Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘HASTAC

Saturday Night Links

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* SOPA update from Cory Doctorow: The Judiciary Committee will have another chance to pass the bill out of committee at a special session on December 21.

* The headline reads, Australia’s most cherished marsupial, the koala, is in danger of becoming extinct in the wild within 30 years after an outbreak of chlamydia.

* The headline reads, Two deaths from brain-eating amoeba linked to sinus remedy for colds. Does the world seem a little strange today to anyone else?

* Only the super-rich can save us now! An anonymous cabal of millionaires and billionaires is looking to do something in the 2012 election by running an independent candidate in all 50 states. Just what is that something? I guess we’ll find out.

* Obama vs. the pipeline? As @thinkprogress notes, that’s the whole point of this payroll tax blackmail in the first place.

* Media Matters celebrates Fox & Friends, 2011.

* I’m with Ta-Nehisi: Occupy Wall Street shouldn’t turn into Occupy Trinity Church. If that puts me at odds with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, well, so be it…

* Today in the permafrost apocalypse: A recent estimate suggests that the perennially frozen ground known as permafrost, which underlies nearly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere.

* Glenn Greenwald: To allow significant political figures to be heralded with purely one-sided requiems — enforced by misguided (even if well-intentioned) notions of private etiquette that bar discussions of their bad acts — is not a matter of politeness; it’s deceitful and propagandistic. More, specifically on Hitchens, from Lenin’s Tomb.

* And your game of the night: Greens Survive Only When Reds Die. Like Lemmings for sociopaths. Enjoy!

The End of SOPA?

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I’ve been an exceedingly poor member of HASTAC this semester, but I did managed to put together a brief end-of-term link post on the apparent end of SOPA tonight, if you’re interested in the subject.

Some More Tuesday Links

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* I wrote a short blog post for HASTAC compiling some recent thoughts and links on “openness” in the university system, which are likely no surprise to anyone who follows this blog but which I include here for the sake of completeness regardless.

* It’s cute that Josh Marshall thinks Bachmann just making sh!t up means her run at the GOP nomination is over. Of course, what this actually means is that it’s now an open question whether Gardasil causes mental retardation in young girls.

* Elizabeth Warren announces for Senate tomorrow.

* Here comes Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

* The Trash|Track Project asks: Why do we know so much about the supply chain and so little about the removal chain? Via Melody.

* And via On Gender-Identity Disorder and the DSM.

The DSM work group assigned to gender identity disorder, a panel of specialized field experts, has already bowed to some external pressures. It has made clear that it intends to change the name of the diagnosis from “disorder” to “dysphoria”—which describes a passing mood rather than a fixed state. The work group has also made public its plans to not only preserve the core GID diagnosis, but to retain an even more controversial entry: GID in children.

… The second argument in favor of keeping GID in the diagnostic manual is where things get ethically murky. The removal of the diagnosis may also remove insurance coverage for transsexual adults who are being treated with hormonal or surgical reassignment. As of now, a diagnosis of mental illness is the only mechanism that transsexuals have for medical insurance to cover mastectomies, testosterone injections, and genital reconstruction surgeries (though very few insurance companies cover any sort of gender reassignment, because it is most often considered “cosmetic”).

Megan Smith, a Nebraska-based psychotherapist and an advocate for the removal of GID from the DSM, claims that the insurance argument is the one she most often encounters. Smith believes keeping the diagnosis for the sake of insurance coverage is “unethical and unscientific.” Smith argues, “I don’t believe it’s our obligation as mental health professionals to change psychiatric evaluations in order to play ball with insurance companies.”

Brian Croxall and “The Absent Presence” at MLA

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I just put up a short post at HASTAC recapping the Brian Croxall paper-by-proxy event at MLA for anyone who might have missed it.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm

MLA Wrap-Up

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My paper for the “Oil Ontologies” panel was pretty well received today, if I do say so myself, with two other very interesting papers on oil company propaganda and petrofiction and a lot of great discussion during and after the Q&A. My paper was essentially a revised version of these two early culturemonkey posts mixed with my usual argument about how science fiction, as our ideology of the future, is Very Important. (More on this theme with regard to ecology in general will be coming soon in the Polygraph introduction, as well as in this oil paper after I revise it for eventual hoped-for publication.) I’m very glad to have been a part of this panel; I’m very convinced that understanding “oil ontology,” a concept originally developed by Imre Szeman in this South Atlantic Quarterly article from 2007, is a crucial component of any ecologically minded critique of capitalism.

