Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘metacommentary

Weekend Links! Some Especially Really Good Ones This Time I Promise

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* ICYMI, some single-serving posts from the last few days: How to Grad School and KSR’s The Lucky Strike. You may have also noticed that I’ve put a link to The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction pre-order page. Please alert all interested parties and institutional book-orderers!

* Hyping a project I have nothing to do with: you should also check out the Science Fiction BFI Film Classics series at Palgrave Macmillan, with monographs on Alien, Brazil, Solaris, Dr. Strangelove, and more.

* The final frontier of Star Trek fan canons: what if the Abramsverse universe is the Prime timeline? Read all the way to the end for some nice metacommentary on the project.

* According to a financial plan obtained by Crain’s Chicago Business, UChicago faces operating deficits of $5 to $30 million a year through 2018, and “ratings agencies could downgrade the university’s credit by as many as two notches.” In comparison, the pay increases detailed above would constitute 8 to 50 percent of the projected deficits, and the eight administrators’ overall pay would constitute 20 percent to 120 percent of the deficits.

* Unpacking the Myths of Financial Aid.

Why would the university award aid in this way? Couldn’t it just adjust the ratio of merit aid to need-based aid? Unfortunately, the “high tuition/high aid” model only “works” when it’s organized like this. That’s because, for many university administrators, financial aid is not so much a form of charity as it is an instrument for maximizing tuition revenue.

* The liberal discourse on gentrification has absolutely nothing to say about finance or prison, the two most salient institutions in urban life. Instead, it does what liberal discourse so often does: it buries the structural forces at work and choreographs a dance about individual choice to perform on the grave. We get tiny dramas over church parking lots and bike lanes and whether 7-11 will be able to serve chicken wings. Gentrification becomes a culture war, a battle over consumer choices: gourmet cupcake shop or fried chicken joint? Can we all live side by side, eating gourmet pickles with our fried fish sandwiches? Will blacks and whites hang out in the same bars? wonders Racialicious. Liberalism and Gentrification.

In Philadelphia, education reformers got everything they wanted. Look where the city’s schools are now. How to Destroy a Public-School System.

Democracy is not, to begin with, a form of State. It is, in the first place, the reality of the power of the people that can never coincide with the form of a State. There will always be tension between democracy as the exercise of a shared power of thinking and acting, and the State, whose very principle is to appropriate this power.

* Once more unto humanitarian intervention.

* …disaster relief and the “disaster narrative” is central to the development of the American welfare state.

* This is a very provocative critique of framing consent as a legal category: You Can Take It Back: Consent as a Felt Sense.

If you accept the premise that someone’s experience of sexual violation “counts” as rape, regardless of whether they granted verbal permission beforehand, then in order to avoid being accused of rape you’ll have to shift your mindset from, “I’d better make sure I was told it was okay to do this first,” to “I’d better make damn sure this person isn’t going to wake up tomorrow and feel like I raped them.” The latter is a standard requiring much more communication, understanding, and compassion from the people involved than the former, especially in situations with near-strangers like one-night stands, hook-ups, or play partners you might meet at a club.

I don’t know anything about the author, and I think from an argumentative perspective the writing of the piece could definitely be stronger, but all the same it’s an idea I’ll be thinking about a while. There’s a thought experiment in a later post that is illuminative: trying to identify the precise last moment that one can “withdraw” consent.

* “Presenteeism afflicts all business sectors, but some more than others.” The Case for Staying Home from Work.

* An evaluation of course evaluations. This is an above average meta-evaluation for sure; you could really tell how much he cared about the material.

* The women I pretend to be: on working in a male-dominated industry. #4, the Victim, is especially disheartening:

I remember one particularly bad day at a games conference. The event was, as is typical, about 10 percent female. At the start of the day, one of those “I’m just really touchy-feely” men put his hands where I had not invited them when we were crushed together in a crowded corridor. Then, in a talk, one dude took it upon himself to give a very detailed and enthusiastic account of a “rape game” he’d invented—where you had to stare deeply into the eyes of the “other player” while describing to them how you’re going to rape them, until they tell you to stop. It was genuinely traumatizing to hear the glee in his voice as he talked about it. Shaken, I went to sit in a quiet, empty room to regain my composure. A well-built man at least a foot taller than me came in, sat between me and the door and said: “You know, I messaged you on OKCupid but you never messaged me back.” By this point I genuinely felt too afraid to tell him to just fuck off. So I played nice and smiled and apologized.

* New Media watch: the rise of the podcast network.

* The case against the Supreme Court.

* Those benefitting most from the secure property rights might be forgiven for conceptual ignorance – introspection being a scarce commodity amongst the wealthy – but the vociferous and cynical denial of the asymmetric benefits of securing property rights, both intra- or inter-generationally, whether due to some combination of attribution bias, feigned religious belief, or simple greed is less excusable. In a new gilded age, the idea that the rule of law is vastly underpriced by those who benefit most should be anything but contentious.

* Corey Robin on the emerging “right to be forgotten.”

Mentally Ill Inmate In Solitary Confinement Died Of Thirst, Autopsy Finds.

* With Red Mars finally actually happening, Y: The Last Man is my new I-can’t-believe-they-haven’t-made-a-series-of-this-yet text.

* That’s they’re actually making The ExpendaBelles is the actual literal end of culture. Mark it down.

