Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Great Filter

Surprise Sunday Links! Watch Out!

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* 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.

* A friend recommended the short Cuban SF novel Super Extra Grande to me, which I liked a lot. Some profiles on the author: 1, 2.

* Horrific terror attack at historic Orlando gay night club leaves 20 dead.

* Scientists think they’ve figured out the Antikythera Mechanism.

* Being Tig Notaro.

* In search of Cervantes’s grave.

* Old and busted: AI. New hotness: IA.

* Landscaping in the Anthropocene.

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.

Twitter must fix this. Its brand is increasingly defined by excessive harassment.

* More on The 7-1/2-Hour O.J. Simpson Doc Everyone Will Be Talking About This Summer.

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).

* I sometimes wish tenure were what its enemies believe it is.

* 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.

* According to multiple federal complaints, young black students in New York City are being forced out of school after being sexually assaulted.

* If you’re not sick of these yet: What Hamilton Forgets About Hamilton.

* The gentrification of Sesame Street.

* Review: Warcraft Is The Battlefield Earth Of The 21st Century. Warcraft, Hollywood, And The Growing Importance Of China’s Box Office.

* 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.

* What to do if you find a goose than lays golden eggs. Machine Learning: A Flowchart. If you read Kafka’s stories backwards, they all make great kids’ movies.

* And the moral cowards at Wikipedia have moved to suppress my work again.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 12, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Parrots and the Fermi Paradox

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Written by gerrycanavan

May 12, 2015 at 8:21 am

So Many Weekend Links!

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* I’ve seen this movie: Marquette working with firm to humanely manage seagulls.

* Best game I’ve played in a really long time: Rymdkapsel.

* The Milwaukee Experiment: What can one prosecutor do about the mass incarceration of African-Americans?

* The academic community has talked itself into a very strange corner with regards to adjunctification. “Respect” is just not a good rallying point: unquantifiable, unsatisfiable, turns political struggle into emotional one. The focus should stay on the system that produces adjunct jobs instead of full-time permanent ones.

* This report that administration and construction are not significant factors in rising tuition seems totally off to me. You’re dividing by different denominators in 2001 and 2011; that masks the magnitude of the change, but also hides new spending in real terms. The last student you add should be your cheapest student: all the infrastructure is in place, you’re just adding one more. But these numbers show the opposite trend: spending at colleges is increasing even given efficiencies gained by adding more students.

* CFP: The Superhero Project.

‘The Game Done Changed’: Reconsidering ‘The Wire’ Amidst the Baltimore Uprising.

* If you, like us, lusted after the art deco tiling and rose-colored lighting of the Grand Budapest Hotel lobby, or drooled over the yellow Parisian hotel room in Hotel Chevalier, here’s some enchanting news: Wes Anderson has designed a bar.

Bardolatry as Idolatry.

NSA mass phone surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden ruled illegal.

* Andrew Cuomo, pretty corrupt.

* So are the Patriots.

An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty.

The Poverty Capitalism Creates.

As investigation enters fifth month, Tamir Rice’s mother has moved into a homeless shelter. Online activists raised $60K for Tamir Rice’s family — so where did all that money go?

* The End of LSU.

* If you want a vision of the future.

Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.

The Secret Lives of Homeless Students.

Ten percent of you were meant to be police officers. You have it in your blood and bones and you will excel in this profession. For 80% of you, this is a job. It’s a job you will do well and honorably for your career with the NYPD. Ten percent of you should never have made it this far. You are too dumb, too damaged, or too criminal to be police officers and you very well will be hurt, killed, or arrested in the years to come.

The Hater’s Guide To Avengers: Age of Ultron. Are you Over the Avengers Yet? Ultron Has Always Been a Dumb Character, and That’s Okay. Even Whedon isn’t into it.

Leaked Email From Marvel CEO Is A Listicle About Why Women Can’t Be Superheroes.

* Reading the Black Captain America (both of them).

Joss Whedon Didn’t Quit Twitter Because of All the Mean Feminists.

In defense of the Mommy Track.

Urban fiction, or street lit, has been snubbed by the publishing industry and scorned by black intellectuals. Yet these authors may just be the most successful literary couple in America.

‘Comedy Bang-Bang’s’ Scott Aukerman: From ‘Screwing Around’ to a Podcast Empire.

Parents call cops on teen for giving away banned book; it backfires predictably.

The Pink and Blue Projects: Exploring the Genderization of Color.

* I really liked TNI’s “Trash” issue, though it gets Oscar the Grouch all wrong.

* Did a study find men’s beards are filled with poop?

We Accidentally Turned The Entire Statue Of Liberty Into A Battery.

Halo Players Spent Five Years Trying To Get Into An Empty Room.

* I’m glad that Facebook is choosing to publish such findings, but I cannot but shake my head about how the real findings are buried, and irrelevant comparisons take up the conclusion.

* A comics Kickstarter some of you might be interested in: Bizarre New World.

Lawmakers drop Walker’s plan to spin off UW governance.

Art Institute of Wisconsin to stop enrolling new students.

Remember when Gerber tried to market “baby food for teens?”

* What Was the Venus de Milo Doing With Her Arms?

Joan Would Have Lost Her Sexual Harassment Suit Against McCann Erickson. Assholes of Mad Men’s McCann pay dividends for real-life McCann.

