Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘hope

Fall Break Links! Every Tab I Had Open Is Closed!

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* New open-access scholarship: Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling. My contribution is on Rogue One and the crisis of authority that seems to have plagued all the post-Lucas Star Wars productions. Check it out!

* Science Fiction Film and Television 10.3 is also available, a special issue all about Mad Max and guest-edited by Dan Hassler-Forest, including a great piece by one of my former graduate students, Dr. Bonnie McLean!

* My book was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement! That’s wild. There’s a really nice review coming in the next issue of Science Fiction Studies, too, though I don’t think its online yet…

* By far the absolute best thing I’ve found on the Internet in years: Decision Problem: Paperclips.

* Call for Papers: Critical Disaster Studies.

* It’s been so long since I’ve posted that it’s still news Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize. With all due apologies to Margaret Atwood.

* Tom Petty was still alive then. Puerto Rico wasn’t in ruins, then. The worst mass shooting in American history perpetrated by a single individual hadn’t happened then. California wasn’t on fire quite to the apocalyptic extent that it is now then. I still had hope for The Last Jedi. And the GOP wasn’t all-in for Roy Moore.

* There are no natural disasters. The Left Needs Its Own Shock Doctrine for Puerto Rico. Disaster socialism. Many Trump voters who got hurricane relief in Texas aren’t sure Puerto Ricans should. After the Hurricane. Someday we’ll look back on the storms from this year’s horrific hurricane season with nostalgia.

* Page of a Calvin and Hobbes comic found in the wreckage of Santa Rosa, California.

This is the horror of mass shootings. Not just death that comes from nowhere, intruding upon the status quo—but a death that doesn’t change that status quo, that continues to sail on unchanged by it. You may be a toddler in a preschool in one of the richest zip codes in the country; a congressman playing baseball in Alexandria, Virginia; a white-collar office worker in a business park; a college student or professor on some leafy campus; a doctor making your rounds in a ward in the Bronx; a country music fan enjoying a concert in a city built as a mecca for relaxation and pleasure: the bullet that comes for you will not discriminate. It knows no racial bias, imposes no political litmus test, checks no credit score, heeds no common wisdom of whose life should or shouldn’t matter. It will pierce your skin, perforate your organs, shatter your bones, and blow apart the gray matter inside your skull faster than your brain tissue can tear. And then, after the token thoughts and prayers, nothing. No revolutionary legislation or sudden sea change in cultural attitudes will mark your passing. The bloody cruelty of your murder will be matched only by the sanguine absence of any substantive national response. Our democracy is riven by inequality in so many ways, but in this domain, and perhaps in this domain alone, all American lives are treated as equally disposable.

Having achieved so many conservative goals — a labor movement in terminal decline, curtailed abortion rights, the deregulation of multiple industries, economic inequality reminiscent of the Gilded Age, and racial resegregation — the right can now afford the luxury of irresponsibility. Or so it believes. As we have seen in the opening months of the Trump presidency, the conservative regime, despite its command of all three elected branches of the national government and a majority of state governments, is extraordinarily unstable and even weak, thanks to a number of self-inflicted wounds. That weakness, however, is a symptom not of its failures, but of its success.

* Freedom of speech means professors get fired for their tweets while universities rent their facilities to open Nazis for $600,000 below cost. Meanwhile, college administrations continue to look to Trump to save them from their graduate students.

The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics.

Death at a Penn State Fraternity.

* UPenn humiliates itself.

* Octavia Butler: The Brutalities of the Past Are All Around Us.

* African Science Fiction, at LARB.

* The new issue of Slayage has a “Twenty Years of Buffy” roundtable.

Image Journal Exclusively Publishes Flannery O’Connor’s College Journal.

* Honestly, I prefer it when the NCAA doesn’t even bother to pretend.

* One of the classic signs of a failing state is the manipulation of data, including its suppression.

* Internal emails show ICE agents struggling to substantiate Trump’s lies about immigrants.

* ICE Detainee Sent to Solitary Confinement for Encouraging Protest of “Voluntary” Low Wage Labor.

This Is What It Looks Like When the President Asks People to Snitch on Their Neighbors.

A 2-year-old’s kidney transplant was put on hold — after his donor father’s probation violation.

* The arc of history is long, but Federal Judge Rules Handcuffing Little Kids Above Their Elbows Is Unconstitutional.

Body cameras and more training aren’t enough. We need to divert funding for police into funding for human needs.

“Childhood trauma is a huge factor within the criminal justice system,” said Christopher Wildeman, a sociologist at Cornell University and co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. “It is among the most important things that shapes addictive and criminal behavior in adulthood.”

They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants.

When Colleges Use Their Own Students to Catch Drug Dealers.

* The Democratic district attorney of Manhattan openly takes bribes, and he’s running unopposed.

Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream.

How We Found Tom Price’s Private Jets.

What DNA Testing Companies’ Terrifying Privacy Policies Actually Mean.

Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump. Counterpoint: The case that voter ID laws won Wisconsin for Trump is weaker than it looks.

* Conflict in literature.

‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia. Close that barn door, boys!

Mass Shootings Are A Bad Way To Understand Gun Violence. The stats are clear: the gun debate should be one mostly about how to prevent gun suicides. 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days.

* The secretive family making billions from the opioid crisis.

* University of Hawaii’s creepy email subject line to students: “In the event of a nuclear attack.”

* Marvel’s movie timeline is incoherent nonsense, too.

