Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘kafkaesque

Late Night Monday

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* In a post-employment economy, many are working simply to earn the prospect of making money.

John Scalzi: 

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.

When People Write for Free, Who Pays?

* Kafka wept:

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.'”

Via @zunguzungu.

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.

The Inevitable 2014 Headline: ‘Global CO2 Level Reaches 400 PPM For First Time In Human Existence.’ The melting of Canada’s glaciers is irreversible.

Arizona’s Law Banning Mexican-American Studies Curriculum Is Constitutional, Judge Rules.

*  “It’s not for everyone”: working as a slavery re-enactor at Colonial Williamsburg.

Where banks really make money on IPOs. Via MeFi, which has more.

* 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.

Teacher Accidentally Emails Students Secret School Document Revealing What Faculty Members Really Thought About Them.

* Marvel declares war on the local comic shop, offers unlimited access to their comics for $10.

* Charlotte Perkins Gilman was right: New Experiment Suggests Mammals Could Reproduce Entirely By Cloning.

* Does the loneliest whale really exist?

* The Senate is the worst, and the New York Times is ON IT. Meanwhile, really, the Senate is the absolute worst.

* Neil Gaiman remembers Douglas Adams.

11 More Weird & Wonderful Wikipedia Lists. Don’t miss the list of fictional ducks and the list of films considered the worst.

CLEAR Project Issues Report on Impact of NYPD Surveillance on American Muslims.

* And let freedom ring: Judge strikes down NYC ban on supersized sodas.

In the Late Decadent Period of the American Empire It Was Legal to Pick a Fight with Someone, Murder Them, and Then Claim Self Defense

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Written by gerrycanavan

November 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Welcome Back Kafka

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The order reads: “If your vehicle’s license plate ends in a letter (A,B,C…), you are only permitted to fuel the vehicle on odd-numbered days.” Numbers are allowed on even-numbered days.

The problem: All license plates in New Jersey end in letters, except for vanity plates. So on Saturday, most everyone in the state could buy gas. On Sunday, no one can. Or so it seems.

“It’s an executive order from the governor’s office,” said Drew Niekrasz, the Bayonne deputy police chief. “We have to follow it. Even though it makes no sense.”

Friday!

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* Writing Climate Change: A Round Table Discussion. With Julie Bertagna, Tobias Buckell, Maggie Gee, Glenda Larke, Kim Stanley Robinson, Vandana Singh, and Joan Slonczewski.

* This much is for sure: Keeping the cost of borrowed money a bit lower for one more year won’t cure the rising cost of higher education. It’s not even a bandage. It’s more like giving some comforting words to a critically injured patient. It might make a few people feel better, or win some votes, but it won’t do much to help our problems.

* Today’s insane Kafkaesque nightmare: Frank Rodriguez is a registered sex offender because he slept with his high school girlfriend (now wife) fifteen years ago, when he was 19 and she was 16.

Once he was labeled a sex offender, Frank faced a slew of restrictions. “I couldn’t talk to Nikki. I couldn’t go to restaurants, public swimming pools, football games — any places where there might be kids,” he says. “I couldn’t vote. I couldn’t leave the county without permission. My probation officer told me, ‘If you even look at a woman the wrong way, you could go to prison.'”

Frank did not have to go to jail. Instead, he was required to perform 350 hours of community service — picking up trash, mowing lawns — and to attend weekly counseling courses with convicted sex offenders and pedophiles. He also had to move out of his family home, since a 12-year-old girl lived there: his own sister.

Despite the unusual circumstances, Nikki and Frank’s connection grew stronger. “We didn’t have anything — but we didn’t need anything,” Frank says. “We were together.” Nikki finished school, then got a job in the county courthouse, where she works today; she and Frank married two years later. The couple’s first daughter was born about two years after that. Since Frank was still on probation, it was illegal for him to live in the same home as his baby girl. So he lived there against the law, becoming withdrawn and paranoid, constantly worrying about getting arrested. “My personality changed,” he says. “I used to be the life of the party. Now I didn’t want to leave the house.” A second daughter arrived a year later.

In 2003, Frank’s probation came to an end, and he could legally live with his daughters. Still, he needed to go to the police station every year on his birthday to register as a sex offender. Nikki lobbied officials in the courthouse — judges, district attorneys — to clear Frank’s name, to no avail. Frank simply fell outside the parameters of Texas law, which stipulated that the accused had to be within three years of age of his underage sexual partner to avoid registration. Frank is three years and two months older than Nikki. A further element of the law said that the accused could avoid registration if he was under 19 years old and his partner was over 13 years old when they had sex. Nikki was 15. But Frank lost again: He was 19.

