Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Jameson

Wednesday Links!

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(…though Tuesday’s links are still perfectly good…)

* I’m really excited to see that the Jameson talk on the army as a figure for utopia I talked about at the end of my Battle: Los Angeles essay is becoming a book (with some collected responses).

* One of my favorite Ted Chiang stories, “Understand” has been adapted as a radio drama at the BBC. Go listen!

* If you’re local, don’t forget! Mad Max: Fury Road discussion on campus today at 5 PM!

We Don’t Need to Reform America’s Criminal Justice System, We Need to Tear It Down.

Superheroes in a Time of Terror: Rushdie’s 1001 Nights.

Language and the Postapocalyptic World.

Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days.

The FBI’s probe into the security of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mail has expanded to include a second private technology company, which said Tuesday it plans to provide the law enforcement agency with data it preserved from Clinton’s account.

Against Joe Biden.

* Two great tastes: For decades, researchers have debated whether a major asteroid strike or enormous volcanic eruptions led to the demise of dinosaurs almost 66 million years ago. According to a new study, the answer might be somewhere in between: The asteroid impact accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes, and together, these catastrophes led to the mass extinction.

The Vancouver public-speaking and drama instructor sees his reasons for assigning Alcor US$80,000 of life insurance benefits to have his brain cryopreserved as strictly pragmatic.

* Kristof said that more preschoolers are shot dead each year than are on-duty police officers. For children aged 0-4, that is accurate for the past six years. For children aged 3-5, the statement is true in most years, but not in every year. We rate the claim Mostly True.

* Twenty-first century problems: Can Crowdfunding Save This Town from White Supremacy?

Yale Just Released 170,000 Incredible Photos of Depression-Era America.

* Free college, pro and con.

* Stay classy, Milwaukee.

Texas’s war on birthright babies.

A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters might want to start using the metric as well. The researchers found that credit scores — or whatever personal qualities credit scores might represent — actually play a pretty big role in whether people form and stay in committed relationships. People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships and marriages and then stay in them. In addition, how well matched the couple’s credit scores are initially is a good predictor of whether they stay together in the long term.

* This might be even worse than the drill bits: Greenfield Police Using Pink Handcuffs, Wearing New Pins For Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

* Get a head start on next week: “It’s time to abolish Columbus Day.”

* And at this point I have no idea what sort of milk I should be drinking. Thanks, Obama.

Thursday Links!

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* A reminder: Marquette English has three open TT positions this year, two in rhet-comp and one in transatlantic Anglophone. The deadline is October 28.

If I were going to encourage you to take any one class simply because it’s good for the freshman soul, I would say this: Take some introductory literature class that forces you to memorize poems, heaps and gobs and mounds of poems, old poems.

* Jameson on time travel in the LRB.

* AAUP v. LSU.

* Leftist academics need to understand they are embattled both as leftists and as academics.

This afternoon at two o’clock the New York State Attorney General will announce the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Committee to Save Cooper Union, a group of activist students, faculty, and alumni against the Cooper Union trustees. The settlement will impose various reforms to Cooper Union governance, establish an independent financial monitor for the college, and begin the slow, difficult process of re-establishing Cooper Union as a free, healthy institution. Incredible turn of events. The tragedy of Cooper Union.

* A Proposed Heuristic for Academic Budgeting Decisions.

NY Fed Study Should Redefine How We Think About Student Loans and College Costs.

“Thanks, UCF, for having lecture-capture courses so I don’t have to go to class ever.”

A former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private e-mail server tried this week to fend off a subpoena to testify before Congress, saying he would assert his constitutional right not to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself. I continue to think Democrats are completely in denial about how bad this story could get.

Massive hurricanes striking Miami or Houston. Earthquakes leveling Los Angeles or Seattle. Deadly epidemics. Meet the “maximums of maximums” that keep emergency planners up at night.

The Moral Panic Over Sexting. Today’s obscenity.

The Accreditation Wars: Where are the Faculty?

* Some rules for teachers.

