Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘His Dark Materials

Tuesday Night Links!

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* I have another review at LARB this week, this time on Cixin Liu’s Supernova Era. Check it out!

Now, the humans in Liu’s fictions are not saints: there are always dire moments of backlash, too, moments of denial and cowardice and greed and the familiar madness of crowds refusing to face unpleasant truths. All of his major apocalyptic works thus far translated into English face this sort of ordinary and expected human failing as well. But what reads as genuinely, horrifyingly utopian for us in this moment is Liu’s insistence, across his career, that humanity does in fact want to survive — that, faced with a crisis that upends everything we know and threatens to impoverish and immiserate every human being alive and who will ever be alive, the human race will choose collective life over species death. This remains the most fantastic novum in anything Liu has written, an almost inconceivable shift in the priorities of our elites who, like the traitorous Escapers fleeing the invading Trisolarians in The Three-Body Problem, won’t even pretend to try and save the rest of us. “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear,” a defiant, furious Greta Thunberg recently challenged the United Nations. “How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?” The adults of Supernova Era got it done in one. In a moment of intergenerational struggle defined by environmental protest groups like Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion, and by the school climate strikes sparked by Thunberg and other young people around the globe, Supernova Era offers a tantalizing glimpse into another universe with an entirely different field of ecological politics, one where parents and grandparents won’t simply let their children and grandchildren suffer and die without a fight.

* And if you thought *I* was hard on The Testaments The Booker Prize — what happened?

* Help make Milwaukee socialist again!

* Do you hear the people sing? Chile’s people have had enough.

* Are Baby Boomers A ‘Generation Of Sociopaths’? Suicide is Gen Z’s second-leading cause of death, and it’s a worse epidemic than anything millennials faced at that age. ‘OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations.

Image and Text #33 is all about Black Panther. Wakanda, Worldbuilding and Afrofuturism for a World Without Violence.

CFP – “Reading Comics at the Threshold.”

The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors.

Are Liberal Arts Colleges Doomed?

* CUNY Contract Deal Means Big Raise for Adjuncts.

Maryland’s Giant Global Campus Is Restructuring. And Professors Were Asked to ‘Recompete’ for Jobs.

* How Swarthmore shut down the frats.

Trump Education Official to Resign and Call for Mass Student-Loan Forgiveness.

Fredric Jameson: How to adapt to cultural change.

* The rise of eco-horror.

* Every prediction that has been made about climate change has turned out to be a drastic undershoot of the true severity of the crisis. Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows.

* Hundred-year wildfires two or three times every week. A ‘high-end and dangerous’ Santa Ana wind event will dramatically escalate California’s fire risk starting Tuesday night. PG&E CEO Says It Could Impose Blackouts in California for a Decade.

* Zeitgeisty!

* The return of MOOCs, this time for climate change. Or because of incredibly poor planning, whatever, the point is MOOCs.

The UN’s Devastating Climate Change Report Was Too Optimistic. Images reveal Iceland’s glacier melt. An unprecedented climate change lawsuit against American oil giant Exxon Mobil is set to go ahead in New York. Kentucky’s Leaders Are Siding With the Coal Industry, and Its Poorest Residents Are Paying a Price. Amazon rainforest ‘close to irreversible tipping point.’ Humans are rapidly turning oceans into warm, acidifying basins hostile to life. US air quality dropped during Trump presidency after years of improvement, leading to thousands of premature deaths. Climate Activism Will Have ‘Terrible Consequences,’ Warn Richest People Alive. ‘Collapse OS’ Is an Open Source Operating System for the Post-Apocalypse. A New Video Game Tests Whether You Can Survive the Climate Apocalypse. How to Halt Global Warming for $300 Billion.

* The end of the Internet. The Real Threat to Journalism Is Not Donald Trump.

* Coca-Cola, no!

* The Great Unraveling.

* No one working at Newsweek can tell me why it still exists.

* Why lowering the voting age would make for a better democracy.

