Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Judith Butler

Get June Started Right with June Links

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* CFP for the first issue of Fantastika Journal.

* David Higgins reviews Paradoxa 27: The Futures Industry.

Ending Their Wars: On Memorial Day, socialists honor the victims of war and struggle for a world free of it.

* This Is What Extinction Sounds Like.

* “Society doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian.”

* So here’s my question: if this is all so “common sense” and “modest” then why do you have to lie so much about process and intentions? Why are people who drone on about “accountability” for others allowed to act without any accountability to the institutions they are supposed to represent?

* The Life Cycle of Genres.

Where genre is concerned, this means that our goal is no longer to define a genre, but to find a model that can reproduce the judgments made by particular historical observers. For instance, adjectives of size (“huge,” “gigantic,” but also “tiny”) are among the most reliable textual clues that a book will be called science fiction. Few people would define science fiction as a meditation on size, but it turns out that works categorized as science fiction (by certain sources) do spend a lot of time talking about the topic.

[whispers] Well, my dissertation and book-when-I-finally-get-around-to-massively-revising-it does define science fiction as a meditation on size…

* Bonus Ted Underwood content! The Real Problem with Distant Reading.

* In response to McGurl’s call we intend to create a digital database along with a visualization tool that can be used to map the professional itineraries and social networks of everyone who ever studied or taught creative writing at Iowa since the Workshop’s inception to the present date.

Duke University enters hotel business with $62 million project. You know, nonprofit for educational purposes.

University Of Akron President Resigns After Financial Controversies.

Is It Time for Universities to Get Out of the Hospital Business?

* …if you take up these old positions about what a higher education in the humanities should involve, you end up dancing with some very conservative people. I found myself in very strange company when I began to hold out for education, not as a credentialising process, but what I think of as encouragement for the revolutionary force of individual curiosity–pursued without limit.

* On some campuses, a dogmatic form of identity politics clearly has taken hold. But what’s too often missing from this picture is the very thing that opponents of political correctness so often decry: a sense of proportion and judgment, and an awareness that what transpires on the radical edges of elite universities is not always an accurate barometer of what’s happening in the wider world.

* Rule-Breaking Iceland Completes Its Miracle Economic Escape.

Middle Eastern Writers Find Refuge in the Dystopian Novel.

* Which City Has the Most Unpredictable Weather? Of course Milwaukee makes the top-ten for major metropolitan areas.

* It’s 2016. Why is anyone still keeping elephants in circuses?

* How rich does a black criminal have to be to get treated like a white one?

* Vindicated! A new meta analysis in Perspectives in Psychological Science looked at 33 studies on the relationship between deliberate practice and athletic achievement, and found that practice just doesn’t matter that much.

* 11 History Books You Should Read Before Writing Your Military SF Novel.

* On Early Science Fiction and the Medieval.

* Literature and prestige.

* Careerism and totalitarianism.

 Genocide, she insisted, is work. If it is to be done, people must be hired and paid; if it is to be done well, they must be supervised and promoted.

* Trump and the university.

* On Progressive Racism.

Progressive racism is how racism is enacted by being denied: how racism is heard as a blow to the reputation of an organisation as being progressive. We can detect the same mechanism happening in political movements: when anti-racism becomes part of an identity for progressive whites, racism is either re-located in a body over there (the racist) or understood as a blow to self-reputation of individuals for being progressive. This term “progressive whites” comes from Ruth Frankenberg important work on whiteness studies. She argues that focusing on whiteness purely in negative terms can  “leaves progressive whites apparently without any genealogy” (1993, 232).  Kincheloe and Steinberg in their work on whiteness studies write of “the necessity of creating a positive, proud, attractive antiracist white identity” (1998, 34). Indeed, the most astonishing aspect of this list of adjectives (positive, proud, attractive, antiracist) is that antiracism then becomes just another white attribute in a chain: indeed, anti-racism may even provide the conditions for a new discourse of white pride.

When we peel back its progressive pedagogical covering, the teaching-tool defense is embodied in unequal reasoning. It is embodied in racist logic: our national inability to value the same, to reason the same, to think the same for different racial groups.

What effects has “ban the box” had so far? Two new working papers suggest that, as economic theory predicts, “ban the box” policies increase racial disparities in employment outcomes. So disheartening.

Shady accounting underpins Trump’s wealth. No! I won’t believe it!

