Posts Tagged ‘Infinite Jest’
* Great episode of I Was There Too today starring Ahmed “Jar Jar Binks” Best, a genuinely fascinating figure in the Star Wars culture industry. I link this great EW profile of Best every few years. They talk about the Aftermath scene I didn’t like, and Best gives a nice explanation of why the treatment of Jar Jar as a character is so regrettable from a storytelling perspective in the context of defending the otherwise execrable Darth Jar Jar Theory.
* There’s an unexpected bonus episode of the Hello from the Magic Tavern spinoff Offices and Bosses out today, too. Truly, nothing can stop me now.
* Also at Marquette Wire: Marquette’s Live Poets Society breaks the silence with their poems on mental illness and suicide.
* Strange Horizons on “Kirk Drift.”
* United’s stock falls 1.1%, wipes out $255 million off the airline’s market cap. Maybe they should have offered people $2000 to give up their ticket? Just a crazy thought. Now they’re sorry. Does The Fine Print In United’s Contract Prevent Kicked-Off Passenger From Suing Airline? The Corporation Does Not Always Have To Win. And from the archives: The black art of overbooking. The Landing: Fascists without Fascism.
Sessions painted the matter in stark terms, saying that gangs and cartels “turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent citizens, and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders.”
“Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings,” Sessions said in prepared remarks. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”
When he delivered the speech, Sessions did not use the word “filth,” saying only “where we first take our stand.”
Sounds like the rivers will be running red with the blood of the unclean soon. #MAGA!
* The rule is you don’t talk about politics on the trail. The truth is you can’t talk about diversity in the outdoors without talking about politics, since politics is a big reason why the outdoors look the way they do. From the park system’s inception, Jim Crow laws and Native American removal campaigns limited access to recreation by race. From the mountains to the beaches, outdoor leisure was often accompanied by the words whites only. The repercussions for disobedience were grave. Hiking the Appalachian Trial while Black.
We want a SuperRace because we want to eradicate absolutely everything that terrifies us. We want SuperHumans so we can transcend that thing we are: human. But a SuperHuman would lack that crack in everything through which, as Leonard Cohen sang, the light gets in. There’s something in our suffering that we need. We’ve known this for millennia, and we make it clear in the stories we keep telling. The Buddha gave up his palace and meditated beneath a tree for a week. Jesus of Nazareth said yes to a cross. Our ache is our unfortunate, undeniable doorway. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, says the copper lady with the torch. When we walk into our pain, we sometimes find ourselves on the other side, freed of what we once thought we needed to feel free.
* The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Maplewood, Missouri, over a policy that allegedly evicts domestic violence victims and banishes them from the St. Louis suburb if they call police for help more than twice in six months.
* Laurie Penny says The Expanse is perfect…ly fine. I haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm a lot of other people seem to have for the series, though I liked the first season well enough; I haven’t even started the second season yet.
* The DC Cinematic Universe turns to the only hero who could possibly save it: The Rock. The Rock can make anything good, but there are limits. There are limits.
An English major explains his career options to three mechanical engineers for fifteen minutes. How many beers will the English major drink in explaining that, really, he has it figured out as he’s applying to eighteen grad schools, and after the PhD, maybe become a professor, or go for a post-doc, maybe? What if he’s trying to impress someone? What if that someone’s also a mechanical engineer?
* Some CFPs I posted yesterday: Buffy at 20! SFFTV Call for Reviewers! And Paradoxa 28: “Global Weirding” has officially appeared in the world as well; see a table of contents and our introduction, and then get one of your very own…
* I’m still gathering the loooooing list for the Pioneer Award — so let me know if you know of a peer-reviewed edited collection in SF studies broadly conceived, published in 2016, or a peer-reviewed article on SF published in a non-SF-studies journal, also in 2016!
* Visiting MLA 2017? Can I interest you in #s444?
444. Infinite Jest at Twenty
Saturday, 7 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 112A, Pennsylvania Convention Center
A special session
Presiding: Gerry Canavan, Marquette Univ.
1. “Infinite Jest‘s Near Future,” Lee Konstantinou, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
2. “Aesthetics of Trauma in Infinite Jest,” Carrie Shanafelt, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ., Teaneck
3. “No Year of Glad: Infinite Jest after 9/13/2008,” Gerry Canavan
Responding: N. Katherine Hayles, Duke Univ.
* I shared that one, so here’s the debunking: The Bad Research Behind the Bogus Claim That North Carolina Is No Longer a Democracy. I guess I relied on the journalistic summaries (classic blunder) didn’t realize how bad the base research was. North Carolina is still not a legitimate democracy, though.
* And while we’re on the subject: The Constitution has strangled American democracy for long enough. We need a constituent assembly.
* Why saving the congressional ethics office isn’t as big a victory as it seems. At least it was a win!
* Counterpoint: Why Star Trek: Discovery Belongs on CBS All Access.