* Today in the scooter scam. You Lost How Much on Scooters? The madness of WeWork. San Francisco is losing residents because it’s too expensive for nearly everyone. Life in a dayspa — with 95 roommates. admin/admin.

Disability activist sues Minneapolis, scooter companies over sidewalk access. A report from the street.

Poor kids spend nearly 2 hours more on screens each day than rich kids.

* School surveillance.

On the Origins of the Professional-Managerial Class: An Interview with Barbara Ehrenreich.

* Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.

* UWM study finds over half of gun violence perpetrators and victims had elevated blood lead levels as children. The final five percent.

* How aristocrats ate prestige TV.

* “Bulletproof Emmett Till Memorial Unveiled After Repeated Vandalism.”

* CA 1, NCAA 0.

* An oral history of the Chuck E. Cheese robots.

Hollywood’s New Self-Censorship Mess in China. Quentin Tarantino Holds Firm, Won’t Recut ‘Once Upon a Time’ for China.

* Biden’s just so bad at this. So bad at this! Bartenders for Bernie. Can Elizabeth Warren win it all?

* This is fine: In court hearing, Trump lawyer argues a sitting president would be immune from prosecution even if he were to shoot someone. Impeachment is too important to leave to Congress — it’s going to take mass mobilization. John Roberts will save us!

* Being President Supervillain.

Criminal misconduct by US border officers has reached a 5-year high.

* Taking the fight to every state.

* The recession returns to Wisconsin, which it never really left in the first place. Save me, Foxconn!

HUD officials knowingly failed ‘to comply with the law,’ stalled Puerto Rico hurricane relief funds.

* In the richest country in human history.

* Life in occupied Kashmir.

The Empire of Patrolmen.

* Orcs, Britons, And The Martial Race Myth, Part I: A Species Built For Racial Terror. I have an entire day in my Tolkien class devoted to this question, around the Gorbag/Shagrat passages in TTT and ROTK, just because it’s such a threat to the pleasure of the fantasy by the end of the semester.

* Tolkien’s lessons for Trump.

* Of course Mordor would be in Florida.

* The Evolution of Dragons in Western Literature: A History.

* The Fallen Worlds of Philip Pullman.

* Fantasy literature alignment chart.

* Benioff and Weiss explain at length how they don’t know anything about making shows. Five seconds later: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss Are No Longer Making Star Wars Movies.

* The Supreme Court Doesn’t Understand Transgender People. Its ignorance could lead to a legal catastrophe.

* Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow!

* There’s a very good chance the government isn’t hiding aliens. I can’t believe they even got to Snowden.

Mass. Dem’s Bill Would Make It Illegal To Call Someone ‘Bitch.’

Hunt told the Boston Herald that he filed the bill after being asked to do so by a constituent. “Any time a constituent approaches me with something that is of concern to them, I follow through with it,” he said. “In this instance, someone asked me to file a bill that they deemed was important and I thought it was a good exercise to let that bill go through the process.”

I think I’ve found the one flaw in your legislative strategy.

* Can’t get good help these days: Hitman hires hitman who hires hitman who hires hitman who hires hitman who tells police.

Can You Really Be Addicted to Video Games?

* How YouTube radicalization works.

* We Are All Clowns: A Defense of Joker.

Disney Is Quietly Placing Classic Fox Movies Into Its Vault, and That’s Worrying.

* In honor of the return of Homestuck: How ‘Homestuck’ Defined What It Means to Be a Fan Online.

* The Evil Dead Cabin (Morristown, TN).

My Daughter and I Were Diagnosed With Autism on the Same Day.

* If we can put a man on the moon. Media and and social class: a guide. Scams. Dreams.

* One-page dungeon.

* Which words were first recorded in print the year you were born?

The 2010s Broke Our Sense Of Time.

* Ian Bogost wants that goose off his lawn.

* The origins of Kirby.

* We did it! U.S. Military Will Stop Using Floppy Disks to Operate Its Nuclear Weapons System.

* 271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book.

* Nothing gold can stay.

* And imagine going back in time.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Night Links!

