Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust

New Year’s Links!

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* A nice endorsement of Octavia E. Butler from Steve Shaviro. Some bonus Shaviro content: his favorite SF of 2016. I think Death’s End was the best SF I read this year too, though I really liked New York 2140 a lot too (technically that’s 2017, I suppose). I’d also single out Invisible Planets and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, both of which had some really good short stories. In comics, I think The Vision was the best new thing I’ve seen in years. There’s a lot I bought this year and didn’t have time to look at yet, though, so maybe check back with me in 2019 and I can tell you what was the best thing from 2016.

* Kindred: The Graphic Novel.

* Introducing the David Foster Wallace Society, including a CFP for the inaugural issue of The Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies.

Call for Papers: The Poverty of Academia.

* Oh, fuck this terrible year.

30 essential tips for succeeding in graduate school.

* The University in the Time of Trump.

Making the grade: a history of the A–F marking scheme.

* Who’s Afraid of the Student Debt Crisis?

Duke warns professors about emails from someone claiming to be a student, seeking information about their courses — many in fields criticized by some on the right. Some Michigan and Denver faculty members have received similar emails but from different source.

* The age of humanism is ending.

The New Year and the Bend of the Arc.

* The Front of the Classroom.

Marina Abramović and Kim Stanley Robinson perform “The Hard Problem.”

Osvaldo Oyola reads Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther.

* Leia Organa Solo: A Critical Obituary.

* Trump’s Arrival.

* Let them drink blood.

* BREAKING: There Is No Such Thing as “White Genocide.” Academic Freedom, Again. Buffalo skulls.

* I don’t think Children of Men was ever actually “overlooked” — and I’m shocked it was considered a flop at a time — but it certainly looks prescient now.

From Tape Drives to Memory Orbs, the Data Formats of Star Wars Suck. Remembering Caravan of Courage, the Ewok Adventure Star Wars Would Rather You’d Forget. Anti-fascism vs. nostalgia: Rogue One. How to See Star Wars For What It Really Is. And a new headcanon regarding the Empire and its chronic design problems.

Good News! Humans No Longer Caused Climate Change, According to the State of Wisconsin.

* How did A&E let this happen?

* On fighting like Republicans, or, the end of America.

* Scenes from the class struggle in Berkeley. And in Chillicothe, Ohio.

The seduction of technocratic government—that a best answer will overcome division, whether sown in the nature of man or ineluctable in capitalist society—slides into the seduction in the campaign that algorithms will render rote the task of human persuasion, that canvassers are just cogs for a plan built by machine. And so the error to treat data as holy writ, when it’s both easier and harder than that. Data are fragile; algorithms, especially when they aggregate preferences, fall apart. Always, always, power lurks. The technocrats have to believe in mass politics, believe for real that ordinary people, when they organize, can change their own destinies. Whether that happens depends on the party that gets built, and the forces behind it.

Four Cabinet nominations that could blow up in Donald Trump’s face. Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliances. Why Donald Trump Might Not Be All That Good for Art. How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler. This all certainly seems on the up-and-up. And today in teaching the controversy: Nuclear diplomacy via Twitter is a bad idea.

* Democrats: Time to Win! Why the Democrats’ 2017 comeback dream is like nothing we’ve seen before.

The Russia Conundrum: How Can Democrats Avoid Getting Entangled in a Losing Issue?

House Republicans will ring in the new year with a plan to permanently cripple government.

Characters Are Not A Coloring Book Or, Why the Black Hermione is a Poor Apology for the Ingrained Racism of Harry Potter.

The Great Harvard Pee-In of 1973.

* Against jobs.

* Against Batman.

The UBI already exists for the 1%.

* The arc of history is long, but Google Search will not longer return Holocaust-denying websites at the top of page one.

* Same joke but about not being allowed to ban plastic bags in Michigan anymore.

The Champions of the 401(k) Lament the Revolution They Started.

* “It was a pleasure to cull.”

* Geoengineering could ruin astronomy.

* Haiti and the Age of Revolution.

* A Utopia for the Deaf in Martha’s Vineyard.

Why the ‘Ghost Ship’ Was Invisible in Oakland, Until 36 Died.

Nine charts that show how white women are drinking themselves to death.

* The American bison is the new U.S. national mammal, but its slaughter was once seen as a way to starve Native Americans into submission.

* It wasn’t just your imagination: more famous people did die in 2016.

* How long can Twitter go on like this?

* The Porn Business Isn’t Anything Like You Think it Is. The Attorney Fighting Revenge Porn.

* Special ed and the war on education.

My Little Free Library war: How our suburban front-yard lending box made me hate books and fear my neighbors.

* Becoming Ugly.

* Happy Public Domain Day 2017.

Intricate Star Trek Klingon Warship Using 25,000 LEGO Bricks.

