Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘high school

Saturday Morning Breakfast Links

leave a comment »

* The new issue of Science Fiction Studies is dedicated to Chinese science fiction.

* Breaking: Liberal arts majors didn’t kill the economy.

Judith Butler’s Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS.

* Mark Dery on futureshock.

In the beginning, God created the wealth and the jobs. Now the wealth was a formless void and darkness covered the sources of value, while the spirit of capitalism hovered over the depths. And then God said, “Let there be jobs,” and there were jobs. And God saw that the jobs were not very good; and God separated the jobs from the surplus-value. God called the surplus-value Wealth, and the jobs he called Generosity. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1: A Neoliberal Account.

* SMBC tackles the unholy nexus of predestination and time travel.

* Janet Stephens, amateur hairdressing historian. Fun story, despite the classist overtones.

* The real Cuban missile crisis. So, both JFK and RFK were insane, I guess? Perhaps we should give this quantum immortality theory some serious consideration.

* Fox News screws up every day, but this one is pretty classic.

* There’s obviously some sort of long-term plan here that I don’t yet understand, like the time-bombs hidden in No Child Left Behind: North Carolina to formalize two “tracks” of high school diplomas, “job-ready” and “college-ready.”

* The Talmudic solution to the drone crisis: invent (another) secret, unaccountable court system in lieu of actual due process.

* And George Bush, painter.

Literally Every Weekend Link There Is

with one comment

* It’s official: J.J. Abrams will ruin Star Wars (more).

* More drone fiction, please. Tweets not bombs. Lip-syncing the poetry of empire.

Žižek vs. Zero Dark Thirty.

Imagine a documentary that depicted the Holocaust in a cool, disinterested way as a big industrial-logistic operation, focusing on the technical problems involved (transport, disposal of the bodies, preventing panic among the prisoners to be gassed). Such a film would either embody a deeply immoral fascination with its topic, or it would count on the obscene neutrality of its style to engender dismay and horror in spectators. Where is Bigelow here?

* Anti-war activism at the University of Wisconsin, c. 1940.

* Stunning read on living as a victim of child abuse from the New York TimesThe Price of a Stolen Childhood.

* David Foster Wallace and depression, in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

* Steve Benen and Maddowblog has been all over the Republican vote-rigging scheme, even going so low as to cite one of my tweets. What The 2012 Election Would Look Like Under The Republicans’ Vote-Rigging Plan. Scott Walker, of course, is rigging-curious. And a delicious little bit of schadenfreude.

It is a sin against the new world of mediocrity to be distinct or distinguished.  We are in the chain-store, neon-lighted era.  Almost every city looks the same.  The same people all dress the same – kids as Hopalong Cassidy, men with loud sportshirts and Truman suits, women in slacks.  Sometimes you can tell whether a trousered individual is a man or a woman only by the width of the buttocks.  Only a few cities have individuality.  They are the seaports, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco.  Boston reeks of decay, and is not genteel.  The rest are all Cleveland.

* Today in legal hyperformalism.

Would you believe me if I told you that President Obama is in constitutional trouble—with hundreds of decisions of the National Labor Relations Board from the last year now potentially invalid—over the meaning of the word the?

* When The Shining had an optimistic ending.

* So we’re going to destroy the world: Australian shale oil discovery could be larger than Canada’s oilsands.

* The trouble with English.

None of these past challenges compares with the one under way now. While other humanities disciplines—philosophy, linguistics, and modern languages, for example—have relied upon a range of foundational practices at the modern mass university, many English professors have depended on literature (narrowly defined), written discourse, and the printed book as the primary elements in teaching and scholarship. But hidebound faculty members who continue to assign and study only pre-computer-based media will quickly be on their way toward becoming themselves a “historical” presence at the university.

That’s why I specialized in iPad-2-era Twitter-based fan-fiction, and frankly I’ve never looked back.

* Mainstreaming MOOCs.

* Open, New, Experimental, Aspirational: Ian Bogost vs. “The Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age.”

* New research indicates tuition has little correlation with educational outcomes.

If markets are efficient and if markets make things better, then there is no explanation for why we have the worst media in the world rather than the best. The problem is that markets don’t really make things better or more efficient. They make things cheaper and they’re responsive. That’s why we get the news we want rather than the news we need.

Child labour uncovered in Apple’s supply chain.