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* CFP: The 9th Biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverse. CFP: Horror(s) of Childhood and Adolescence. CFP: Trans Futurisms. CFP: Critical Comics Studies. And CFP coming soon: The X-Men Animated Series.

Depictions of death on TV and in the movies are unrealistic; the characters are awake and carry on meaningful conversations, then suddenly close their eyes and die. That’s not how it works. In the days when deaths occurred at home, most people had seen a relative die. And today we have a lot of knowledge about what happens in the body as it begins shutting down.

* Almost micro-targeted to my mental illness: How many US cities can you name?

What Fan Fiction Teaches That the Classroom Doesn’t.

* So much of college administration is rule by decree under the sign of emergency.

California Governor Signs Bill Allowing College Athletes To Profit From Endorsements. Free labor from college athletes may soon come to an end. And please don’t worry: Ending the sham of NCAA amateurism will not end Title IX.

* Here come the esports majors.

* The Cult of Rich-Kid Sports.

Anatomy of a Polite Revolt in Columbia’s English Department. Reckon it could probably stand to be a little less polite.

* My university is dying.

Former College Towns Left to Adapt to Business Loss.

* The inaugural issue of our journal Gothic Nature: New Directions in Ecohorror and the EcoGothic is finally live.

* Earth is a fire planet, the only one we know.

Humans Are Disturbing Earth’s Carbon Cycle More Than the Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Did.

First as Tragedy, Then as Fascism: Ecologist Garrett Hardin’s enduring gift to the nativist right. The Delusion and Danger of Infinite Economic Growth. Now That’s What I Call the Anthropocene™!

What If We Really Are Alone in the Universe?

* ‘Sci-fi makes you stupid’ study refuted by scientists behind original research.

* Amber Guyger found guilty of murder at trial in fatal shooting of neighbor Botham Jean.

* The toll of #MeToo.

* This time they can’t use procedural tricks to stymie the march of progress! *five seconds later* Ah, well, nevertheless.

The Week That Everything Changed. Paralyzed and teetering on the edge of a cliff. High on His Own Supply. Crazy. Shoot Migrants’ Legs, Build Alligator Moat: Behind Trump’s Ideas for Border. Government Plans to Begin DNA Testing on Detained Immigrants. Trump Administration Separates Some Migrant Mothers From Their Newborns Before Returning Them to Detention. After two ICE officers came to a Pacific Northwest community, longtime residents began to disappear. Will Trump ever leave the White House? The only way out of this catastrophe is for everyone on both sides to pretend Pence isn’t completely dirty even though he very obviously is. President Pence’s First and Worst Choice.

 

* Somehow Elizabeth Warren keeps attracting the right enemies. Warren’s plan for workers. Warren and the selfie line.

How Bernie Sanders convinced me about free college.

* Snowden in the Labyrinth.

* John Kelly, man of honor.

“shoddy system backed by extremely shoddy research and jackboot instincts should be applied globally”

* WeWork is really shaping up to be the Enron of our moment, narrowly edging out Uber.

The Enduring Myth of “The Economy.”

* The Boeing whistleblower.

* Welcome to Estonia’s Isle of Women.

* How they teach slavery, then and now.

* Turns out you can say something so stupid you get fired from Fox.

The Supreme Court will hear three cases next Tuesday that ask whether it is legal to fire workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That alone is enough to make them three of the most important employment discrimination cases in many years. But there are additional layers to these cases, layers that could imperil all workers regardless of whether or not they are LGBTQ.

* I suppose this is canon (again).

* Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino in conversation.

Star Trek: Discovery Became The Most Popular Streaming Show In The World.

* The His Dark Materials sequel is here: The Secret Commonwealth.

Why Has Transphobia Gone Mainstream in Philosophy?

Five Years Later, Do Black Lives Matter?

* Is it weird that no one can sustain a media operation of any size no matter what the topic or longevity?

More than 30,000 children under age 10 have been arrested in the US since 2013: FBI. Hard at work to double that number by 2025.