* And the scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.


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January 3, 2017 at 9:00 am

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Tuesday Morning Links

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* From the archives: The university is no longer primarily a site of production (of a national labor force or national culture) as it was in the 1970s and 80s, but has become primarily a site of capital investment and accumulation. The historical process through which this transformation was implemented is long and complicated, and we cannot give a detailed account of it here. Instead, we want to describe the general shape of this new model and the consequences it might have for political action in a university setting. We take as paradigmatic the case of the University of Michigan, where this model has been worked out in its most developed form and from which it is spreading across the United States, as university administrators across the country look to and emulate what they glowingly call the “Michigan model.” In this new university, instruction is secondary to ensuring the free flow of capital. Bodies in classrooms are important only to the extent that money continues to flow through the system. It is a university that in a global sense has ceased to be a university—its primary purpose is no longer education but circulation. This is the new logic of the university. If we want to fight it, we have to understand it.

Merit, Diversity and Grad Admissions.

* Big Data and Graduation Rates.

* Teaching the controversy in California, Holocaust edition.

* Another absolutely botched college investigation of a sexual assault.

* Violent Abuse of the Mentally Ill Is Routine, Widespread at Rikers Island.

* Bullshitting about Gaza.

* Malcolm Harris on redheads and playacting racist.

* Why it’s time we talked about the sex lives of humanitarians.

* Shouting About Diving, but Shrugging About Concussions. How to stop FIFA from being such a parasite. Could the World Cup Champion Beat the Best Club Team in the World? Stadiums and/as prisons. Another World Cup Is Possible.

* That’s… ominous. Parts of Yellowstone National Park closed after massive supervolcano beneath it melts roads.

* Buzzfeed has a longread about the behavior of a long-term predator in an elite California private school.

* Meanwhile, Pope Francis’s back-of-the-envelope calculation of the number of predators in the clergy is utterly horrifying.

* Demolition unearths legacy of toxic pollution at Milwaukee plant.

* Is Milwaukee the No. 1 city for tech? Not so fast.

* The July effect is real: new doctors really do make hospitals more dangerous.

* Joss Whedon has written more Buffy the Vampire Slayer. True fact!

Behind-The-Scenes Footage Of Buffy Stunts Is the Ultimate Time Suck.

On the legacy of Dungeons & Dragons.

* Against natural gas as a “transition fuel.”

* If you pretend precedent is meaningful and the rule of law is an operative concept in America, and squint real hard, here’s a way Hobby Lobby could be good news for liberals.

There is, Steve estimates, room enough on the ark for 23 people to live comfortably. And Australians are welcome. Singles, couples, families, believers. All that’s required is a $300 one way ticket from Brisbane to Luganville and a commitment that means forever.

* A bit on the nose, don’t you think? Two Fruitland Park, Fla. cops have lost their jobs after an FBI source named the two as members of the Ku Klux Klan.

* Uber and rape: Seattle Police Clear Uber Driver of Rape Charge, But Not Sexual Assault.

* When Park Middle School cheated on a high-stakes test.

* The goal of ethics is to maximize human flourishing.

* And the new Doctor Who trailer fills me with a little bit of sadness: I was really hoping the Capaldi era would be more swashbuckling than brooding. I guess I’m looking forward to Moffat moving on.


More Tuesday Links

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* Get ready for the Tea Party… IN SPACE! Related: Obama announces plan for mission halfway to Mars.

President Obama hailed the trip as a significant compromise, noting “There were those who argued we should travel all the way to the Red Planet, while others argued that we should not go at all. I rejected these extremes and believe that this compromise will significantly bend the curve towards an ultimate full Mars trip some time in the future.”

* With respect to Wisconsin recalls, Nate Silver argues nobody knows anything. Turnout is high but uneven, which could flow either way.

* Obama Surges to Lead against Generic Republican. At last our long 2012 nightmare is finally over.

* Supercongress: Assemble!

* News reports today indicate there are now somewhere between zero and one known “Pink Triangle” survivors of the concentration camps.

* And the news, as always, gets worse: Drug Dealers May Have Wiped Out ‘Uncontacted’ Amazon Tribe.

‘Arbeit Macht Frei’

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Clueless jerks have stolen the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign from Auschwitz.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm

‘Inglourious Basterds’

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It’s a bit hard for me to understand the person who has heard of both Quentin Tarantino and the Holocaust, who then willingly goes to see a Quentin Tarantino movie about the Holocaust, and yet leaves the theater afterwards claiming to feel “offended.” Putting aside the highly fraught question of what exactly it is we mean when we say we are “offended,” do you really expect us to believe you didn’t know in advance what you were walking into? (See TNR for an example of this sort of strange reaction. Writing as if his meaning were clear beyond all possible clarification, Isaac Chotiner proclaims: “[T]he film is one of the most morally repulsive movies of the past decade.” In what respect, Charlie?)