We have a pretty good idea of when humans will go extinct. No spoilers!

* Tokyo Is Preparing for Floods ‘Beyond Anything We’ve Seen.’

* Cape Coral, Florida, was built on total lies. One big storm could wipe it off the map. Oh, and it’s also the fastest-growing city in the United States.

An Oral History of Batman: The Animated Series.

* Why is Blade Runner called Blade Runner?

* How free porn enriched the tech industry — and ruined the lives of actors.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Is the Bleakest Lord of the Rings Fan Fic I’ve Ever Seen.The best way to beat Shadow Of War’s final act is not to play it. Are Orcs People Too? And a trip down memory lane: How ‘Hobbit Camps’ Rebirthed Italian Fascism.

* The Digital Humanities Bust.

We can’t eliminate the profit motive in health care without eliminating copays.

* Twitter as hate machine.

* They’re good dogs, Brent.

* Burn the Constitution.

* Violence. Threats. Begging. Harvey Weinstein’s 30-year pattern of abuse in Hollywood. Study finds 75 percent of workplace harassment victims experienced retaliation when they spoke up. Collective action is the best avenue to fight sexual harassers like Harvey Weinstein. Will Fury Over Harvey Weinstein Allegations Change Academe’s Handling of Harassment?

* A tough thread on ethical compromise under conditions of precarity and hyperexploitation. I think many academics will relate.

* Major study confirms the clinical definition of death is wildly inadequate.

Death just became even more scary: scientists say people are aware they’re dead because their consciousness continues to work after the body has stopped showing signs of life.

That means that, theoretically, someone may even hear their own death being announced by medics.

Dolphins recorded having a conversation ‘just like two people’ for first time.

Here Are the Best Wildlife Photos of 2017.

Meat eaters are destroying the planet, says report.

The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.

In A Post-Weinstein World, Louis CK’s Movie Is a Total Disaster.

Let this battle herald a return to our roots: tax the rich so much that they aren’t rich anymore — only then can the rest of us live in a decent world.

* Civil-Rights Protests Have Never Been Popular.

Every Rick and Morty Universe So Far.

* Ready for #Vexit.

The world’s first “negative emissions” plant has begun operation—turning carbon dioxide into stone.

I Have Been Raped by Far Nicer Men Than You.

* They’re bound and determined to ruin Go.

I think I’m on my way. I’ve deposited my first check in a savings account and, as and if I sell more, will continue to do so until I have the equivalent of one year’s pay at GE. Four more stories will do it nicely, with cash to spare (something we never had before). I will then quit this goddamn nightmare job, and never take another one so long as I live, so help me God. On Vonnegut’s “Complete Stories.”

An Anatomy of the Worst Game in ‘Jeopardy!’ History.

* Is your D&D character rare?

* Tolkien’s Map and the Perplexing River Systems of Middle-earth.

The Worst Loss In The History Of U.S. Men’s Soccer.

The Rise And Rise Of America’s Best-Kept Secret: Milwaukee!

* Galaxy brain.

* And RIP, John Couture. A tremendous loss for Marquette English.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Return of the Son of Occasional Linkblogging

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With new and unexpected obligations in the last few months it’s become very hard for me to keep up with the link-blogging. Sorry! It’s bad enough that I’m considering putting this function on the blog on (likely permanent) hiatus. But, for now at least, some links…

* Wordless, but one of the best things about parenting I’ve ever read: Dan Berry’s “Carry Me.” Made me cry each time I read it.

For the night, which becomes more immense /and depressing and utter / and the voices in it which argue and argue. / For this conflict with the stars. / For ashes.  For the wind. / For this emergency we call life. All-Purpose Elegy.

* This is really good too: “the best Spider-Man story of the last five years.”

* CFP: Utopia, now!

Class, Academia, and Anxious Times. From Duke’s Own Sara Appel.

* Hugo nominations 2017! How well did the new rules do against the Sad Puppies? Meet the Hugo-Nominated Author of Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By the T-Rex.

* The African Speculative Fiction Society holds the Nommo Awards to celebrate the year’s greatest speculative fiction written by African authors.

* A list of contributors has been announced for Letters to Octavia, which has been renamed Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (which I’m in, by the way — I’m the rascal writing about “whether we should respect Butler’s wishes about not reprinting certain works”). I’m also a small part of the Huntington’s current exhibit of the Butler archives, presenting at the associated research conference in June.

* I wrote a small encyclopedia article on “Science Fiction” for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, which is live now…

* And some lovely, kind words for my Butler book on the latest episode of “The Three Hoarsemen”, around an hour thirty in!

Desperation Time: Visions of the future from the left.

‘Doomsday Library’ Opens In Norway To Protect The World’s Books From Armageddon.

The 43 senators who plan to filibuster Gorsuch represent 53 percent of the country.

* The history of all heretofore existing society is the history of archery dorks. Evidence that the human hand evolved so we could punch each there.

* Check out my friend David Higgins on NPR’s On Point, talking dystopias.

* War, forever and ever amen. What We Do Best. Trump’s bombing of Syria likely won’t be met with a wall of “resistance,” certainly not within the halls of power. That’s because for nearly all liberal and conservative pundits and politicians, foreign wars — particularly those launched in the name of “humanitarianism” — are an issue where no leader, even one as disliked as Trump, can ever go wrong. The Syrian Catastrophe. A Solution from Hell. Profiles in courage. There are no humanitarian wars. 7 Charities Helping Syrians That Need Your Support. The only answer is no.

