Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Jared Diamond

Christmas Eve Eve Links Links

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* There’s a lovely review of my Butler book by Nisi Shawl in the new Women’s Review of Books. It’s not available online so you’ll have to take my word for it, unless your library subscribes…

* And I’m so happy to report that Extrapolation 58.2-3 is finally out, the special issue on “Guilty Pleasures: Late Capitalism and Mere Genre” I edited with Benjamin Robertson. Check out the intro to see what it’s all about, and then check out articles on Dragonlance, the Star Wars and Star Trek expanded universes, Sweet Valley High, Blondie, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones and fantasy roleplaying games…

CFP: Academic Track at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, San José, California. CFP: Punking Speculative Fiction. CFP: Histories of the Future: Proto-Science Fiction from the Victorian Era to the Radium Age. CFP: Chapter Proposals for “Ecofeminist Science Fiction.” CFP: Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

An Incomplete Timeline of What We Tried.

* I thought this was great.

* Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism. Ladies and gentlemen, the great Ted Chiang.

Science fiction when the future is now. With appearances from Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken Liu, and Lauren Beukes.

* The best anti-Last-Jedi piece I’ve seen is Alyssa Rosenberg’s at the Washington Post. And the best pro-Last-Jedi piece from Dan Hassler-Forest at LARB. Somewhere in the middle is Abigail Nussbuam’s excellent piece at Asking the Wrong Questions.

* Lightsabers, by the numbers. Secret history of the porgs. Star Wars from below. Thank goodness somebody realized how terrible this would be. The Last Jedi and the necessary disappointment of epilogues. The films that inspired The Last Jedi. Behind the scenes. In defense of Canto Blight. Anti-nostalgia and anti-salvation. Star Wars without the Empire. How to Read Star Wars.

* Winter Is Coming: Climate Change in Westeros.

* How the Sesame Street Puppeteers Play Their Characters. It was only a year or three ago that I realized that on a basic level I’d still believed Big Bird was real; I had never thought or processed the fact that his lips were being moved by a puppeteer’s hands.

* So old I can remember when Sweet Briar was an inspiring story about a college being saved.

* On faculty and mental illness.

Study finds humanities and social science Ph.D.s working outside academe are happier than their tenure-track peers.

* Podcast alert: how does Samuel R. Delany work?

* Bang. Pow. To the Moon.

* Comedy writers name their most influential episodes: 1, 2.

* SHOCK REPORT: The tax bill is bad.

This Congress’s clear priorities: corporations, not children.

* It’ll also tax large endowments. Meanwhile in the academy: We Will Not Be Your Disposable Labor: Graduate Student Workers’ Fight Goes Beyond the GOP Assault. ‘A Complete Culture of Sexualization’: 1,600 Stories of Harassment in Higher Ed.

* Defund every agency that had any part in this. Murder Convictions Overturned, Two Men Are Immediately Seized By ICE. What happens to children whose parents are deported? 92 Somali immigrants deported in “slave-ship” conditions. ICE is abusing immigrant detainees with strip searches and threats. Shock of shocks, it turns out legal immigration is bad too.

The majority of US workers live in “employment monopsonies” where there is little or no competition for workers.

Why Doug Jones’s narrow win is not enough to make me confident about American democracy.

* Ghosts of 2012.

* First #J20 defendants found not guilty.

* The media wealth of African Americans in Boston is $8.

* People are using Uber instead of ambulances.

* The New York Times oddly reports on a Harry Reid boondoggle in a way that makes it sounds like aliens might be real.

* The Fred Moten century.

The Adult Bodies Playing Teens on TV.

* Monopolies are bad, no matter how much you like the brands involved. Avengers vs. monopoly.

“Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideas.

* The madness of prison gerrymanders.

* Desegregation never happened.

* Climate refugees in Louisiana. Disability and disaster response in the age of climate change. Losing the wilderness.

* The FoxConn boondoggle gets worse and worse.

* The Next Crisis for Puerto Rico: Foreclosures.

* Revising agricultural revisionism.

* Against optimism.

* Against being born.

* On the sadcom.

Your Favorite Superhero Is Probably Killing the Planet.

* Professor X Is a Jerk!

* The Daily Stormer’s style guide.

* Opoids and homelessness. 3,000,000 pills to 3,000 patients in two years. The Opioid Crisis Is Getting Worse, Particularly for Black Americans. What happens after an American city gives a homeless person a one-way ticket out of town.