* n+1 visits MLA.

* Defending freedom: A St. Paul man who recently purchased an assault rifle out of fear of an impending gun ban threatened his teenage daughter with it because she was getting two B’s in school rather than straight A’s, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.

For The Sixth Time In One Week, Man Shot At Gun Show.

* Adam Mansbach: My fake college college syllabus.

* Copy Of The Scarlet Letter Can’t Believe The Notes High Schooler Writing In Margins.

* Debunkng the “the Soviets used a pencil” gag. The more you know!

* Occam’s Razor suggests it must be Cory Booker who is putting these people and animals in danger in the first place.

* More on the Arizona “loyalty oaths” issue, with a religious freedom focus.

* New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As ‘Tampering With Evidence.’ Republicans, honestly, we have to talk.

* Seriously, though, I could fix the whole damn system if they’d listen to me.

* Even the Pentagon doesn’t know what the the point of the draft is supposed to be.

* Xavier and Magneto Heading to Broadway for Waiting For Godot.

* And a little something just for the Harmenians: “I wanted a memorable Harmontown show in Kansas City, and for my sins they gave me one.” Dan Harmon predicts pain.

Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be High Schoolers

with one comment

Now, people are not mice, and there are limits to what one can learn from a single experiment. But if humans really do feel things most intensely during adolescence, and if, at this same developmental moment, they also happen to be working out an identity for the first time—“sometimes morbidly, often curiously, preoccupied with what they appear to be in the eyes of others as compared with what they feel they are,” as the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson wrote—then it seems safe to say this: Most American high schools are almost sadistically unhealthy places to send adolescents.

Links for the Weekend

with one comment

What Search Committees Wish You Knew. This is a reasonably good article with one piece of deeply terrible advice. Do not tell a search committee anything about your personal life or your relationships that will harm your chances until after you have received a written offer. Being open and honest about your two-body problem will not help you in the least. UPDATE: When I posted this on Twitter, @academicdave had a much harsher take, and found the piece pretty wanting. I don’t know. I think it’s useful for applicants to try to humanize their imagination of the search committee a bit (which can be hard). And then of course once you’ve done that you have to put brakes on that impulse, because they’re still not your friends, and they don’t really care about you much at all.

* Ads without Products has a great pedagogical post on teaching writing and critical perversity. I think I’m going to steal some of this language for my course next semester.

So how do I teach “practical criticism”? In the seminar groups that I lead, I model and encourage the following “flow chart” of thought: Anticipate what other intelligent readers of this piece might say about it. Try to imagine the “conventional wisdom” about it that would emerge as if automatically in the minds of the relatively well-informed and intelligent. And then, but only then, figure out a perverse turn that you can make within the context of but against this conventional wisdom. “Of course that seems right, but on the other hand it fails to account for…” “On first glace, it would be easy and to a degree justifiable to conclude that…. But what if we reconsider this conclusion in the light of….”

Students tend to demonstrate resistance, early on, to this practice. For one thing, especially in the first year, they don’t really (and couldn’t possibly) have a fully developed sense of what the “conventional wisdom” is that their supposed to be augmenting, contradicting, perverting. At this early stage, the process requires them to make an uncomfortable Pascalian wager with themselves – to pretend as though they are confident in their apprehensions until the confidence itself arrives. But even if there’s a certain awkwardness in play, it does seem to exercise the right parts of the students’ critical and analytical faculties so that they (to continue the metaphor) develop a sort of “muscle memory” of the “right” way to do criticism. From what I can tell, encouraging them to develop an instinct of this sort early measurably improves their writing as they move through their degree.

But still (and here, finally, I’m getting to the point of this post) there’s a big problem with all of this. I warn the students of this very early on – generally the first time I run one of their criticism seminars. There’s a big unanswered question lurking behind this entire process. Why must we be perverse? What is the value of aiming always for provocative difference, novelty, rather than any other goal?  Of course, there’s a pragmatic answer: Because it will cause your writing to be better received. Because you will earn better marks by doing it this way rather than the other. Because you will develop a skill – one that can be shifted to other fields of endeavour – that will be recognised as what the world generally calls “intelligence.” But – in particular because none of this should simply be about the pragmatics of getting up the various ladders and depth charts of life – this simply isn’t a sufficient response, or at least is one that begs as many questions as it answers. What are, after all the politics of “novelty”? What are we to make of the structural similarity between what it takes to impress one’s markers and what it takes to make in “on the market,” whether as a human or inhuman commodity? What if – in the end – the answers to question that need (ethically, politically) answering are simple rather than complex, the obvious rather than the surprising?