* Incredible story: Hired Goon Drags Man Off United Flight After He Refuses to Give Up Seat. More details here. It’s only going to get worse.

Trump Conspiracy Tweetstorms Are The Infowars Of The Left. It is shocking how these things erupt through my timeline day after day, then evaporate utterly as if they’d never happened.

* This week in the richest country that has ever existed in human history.

Being Wealthy in America Earns You 15 Extra Years of Life Span Over the Poor.

New York will no longer prosecute 16 and 17 year olds as adult criminals.

* I loved this story about the connections that expose us: This Is Almost Certainly James Comey’s Twitter Account.

* We did it guys, we did it. But let’s not lose our heads yet.

* On Becoming a Stepmother.

* When Women Negotiate.

What Happens When Your Internet Provider Knows Your Porn Habits?

* Activism we can all believe in: Protesters raise more than $200,000 to buy Congress’s browsing histories.

* Democrats Against Single Payer.

How to Survive the Next Catastrophic Pandemic.

* An epidemic of childhood trauma haunts Milwaukee. An intractable problem: For the last half-century, Milwaukee has been caught in a relentless social and economic spiral. Milwaukee celebrates groundbreaking of new Black Holocaust Museum site.

Dolphins beat up octopuses before eating them, and the reason is kind of horrifying.

* Wild situation in X-Men Gold #1. The artist’s statement.

* If nothing else, Operation Blue Milk had me at “Nnedi Okorafor.” Everything Cut from Rogue One. The Final Star Wars Movie Will Include The Late Carrie Fisher.

* The Minnesota Eight Don’t Want to Be Deported to a Country They’ve Never Lived In. Abolish ICE. Abolish ICE Yesterday.

* 7 Tips for Writing a Bestselling Science Fiction Novel.

* Can the Great Lakes Be Saved?

Does This Band Name Start With The? A Quiz.

America’s first female mayor was elected 130 years ago. Men nominated her as a cruel joke.

Diabetes is even deadlier than we thought, study suggests.

The Biggest Employer in Each US State. Look at all those universities we don’t need!

* Already old news, but worth noting: whether out of general interest or revenge Joss will be doing Batgirl. If I had Joss’s ear I’d pitch about 20-30 minutes of kung-fu action girl Batgirl and then have her paralyzed and do the Oracle plot instead. It’d be something different in this genre and something different for Whedon too, as opposed to something we’ve frankly seen from him a few too many times by now.

* Pedagogy watch: Why won’t students ask for help?

* More on the history of sleep: Why Do We Make Children Sleep Alone?

* When Every Day Is Groundhog Day: The Danny Rubin Story.

* No thanks: Disney Could Go Westworld With New Patent Filing for Soft ‘Humanoid’ Robots.

* There are dozens of us! Dozens! The Life Aquatic might not be Wes Anderson’s best film. But it is his greatest: The director’s misunderstood classic knows that sadness can’t be defeated, only lived with.

* Star Trek: Discovery ZZzzzzzzZZzzzzzZzzzz.

* Joe Hill (son of Stephen King): In the late 1990s I asked my Dad how to write a cover letter for my short fiction submissions. He was glad to help out.

* I always call Chuck Schumer the worst possible Democrat at the worst possible time, but Rahm Emanuel really gives him a run for his money.

Margaret Atwood is dropping hints about a Handmaid’s Tale sequel. She even wrote a little bit extra, just in time for me to teach it this summer!

* KSR talks NY2140. KSR talks world building. KSR in conversation with Adam Roberts and Francis Spufford.

* Geoengineering watch. Sadly, this is probably our civilization’s only hope.

These Are the Wildly Advanced Space Exploration Concepts Being Considered by NASA.

* If you want a vision of the future.

Tyrannosaurus rex was a sensitive lover, new dinosaur discovery suggests.

* PS: Conservatives and liberals united only by interest in dinosaurs, study shows.

The proliferation of charter schools, particularly in areas of declining enrollment and in proximity to schools that have closed, is adding financial stress to Chicago’s financially strapped public school system, a new report co-authored by a Roosevelt University professor shows.

How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons.

* Where the Water Goes.

Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at latest coral bleaching data.

The Original Ending of Alien Was Both Terrifying and a Huge Bummer.

* Fuck You and Die: An Oral History of Something Awful.

* The arc of history is long, but New York now has more Mets fans than Yankees fans.

* Congratulations to North Carolina.

* OK. OK. But I’m watching both of you.

Teach-Ins Helped Galvanize Student Activism in the 1960s. They Can Do So Again Today.

* The kids are all right.

* The Uses of Bureaucracy. Browser Plug-In Idea. A Brief History of Theology. To thine own self be true. Stop me if you’ve heard it.

* Politics. Democracy. Art. #2017. Submitted for Your Approval. We lived happily during the war. Five years later. Pretty grim. Any sufficiently advanced neglect is indistinguishable from malice. How to tell if you are sexually normal. Juxtaposition of wish fulfilment violence and infantile imagery, desire to regress to be free of responsibility… Join the movement. Know your sins.

* And even in the darkest times, there is still hope: Spiders could theoretically eat every human on Earth in one year.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 10, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Rage, Rage against the Dying of the Links

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* Some of my own stuff from the weekend: Making America Great Again with Octavia Butler and the formal, official, can’t-take-it-back-now release of Octavia E. Butler in Kindle, hardback, and paperback. CFP: Buffy at 20. Jaimee’s election poem at the New Verse News: “Donald Trump, Kate McKinnon, Leonard Cohen.”

