Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘methane

Friday Night Links

leave a comment »

* Thickness of the ice sheets at various locations 21,000 years ago compared with modern skylines.

* Ian Bogost has a great piece on MOOCs in an otherwise totally skippable LARoB feature on the subject.

MOOCs are a financial policy for higher education. They exemplify what Naomi Klein has called “disaster capitalism”: policy guilefully initiated in the wake of upheaval.  The need to teach more students with fewer resources is a complex situation. It’s partly caused by hubris, especially the blind search for higher institutional status through research programs, and it’s exacerbated by the tax base crises of the ongoing and seemingly permanent Great Recession. MOOCs offer the next logical step in this process of “cost containment.” But those who would call current funding models “unviable” and offer MOOCs as a convenient alternative fail to admit that the very need for an alternative presumes that we want to abandon public education in favor of a corporate-owned infrastructure in the first place.

MOOCs are an academic labor policy. As a consequence of the financial policy just described, MOOCs are amplifying the precarity long experienced by adjuncts and graduate student assistants, and helping to extend that precarity to the professoriate. MOOCs encourage an ad-hoc “freelancing” work regime among tenured faculty, many of whom will find the financial incentives for MOOC creation and deployment difficult to resist. This is particularly true of public institution faculty who have gone years without raises. Many institutions offer tens of thousands of dollars of direct compensation for MOOC development and teaching. And, in some cases, MOOCs offer direct access to student tuition and direct competition among faculty for those new resources, extending the “entrepreneurial” institutional politics of professional schools (and corporate life more generally) to all disciplines.

MOOCs are speculative financial instruments. The purpose of an educational institution is to educate, but the purpose of a startup is to convert itself into a financial instrument.The two major MOOC providers, Udacity and Coursera, are venture capital-funded startups, and therefore they are beholden to high leverage, rapid growth with an interest in a fast flip to a larger technology company or the financial market. The concepts of “disruption” and “innovation,” so commonly applied to MOOCs, come from the world of business. As for EdX, the MOOC consortium started by Harvard and MIT, it’s a non-profit operating under the logic of speculation rather than as a public service. If anything, it will help the for-profits succeed even more by evangelizing their vision as compatible with elite non-profit educational ideals.

It is telling that elite professors and universities who design MOOCs aren’t using them for their own students. Those of us who value education and its role in fostering both literacy and democracy should pass on them too.

* Patton Oswalt: A Closed Letter to Myself about Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes.

* Sarah Kendzior vs. the prestige economy. Good interview.

* Obama wants you to believe he’s really truly going to get serious about the climate next month. Really! Meanwhile, they’ve found another methane time bomb in the permafrost.

There are nearly six times as many showings of Man Of Steel alone as there are of all the films about women put together.

The Seinfeld theme slowed down by 1,200 percent is horrifying.

* High-ranking SS commander found living in Minnesota.

* John Oliver really is a much better host of the Daily Show than Stewart’s been since the Bush years.

The investigation was ongoing, but Undersheriff James Szczesniak said there was no evidence yet that Martino “had any ill intent.” There could be a dozen perfectly legitimate reasons why he’d have 30 to 40 pipe bombs in his apartment.

 Transgender People Can Now Change Their Social Security Record’s Gender Identity.

What’s more important: a college degree or being born rich? The answer will totally not surprise you!

* And the time has come at last to raid Detroit’s pensions in the name of bankers’ profits.

Lots of Monday Links But In My Defense They Are All Fascinating

leave a comment »

* Margaret Thatcher dies. Glenn Greenwald on speaking ill of the dead. We’re still living in Thatcher’s world. We Are All Thatcherites Now. “If I reported to you what Mrs. Thatcher really thought about President Reagan, it would damage Anglo-American relations.” Thatcher on the climate. Obama on Thatcher.

Will Democrats destroy the planet? And pretty gleefully, too, it looks like.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that not a single one of our major institutions, within government or without, is capable of confronting this problem. And if we can’t, that’s rather the ballgame, isn’t it?

The Methane Beneath Our Feet.

ExxonMobil, FAA, Arkansas cops establish flight restriction zone, threaten reporters who try to document Mayflower, AR spill.

* It’s Art Pope’s nightmare, North Carolinians just live in it.

Imagine for a moment if a loved one found themselves in legal jeopardy in some foreign country that had a 99% conviction rate.  You might ask what kind of illegitimate system are they up against.  You would likely conclude that any system where conviction is nearly-assured is stacked against the accused.  Yet this is exactly what the situation is in federal courts in the United States, the alleged bastion of liberty that does not hesitate to hold itself out as a beacon of freedom and poses as the benchmark of fairness that other nations are encouraged to follow.