* A possible example of critical perversity from Deadspin: Everything You Need To Know About Pennsylvania’s Lawsuit Against The NCAA (And Why You Should Support It). Though frankly I’m pretty sympathetic to the claim that the NCAA has no jurisdiction over criminal conspiracies, much less that it followed a rational procedure to adjudicate competing claims in this case.

Bousquet asked the audience why police departments are far more diverse than English departments, by and large. Noting the silence in the audience following his question, Bousquet noted, “We have made it too difficult for those who are not advantaged” to enter the profession. Asked whether he believes faculty diversity is a priority for elite institutions, such as the one he now teaches at, Bousquet said such institutions are “constantly trying to work on the question of diversity.

“For me, the question is why do they fail so much, despite all of those efforts. And I think one of the reasons, amongst many, is the irrationalism of faculty compensation.” Bousquet adds, “Eighty percent of faculty are working like for $15,000 a year” taking into account adjuncts and graduate students.

* “Sustainable Teaching Fail”: The conditions of non-tenure-track faculty are setting us up to be failures as effective pedagogues.

* Lincoln explains the modern GOP.

“Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.”

* But don’t worry! There’s a hack for that! The self-evident Calvinball lunacy of this trillion-dollar-coin thing is all the proof I need that our system is broken and our elites are insane.

Politicians Should Learn Bigger Lessons From Their Pet Causes.

But too many politicians, and this especially includes self-described fiscal conservatives, simply can’t draw the obvious conclusion from all this: namely that you shouldn’t support help for the poor and the sick and elderly only if you personally happen to know someone who’s poor or sick or elderly. All of these people exist whether or not they happen to be family members.

* Blue Mars: What Mars would look like with oceans and life.

* A California appeals court has found that raping a sleeping woman isn’t illegal if she’s unmarried. I swear to God, I don’t even know where to begin with this bullshit anymore.

* Elsewhere in rape culture atrocities: Basically an entire town colludes to protect their football team from rape prosecution.

House GOP lets the Violence Against Women Act expire for first time since 1994. I mean really.

* Inside Chernobyl’s Abandoned Hospital.

Hospital%20Lobby%202

* More Evidence Shows That Pro Sports Teams Don’t Boost The Economy.

* There Are Two Law School Grads for Every Lawyer Job.

* The Original Star Wars Trilogy As Maps.

Commander Riker lorem ipsum.

* Everything that’s wrong with football, in ten seconds. WHAT A HIT! I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN WAIT TO SEE IF THE PLAYER HAS BEEN HURT OR KILLED! VIOLENCE! EXCITEMENT! YELLING!

* Google is not an illegal monopoly, so they can go on ruining all their products with dumb attempts to monetize your data. Hooray!

* And George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year. Sold!

Thursday Night Links

leave a comment »

* Sandy moves the needle: Michael Bloomberg Endorses Obama, Citing Climate Change As Main Reason.

* Without prior approval from his higher-ups, KHON2 morning show co-anchor Jai Cunningham, a victim of domestic violence himself, responds to the alleged murder of a friend at the hands of her husband by vowing to shave his head on the air every time a woman or child dies as a direct result of domestic abuse.

* Without Electricity, New Yorkers on Food Stamps Can’t Pay for Food. The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy. It Will Only Cost $7 Billion To Build A Storm Surge Barrier For New York. Photos Before and after Sandy. Green Party Candidate Jill Stein Arrested Protesting Keystone XL Pipeline: ‘I’m Here To Connect The Dots.’

* My expectation of control over my body is something that children do not have—from the second they wake up until the second they go to bed, children’s bodies are subject to the authorities around them. Of course David is pissed.

* David Graeber: This essay is not, however, primarily about bureaucracy—or even about the reasons for its neglect in anthropology and related disciplines. It is really about violence. What I would like to argue is that situations created by violence—particularly structural violence, by which I mean forms of pervasive social inequality that are ultimately backed up by the threat of physical harm—invariably tend to create the kinds of willful blindness we normally associate with bureaucratic procedures. To put it crudely: it is not so much that bureaucratic procedures are inherently stupid, or even that they tend to produce behavior that they themselves define as stupid, but rather, that are invariably ways of managing social situations that are already stupid because they are founded on structural violence.