* The US gymnastics scandal somehow gets worse and worse.

‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread.’

* The Forgotten Life of Einstein’s First Wife.

* The Ghost Economy.

* WHAT YEAR IS IT: How to prepare for a nuclear attack.

Lumberjanes’ Noelle Stevenson is Rebooting She-Ra for Netflix. Sir Ian McKellen Would Totally Play Gandalf In Amazon’s TV Tolkien Adaptations. The Next Bechdel Test.

* “Paradox,” by Naomi Kritzer.

* The Journal of Prince Studies.

* 80% of workers think managers are unnecessary. The other 20% mistakingly think they are managers.

* It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the one our Founders built: The Donald Trump droid is live at Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’ How a President’s Name Became a Racial Jeer. 55 Ways Donald Trump Structurally Changed America in 2017. Fascism has already come to America. Life expectancy declines for the second straight year. On brand.

* Heartbreaking interview with Heather Heyer’s mother.

* Jordan Peele, auteur.

* Dilbert: A Reckoning.

Still, it does make you ponder all the ways this industry works in service of power, and by extension those who abuse it. So many of comedy’s institutions are, at their core, PR machines. Branded content is Funny Or Die’s bread and butter. Every week SNL promotes someone’s new movie or TV show or album. Late night talk shows, with few exceptions, use jokes to bookend celebrity press tours. Comedians host awards shows because otherwise we might see them for the rituals they are—the wealthy and famous celebrating their own wealth and fame. Comedy normalizes power; it’s so successful at normalizing power that it feels weird to even write that as a criticism. Well, what’s wrong with normalizing power? Lots of things, but to start it lets monsters play the straight man in comedy sketches. It makes them relatable, which makes them less threatening. But power is always a threat, even more so when it seems innocuous, even more so when it seems… funny.

* 2018 is already terrible: there’ll be no more Zelda DLC.

* And remembering the reason for the season: Behold the official policy for destroying the head of Chuck E Cheese.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 23, 2017 at 10:06 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Happy Happy Monday Monday Links

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I just draw it for myself. I guess I have a gift for expressing pedestrian tastes. In a way, it’s kind of depressing. TCJ: The Bill Watterson Interview (1989).

* “Nada”: The comic adaptation of the short story that inspired They Live!

ScreenShot2013-10-10at4.58.38PM* The PhD Deluge.

Jared Diamond: We Could Be Living in a New Stone Age by 2114. Taking the “over” on whether there’ll still be human beings alive in a hundred years, I guess…

* Anthropocene or Capitalocene?

It was the final night of Uncivilization, an outdoor festival run by the Dark Mountain Project, a loose network of ecologically minded artists and writers, and he was standing with several dozen others waiting for the festival’s midnight ritual to begin.

* Terrible New York Times article on a fascinating topic: the “year zero” project of cultural destruction in Mali.

* Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s resource agenda, documents reveal.

After Holding Mentally Disabled Man Hostage for 34 Years, Texas Rules He Conspired to Keep Himself in Jail.

In order to pay for his son Cole’s life-saving surgery, he transported meth. But he got caught. Eighteen years later, his family, and the man who prosecuted him, are still working to set him free.

* Women prisoners sterilized to cut welfare costs in California. Of course it was illegal.

Half of New York City Teens Behind Bars Have A Brain Injury, Study Finds.

* Every once in a while Matt Yglesias still writes something good: The case for confiscatory taxation.

* Carceral leftism: jail time for wage theft?

* Piketty reviews from James K. Galbraith and Doug Henwood.

Synanon’s Sober Utopia: How a Drug Rehab Program Became a Violent Cult.

* Inside the “certified miracle” that will make Pope John Paul II a saint.

The Case for Drawing and Doodling in Class. Can’t we just medicate this impulse away?

* The liberal version of unskewing the polls is declaring victory in election cycles that are years away. We’ve got them right where we want them!

* College is probably cheaper than you think, though that’s not saying much.

I Ran the Pyongyang Marathon.

* Powdered alcohol: what could possibly go wrong?

* Your personal information is worth just $0.16.

* Coming out as a porn star. From Vox, the site dedicated to explaining the news with clarity and specificity traditional news outlets can’t afford.

* Meanwhile, at a traditional news outlet: Can the Klan rebrand? They’ve tried before. Kudos, CNN, you remain the absolute worst.