* CFP: Capital at 150. CFP: Marxist Reading Group: Genre and the Crisis of Narrative.

* Jerome Winter on the new space opera.

* Other books I’d rather be reading: In a Galaxy 90 Miles Away: The View from Cuban Science Fiction. No Mind To Lose: On Brainwashing.

How I Wrote Arrival (and What I Learned Doing It). A Ted Chiang profile in The Guardian.

* A history of Chinese science fiction. An Islam and Sci-Fi Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.

* The Two Americas.

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* www.holyfucktheelection.com

* Shirtless Trump Saves Drowning Kitten. The Trump Meltdown Begins. There is no way to predict where this is heading. (Okay, maybe we can predict a little bit.) How Trump Won. The counties that flipped parties to swing the 2016 election. It probably wasn’t voter suppression (except maybe in Wisconsin). We have 100 days to stop Donald Trump from systemically corrupting our institutions. Yeah, good luck. It Can’t Happen Here in 2016. The Plot Against America in 2016. Sixteen Writers on Trump’s America. Preparing for the Worst: How Conservatives Will Govern in 2017. Trump takes to Twitter to blast ‘hater, loser’ children; vows retribution. Where the Democrats Go From Here. How to Build an Exit Ramp for Trump Supporters. Amazing what a week can do. Blue Feed, Red Feed. Abolish the Electoral College. Post-Election College Grading Rubric. Google Emoluments Truth. The nine liberals you meet in hell.

* He might as well try: Obama Can and Should Put Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court.

Hillary Clinton’s Vaunted GOTV Operation May Have Turned Out Trump Voters. The Democrats’ Real Turnout Problem. Clinton Aides Blame Loss on Everything but Themselves. Comey! The Clinton Campaign Was Undone By Its Own Neglect And A Touch Of Arrogance, Staffers Say. Epic. This didn’t have to happen. They Always Wanted Trump: Inside Team Clinton’s year-long struggle to find a strategy against the opponent they were most eager to face. Twilight of the Messageless Candidate. Blame the Clintons. Obama after Obama. Whatever happened: The whole Democratic Party is now a smoking pile of rubble. 2009: The Year the Democratic Party Died. The decimation of the Democratic Party, visualized. Does the Democratic Party Have a Future? Well, have you met the Democrats? The Worst Possible Leader at the Worst Possible Time. These are the key governors’ races the Democrats will blow in 2018. Blueprint for a New Party.

* DNC Aiming To Reconnect With Working-Class Americans With New ‘Hamilton’-Inspired Lena Dunham Web Series.

* From the archives: Umberto Eco on Ur-Fascism.

* Historians under Hitler. When Hitler Pivoted. Autocracy: Rules for Survival. What Is The “Alt-Right”? A Guide To The White Nationalist Movement Now Leading Conservative Media. Prepare For Regime Change, Not Policy Change.

Why FiveThirtyEight Gave Trump A Better Chance Than Almost Anyone Else. More from Nate’s Twitter. And from another angle entirely: Things look an awful lot like they would if we decided elections by coin flip.

So many more examples could be given, but it’s getting late, and one general takeaway from the 2016 Election seems clear: our popular media, from those producing it to those sorting it with editors and algorithms, are not up to the task of informing us and describing reality. This won’t happen, but those people who got Trump sooo consistently wrong from the primaries to Election Day should not have the job of informing us anymore. And if you were surprised last night, you might want to reconsider how you get information.

* The New Inquiry has been all over the Trump Resistance. Waking up in Trump’s America. Lose Your Kin. Against Extinction. Fuck. The Gamble. And the struggle goes on: “Thanksgiving is the festival of white reconciliation.”

* No President. What a proper response to Trump’s fascism demands: a true ideological left.

* Richard Rorty, 1998.

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* Do any laws bind electors to vote along with their state? Not really. But this cuts both ways, and basically ruins any sort of “hack the Electoral College scheme” from the jump too. Meanwhile, let’s hack the Electoral College, because what could possibly go wrong.

* Truly, only the superrich can save us now.

* Beginning to look a lot like Christmasttime: UPS strike. O’Hare strike.

* Rise of the Sanctuary Campus.

And yet, to my knowledge, no one has explained clearly enough that globalization is over, and that we urgently need to reestablish ourselves on an Earth that has nothing to do with the protective borders of nation-states any more than the infinite horizon of globalization.

* Being Productive in Scholarly Publishing: Advice from Jason Brennan. No one said you’d like it.

* A GoFundMe for SEK’s medical bills. I only wish the prognosis were better.

The New Intellectuals: Is the academic jobs crisis a boon to public culture?

* Title IX is effectively finished, at least in its current form. More here. “College” as a concept may not be all that far behind.

* On toxifying, rather than repealing, the ACA.

Trump Will Have Access To Personal Info Of “Dreamers” For Deportation Efforts. This precise possibility, of course, was raised as an objection to Obama’s action at the time.

* Democrats, 2016, preserving the state, and the man of lawlessness.

* After a tweet blaming this all on Bill Clinton, Steve Shaviro provided a time-travel novel to soothe my pain: The X-President.

* The coming Democratic defeat on infrastructure.

What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law.

* Trans in Trump’s America.

* Passing the baton.