* Films for the feminist classroom.

The proportion of people with intellectual disability who have been treated with psychotropic drugs far exceeds the proportion with recorded mental illness. Antipsychotics are often prescribed to people without recorded severe mental illness but who have a record of challenging behaviour. The findings suggest that changes are needed in the prescribing of psychotropics for people with intellectual disability.

Boom shakalaka! Read an interview with the NBA Jam voiceover artist.

* Concrete Action, the Wikileaks for architects.

* I’ll take three.

* Yahoo has added commentary tracks from Dan Harmon to its Community episodes.

* Harvard will let students select their own pronouns.

Iceland Caps Syrian Refugees at 50; More Than 10,000 People Respond With Support for Syrian Refugees.

* American Chess May Finally Emerge From The Shadow Of Bobby Fischer.

Meet the Twitter Bot Generating Unnervingly Plausible Think Pieces.

* Another Colbert profile.

California Uber Drivers Can Proceed With Their Class Action.

* Wow, finally: Octavia Butler’s Dawn is allegedly being developed for TV.

* Goonies forever.

* Piggy, Kermit, and domestic violence. Next up: why Elmer Fudd hunting animals out of season is actually no laughing matter…

It’s Been Much Too Long And Now There Are Much Too Many Links

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* Job ad (probably best for Midwest-located scholars): Visiting Assistant Professor of English (3 positions), Marquette University.

* There’s a new issue of SFFTV out, all about the Strugatskiis.

* CFP: Octavia E. Butler: Celebrating Letters, Life, and Legacy – February 26-28, 2016 – Spelman College.

* Episode 238 of the Coode Street Podcast: Kim Stanley Robinson and Aurora.

* The weird worlds of African sci-fi.

* Afrofuturism and Black Panther.

* To save California, read Dune.

* All episodes of I Was There Too are great, but last week’s Deadwood-themed episode was especially so.

* Jameson’s essay on Neuromancer from Polygraph 25 (and his new book The Ancients and the Postmoderns: On the Historicity of Formsis available at Public Books.

“My college has had five deans in the last 10 years. They want to make their mark. That’s fine, but the longer I’m in one place as a faculty chair, I see why faculty are cynical and jaded,” Dudley said. “Every time there is turnover, there is a new initiative. There is a new strategic plan. So many faculty are just at the point where they say ‘just leave us alone.’ “

Pomp and Construction: Colleges Go on a Building Tear.

6 Ways Campus Cops Are Becoming More Like Regular Police.

* Diversity and the Ivy Ceiling.

* What academic freedom is not.

7) Academic freedom is not a gratuitous entitlement for privileged faculty but essential in achieving societal progressivity. Those with academic freedom are more likely to produce higher quality research and effective teaching that benefits society, if not always the ruling elites. I frequently state in class: “If I am not free, you aren’t free! For me to do my job, I must speak freely and teach outside the lines to help you expand your frame of knowledge and question your world.” There may not be a” truth, however earnest the search, but the attempt to find it must be unfettered. Society spends billions of dollars on higher education, and the investment is more likely to reap dividends if revisionism, and not orthodoxy, prevails.

* Why Is It So Hard to Kill a College? Why do you sound so disappointed?

An LSU associate professor has been fired for using curse words and for telling the occasional sexually-themed joke to undergraduate students, creating what university administrators describe as a “hostile learning environment” that amounted to sexual harassment.

* Josh Marshall: Here’s an (fun in a surreal, macabre way) article about a recent example of how Twitter has dramatically increased the velocity at which bullshit is able to travel at sea level and at higher altitudes. In fact, the increase is so great that Twitter has become a self-contained, frictionless bullshit perpetual motion machine capable of making an episode like this possible. This is the story of Zandria Robinson, an African-American assistant professor of sociology at the University of Memphis who made some that were both genuinely outrageous and also a peerless example of jargony academic nonsense-speak, became a target of right-wing media and twitter-hounds, then got fired by the University of Memphis because of the controversy, thus making the University a target of left-wingers on Twitter and driving Twitter to cross-partisan paroxysms of outrage and self-congratulation. Except that she wasn’t fired and actually wasn’t even an employee of the University of Memphis in the first place. Thanks, Twitter.

