Posts Tagged ‘McSweeney's’
* Great episode of I Was There Too today starring Ahmed “Jar Jar Binks” Best, a genuinely fascinating figure in the Star Wars culture industry. I link this great EW profile of Best every few years. They talk about the Aftermath scene I didn’t like, and Best gives a nice explanation of why the treatment of Jar Jar as a character is so regrettable from a storytelling perspective in the context of defending the otherwise execrable Darth Jar Jar Theory.
* There’s an unexpected bonus episode of the Hello from the Magic Tavern spinoff Offices and Bosses out today, too. Truly, nothing can stop me now.
* Also at Marquette Wire: Marquette’s Live Poets Society breaks the silence with their poems on mental illness and suicide.
* Strange Horizons on “Kirk Drift.”
* United’s stock falls 1.1%, wipes out $255 million off the airline’s market cap. Maybe they should have offered people $2000 to give up their ticket? Just a crazy thought. Now they’re sorry. Does The Fine Print In United’s Contract Prevent Kicked-Off Passenger From Suing Airline? The Corporation Does Not Always Have To Win. And from the archives: The black art of overbooking. The Landing: Fascists without Fascism.
Sessions painted the matter in stark terms, saying that gangs and cartels “turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent citizens, and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders.”
“Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings,” Sessions said in prepared remarks. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”
When he delivered the speech, Sessions did not use the word “filth,” saying only “where we first take our stand.”
Sounds like the rivers will be running red with the blood of the unclean soon. #MAGA!
* The rule is you don’t talk about politics on the trail. The truth is you can’t talk about diversity in the outdoors without talking about politics, since politics is a big reason why the outdoors look the way they do. From the park system’s inception, Jim Crow laws and Native American removal campaigns limited access to recreation by race. From the mountains to the beaches, outdoor leisure was often accompanied by the words whites only. The repercussions for disobedience were grave. Hiking the Appalachian Trial while Black.
We want a SuperRace because we want to eradicate absolutely everything that terrifies us. We want SuperHumans so we can transcend that thing we are: human. But a SuperHuman would lack that crack in everything through which, as Leonard Cohen sang, the light gets in. There’s something in our suffering that we need. We’ve known this for millennia, and we make it clear in the stories we keep telling. The Buddha gave up his palace and meditated beneath a tree for a week. Jesus of Nazareth said yes to a cross. Our ache is our unfortunate, undeniable doorway. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, says the copper lady with the torch. When we walk into our pain, we sometimes find ourselves on the other side, freed of what we once thought we needed to feel free.
* The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Maplewood, Missouri, over a policy that allegedly evicts domestic violence victims and banishes them from the St. Louis suburb if they call police for help more than twice in six months.
* Laurie Penny says The Expanse is perfect…ly fine. I haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm a lot of other people seem to have for the series, though I liked the first season well enough; I haven’t even started the second season yet.
* The DC Cinematic Universe turns to the only hero who could possibly save it: The Rock. The Rock can make anything good, but there are limits. There are limits.
An English major explains his career options to three mechanical engineers for fifteen minutes. How many beers will the English major drink in explaining that, really, he has it figured out as he’s applying to eighteen grad schools, and after the PhD, maybe become a professor, or go for a post-doc, maybe? What if he’s trying to impress someone? What if that someone’s also a mechanical engineer?
I’ve been incredibly busy lately, and things are only going to get worse in the next few weeks. But for now, some links!
* I made a Twitterbot that I’m pretty pleased with: @LOLbalwarming. It’s the only authentic voice left to us in these tough times.
* Book plug: Shaviro’s No Speed Limit: Three Essays on Accelerationism is really good. It’s the #3 book you should buy right now after the longstanding #1 and #2.
* And while I’m hawking stuff on Amazon: they discontinued my Swiss Army canvas wallet, so I had to find a new one. It’s leather, alas, but this Fossil wallet is everything else I want. It’s great.
* Why, in this day and age, is there even a Save command in any application? Its very presence implies — indeed, guarantees — that the default state of the world is unsafe. This breaks the rule our ancestors learned over billions of years of interaction with the objective world: when you do something, it stays done, until undone. Saving considered harmful. After what happened to me the other week, I am 100% on board with this.
* Scott Walker budget cut sparks sharp debate on UW System. Deep cuts in Wisconsin. Anticipating budget cuts, nervous UW System tried to strike deal. Republican UW Professor Has Sharp Words For Walker Over Faculty Comment. Scott Walker’s State of Ignorance. A reckless proposal. A self-inflicted wound. Be skeptical. Chasing away UW’s stars. Cut athletics.
* From the archives, apropos of absolutely nothing: Stalin, CEO.
* “No Crisis” is a Los Angeles Review of Books special series considering the state of critical thinking and writing — literary interpretation, art history, and cultural studies — in the 21st century. A new installment to the series will be released at the beginning of each month through the fall of 2015. Our aim, as our introductory essay explains, is to “show that the art of criticism is flourishing, rich with intellectual power and sustaining beauty, in hard times.”
* As an opening gambit, I want to suggest that undergraduate students do not care about digital humanities. I want to suggest further that their disinterest is right and even salutary, because what I really mean is that undergrads do not care about DH qua DH.
* Exciting new degradations: Bill Would Allow Texas Teachers To Kill Students.
Kermit Elementary Principal Roxanne Greer told the Odessa American that she could not comment on the suspension, because “all student stuff is confidential,” but Steward said that she told him that any and all threats to a child’s safety — including magical ones — would be taken seriously by the school.
