Posts Tagged ‘Mars’
* The new issue of Extrapolation is out! This one was put together before I was an editor, but it’s still really great stuff.
* Dear English Major: A 7-Step Guide to Your Final Semester as an English Major.
* It’s syllabus prep week at universities all across America. Here’s a provocative one from Vanderbilt: PHIL 213: Police Violence and Mass Incarceration.
* Give me the child at 18 or so, and I will give you the man: Nine Percent of 114th U.S. Congress Are Alumni of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
* Why we can’t have nice things, 2015 edition: The Senate’s 46 Democrats got 20 million more votes than its 54 Republicans.
* I say teach the controversy: “Creationist: Aliens Will Go to Hell and Not Even Jesus Can Save Them.”
* Actual Supreme Court decisions: To remain silent, one must first speak.
* Dog bites man: 2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record Globally By Far.
* On the 60th anniversary of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” the Los Angeles Review of Books has assembled a group of female authors, artists and performers who, dedicated to examining the faces, bodies and voices of the young girl, consider the significance of Nabokov’s pubescent protagonist as both a literary conceit and an object of patriarchal fetish.
* As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set ‘em free.
* People diagnosed with serious mental illness — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression — die 20 years early, on average, because of a combination of lousy medical care, smoking, lack of exercise, complications of medication, suicide, and accidents. They are the most discriminated-against and neglected group in the U.S., which has become probably the worst place in the developed world to be mentally ill.
* “The little girl come to my door,” 71-year-old Larry Wilkins told NBC News. “She told me that her mom and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down. She asked if she could stay here.”
* “I’m no longer watching television in which middle-aged men figure out how to be men. I’d rather watch shows about teenaged girls figuring out what it means to be a monster.”
* A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below 25 grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those earning more than 150 grand a year give away only 2.7 percent. A UCLA neuroscientist named Keely Muscatell has published an interesting paper showing that wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy: If you show rich people and poor people pictures of kids with cancer, the poor people’s brains exhibit a great deal more activity than the rich people’s. (An inability to empathize with others has just got to be a disadvantage for any rich person seeking political office, at least outside of New York City.) “As you move up the class ladder,” says Keltner, “you are more likely to violate the rules of the road, to lie, to cheat, to take candy from kids, to shoplift, and to be tightfisted in giving to others. Straightforward economic analyses have trouble making sense of this pattern of results.”
* I can’t believe I’d never read this before: the original script to Back to the Future is wonderfully bananas, including the “nuke the fridge” scene from Crystal Skull thrown in as a sweetener.
* Peak neoliberalism: eventheliberal Kevin Drum says an AI revolution that will be “pretty brutal for the 90 percent of the population that occupies the middle classes and below” will be a “basically positive” development.
* PS: Drum might have been overestimating the timetable here. In 10 years, your job might not exist.
* The paper makes no claims about in-person classes or very large online courses, but says that the study’s findings provide “the first evidence that increasing class sizes in the online context may not degrade the quality of the class.” And the paper says that “these results could have important policy and financial implications.”
* Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed.’ Well, that’s debatable.
* Police say at least 30 people are sleeping permanently in Madrid airport’s terminal 4 but the number goes up in winter.
* In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a “Vision Zero” plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. “We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads,” says Hans Berg of the national transport agency. Swedes believe—and are now proving—that they can have mobility and safety at the same time.
* Science fiction poetry: “Sci-Fi Violence.”
* It’s good to get ahead of things: Should Martians Pay U.S. Taxes?
* And the winner of the Worst Thing Written in 2015 has been announced. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you again in 2016.
* For a small group of comedy writers, however, their yearly viewing couldn’t be further from Bedford Falls. Instead, they gather ’round a never-aired 1996 Comedy Central special: Escape From It’s A Wonderful Life.
* Jacobin remembers the Christmas truce, one hundred years old yesterday.
* Let 2015 be Year One of the post-carbon future. 4 Legal Battles This Year That Were All About Climate Change. Sewage in the streets of Miami. Could flooding finally wake Americans up to the climate crisis? Irreversible But Not Unstoppable: The Ghost Of Climate Change Yet To Come.