What’s the Matter with San Francisco: How Silicon Valley’s Ideology Has Ruined a Great City.

* Well, the establishment’s also pretty bored by literary work that deals with our treatment of the rest of being — you know, other animals, the rest of life on Earth, the creatures beyond the man-apes. Like the tragedy of how our men treat our women, the tragic way humans treat nonhumans is still, to many U.S. fiction arbiters, also irrelevant as a conversation, often dismissed as a boutique topic that’s the fodder of cranks and tree huggers. Women and the rest of species in existence: two flaming badges of uncool.

* Harambe launches a thousand thinkpieces.

The Black Film Canon: The 50 greatest movies by black directors.

Jessica Valenti: my life as a ‘sex object.’

* How an industry helps Chinese students cheat their way into and through U.S. colleges.

Nearly half of young black men in Chicago out of work, out of school. All told, over that same 14-year stretch, Chicago’s black population decreased by an estimated 200,000 residents, or nearly 19 percent. Illinois now has the highest unemployment rate in the United States.

If you were designing the worst place to be poor in decades ahead, you’d come up with a low-density, auto-dependent, aging and declining suburb.

* AP FACT CHECK: Clinton misstates key facts in email episode. Hillary Clinton vs. Herself. Hillary Clinton Remains the Most Likely 45th President of the United States.

After Being Called Out, Trump Hastily Donates the Veterans’ Aid Money He Said He’d Already Donated. Meet David French: the random dude off the street Bill Kristol decided will save America from Trump.

* This is good fun but pretty seriously slanders Magneto and the Joker.

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The Republicans’ Military Budget Could Make Every Homeless Person In America A Millionaire.

The Male Gaze in a Math Book.

* Coming from Pixar, 2022: Swarm of bees follows woman’s car for two days to rescue their queen.

* The paralogisms of pure dismissal.

* Fandom Is Broken. A Retort. I’m mostly just impressed with how hard I nailed it.

* Baby abandoned at SF State now one of its grads.

Quitting Your Job to Pursue Your Passion is Bullshit.

* Timeline maps.

* Hyperattention and hyperdistraction.

* Not a Review of Neoreaction a Basilisk. I for one welcome our artificially intelligent overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted writer and educator, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground zinc caves.

* Make Bayesianism Work for You.

A Renegade Muscles In on Mister Softee’s Turf.

“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”

A Fascinating Video Essay Explores the Key Reason Why Calvin and Hobbes Remains So Beloved Today.

* This is a little old, but DC has basically gone ahead and made it real, so…

David Mitchell buries latest manuscript for a hundred years.

Algorithms: The Future That Already Happened.

Judith Butler on the Value of the Humanities and Why We Read.

* Time to panic about Rogue One.

* I still can’t believe The Cursed Child is a real thing. Even photographs can’t convince me.

[somberly drags FerrisBueller.privilege.Salon.docx to the trash can]

Business Of Disaster: Insurance Firms Profited $400 Million After Sandy.

* Over a third of coral is dead in parts of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists say.

* And to imagine the ocean of the future: picture a writhing mass of unkillable tentacles, forever.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 1, 2016 at 8:31 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Weekend Mega-Links, Please Use Responsibly

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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.

* It’s a small exhibit, but I really liked A Whole Other World: Sub-Culture Craft at the Racine Art Museum, as well as the Consumer Couture exhibit running at the same time.

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!

* I went off on a little bit of a tear about dissertation embargoes and grad-school gaslighting the other day: part 1, part 2. Some “highlights”:

* 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.

What If Everybody Didn’t Have to Work to Get Paid?

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:

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19 Pop Songs Fact-Checked By Professors.

For those who didn’t go to prestigious schools, don’t come from money, and aren’t interested in sports and booze—it’s near impossible to gain access to the best paying jobs.

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.

New Grads Can’t Really Afford To Live Anywhere, Report Finds.

Uber hard at work on effort to replace drivers with machine.

Uber: Disability Laws Don’t Apply to Us.

* 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.

* Poverty, by the numbers.

* Science Fiction: For Slackers?

CGI7dHpU0AAOtHr* Presenting Matt Weiner’s wish-list for the final season of Mad Men.

How to be a fan of problematic things.

* Bernie as the official opposition. And then there’s the issue of the bench.

* A new day for the culture war, or, the kids are all right.