* In the face of this situation — as much as it pains me to say this — you are failing. Your so-called “objectivity,” your bloodless impartiality, are nothing but a convenient excuse for what amounts to an inexcusable failure to tell the most urgent truth we’ve ever faced.

* Gurenica talks Lord of the Rings and This Is How You Lose Her with board-certified genius Junot Díaz.

* 7 polling models that predict an Obama victory. Obama’s Electoral College ‘Firewall’ Holding in Polls.

* Psychological research using the D&D Monster Manual.

* Another shoe drops at Penn State.

* Romney gets away with it.

* There was no one out when I was in high school, either. Class of 1998.

* The world’s last Nazi hunter.

Fourth of July-ish Links

with 2 comments

* Your single chart that explains everything, academia edition:

* The student loan suicides. The graduates of 2012 are already dead. Every Article About Graduate Unemployment Ever.

* This is education in the neoliberal age: a quest not for success, but for survival. You ask what it is that will give your children ‘a better chance’. You find a dispassionately technocratic answer, based on the rigorous analysis of academic achievement data. You discount every factor that might make your children non-average, beginning with their attitudes and desires. While you’re at it, you put out of your mind the very idea of social relationships and of the social good. Remember: your children are drowning. It would be quite absurd at this time to wonder what your friends’ children, what their own friends are up to.

* Literature in the Oil Age.

* “Yesterday—only the first day of the month—was hot enough to shatter 27 records and tie 24 others for the highest ever July temperatures. Here’s the whole last week:

Back to back 105 days in my beloved Durham. Are any scientists working on this trying to figure out what’s going on? Firsthand Accounts: Parts of WV, Ohio “Apocalypse” due to the Derecho. Colorado Wildfires Shutter Climate Lab. Get used to wildfires.

* All your preconceptions confirmed: 69 Politicians As They Were In High School.

* Libertarianism and the Workplace.

* Via Bitter Laughter, Reddit explains ACA. Another great piece from Amanda Marcotte that shows how fact-free right-wing opposition to Obamacare has been allowed to be: Questions for Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and Other Opponents of Health Care Reform: Where Are Your Facts?

As Supreme Court Affirms Patchwork U.S. Healthcare System, Vermont Pushes Ahead with Single Payer.

* The down and dirty history of secret spending, PACs gone wild, and the epic four-decade fight over the only kind of political capital that matters.

* This short story by Cory Doctorow imagines an encounter between a solitary sentient robot (Robbie the Row Boat), human meat-bodies that serve as avatars for scuba diving, and a recently uplifted-to-sentience coral reef. Sold!

* The truth is out there: U.S. government lies about the existence of mermaids.

* And sometimes Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal gets it all right. Happy Fourth of July.

Big Monday Links

leave a comment »

(some links stolen from the great zunguzungu)

* It’s bad enough that I’ll never be asked to reboot Back to the Future—but it’d be utterly intolerable if the gig goes to two guys I went to high school with. Jon says it’s all a big misunderstanding but you know he’s just trying to throw me off the scent.

* There is no fresh start: The Return of Mad Men and the End of TV’s Golden Age. A metafictional reading of the series. And for fun: The Foreign Language of Mad Men: Do the characters really talk like people from the ’60s?

Let us start with the obvious: in the entire decade or so of airport security since the attacks on America on September 11th 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has not foiled a single terrorist plot or caught a single terrorist.

* Arundhati Roy: “Capitalism: A Ghost Story.”

* In his novel “2066: Red Star Over America,” Han, China’s premier science-fiction writer, depicts a disturbing future. It is the year 2066. China rules the world while the U.S. festers in financial decline and civil war. A team has been sent to America to disseminate civilization through the traditional Chinese board game Go. But during the critical Go match held at the World Trade Center, terrorists strike. The seas around New York rise, the Twin Towers crumble and the U.S. is plunged into pandemonium. You had me at “Go.” Via io9.

* Do professors get paid too much for too little work? Obviously. More here.

* Related: “College Professors Demand Right to Be Mean.”

