Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘late capitalism

Thursday Forever

leave a comment »

* Thursday at C21: Christopher Newfield, “The Humanities in the Post-Capitalist University.” Then, this weekend, elsewhere at UWM: After Capitalism.

* I have a short piece on “WALL-E and Utopia,” pulled from the Green Planets intro, up today for In Media Res’s Pixar week. I also owe SF Signal a post that should go up … eventually that’s also in conversation with the Green Planets stuff (though not cribbed quite so directly).

* The humanities and citation.

* White House petition: abolish the capitalist mode of production.

More acutely, when you consider the math that McKibben, the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) all lay out, you must confront the fact that the climate justice movement is demanding that an existing set of political and economic interests be forced to say goodbye to trillions of dollars of wealth. It is impossible to point to any precedent other than abolition. Great piece from Chris Hayes.

* College towns and income inequality.

* But, clearly, if we can afford such a massive increase in professional staff, as well as such an increase in executives whose salaries have been escalating very dramatically, the sharp decrease in the percentage of all instructional faculty who are tenured or on tenure tracks is a matter of a dramatic shift in priorities—in the conception of the university.

* Gasp! At Elite Colleges, Legacy Status May Count More Than Was Previously Thought.

* On the disinvestment/reinvestment cycle. Returns to university endowments 1980-2010. The Soul of Student Debt. Against anonymous student evaluation.

* Vice interviews Matt Taibbi on his new book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.

* Understanding Wonder Woman, at LARoB.

* When Spider-Man fought misleading sex education.

* Could Mystery Science Theater return?

* The public pension scam.

* How the Super-Rich Really Make Their Money.

* Companies used to borrow in the markets as a last resort finance investment in their business. Now it’s a front for shareholder giveaways.

* Capitalism and Nazism: Now It Can Be Told.

* The school, called Explore + Discover, will be available to children between the ages of 3 months and 2 years. Tuition is $2,791/month for kids who attend five days a week. You can also pay $1,990 for three days a week or $1,399 for two days but don’t you love your child?

In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

For men, having children is a career advantage. For women, it’s a career killer. University managers believe women themselves are primarily responsible for the gender imbalance in higher education, according to research published today.

There’s Even A Gender Gap In Children’s Allowances.

“Faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from White males, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions.” Reviewers will find more spelling errors in your writing if they think you’re black.

David Foster Wallace Estate Comes Out Against the Jason Segel Biopic. Meanwhile, this insane Lifehacker piece suggests we bracket the whole “suicide” bummer and take David Foster Wallace as our lifecoach.

* Atheist lawsuit claims ‘under God’ in NJ school’s daily pledge recital harms children. I guess I’m just another survivor.

* Wired goes inside Captain Marvel fandom.

* Woman writes about something traditionally regarded as a male-orientated industry or area of interest; if she’s conveying love, she’s doing it “for attention” (so what?) or “fake” (whatever that means); if she criticizes, she’s insulting, whining, moaning, on her period; if she says anything at all, her argument or point is made invisible because her damn biology is getting in the way.

What’s it like for the first living ex-pope in 600 years to watch from up close as the successor he enabled dismantles his legacy? 

* What That Game of Thrones Scene Says About Rape Culture. George R.R. Martin doesn’t want to talk about it.

* Aaron Sorkin Wants To Apologize To Everyone About The Newsroom.

* Does world government have a future?

* Mars or die.

Texas Prisons Are Hot Enough to Kill You.

* #MyNYPD.

* The great Colbert rebranding begins.

Netflix and Mitch Hurwitz Joining Forces Again.

Nichelle Nichols Talks with Janelle Monae.

* Game of the night: solar system simulator Super Planet Crash.

* Joss Whedon’s New Film Isn’t in Theaters, But You Can Watch It Online for $5.

Gabriel García Márquez on Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union, and creating “a government which would make the poor happy.”

* Forrest Gump, as directed by Wes Anderson.

“The only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

* Horrific, tragic story out of Rutgers.

Risk of New York City coastal flooding has surged by factor of 20, says study.

* The latest on the big animal personhood case in New York. Dolphins as alien intelligence.

That Time Cleveland Released 1.5 Million Balloons and Chaos Ensued.

* CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend ‘enhanced interrogation.’ Facial recognition and the end of freedom. The end of net neutrality and the end of the Internet. Late capitalist subjectivity and the sharing economy.

Bullied Kids at Risk for Mental Health Problems 40 Years Later.