Nikki and Frank connected with activists, and traveled to the state capital to participate in a public hearing. Still, Frank remained on the Texas registry, his crime listed as “sexual assault of a child.”

Via Longform.org.

* F*ck the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

* Sometimes Dumb Science Turns Out to be Pretty Smart.

* Rebekah Sheldon preps us for the upcoming C21 Nonhuman Turn conference with “Affect, Epistemology and the Nonhuman Turn.”

* And Amendment One opponents are trending towards a heartbreakingly narrow defeat.

Stonehenge! Where the Demons Dwell!

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* Rachel Maddow on fifty years of race-baiting from the right. See also Tim Wise:

The pattern is familiar. In every generation whites have hyped fears of black anger, black bigotry and the supposed desire of African Americans to exact revenge on whites. From fears about slave rebellions, to claims that integration would lead black children to knife white children in the hallways and rape white girls, to paranoia about Obama’s secret plan for “white slavery,” the cult of white victimhood has long had its charter members. Sadly, nowadays the cult has the attention of the media and a white public already anxious about changing demographics, the presence of a black president and economic insecurity. Unless the targets of their race-baiting (including the President) show the courage to push back and expose them for the venal fear-pimps they are, their methods will only get more extreme, their lies more bold, and their ability to inflict lasting damage on the nation more definitive.

* Shirley Sherrod says she might sue Andrew Breitbart, who is still lying about the entire mess. I don’t know if she has a case, but I hope she does and I hope she wins.

* Debunking the moon landing debunkers the Darryl Cunningham way.

* Lost Kafka writings have resurfaced, but the legal bureaucracy (legendarily immune to irony) is preventing their publication. There really ought to be some word for things like this.

* Sorry, local independent bookshops: Amazon has a new Amazon Student program that includes a free Amazon Prime membership for a full year.

* A “Woodhenge” has been discovered in Ohio. A wooden monument has also been uncovered near the real Stonehenge, which we visited just today. It’s clear that the aliens who ruled over prehistoric Earth loved wood. But why? Why?

* The headline reads, “Stone age dildo unearthed in Sweden.”

* Could the public option return?

* According to NASA, 2010 is on course to be the planet’s hottest year since records started in 1880. The current top 10, in descending order, are: 2005, 2007, 2009, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2004, 2001 and 2008. Climategate! Al Gore! It snowed one time in Washington, D.C.!

* And UNC has pledged to end all coal use by 2020. Sounds like a good start.

On Kafka

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In the New York Review of Books, Zadie Smith considers Kafka.

Recent years have seen some Kafka revisionism although what’s up for grabs is not the quality of the work,[2] but rather its precise nature. What kind of a writer is Kafka? Above all, it’s a revision of Kafka’s biographical aura. From a witty essay of this kind, by the young novelist and critic Adam Thirlwell:

It is now necessary to state some accepted truths about Franz Kafka, and the Kafkaesque…. Kafka’s work lies outside literature: it is not fully part of the history of European fiction. He has no predecessors—his work appears as if from nowhere—and he has no true successors…. These fictions express the alienation of modern man; they are a prophecy of a) the totalitarian police state, and b) the Nazi Holocaust. His work expresses a Jewish mysticism, a non-denominational mysticism, an anguish of man without God. His work is very serious. He never smiles in photographs…. It is crucial to know the facts of Kafka’s emotional life when reading his fiction. In some sense, all his stories are autobiographical. He is a genius, outside ordinary limits of literature, and a saint, outside ordinary limits of human behaviour. All of these truths, all of them, are wrong.

Thirlwell blames the banality of the Kafkaesque on Max Brod, Kafka’s friend, first biographer, and literary executor, in which latter capacity he defied Kafka’s will (Kafka wanted his work burned), a fact that continues to stain Brod, however faintly, with bad faith. For his part, Brod always maintained that Kafka knew there would be no bonfire: if his friend were serious, he would have chosen another executor. Far harder to defend is Brod’s subsequent decision to publish the correspondence,[4] the diaries, and the acutely personal Letter to My Father (though posthumous literary morality is a slippery thing: if what is found in a drawer is very bad, the shame of it outlives both reader and publisher; when it’s as good as Letter to My Father, the world winks at it).

Written by gerrycanavan

July 1, 2008 at 6:01 pm

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Fusing the Lovecraftian with the Kafkaesque

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Boing Boing links to Terminus, a short film from Canada’s Trevor Cawood about the oppressive, self-alienating quality of contemporary life that wonderfully fuses the Lovecraftian with the Kafkaesque.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 28, 2007 at 8:09 pm

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