Posts Tagged ‘John Scalzi’
* A nice endorsement of Octavia E. Butler from Steve Shaviro. Some bonus Shaviro content: his favorite SF of 2016. I think Death’s End was the best SF I read this year too, though I really liked New York 2140 a lot too (technically that’s 2017, I suppose). I’d also single out Invisible Planets and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, both of which had some really good short stories. In comics, I think The Vision was the best new thing I’ve seen in years. There’s a lot I bought this year and didn’t have time to look at yet, though, so maybe check back with me in 2019 and I can tell you what was the best thing from 2016.
* Duke warns professors about emails from someone claiming to be a student, seeking information about their courses — many in fields criticized by some on the right. Some Michigan and Denver faculty members have received similar emails but from different source.
* I don’t think Children of Men was ever actually “overlooked” — and I’m shocked it was considered a flop at a time — but it certainly looks prescient now.
* From Tape Drives to Memory Orbs, the Data Formats of Star Wars Suck. Remembering Caravan of Courage, the Ewok Adventure Star Wars Would Rather You’d Forget. Anti-fascism vs. nostalgia: Rogue One. How to See Star Wars For What It Really Is. And a new headcanon regarding the Empire and its chronic design problems.
* The seduction of technocratic government—that a best answer will overcome division, whether sown in the nature of man or ineluctable in capitalist society—slides into the seduction in the campaign that algorithms will render rote the task of human persuasion, that canvassers are just cogs for a plan built by machine. And so the error to treat data as holy writ, when it’s both easier and harder than that. Data are fragile; algorithms, especially when they aggregate preferences, fall apart. Always, always, power lurks. The technocrats have to believe in mass politics, believe for real that ordinary people, when they organize, can change their own destinies. Whether that happens depends on the party that gets built, and the forces behind it.
* Four Cabinet nominations that could blow up in Donald Trump’s face. Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliances. Why Donald Trump Might Not Be All That Good for Art. How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler. This all certainly seems on the up-and-up. And today in teaching the controversy: Nuclear diplomacy via Twitter is a bad idea.
* The arc of history is long, but Google Search will not longer return Holocaust-denying websites at the top of page one.
* It wasn’t just your imagination: more famous people did die in 2016.
* NOAA just released its summer outlook, predicting which areas are going to see unusually hotter temperatures this year. Unsurprisingly for those who have been watching the string of heat records that have been falling like dominoes, almost every area of the United States is included. Things Have Gotten Much Worse Since An Inconvenient Truth.
* Scenes from the class struggle at Oberlin. A reasonably good ethnographic study of a subject which seems to have become utterly impossible to talk about dispassionately.
* And speaking of “impossible to talk about dispassionately”: The canon of English literature is sexist. It is racist. It is colonialist, ableist, transphobic, and totally gross. You must read it anyway.
* The Baylor board of regents fired school president Ken Starr on Tuesday amid the sexual assault scandal involving the Bears football team, according to HornsDigest.com. Baylor not commenting on reports of President Kenneth Starr’s firing.
* The terms “World Science Fiction” or “Global Science Fiction” are becoming legitimate fields of interest at a time where human life is indistinguishable from technological interference and scientific thought. We are technology. We are post-human. And we understand both the “global” and “world” adjectives only through the eyes and screens technology has afforded us. If we loosely understand science fiction as the imaginative exercise with which we deal with science and technology, then it becomes a major tool in understanding a reality that increasingly grows less believable and more fragile, in which crisis has become our quotidian condition. We are desperately looking for others because, in a globalized culture and economy, they might not exist anymore. We might have exterminated them, and we fear our genocidal complicity.
But if the extremely wealthy, under a veil of secrecy, can destroy publications they want to silence, that’s a far bigger threat to freedom of the press than most of the things we commonly worry about on that front. If this is the new weapon in the arsenal of the super rich, few publications will have the resources or the death wish to scrutinize them closely.
* Here’s the thing: from where I live, the world has drifted away. We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary. The money has gone to the top. The wages have gone to the top. The recovery hasgone to the top. And what’s worst of all, everybody who matters seems basically pretty okay with that. The new bright sparks, cheerfully referred to as “Young Gods” believe themselves to be the honest winners in a new invent-or-die economy, and are busily planning to escape into space oracquire superpowers, and instead of worrying about this, the talking heads on TV tell you its all a good thing- don’t worry, the recession’s over and everything’s better now, and technology is TOTES AMAZEBALLS!
* The Do Not Call list was supposed to defeat telemarketers. Now scammy robocalls are out of control. What happened?
* Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember?, or, “Johnny B. Goode in the Anthropocene.”