* Can Americans update their ideas about war?

* “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?

The Political Economy of Enrollment.

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.

LIBOR for the universities?

UW System faculty’s role in chancellor picks could be diminished. Also let’s make tenure not a thing. Also, no standards for teachers, just while we’re at it.

* Meanwhile, Wisconsin to burn $250M on famously losing basketball team.

Board of Governors discontinues 46 degree programs across UNC system.

How Poor And Minority Students Are Shortchanged By Public Universities.

How NYU squeezes billions from its students—and where that money goes.

What’s Left After Higher Education Is Dismantled.

Midcareer Melancholy: life as an associate professor.

A Top Medical School Revamps Requirements To Lure English Majors.

* Academia and legitimation crisis. This situation (and distrust/abuses from both sides) is going to get worse yet.

* Parenthood (and especially motherhood) in the academy.

* The cost of an adjunct.

* On opposing capitalism on its good days, too.

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.

Ecology against Mother Nature: Slavoj Žižek on Molecular Red.

* Stunning photos of the California drought.

The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, the Experiment That Changed Superheroes Forever.

Why Are You Still Washing Your Clothes In Warm Water?

Rickrolling is sexist, racist and often transphobic in context.

Carbon Nanotubes Were An Ancient Superweapon.

Amazon rolls out free same-day delivery for Prime members.

* Breaking: The Web is not a post-racial utopia.

* Breaking: it’s all downhill from 29.

* The waning thrills of CGI.

* Horrible: DC to Begin Placing Ads on Story Pages. Even more horrible: the end of Convergence is the dumbest universal reboot yet.

* The science of awe.

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.

* The World Cup and prison labor. The World Cup and slavery. The World Cup and total universal corruption.

* They say Charter Cable is even worse than Time Warner. I don’t believe such a thing is possible.

Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany.

U.S. Preparation Lagging to Battle Potentially Devastating EMP.

The Ethical Game: Morality in Postapocalyptic Fictions from Cormac McCarthy to Video Games.

10 bizarre baseball rules you won’t believe actually existed.

* Congrats to John Scalzi.

So you’re related to Charlemagne? You and every other living European…

Timeline of the American Transgender Movement.

* 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.

phd052215s* Muppet Babies and Philosophy.

* 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 Proof That Centrism is Dead.

* Against consensus.

* Understanding Sad Girl Theory.

* Dialectics of union activism. I’ve been really fascinated by what’s been going on at Gawker Media.

Someone Has Done A Statistical Analysis Of Rape In Game Of Thrones.

* The arc of history is long, but that Florida community college will no longer force its students to practice transvaginal ultrasounds on each other.

* Trigger warnings, still good pedagogy, still bad administrative policy.

* A fetish is born: Porn actors must wear protective goggles during shoots.

* Ring Theory: The Hidden Artistry of the Star Wars Prequels.

* 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.

* How to Bash Bureaucracy: Evan Kindley on David Graeber’s The Utopia of Rules.

The ongoing legacy of the great satanic sex abuse panic.

* Teaching pro-tips from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

* Google Drought Truth.

Moore’s Law Keeps Going, Defying Expectations.

* The morality of robot war. Counterpoint: Killer robots will leave humans ‘utterly defenceless’ warns professor.

* Parental leave policies don’t solve capitalism. You need to solve capitalism.

* Against Mars.

The Nuclear Freeze campaign prevented an apocalypse, so can the climate movement.

* Honestly, you get used to the taste after a while.

* And at last it can be told! The real story behind the Bill Murray movie you’ve never seen.

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Written by gerrycanavan

May 29, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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

Monday Morning Links!

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The first cut of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ was over 3 hours long. I’m sure that would have solved all the problems.

* Science Fiction and the Urban Crisis.

In short, riots aren’t counterproductive because they do not achieve their goals. They are counterproductive because they are an expression of those who are already-counterproductive, those “individuals committing the violence,” those ever-ready to riot.

Starfleet as the Federation’s “Dumping Ground for Orphans.”

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 18.5: “Peaceful Protest.”

* Wow: Rebuilt slave sites being unveiled at Jefferson’s Monticello.

The U.S. Civil War ended 150 years ago, but once a year, deep in the sugar cane fields of southern Brazil, the Confederate battle flag rises again.

