Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Mars trilogy

Friday Links!

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* Deadline this weekend! Suvin Today?, A Roundtable Discussion, The Society for Utopian Studies (November 9-12, 2017 in Memphis, TN).

People Are Sharing Photos of Real-Life Places That Belong in a Wes Anderson Film. Below: a conference room in North Korea.

* What the stock market’s rise under Trump should teach Democrats. Great piece from the great Rortybomb.

First, Democrats need to reevaluate their idea of themselves as disinterested stewards of the economy — as a party that accepts the current economic arrangements largely as a given. Second, they need to understand what their coalition looks like if they can’t peel off moderate Republicans, as they predicted they would throughout 2016. Third, they also need to decide if the economy requires structural changes, or merely some tinkering around the edges. And finally, they must decide whether social programs should target narrow populations or lean towards universalism.

* It’s a bit premature for Democrats to start planning what they’ll do with their domination once they have it, but I agree with Jack Balkin that they need to start fighting fire with fire.

* Study claims Clinton lost because of ravaged communities sick of war. I’m sure her hawkishness was a factor at some level, but the last few months have made it crystal clear that people pick their team first and then select some reason why.

* DFW vs. Twitter.

* A History of American Comics.

* Mars Trilogy –> Aurora: “Mars covered in toxic chemicals that can wipe out living organisms, tests reveal.”

* Stories of a Hollow Earth.

* The best SF going is being printed at SBnation.

Hackers are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say.

The Police State Can Come After Trump Protesters, But It Can’t Make Them Cooperate.

A judge said these kids get a green card. ICE says they get deported.

Internal memo reveals ICE officers have free rein to detain any undocumented immigrant.

* Republican lawmakers buy health insurance stocks as repeal effort moves forward. Tillerson Considered Central Figure In ExxonMobil Investigation. Accessory after the fact (at best). GOP source of fraud allegation vs. Bernie Sanders’ wife admits info was hearsay.

* How long till Michael Flynn is a #hero of #TheResistance?

* 2020 watch: Kamala Harris.

Self-appointed ‘King’ Macron is no antidote to Trump.

The House Has a ‘No Sleeveless’ Dress Code for Women.

* How CNN Made Its Own Reporting Sound Like Blackmail.

* The Alt-Right 2.0. The Dirtbag Left. On SWATting.

Hundreds dress like zombies at ‘Welcome to hell’ protest ahead of G20 summit in Hamburg.

Progressives have long viewed Penn with deep skepticism, noting that he has repeatedly used his close ties to Democratic officials as a vehicle for promoting his corporate clients. But there’s another wrinkle to Penn’s advice: He now invests in Republican advocacy firms — and profits from the electoral defeat of Democrats.

Hollywood Has a Bad-Movie Problem. Fan Fiction Is a Bad Television Show’s Best Friend. I Would Totally Read the Harry Potter Fan Fiction Written by a Neural Network.

An anthropologist who had the unenviable task of sitting through academics’ meetings and reading their email chains to find out why they fail to change their teaching styles has come to a surprising conclusion: lecturers are simply too afraid of looking stupid in front of their students to try something new.

* AIs: artificial intelligence vs academic integrity.

* Drug addiction as learning disorder.

* Oh baby: Homebrewers Find An NES Emulator Inside The Nintendo Switch.

Brand New Book By Maurice Sendak Has Been Found in the Late Author’s Archives.

* Encryption by destruction. Social media. Gimme all your money.

Spring Break Is Over and All Our Accomplishments Turn to Ash Links

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* The best news: Jaimee’s book has won the Anthony Hecht Prize at Waywiser Press.

* Median Salaries of Tenured and Tenure-Track Professors at 4-Year Colleges, 2014-15.

Russian Witch Baba Yaga’s Guide To Feminism.

* Get ready for Margaret Atwood’s next.

Kim Stanley Robinson Says Colonizing Mars Won’t Be As Easy As He Thought. But it’s not all bad news: Suddenly, It Seems, Water Is Everywhere in Solar System.

Time, Space, and Memory at Whitney Plantation.

* Twitter and tenure.

* They found Cervantes’s tomb.

* Black Mirror IRL.

2050_Map_Megaregions2008-thumb-474x316-3663* The megaregions of America.

The Concussion Crisis Reaches a New Level.

Choctaws helped starving Irish in 1847.

