocused rage against government, but instead an amazingly effective tactic for shifting the universe of political possibility further to the right.

* And a tiny fraction of the genius Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has been laying down day after day after day while I’ve been gone: When sociologists make movies. Pickup lines. I couldn’t live without you. Domestication. Can video games be art? Honestly, Frank, that sounds like conspiracy theory territory. On Framing. I come from the future. Econ 101. Do you think humans are capable of suffering? Machine ethics.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 30, 2019 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Spring 2019 Syllabi! “Classics of Science Fiction” and Game Studies

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I’m teaching three courses this semester: a graduate level course titled “Classics of Science Fiction,” a first-year seminar on game studies, and the second half of our yearlong “methods of inquiry” sequence (also for first-years). You can see the full syllabi in all their glory at my website:

ENGL 6700: Classics of Science Fiction

Main texts: Jack Finney, Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed; Octavia E. Butler, Kindred; William Gibson, Neuromancer; Octavia E. Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories; Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lucky Strike; Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen; Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), 2001, Blade Runner, and Star Trek: The Next Generation; “That Only a Mother,” “The Evitable Conflict,” “All You Zombies,” “The Heat-Death of the Universe”; “Houston, Houston, Do You Read” and “The Screwfly Solution,” “The Gernsback Continuum,” “Game Night at the Fox and Goose”; “The Space Traders”; criticism from Suvin, Sontag, Jameson, Freedman, Delany, Csiscery-Ronay, Rieder, and even Gerry Canavan himself

HONORS 1955H: Game Studies

Main texts: Ian Bogost, How to Do Things with Video Games; Alexander Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture; Frans Märyä, An Introduction to Game Studies; The Stanley Parable, Doom, Journey, Bandersnatch, Tetris, Candy Crush, Civilization, SimCity, The King of Kong, Braid, FIFA 19

CORE 1929H: Methods of Inquiry: The Mind

WEEK ONE—HISTORY: George Rousseau, “Depression’s Forgotten Geneaology: Notes Towards a History of Depression”

WEEK TWO—STRUCTURE: Luigi Esposito and Fernando M. Perez, “Neoliberalism and the Commodification of Mental Health”

WEEK THREE—PERSONAL NARRATIVE: Leslie Kendall Dye, “It Isn’t That Shocking”

That last one is a 1.5 credit course that’s mostly devoted to independent research in the second half, but it did allow me the chance to formalize something like a definition of the difference between the physical sciences and the academic humanities as I see them operating, at least at the level of the very extreme generalization, for better or worse:

Last semester we were working at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities, exploring the ways each of these two “cultures” engage questions of knowledge production and dissemination. In contrasting the humanities to the sciences, I suggested that contemporary humanities approaches—speaking of course extremely generally—tend to extend from a few assumptions that are not always shared by the sciences (especially the physical sciences, but also some historically conservative social science disciplines like economics or political science):

1) social causation: the proposition that the best explanations for social phenomena originate in social structures, rather than in individual psychologies, pathologies, or choices;

2) social construction: the proposition that knowledge is embedded within social structures like language, ideology, history, and economics, rather than existing radically apart from social structures in supposedly objective facts or eternal truths;

3) social justice: the proposition that knowledge has a politics, and that we should choose methods of knowledge production and dissemination that help heal the world rather than do harm or simply remain neutral.

Spring 2019 Course Descriptions: “Game Studies” and “Classics of Science Fiction”

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I have a pretty good schedule coming up last semester, if I do say so myself, teaching a new-ish freshman honors “Foundations in Rhetoric” course on Game Studies (modeled after my very fun, sadly defunct one-credit seminar) and a totally new grad-level course on “Classics of Science Fiction.” (I’ll also be extending my year-long, co-taught “Math Anxiety and the Mind” Methods of Inquiry course into a second half, yet to be conceived!) Here are the descriptions…

HOPR 1955H: “Game Studies”
This course explores the burgeoning academic field of game studies. Dividing our attention between video games and more traditional board games, we will consider the social impact of games and gaming on a variety of topics from the nuclear-powered “game theory” of the Cold War arms race to utopian dreams of a life of only games to the fraught ethical and political debates that have accompanied the rise of video games as multi-billion-dollar popular entertainment. Are games addictive? Are they bad for children? Are they bad for adults? Are they a waste of time—or, to paraphrase Steven Johnson, do games turn out to actually be good for you? We will also consider pop culture treatment of games and gaming culture in film, literature, and mainstream journalism, as well as recent documentaries like The King of Kong and The Ecstasy of Order.
ENGL 6700: “Classics of Science Fiction”
Course Description: This course engages the subfield of science fiction studies by looking at widely recognized classics in the genre from the postwar period in the United States, running roughly from 1945-1991. Some of these texts exist within the hybrid genre sometimes called “slipstream,” variously read by different audiences as both genre fiction and “serious literature”; others fall much more squarely within the oft-derided category of “pop culture.” We will study these texts alongside scholarship that theorizes both genre classification in general and science fiction in particular, and devote particular attention to how to teach and write about works that may not fit comfortably within the prestige economy of traditional literary studies. Limiting our focus to this historical era will also us to explore how periodization and canonization operate in literary studies, as well as explore how texts intended for consumption by mass-market audiences can help us index the hopes, anxieties, and social transformations of a given cultural moment.

