Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘James Joyce

Friday Links!

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* Speaking of which! This Saturday morning! Infinite Jest at 20! Join us!

* In my mailbox: Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and the Environment. I’m a contributor; my word was “addiction.”

Four Futures: using science fiction to challenge late stage capitalism and Thatcher’s “no alternative.”

* CfP: The 14th Annual Tolkien Conference at University of Vermont.

* Rebekah Sheldon: Save Us.

* How did the Soviet Union imagine 2017?

When Colleges Rely on Adjuncts, Where Does the Money Go?

Another Big Drop in History Majors.

* Make College Football LD Again.

A mystery player causing a stir in the world of the complex strategy game Go has been revealed as an updated version of AlphaGo, the artificial-intelligence (AI) program created by Google’s London-based AI firm, DeepMind.

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* GOP legislators in Wisconsin basically want line-item approval over syllabi at this point.

Obama Leaves the Constitution Weaker Than He Found It.

Registered Voters Who Stayed Home Probably Cost Clinton The Election.

* James Joyce and the Jesuits.

* Republicans want to kill the mortgage interest deduction. So I’m bankrupt now, I think.

House Republicans revive obscure rule that allows them to slash the pay of individual federal workers to $1.

But while cinephiles have long become used to shelling out their hard-earned wonga to watch the same movie several times over, a new interview with the editors of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hints that Hollywood’s habit of regurgitation goes further than we imagined. It reveals the film’s initial “cut”, designed to map out the movie before any shooting took place, was cobbled together by editor Colin Goudie using footage from hundreds of other existing films.

George Lucas Can’t Give His $1.5 Billion Museum Away.

Princess Leia Was Going to Play a Large Role in Star Wars: Episode IX.

* Some details on the supposed twelve-movie plan for Star Wars I’d never seen before.

* On chicken intelligence.

* Today in “virtually”: The storage chamber would be much deeper than Lake Huron and the company says there is virtually no chance of radioactive pollution reaching the lake, which is less than a mile away. This is a nice variant on the theme: Democrats to Fight Almost Any Trump Supreme Court Nominee: Schumer.

* Teaching the controversy: MIT Researchers Say 2016 Didn’t Have More Famous Deaths Than Usual. Give 2017 some exciting room to expand.

We don’t, in fact, know what works in teaching composition. This one was more polemical, but good too I thought: The costs of social capture.

Among other things, whiteness is a kind of solipsism. From right to left, whites consistently and successfully reroute every political discussion to their identity. The content of this identity, unsurprisingly, is left unexamined and undefined. It is the false foundation of the prototypically American model of pseudo-politics.

The Troublesome Women of Sherlock.

* Modularity and the Seinfeld theme.

* A horrific hate crime in Chicago.

* Drugs and the spirit of the times.

* Trump vs. the CIA: whoever wins, we lose. Donald Trump’s Twitter Account Is A Security Disaster Waiting To Happen. And then there’s this.

* How in Milwaukee’s cold hell did we only get #7?

* And the Monty Hall Problem, explained.

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Written by gerrycanavan

January 6, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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So, So, So Many Wednesday Links!

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* Just in time for my next trip to Liverpool, the research from my last trip to Liverpool five years ago is finally published! “‘A Dread Mystery, Compelling Adoration’: Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker, and Totality.”

* Social Text interviews Fredric Jameson: “Revisiting Postmodernism.”

Is this sympathy for these arts of the past why in your recent work you returned to questions of modernism and realism?

The series you are alluding to [The Poetics of Social Forms] was always planned that way. I mean, I started with utopias, that is, science fiction and the future; then I went to postmodernism, which is the present, and so I’m making my way back into a certain past—to realism and then on to allegory and to epic and finally to narrative itself, which has always been my primary interest. Maybe indeed I have less to say about contemporary works than about even the recent past; or let’s say I have built up a certain capital of reading but am not making any new and exciting investments any longer. It’s a problem: you can either read or write, but time intervenes, and you have to choose between them. Still, I feel that I always discover new things about the present when working on these moments of the past. Allegory, for example, is both antiquated and surprisingly actual, and the work on museum pieces suddenly proves to make you aware of present-day processes that you weren’t aware of.

* George Saunders has finally written a novel, and I’d bet it’s not what you were expecting.