* Ian Bogost: Video Games Are Better Without Characters.

But in 2014, the financial year that appears to have been the final straw for Sweet Briar, total operating revenues were $34.8 million and total operating expenditures were $35.4 million, which means that the deficit the school is running is actually smaller than the cost of any of the bad deals it’s gotten itself into with banks.

The United Arab Emirates, where New York University opened a new campus last year, has barred an N.Y.U. professor from traveling to the monarchy after his criticism of the exploitation of migrant construction workers there.

* If one arbitrary, designed-by-committee college ranking system is good, two must be…

“Capitalism posits a future of endless innovation in products and production processes, but no possible change in the social relations that move them.”

What is Star Trek’s vision of politics?

The Uncensored, Epic, Never-Told Story Behind ‘Mad Men.’

* The Secret History of the Hardy Boys.

A household name to black audiences yet completely unknown to white audiences, Gary Owen, a blond, blue-eyed stand-up from Ohio, has a career wholly unlike that of any comedian before him.

Almost seven years ago, a troubled 11-year-old girl reported that she had been raped — twice — in her Northwest Washington neighborhood. Despite medical evidence of sexual assault, records show that no suspects were arrested and the cases were given only sporadic attention by the police . Instead, in the second case, the police had the girl, Danielle Hicks-Best, charged with filing a false report.

People who lose their jobs are less willing to trust others for up to a decade after being laid-off, according to new research from The University of Manchester.

 * Docs Perform First Successful Penis Transplant.

Bruce Springsteen’s Reading List: 28 Favorite Books That Shaped His Mind and Music.

The Disturbing Puzzle Game That Nobody Can Solve.

What would happen if an 800-kiloton nuclear warhead detonated above midtown Manhattan?

The two Wisconsin tween girls accused of stabbing a friend 19 times and leaving her in a park—because they believed doing so would protect their families from the mythical internet horror known as Slender Man—will be tried as adults for first-degree attempted homicide, a judge ruled Friday. 

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has been on a mission to weed out purported voter fraud in the state since he took office in 2011. After launching an investigation into what he called an “expanding loophole” allowing non-citizens to vote in Ohio and potentially decide elections, he announced Thursday that 145 non-citizens were registered to vote illegally in 2014, amounting to just .0002 percent of the 7.7 million registered voters in the state.

* Nihilism watch, Washington Post edition.

How to Build a $400 Billion F-35 that Doesn’t Fly.

* What happened to UNC?

This is the best version of Star Wars — and watching it is a crime.

Before Star Wars: Rogue One Takes Off, a History of the X-Wing Series.

* What could possibly go wrong? In South Africa, Ranchers Are Breeding Mutant Animals to Be Hunted. Have to say I’m really pulling for the mutant animals here.

And now comes another, increasingly prevalent way to show appreciation for those who’ve served in the military: exempting them from taxes. Would you like to know more?

Guess Who’s Editing the Wiki Pages of Police Brutality Victims.

California has about one year of water left.

* “Yahoo seems down for just about anything,” Harmon said. “I don’t know why they’d turn their nose up to a movie about a low-rated show. They seem to be very naive.” 

* That gum you like may actually not be coming back into style.

* How did they manage to screw up Powers?

Four years after Fukushima, just one man lives in the exclusion zone – to look after the animals.

* And in a time without heroes, there was Florida Man.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 17, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Links!

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* Some seriously great news for my particular demographic: Kim Stanley Robinson’s acclaimed Mars Trilogy is colonizing TV.

* Flooding risk from climate change, country by country. Meanwhile: World’s Cities All Becoming Teeming Hellscapes.

* A brief history of mana: How an Austronesian Concept Became a Video Game Mechanic.

* A History of The Lord of the Rings in Video Games.

* LARoB considers the criminally underrated Chronicles of Pyrdain and the night genre was born.

* Age discrimination and adjuncts. I still think this is a seriously underreported story considering how dramatically it would change the landscape of hiring in higher education if it were to prevail.

While surely a simple economic determinism would be distorting, it should still be clear that the epistemic and cultural divide between the “hard” sciences and the humanities cannot be easily disentangled from a noticeable financial divide.

* How For-Profit Universities Make a Killing By Exploiting College Dreams.

* Udacity has moved on to a new scam: nanodegrees.

* Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror.

* “Reluctant Warrior Bombs Yet Another Country.”