* And/but/so the kids are all right.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 24, 2014 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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

Monday Morning Links

with 4 comments

* Local police deploying SWAT teams against friendly poker games and barbering without a license. Insanity.

Over the past year and a half, in the wake of Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff’s estimate that 2% of U.S. GDP was wasted in the pointless hypertrophy of the financial sector, evidence that our modern financial system is less a device for efficiently sharing risk and more a device for separating rich people from their money–a Las Vegas without the glitz–has mounted.

Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business.

* How the University Works, 1965: Football Game Continues as School Burns. More links below the picture.

Fire-620x451

Russian Billionaire Dmitry Itskov Plans on Becoming Immortal by 2045.

Ladybusiness Anthropologist Throws Up Hands, Concedes Men Are the Reason for Everything Interesting in Human Evolution.

I’m nursing a pet theory. Which is that there are actually four main political parties in Westminster: the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Ruling Party.

The Ruling Party doesn’t represent the general electorate, but a special electorate: the Alien Invaders and their symbiotes, the consultants and contractors and think-tank intellectuals who smooth the path to acquisition of government contracts or outsourcing arrangements — the government being the consumer of last resort in late phase consumer capitalism — arrangements which are supported and made profitable by government subsidies extracted from taxpayer revenue and long-term bonds. The Ruling Party is under no pressure to conform to the expectations of the general electorate because whoever the electors vote for, representatives of the Ruling Party will win; the only question is which representatives, which is why they are at such pains to triangulate on a common core of policies that don’t risk differentiating them in a manner which might render them repugnant to some of the electorate.

To make matters even worse for restaurant workers and diners, a spate of “preemption bills”—which bar localities from makings laws requiring paid sick leave—has been surging through state legislatures with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Restaurant Association, one of ALEC’s members. The first of these bills was passed in May 2011 in Wisconsin. Last week, Gov. Rick Scott signed Florida’s version into law, making it the eighth state to preemptively block paid sick leave for its workers (and the 13th to try) in just two years.

A depiction of the logical (and historical) tendency of the capitalist system to collapse.

* Everything old is new again: Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval.

Meet Rachel Law, a 25-year-old graduate student from Singapore, who has created a game that could literally wreak havoc on the online ad industry if released into the wild.

* A visual history of Bruce Springsteen.

NSA Rejecting Every FOIA Request Made by U.S. Citizens. The innocent have nothing to fear…

The Southwest’s Forests May Never Recover from Megafires.

* And another great Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. I could post one of these every day.

20130707

Some More Wednesday Links

leave a comment »

* Science proves men are stupid around women.

* 10 “Occupy” Candidates Running for Congress. Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin is singled out for praise as the likely new senator from our upcoming new home.

* Personally, of course, I belong to the Optimism! party.

* Salon on “the new oil reality.”

* Apple Is Now Larger Than The Entire American Retail Sector.

* One in Seven Americans Thinks the Affordable Care Act Has Already Been Overturned. I mean really.

* “This desperation starts once you realize how much you’ve lost, and then you feel like you can’t stop because you’ve got to win it back,” she told me. “Sometimes I’d start feeling jumpy, like I couldn’t think straight, and I’d know that if I pretended I might take another trip soon, it would calm me down. Then they would call and I’d say yes because it was so easy to give in. I really believed I might win it back. I’d won before. If you couldn’t win, then gambling wouldn’t be legal, right?

* Barack Obama is currently leading Mitt Romney in the polls by anything between 12 and -2. Can’t argue with facts.

* And from New York Magazine, dateline 1970: “Mugging as a Way of Life.”

Links from the Week

with 3 comments

* As you may have seen on Twitter, the National Council of the American Studies Association endorsed Occupy Wall Street this weekend. Political Dissent in a Time of (Economic) Crisis.

* 147 Companies Control 40 Percent Of Global Transnational Corporate Wealth.

* Lenin’s Tomb challenges Occupy Wall Street on the subjects of consensus and demands.

In order for that clique to create full consensus on a decision, minority dissenters were often subtly urged or psychologically coerced to decline to vote on a troubling issue, inasmuch as their dissent would essentially amount to a one-person veto. This practice, called “standing aside” in American consensus processes, all too often involved intimidation of the dissenters, to the point that they completely withdrew from the decision-making process, rather than make an honorable and continuing expression of their dissent by voting, even as a minority, in accordance with their views. Having withdrawn, they ceased to be political beings — so that a “decision” could be made. More than one “decision” in the Clamshell Alliance was made by pressuring dissenters into silence and, through a chain of such intimidations, “consensus” was ultimately achieved only after dissenting members nullified themselves as participants in the process.