* Provocation: It’s not crazy for Mitt Romney to run for president again.

* Peace in our time: Marvel and the Kirby estate have settled.

* SMBC on proof by induction.

* The only link from this list you really need: There’s A Life-Size Game of Mouse Trap in Milwaukee.

* And has any social media network gone from hype to big backlash as quickly as (Vermont’s own!) Ello? Any faster and the entire social network would be goodbye-cruel-world manifestos…

20140927

What I’m Teaching This Semester

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I have two classes this semester I’m very excited about. First, I’m repeating my post-Civil-War American literature sophomore survey with some slight tweaks based on what seemed to work best last time; the one major change is the addition of  Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland to the syllabus.

Second, I’m debuting my NEH “Enduring Questions” course Cultural Preservation, which in addition to being a bit out of my usual wheelhouse offers a more flexible and student-research-focused pedagogy than I’ve typically offered (as well as copious field trips and guest speakers!). It should be a blast. I’ve needed to wait to finalize much of the course schedule pending student availability for our trips, but the first four weeks of the course are up at the course blog.

After some reflection I’ve decided to scrap my original plan to lead with the thought experiment in chapter two of Red Mars (though we’ll be returning to some of its ecological questions later in the course) in favor of some metacommentary on the development of the course itself. So for Wednesday we’ll be reading my own grant proposal for the course, as well as Senator Jeff Sessions’s recent denunciation of this very grant. We’ll also read Natalia Cecire’s recent defense of the humanities as a counterpoint/antidote to Sessions…

Monday Links

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I have recently asked my colleagues at UCSD questions such as: How many adjunct/contingent/non-tenure track faculty are there in your department? Can you name them? Have you met any adjuncts for coffee or lunch on campus? Are they invited to the homes of ladder rank faculty? Do they have office space? Do they have any voting rights in your department? Should they? Do you know how they are evaluated? Should they be rewarded for publishing? Should ladder-rank faculty with poor teaching evaluations be assigned to courses ahead of adjunct colleague with excellent teaching evaluations? Should campus charters be changed to extend representation to adjuncts in the Senate?

The results of the informal survey have been so depressing that I would like to survey faculty at UCSD to draw attention to the cooperation that ladder-rank faculty give to the corporatizaton of their home institutions. We should be forging firm bonds with the fastest-growing category in our midst instead of setting ourselves apart from and above them. We are all aware that our fate is tied to the fate of adjuncts and that our separate futures would be far more pleasant if we stand firm with them now. But I think we know that we will not. Better to burnish our progressive self-image by baying at the moon (on this and other list servs) even as we help campus administrators slip the dagger between our collective ribs.

“Families bring their children in bright and early because they want them to learn,” she said, “not because they want them to be test dummies.” Related: How Michelle Rhee Misled Education Reform.

Rhee simply isn’t interested in reasoning forward from evidence to conclusions: conclusions are where she starts, which means that her book cannot be trusted as an analysis of what is wrong with public schools, when and why it went wrong, and what might improve the situation. The only topics worth discussing for Rhee are abolishing teacher tenure, establishing charter schools, and imposing pay-for-performance regimes based on student test scores. We are asked to understand these measures as the only possible means of addressing a crisis of decline that is existentially threatening the United States as a nation and denying civil rights to poor black people.

Two recent reports by a prominent researcher purport to challenge Academically Adrift’s underlying conclusions about students’ critical thinking gains in college, and especially the extent to which others have seized on those findings to suggest that too little learning takes place in college. The studies by the Council for Aid to Education show that students taking the Collegiate Learning Assessment made an average gain of 0.73 of a standard deviation in their critical thinking scores, significantly more than that found by the authors of Academically Adrift.

* The flying monkeys of Burlington, Vermont.

Getting everyone high is a great, if potentially lazy, plot device to exploit narrative inconsistency. There are no metaphors needed here: These characters—and by extension, this episode—is literally on speed. Did we, as viewers, complain that Weiner’s show felt like it was dragging on, or growing recursive? Did we whine that nothing really ever happened, or that Don was being glorified beyond his due? “The Crash” not only brought its awareness of such complaints to the fore, but it brought them at a speed usually reserved for those little explosions (slapstick, campy, or abject) that only interrupted the visually austere or pristine environment that defined “Mad Men.”

Rare, amazing original prospectus for Disneyland.

* LARoB on the lawyer bubble.

* TV show rankings, science style.

Some cosmetics companies that were cruelty-free for many years have changed their policies on animal testing so that they may market to China where animal testing is required.

* Ignoring the memory of the over 1,100 factory workers that passed away at the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh last month, at least 14 major North American retailers have declined to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, an agreement that would have entailed a five year commitment from all participating retailers to conduct independent safety inspections of factories and pay up to $500,000 per year towards safety improvements.

Proposal gives Scott Walker administration more power to sell state property.

Proceeds would be used to chip away at the state’s $8 billion debt, but the state entities that formerly owned the properties might not see any benefit from the sales. So, a dorm built with student fees could potentially be sold to pay down the debt for a highway expansion, or vice versa.

What’s Next For Kaitlyn Hunt, The Teen Charged With A Felony For Same-Sex Relationship With Classmate.

VA GOP’s Attorney General Nominee Wanted Women To Report Miscarriages To Police Or Face Jail Time.

* And winter is coming: HBO May Reveal Game of Thrones Ending Before the Books Can.