Traxus and I spent some time after the film trying to puzzle all this out, but our discussion bounced around the question of whether Inglourious Basterds was completely without moral content (my initial inclination) or else the morally weightiest of Tarantino’s films (Traxus’s take and the one I eventually came around to, though it’s not exactly incompatible with the first).

Spoilers about the end of the film follow.

What we were specifically trying to work out was the way the film-within-a-film works as an (obvious) metacommentary on the whole, with a shot-reverse-shot logic that repeats itself almost exactly inside and outside Nation’s Pride. This, Traxus was arguing, suggests a kind of formal moral equivalence between the Nazi enjoyment of their propaganda film and our enjoyment of ours, on at least two levels. First there is the level of content, which we both agree is the weaker of the two. (Nazis constitute a threat that is now so vanquished as to seem completely impossible and even cartoonish, and the impossibly excessive fantasy of a alternate history in which Hitler is machine-gunned to death by Jewish-American GIs breaks whatever remaining hold the catharsis of the moment might have held on us.) But on the level of subject position Traxus has, I think, a much better point—the can’t-miss-it repetition of shot-reverse-shot, over and over, really does suggest the audience’s willing construction of this violence in a way that approaches actual moral weight.

But for my money it’s the scene that follows the cinema massacre that finally implicates the audience in this fantasy of brutal violence. Faced with the unhappy choice between letting Nazi Hans Landa walk away from the war a false hero or else executing him against orders, Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine squares the circle by carving a swastika into Landa’s head (but otherwise letting him live). It’s an act he’s done earlier in the movie, but the callback is (first) a moment of genuinely pleasurable narrative cleverness that (second) turns rapidly disturbing as the actual scarring is performed on-screen. Several bloody shot-reverse-shots later, Aldo says something like “I think this is my masterpiece” directly into the camera, followed by an immediate cut to the credits: WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY QUENTIN TARANTINO, with Tarantino thereby claiming his guilt/authorship over all these events and, by implication, once again accusing us of our participation in them.

Only here do I feel as though Tarantino has drawn out my dark side. Everywhere else, the violence in Inglourious Basterds is not pleasurable, at least not for me. (There’s also not all that much of it, hyperbolic reviews aside; most of the film is calm dialogue.) I don’t revel in violence, even against Nazis, and I’m no more glad to see an actor playing Hitler pretend to be shot than I would be to see him pretend to get away. The cinema fantasy scene and the film’s other violent set pieces have, I think, no real vibrancy to them; it’s only Hans Landa who gets under my skin and exposes my inner possibilities of hate to light. (And I don’t think it’s exactly fair to blame Tarantino for something that was inside me all along.)

While not exactly parodic, the rest of the violence does take on (for me) a cover-charge quality, a price that must be exacted to get to the good stuff. And there’s quite a bit of good stuff here; this is a great and enjoyable film, with good acting, typically skilled directing, and a better-than-expected script. If it’s not exactly a perfect film, it may well be a perfect Tarantino film. And I would humbly suggest that anyone who likes Tarantino’s other films, but hates this one, isn’t evaluating this one on the merits but is instead letting the fear of irreverence towards the Holocaust cloud their aesthetic judgment. It is, to butcher Adorno, still possible to make an exploitation flick after Auschwitz.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 25, 2009 at 4:01 am

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‘Inglourious Basterds’

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“Holocaust movies always have Jews as victims,” he said, plainly exasperated by Hollywood’s lack of imagination. “We’ve seen that story before. I want to see something different. Let’s see Germans that are scared of Jews. Let’s not have everything build up to a big misery, let’s actually take the fun of action-movie cinema and apply it to this situation.”

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg profiles Quentin Tarantino and his latest film, Inglourious Basterds.

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August 11, 2009 at 7:05 pm

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Shooting at the Holocaust Museum

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A 88-year-old gunman— by reports a white supremacist and birtheropened fire earlier today at the Holocaust Museum. (Early reports that no one was killed have become inaccurate; a security guard has now died. TPM has running updates.) The suspect was arrested twenty-eight years ago for attempting to perform a citizen’s arrest of the Federal Reserve Board. His writings have been widely circulating on the Internet.

In light of today’s shooting and the George Tiller assassination, both Steve Benen and Matt Yglesias remember the Homeland Security report from earlier this year that caused so much manufactured controversy, which had warned against the threat of precisely this sort of violence from political extremists.

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June 10, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Busy Week Ahead

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Busy week ahead, so posting will be comparatively light except insofar as I allow the Internets to distract me from my work. We’ll see how I do.

A few links:

* The U.S. has apparently launched not-at-all-October-Surprise forays into Syria and Pakistan.