* Marquette will pilot a J-term.

* Earth First, Then Mars: An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.

* Relatedly: Would it be immoral to send out a generation starship?

The Tuskegee Experiment Kept Killing Black People Decades After It Ended.

* A Brief History of Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses. Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Map of Ulysses.

ClcQJJfWQAA_kon* Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash. More. More. More! The only credible answer is that it is difficult or perhaps even impossible for him to produce these comparatively small sums. If that’s true, his claim to be worth billions of dollars must either be a pure sham and a fraud or some artful concoction of extreme leverage and accounting gimmickry, which makes it impossible to come up with actual cash. Even the conservative NRO! Unraveling Con. The United States of Trump. Will Trump Swallow the GOP Whole? This number in Donald Trump’s very bad fundraising report will really worry GOP donors. The Weird Mad Men Connection. There is “Incredibly Strong Evidence” Donald Trump Has Committed Tax Fraud. And these had already happened before the FEC report: Ryan Instructs Republicans to Follow Their ‘Conscience’ on Trump. Scott Walker agrees! Top GOP Consultant Unleashes Epic #NeverTrump Tweetstorm. Donald Trump Agreed to Call 24 Donors, Made It Through Three Before Giving Up. And the polls, my god, the polls. There Is No Trump Campaign. If things go on this way, can the Democrats retake the House? Endgame for the grift, just as Alyssa Rosenberg tried to warn us. How to Trump.

But this one is still my favorite:

* Meanwhile, the DNC’s oppo file on Trump seems surprisingly thin. This Is the Only Good Oppo Research the DNC Has on Trump.

In a Chicago Tribune article from 1989 (which Buzzfeed actually discovered just under a week ago), Donald Trump reveals that he “doesn’t believe in reincarnation, heaven, or hell.” As far as the DNC is concerned, though, it’s Trump’s apparent lack of faith in God’s eternal kingdom, specifically, that’s damning enough for use as ammo.

* Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonment.

* Cognitive dissonance watch: Could Congress Have Stopped Omar Mateen From Getting His Guns? Gun control’s racist reality: The liberal argument against giving police more power. How I Bought an AR-15 in a Five Guys Parking Lot.

Anti-Brexit British MP Assassinated on the Street.

Venezuelans Ransack Stores as Hunger Grips the Nation.

The TSA Is Bad Because We Demand That It Be Bad. One Woman’s Case Proves: It’s Basically Impossible to Get Off the ‘No-Fly List.’

* The hack that could take down New York City.

* Rethinking teaching evaluations.

* Study Finds 1 out of 10 Cal State Students is Homeless.

What Are College Governing Boards Getting From Their Search Firms?

Saying victims are to blame, at least in part, for their sexual assaults is a legal tactic used by many colleges accused of negligence.

How Not to Write About College Students and Free Speech.

* Once they killed a president with a diet of beef bouillon, egg yolks, milk, whiskey and drops of opium, delivered rectally.

* A map of North America, in Tolkien’s style. Keep scrolling! There’s many more links below.

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On Thursday, Philadelphia became the first major US city to adopt a tax on carbonated and sugary drinks. I’d rather see an outright ban than an attempt to turn it into a permanent revenue stream. New “soda tax” measures show just how narrow the liberal vision has become.

* Missing Barnes and Noble.

It’s not the right question to ask “how do I get 200 students with laptops in a lecture hall to learn my course material?” Why are they in a lecture hall for 50 minutes, three days a week for 15 weeks or whatever the schedule is? Why do they need to learn the material in your course?

* The illusion of progress: Ditching the headphone jack on phones makes them worse.

* The mind behind UnREAL.

* We’re All Forum Writers Now.

Space Travel Has ‘Permanent Effects,’ Astronaut Scott Kelly Says.

* Sherryl Vint on China Miéville’s The Census-Taker, a book that wasn’t especially well-received by the other critics I’ve read.

At the moment, Netflix has a negative cash flow of almost $1 billion; it regularly needs to go to the debt market to replenish its coffers. Its $6.8 billion in revenue last year pales in comparison to the $28 billion or so at media giants like Time Warner and 21st Century Fox. And for all the original shows Netflix has underwritten, it remains dependent on the very networks that fear its potential to destroy their longtime business model in the way that internet competitors undermined the newspaper and music industries. Now that so many entertainment companies see it as an existential threat, the question is whether Netflix can continue to thrive in the new TV universe that it has brought into being.