Readings:The reading list is still quite fluid (and open to requests) but major texts will likely include Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, William Gibson’sNeuromancer, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Lucky Strike, as well as films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Blade Runner; the television series The Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation; and short stories from Judith Merril, Isaac Asimov, Samuel R. Delany, J.G. Ballard, Joanna Russ, and James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon).

Assignments: Class participation; weekly forum posts; in-class presentations; sample course syllabi, lesson plans, and statement of teaching philosophy

Written by gerrycanavan

October 22, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Thursday Links!

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* The big story in academia yesterday was the eleventh-hour preemptive firing of Steven Salaita from UIUC (which according to reports may have cost him his tenure at Virginia Tech as well). Especially disturbing in all this is the participation of former AAUP president Cary Nelson, on the side of the firing. Some commentary from Corey Robin, Claire Potter, Philip Weiss, and Electronic Intifada. A statement for the Illinois AAUP. A petition.

* Delayed gratification watch: This week I finally cracked and read Chris Ware’s Building Stories after nearly two years of anticipation. So great. I can’t wait to teach it. I may write more about this later, but for now I can tell you that my arbitrary path through the book told a beautiful story that began with the couple’s fateful move to Englewood and drifted backwards in time, Ulysses-like, to the day the couple met, before culminating in a quietly nostalgic trip to the eponymous building as it stood about to be torn down. So great. My friend Jacob’s review. “I Hoped That the Book Would Just Be Fun”: A Brief Interview with Chris Ware.

* Call for applications: Wisconsin Poet Laureate.

* Oak Creek, Two Years After the Sikh Mass Murder.

* On adjuncts and wildcat strikes.

* I was born too early: N.Y.U. to Add a Bachelor’s Degree in Video Game Design.

* I was born too late: MIT looking into paying professors by the word.

* College rankings, 1911. Class III! How dare they. #impeachTaft

* The conservative plan to destroy higher education by capturing accreditation.

* UMass-Dartmouth to Pay $1.2-Million to Professor in Discrimination Case.

* Voter Fraud Literally Less Likely Than Being Hit By Lightning.

* The country’s largest environmental group is profiting from oil drilling.

* NYPD sadly forced to arrest its critics.

Medical Workers Say NYPD Cops Beat Man Shackled In A Stretcher. It Is Time We Treat Police Brutality as a National Crisis.

The CIA Must Tell the Truth About My Rendition At 12 Years Old.

“America is always losing its innocence,” Perlstein tells me, caught between the men who say we never lost it, and those who counterfeit its coming back again.

* State’s rights we can believe in: New Jersey drivers may be able to ignore other states’ speed cameras.

* Netflix Says Arrested Development Season 5 Is ‘Just a Matter of When.’

* Maria Bamford and the Hard Work of Acting Normal.

Porn production plummets in Los Angeles.

* How Marvel Conquered Hollywood.

The Lost Projects of Dan Harmon. In addition to Building Stories, I also cracked this week and finally started watching Rick and Morty. Now, granted, it’s no Building Stories — but it’s pretty good!

* The New Inquiry‘s “Mourning” issue is out today and has some really nice essays I think I’ll be using in the second go of my Cultural Preservation course next spring.

Why Civilization: Beyond Earth Is The Hottest New Space Strategy Game.

Disney Is Really Building A Star Wars Theme Park.

* Ethics vs Bioethics.

You Are Given An Unlimited Supply Of Something. The One Catch? The Next Person Sets A Condition.

* Wikipedia’s monkey selfie ruling is a travesty for the world’s monkey artists.

* Apparently Kid for President.

* Now we see the violence inherent in the system: Insurance Company Pays Elderly Man’s Workman’s Comp Settlement With $21,000 in Coins.

* Department of diminishing returns: The British Office: The Movie.

* And the kind of headline where I really don’t want any details: NASA: New “impossible” engine works, could change space travel forever. Second star to the right, and straight on till morning…

20140806

Monday Is Banality of Evil Day at gerrycanavan.wordpress.com

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Some funny replies to that bit on my timeline.

* Fourteen Caribbean countries prepare to sue Europe for slavery.

* An urban studies professor takes a job at a payday loan place.

* Oh, so now Napolitano loves undocumented immigrants.

The Constitution ought to play a prominent role in our politics. But I’d like to see McCarthy construct an argument for his favored policies without any mention of or recourse to the document. Perhaps that would make it clearer that suspending due process puts a country farther along the road to serfdom than old-age pensions.

* But the thing about the NSA revelations is that this isn’t exceptional illegality. It is routine, somehow justified by legal opinions written by John Yoo-style hacks. And worse, it is so routine that 29 y/o contractors have access to it. The issue isn’t so much that we’ve expanded the national security in response to perceived threats, but rather than doing so has become so unexceptional that it is routine, widely known, and the information widely (though not publicly) available. At the risk of Godwining the email, this is the essence of the “banality of evil” in the precise Arendtian sense of the term.

CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds.

Memo on the Use of Screenshots in Game Studies Scholarship.

Modernist art haul, ‘looted by Nazis’, recovered by German police.

* Today’s portmanteau: brocialism.

90 Year Old Legendary Speaker of the House Jim Wright Denied Texas Voter ID Card.

A brief dispatch from Boston’s Adjunct Action Symposium.

* And Inside Higher Ed has a piece on Cathy Davidson’s history-of-higher-ed MOOC, which I’ve just signed up for.