* I want things to be different.

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* This world is so messed up. Let’s go do something good.

* How to Reverse Engineer Smells.

november_2016* The Official November 2016 Guide for Making People Feel Old.

* The 100-Year-Old Man Who Lives in the Future.

* Why kids need recess.

Fact-checking doesn’t ‘backfire,’ new study suggests. Calling people racist might, though.

Harry Potter and the Conscience of a Liberal.

* What if X-Men were a Gothic novel?

* Calexit.

The economists are leveraging their academic prestige with secret reports justifying corporate concentration. Their predictions are often wrong and consumers pay the price.

* Next crash brewing.

* Huge, if true: Report finds many graduate students are stressed about finances.

* An Oral History of My So-Called Life.

* The Fate of Reading in a Multimedia Age.

* I think I did this one a few months ago, but at least somebody has a plan: Optimal search path for finding Waldo.

* We asked eighty-six burglars how they broke into homes.

* New research suggests the Earth’s climate could be more sensitive to greenhouse gases than thought, raising the spectre of an ‘apocalyptic side of bad’ temperature rise of more than 7C within a lifetime. With Trump’s election I think any hope of solving this without geoengineering is over, and perhaps all hope period.

The North Pole is a mere 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends. Give it a chance!

Stephen Hawking says we’ve got about 1,000 years to find a new place to live. So you’re saying we have 999 years before we even need to think about this.

* But it’s not all bad news! Blood from human teens rejuvenates body and brains of old mice.

* And the thrilling conclusion to the thisisfine.jpg trilogy, truly the epic of our times.

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Written by gerrycanavan

November 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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1001 Sunday Links

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CcgUqWmUMAAaA31* Penn Gillette on three-card monty and graduate school in the humanities.

Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera.

“Use Tatooine sparingly” and other rules from the Star Wars style guide. io9 has a few other highlights.

* A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction.

Inside Disney’s America, the doomed ’90s project that almost sunk the company.

“The Contemporary” by the numbers.

From a work in progress: Nomic and net.culture.

* Podcasts and disposability.

* Vice science faction: After the Big One.

Alumnae vowed to save Sweet Briar from closing last year. And they did.

* Radical notion: College Presidents Should Come from Academia.

Simon Newman, the college leader whose metaphor about drowning bunnies made him infamous in higher education, announced late Monday that he has resigned, effective immediately, as president of Mount St. Mary’s University. The Mount St. Mary’s Presidency Was a Corporate Test Case. It Failed Miserably..

The only MFA program in the US that focuses on African American literature could close.

UW slips out of top 10 in new public university ranking. Amid rough seas for UW System, wave of challenges hits UWM.

UC Davis chancellor received $420,000 on book publisher’s board. The University of California paid hedge fund managers about $1 billion in fees over the last 12 years, according to a white paper study released by the university system’s largest employee union.

* A Field Test for Identifying Appropriate Sexual Partners in Academia. She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk ‘Feelings.’

* “The GRE is like taking a cancer test that was invented in the 1940s.”

Putting on a “Brave” Face: On Ableism and Appropriation in the Film Industry.

Justice Dept. grants immunity to staffer who set up Clinton email server. What you need to know about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Did Clinton and Petraeus do the same thing? Clinton, on her private server, wrote 104 emails the government says are classified.

* The Libya Gamble: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Push for War & the Making of a Failed State.

Clinton insiders are eager to begin recruiting Republicans turned off by the prospect of Donald Trump to their cause — and the threat of Sanders sticking it out until June makes the general election pivot more difficult. Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump. Smart to announce it now!

* But, look, it’s not all Clinton negativity: Hillary Clinton promises to ‘get to the bottom of UFO mystery’ if elected, and ‘maybe send a task force’ to alleged alien prison Area 51.

The Official Head Of The Democratic Party Joins GOP Effort To Protect Payday Lenders. Bernie Versus the Earthquake Industry.

Republican Voters Kind Of Hate All Their Choices. 1927 flashback. Kasich May Have Cut Off Rubio’s Path To The Nomination. Trump gives supporters permission to be violent with protesters: If you hurt them I’ll defend you in court. Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win. ‘Not even my wife knows’: secret Donald Trump voters speak out. Is this a realignment? The rise of American authoritarianism. Awkward.

The car century was a mistake. It’s time to move on.

* 2°C.

* Another piece on the end of Louisiana.

* I don’t know that the Melissa Click case is really the best example here, but there’s every reason to think body cameras will be used to serve police interests, not citizen interests.

Lab tech allegedly faked result in drug case; 7,827 criminal cases now in question.

Georgia Police Chief and Officer Accused of Arresting People on False Charges in Order to Extort Them.

Can a 3-year old represent herself in immigration court? This judge thinks so. Please watch my show Three Year Old Immigration Lawyer next fall on ABC.

Did the Spanish Empire Change Earth’s Climate?

* The Flint Next Time: Fears About Water Supply Grip Village That Made Teflon Products. Flint is in the news, but lead poisoning is even worse in Cleveland.

This Guy Spent Four Years Creating an Imaginary Reddit for 3016.

Sci-Fi Hero Samuel Delany’s Outsider Art.

* Marquette in the news! Oh.

Sweetin’s autobiography begins with a very different two-word phrase. The first line ofUnSweetined, which Sweetin wrote (or rather told in bits to a ghostwriter) in 2009, is “fuck it.” She is referring to her attitude right before smoking meth and doing a plateful of cocaine, the night before she was scheduled to give a speech at Marquette University about her commitment to sobriety (she did give that speech in 2007, and she was high the entire time she was on stage).