* Waukegan group offers tours to raise awareness for proposed Ray Bradbury museum.

* What’s happening in Oakland is incredible.

* #TheWakandaSyllabus. Trump 101. A response to the Trump Syllabus.

* Secrets of my blogging: Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.

Homeless in Seattle: five essays.

* Jay Edidin on How to Be a Guy: After Orlando.

* Cunning Sansa, or Dim Sansa? Game of Thrones’ bungled Arya plot explains why George R.R. Martin’s taking so long to finish the books.

* Presenting the world’s ugliest color.

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife. I want to believe!

* “People believe that a plane is less likely to crash if a famous person is among the passengers.”

* Death of a startup.

* Such a sad story: Alligator Drags Off 2-Year-Old at Disney Resort in Orlando. My son turns two today, which is almost too much to bear in juxtaposition with this headline.

* The Pixar Theory of Labor.

* The boys are back in town. It’s too late for you. It’s too late for all of us now.

Now new research helps explain the parental happiness gap, suggesting it’s less about the children and more about family support in the country where you live.

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist recently said he would donate 100,000 hens to countries with high poverty levels, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa but including Bolivia. Bolivia produces 197m chickens annually and has the capacity to export 36m, the local poultry producing association said.

* “Why Chris Pine says you can’t make Star Trek cerebral in 2016.” Respectfully disagree. Meanwhile, sad news in advance of next month’s release of Star Trek Beyond.

That Scrapped Star Wars TV Show Would’ve Starred a Sympathetic, Heartbroken Emperor. Sounds like they were aiming at a version of Daredevil‘s Kingpin plot.

* Laying down my marker now that Flashpoint won’t save The Flash from its downward spiral. Meanwhile, DC seems utterly spooked by the failure of Batman v. Superman and has opened the set of Justice League to reporters to try to spin a new narrative. Lynda Carter is your new POTUS on CW’s Supergirl. Syfy’s Krypton Show Already Sounds Goofy as Shit.

There really was a creepy fifth housemate lurking in cult British TV show The Young Ones.

* In praise of She-Ra.

* Two thousand miles away from the U.S. A-bomb tests in 1945, something weird was happening to Kodak’s film.

Why NASA sent 3 defenseless Legos to die on Jupiter. Earth’s New ‘Quasi’ Moon Will Stick Around for Centuries. Astronomers say there could be at least 2 more mystery planets in our Solar System.

Proportional Pie Chart of the World’s Most Spoken Languages.

* True stories from my childhood having purchased the wrong video game system: 10 of the best Sega Genesis games that deserve a comeback.

* Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

* And Quantum Leap is back, baby! I have five spec scripts in my desk ready to go.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 22, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Spring! Break! Forever! Links!

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* The Department of Special Collections and University Archives will host an upcoming talk by Tolkien scholar Janet Brennan Croft March 26, at 4:30 p.m. in the Raynor Memorial Libraries Beaumier Suites. Croft is the author of “Barrel Rides and She-Elves: Audience and ‘Anticipation’ in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy,” and has written on film adaptions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. The talk will explore Tolkien’s “Hobbit Trilogy” in regards to audience expectations, the difficulties of filming a prequel after a sequel, and issues of anticipation in relation to character development.

The death of writing – if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google.

In Amsterdam, a revolt against the neoliberal university.

* Make School a Democracy.

* The persistence of inequality.

How A Traveling Consultant Helps America Hide The Homeless.

Working-Class Women at the MLA Interview.

* Checking flights now: Kim Stanley Robinson Week at Ralahine.

Using Science Fiction to Re-Envision Justice.

Arab Sci-Fi: The future is here.

‘House of Cards’ is the worst show about American politics. Ever. On the perfunctoriness of House of Cards.

* Unarmed teenager shot by police in Madison. Students march.

* Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s sheriff wants attention.

* The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet Briar’s Professors. This headline really buries the lede:

Of course, faculty members aren’t the only employees who are taking a hit. Rainville suggested that nearly a third of the college’s hourly workers are descendants of the Fletcher plantation’s original slave community. Some of the staff members have worked at Sweet Briar their entire adult lives.