* Pornokitsch considers one of my childhood favorites, Dragonlance Chronicles.

Searching for Bill Watterson.

How to make $1,000,000 at Rutgers. Rutgers Practices Were Not a Hostile Work Environment.

Average Faculty Salaries, 2012–13. The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2012-13. Colleges Begin to Reward Professors for Doing Work That Actually Matters to Them.

And with stretched budgets and public pressure to keep costs down, many colleges and universities are cutting back on tenure and tenure-track jobs. According to the report, such positions now make up only 24 percent of the academic work force, with the bulk of the teaching load shifted to adjuncts, part-timers, graduate students and full-time professors not on the tenure track.

* The dark side of open access.

Is Stanford still a university? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that more than a dozen students—both undergraduate and graduate—have left school to work on a new technology start-up called Clinkle. Faculty members have invested, the former dean of Stanford’s business school is on the board, and one computer-science professor who taught several of the employees now owns shares. The founder of Clinkle was an undergraduate advisee of the president of the university, John Hennessey, who has also been advising the company. Clinkle deals with mobile payments, and, if all goes well, there will be many payments to many people on campus. Maybe, as it did with Google, Stanford will get stock grants. There are conflicts of interest here; and questions of power dynamics. The leadership of a university has encouraged an endeavor in which students drop out in order to do something that will enrich the faculty.

‘Social Entrepreneurs’ Bring New Ideas, New Conflicts to Colleges.

Coursera Takes a Nuanced View of MOOC Dropout Rates.

Steinberg’s bill will undermine public education by entrenching private capital; Block’s overestimates the educational effectiveness of online for its target population and therefore helps foreclose more imaginative uses of the digital and the allocation of necessary resources to the CCC and the CSU.

How the Location of Colleges Hurts the Economy.

So imagine my surprise — and envy — upon learning that these networkers moonlight in a profitable little business using Shakespeare to teach leadership, strategy and management to businesses and organizations. For $28,000 a day!

The relentless drive for efficiency at U.S. companies has created a new harshness in the workplace. In their zeal to make sure that not a minute of time is wasted, companies are imposing rigorous performance quotas, forcing many people to put in extra hours, paid or not. Video cameras and software keep tabs on worker performance, tracking their computer keystrokes and the time spent on each customer service call.

The Problem with Nonprofits.

* A brief history of public goods.

New York Is Shelving Prison Law Libraries.

* An editor rejects The Left Hand of Darkness.

* Game of Thrones as subway map.

* Dear Television premieres at TNR with a review of the Mad Men premiere.

* Bill Cosby will speak at the 2013 Marquette commencement.

* And your single-serving-site of the day: How far away is Mars?

Thursday Night Links: Neoliberalism, The University in Ruins, Is the Pope Catholic?, and More

leave a comment »

* CFP: Ecology and the Environmental Humanities symposium at Rice University.

Rather than enlarge the moral imagination and critical capacities of students, too many universities are now wedded to producing would-be hedge fund managers, depoliticized students, and creating modes of education that promote a “technically trained docility.” Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities are now driven principally by vocational, military and economic considerations while increasingly removing academic knowledge production from democratic values and projects. The ideal of the university as a place to think, to engage in thoughtful consideration, promote dialogue and learn how to hold power accountable is viewed as a threat to neoliberal modes of governance. At the same time, higher education is viewed by the apostles of market fundamentalism as a space for producing profits, educating a docile labor force, and a powerful institution for indoctrinating students into accepting the obedience demanded by the corporate order. Neoliberalism and the Politics of Higher Education: An Interview With Henry A. Giroux.

* “We believe the current (higher education) leadership is pursuing a bad model that will decrease affordability for students and parents, eliminate good jobs, increase inequality and reintroduce a class-based system where the rich will receive a good, four-year liberal arts education, and everyone else will get trained for jobs that will last 10 years and then disappear.” The SEIU considers higher education.

The Commercialization of Academia: A Case Study.