Q: What do the US, Somalia, and South Sudan have in common? A: It’s totally cool to put kids in jail forever.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Health Insurance Companies Are Illegally Charging for Birth Control.

Report: Most College Football Concussions Happen in Practice.

* Nothing gold can stay be allowed to just be a good thing that happened one time.

Essential Reading: “I Am Error” Brings New Insight to the History of the NES.

From graduation to garbage job (literally): One twentysomething’s struggle.

The source of strange radio signals that have left astronomers at Australia’s most famous radio telescope scratching their heads for 17 years has finally been discovered. It turns out that it was a microwave oven.

“My father felt the U.S.S.R. treated him better than America,” said Tynes-Mensah, a former university chemistry instructor who was born in the Russian town of Krasnodar and now lives mainly in the United States, spending summers in Russia. “He was happy here.”

* How to lie with statistics, Nicholas Kristof edition.

* Portrait of a suicide at UPenn.

* You Oughta Know Dave Coulier Will Be On Fuller House.

Woman Who Tweeted ‘2 Drunk 2 Care’ Before Fatal Crash Gets 24 Years.

Galadriel, Witch-Queen of Lórien.

In “Let Us Now Praise Famous Orcs,” I suggested that the basic humanity of Tolkien’s inhuman creatures proved them to be more worthy of our sympathy than the elves, “whose near-perfection marks them with a profound otherness.” As immortals, elves are always playing a long game in which we finite beings cannot ever hope to be much more than pawns. The characters who seem most aware of this fact in The Lord of the Rings are, in fact, the orcs, as is tellingly revealed in the dialogue between Gorbag and Shagrat. They lament having to work for “Big Bosses,” remember the “bad old times” when elves besieged them, and make hopeful plans for a postwar future in which there are “no big bosses.” In their fear and loathing of aristocrats and high powers, these orcs express thoroughly modern, even vaguely democratic sentiments. The Witch-Queen of Lórien, much like the dark Lord of Mordor, champions a different social order entirely. I am not entirely sure that Galadriel’s vision for how the world system should be organized is necessarily the better one. For those of us who are in favor of changing the world, Galadriel and her coterie of hereditary aristocrats represent the enemy, a power to be overcome, and her “long defeat” cannot come soon enough.

* The Magicians is coming to SyFy.

Sheriffs Threaten Retaliation If The Price Of Prisoner Phone Calls Is Regulated.

* Starving the beast: The UNC system in 2015.

* There are no tough choices.

Meet the outsider who accidentally solved chronic homelessness.

* Meet the original patent troll.

* The vanishing of Molly Norris.

* Empty, Lonely Nothingness. Forever: Understanding the Fermi Paradox.

A Cancer Survivor Designs the Cards She Wishes She’d Received From Friends and Family.

* Get my checkbook! Original drawings depicting iconic Martians from HG Wells’s sci-fi masterpiece The War of the Worlds are on sale for £350,000.

Edit of the Day: Footloose Without the Music Turns Kevin Bacon Into a Maniac.

* Deleted Scenes of Women in Disaster Movies Written by Men.

* Get me Thomas Pynchon: Aide to Kamala Harris arrested for pretending to run 3,000-year-old rogue police force.

* Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot.

Fracking Chemicals Detected in Pennsylvania Drinking Water. More North Carolina Residents Warned Of Contaminated Drinking Water. Horribly bleak study sees ‘empty landscape’ as large herbivores vanish at startling rate. A future without chocolate.

* Only the super-rich can save us now.

McDonald’s to reverse declining sales with more attractive Hamburglar.

These Suburban Preppers Are Ready for Anything.

* Bill Clinton has an exciting new greatest regret of his presidency.

Someone made Game of Thrones into a Google map, and it’s amazing.

Native Americans Say This Man Enslaved Them. Pope Francis Wants To Call Him A Saint.

Which President Greenlit A Trip To The Center Of The Earth?

* The LEGO sublime.

* And a dark, gritty Sliders I wish had gone to series: Parallels. By one of the creators of The Lost Room, which I also wish had gone to series!

Written by gerrycanavan

May 8, 2015 at 8:08 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Hoping There’s Not Life on Mars

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But I hope that our Mars probes discover nothing. It would be good news if we find Mars to be sterile. Dead rocks and lifeless sands would lift my spirit.

Nick Bostrom turns his usual probabilistic method on the search for extraterrestrial life in Technology Review.

From these two facts it follows that the evolutionary path to life-forms capable of space colonization leads through a “Great Filter,” which can be thought of as a probability barrier. (I borrow this term from Robin Hanson, an economist at George Mason University.) The filter consists of one or more evolutionary transitions or steps that must be traversed at great odds in order for an Earth-like planet to produce a civilization capable of exploring distant solar systems. You start with billions and billions of potential germination points for life, and you end up with a sum total of zero extraterrestrial civilizations that we can observe. The Great Filter must therefore be sufficiently powerful–which is to say, passing the critical points must be sufficiently improbable–that even with many billions of rolls of the dice, one ends up with nothing: no aliens, no spacecraft, no signals. At least, none that we can detect in our neck of the woods.

Now, just where might this Great Filter be located? There are two possibilities: It might be behind us, somewhere in our distant past. Or it might be ahead of us, somewhere in the decades, centuries, or millennia to come…

Written by gerrycanavan

May 1, 2008 at 2:58 am