Supreme Court to Consider Case That Could Upend Unions at Public Colleges.

* Adjuncting is not a career, TIAA-CREF edition.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 19: Resilience.

* Fraternities, man, I don’t know.

* Right-wing SF and the Charleston attack.

* Fusion is mapping the monuments of the Confederacy. Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy? Because our textbooks and monuments are wrong.

* Tomorrow’s iconic photos today.


* There’s a dark side to everything: the secret history of gay marriage.

* Andrew Sullivan’s victory lap.

* Gay rights in America, state by state (updated 26 June 2015).

* The Y2Gay Problem.

How do you tell a person to choose between having food to eat and getting married?

* When docents go rogue.

* When image recognition goes rogue.

Greece just defaulted, but the danger is only beginning.

* Puerto Rico and debt.

Now We Know Why Huge TPP Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From the Public.

Let that sink in for a moment: “[C]ompanies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals….” And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets; they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies’ ability to collect what they claim are “expected future profits.”

* The Rise and Fall of LSD.

* How FIFA Ruined Soccer.

* Rape on the night shift.

* Self-driving cars and the coming pro-driving movement.

* Class and the professorate.

* “I’ve been a boy for three years and I was a girl for six.” Frontline on growing up trans.

* Why are colleges investing in prisons in the first place? Don’t answer that.

* The view from over there: 38 ways college students enjoy ‘Left-wing Privilege’ on campus.

How to Avoid Indoctrination at the Hands of ‘Your Liberal Professor.’

* Against students.

You Were Right. Whole Foods Is Ripping You Off.

* “You have the wrong body for ballet.”

* The toy manufacturing sublime.

* Barack Obama is officially one of the most consequential presidents in American history. I really don’t think going on WTF is that big a deal.

* What Went Wrong: Assessing Obama’s Legacy. [paywalled, sorry]

* Debating polygamy: aff and neg (and more).

Alex Hern decided not to do anything for a week – unless he’d read all the terms and conditions first. Seven days and 146,000 words later, what did he learn?

Philip K Dick’s only novel for children to be reissued in UK.

Postcapitalist Posthumans.

* Preschool justice.

* The World Without Work. The Hard Work of Taking Apart Post-Work Fantasy.

* The Sweatshop Feminists.

Keita “Katamari Damacy” Takahashi is still making the best games.

The Assassin Who Triggered WWI Just Got His Own Monument.

Every state flag is wrong, and here is why.

US military admits it carried out secret race-based experiments to test impact of mustard gas on US soldiers.

Don Featherstone, Inventor of the Pink Flamingo (in Plastic), Dies at 79.

* A people’s history of the Slinky.

* How to fix science.

J.K. Rowling Announces “Not a Prequel” Play About Harry Potter’s Parents. There’s just no way we’re not going to get an official “next generation” sequel series in the next few decades.

Court Affirms It’s Completely Legal To Swear Loudly At Police.

* Oh, but we have fun, don’t we?

* They’re making a sequel to Lucy, more or less just for me.

* Kotsko flashback: Marriage and meritocracy.

If in the Mad Men era the mark of success was the ability to essentially ignore one’s family while enjoying access to a wide range of sexual experiences, now the situation has reversed: monogamy and devotion are the symbol of success. And the reason this can make sense as a symbol of elite arrival is that the trappings of a bourgeois nuclear family can no longer be taken for granted as they were in the postwar heyday of the “traditional family” — they are the exception rather than the norm. In the lower and working classes, successful marriages are increasingly difficult to sustain amid the strain and upheaval that comes from uncertain employment and financial prospects (a problem that is compounded by the systematic criminalization of young men in minority communities). While marriage is still a widely-shared goal, the situation now is similar to that with college: a relatively small elite get to really enjoy its benefits, while a growing number of aspirants are burdened with significant costs (student debt, the costs of divorce) without much to show for it.