* Absolutely psychotic nation.

* Great country. Truly great.

* Only in America!

* When your industry is so racist you have no choice but to level up.

* Superheroes are real.

* get you a man who can do all three

* Food mascots and whether or not I’d be able to kick their ass.

* A cultural history of an incredibly self-referential tweet.

* Don’t vape!

Stop Getting Married On Plantations!

* america.jpg

* This one is a real america.jpg too.

* america.jpgs all over.

* Nothing gold can stay: the end of BoJack Horseman.

He Spent Years Infiltrating White Supremacist Groups. Here’s What He Has to Say About What’s Going on Now.

* Tor.com takes up one of my favorite elements of the Foundation series, the Encyclopedia Galactica.

* And I feel like this is worth at least two weeks of therapy.


Written by gerrycanavan

October 3, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Links!

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Over the past decade numerous stories have come out about Soviet and American military personnel who were given orders to fire nuclear weapons between the 1960s and 1980s. Their conscience stopped them, only to learn later that it was a mistaken order. We now have another horrifying story to add to that growing list of possible post-apocalyptic futures.

Former Air Force airman John Bordne is now an elderly man. But in the early morning hours of October 28, 1962 he and his fellow airmen nearly launched their nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Air Force has only now given Bordne permission to tell his story of how America nearly started World War III.

* Time travel short film of the day: “Therefore I Am.”

Kurt Vonnegut’s Electric Literature.

* Stored grain can’t melt steel beams.

* NASA is taking astronaut applications.

* The BBC will adapt His Dark Materials.

* Bullets dodged: Aaron Sorkin once pitched a Pixar movie about talking office supplies.

How We Think About Technology (Without Thinking About Politics).

The rating game: How Uber and its peers turned us into horrible bosses.

* Another McKenzie Wark piece on the Anthropocene.

Don’t believe the Democratic Party is in crisis? Then read this tweet. How badly has the Obama era damaged the Democratic party?

The book includes diary entries about the tensions between Mrs. Bush and Nancy Reagan (“Nancy does not like Barbara”) and his private comments about Michael S. Dukakis, his 1988 opponent (“midget nerd”). It reports that as defense secretary for the elder Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney commissioned a study of how many tactical nuclear weapons would be needed to take out an Iraqi Republican Guard division, if necessary. (The answer: 17.)

* Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The Most Militarized Universities in America.

* These teams earned the most from “paid patriotism.”

Prose and poetry—all art, music, dance—rise from and move with the profound rhythms of our body, our being, and the body and being of the world. Physicists read the universe as a great range of vibrations, of rhythms. Art follows and expresses those rhythms. Once we get the beat, the right beat, our ideas and our words dance to it—the round dance that everybody can join. And then I am thou, and the barriers are down. For a while. Ursula K. Le Guin, y’all.

Students suspended or expelled over allegations of sexual assault rarely succeed in lawsuits against the institutions that punished them. That’s starting to change.

* Ada #8: Gender, Globalization, and the Digital.

* “What’s your secret?” ““Oh, we just kick out the bad ones.”

* Elmo looks into the Ark of the Covenant.

 

* And Meet Dakotaraptor: the feathered dinosaur that was ‘utterly lethal.’ Cutie!

dakotaraptor

More Sick Baby Day Links

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* Ladies and gentlemen, the very worst “Should I Go to Grad School” piece ever written.

Samuel Delany and Wonder Woman.

* Letter from a Chinese labor camp?

* Quentin Tarantino’s next?

I don’t know exactly when I’m going to do it, but there’s something about this that would suggest a trilogy.  [The next part would follow] a bunch of black troops, and they had been f–ked over by the American military and kind of go apeshit… [The] black troops… kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland.

* Philip Pullman will continue the His Dark Materials series.

* The headline reads, “Physicians in China treat addictions by destroying the brain’s pleasure center.”

* The cold hard facts of freezing to death.

Presenting the Royal Mail’s Doctor Who stamps.

* Why is Congress so terrible? Nate Silver says it was gerrymandering that done it.