* Detenuring and its discontents.

Marina Warner on the disfiguring of higher education.

What Obama’s ‘Student Aid Bill of Rights’ Will — and Won’t — Do. Student Loans Viewed Differently Than Other Debt, Study Finds.

* Fear of a Muslim Planet. From TNI #38: “Futures.”

* Did somebody say FUTURE!

Islamophobic Bus Ads In San Francisco Are Being Defaced With Kamala Khan.

* Finally, a technological solution to the problem of taking attendance!

LARPing Hamlet at Castle Elsinore.

* These Photos Beautifully Capture the Complex Relationship Between Mothers and Daughters. These are really amazing. Many more links after the photo.

Soraya and Tala, Yarze Lebanon 2014.

* The 1 percent’s white privilege con: Elites hold “conversations” about race, while resegregating our schools.

Austerity won’t collapse under its own contradictions. We’ll need a movement for that.

* Big Sugar vs. your teeth.

It’s a mistake to ask whether this is wealthy people defending their financial interests or wealthy people expressing their ideology, or which motivation is reallyin the driver’s seat. The triumph of modern conservatism is that it has collapsed the distinction. The interests of the wealthy are the ideology. Fossil fuels are the ideology. They’re bubbling in the same ethno-nationalist stew as anti-immigrant sentiment, hawkish foreign policy, hostility toward the social safety net, and fetishism of guns, suburbs, and small towns. It’s all one identity now. The Kochs (and their peers) are convinced that their unfettered freedom is in the best interests of the country. There’s no tension.

* What happens when Queen Elizabeth dies?

* Native language study at UWM.

Judge Says University Failed to Shield Professor From Colleagues’ Retaliation. Yeah, sure sounds like it.

* It is now twelve months to the day that I set myself the task of, for one full year, reading books only by straight, white, middle-class, Anglopone, cis male authors. During that time I read 144 books. The things I learned in my year of selective reading made me pretty glad to have persevered.

* NYU union does good work.

Ph.D. students will receive 4 percent more in total compensation for their work as teaching assistants, bringing the average annual compensation up to approximately $36,600. The agreement also guarantees yearly minimum wage increases of 2.25 to 2.50 percent through 2020. For graduate employees at NYU’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, some of whom currently make only $10 an hour, hourly wages will increase to $15 next fall and reach $20 by 2020. Those employees will also receive a $1,500 bonus for work done over the past three semesters.

* Diving into the weeds: Is University of Oklahoma frat’s racist chant protected by 1st Amendment? 5 Ways Fraternities Are Wielding Major Influence Over University Administrations. A decade of bad press hasn’t hurt fraternity membership numbers. A Brief and Recent History of Bigotry at Fraternities.

Where has all the money gone? The decline in faculty salaries at American colleges and universities over the past 40 years.

* Flexible online education can never fail, it can only be failed.

* Small Private College Shuts Down, Donates Campus to the University of Iowa.

* Mass Firings in History at Boise State.

* The eco-optimists.

The U.S. is being overrun by a wave of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking. Has the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?

Florida Officials Ban The Term ‘Climate Change.’

Climate Change Is Altering Everything About The Way Water Is Provided In Salt Lake City.

* The Desertification of Mongolia. Still not done, more links below.

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* Introducing the Gawker Media SecureDrop.

* Buffy is old enough to go through that weird test they make Slayers go through when they turn 18.

White candidates with degrees from less-selective universities can expect to get a response every 9 résumés, while equally qualified black candidates need to submit 15.

* Is Scott Walker the most dangerous man in America?

* The troubled history of the foreskin.

* I’m honestly amazed the insurers were letting Harrison Ford fly small planes to begin with.

* In the U.S., a notary public does unglamorous legal drudge work. But in many Latin American countries, a notario is an ill-defined but powerful figure with broad legal authority, often someone with the connections needed to navigate bureaucracies that, while arcane, are also flexible. Unscrupulous notarios in the U.S. exploit these facts to con immigrants into believing that all it takes to finally get legal is the right person to file the paperwork.

* Emily Yoffe has another piece at Slate arguing against the current approach to sexual assault at colleges, this time framed around The Hunting Ground.