I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery.

* When police kill the mentally ill.

* Despair bears

A broken bail system makes poor defendants collateral damage in modern policing strategies.

Drug cops took a college kid’s savings and now 13 police departments want a cut.

The 20 Best Lines From the Supreme Court Dissent Calling to End the Death Penalty.

* Inside Rikers Island.

Someone is turning the Saved By The Bell Wiki into a thing of beauty.

* Dystopia now: “Predictive Policing.” You’re being secretly tracked with facial recognition, even in church. Air pollution and dementia. Rivers of death. The dark future of ‘Advantageous’: What happens when the difference between child-rearing and job training collapses?

* Plus, there’s this creepy shit.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine Abramsverse Star Trek sequels, forever.

* No one else apply for this.

* And they said my English major would never be useful.


Written by gerrycanavan

July 2, 2015 at 8:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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All The Wednesday Links!

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* I got some really good news the other day: an NEH Summer Stipend! Here’s the full list of $22.8 million in awards and offers for 232 humanities projects.

* Two of the poems from the award-winning first collection of my partner, Jaimee Hills, are up at Waywiser Press: “Synaesthesia” and “Derrida Eats a Dorito.”

* I taught #GamerGate in my video game class yesterday. It wasn’t my favorite day of the semester, not by a long shot, but TNI‘s “Gaming and Feminism” post was a great help, particularly the link to Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games: Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 and Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male. I didn’t spend that much time on it, but I’m still tickled by Why So Few Violent Games?

Salvage-Marxism embraces the Socialist rococo, the feel-good where we can and the feel-bad where we must, the utopian and the unflinching. Salvage will bring together the work of those who share a heartbroken, furious love of the world, and our rigorous principle: Hope is precious; it must be rationed.

An ontology of the present is a science-fictional operation, in which a cosmonaut lands on a planet full of sentient, intelligent, alien beings. He tries to understand their peculiar habits: for example, their philosophers are obsessed by numerology and the being of the one and the two, while their novelists write complex narratives about the impossibility of narrating anything; their politicians meanwhile, all drawn from the wealthiest classes, publicly debate the problem of making more money by reducing the spending of the poor. It is a world which does not require a Brechtian V-effect since it is already objectively estranged. The cosmonaut, stranded for an unforeseeable period on this planet owing to faulty technology (incomprehensibility of set theory or mathemes, ignorance of computer programmes or digitality, insensibility towards hip-hop, Twitter, or bitcoins), wonders how one could ever understand what is by definition radically other; until he meets a wise old alien economist who explains that not only are the races of the two planets related, but that this one is in fact simply a later stage of his own socio-economic system (capitalism), which he was brought up to think of in two stages, whereas he has here found a third one, both different and the same. Ah, he cries, now I finally understand: this is the dialectic! Now I can write my report! Fredric Jameson, “The Aesthetics of Singularity.”

Terry Pratchett: “Not having battles, and doing without kings.”

* Confabulation in the humanities.

Fantasy scholarship needs theory. Badly.

The first African science fiction short story? Leonard Flemming’s ‘And So It Came To Pass.’

* Adam Kotsko: Notes toward an overanalysis of a failed sci-fi spin-off.

Did the Anthropocene Begin with the Deaths of 50 Million Native Americans? Defining the Anthropocene. The Inhuman Anthropocene.

* Scars of the Anthropocene: Japan builds a sea wall.

Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought. A $600-Million Fracking Company Just Sued This Tiny Ohio Town For Its Water.

Devastating report finds humans killed almost 3 million whales last century.

Costa Rica powered with 100% renewable energy for 75 straight days.

It’s May 2065, and Cornell’s Dean of Nonlitigable Revelry is angry. So good.

Welcome to Ohio State, Where Everything Is for Sale.