* And just one piece from the latest JacobinThe Soul of Student Debt.

Tuesday Morning Links

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Tuesday morning links.

* If movie posters were honest. See also: if covers of marginal SF/fantasy series were honest.

* Who knew full moons had names? Via G-Lens.

* Is California the new Michigan?

* Tough times in the USA: people are eating racoon. This has nothing to do with the recession, apparently—some people are just choosing to eat it because they are gross.

* Potsdam University is offering a graduate how-to course on flirting for computer geeks.

* Arm-Chair Logic has your elementary logic test for the day.

* Solar apocalypse: NASA warns of ‘Space Katrina.’ My production company has already optioned the rights to this headline, don’t even think about it.

* Harper’s Index: Bush retrospective mega-edition.

* A task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem. That’s right: online sexual predators have infiltrated top-level attorneys general offices in 49 states. We must redouble our efforts.

* And Whedonesque asks, appropriately forlorn: Has it really been five years since Angel ended? That is a little hard to believe. The Armchair Critic ranks the twenty-five best episodes, and the five worst, of one of the best (and surely the most underappreciated) SF series of all time.

His Dark Materials and the Negation of the Negation

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moreintelligentlife.com has a mildly slavish interview with fantasist-of-the-moment (and notorious atheist!) Philip Pullman that’s worth reading if you’re interested in either children’s literature or religious controversy. Here’s a bit where he rags on Lewis and Tolkien:

Several times Pullman reminds me that a work of fiction is not an argument. Perhaps it’s safest to say that in “His Dark Materials” he has constructed his own imaginative world so as not to submit to anyone else’s. He likes to quote William Blake’s line: “I must create a system, or be enslav’d by another man’s.” His story is a rival to the narratives put forward by two earlier Oxford writers, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Pullman loathes the way the children in Narnia are killed in a car-crash. “I dislike his Narnia books because of the solution he offers to the great questions of human life: is there a God, what is the purpose, all that stuff, which he really does engage with pretty deeply, unlike Tolkien who doesn’t touch it at all. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is essentially trivial. Narnia is essentially serious, though I don’t like the answer Lewis comes up with. If I was doing it at all, I was arguing with Narnia. Tolkien is not worth arguing with.”

1) It’s a train wreck, not a car crash, though this was probably the interviewer’s error and not Pullman’s. (The Problem of Susan is worth footnoting here as well.)

2) This is a strange thing that seems to happen to a lot of atheists and agnostics, and I say that certainly having recognized the impulse in myself at times as well. Rather than exiling religious and metaphysical questions to the margins, as you might expect, the recognition of the non-existence of God has the exact opposite effect: the question of God becomes the only one worth asking and the only thing worth talking about. Hence the ludicrous claim that Tolkien is “essentially trivial” because Lord of the Rings is neither a theistic nor atheistic polemic.

I don’t quite know what to make of this, but it’s very interesting. Clearly, Pullmanistic atheism has mastered the negation, but just as clearly it needs to find some way to move forward into the negation of the negation. I think that’s what actually existing atheism would have to be, rather than the cancerous anti-theism that so thoroughly dominates the category today.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 8, 2007 at 7:45 pm

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Philip Pullman, whose Dark Materials trilogy I started once a few years ago but never got around to finishing, is working on a sequel that will elaborate on his conception of atheism:

“This is a big subject and I’m writing a big, big book in order to deal precisely with that question,” he tells the magazine. “I don’t want to anticipate it too much by switching a light on the answer now. The interesting – the curious – question is, if people can be helped by something that is palpably not true, is this better than denying the thing that is not true and not being helped?”

As you can see, Pullman has developed more than a little bit of Dawkinsesque condescension when he speaks now about religion, and the question he thinks is interesting and curious is actually neither interesting nor curious—but whatever else you’ve got to say about Pullman you’ve got to give the guy credit for writing a children’s series that ends with God being unmasked as a monstrous, immoral fraud. That’s guts.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 1, 2007 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,