* FSU chooses a politician as its new president despite major opposition from faculty and students. From the archives: FSU to phase out academic operations.

* Head’s up, math geeks: big discovery about prime numbers.

* Chimpanzees Raised by Humans Have Social Difficulties With Other Chimps.

* Listen, it’s about yardage: FiveThirtyEight provides the cheat sheet necessary for me to interact with other Wisconsinites.

* ESPN suspends Bill Simmons for repeating ESPN’s own reporting about the NFL and drawing the only possible conclusion.

* 15.4% growth of Harvard’s endowment brings the total to a cool $36 billion, assuring Harvard’s continued existence for another year. And thank goodness.

* I think I’ve discovered a way to precrastinate my procrastination, which means I’m always so late I never bother to get off the couch.

* Science proves no one is allowed to have any fun: Researcher shows that black holes do not exist.

* Fraternities finally look in the mirror and confront the enemy within: drunk female guests. Should we ban frats?

* What it’s like to be struck by lightning. What it’s like to lose your memory at 22.

* Please don’t ever drive and text.

* And if you want a vision of the future, imagine Mitt Romney running for president, forever.

Thursday Links! Guaranteed* Not to Bum You Out!

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* Class Action: An Activist Teacher’s Handbook.

* I would have thought this was still a few years off: “Faculty object to plan to replace humanities requirement with self-help course.”

* The Marquette Tribune has an article on adjuncts at our university today.

Unraveling the response to this incident, and where it seemed to go wrong and why, offers a glimpse into the complexity of responding to cases of sexual assault in study abroad, the competing legal frameworks that study abroad programs exist within, and the tensions that can result when the best interests of the institution and the student are arguably not one and the same.

The flipped classroom as MOOC waste product.

* “You go to an Ivy League school. Then you either become an investment banker or a management consultant. After two-three years, you apply to law school or b-school. And if you fall off the path for even one year, you can’t get back on.”

Major League Baseball owners, despite earning more than $8 billion in revenue in 2013, voted in January to allow individual teams to slash or eliminate pension-plan offerings to their non-uniformed personnel.

* The Wolf of Sesame Street: Revealing the Secret Corruption Inside PBS’s News Division.

The NSA and Climate Change Spying: What We Know So Far.

All in all, the NEADA estimates that sequestration caused about 300,000 families to lose home energy assistance.

Simply saying we should improve the quality and reduce the duration of work doesn’t allow us to ask whether that work needs to exist at all.

BDS gaining steam within Israel itself.

Even a Stationery Logo Pits Palestinians Against Israel.

The Book of Revelation speaks of a great two-headed beast, paradoxically describing each head as providing worse cable service than the other.

* Oliver Sacks and the Mystery of Hallucinations.

Another woman speaks out over Bill Cosby sexual abuse allegations.

There Have Been At Least 44 School Shootings Since Newtown.

Barbie to Be a Featured “Model” in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Ugh.

The Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual.

* Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actually a show about interracial family? You may have seen me going back and forth with Scott a bit this morning about how to include the romance elements of the show here; if this is supposed to be about family, it seems like we have to deal with the fact that all the siblings are in love and Big Bro is sleeping with Mom.

* Anthology alert!  Wastelands 2: More Stories of the Apocalypse.

And here’s what a Martian space elevator might actually look like. Sold.

Failing My Saving Throw against Egomania – 2

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I have a few pieces out in a couple of new books:

* “Debt, Theft, Permaculture: Justice and Ecological Scale” is in Debt: Ethics, the Environment, and the Economy, which is based on a conference the Center for 21st Century Studies at UWM held a few years ago. This one is a little bit more political economy than the usual stuff I write, extending what Lisa and Ryan and I tried to do in the Polygraph introduction, though I did manage to sneak in some Kim Stanley Robinson near the end.

* “Life Without Hope? Huntington’s Disease and Genetic Futurity” is in Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure, out in hardcover today. The piece takes up a bunch of different pop-culture figurations of Huntington’s disease, but the focus is on Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos, Ian McEwan’s Saturday, Robert J. Sawyer’s Frameshift, and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy and “The Evening and the Morning and the Night.” No Kindle or paperback yet, but call your library!

I was also recently invited on the Old Mole Variety Hour out of Portland to talk a little bit about utopia, which you can find as a podcast here. As you can see at the link, I appeared as my famously inarticulate character “Jerry” Canavan, which explains why I begin every answer with “absolutely” and end every answer with “right?”