* Harper Lee to publish new novel, 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird. Her editor tries to put a good spin on what for all the world looks like elder abuse.
* Grace has Type 1 diabetes, for which there is no cure. Now 15 years old, she has endured approximately 34,000 blood tests, 5,550 shots and 1,660 medical tubing injections to keep her alive.
* Bring the Jubilee: Croatia Cancels Debts For Tens Of Thousands Of Its Poorest People.
* Boing Boing reviews David Graeber’s The Utopia of Rules.
In the TV pilot, Juliana finds a banned newsreel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which portrays a world in which the Allies won the war. The idea that this might be true fills her with an almost religious, tearful enthusiasm. In Dick’s version, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a book. Juliana discovers that that book is true—but her reaction is not exactly fervor. Instead, it’s a mixture of hope, bafflement, and a kind of displaced, distant fear. “Truth, she thought. As terrible as death.” That truth, or at least one possible truth suggested by Dick, is that there is no radical disjunction between his alternate history and our own. The TV show encourages us to congratulate ourselves on our horror at the Nazis, and our distance from them. But Dick’s novel suggests, disturbingly, that the defeat of the Nazis did not, in fact, truly transform the world. Their evil was not banished; it’s still here with us, a dystopia we can choose, and that many of us do choose, every day.
* But friends, I’m here to tell you: it gets worse.
* Although there were negligible differences among the racial groups in how frequently boys committed crimes, white boys were less likely to spend time in a facility than black and Hispanic boys who said they’d committed crimes just as frequently, as shown in the chart above. A black boy who told pollsters he had committed just five crimes in the past year was as likely to have been placed in a facility as a white boy who said he’d committed 40.
* BREAKING: Politicians listen to rich people, not you.
* Probably wouldn’t be my first choice if I had that kind of cash, but: The Vatican Will Offer Free Shaves And Haircuts To Rome’s 3,276 Homeless People.
* New York cooks up a special unit for kicking hippies.
* Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is back.
* The end of UW: Gov. Scott Walker to propose 13 percent cut, more freedom for UW System. UW System predicts layoffs, no campus closings under budget cuts. Layoffs, Building Closures, Slowdown on Admissions. But “few details.”
Giving students access to an important, brilliant, historically significant corpus of art seems to be an entirely appropriate activity for the undergraduate classroom at a university. After you have taken a Zombie Course, you may discover you have actually just taken a Great Books (or in the case of Ware, a Great Box) course without realizing it, and you may also decide that any Great Books course worthy of its name cannot afford to ignore the recent surge of brilliant zombie art. If anything, we need more Zombie Courses than we have, and one hopes — in time — even full-blown Zombie Majors (or at the least Zombie Double-Majors).
* “What I would say about the university today,” he says, “is that we’re living through an absolutely historic moment – namely the effective end of universities as centres of humane critique, an almost complete capitulation to the philistine and sometimes barbaric values of neo-capitalism.”
* Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait Takes On the Entire Internet. It’s a terrible op-ed that makes an important point badly in the midst of saying a bunch of incorrect things, all in the service of a fundamentally bad framing — so of course it’s all we can talk about.
It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.
Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step.
* One aspect of that danger is the “abstract authority” of astrologers, now mirrored by the black-box algorithms of the cloud. The opacity of the analytic method lends forecasts their appearance of authoritative objectivity. In “Astrological Forecasts”, Adorno notes “the mechanics of the astrological system are never divulged and the readers are presented only with the alleged results of astrological reasoning.” “Treated as impersonal and thing-like,” stars appear “entirely abstract, unapproachable, and anonymous” and thus more objective than mere fallible human reason. Similarly, as Kate Crawford pointed out in an essay about fitness trackers for the Atlantic, “analytics companies aren’t required to reveal which data sets they are using and how they are being analyzed.” The inaccessible logic of their proprietary algorithms is imposed on us, and their inscrutability masquerades as proof of their objectivity. As Crawford argues, “Prioritizing data—irregular, unreliable data—over human reporting, means putting power in the hands of an algorithm.” As Adorno puts it, “The cult of God has been replaced by the cult of facts.”
* Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade.
* I linked to a story about this the other day, but here’s the resolution: Vanderbilt Football Players Found Guilty of Raping Unconscious Student. Of course the next horrifying story in this wretched, endless series is already queued up.
* American Sniper focuses in tight on one man’s story of trauma, leaving out the complex questions of why Kyle was in Iraq being traumatized in the first place. The Iraqis in the film are villains, caricatures, and targets, and the only real opinion on them the film offers is Kyle’s. The Iraqis are all “savages” who threaten American lives and need to be killed. There’s some truth in this representation, insofar as this is how a lot of American soldiers thought. Yet the film obviates the questions of why any American soldiers were in Iraq, why they stayed there for eight years, why they had to kill thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians, and how we are to understand the long and ongoing bloodbath once called the “war on terror.” It does that precisely by turning a killer into a victim, a war hero into a trauma hero.
* Freakishly Old System Of Planets Hint At Ancient Alien Civilizations. Okay, I’m in for three films with an option on a television reboot.
* Vulture says Jason Segel is good as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, but I’ll never accept it.
* It’s finally happening, and of course it’s starting in Florida: ‘Zombie cat’ crawls out of grave.
* And while this may be of interest only to those whose children have made them watch untold hours of Dora the Explorer, it’s certainly of interest to me: Swiper the Fox has a totally bananas backstory.