It’s true that some of the faculty opposed this deal (but only 84 percent,according to a survey), and it’s also true that since the Australian takeover, prices for parking permits have gone through the roof. But it is not true, as has been reported in some places, that faculty have formed hitchhiking co-ops because they can no longer afford to park on campus.

The important point here is that this deal puts the lie to the complaint we hear so often that college doesn’t prepare people for the real world. Our CFO, the guy who orchestrated this deal, has just landed a very lucrative job with the Australian firm he sold the parking to. It’s called synergy, baby! Look it up.

* Ayn Rand comes to UNC.

* UW Struggle: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Public Authority Edition. This Is What Wisconsin’s 2.5% Budget Cut Looks Like.

Sweet Briar Alumnae Outline Legal Case Against College.

U.Mass. Faces $3B in Debt. reclaimUC: “That’s nothing.” More links below the chart.


New York Attorney General Is Investigating Cooper Union’s Decision to Charge Tuition.

* “Why Tenure Matters.” Holy moly.

A former administrator at Chicago State University has accused its president and other officials of firing her in part because she refused their demands that she file a false sexual-harassment charge against a faculty member critical of the leadership.

University protests around the world: a fight against commercialisation.

* Free expression and academic labor.

It’s that mass contigency– the dramatic rise of at-risk academic labor like adjuncts and grad students– that creates the conditions that Cooke laments on campus. In the past, when a far higher portion of college courses were taught by tenured professors, those who taught college courses had much less reason to fear reprisals from undergraduates. They had the protection of the tenure system and often the benefit of faculty unions that could agitate on their behalf. But with so many instructors in a state of minimal institutional protection or authority, lacking long-term contracts, benefits, or collective bargaining, the risk of angered students multiplies. Adjuncts don’t even need to be fired; they can just not get any classes the next semester. Grad students don’t even need to be fired; they can just have their job applications placed on the deny pile. This is why I think the problem is actually probably much larger than the high-profile anecdotes would suggest. The greatest impediment to real pedagogical and political freedom on campus is self-censorship due to labor insecurity. Discussion of contingency is almost entirely absent in Cooke’s essay.

* Academics talking about money.

On the Meaning of “Natural Born Citizen.”

What If Education Reform Got It All Wrong in the First Place?

* Nearly a quarter century ago, “A Nation at Risk” hit our schools like a brick dropped from a penthouse window. One problem: The landmark document that still shapes our national debate on education was misquoted, misinterpreted, and often dead wrong.

Education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It’s a social and political project neoliberals want to innovate away.

What Happens When A 38-Year-Old Man Takes An AP History Test?

How one dad opted out his kindergartner from standardized testing.

Trying the 12-year-old “Slender Man” stabbers as adults is as illogical and barbaric as they are.

Plane Safety Cards Explained.

*A University of Calgary professor has written “the first scholarly study of the Archie comic,” titled Twelve-Cent Archie. Though some of his colleagues were skeptical, his motivation, Bart Beaty explains, was “to really challenge the kind of snobbery that’s inherent in the way that comics aren’t studied.” 

* Meanwhile, we live in very weird times: Archie vs. Predator.

* Ted Cruz, I think, speaks for us all: “My music tastes changed on 9/11.”

Lead prosecutor apologizes for role in sending man to death row.

* BREAKING: your weed killer is poisonous.

America’s race problem has been solved, and it was easier than you would have thought.

SF Bishop Sorry Sprinklers Installed To Roust Homeless Were Discovered ‘Misunderstood.’

* SMBC explains Heaven.

* Worst person in the world speaks.

* If you give a lion a CAT scan.

This Floating McDonalds Has Sat Empty For 28 Years.

* There goes my Plan B: Business Owner Millions in Debt Arrested Two Years After Faking Death.

Bruised Woman On Billboard Heals When People Look At Her, Reminds Passersby Of Dangers Of Ignoring Abuse.

* “As They Lay Dying”: Two doctors say it’s far too hard for terminal patients to donate their organs.

1. An Unknown Alien Being acquires a child’s forgotten book and mistakenly beliefs that it depicts proper protocol for interaction with the human world. Mustaba Snoopy.