Parents call cops on teen for giving away banned book; it backfires predictably. They’re banning Sherman Alexie? Come on.

Salvage Accumulation, or the Structural Effects of Capitalist Generativity.

Executive Who Presided Over Nonprofit’s Fall Seeks $1.2 Million Payday.

* The names of the chemical elements in Chinese. More links below the chart.

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The Washington Post‘s Police Problem.

* Judith Butler’s talents are wasted on a “What’s Wrong With ‘All Lives Matter’?” piece that really should be obvious to everyone.

* The most amazing thing about this exchange is that Sam Harris thinks he won this argument so completely he needed everyone in the world to see.

* The headline reads, “Nepal’s Kung Fu Nuns Have Refused To Be Evacuated – They’re Staying Back To Help Victims.”

* “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things: Disability in Game of Thrones.”

Porn data: visualising fetish space.

* Ideology at its cutest (hat tip: Justin I.): Vermont Teddy Bear introduces Bernie Bear.

Big Bird Actor: I Almost Died on the Challenger and I Cry in the Suit.

Report: Cop Dismissed Freddie Gray’s Pleas for Help as “Jailitis.”

Christie signs law greenlighting fast track sale of N.J. public water systems.

The Great Victoria’s Secret Bra Heist of Pennsylvania.

* Behind the scenes of the Game of Thrones map.

* It’s always worse than you think: The CIA has been organizing clandestine TED Talks.

“Cool” is a bit of a moving target. Sixty years ago it was James Dean, nonchalantly smoking a cigarette as he sat on a motorbike, glaring down 1950s conformity with brooding disapproval. Five years ago it was Zooey Deschanel holding a cupcake.

* “Social media trend sees men ditching sit-ups for snack cakes.” My moment has arrived!

Tesla unveils a battery to power your home, completely off grid.

* I hate to link to an SNL bit, but their parody of a Black Widow movie was really pretty good.

* Area X novella coming… eventually. I liked the first book in the trilogy much, much more than the latter two, but I’m still in.

Can 3D printing save the rhino? Seattle-based bioengineering start-up Pembient believes it can. The company plans to flood the market with synthetic 3D printed rhino horn in an effort to stem the number of rhinos killed for their horns. But conservationists fear that the plan may backfire, undermining their own efforts to cut the demand for such products in China and Vietnam, the main black markets for rhino horns.

* The coming DC Cinematic Universe trainwreck, Suicide Squad edition.

* Life in the City of Refuge.

A University Is Not Walmart.

* Trustees are basically heroes, and the Chronicle is ON IT.

And LLAP, Grace Lee Whitney.

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Friday Friday

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This is the fourth installment of a continuing series in which American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries: America’s Annual Pilgrimage Begins.

Massasoit was an adroit politician, but the dilemma he faced would have tested Machiavelli. About five years before, most of his subjects had fallen before a terrible calamity. Whole villages had been depopulated. It was all Massasoit could do to hold together the remnants of his people. Adding to his problems, the disaster had not touched the Wampanoag’s longtime enemies, the Narragansett alliance to the west. Soon, Massasoit feared, they would take advantage of the Wampanoag’s weakness and overrun them. And the only solution he could see was fraught with perils of its own, because it involved the foreigners—people from across the sea. The Indians who first feasted with the English colonists were far more sophisticated than you were taught in school. But that wasn’t enough to save them.

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document.

SeaTac $15 Minimum Wage Barely Passes In Final Vote Tally, Recount May Follow.

* Marissa Alexander has been released from jail.

* Self-censorship and repressive regimes.

* The horror of scale: What scared H. P. Lovecraft.

* And okay, I’ll check it out: As presidents leave office, they also leave a letter for their successors. In Oni Press’ new comic Letter 44, the newest president is taken aback when he reads the letter from the man who preceded him — a man who seemed to tank the economy and embroil the nation in needless wars — but was actually secretly preparing America for an imminent alien invasion.

A British Teacher’s Archive of Confiscated Toys.

* K Punk watches Catching Fire.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about  the Hunger Games is the way it simply presupposes that revolution is necessary. The problems are logistical, not ethical, and the issue is simply how and when revolution can be made to happen, not if it should happen at all. Remember who the enemy is – a message, a hailing, an ethical demand that calls out through the screen to us …. that calls out to a collectivity that can only be built through class consciousness ….

* Judith Butler defends the humanities.