* Elsewhere on the local beat: A Milwaukee doctor says he has the answer to concussions.
* And, sadly: Milwaukee’s poet laureate passes away.
* Among recent graduates ages 22 to 27, the jobless rate for blacks last year was 12.4 percent versus 4.9 percent for whites, said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
* I missed this one in August: Tobias Wolff on the heart of whiteness.
* I can’t believe they made a movie out of Bill, The Galactic Hero. I can’t wait to see it.
* A look inside 8chan, the worst place on the Internet: “The Mods Are Always Asleep.”
* There’s magical thinking, and then there’s “Believing in Santa Claus could help your kids develop a cure for cancer.”
* This was a nice, short, readable explanation of how all the statistical analysis in The Bell Curve was bullshit.
* 10 Story Decisions Scifi And Fantasy Writers Ended Up Regretting. Tough list to get down to just ten!
* In the 1950s, Egypt and Britain played an old version of tit-for-tat. Egypt took the Suez Canal. The British decided to pay them back by stealing the river Nile itself. Yes, the whole Nile.
* Parents Are Moving To The Same Towns Where Their Kids Go To College. When my kids go to college, I’m enrolling in their freshman classes. I don’t want to miss a moment.
* The melancholy of all things done” is the way Buzz once described his complete mental breakdown after returning from the moon. Booze. A couple of divorces. A psych ward. Broke. At one point he was selling cars. Buzz Aldrin and the dark side of the Moon.
* A public service announcement: Black Mirror: White Christmas was fantastic. Find a way to watch it!
* And if you squint just right it looks like the world isn’t ending. Happy Holidays indeed!
* Anyway, I have no solution to this. It just really struck me at the symposium, because the whole thing felt good. It was rich and exciting and fun. And we were talking about ideas, in much the same way that scholars talk about ideas (four of us teach at universities for goodness’ sake!). So you tell me. Why do scholars have to be so miserable? What is it about our culture–let’s say US academic culture, to keep it simple–that creates this desire for the downtrodden, humiliated, suffering (humanities) scholar? Of course we like suffering artists as well… hmm. But artists suffer and are adored, while scholars suffer and are despised. Artists, when they suffer, are ritual sacrifices; scholars are the meanest sort of criminals.
* A new survey shows that Americans, on average, think that Santa Claus should make $140,000 / year. “Perhaps more interesting is that 29% think Santa should make nothing at all whereas 29% think he should make $1.8 billion.”
* You Can’t Make a Living: Digital Media, the End of TV’s Golden Age, and the Death Scene of the American Playwright. The author, Alena Smith, has been making waves in an entirely different context today.
* In a creditocracy, the goal is to keep debtors on the hook for as long as possible, wrapping debt around every possible asset and income stream to generate profit. Figuring out which debts we can legitimately refuse may turn out to be the only way of salvaging popular democracy. Education is the best place to start. Though it is supposed to serve as the incubator for a free-thinking, active citizenry, it is fast becoming its opposite—a chop shop where the life choices and optional political imagination of young people are downsized to fit the lifelong demands of financial contracts.
* This city where sidewalks burn and sewers fill with oily ooze is a city built here almost specifically for that very reason; Los Angeles, in many ways, is a settlement founded on petroleum byproducts, and the oil industry for which the city was once known never actually left. It just got better at hiding itself.
* Luke Cage was created in 1972. Four years earlier, in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed. Five years before that, in 1963, Medgar Evers was shot and killed. Eight years before that, in 1955, a young Black man named Emmett Till was tortured, then shot and killed. These events, and numerous others with frightening similarity, happened in a line, and in the early years of the first decade to reap the social benefits of the Civil Rights Movement, Marvel Comics gives the fans (and the world) a Black male superhero whose primary superhuman aspect… is that he’s bulletproof.
My defense was simple but impassioned: Tolkien explicitly stated in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings that he was merely translating the Red Book of Westmarch, not writing an original story. Since Tolkien claimed the Red Book is over 6,000 years old, it must be in the public domain and so open to everyone to reinterpret and repurpose as they see fit. The Red Book didn’t belong to the Tolkien Estate, it belonged to the world.