* English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet.

* Dystopia in our time: “Why Buzzfeed Is The Most Important News Organization in the World.”

* The end of cable: HBO is coming to Apple TV.

* I have altered the Expanded Universe. Pray I do not alter it further. But at least progress marches on.

* Gasp! Airbnb Is Making Things Worse for LA Renters.

* Meritocracy watch: Chelsea Clinton Absolutely Open to Running for Office.

How Reddit Became a Worse Black Hole of Violent Racism than Stormfront.

* “A simple design fluke and marketing are afoot here. When Gard accidentally increased her breast size by 150 percent, the creative team insisted it was maintained. The parent company’s marketing team found this to be a boon to breaking through the noise that would buoy their success.”

Porntopia: A trip to the Adult Video News Awards.

* Interview with a Torturer.

In 1923, Daylight Saving Time Was Actually Illegal In Some States. It’s time to make daylight saving time year-round. PFT speaks.

The salary you need to buy a home in 27 U.S. cities.

These maps show where the world’s youngest and oldest people live.

Ottawa doctors behind breakthrough multiple sclerosis study. This sounds amazing. I hope it’s true.

* Coming this October: Back in Time: The Back to the Future documentary.

* You know, like Ghostbusters, but Ph-balanced for a man.

* Scenes from the class struggle at NBC News.

Day-in, day-out, Calvin keeps running into evidence that the world isn’t built to his (and our) specifications. All humor is, in one way or another, about our resistance to that evidence. The Moral Philosophy of Calvin and Hobbes.

Men make their own brackets, but they do not make them as they please. Marx Madness. Via MarxFi.

* And they say our culture is no longer capable of producing great things.

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Written by gerrycanavan

March 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm

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Lots of Thursday Links! The University in Ruins, How to Predict the Future, Lesbian Science Fiction, and More

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Five Katrinas A Decade? Warming Projected To Boost Extreme Storm Surges Ten-Fold.

* Cause of windfarm sickness identified: it’s spread by human mouth.

“If our universe was a simulation you could totally tell. There’d be things like a fastest possible speed or a smallest possible size or a lowest possible temperature, or events wouldn’t actually be computed until they were observed by a player (you know, for computational efficiency).”

* Nicola Griffith recommends good lesbian science fiction novels.

* How to Predict the Future.

“During a summer in the late 1960s I discovered an easy and certain method of predicting the future. Not my own future, the next turn of the card, or market conditions next month or next year, but the future of the world lying far ahead. It was quite simple. All that was needed was to take the reigning assumptions about what the future was likely to hold, and reverse them. Not modify, negate, or question, but reverse.”

The number of Purdue administrators has jumped 54 percent in the past decade—almost eight times the growth rate of tenured and tenure-track faculty. “We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible,” says Robinson. “Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?”

Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come.

Wayne State University and the University of Michigan could lose 15 percent of their state funding if the schools ratify new union contracts that bypass Michigan’s new right-to-work law under a House Republican budget proposal introduced Tuesday.

Backroom Financial Dealings of a Top University.

It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

* In this sense, frighteningly, the MOOC seems like the next logical frontier in the increasing contingency and “adjunctification” of labor in higher education. Faculty unions in California are already arguing that MOOCs might do some serious damage to collective bargaining agreements, as some faculty have already agreed to assemble MOOCs for free. But to get even more apocalyptic than that, it seems like this specter of the cyberteacher – emerging from the shadows of the murky MOOC lagoon – is some dystopian icon of the brave new cost-cutting educational future. What better way to cut labor costs in higher education than to simply replace human educational laborers with software?

“I believe we’re in the best basketball conference in the country right now. If you look at the history of the schools, the original seven plus the new three, it’s obviously an elite group,” Father Pilarz said. “The new conference offers a tremendous opportunity for all 16 of Marquette’s athletic programs to compete against mission-driven and like-minded institutions.” 

* The Most Accurate Map of NCAA College Basketball Fandom. Brackets with just the colors and logos. An Oral History of Beating Duke. The NCAA: Poster Boy for Corruption and Exploitation.

A minimum wage worker in California must toil about 130 hours a week in order to feasibly  afford a two-bedroom rental, a new report found.