* Facebook asserts trademark on word “Book.” Can’t see that being controversial.

* It must be an election year, because suddenly the Obama administration is talking about the environment.

Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were “very likely” caused by manmade global warming, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change said on Sunday. “Scientists at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming,” Reuters reports. “It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming,” said the study. Why didn’t anybody warn us!

Government spending is good in a recession? Why didn’t anyone tell us!

* Why is horseracing even allowed? Via MeFi.

Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.

* If They Directed It: The Hunger Games. I don’t think anything I’ve written on Twitter has gotten as many retweets as my brief reading of series as a utopia.

* Imagining The Wire Season Six.

* On not calling Rich Santorum “crazy.”

* Jeffrey Jerome Cohen writes up his visit to the wonderful conference I was at last weekend, ICFA 2012.

A highlight of ICFA was China Miéville’s talk “On Monsters.” I am a fan of Miéville’s work; The City and the City is one of my favorite books. His narratives are always beautifully written as well as philosophically challenging. Besides possessing an astonishing vocabulary (he sends me to the dictionary, and makes me wonder how they ever gave me a PhD), he is a writer widely read in theory — though his books never turn into allegories for lit crit. They always trace problems, and stay away from anything easy. Miéville brought up Quentin Meillassoux and speculative realism, for example, during his paper (dismissively: he is not a fan of SR or object oriented philosophy, which surprised me). China’s presentation started off as straightforward account of how the uncanny might be broken into various subcategories: the ab-canny, the sur-canny, the sub-canny, the post-canny, the para-canny, and onwards. His account began seriously but spiralled into a proliferative joke. His point was that classification is not analysis, and that such a “taxonomic frenzy” (as he called it) mortifies: “the drive to translate useful constructs into foundations for analysis is deadly,” because it violently takes away the potency and possibility of the terms it organizes. What was interesting to me, though, is that China’s talk performed something, um, para-canny (right beside itself, there but unseen) that I’ve also learned from studying medieval encyclopedists: taxonomic frenzy might produce a desiccated system of emplacement in which everything gets filed into a cabinet and drained of its vitality. Or it might actually be so creative in its proliferative energy and so limned by the necessity of its own failure that it undermines its own rigidity in the very process of articulation, becoming an envitalizing and innovative act — an act of writing — rather than a system of deadening inscription. China’s multiplication of canniness had a power that he walked away from, I think: why abandon your monster like that?

* Honoring the 20th anniversary of Apollo 18 the only possible way: interactive fiction.

* This American Life: What kind of ideology?

* “He Was a Crook”: Longform.org remembers Hunter S. Thompson’s obituary for Richard Nixon.

* Haiti: Where did the money go?

* Support for Afghan War falls. Support for NC anti-gay amendment rises.

A recent Elon University poll found that 58 percent of North Carolinians oppose the amendment, with 38 in favor of it. That poll surveys adults statewide, while the WRAL News poll includes the results only of likely voters.

Despite the broad amendment support in the WRAL News poll, only 37 percent of voters said same-sex couples deserve no legal recognition in North Carolina, according to the poll.

So you have no idea what you’re voting for and won’t bother to find out. Got it.

* Because the 2012 campaign hasn’t been tedious enough: 2016.

* Trayvon Martin and the history of lynching. The Corporations Behind the Law That May Let Trayvon Martin’s Killer Go Free. On Trayvon Martin as innocent victim.

Why Obama’s Healthcare Law Is Constitutional. Absolutely everything you need to know about health reform’s Supreme Court debut. What the Supreme Court Could Do About Obamacare, Explained. Legal experts: Court won’t strike down ‘Obamacare.’

* If I didn’t know better I’d say this little video has some sort of message.

* MLA Job Information List data back to 1965.

* Infographic of the night: Doomsday Predictions Debunked.

* The headline reads, “UC review backs use of pepper spray on protesters.” Huh! I really thought they’d give themselves hell.

Referring to pepper spray, he wrote: “A few focused applications on the crowd that blocked the officers near the row of bushes would likely have cleared that area very quickly, with few additional baton strikes.”

You’re a university, for Christ’s sake. My god.

* What could possibly go wrong? Has Obama put us on a permanent war footing, even in peacetime?

* And what could possibly go wrong? Tacocopter could be the unmanned future of food delivery. Some should have read more Jenny Rhee.