* Over at Slate friend of the show Eric “The Red” Hittinger explains clearly and succinctly why rooftop solar power probably won’t ever challenge big utility companies.

When People With Schizophrenia Hear Voices, They’re Really Hearing Their Own Subvocal Speech.

Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive.

This video shows what ancient Rome actually looked like.

Steph Curry Is On Pace To Hit 102 Home Runs.

Mysterious Chimpanzee Behaviour May Be Evidence Of “Sacred” Rituals.

* Here’s a silly thing I watched: “Great Minds with Dan Harmon,” 1, 2.

* Sports corner: Ivy League Considers Banning Tackling During Practice.

* A Believer interview with the great Andy Daly.

A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World. Professional Bridge Has a Cheating Problem.

The Enigmatic Art of America’s Secret Societies.

Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming.

The astonishment that such things are “still” possible.

The Retirement Crisis Is Getting Truly Scary.

The Fact That None Of The 2016 Presidential Candidates Have A Space Policy Is Tragic.

From the start, in 1967, “Trader Joe” Coulombe devised his “low-priced gourmet-cum-health-food store” with an “unemployed PhD student” in mind as the ideal customer.

Reading from a statement while speaking with analysts, Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said SeaWorld’s board of directors has “directed management to end the practice in which certain employees posed as animal-welfare activists. This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threats.”

* The color thesaurus.

What Mars Would Look Like Mapped by Medieval Cartographers.

New York City Is in the Throes of a Häagen-Dazs Heist Epidemic.

Thus, I conclude that in fact, Gygax’s strength scoring system is actually…pretty good! But only good for fighters, in a system like AD&D where we can reasonably assume that all fighter PCs have been training for 10+ years and are genetically super-gifted. However, if you’re Raistlin Majere from the Dragonlance Chronicles and are in all probability an underweight untrained or novice lifter of average height, then you are probably looking at a STR score of around 6-7. If you are a woman of my current weight and untrained, you are looking at a STR score of around 3-4. If you’re my current weight and train consistently for a couple of years, you can expect to have a score of around 8-9. Men and/or individuals with higher testosterone levels will have somewhat higher scores, but it is definitely out of the question that a 10-11 can represent an average strength in our society, though it may be in a farmer-dominant society where everyone lifts a lot of hay bales.

Every Bryan Fuller Star Trek episode, ranked.

* Secrets of my success: Narcissistic Students Get Better Grades from Narcissistic Professors.

* The dialectic never stops turning: Hope is reactionary: it cocoons actuality in the gossamer of the tolerable, dulling the thirst for change. Despair is revolutionary: it grinds the knife-edge of the intolerable against the whetstone of actuality, sparking the will to change.

* We are the second best girls.

* 20 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Decisions.

Cognitive-Biases

Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Tolkien, THE FORCE AWAKENS, and the Sadness of Expanded Universes

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(some spoilers near the end of the post, though I try to be vague)

Not long after completing The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien briefly began work on a sequel called The New Shadow, set 100 to 150 years later during the reign of Aragorn’s son Eldarion. (The main link between the two stories is the minor character Beregond, the noble but disgraced soldier of Gondor whose son, Borlas, would have been a major character in The New Shadow.) The New Shadow reveals that the eucatastrophic fairy-tale ending of The Return of the King was extremely short-lived; with the Elves and the Wizards gone from Middle-earth, the Dwarves moving underground, and the Hobbits now isolated in what amounts to an enclave in the Shire, Men are quickly falling back into their old bad habits. In fact the Men of Gondor already seem to have forgotten much of the details of the War of the Ring, even though it remains in living memory: they seem not to remember, or take seriously, the fact that they once strode with gods and angels in a war against pure evil, and were victorious. Instead, children play at being Orcs for fun; the death of Elessar has been an occasion for political striving and reactionary plots; and even something like a secret death cult of devil-worshipping rebels seems to be spreading through the elites of Gondor.

Tolkien wrote 13 pages of it.

He later wrote:

I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow — but it would have been just that. Not worth doing.

Instead, Tolkien turned his attention back to the imaginative project that had more or less defined his life: The Silmarillion, begun between 1914 and 1917, which he tinkered with on and off until his death in 1973. The Silmarillion has always marked, I think, the grey line between being a casual Tolkien fan and becoming a Tolkien enthusiast — a path that then leads one even further into Christopher Tolkien’s twelve-volume History of Middle-Earth and the discovery of Tolkien’s own very elaborate (and somewhat fannish) self-commentary on his legendarium alongside many multiple alternate drafts of the narratives that form the barely glimpsed mythological background of The Lord of the Rings. 

The Silmarillion is nominally a prequel — ostensibly it is the Elvish legends that Bilbo translated and appended to the Red Book while he was retired in Rivendell — but the published version of the book includes a two-page summary of the War of the Ring that culminates in a brief, New-Shadow-style glimpse past Aragorn’s reign. We are reminded of the sapling of the White Tree that Aragorn and Gandalf find in the mountains near Gondor, which Aragorn plants in Minas Tirith as a symbol of his reign, and told that “while it still grew there the Elder Days were not wholly forgotten in the hearts of the Kings.” While it still grew there — which is to say, it doesn’t grow there anymore.