Texas’ brazen attempt to silence one of its most effective death penalty defense lawyers.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the leading trade group for compound pharmacists is now discouraging its members from supplying the drugs necessary for lethal injections — in what represents the first official stance the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) has ever taken on death penalty issues. Relatedly.

* I’m not one for tech solutions generally but they should figure out a way to put microlocal cell phone jammers in cars. Nothing else is going to stop this from happening.

* The best description of social media I’ve ever seen:

Podcast: Government Doesn’t Want Anyone to Know FBI Agents Can See They’re Creating Terrorists.

Why Health Care Tech Is Still So Bad.

The strange things people Google in every state. The most common job in every state.

Before Judges, the Godfathers Become Sick Old Grandfathers.

H-Bomb Physicist Ignores Federal Order to Cut 5,000 Words From Memoir.

​The Apple Watch Is the Perfect Wrist Piece for Dystopia.

* The Second Death of Chinua Achebe. Chinua Achebe, no longer at ease.

* Nothing gold can stay: The Zelda TV show isn’t going to happen.

* And it’s not all death and destruction: There are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined.



Written by gerrycanavan

March 25, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, Monday

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* The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

* The exciting return of “Is Health Care Reform Constitutional,” and friends, this one could be a doozy. Here Is What Will Happen If The Supreme Court Strikes Down Obamacare’s Subsidies. And from the archives: Halbig, King, and the Limits of Reasonable Legal Disagreement.

* George W. Bush, meritocrat.

* It’s baaaaack: A totally legal, totally shady way that Republicans could ensure Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

* The Quest for Restoration, or, Gone Girl and Interstellar Considered as the Same Film.

* As a society, we are somewhat obsessed with the risks of dying – from car crashes, cancer, terrorists, Ebola, or any of the thousands of mortal terrors that haunt our nightly newscasts. But we’re less accustomed to consider the risks of living long – of outliving our retirement savings.

* Is Serial problematic? Serial: listeners of podcast phenomenon turn detectives – with troubling results. What Is An Ending? ‘Serial’ And The Ongoing Story Of Wanting Too Much. Alas, I listened to this this weekend and got hooked despite all my critical detachment.

* Doritos-Flavored Mountain Dew Is Real, PepsiCo Confirms. This is unfathomable. There are some lines never meant to be crossed.

* Can anyone even remember postmodernism?

* World Cup Watch: North Koreans working as ‘state-sponsored slaves’ in Qatar.

* Against spoiler alerts, in the LARoB.

The rise of spoiler-free criticism seems like a move away from criticism as art — and a move toward criticism as an arm of fandom marketing. It’s fine to not want spoilers in your criticism. But there is something distasteful about the assumption that providing spoilers is some sort of lapse in ethics or etiquette. If you don’t treat art first as a consumer product, the spoiler-free doctrine seems to suggest, you’re being cruel and unfair. But critics really are not under any obligation to like what you like or to treat art with one particular kind of reverence. In the name of preserving suspense, the command to remain spoiler-free threatens to make criticism and art more blandly uniform, and less surprising.

* On artificial intelligence in board games.

* Wikipedia’s list of deleted articles with freaky or inappropriate titles.

* Tig Notaro, national treasure.

For example, research in economics has shown that the wage gap between lighter- and darker-skinned African Americans is nearly as large as the gap between African Americans and whites. In our analysis of data from theNational Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we found that the darkest-skinned African American girls were three times more likely to be suspended at school than their lighter-skinned counterparts — a disparity that is again roughly equal to the gap between blacks and whites. Alternatively put, while African American girls are three times more likely to be suspended than white girls, the darkest-skinned African American girls are several times more likely to experience suspension.

* A boy was accused of taking a backpack. The courts took the next three years of his life.

Frenzied Financialization: Shrinking the financial sector will make us all richer. Finance as a New Terrain for Progressive Urban Politics.