* Hugo nominees 2014. If you know who Vox Day is, you know how messed up things are about to get.

Criminal Cab Driver Mastermind (Allegedly) Evaded 3,000 Tolls.

* Antonin Scalia, Patriot.

* Abandon all hope watch: “The Democrats have a mega-donor problem.” Why can’t these naive billionaires see that Democrats who won’t support good policy are better than Republicans who oppose good policy!

On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

There’s A Hidden Timebomb In The Senate Rules That Will Go Off If A Supreme Court Justice Retires. But don’t you dare suggest anyone retire now to avoid disaster.

* Life is not a game. Neither is Candy Crush.

* Tumblr of the week: They Get It.

* This was the story of the Hurricane. Hurricane Carter’s dying wish. 

* Marek Edelman: Last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis.

I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. If you can’t tell that an A+ student in anything is doing singularly impressive work I don’t think “rigor” is your strong suit.

* Beyond the quantum computer: temporal computing.

Nebraska School Gives Most Idiotic Advice Ever to Deal with Bullies. Don’t defend yourself, don’t ask for help…

* Paging Margaret Atwood: Drug that wipes out vultures may cause an EU eco-disaster.

* The Farscape movie is happening.

* Why did the TV version of Game of Thrones change Jaime Lannster into a rapist? More here. I’d gotten the impression that Jaime’s arc in the novels goes from “does the worst possible thing imaginable in very first appearance” to “kind of heroic?”’; last night’s episode makes that reading seem impossible.

All of which is build-up to pointing out that in the book, the reunion between Cersei and Jaime is seen from Jaime’s point of view. And once we consider that, those moments when Cersei has questions of propriety in the middle of their love making can take on a more sinister tone. What if we’re being kept from the true horror of what Jaime’s doing because we’re inside his head? 

The inventor of the American suburban shopping mall was a socialist. Could his creation have been saved?

* The politics of the liberal arts nanny.

* And the 26 Best Cities In The World To See Street Art. Below: Philadelpia.

o-ART-900

Written by gerrycanavan

April 21, 2014 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Friday Links

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* Mother Jones on “the White House’s private outrage at former Secretary of Energy Steve Chu’s impromptu decision to talk about climate change while visiting an island nation uniquely threatened by it.” How dare he…

* Six women filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday alleging that Vanderbilt University, a prestigious school in Nashville, has failed to adequately respond to incidences of sexual assault on campus.

Boston Adjuncts Ask: Is There Life After Bentley U.?

Contingency and the Psychic Wage.

Baby Sent to Foster Care for 57 Days Because Parents Are Blind.

* Here come the ACA scammers. Meanwhile, in Obamacare follies: the “administrative fix.” The shorthand explanation for what’s going on here is that everybody — the insurance companies, members of Congress, and Obama — is bullshitting.

There is plenty of violence in the world of hunter-gatherers, though it is hardly illuminated by resorting to statistical comparisons between the mortality rates of a tiny tribal war in Kalimantan and the Battle of the Somme or the Holocaust. This violence, however, is almost entirely a state-effect. It simply cannot be understood historically from 4000 BC forward apart from the appetite of states for trade goods, slaves and precious ores, any more than the contemporary threat to remote indigenous groups can be understood apart from the appetite of capitalism and the modern state for rare minerals, hydroelectric sites, plantation crops and timber on the lands of these peoples. Papua New Guinea is today the scene of a particularly violent race for minerals, aided by states and their militias and, as Stuart Kirsch’s Mining Capitalism shows, its indigenous politics can be understood only in this context. Contemporary hunter-gatherer life can tell us a great deal about the world of states and empires but it can tell us nothing at all about our prehistory. We have virtually no credible evidence about the world until yesterday and, until we do, the only defensible intellectual position is to shut up.

Should your child play football? Poll: 40 Percent Say Tackle Football Should Be Banned Before High School. Former KU fullback Chris Powell sues NCAA over head trauma.

* The Eighth Doctor finally gets his sendoff in a prequel to the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special.

* Malcolm Harris against the unpaid internship for credit. I think there’s still a place for educational internships, but at nothing like the rates we see today, and it should never be used to displace waged workers or make the company money.

* The lives and deaths of hard drives.

* Shocked that Google Books is fair use. College and university administrators, take note!

How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body.