* Barack draws a record 100,000+ crowd in Denver. (See photo.)

* NBC numbers man Chuck Todd is having an increasingly difficult time keeping “objectivity” in the face of Obama’s overwhelming advantages; here he is on Meet the Press talking about the early voting explosion and the possibility of African-American voter participation in the neighborhood of 95-100%.

* More early voting buzz: the latest official numbers show Democrats taking a lead over Republicans in the votes already cast, 871,251 to 818,799. As early voting tends to favor Republicans due to the disproportionate absentee balloting of military voters and the elderly, this is good news.

* Jewish voters in Pennsylvania have been warned by the state GOP not to make the same mistake their German ancestors did in the 1930s and ’40s. There is so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin.

* Who will replace Obama as the senator from Illinois? Jesse Jackson, Jr., wants the job, despite fears that he may be unelectable statewide.

* The Ann Arbor News endorses *nobody* for president. Well done, sirs.

* And the Internet has created its most bizarrely Dada meme yet: Robocop on a Unicorn.

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October 27, 2008 at 12:14 pm

They Saved Hitler’s Farts

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The untold story of Hitler’s flatulence. Via MeFi.

Hitler’s stomach problems may even have played their part in his losing the war, thanks to this shadowy figure of Dr. Morell, an incompetent quack who took over Hitler’s medical care in 1937. The pair had met at a Christmas gathering in the Berghof, the bucolic mountain retreat decorated with Bavarian knick-knacks and edelweiss, the year before. Morrell was an unpleasant figure even by Nazi standards – grossly obese, with frog-like features, sulfurous B.O. and venomous halitosis. But when he cured a painful case of eczema on Hitler’s legs and provided temporary relief for his stomach cramps, the Führer was won over. To the irritation of other Nazi doctors, Hitler then proceeded to swallow any of Morell’s advice, no matter how hair-brained, for the next eight years.

For example, to combat recurrences of the volcanic stomach problems, Morell plied him with a remedy called “Dr. Köster’s Anti-gas pills,” which contained significant amounts of strychnine – and Hitler often took as many as 16 of the little black pills a day. The sallow skin, glaucous eyes and attention lapses noted by observers later in the war are consistent with strychnine poisoning; another ingredient in the pills, antropine, causes mood wings from euphoria to violent anger. Even more peculiar were the injections of amphetamines that Morell administered every morning before breakfast from 1941, which may have exacerbated the erratic behavior, inflexibility, paranoia and indecision that Hitler began to display increasingly as the war ground on. And there was a barrage of other supplements — vitamins, testosterone, liver extracts, laxatives, sedatives, glucose and opiates, all intended to combat the dictator’s real or imagined ailments. After the war, U.S. intelligence officers discovered that Morell was pumping Hitler with 28 different drugs, including eye-drops that contained 10 percent cocaine (up to 10 treatment a day), a concoction made from human placenta and “potency pills” made from ground bull’s testicles. But despite the barrage of medicines, Morell’s diaries (which were recovered from Germany and are kept in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.) make clear that the bouts of “agonizing flatulence” remained a regular occurrence.

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November 3, 2007 at 4:05 pm

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Springtime for Hitler

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Springtime for Hitler: Everyone is all smiles in this photo album from an officer at Auschwitz. Here’s the full album. Via MeFi and Boing Boing.

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September 19, 2007 at 6:27 pm

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Slovenia’s Boris Kobe’s hand-drawn tarot cards from the concentration camp at Allach. Amazing. Via Metafilter.

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August 25, 2007 at 9:02 pm

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In newsreels, he was paraded as ‘the Reich’s youngest Nazi’ and he witnessed some unspeakable atrocities. But his SS masters never discovered the most essential detail about his life: their little Nazi mascot was Jewish. (via)

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August 22, 2007 at 4:14 pm

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Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that it was nothing more than misfortune that made you a willing instrument in the organization of mass murder; there still remains for the fact that you have carried out, and therefore actively supported, a policy of mass murder. For politics is not like the nursery; in politics obedience and support are the same. And just as you supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations—as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world—we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you. That is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang.

That’s Hannah Arendt putting imaginary words into the mouths of Eichmann’s judges at the close of her excellent Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which I’ve been reading this week. The book inaugurates what looks to be the second theme of my summer reading, following apocalypse: evil. (Next up: Badiou’s Ethics.) The Eichmann trial was one of the most important twentieth-century events I knew almost nothing about, informing everything from the subtext of The Remains of the Day to the trial of Gaius Baltar last season on Battlestar Galactica—so I’m very glad to finally know a little something about it. And Arendt’s book is, again, very, very good—much if not nearly all of the criticism I’ve seen lobbed against it strikes me as without merit.

Eichmann Trial Transcripts

YouTube has your vintage newsreels:

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June 3, 2007 at 1:32 pm

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