Former Football Player Sues UNC Over Fake Courses. A University President’s Comments on Rape. Brown University Student Tests Positive For Date-Rape Drug at Frat Party.

* Occasion #7 is all about debt.

* Cloud computing: the race to zero.

* Telepathy is now possible using current technology.

* White men as institution.

* Let me pause and say here: of course I love many literary dudes. They are not, all of them, smug and condescending. But let me say something else: I thought for a while that the really terrible ones were time limited — that they were products of the 1950s, of a particular time period, and that it really was a viable strategy to just talk about snacks until they all retired. But I have now realized this is not true; new terrible smug dudes are coming up through the ranks. Hydra-like, smug dude attitude keeps springing forth from itself.

* The corals that came back from the dead.

* Billboard ads are expensive to construct, maintain and rent, but they don’t serve any functional purposes — so Michal Polacek redesigned them to house the homeless. The next best thing to just abolishing homelessness.

In 2012, DiMaggio released the results of his own Safe Routes to School program. Child pedestrian injury rates had plummeted, falling to half their original numbers. “We showed that kids can still be kids,” says DiMaggio. “They can walk and bike to school and be safe.” The project’s federal funding expired last year, however, and no plans exist to extend the initiative to areas beyond the immediate vicinity of the selected schools.

You don’t have to be a monster or a madman to dehumanise others. You just have to be an ordinary human being.

* Obama endorses net neutrality.

* Incredibly misleading ad placement at Amazon inside the book description makes every book seem like it was an Amazon Editors’ Favorite Book of the Year.

* “But a deep look at Mars One’s plan and its finances reveals that not only is the goal a longshot, it might be a scam.” No! No! I won’t believe it!

* How Much of a Difference Did New Voting Restrictions Make in 2014’s Close Races?

* And Jacobin remembers 1917.

2014-11-10 08.20.31 am



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I wanted to Storify my back-and-forth with my friend Aaron Bady (and a few other people, but mostly him) on the question of guilt and complicity in liberal politics, which was prompted by his Texas Stands With Gaza post and ultimately looped around, as all things must, to Snowpiercer.

Aaron is right that I’m using Snowpiercer (along with Pacific Rim, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and some other recent Anthropocene science fictions) in a piece of academic writing I’m working on, so I’ll hold off on doing a full reading of the film here for now. But I think the film actually figures this debate we’re having in a pretty direct way. The people on the train are all “guilty” and “complicit” with the Snowpiercer system, albeit in different ways and to different degrees; like any necropolitical survivor, they are all alive while/because someone else has died. Even on the level of character development, much of the movement of the film is directed towards making Chris Evans’s character Curtis feel as though he is worthy of great things despite the guilt he carries with him; characters frequently say this to him explicitly, even, most notably, the character he once tried to eat as a baby and who he later abandons in the name of the larger mission! In fact this guilt, in properly liberal terms, is indistinguishable from his worthiness to lead, with the final act of the film culminating in Curtis being offered the position of the Wizard of Snowpiercer. The Curtis plot in the film is more or less a familiar liberal drama about coming to terms with your own guilty complicity in the system, a process which as if by baptismal magic thereby makes you worthy to run the whole thing as if you’d never been guilty or complicit in the first place.

Aaron’s reading on the film insists that this is the only trajectory open to us, even as he repeatedly turns to Kang-ho Song’s Namgoong as the voice of alterity, rejecting his plan as nonviable. Namgoong knows the train is a horror and knows the train is doomed by its own entropic breakdown, rejects guilt or complicity as a frame, and instead works to blow open the doors and escape. (And this is the position Curtis ultimately settles into as well, having finally hit an encounter of guilt which he can’t autoredeem his way out of in the form of the children in the engine.) Here then we see one version of the Canavan position: guilt is a way of becoming re-trapped, linked back into the atrocity engine, while refusing to identify with the system and its terms opens up the horizon of the future. Neither Namgoong nor Curtis survive the derailment of the train (“there is hope, infinite hope, but not for us”), but their protégés do, and in the final shot of the film see a live polar bear moving outside the train, indicating that life of some kind persists outside the train and that therefore there is something like hope after all.

