Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘John Bellamy Foster

‘Who Killed Science Fiction?’ and a Few More

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* We’re so screwed: one foot in sea level rise projected by 2050.

* Cyber-utopia has been called off: Despite all the heady social theorizing of Shirky and the Wired set, the web has not, in fact, abolished the conventions of market value or rewritten the rules of productivity and worker reward. It has, rather, merely sent the rewards further down the fee stream to unscrupulous collectors like Chris Anderson, who plagiarized some of the content of Free, a celebration of the digital free-content revolution and its steady utopian progress toward uncompensated cultural production, from the generous crowdsourcing souls at Wikipedia. How egalitarian. It’s a sad truth that in Shirky’s idealized market order, some people’s time remains more valuable than others’, and as in that gray, old labor-based offline economy, the actual producers of content routinely get cheated, in the case of Free by the very charlatan who urges them on to ever greater feats of generosity.

As for crowdsourcing being a “labor of love” (Shirky primly reminds us that the term “amateur” “derives from the Latin amare—‘to love’”), the governing metaphor here wouldn’t seem to be digital sharecropping so much as the digital plantation. For all too transparent reasons of guilt sublimation, patrician apologists for antebellum slavery also insisted that their uncompensated workers loved their work, and likewise embraced their overseers as virtual family members. This is not, I should caution, to brand Shirky as a latter-day apologist for slavery but rather to note that it’s an exceptionally arrogant tic of privilege to tell one’s economic inferiors, online or off, what they do and do not love, and what the extra-material wellsprings of their motivation are supposed to be. To use an old-fashioned Enlightenment construct, it’s at minimum an intrusion into a digital contributor’s private life—even in the barrier-breaking world of Web 2.0 oversharing and friending. The just and proper rejoinder to any propagandist urging the virtues of uncompensated labor from an empyrean somewhere far above mere “society” is, “You try it, pal.” See also: John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney, The Internet’s Unholy Marriage to Capitalism:

But this collaborative potential, arguably the democratic genius of the Internet, runs up against the pressure of capital to consolidate monopoly power, create artificial scarcity, and erect fences wherever possible. At nearly every turn, industries connected to the Internet have transitioned from competitive to oligopolistic in short order.

Wisconsin Dispute Could Mobilize Democratic Base. Gee, you think?

* How I Passed My U.S. Citizenship Test By Keeping the Right Answers to Myself. Via MeFi.

* Worldwide university rankings. I’m sure it’s killing the Duke admins that they don’t constitute one of the eight globally recognized superbrands.

* And a great find from somewhere or another: Earl Kemp’s Who Killed Science Fiction?

Anybody who announces that he is a science fiction writer is announcing that he is in damn bad company financially and artistically.

Oh Kurt, say you don’t mean it!

Crazy Busy Today

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Seriously busy day today—hardly able to catch my breath. In lieu of that, some links.

* It was an unexpectedly good day for the Communofascist wing of the Democratic Party, with Joe Sestak beating Arlen Specter, Mark Critz winning in PA-12, and Bill Halter forcing Blanche Lincoln into a run-off in Arkansas. That Richard Blumenthal has managed to completely shit the bed in Connecticut can wait perhaps for another night.

* The video of our most recent Polygraph event—John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark discussing “the consumer trap—is now on iTunesU. The download should be free to everyone.

* A from-bad-to-worse update on the story of a seven-year-old Detroit girl killed by police officers during a no-knock raid: they may have been filming a reality show.

* Extreme weather videos in hailstorm and tornado flavors. Both links via MeFi.

* It’s pretty scary to think that a person without basic qualifications could fraudulently pilot jets for 13 years without being caught, but at the same time it’s actually fairly comforting that in all that time nothing bad happened.

* This Dark Knight / Toy Story 2 mashup is an instant classic of the genre.

* Raising academic dishonesty to the level of art.

* Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 will be set in New York. I am intrigued.

* Lenin’s Tomb on why neoliberalism persists.

* And preparing now for next year’s job market. And the next year’s. And the next year’s…

Friday Morning Time Slip

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* Ambrose Bierce, inventor of the emoticon. Via @unrealfred.

* Joni Mitchell v. Bob Dylan.

* How to tell time on Mars. Via MeFi, which highlights Kim Stanley Robinson’s scheme in the Mars trilogy:

And then it was ringing midnight, and they were in the Martian time slip, the thirty-nine-and-a half-minute gap between 12:00:00 and 12:00:01; when all the clocks went blank or stopped moving.

* Statistics about TV in America. Also via MeFi.

* Nobody wants Reagan on the $50.

* Another case for Diane Wood.

* Michael Steele has acknowledged a four-decade-long Southern strategy, which seems like a big admission for a sitting RNC chair to make.

* Independent Weekly asked me to write a short piece about campus green initiatives in the Triangle for their Green Living Guide this year. Here it is, minus the sort of necessary if impolitic critique of consumer “choice” that was the subject of John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark’s talk last night. (Video of the talk will be up soon.) Like Foster and Clark my opinion is that these sorts of initiatives may be morally praiseworthy, and even efficacious at the margins, but that they are ultimately fundamentally incomplete, something akin to reupholstering the deck chairs on the Titanic.

* I’ll just say it: I don’t think people should try to pay their doctors with chickens.

* Functional immigration law or rational climate policy? Apparently we can’t have both.

* And the only thing that can stop this asteroid is your liberal arts degree.

John Bellamy Foster at Duke Thursday!

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You have my personal guarantee: this will be good. Hope some of you can make it.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 21, 2010 at 11:27 pm

the triumphant return of culturemonkey

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As hinted earlier tonight in the post on the water crisis, I’ve put up a longish post on ecology over at culturemonkey. It’s the first of two or three posts on zizecology motivated (and excerpted from) one of the papers I wrote this semester.

I’ve tried to excise the more boring parts, but I can’t promise that the result won’t still be boring.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 6, 2008 at 6:51 am