Next up: a paper on zombies for IAFA.

Putting my paper off to one side, the big winner in the MLA paper sweepstakes this week was undoubtedly Brian Croxall, whose decision to deliver his paper on adjunct faculty issues by proxy has gotten the issue a tremendous deal of attention. A special honorable mention goes to the digital humanities, who really were everywhere.

Monday Misc.

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* Three Mile Island may still be leaking. More at Infrastructurist, which gives the story a strong pro-nuclear slant not really supported by the facts.

* When it rains too much, sewage gets in your drinking water. The stimulus package could have been devoted entirely to infrastructure and green economy programs and that still would have been just a start on the sort of spending that is necessary.

* John Marshall says the public option is now so tiny it is no longer worth fighting for. I like Josh, and I see his point, but I really think this takes too short-term a view; the point is to get any public option in, so that it can subsequently be improved and expanded using the filibuster-proof reconciliation process. And even in the short-term, the progressive left is sufficiently invested in the public option that its loss would be widely understood as (another) demoralizing defeat—which is something we just don’t need right now.

* HASTAC is part of a big Obama administration science and math initiative today.

* The terrifying story of a man trapped in a twenty-three-year coma.

* And via Tim Morton, the Danish journal ReThink has a new section on climate change, with pieces from Morton and Latour among others. Check it out.

California (How Neoliberalism Works)

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The current crisis in the UC system came up again and again at the recession conference this weekend, and not only because a certain former Duke Lit student seems to have the uncanny ability to insert himself, Where’s-Waldo-style, in the center of  every photo coming out of the student protests. How the University Works had a nice post of all this, focused on the occupation of Wheeler Hall at Berkeley and the protests at UCLA. Democracy Now has an even better video report on the protests, as well great attention to the fiscal origins of the crisis. This open letter to Chancellor Birgeneau, holding him personally responsible for the police violence on campus, is making the rounds as well.

I don’t have much to add to all this except to reiterate the necessary structural point about the emergence of the corporate university that is being made by so many. There’s something closely akin to Naomi Klein’s famous “shock doctrine” currently going on in California’s university system; a fundamentally political crisis, caused by deeply flawed governmental institutions and bad decisions going back decades, is being misrecognized as a force of nature, something we must learn to be “realistic” about as we begin to make the “tough decisions.” This is how neoliberalism does its work. As zunguzungu puts it in the link above:

This is not, however, the difference between idealism and realism, even if that’s how the media has spun it. If you heard NPR’s account of the Chancellor’s meeting this morning, for example, you’ll note that they staged it as a conversation between students demanding money and Yudof saying the money was unavailable. One voice naively demands to be given more while the other voice regretfully and knowingly informs them that it just isn’t realistic. The reason this account is wrong is the same reason the UCSB Academic Senate officially called Yudof “a cynical opportunist with no commitment to education” and voted to censure him. As they put it, “UCOP has misrepresented the real nature of the University’s financial situation…The state cutbacks, though significant, are being used as an excuse to proceed aggressively with further steps toward transforming the University from a public resource, dedicated to the education of the people of California and the pursuit of knowledge, into a profit-making enterprise, a research facility of benefit primarily to industry and beholden primarily to commercial interests.” The university keeps spending money, on lots of things. And the situation is complicated; there are real fiscal limitations to what can be done, just as part of learning to be a teacher is figuring out how to limit what you can give, out of self-preservation. But it’s how those decisions get made, what principles you use to decide how the money gets spent, that determines the difference between an educator and a businessperson. Because you don’t want to go to, or send your kids to, a school that makes its decisions based on the bottom line.

…the best example of the bad educator is the administrator who, instead of thinking of what needs to be done for the students of the UC system, capitalizes on a crisis of funding to make those students into the cash cow for making the UC profitable. The difference is not between idealism and realism but between two very different sets of priorities, between the social function of education (educating students) and the economic function of being profitable. And that was why Yudof’s ridiculous “cemetery” line was so damningly telling: to make room for a corporation, you have to bury the school first.