But it did guarantee that one rock song will exist even if the earth is spontaneously swallowed by the sun: “Johnny B. Goode,” by Chuck Berry. The song was championed by Ann Druyan (who later become Sagan’s wife) and Timothy Ferris, a science writer and friend of Sagan’s who contributed to Rolling Stone magazine. According to Ferris, who was the album’s de facto producer, the folklorist Alan Lomax was against the selection of Berry, based on the argument that rock music was too childish to represent the highest achievements of the planet. (I’m assuming Lomax wasn’t too heavily engaged with the debate over the Sex Pistols and “Saturday Night Fever” either.) “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock song on the Voyager disc, although a few other tunes were considered. “Here Comes the Sun” was a candidate, and all four Beatles wanted it to be included, but none of them owned the song’s copyright, so it was killed for legal reasons.
* And presenting Reverse CAPTCHA.
* In 2015, we will open applications for Tiptree Fellowships. Fellowships will be $500 per recipient and will be awarded each year to two creators who are doing work that pushes forward the Tiptree mission. We hope to create a network of Fellows who will build connections, support one another, and find collaborators.
* A new economics paper has some old-fashioned advice for people navigating the stresses of life: Find a spouse who is also your best friend. Hey, it worked for me!
* Next week in DC! Resolved: Technology Will Take All Our Jobs. A Future Tense Debate.
* Will Your Job Be Done By A Machine? NPR has the official odds.
* Shields said these perceptions of race were the focus of his work and he aimed to deconstruct them through imagery that reflected a striking role-reversal. Not only do the individuals in this particular lynching image reflect a distinct moment or period in history, they are positioned as opposing players in a way that delivers a different message than those previously shared. This one of a cop is amazing:
* So, going by (17) and (18), we’re on the receiving end of a war fought for control of our societies by opposing forces that are increasingly more powerful than we are.
* The prison-industrial complex, by the numbers. Cleveland police accept DOJ rules you can’t believe they didn’t already have to follow. Charging Inmates Perpetuates Mass Incarceration. The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration. How to lock up fewer people. The Myth of the Hero Cop.
* A new day for the culture war, or, the kids are all right.
* “I often wonder if my forefathers were as filled with disgust and anger when they thought of the people they were fighting to protect as I am.” Would you like to know more?
Now, the UC administration claims that the cost of instruction is greater than in-state tuition. But these claims are at best debatable and at worst simply not credible, because as Chris Newfield and Bob Samuels have shown they include research and other non-educational expenses in order to inflate the alleged instructional cost. (It’s gotten to the point that, as Samuelsobserves, the administration literally claims it costs $342,500 to educate one medical student for one year.) According to Newfield, a more reasonable estimate of the cost of instruction for undergraduates would be somewhere between 40-80 percent of the administration’s figures. Even using the higher rate, then, the administration still generates a net profit for every extra student they bring in.
* Academia and legitimation crisis. This situation (and distrust/abuses from both sides) is going to get worse yet.
* This supposed opposition serves the interests of both sides, however violent their conflict may appear. Helped by their control of the means of communication, they appropriate the general interest, forcing each person to make a false choice between “the West or else Barbarism”. In so doing, they block the advent of the only global conviction that could save humanity from disaster. This conviction—which I have sometimes called the communist idea—declares that even in the movement of the break with tradition, we must work to create an egalitarian symbolisation that can guide, regulate, and form the stable subjective underpinning of the collectivisation of resources, the effective disappearance of inequalities, the recognition of differences—of equal subjective right—and, ultimately, the withering away of separate forms of authority in the manner of the state.
* Breaking: The Web is not a post-racial utopia.
* Breaking: it’s all downhill from 29.
* Horrible: DC to Begin Placing Ads on Story Pages. Even more horrible: the end of Convergence is the dumbest universal reboot yet.
* The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares. Interesting, but really flattens a lot. It’s not geography that constrains kids’ futures, it’s class.
* They say Charter Cable is even worse than Time Warner. I don’t believe such a thing is possible.
* Judith Butler: I do know that some people believe that I see gender as a “choice” rather than as an essential and firmly fixed sense of self. My view is actually not that. No matter whether one feels one’s gendered and sexed reality to be firmly fixed or less so, every person should have the right to determine the legal and linguistic terms of their embodied lives. So whether one wants to be free to live out a “hard-wired” sense of sex or a more fluid sense of gender, is less important than the right to be free to live it out, without discrimination, harassment, injury, pathologization or criminalization – and with full institutional and community support. That is most important in my view.
* The PhD: wake up sheeple! Still more links after the image, believe it or not.
* Broken clock watch: Instapundit says fire administrators to fix higher ed.
* Became self-aware, etc: campus climate surveys said to be triggering.
* Penn State administrators announced Wednesday that a fraternity that maintained a well-curated secret Facebook page full of pictures of unconscious, naked women will lose its official recognition until 2018, pretty much ruining senior year.
* The arc of history is long, but that Florida community college will no longer force its students to practice transvaginal ultrasounds on each other.
* A fetish is born: Porn actors must wear protective goggles during shoots.