Now, Aaron rejects all of this — “it’s too cold out there! they have no skills or supplies! that polar bear will probably just eat them!” — and of course he’s right to do so on the level of cold realism; like most such apocalyptic scenarios, the situation is too far gone to allow any sort of genuine renewal. (I always think of the way the Matrix sequels had to confront this, ultimately having the heroic rebels make a truce with the monsters they were supposed to slay because the world is too far gone to actually free anyone anymore.) But this is where Aaron’s flattening of Jameson’s theory of utopia hurts him a bit — because the kernel of the Jamesonian reading of the film is not to imagine it as a practical alternative to the present so much as to figure the ongoing exist alternative in an era that, at every turn, loudly insists there isn’t one.

For it is the very principle of the radical break as such, its possibility, which is reinforced by the Utopian form, which insists that its radical difference is possible and that a break is necessary. The Utopian form itself is the answer to the universal ideological conviction that no alternative is possible, that there is no alternative to the system. But it asserts this by forcing us to think the break itself, and not by offering a more traditional picture of what things will be like after the break. (Archaeologies 232)

Snowpiercer, it seems to me, is pretty plainly about this effort of the imagination; neither the setup nor the climax is really amenable to any sort of realistic analysis about the practicalities of the situation. It’s preposterous from start to finish. The point of the film is to disrupt our guilty comfort and our comforting guilt about a system we all know is terrible (“those crooked fuckers”) but think we can’t oppose, only picket and sigh about and be more beautiful than (“oh, we guilty sinners, oh this fallen world”). So of course the film is an allegory after all; what it figures isn’t the actual situation of capitalism but the hopeless prospects for people who can’t see any way to stop the train, other than a crash, and who perhaps for that very reason have come to believe they’re the ones who are driving it.

Today Is Tuesday!

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* Gasp.

Worker’s Comp Lessons From an Injured Adjunct.

* Progressive nonprofits that don’t pay their interns.

* At the beginning of April, one of the most important labor unions in U.S. higher education staged an unexpected two-day strike. It wasn’t the American Association of University Professors — the left-leaning professors’ union — or a chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, representing service workers; it was United Auto Workers Local 2865. Auto workers might appear to be an odd group to strike across American university campuses, but Local 2865 represents 12,000 teaching assistants, associate instructors and undergraduate tutors at University of California campuses.

* The Minimum Wage Worker Strikes Back.

Kavanagh is referring to the lowered rate-per-bed the GEO Group offered Arizona as the national economy cratered in 2008. The rate applied to emergency “temporary” beds  at two of its facilities to house an overflow of prisoners. In exchange for the discount, the state agreed to meet a 100% occupancy rate for all non-emergency beds at both prisons.

* The Hogwarts MOOC is here.

* On the trail of the phantom women who changed American music and then vanished without a trace.

* Carcetti 2016.

* Big Data: A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross.

* Coming soon: Approaches to Teaching the Works of Octavia E. Butler, edited by Tarshia L. Stanley.

* DC says it’s finally publishing Grant Morrison’s Multiversity.

Avoiding Climate Catastrophe Is Super Cheap — But Only If We Act Now. I have some terrible news.

* How to Lie with Data Visualization.

* Casino Says World-Famous Gambler Cheated It Out of $10 Million.

* Zero tolerance watch: Police charge high school student with disorderly conduct for using iPad to prove he’s being bullied.

* KFC Selling Fried Chicken Prom Corsages as World Falls Into Darkness.

* Walt Disney presents: Firefly.

* Science has officially proven the exact age that men get grumpy. Still so many years for me to go.

* Fingers crossed! Wisconsin Republicans To Vote On Secession.

* Uh oh, better cut taxes.

* BREAKING: The Grand Budapest Hotel is a huge hit for Wes Anderson.

* And happy (belated) 80th birthday, Fredric Jameson.


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