I don’t know that I would call this material “sinister,” but I taught The Silmarillion this semester after having tried and failed to read it as a child, and I think it would certainly be fair to call it “depressing.” What looks, in The Lord of the Rings, like a fairy-tale about how good and decent folk are able to do the impossible and defeat evil (with just a little bit of help from the divine, here and there) becomes in The Silmarillion and The New Shadow and Tolkien’s pseudo-theological commentary only the briefest, most temporary respite from a nightmare history in which things always turn out wrong, millennia after millennia after millennia. In fact Arda, the planet on which the continent of Middle-earth rests, is a cursed and fallen place, infused with evil and wickedness at its material core, and the only thing to do is raze the place and start over, as Eru Ilúvatar will at long last at the very end of time. To study Tolkien beyond Lord of the Rings is to come to a keen understanding of how tragic this history actually is, how Return of the King looks like a happy ending mostly because that’s where Tolkien (quite deliberately and self-consciously) decided to stop writing. But the Fourth Age was no better than the Third, and likely quite worse, and on and on through the degenerative millennia that bring us to the end of the Sixth Age and the beginning of the Seventh with the fall of the Third Reich and the development of the atom bomb.

I’ve been thinking about The New Shadow since it became clear that The Force Awakens would be borrowing from the Expanded Universe the notion that the Battle of Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi did not mark a full or permanent victory for the Rebel Alliance. The Force Awakens is The New Shadow, sinister and depressing, except they decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I joked in the link post earlier this morning that you can tell who read the EU novels and who didn’t based on whether your reaction to The Force Awakens is sadness — but the events of The Force Awakens, as sad as they are, are really only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how horribly Luke, Leia, and Han are punished in the EU novels, over and over, as everything they attempt to build turns to ash and the galaxy repeatedly falls into chaos, war, and catastrophe. In the farthest reaches of the EU universe, the Star Wars Legacy comics, set around 140 years or so after the Battle of Yavin, Luke’s descendent Cade Skywalker wanders a Galaxy that is again in war, as it always is, with a resurgent Empire again ruled by Sith masters — and when one casts oneself into the mists of time in the other direction (in material like the Knights of the Old Republic games, set thousands of years before A New Hope) one finds more or less the same basic story of genocidal total war playing out there too. Star Wars has always been, in the EU at least, a universe more or less without hope, that only looked hopeful to casual fans because they were looking too closely at just a very slender part of it.

This is why, while I can certainly understand the impulse to complain about The Force Awakens as derivative, I really think this is more repetition with a difference than mere or base or stupid repetition. One Death Star is a horror; two Death Stars and one Starkiller Base and whatever horrific murder innovation the First Order will come up with for Episode 9 is something more like the inexorable logic of history, grinding us all to dust. Likewise, it’s true that The Force Awakens hits many of the same story beats as the Original Trilogy, but almost always in ways that are worse: the death of Obi-Wan was sad but mysterious, suggestive of a world beyond death which the Jedi could access, while the death of The Force Awakens‘s version of Obi-Wan is not only brutally material but visceral, and permanent, as far as we have any reason to believe right now. The loss of Alderaan is sad, but the loss of what appears to be the entire institutional apparatus of the resurgent Republic is unthinkably devastating; aside from the loss of life it would take decades for the Galaxy to recover from such an event, even if they weren’t having to fight off the First Order while doing it. The film is extremely vague about the relationship between the Republic and “the Resistance,” but it appears to be a proxy guerrilla war against the First Order fought inside their own territory, secretly funded by the Republic — and prosecuted by Leia, Akbar, Nien Nunb, and all our heroes from the first movies, whose lives are now revealed as permanently deformed by a forever war they can never put down or escape. (If you want to ask me where Lando is, I think he said “good enough” after Endor and walked away, and that sort of makes me hope they never find him, never drag him back into it.) It’s horrible to lose a parent to addiction, or to mental illness, or to ordinary everyday cruelty, however you want to allegorize Vader’s betrayal of his children — but how much worse would it be to lose a child to it, how much worse would such a thing taint every aspect of your life and poison all your joy.

That Star Wars implies a world of sorrow belied by the spectacle of Jedi‘s happy ending isn’t a surprise to me — I told you, I read the EU books — but I can see why it’s a surprise to someone whose last memory of these people is smiles, a fireworks display, hugs, and a picnic. Return of the Jedi never asked us what we thought would happen when those people woke up the next morning and the Empire still had 90% of its guns, ships, territory, generals, and soldiers, ready to descend into vicious, scorched-earth fanaticism as they slid into defeat; it just wasn’t that kind of story. The Force Awakens is that kind of story, and I find that interesting enough to be excited about 8 and 9, to see where they try to take this story now that it turns out fairy-tales aren’t real and that deeply entrenched totalitarian systems don’t have exhaust ports, trench runs, or single points of failure. So I think the emerging critical consensus that The Force Awakens infantilizes its audience by re-presenting us with the same images we all saw as children is actually deeply wrong: The Force Awakens condemns Luke, Leia, and Han to actually live inside history, rather than transcend it, and it condemns us too.

Monday! Morning! Links!

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* Jaimee’s lesson on the letter L, “Lo Lee Ta,” is up at Red Paint Hill.

How to prepare your campuses for a queen sacrifice: a handy guide from Connecticut.