Links for the Weekend

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What Search Committees Wish You Knew. This is a reasonably good article with one piece of deeply terrible advice. Do not tell a search committee anything about your personal life or your relationships that will harm your chances until after you have received a written offer. Being open and honest about your two-body problem will not help you in the least. UPDATE: When I posted this on Twitter, @academicdave had a much harsher take, and found the piece pretty wanting. I don’t know. I think it’s useful for applicants to try to humanize their imagination of the search committee a bit (which can be hard). And then of course once you’ve done that you have to put brakes on that impulse, because they’re still not your friends, and they don’t really care about you much at all.

* Ads without Products has a great pedagogical post on teaching writing and critical perversity. I think I’m going to steal some of this language for my course next semester.

So how do I teach “practical criticism”? In the seminar groups that I lead, I model and encourage the following “flow chart” of thought: Anticipate what other intelligent readers of this piece might say about it. Try to imagine the “conventional wisdom” about it that would emerge as if automatically in the minds of the relatively well-informed and intelligent. And then, but only then, figure out a perverse turn that you can make within the context of but against this conventional wisdom. “Of course that seems right, but on the other hand it fails to account for…” “On first glace, it would be easy and to a degree justifiable to conclude that…. But what if we reconsider this conclusion in the light of….”

Students tend to demonstrate resistance, early on, to this practice. For one thing, especially in the first year, they don’t really (and couldn’t possibly) have a fully developed sense of what the “conventional wisdom” is that their supposed to be augmenting, contradicting, perverting. At this early stage, the process requires them to make an uncomfortable Pascalian wager with themselves – to pretend as though they are confident in their apprehensions until the confidence itself arrives. But even if there’s a certain awkwardness in play, it does seem to exercise the right parts of the students’ critical and analytical faculties so that they (to continue the metaphor) develop a sort of “muscle memory” of the “right” way to do criticism. From what I can tell, encouraging them to develop an instinct of this sort early measurably improves their writing as they move through their degree.

But still (and here, finally, I’m getting to the point of this post) there’s a big problem with all of this. I warn the students of this very early on – generally the first time I run one of their criticism seminars. There’s a big unanswered question lurking behind this entire process. Why must we be perverse? What is the value of aiming always for provocative difference, novelty, rather than any other goal?  Of course, there’s a pragmatic answer: Because it will cause your writing to be better received. Because you will earn better marks by doing it this way rather than the other. Because you will develop a skill – one that can be shifted to other fields of endeavour – that will be recognised as what the world generally calls “intelligence.” But – in particular because none of this should simply be about the pragmatics of getting up the various ladders and depth charts of life – this simply isn’t a sufficient response, or at least is one that begs as many questions as it answers. What are, after all the politics of “novelty”? What are we to make of the structural similarity between what it takes to impress one’s markers and what it takes to make in “on the market,” whether as a human or inhuman commodity? What if – in the end – the answers to question that need (ethically, politically) answering are simple rather than complex, the obvious rather than the surprising?

* A possible example of critical perversity from Deadspin: Everything You Need To Know About Pennsylvania’s Lawsuit Against The NCAA (And Why You Should Support It). Though frankly I’m pretty sympathetic to the claim that the NCAA has no jurisdiction over criminal conspiracies, much less that it followed a rational procedure to adjudicate competing claims in this case.

Bousquet asked the audience why police departments are far more diverse than English departments, by and large. Noting the silence in the audience following his question, Bousquet noted, “We have made it too difficult for those who are not advantaged” to enter the profession. Asked whether he believes faculty diversity is a priority for elite institutions, such as the one he now teaches at, Bousquet said such institutions are “constantly trying to work on the question of diversity.

“For me, the question is why do they fail so much, despite all of those efforts. And I think one of the reasons, amongst many, is the irrationalism of faculty compensation.” Bousquet adds, “Eighty percent of faculty are working like for $15,000 a year” taking into account adjuncts and graduate students.

* “Sustainable Teaching Fail”: The conditions of non-tenure-track faculty are setting us up to be failures as effective pedagogues.

* Lincoln explains the modern GOP.

“Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.”

* But don’t worry! There’s a hack for that! The self-evident Calvinball lunacy of this trillion-dollar-coin thing is all the proof I need that our system is broken and our elites are insane.