* Darkest timeline watch: Wisconsin Senate leader says he’s open to toll roads.
* And with 2016 over, a toddler has now shot a person every week in the US for two years straight. We did it, everyone. We did it.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* The arc of history is long, but Google Search will not longer return Holocaust-denying websites at the top of page one.
* It wasn’t just your imagination: more famous people did die in 2016.
* thisisfine.jpg: Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House. Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says. White House orders intelligence report of election cyberattacks.
* Chiafalo and Guerra are members of a group called “Hamilton Electors” that is seeking to convince Republican members of the Electoral College to reject Trump and agree on a consensus Republican alternative. They’re lobbying to persuade at least 37 Republican electors to join them, the minimum they need to block Trump from winning the Electoral College and send election to the House of Representatives. Democrats can stop Trump via the electoral college. But not how you think. The Electoral College Can and Must Stop Donald Trump. I’ll spare you the rants from my Twitter but it’s agonizing that this is legal, workable, doable, and no one is going to try.
* Interesting strategy to discredit Electoral College here; compulsory voting in NY and CA. And I missed this one: You could swing the presidential election by moving a single county between states.
* What can I say, though, he’s winning me over: JUST IN: Lockheed Martin’s market value drops $4,000,000,000 after Pres.-elect Trump tweets on F-35 program.
* Reminded of this one every four years in November: On Cooling the Mark Out.
* Headlines that, uh, don’t seem right to me: Why conservatives might be more likely to fall for fake news.
* Charlie Stross vs. all media: Eleven Tweets.
* The troll has it both ways. He is magnificently indifferent to social norms, which he transgresses for the lulz, yet often at the same time a vengeful punisher: both the Joker and Batman.
* And okay, he’s won me back: Slavoj Žižek: ‘We are all basically evil, egotistical, disgusting.’
* I have a new essay out on zombies and the elderly in this great new book on zombies, medicine, and comics: The Walking Med: Zombies and the Medical Image. And if you’re interested in my Octavia Butler book, podcaster Jonah Sutton-Morse (@cabbageandkings) is going through it piece by piece on Twitter with #mmsfoeb. Also, check out this LARB interview with Ayana Jamieson on her work in the Butler archives!
* Maybe the best thing you’ll read this year: Clickhole’s Oral History of Star Trek.
* Wes Anderson made a Christmas commercial. Updated Power Rankings coming soon!
* Las Vegas is a microcosm. “The world is turning into this giant Skinner box for the self,” Schüll told me. “The experience that is being designed for in banking or health care is the same as in Candy Crush. It’s about looping people into these flows of incentive and reward. Your coffee at Starbucks, your education software, your credit card, the meds you need for your diabetes. Every consumer interface is becoming like a slot machine.”
* Stealing it fair and square: In split decision, federal judges rule Wisconsin’s redistricting law an unconstitutional gerrymander. And so on and so on.
* How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red.’ Maybe the Internet Isn’t a Fantastic Tool for Democracy After All. Postelection Harassment, Case by Case. Here are 20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today. Making White Supremacy Acceptable Again. Trump and the Sundown Town. No one can stop President Trump from using nuclear weapons. That’s by design. If only someone had thought of this eight years ago! A time for treason.
* Texas Elector Resigns: Trump Is Not Qualified And I Cannot Vote For Him. Trump and the End of Expertise. On Taking the Electoral College Literally. Some Schmittian reflections on the election. Stop Calling the United States a Banana Republic. Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President. Emoluments. A running list of how Donald Trump’s new position may be helping his business interests. A billionaire coup d’etat. Wunderkind. Voting under the influence of celebrity. We have an institution that could stop this (no not that one), but it won’t. Wheeeeee! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!
* “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did,” Ms. Palmieri said.” Respectfully disagree! The Myth of the Rust Belt Revolt. Who Lost the White House? Careful! We don’t want to learn anything from this.
* I was reminded recently of this post from @rortybomb a few years ago that, I think, got the Obama years right earlier and better than just about anyone. And here he is on the election: Learning from Trump in Retrospect.
* Trump’s already working miracles: Dykes to Watch Out For is out of retirement.
* If I developed a drug and then tested it myself without a control group, you might be a bit suspicious about my claims that everyone who took it recovered from his head cold after two weeks and thus that my drug is a success. But these are precisely the sorts of claims that we find in assessment.
* Moana before Moana. This one’s pretty great by the way, my kids loved it.
* From the archives: Terry Bisson’s “Meat.”
* Parker Posey Will Play Dr. Smith and Now We Suddenly Care a Lot About Netflix’s Lost in Space. TNT fires up a Snowpiercer pilot. Behind the scenes of the new MST3K. The Cursed Child is coming to Broadway.
* Of course you had me at “Science fiction vintage Japanese matchbox art mashup prints.”
* And say what you will about OK Go, this one’s pretty damn good.