* And I took so long posting this link dump the latest Andy-Kaufman-is-alive hoax has already fallen apart.

Monday’s Links Has Learned to Tie Its Bootlace

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* Wes Anderson’s The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.

A billion-year storage medium that could outlive the human race.

New drugs could extend cancer patients’ lives—by days. At a cost of thousands and thousands of dollars. Prompting some doctors to refuse to use them.

* Friendship Is Magic: Malcolm Harris on branding the left.

Maryville, Missouri Is a Lawless Hellhole, And Other Things You Can’t Say About Small Towns.

* The rich are different: Filthy Lucre.

* The wisdom of markets: Pinterest is now valued at $3.8 billion after its most recent round of fundraising generated $225 million. It’s an impressive feat for a company without any revenue. Note: that’s not no profit. That’s no revenue whatsoever.

Milwaukee police use-of-force reports more than double.

A City Or A Swamp? One Year Later, Hoboken Still Struggling With Sandy.

With a $100 million endowment and annual revenues approaching $300 million, TFA is flush with cash and ambition. Its clout on Capitol Hill was demonstrated last week when a bipartisan group of lawmakers made time during the frenzied budget negotiations to secure the nonprofit its top legislative priority — the renewal of a controversial provision defining teachers still in training, including TFA recruits, as “highly qualified” to take charge of classrooms.

* Abolition never happened: There could be slaves in the supply chain of your chocolate, smartphone and sushi.

* Decadence watch: Mixed Martial Arts for kids.

Malcolm Gladwell’s New Book Asks Us To Pity the Rich.

* Editorial: F**k Jared Diamond.

* Douglas Hofstadter, The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think. The Rapid Advance of Artificial Intelligence. Why We Should Think About the Threat of Artificial Intelligence.

More Than 15 Million Americans Now Live Within One Mile Of A Fracking Well. Nearly 300 Oil Spills Went Unreported In North Dakota In Less Than Two Years.

* Someone should put this guy in charge of a hypertrophic, paranoid security state. He’d do great.

* A California woman who received a life sentence for killing her abusive pimp at age 17 will be released after a mere 19 years in prison.

How to Turn Robert’s Rules Into a Force for Good.

* And RIP, Lou Reed. The Neil Gaiman interview.

Weekend Links – 2

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What Is Jared Diamond Smoking?

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As part of my board work, I have been asked to assess the environments in oil fields, and have had frank discussions with oil company employees at all levels. I’ve also worked with executives of mining, retail, logging and financial services companies. I’ve discovered that while some businesses are indeed as destructive as many suspect, others are among the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability. His key examples—no joke—are Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and Chevron.

Truly, only the super-rich can save us now.

Monday Night Travel Catchup

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Catching up from travel back to NC tonight. Here are a few random links.

* Why aren’t universities spending their endowments?

* ‘Sci-Fi Writer Attributes Everything Mysterious To “Quantum Flux.”‘

A reading of Gabriel Fournier’s The Eclipse Of Infinity reveals that the new science-fiction novel makes more than 80 separate references to “quantum flux,” a vaguely defined force the author uses to advance the plot, resolve conflict as needed, and account for dozens of glaring inconsistencies.

* Ten things we don’t understand about humans.

* The world’s oldest map?

* Jared Diamond has lunch with the Financial Times.

With a nod to the feast before us, I say there seems little chance that Chinese or Indians will forgo the opportunity to live a western-style existence. Why should they? It is even more improbable that westerners will give up their resource-hungry lifestyles. Diamond, for example, is not a vegetarian, though he knows a vegetable diet is less hard on the planet. “I’m inconsistent,” he shrugs. But if we can’t supply more or consume less, doesn’t that mean that, like the Easter Islander who chopped down the last tree, thus condemning his civilisation to extinction, we are doomed to drain our oceans of fish and empty our soil of nutrients?

“No. It is our choice,” he replies, perhaps subconsciously answering his critics again. “If we continue to operate non-sustainably, then in 50 or 60 years, the US and Japan and Europe will be in bad shape. But my friends in the highlands of New Guinea will be fine. Some of my friends made stone tools when they were children and they could just go back to what their ancestors were doing for 46,000 years. New Guinea highlanders are not doomed,” he says, draining his pomegranate juice. “The first world lifestyle will be doomed if we don’t learn to operate sustainably.”

* And the line between fake news and real news continues to blur.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 11, 2009 at 1:35 am