From Inside Higher Ed and excellent reporting by Colleen Flaherty, we start with a series of proposals to cut back faculty autonomy and increase administrative power over instructors.  The central, multi-campus administration can fire tenured profs more easily, and also move them to other campuses in the system:

tenured faculty members may be moved to another regional university without their consent, without the guarantee of tenure there. Tenured faculty members could be terminated, not just in cases of financial exigency, as is now the case, but if the administration “believes economic or programmatic conditions exist” for retrenchment. And tenured faculty members also could be fired without the chance to appeal for breaking any local, state or national law, ethical standard or policy statement…

Moreover, “faculty members would have to be ‘professional’ and ‘collegial,’” i.e.,, more easily disciplined. Additionally, a significant union-managed faculty grant program would end, making professors more dependent on the administration.

On Campus, Older Faculty Keep On Keepin’ On. Far out man.

Maryland Debacle Shows Why We Must Get Football Out Of Our Universities.

Cheat-Sheet for a Non (or Less) Colonialist Speculative Design.

The Voice Trap: On the Perils of Authorial Parochialism.

* Disaster citizenship.

Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.

* Profiting from the “cop cloud.” From TNI‘s “Cops 2” issue.

* “It is my conclusion that Officer Loehmann’s use of deadly force falls within the realm of reasonableness under the dictates of the Fourth Amendment.”

* Inspiring.

Inside the Intense, Insular World of AOL Disc Collecting.

See the Sketches J.R.R. Tolkien Used to Build Middle-Earth.

* Malicious defamation lawsuit against Mother Jones ends in exoneration, $2.5 million dollar legal bill.

Pretty vacant: the glory of abandoned spaces. Bonus: photos of empty Chinese amusement parks.

There is a long tradition in the West of dancing on the Soviet grave in order to celebrate Western values, and so it comes as no surprise that the focus on Soviet historical artifacts is a focus entirely on the dead and decaying.

* Bring on the climate trials.

* But don’t worry, a bioethics professor at NYU has the solution: stunt child growth to use fewer resources. Got it in one.

* BREAKING: Slavery in America was much worse than you probably imagined.

* Designing the space suit to explore Mars.

* RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE.

Hope Is the Enemy: Caring for a patient suffering from dementia means coming to terms with the frustrating paradoxes of memory and language.

We’re flushing all these antidepressants into our water. How big is the problem?

* From the mammography files.

Masculinity Is an Anxiety Disorder.

Donald Trump Reviews The Lord of the Rings.

* Happy Columbus Day everybody. Here’s your roundup.

* The two Sacagaweas.

* Oh, I don’t know that I’d say that I’m a genius.

* I’ll allow it, but you’re on thin ice: Wes Anderson’s Next Project Is a Stop-Motion Movie About Dogs.

* And the last alphabet you’ll ever need.

Thursday Night Links!

with 3 comments

Being a collection of things I may or may not have forgotten to include in today’s Thursday links.

* Postcolonial Catan. The English version of the piece starts about halfway down the page.

* A defense of Contemporaneanism. Typical tripe from the rearguard forces of retro-Contemporaneanism. Search my blog archives for a definitive rebuttal.

* Athletics forever! New Rutgers report reveals subsidies for athletics are not declining as originally forecasted.

* In short, when institutions invest in pools and climbing walls, they are catering to the needs of their least motivated, and least needy, clients — good for the colleges’ bottom lines but the opposite of society’s priorities. I’d need a lot more evidence even to grant these were “good for the colleges’ bottom lines.”

* The sky was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel, and the clocks were striking thirteen: Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car’s dashboard that prevented her car from starting.

* Dialectics of Obamaism: Campaigners said the Pacific Remote Islands reserve – because of its sheer scale – would cement Obama’s conservation legacy. However, they noted that Obama had dramatically scaled back the reserve following opposition from the commercial tuna industry. I dunno, that seems to cement it pretty well.

Making use of PSID data for 1984, 1989, and 1994, we examine race differences in patterns of asset accumulation. Our results indicate, as expected, that inheritances raise the rate of wealth accumulation of whites relative to that of African Americans. But, while whites devote a greater share of their income to saving, racial differences in saving rates are not significant, once we control for income. Though our results may be period-specific, we also do not find evidence that the rate of return to capital is greater for whites than for African Americans. Simulations suggest that African Americans would have gained significant ground relative to whites during the period if they had inherited similar amounts, saved at the same rate, had comparable income levels and, more speculatively, had portfolios closer in composition to those of whites. And thus.

* All in all it’s a good time to be rich.

* BREAKING: They looted the public pensions but good.

* What we need now, more than ever, are technologies and organizations that are not only equally useful, but also more desirable than the status quo. Too often, leftists engage in a strange kind of doublespeak—on the one hand, we describe an insidious marketing machine that can produce want-product binaries with ruthless efficiency and efficacy, and on the other offer up restricted diets and buggy open source software as alternatives. How do we expect to win the hearts and minds of future generations?

* CCSF Accreditation Case Will Proceed to Trial.

* Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire.

H.P. Lovecraft Stories Retold As Goofy One-Page Comics.

* F.B.I. Confirms a Sharp Rise in Mass Shootings Since 2000.

* I don’t know that the state really needs to fight every case: Pennsylvania Attorney General Blames Woman For Her Own Rape.

* U. of North Texas Took $75-Million Extra From State, Auditor Finds.

* And you think things are bad now: Venture Capitalists Are Poised to ‘Disrupt’ Everything About the Education Market.

* But it’s not all bad news: Bill and Ted live!