* This roundtable from Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and others on sexism and comedy is pretty dynamite.
* The age of miracles: New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function.
* Parental leave policies don’t solve capitalism. You need to solve capitalism.
* And at last it can be told! The real story behind the Bill Murray movie you’ve never seen.
* In a post-employment economy, many are working simply to earn the prospect of making money.
So when a publisher comes to you and says “We like your book, can we buy it?” do not treat them like they are magnanimously offering you a lifetime boon, which if you refuse will never pass your way again. Treat them like what they are: A company who wants to do business with you regarding one specific project. Their job is to try to get that project on the best terms that they can. Your job is to sell it on terms that are most advantageous to you.
Oakland Police kept a man on its Most Wanted list for six months though he was not wanted for anything, the man claims in court.
And the most amazing part:
After “nearly a week of hiding in fear,” Van turned himself in on Feb. 13, “to resolve this devastating mistake,” the complaint states.
He was held for 72 hours, never charged with anything, then released, according to the complaint.
Yet on Feb. 14, the Oakland Police Department released a statement, “Most Wanted Turns Himself In,” which began: “One of Oakland’s four most wanted suspects has been taken off the streets. Last week, Oakland’s Police Chief Howard Jordan named Van Chau as one of the City’s four most wanted criminals. Today, the Oakland Police Department reports that Van Chau is off the streets of Oakland and is safely behind bars after turning himself in due to media pressure. Chief Howard Jordan said, ‘A week ago I stood with community members and asked the community to stand with me to fight crime and today we have one less criminal on our streets. Today a victim is one step closer to justice.'”
* The State Department’s latest environmental assessment of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline makes no recommendation about whether President Obama should approve it. Here is ours. He should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem. Good conscience! Good conscience! Hilarious.
* “It’s not for everyone”: working as a slavery re-enactor at Colonial Williamsburg.
* Nation’s Millionaires Agree: We Must All Do More With Less.
* The world’s most useless governmental agency, the FEC, is still trying to figure out fines for crimes committed three elections ago.
* Anarchism: illegal in Oklahoma since 1919!
* Also from the Teens: Dateline 1912: The Salt Lake Tribune speculates about “vast thinking vegetable” on Mars.
* Charlotte Perkins Gilman was right: New Experiment Suggests Mammals Could Reproduce Entirely By Cloning.
* 11 More Weird & Wonderful Wikipedia Lists. Don’t miss the list of fictional ducks and the list of films considered the worst.
* And let freedom ring: Judge strikes down NYC ban on supersized sodas.
* I may have done this one before, but what the hell: the RAW rejection letter.
* The NCAA drops the hammer on Penn State.
The tune, thick with horns and vocal harmonies, elides into “My City of Ruins,” one of the elegiac, gospel-tinged songs on the 9/11 album, “The Rising.” The voices sing “Rise up! Rise up!” and there comes a string of horn solos: trombone, trumpet, sax. Then back to the voices. Springsteen quickly introduces the E Street horns and the singing collective. Then he says, “Roll call!” And, with the music rising bit by churchly bit, he introduces the core of the band: “Professor Roy Bittan is in the house. . . . Charlie Giordano is in the house. . . .”
When he finishes the roll call, there is a long ellipsis. The band keeps vamping.
“Are we missing anybody?”
Two spotlights are now trained on the organ, where Federici once sat, and at the mike where Clemons once stood.
“Are we missing anybody?”
Then again: “Are we missing anybody? . . . That’s right. That’s right. We’re missing some. But the only thing I can guarantee tonight is that if you’re here and we’re here, then they’re here!” He repeats this over and over, the volume of the piano and the bass rising, the drums hastening, the voices rising, until finally the song overwhelms him, and, if Springsteen has calculated correctly, there will not be an unmoved soul in the house.
* Dibs on the novelization: Zhang and Li write that the the Milky Way will be torn apart 32.9 million years before the big rip. The Earth will be ripped away from the Sun two months before the end, and we’ll lose our moon with five days left. The Sun itself will be destroyed 28 minutes before the end of time, and the Earth will explode a mere 12 minutes later.
* Radiolab says the Greeks didn’t know about blue.
* kimstanleyrobinson.info has your 2312 interviews and reviews. I’ll have a review of this in the Los Angeles Review of Books next month.
* Lindsey Thomas rounds up the season’s bleak articles on the state of graduate education in the humanities with a focus on the issue that nearly everyone overlooks: “Graduate students, especially in the humanities, are not just students, endlessly toiling away in our foxholes/ivory towers (depending on which side of the “debate” you’re on) in our lurching quests for new knowledge. No; we are also instructors, and along with the ever-growing numbers of adjunct and non-tenure-track faculty, we constitute over 70% of the postsecondary instructional workforce nationwide.”
* Erik Loomis reviews If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.
* And Facebook may have botched its IPO in much more dramatic fashion than originally thought.