The current situation—and, I suppose, this very post—is also yet another instance of the status update activism I discussed in my first HASTAC post back in August. Everything I know about the student movements in California, and all the links above, came to me through Facebook and Twitter.

Quick Links

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Quick links.

* At a newly revitalized Bitter Laughter: 73% of American Medical Association doctors want a public option.

* In the New Yorker, two takedowns of GOP insanity and obstructionism.

* Wal-Mart: actually not so great. Via MeFi, which includes a bonus link to a nice take-off on Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced capitalism is indistinguishable from socialism Soviet-style state capitalism.

* Also via MeFi: The New York Times’s Toxic Waters: “A series about the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators’ response.”

* And the thing from my lists I most enjoyed reading today just happens to be online: Thomas Pynchon’s “Is it O.K. to be a Luddite?” (UPDATE: My drive towards procrastination compelled me to write a brief HASTAC post on this.)

By 1945, the factory system — which, more than any piece of machinery, was the real and major result of the Industrial Revolution — had been extended to include the Manhattan Project, the German long-range rocket program and the death camps, such as Auschwitz. It has taken no major gift of prophecy to see how these three curves of development might plausibly converge, and before too long. Since Hiroshima, we have watched nuclear weapons multiply out of control, and delivery systems acquire, for global purposes, unlimited range and accuracy. An unblinking acceptance of a holocaust running to seven- and eight-figure body counts has become — among those who, particularly since 1980, have been guiding our military policies — conventional wisdom.

To people who were writing science fiction in the 50’s, none of this was much of a surprise, though modern Luddite imaginations have yet to come up with any countercritter Bad and Big enough, even in the most irresponsible of fictions, to begin to compare with what would happen in a nuclear war. So, in the science fiction of the Atomic Age and the cold war, we see the Luddite impulse to deny the machine taking a different direction. The hardware angle got de-emphasized in favor of more humanistic concerns — exotic cultural evolutions and social scenarios, paradoxes and games with space/time, wild philosophical questions — most of it sharing, as the critical literature has amply discussed, a definition of “human” as particularly distinguished from “machine.” Like their earlier counterparts, 20th-century Luddites looked back yearningly to another age — curiously, the same Age of Reason which had forced the first Luddites into nostalgia for the Age of Miracles.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 15, 2009 at 3:34 am

Sunday Links!

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Sunday! Links!

* Jaimee has a new poem online at Country Dog Review.

* Traxus has a nice post on status update activism jumping off my post at HASTAC the other day.

* In praise of the sci-fi corridor.

* All about ocean acidification, the climate change disaster no one is even talking about.

* Confessions of an Aca/Fan has two good posts about where District 9 came from, one on transmedia promotion strategies and the other on Afrofuturism.

* NeilAlien is your source for Disney/Marvel merger news, especially more Photoshopped images than you can possibly handle. Here are even more Photoshopped images.

* Why is Glenn Beck wearing an East German military uniform on the cover of his new book? No, really, why?

Written by gerrycanavan

September 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm


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* I’ll be posting this year as a HASTAC Scholar at the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboatory. My first post is about status update activism of the sort that is all over your Facebook newsfeed today.

* Speaking of health care, Olympia Snowe now runs your health care.

* LRB makes an impressively desperate bid for my attention with Fredric Jameson’s review of Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood alongside reviews of Inglourious Basterds and Inherent Vice.

* Madoff-mania: The SEC—which he claims he was shortlisted to chair (!)— now admits it badly mishandled multiple investigations of his company. Still more here.

* Kevin Carey nicely notes the difficulty inherent to blogging about a book you’re two-thirds through with. Another post or two on Infinite Jest soon. The total collapse of blogging at A Supposedly Fun Blog is one of the great disappointments of Infinite Summer, I think.

* Hiding adjuncts so the U.S. News rankings can’t find them. Meanwhile, this year’s Washington Monthly undergraduate rankings leave Duke out of the Top 25.

* So you’ve invented a board game. (via)

* 68 Sci-Fi Sites to See in the U.S.

* And Gawker declares the Michael Cera backlash has officially begun.