* Life after Steubenville.

Photos of Children From Around the World With Their Most Prized Possessions.

But journalists deserve a share of the blame, too—and not only for the failure to question more skeptically the Bush Administration’s claims about Saddam’s non-existent WMD. Journalists failed, above all, to show the war as it was. Americans who did not serve may think that they have some idea of what the war in Iraq was like, but they’re wrong. The culprit here is a culture of well-intentioned self-censorship that refuses to show the real conditions of modern warfare.

* Klein doesn’t think a state invaded another state; he thinks “we” went to war. He identifies with the state. Whether he’s supporting or dissenting from a policy, he sees himself as part of it. He sees himself on the jeeps with the troops. That’s why his calls for skepticism, for not taking things on authority, ring so hollow. In the end, he’s on the team. Or the jeep.

* Communist Monopoly.

The goal of the game, which will officially be launched on Feb. 5, is to show how hard and frustrating it was for an average person to simply do their shopping under the Communist regime in Poland. The game has been developed by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), a Warsaw-based research institute that commemorates the suffering of the Polish people during the Nazi and Communist eras.

* Life advice from the OnionFind The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.

The New Yorker Rejects Itself: A Quasi-Scientific Analysis of Slush Piles.

* Feedback from James Joyce’s Submission of Ulysses to His Creative Writing Workshop.

* The kids aren’t all right: In Survey, Professors See a Lack of Professionalism Among Students

Professional wrestling fans, we who are “smart marks” especially, are in many ways more sophisticated than the political junkies who populate political blogs and web sites (what are really fan boy and fan girl mark hangouts) like the Free Republic or The Daily Kos. They know that professional wrestling is a work and a game.

Bradbury’s fan letter to Heinlein.

How Viable Is Rand Paul for 2016?

* And Dear Television considers the finale of Girls.

Sunday Links

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Suff1(some shamelessly borrowed from you-know-who)

* Britain paid reparations for slavery? That’s fantast–oh god.

The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.

Fathers matter, but so do grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Indeed, it may take as long as 300-500 years for high- and low-status families to produce descendants with equal chances of being in various parts of the income spectrum.

* The Ambition Gap: When researchers have studied the ambition gap, they’ve discovered something peculiar: It’s not there. Women do ask for more. They just aren’t rewarded for it. Via Feminéma.

7 Obscure Children’s Books by Authors of Grown-Up Literature. Joyce! Twain! Woolf! Eliot! Shelley! Tolstoy! Wilde! 7 (More) Obscure Children’s Books by Famous “Adult” Lit Authors. Huxley! Stein! Thurber! Sandburg! Rushdie! Fleming! Hughes!

* Actually existing media bias: Glenn Greenwald on what’s become of MSNBC.

I wonder: does someone who goes from being an Obama White House spokesman and Obama campaign official to being an MSNBC contributor even notice that they changed jobs?

* Mentoring and cruel optimism.

* Race and the cuts at Emory.

* Rehabilitating Zero Dark Thirty.

Susan Sontag once wrote that every mass art form is practiced and experienced as “a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.” Zero Dark Thirty’s critics, unwilling to understand themselves as the film’s intended audience, instead imagined that “real Americans” were being made tools of power through one of their most important social rites: moviegoing. What these critics did not confront was their own need to fend off anxiety. For Maya, as for many Americans, the anxiety has to do with the inadequacy of Osama bin Laden’s death as consolation for all of the disasters that preceded it. How else to explain the manic focus on proving that torture did not contribute to the search for bin Laden? It suggests a kind of desperation, a desire to hold up just this one episode as separate and different from the rest of the war. This desire is Zero Dark Thirty’s true subject, as well as the object of its critique.

‘Welcome to Dystopia’: We Are ‘Entering A Long-Term And Politically Dangerous Food Crisis.’

The Princess and the Trolls: The Heartrending Legend of Adalia Rose, the Most Reviled Six-Year-Old Girl on the Internet. People are the worst. Jesus Christ.

* Texts from Pride and Prejudice. Texts from Don Quixote.

* Ten Little Suffragettes.

* George Saunders, lapsed Catholic.

* Papal Conclave 101.