Politicians Should Learn Bigger Lessons From Their Pet Causes.

But too many politicians, and this especially includes self-described fiscal conservatives, simply can’t draw the obvious conclusion from all this: namely that you shouldn’t support help for the poor and the sick and elderly only if you personally happen to know someone who’s poor or sick or elderly. All of these people exist whether or not they happen to be family members.

* Blue Mars: What Mars would look like with oceans and life.

* A California appeals court has found that raping a sleeping woman isn’t illegal if she’s unmarried. I swear to God, I don’t even know where to begin with this bullshit anymore.

* Elsewhere in rape culture atrocities: Basically an entire town colludes to protect their football team from rape prosecution.

House GOP lets the Violence Against Women Act expire for first time since 1994. I mean really.

* Inside Chernobyl’s Abandoned Hospital.

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* More Evidence Shows That Pro Sports Teams Don’t Boost The Economy.

* There Are Two Law School Grads for Every Lawyer Job.

* The Original Star Wars Trilogy As Maps.

Commander Riker lorem ipsum.

* Everything that’s wrong with football, in ten seconds. WHAT A HIT! I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN WAIT TO SEE IF THE PLAYER HAS BEEN HURT OR KILLED! VIOLENCE! EXCITEMENT! YELLING!

* Google is not an illegal monopoly, so they can go on ruining all their products with dumb attempts to monetize your data. Hooray!

* And George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year. Sold!

Monday Links

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* Welcome to the future: Another grandmother gives birth to her own grandchild.

* Whiteness and Breaking Bad: America isn’t flooded with pure meth, and it’s not because our chemists are too ethical. The illegal drug market simply doesn’t reward peerless expertise in the same way celebrity cooking shows do.

The white guy who enters a world supposedly beneath him where he doesn’t belong yet nonetheless triumphs over the inhabitants is older than talkies. TV Tropes calls it “Mighty Whitey,” and examples range from Tom Cruise as Samurai and Daniel Day Lewis as Mohican, to the slightly less far-fetched Julia Stiles as ghetto-fabulous. But whether it’s a 3-D marine playing alien in Avatar or Bruce Wayne slumming in a Bhutanese prison, the story is still good for a few hundred million bucks. The story changes a bit from telling to telling, but the meaning is consistent: a white person is (and by extension, white people are) best at everything.

* Paging Kim Stanley Robinson: NASA seems to have violated its own Prime Directive by failing to consult its Planetary Protection Officer on the Curiosity mission.

Teachers are striking in Chicago. Meanwhile: How Michelle Rhee Is Taking Over the Democratic Party. Thank goodness Obama’s winning, so he can finally crush the teachers’ unions once and for all!

* Solitary confinement in schools? Jesus Christ.

* Richard Posner is making sense: The notion of using the criminal law as the primary means of dealing with a problem of addiction, of misuse, of ingesting dangerous drugs — I don’t think that’s sensible at all.

* Debt Collectors Cashing In on Student Loan Roundup.

“I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represent — for our industry,” the consultant, Jerry Ashton, wrote in a column for a trade publication, InsideARM.com. “It was lip-smacking.”

Meanwhile, America’s defaulted student loans total more than yearly tuition at public colleges.

* Star Trek 2 has a title: Star Trek Into Darkness. Early returns: Pretty terrible! Star Wars on Poverty. Lord of the Rings That Bell.

* James Cameron always envisioned Avatar as 19 films.

I have an idea for a fourth. I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world. Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.

But what happened before that? And before that? And…

* The director of Looper has a metaphor for a model of time travel logic I don’t think I’ve seen before: the universe as a body with an immune system that seeks to push out foreign objects.

The problem isn’t that this is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life; the problem is that it’s seven of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life glued together haphazardly, their inexorable badness amplified by their awkward juxtaposition. Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski wanted to make a movie unlike any other, and they certainly did: Cloud Atlas is a unique and totally unparalleled disaster.

*  Study: There is enough wind on this planet to meet our entire energy needs.

* Tressie McMillan Cottom reviews the captivating documentary The Queen of Versailles, which I caught at the local independent movie house this weekend. It’s quite good—a stunning portrait of the wealthy’s perspective of the “normal” workings of the economy and of the 2008-2009 economic collapse.

* And when polls fail: Do 15% of Ohio Republicans really think Romney killed bin Laden? Probably not.