On a more theoretical level, consensus silenced that most vital aspect of all dialogue, dissensus. The ongoing dissent, the passionate dialogue that still persists even after a minority accedes temporarily to a majority decision, was replaced in the Clamshell by dull monologues — and the uncontroverted and deadening tone of consensus. In majority decision-making, the defeated minority can resolve to overturn a decision on which they have been defeated — they are free to openly and persistently articulate reasoned and potentially persuasive disagreements. Consensus, for its part, honors no minorities, but mutes them in favor of the metaphysical “one” of the “consensus” group.

* Still more critique of Occupy Baltimore and Occupy LA.

* Peak Oil and the Great Recession.

* How the Austerity Class Rules Washington.

* Exotic animal nightmare in Zanesville, OH.

* Two from Rolling Stone: The Keystone Pipeline Revolt: Why Mass Arrests are Just the Beginning and Climate Change and the End of Australia.

* Another climate skeptic bites the dust after finally bothering to look at the evidence.

* “Nearly 400 acres of land set aside to house veterans and thousands of veterans who need a place to call home” has been leased out to business instead since the 1970s.

“In fact, according to Rosenbaum the Justice Department attorney said, ‘We don’t believe that the VA has any authority or any responsibility to provide housing.”

* David Foster Wallace, “Attempted Fax Cover Sheet.”

* “Junot Diaz To Create The Dominican Superman.”

* The “Do cell phones cause cancer?” pendulum has swung back around again. This week they don’t.

* The Guardian reviews Murakami’s 1Q84.

* Steve Jobs reviews Barack Obama: Steve Jobs Told Obama He’d Be a One Term President.

* Jon Bon Jovi opens pay-what-you-can ‘soul kitchen.’

* And Boing Boing celebrates the expired patent for LEGO.

The Paid Detail Unit (Paging Margaret Atwood)

leave a comment »

If you’re a Wall Street behemoth, there are endless opportunities to privatize profits and socialize losses beyond collecting trillions of dollars in bailouts from taxpayers.  One of the ingenious methods that has remained below the public’s radar was started by the Rudy Giuliani administration in New York City in 1998.  It’s called the Paid Detail Unit and it allows the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly charged with crimes, to order up a flank of New York’s finest with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on rye.

The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest.  The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.

A Whole Lot of Hamburgers

leave a comment »

Written by gerrycanavan

September 12, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Progressives Need to Politicize Money

with 3 comments

From a series of legal codes favoring creditors, a two-tier justice system that ignore abuses in foreclosures and property law, a system of surveillance dedicated to maximum observation on spending, behavior and ultimate collection of those with debt and beyond, there’s been a wide refocusing of the mechanisms of our society towards the crucial obsession of oligarchs: wealth and income defense. Control over money itself is the last component of oligarchical income defense, and it needs to be as contested as much as we contest all the other mechanisms.

Read Rortybomb. Via Krugman, who notes “the upshot is terrible: more and more, this really does look like the Lesser Depression, a prolonged era of disastrous economic performance. And it’s entirely gratuitous.”

‘Much of What Investment Bankers Do Is Socially Worthless’

leave a comment »

Think of all the profits produced by businesses operating in the U.S. as a cake. Twenty-five years ago, the slice taken by financial firms was about a seventh of the whole. Last year, it was more than a quarter. (In 2006, at the peak of the boom, it was about a third.) In other words, during a period in which American companies have created iPhones, Home Depot, and Lipitor, the best place to work has been in an industry that doesn’t design, build, or sell a single tangible thing.

The New Yorker asks “What Good Is Wall Street?” Via MeFi.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

My Week for Interviews: William Gibson

leave a comment »

It’s my week for interviews: I have another this week in Independent Weekly with William Gibson. The online version is significantly longer than the print version, if you already read that one.

This brings us back in a way to the 1980s nuclear apocalypse we were talking about earlier. Do you think contemporary ecological fears give young people a sense of what it was like to live inside that nuclear shadow?

It’s a different thing. It’s somewhat in the same ballpark, but it has a different character—in some way, I don’t know, it seems wrong somehow to compare them. [With Mutually Assured Destruction] the horror was: Just stop doing this shit, put those things down, and forget about it … Just stop it.