Perhaps the classic expression of this idea belongs to none other than the outgoing pope, Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was asked on Bavarian television in 1997 if the Holy Spirit is responsible for who gets elected. This was his response:

I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.

Then the clincher:

There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!

* Hayley Schafer chose her dream job at the age of 5. Three years later, her grandmother told her that if she wrote it down, the dream would come true. So she found a piece of blue construction paper and scrawled on it with a pencil: “Veterianian.” “No one told me how to spell it,” she remembers. “They just said, ‘Sound it out.’ ”

At the age of 30, she still has the sign, which is framed on her desk at the Caring Hearts Animal Clinic in Gilbert, Ariz., where she works as a vet. She also has $312,000 in student loans, courtesy of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Or rather, $312,000 was what she owed the last time she could bring herself to log into the Sallie Mae account that tracks the ever-growing balance.

* The Cost of Prison.

* A brief history of the car cup holder.

* Oscar voters overwhelmingly white, male.

* Oscar Pistorius and the Media. The curious case of Reeva Steenkamp’s boyfriend. Inspiration porn and compulsory able bodiedness.

* Stay Free or Die Tryin’: Scenes from the student protests at Cooper Union.

Hidden behind a false wall and a fast-food restaurant, large black and brown images depict the faces of seven UCLA alumni, symbolizing the struggle of social activism and black history.

* Could a president use drones to kill journalists?

* Being David Bowie.

But what I wanted to talk about is the way that the Harlem Shake meme seems perfectly designed for the workplace.

Thursday Night Links

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NYE

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* EU copyright on Joyce works ends at midnight. Who weeps for Stephen Joyce?

* As a Fortune 500 company’s fracking activities in rural West Virginia leave a polluted and drastically altered landscape, locals are fighting back. Via @zunguzungu.

* The parallel reality — the undeniable fact — is that all of these listed heinous views and actions from Barack Obama have been vehemently opposed and condemned by Ron Paul: and among the major GOP candidates, only by Ron Paul. For that reason, Paul’s candidacy forces progressives to face the hideous positions and actions of their candidate, of the person they want to empower for another four years. If Paul were not in the race or were not receiving attention, none of these issues would receive any attention because all the other major GOP candidates either agree with Obama on these matters or hold even worse views. Of course Greenwald has a point, but at the same time it’s difficult to argue with this:

But (you might say) if the result is the same–if, whatever the twisted origins of his position, Ron Paul takes is on the side of the angels on certain narrowly framed issues–does it really matter how he gets there?

Short answer: yes. Slightly less short answer: hell yes. Longer answer: of course, because his opposition to (Federal) government overreach is inseparable from his opposition to Roe v. Wade and equal protection enforcement and environmental regulation and…well, every single goddamn thing that matters to liberals except the tiny set of narrow issues on which, in stopped-clock fashion, Paul has arrived at the right position through the wrong process.

* The Era of the Ron Paul Newsletters Isn’t Even Past.

*  Every progressive movement in U.S. history was portrayed negatively by mainstream media at the time it was happening.

During the Montgomery bus boycott, mainstream media outlets interviewed black folks who were against it and talked about how the boycott was misguided and hurt the local economy. The day after the boycott started, the Montgomery Advertiser ran a story featuring the manager of the bus lines saying that bus drivers were being shot at and rocks were being thrown at them.

During the rest of the civil rights movement, protesters who were fire-hosed and otherwise brutalized were called “violent protesters” in the mainstream media, which again featured interviews with people saying that the protests were wrongheaded.

During the Anti-Vietnam War movement, the mainstream media portrayed protesters as out of touch, violent, and dirty. There was a picture in the San Francisco Chronicle of a guy who was throwing back a tear gas canister that had been shot at the peaceful crowd. This was shown as proof of protesters being wild, out of touch, and violent. The Black Panther Party had free breakfast programs and was beloved worldwide — but every mainstream media outlet that covered it, covered it negatively.

There has never been any strike, work stoppage, or union action that was supported by the mainstream media at the time that it was happening.

The mainstream press didn’t support the Anti-Apartheid movement and doesn’t support the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions movement for Palestine.

The mainstream press is always on the wrong side of history because it’s always on the side of the status quo, which is capitalist exploitation and oppression.

* And just because it’s New Year’s Even: The 40 Best Memes of 2011.