Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange

Last Night Wednesday

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* David Simon unjukes a stat.

* We move more earth and stone than all the world’s rivers. We are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere all life breathes. We are on pace to eat to death half of the other life currently sharing the planet with us. There is nothing on Earth untouched by man — whether it be the soot from fossil fuels darkening polar snows or the very molecules incorporated into a tree trunk. Humanity has become a global force whose exploits will be written in rock for millennia. Welcome to the Anthropocene.

* Via @zunguzungu, who has been all over the UVA story: Wendy Brown on online education.

High quality liberal arts on-line education is not cheap: where it has been modestly successful in providing a decent education, as at the UK’s Open University, it does not break even–far from it. Why? Open University courses are built by teams of researchers, are annually refreshed, and are intensively staffed by high-level academics. OU is an expensive tax-supported operation, designed from the beginning for workers and other students unable to leave homes or jobs to obtain a college education.

* “Julian Assange” is a bit, right? It’s got to be a bit. He wouldn’t be the first person to live for decades in an embassy.

* Why is spam so terrible? A new paper argues it’s a way of weeding out people too smart to fall for spam.

* Poll: Former Supreme Court clerks think the mandate is done for.

* LEGO anatomy. Via Kottke.

* Infinite Jest! Live! On Stage! One Entire Day Only!

* And I must admit, I’m a little verklempt: Life in Hell has finished.

Monday Night Links

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* The Dude—not Jeff Bridges, the original—visits Occupy LA. Aaron Bady has been all over Occupy Oakland. Chemical bomb tossed into Occupy Maine. MTV will air “True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street” on Guy Fawkes Day. China is banning searches for “Occupy X.” And the tents come to Duke.

* Angus Johnston: “University of California Faculty Group Supports OWS, Silent on Student Protest at Home.”

* American exceptionalism: the death penalty in decline.

Capital punishment laws are on the books in 91 countries, but only 23 of them carried out any executions last year. The U.S. executed 46 people last year, and 37 so far this year — more than any other country, except for the dictatorships of China, North Korea, Iran, and Yemen. In most parts of the modern world, the practice appears to be in steep decline. Since 1976, a total of 123 countries have effectively abolished the death penalty as a barbaric legacy of the past. All signs point to an unmistakable downward trend, says Mario Marazziti, co-founder of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. “There is worldwide growth of a new moral standard of decency and of respect for human rights,” he said, “even the rights and lives of those who may have committed severe crimes.”

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Monday finalized a landmark settlement with Google in which the company has agreed to be audited for its privacy practices for the next 20 years.

* Vancouver to end homelessness by 2015.

* Wikileaks is broke. More here.

* 62% of Americans want to eliminate the Electoral College.

* And Flavorwire has your Surprising Hobbies of Famous Authors.

Franz Kafka apparently had an enormous collection of pornography, ranging from the run-of-the-mill (“girl-on-girl action”) to the more obtuse (“animals committing fellatio”). We imagine Franz as a meek, self-conscious man with a mind working a mile a minute, so we guess this makes sense, but we have to admit we’re surprised all the same.

I really feel as though I’m not surprised at all by this.

Monday Links

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* Nightfall: Tonight is the darkest night in 500 years.

* Is it me or has Obama kind of got his mojo back? Republican senators say privately they expect the Senate to ratify the New START treaty this week, which would hand President Obama his third major victory of the lame-duck session.

* But don’t get cocky: ‘Conservatives Threaten Government Shutdown Over Debt Limit Vote.’ ‘Republicans In The House As A Whole Want To Get Rid Of The EPA.’

* Power and morality: It is shown that high power increases the use of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking styles, whereas low power increases reliance on outcome-based (consequentialist) moral thinking. Stated differently, in determining whether an act is right or wrong, the powerful focus on whether rules and principles are violated, whereas the powerless focus on the consequences. For this reason, the powerful are also more inclined to stick to the rules, irrespective of whether this has positive or negative effects, whereas the powerless are more inclined to make exceptions.

* Jessica Valenti has your concise readers’ guide to the #mooreandme debacle. Ryan sends along the Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman argument from Democracy Now!, which is pretty astounding. The second part (via Student Activism) is even more astounding:

Friedman: If someone asks me twenty times, do I want to have sex with them, or do I want to have sex without a condom, or whatever sexual act we’re negotiating, and I say no twenty times, and the twenty-first time I say yes because I am worn down, and because I’m being pressured and coerced and I’m afraid, and because I woke up to him already raping me, and I’m freaked out, that is not real consent. That is not a chance to have actual consent. That’s not legitimate consent.

Wolf: Well, I guess you and I will have to part ways.

* Inside Paris’s secret Metro.

* The CDC has found that a majority of Americans had troubled childhoods. As a friend recently said on Twitter: Please stop fetishizing childhood. You are misremembering your life.

* More from the minimalism meme: minimalist superheroes.

* And The Day Comedy Won: How 30 Rock Beat Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I may be one of the few people in America who liked both shows.

Exposure & Enlightenment

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My cranky response to this morning’s Media Matters story is that it’s just more support for Alex’s point in the long Wikileaks thread that exposure is not in itself a sufficient political strategy. At this point is there a single person anywhere who doesn’t already know what Fox News is and how it does what it does? Fox executives obviously can’t be shamed; other mainstream media outlets have repeatedly demonstrated that they prefer to play along; there will always be enough right-leaning DINOs to give the network a thin patina of balance and legitimacy; and Fox’s many viewers—to the extent that they encounter such exposés at all—rationalize away whatever they hear about Fox’s biases because they like Fox just the way it is. In fact, if my conservative family members are any proof, exposing Fox’s lies only makes its viewers like them more…

Written by gerrycanavan

December 9, 2010 at 10:39 am

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Three More

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Wikileaks as Language Poetry

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At 3 Quarks Daily. The piece takes a rather more skeptical tack than the much-linked zunzuzungu piece that serves as its starting point:

That Wikileaks will have real-world effects is indisputable; they’ve already begun to show themselves. The real question, now, is whether those effects will look anything like what Assange hoped for them in 2006.

The financial analogy gives us reason to be skeptical. By rights the mortgage meltdown should have wiped out half of Wall Street. And yet two years after the worst of it, the banks that caused the crisis are enjoying record profits while the rest of the economy foots the bill: 10% unemployment, frozen federal pay, broke state governments, etc., etc., ad nauseam. The lesson of the crisis was unequivocal: power doesn’t have to play by rights. The State Department of the United States, we can be sure, is quite aware of this.

There’s a deeper sense, however, in which Assange’s 2006 third-order strategy for Wikileaks has to count as naive. His belief that secrecy is the fundamental source of power is a version of the classic category mistake of the internet age: to imagine that the “world” of information simply is the world, that there is no remainder, nothing left to of the latter to overflow or exceed or resist the former. (The Language poets made a similar mistake in suggesting that a stylistic innovation in poetry was predictably convertible into real-world effects.)

Written by gerrycanavan

December 6, 2010 at 12:20 pm