With anthropogenic climate change, it’s more like: Shit, we didn’t stop it, did we? And that’s kind of all there is. We should be trying to stop this now, but it may have already gone too far… I don’t have too much expectation of seeing how far it’s going to go. I’m inclined to think that our great-great-great-grandchildren will regard us with a degree of contempt perhaps unknown towards one’s ancestors in human history. And I think it’s quite likely that we will deserve it. And that’s new.

Sunday Links

leave a comment »

Sunday links.

* If you’re still reading about health care, don’t miss the New York Times‘s hundred-year history of health care reform in America and (via the indomitable Steve Benen) a few links on what the bill actually accomplishes. It’s also worth checking in with Steve Benen’s reading of John Boehner’s December 2008 declaration “The Future is Cao,” which looks a whole lot different now.

* I’ve been thinking about the Paul Begala editorial from the summer, “Progress Over Perfection,” and I think some nay-saying progressives could use the reminder.

No self-respecting liberal today would support Franklin Roosevelt’s original Social Security Act. It excluded agricultural workers — a huge part of the economy in 1935, and one in which Latinos have traditionally worked. It excluded domestic workers, which included countless African Americans and immigrants. It did not cover the self-employed, or state and local government employees, or railroad employees, or federal employees or employees of nonprofits. It didn’t even cover the clergy. FDR’s Social Security Act did not have benefits for dependents or survivors. It did not have a cost-of-living increase. If you became disabled and couldn’t work, you got nothing from Social Security.

If that version of Social Security were introduced today, progressives like me would call it cramped, parsimonious, mean-spirited and even racist. Perhaps it was all those things. But it was also a start. And for 74 years we have built on that start. We added more people to the winner’s circle: farmworkers and domestic workers and government workers. We extended benefits to the children of working men and women who died. We granted benefits to the disabled. We mandated annual cost-of-living adjustments. And today Social Security is the bedrock of our progressive vision of the common good.

* Meanwhile, Ryan’s Twitter feed has this on the attention economy as “post-capitalism.”

The views I challenge include the notion that attention flows through the Internet chiefly to corporations, that attention only has significance if somehow monetized, that it is ultimately capitalists who exploit attention, and that money remains far more basic than attention.

Don’t worry, fellow citizens; capitalism is alive and well.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 8, 2009 at 4:08 pm

‘What It Does Is Bad for America’

leave a comment »

Over the past generation — ever since the banking deregulation of the Reagan years — the U.S. economy has been “financialized.” The business of moving money around, of slicing, dicing and repackaging financial claims, has soared in importance compared with the actual production of useful stuff. The sector officially labeled “securities, commodity contracts and investments” has grown especially fast, from only 0.3 percent of G.D.P. in the late 1970s to 1.7 percent of G.D.P. in 2007.

Such growth would be fine if financialization really delivered on its promises — if financial firms made money by directing capital to its most productive uses, by developing innovative ways to spread and reduce risk. But can anyone, at this point, make those claims with a straight face? Financial firms, we now know, directed vast quantities of capital into the construction of unsellable houses and empty shopping malls. They increased risk rather than reducing it, and concentrated risk rather than spreading it. In effect, the industry was selling dangerous patent medicine to gullible consumers.

Read Paul Krugman.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 25, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Marxism 2009

leave a comment »

Verso has your video from the Marxism 2009 last week in Bloomsbury. Below: David Harvey.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 12, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

More on Bubble Economies

leave a comment »

That the Internet and housing hyperinflations transpired within a period of ten years, each creating trillions of dollars in fake wealth, is, I believe, only the beginning. There will and must be many more such booms, for without them the economy of the United States can no longer function. The bubble cycle has replaced the business cycle.

More on bubble economies, this time from Harper’s, via the same MeFi thread. Special attention is paid to the forthcoming alt-energy bubble Taibbi also describes at the end of his article:

There are a number of plausible candidates for the next bubble, but only a few meet all the criteria. Health care must expand to meet the needs of the aging baby boomers, but there is as yet no enabling government legislation to make way for a health-care bubble; the same holds true of the pharmaceutical industry, which could hyperinflate only if the Food and Drug Administration was gutted of its power. A second technology boom—under the rubric “Web 2.0”—is based on improvements to existing technology rather than any new discovery. The capital-intensive biotechnology industry will not inflate, as it requires too much specialized intelligence.

