Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Le Guin

Sunday Links

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* CFP: Far Eastern Worlds: Racial Representations of Asia in Science Fiction.

* Great research opportunity for people working in SF studies: 2014-15 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship.

* Teachers refuse to administer standardized tests.

* The despair of solitary confinement.

* The Afterlife of the Humanities.

* Transgender Children in Antebellum America.

* The Impossible Dream of Jodorowsky’s Dune.

* The Impossible Dream of a Second Season of The Comeback.

* Erotica Written By An Alien Pretending Not To Be Horrified By The Human Body.

* On the un-witness.

* Great moments in Big Data: Math proves Hollywood shouldn’t be sexist.

* ESPN profiles the cheerleader at the heart of the Raiders wage theft case.

* Scenes from the heroin crisis in Vermont.

* The end of journalism in New Jersey.

Anadarko Agrees To Record $5 Billion Fine For ’85 Years Of Poisoning The Earth.’ Anadarko’s revenues are 14 billion annually, with assets of 52 billion, so it seems clear the fine doesn’t go nearly far enough.

* Women in tech.

How Soviet Artists Imagined Communist Life in Space.

We’ve Found A Hidden Ocean On Enceladus That May Harbor Life.

* Radically unnecessary TV adaptation of perfect film goes to series.

If the first wave provided a machine for fighting misery, and the second wave a machine for fighting boredom, what we now need is a machine for fighting anxiety – and this is something we do not yet have.

* Never say die: Goonies Director Teases Sequel Featuring Original Cast.​

* Kazuo Ishiguro Readies First Novel in 10 Years.

* The world is now largely a population of scared confused people ruled by atavistic sociopaths with no sense of history, ethics, science, beauty, or truth. But then you already knew that.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine being vaguely disappointed by one Marvel Cinematic Universe film a year, forever.

* And Marquette will send a team to the only sporting event that really matters, the Robot World Cup.

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‘The Dispossessed,’ Against Grades

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A blogger at HASTAC reminds me of a favorite moment from The Dispossessed:

In The Dispossessed, Shevek, a physicist from Anarres, part of a binary planetary system, travels to Urras, his planets twina world defined by property, wealth, class, nation-states, and hierarchy: all things abolished and abhorred on his anarchist, revolutionary planet. He teaches at a state-run university during his stay on this foreign world that LeGuin obviously intends as a mirror to our Earth:

He was appalled by the examination system, when it was explained to him; he could not imagine a greater deterrent to the natural wish to learn than this pattern of cramming in information and disgorging it at demand. At first he refused to give any tests or grades, but this upset the University administrators so badly that, not wishing to be discourteous to his hosts, he gave in. He asked his students to write a paper on any problem in physics that interested them, and told them that he would give them all the highest mark, so that the bureaucrats would have something to write on their forms and lists. To his surprise a good many students came to him to complain. They wanted him to set the problems, to ask the right questions; they did not want to think about questions, but to write down the answers they had learned. And some of them objected strongly to his giving everyone the same mark. How could the diligent students be distinguished from the dull ones? What was the good in working hard? If no competitive distinctions were to be made, one might as well do nothing.

Well, of course, Shevek said, troubled. If you do not want to do the work, you should not do it.

They went away unappeased, but polite. They were pleasant boys, with frank and civil manners. Sheveks readings in Urrasti history led him to decide that they were, in fact, though the word was seldom used these days, aristocrats. In feudal times the aristocracy had sent their sons to university, conferring superiority on the institution. Nowadays it was the other way round: the university conferred superiority on the man. They told Shevek with pride that the competition for scholarships to Ieu Eun was stiffer every year, proving the essential democracy of the institution. He said, You put another lock on the door and call it democracy. He liked his polite, intelligent students, but he felt no great warmth towards any of them. They were planning careers as academic or industrial scientists, and what they learned from him was to them a means to that end, success in their careers. They either had, or denied the importance of, anything else he might have offered them…

Written by gerrycanavan

December 22, 2010 at 11:30 am