* And the New Yorker profiles David Graeber, “Robin Hood for the Debt Crisis.”

Saturday Morning Breakfast Links

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* The new issue of Science Fiction Studies is dedicated to Chinese science fiction.

* Breaking: Liberal arts majors didn’t kill the economy.

Judith Butler’s Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS.

* Mark Dery on futureshock.

In the beginning, God created the wealth and the jobs. Now the wealth was a formless void and darkness covered the sources of value, while the spirit of capitalism hovered over the depths. And then God said, “Let there be jobs,” and there were jobs. And God saw that the jobs were not very good; and God separated the jobs from the surplus-value. God called the surplus-value Wealth, and the jobs he called Generosity. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1: A Neoliberal Account.

* SMBC tackles the unholy nexus of predestination and time travel.

* Janet Stephens, amateur hairdressing historian. Fun story, despite the classist overtones.

* The real Cuban missile crisis. So, both JFK and RFK were insane, I guess? Perhaps we should give this quantum immortality theory some serious consideration.

* Fox News screws up every day, but this one is pretty classic.

* There’s obviously some sort of long-term plan here that I don’t yet understand, like the time-bombs hidden in No Child Left Behind: North Carolina to formalize two “tracks” of high school diplomas, “job-ready” and “college-ready.”

* The Talmudic solution to the drone crisis: invent (another) secret, unaccountable court system in lieu of actual due process.

* And George Bush, painter.

Late Sunday Links

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Late Sunday links.

* Rachel Maddow kicks ass on another visit to Meet the Press. They should just give Rachel Meet the Press; I hope eventually they do. It’s the only version of the show I could imagine actually watching.

* The networks are apparently afraid of SF; Day One has apparently been downgraded to a miniseries and the V remake is rumored to be forbidden to use the world “alien.”

* Octavia Butler’s papers will go to the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, joining Christopher Isherwood’s, Charles Bukowski’s, and Jack London’s.

* Playgrounds of the 1970s. A version of the Officer Big Mac at right was active in Ledgewood, NJ, well into the 2000s. (Is it still there?)

* Judith Butler: Save California’s universities. My only quibble is that she appears to be writing in the wrong country’s newspaper.

* More Nate Silver: That the conservative intelligentsia reacted giddily to news of the Americans losing is telling. It’s telling of a movement that was long ago knocked off its intellectual moorings and has lost the capacity to think about what people outside the room think about. Flagged by Bitter Laughter. More thoughts along the same lines from Cogitamus and Contrary Brin.

* My happiest time was after Mao came into power. Our social status improved. People were allowed to express their views. Before, people had no right to speak out. After the founding of new China, the first parade, I was on the front row during the first parade. Foreign journalists from America and the Soviet Union took lots pictures of me. I was carrying a flower basket, walking down Huaihai road, it was very festive, and there was much excitement. I went out during the parade every year for many years, rain or shine. Why the Chinese support the Communist party.

Judith Butler on Obama

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Judith Butler urges caution in the face of Obama exuberance. Via Larval Subjects. An excerpt:

Very few of us are immune to the exhilaration of this time. My friends on the left write to me that they feel something akin to “redemption” or that “the country has been returned to us” or that “we finally have one of us in the White House.” Of course, like them, I discover myself feeling overwhelmed with disbelief and excitement throughout the day, since the thought of having the regime of George W. Bush over and gone is an enormous relief. And the thought of Obama, a thoughtful and progressive black candidate, shifts the historical ground, and we feel that cataclysm as it produces a new terrain. But let us try to think carefully about the shifted terrain, although we cannot fully know its contours at this time. The election of Barack Obama is historically significant in ways that are yet to be gauged, but it is not, and cannot be, a redemption, and if we subscribe to the heightened modes of identification that he proposes (“we are all united”) or that we propose (“he is one of us”), we risk believing that this political moment can overcome the antagonisms that are constitutive of political life, especially political life in these times. There have always been good reasons not to embrace “national unity” as an ideal, and to nurse suspicions toward absolute and seamless identification with any political leader. After all, fascism relied in part on that seamless identification with the leader, and Republicans engage this same effort to organize political affect when, for instance, Elizabeth Dole looks out on her audience and says, “I love each and every one of you.”

My good friend Ryan—always one to stop and think—has been sounding the alarm on this point as well.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 9, 2008 at 10:48 pm