There is one industry that fits the bill: alternative energy, the development of more energy-efficient products, along with viable alternatives to oil, including wind, solar, and geothermal power, along with the use of nuclear energy to produce sustainable oil substitutes, such as liquefied hydrogen from water. Indeed, the next bubble is already being branded. Wired magazine, returning to its roots in boosterism, put ethanol on the cover of its October 2007 issue, advising its readers to forget oil; NBC had a “Green Week” in November 2007, with themed shows beating away at an ecological message and Al Gore making a guest appearance on the sitcom 30 Rock. Improbably, Gore threatens to become the poster boy for the new new new economy: he has joined the legendary venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which assisted at the births of Amazon.com and Google, to oversee the “climate change solutions group,” thus providing a massive dose of Nobel Prize–winning credibility that will be most useful when its first alternative-energy investments are taken public before a credulous mob. Other ventures—Lazard Capital Markets, Generation Investment Management, Nth Power, EnerTech Capital, and Battery Ventures—are funding an array of startups working on improvements to solar cells, to biofuels production, to batteries, to “energy management” software, and so on.

Total market value: Alternative energy and infrastructure. Estimated fictitious value of next bubble compared with previous bubbles

Written by gerrycanavan

July 2, 2009 at 4:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

Dollhouse, Rape Culture, and Women in Refrigerators

leave a comment »

Dollhouse, on the other hand, really was pretty decent. Definitely the best episode of the series so far. If I have complaints—which I do—it’s with:

1) The Echo reprogramming / mole bit, which drew a little too bright a line around the silliness of the show’s premise. How did the mole accomplish the insertion of such a detailed, uh, parameter, in the fifteen seconds Topher happened to be away from his desk? It reminded me of a classic bit from Family Guy:

Brian: Hola! Um…me, me llamo es Brian. Ahh, uh, um lets see, uh, nosotros queremos ir con ustedes.
Mexican: Hey that was pretty good. But actually when you said, “Me llamo es Brian,” you don’t need the “es.” Just, “Me llamo Brian.”
Brian: Oh, you speak English.
Mexican: No, just that first speech and this one explaining it.
Brian: You…you’re kidding right?
Mexican: Que?

2) The attempted rape and murder of Mellie is an illustrative example of how hard it can be to separate commentary on misogyny from misogyny itself. (See Joss’s interview at NPR for more on Joss’s self-awareness about this problem.) The violence in the scene is exceptionally brutal, and the way it is shot is a deliberate quotation of the Jenny Calendar scene from Buffy Season 2. The audience is primed first to think of the usualness of this sort of filmic violence, in other words, so that the subversion of the woman-in-refrigerator trope has more salience.

On the other hand, the scene can only be described as pornographic in its composition, from the way the characters are dressed and blocked to the camera’s fixation on Mellie’s body. It’s the same sort of problem that arises when Dollhouse (which is at its essence as show about misogyny and rape culture) uses Eliza Dushku in short skirts speaking in a breathy voice to promote itself. Joss has a lot of feminist cred and you certainly want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I’m sure we’re all cognizant of the realities of the television marketplace and corporate interference—but this remains a needle that Joss will have to be very careful in trying to thread.

On the more global level of mythology, Dollhouse 1.6 works very hard to expand the show past the tight hermeticism of the first few episodes. Through the Wolfram-and-Hartization of the Dollhouse and the urban legend trope this world has suddenly grown a lot larger and a lot more interesting. Now this is a show that’s as much about global capitalism as it is about sexual violence, and really about the intersection of the two—which seems very promising. I’m excited to see where Joss takes these ideas now that he has a freer hand.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 21, 2009 at 11:35 am

Case Study in What Late Capitalism Does to Language

leave a comment »

Case study in what late capitalism does to language: The Sci-Fi Channel is changing its name to SyFy.

NBC Universal’s Sci-Fi Channel is changing its name to the “SyFy channel,” a name that is apparently easier for children to text to one another and will therefore increase the company’s earnings dramatically.

“SyFy” sounds exactly like “Sci Fi” when you say it, but, as Richard noted in the Trade Roundup, NBC Universal will own it now. For years, NBC executives had longed to trademark the channel’s own name, but legal kept telling them you can’t trademark a genre of entertainment for lonely obsessives. So they spent years, and paid a branding company gobs of money, to come up with SyFy.

“SyFy” is actually a fairly appropriate neologism; it nicely captures the relationship between the Sci-Fi Channel’s generally crummy output and actual SF.

The end of the Gawker piece twists the knife just right:

Accompanying the name will be the channel’s new slogan, “Imagine Greater,” which means nothing and is grammatically incoherent.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 16, 2009 at 4:15 pm