This has been the one constant in my experience.  Each of the ten academic years I’ve been at my current institution has been subjected to some fundamental reorganization, to the point where my colleagues have a joke about it: it’s a Mao-esque permanent revolution. In this time, my department has been based in two faculties under four (soon to be five) deans, housed in three (soon to be four) “schools”, with four different heads of school, and my department has had five chairs. The university writ large has seen a massive building program, the consolidation of branch campuses on the main campus, the reduction in faculties from eight, to five, and then a year later four. Physically, my department has moved offices twice in two years, and for some three times. We’re facing yet another physical move in the summer of 2014, as our extant offices are redeveloped into on-campus housing for students. My own major has been reduced to a minor twice; once in 2005, for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious but corresponded with the sacking of two colleagues. Following the byzantine process of validation, which I’ve now achieved a certain proficiency at, it relaunched three years later, only to have it suddenly pulled on that Saturday morning, three years ago.

* Disinvestment watch: State Budgeters’ View of Higher Ed.

nasbo2

72 percent of professors who have taught Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) don’t believe that students should get official college credit, even if they did well in the class. More importantly, these are the professors who voluntarily took time to teach online courses, which means the actual number of professors who discount the quality of MOOCs is probably much (much) higher.

* Walmart “is in the early planning stages of a service that would see in-store customers rent space in their vehicles and their time to the mega-retailer to deliver products it sells online. The move would combat same-day delivery ideas from Amazon and reportedly what’s in the works with Google, which might have already signed on Target for such a service.”

* Idaho teacher investigated for saying ‘vagina’ during biology lesson. What should she have said?

* The group of 12 young people who had their feet washed and kissed by the pope included two young women – the first time a pope included females in the rite. The ceremony has traditionally been limited to men, since all of Jesus’ apostles were men. Via TPM, that “has traditionally been limited” thing appears to have some real force.

* With natural gas production on the rise—it has jumped 26 percent since 2007, chiefly because fracking now makes it economically viable to pursue gas trapped in shale deposits—and unconventional practices such as dewatering ramping up domestic oil development, the wastewater deluge is expected to get worse. Operators are injecting more water than ever into drilling wells, while boring new wells to accommodate the overflow. Yet nobody really knows how all this water will impact faults, or just how big an earthquake it could spawn. In the West, small quakes don’t often cause much damage because of stricter seismic regulations but also because the underground formations—buckled, with younger rock—absorb all but the biggest events. Induced quakes, however, are happening primarily in flatter states, amid more rigid rock, making them more destructive—a stone makes a bigger splash when it’s hurled into a glassy pond than a river of raging whitewater. Fracking’s Latest Scandal? Earthquake Swarms.

* Things you didn’t even know you needed to worry about: Are Exploding Manhole Covers In Washington DC Caused By Shocking Levels Of Leaking Natural Gas?

* Screen Daily teases The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé.

The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century.

* Charlie Stross predicts 2043.

* Contagion was right: How The Meat Industry Is Fueling The Rise Of Drug-Resistant Diseases.

* We’re screwed: Forecasts of global temperature rises over the past 15 years have proved remarkably accurate, new analysis of scientists’ modelling of climate change shows.

* And Billy Corgan is the only rock star from the 1990s brave enough to take a stand against the lizard people.

Monday Morning Links

leave a comment »

* Apocalypse now: University of Colorado research scientist Gabrielle Petron, who also works in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s global monitoring division, said the rate of increasing atmospheric methane concentrations has accelerated tenfold since 2007. She said it will take a few more years to determine whether the natural gas boom helps explain the change. Well thank goodness we’re putting a hold on natural gas extraction until we figure it out.

* On liberal hawks: Virtually all of the danger-to-the-nation warnings we’ve received in modern history prove to have been false, or overblown and hyped.

* But once something becomes a TED Talk, it becomes oddly unassailable. The video, the speech, the idea, the applause — there too often stops our critical faculties. We don’t interrupt. We don’t jeer. We don’t ask any follow-up questions. They lecture. We listen.

* Miracles and wonders: Doctors believe they have cured a baby of HIV for the first time.

Limited edition of Fahrenheit 451 bound in asbestos so it wouldn’t burn.

Looking back forty years after the Brooklyn acid attack.

* And Nate Silver finally weighs in: What Betting Markets Are Saying About the Next Pope.

No Planet B

leave a comment »

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

Accelerant

leave a comment »

Written by gerrycanavan

August 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Thursday Night Links

with 4 comments

* I hadn’t heard Barry Hannah died. I never met him, but he was very much at the center of the Southern U.S. MFA scene. How sad.

* Students are striking in California again today, as anyone who is Facebook friends with my friend PJ knows very well. Good luck folks.

* Should soccer ban the paradinha?

* Actually existing media bias: As if by magic, reconciliation is suddenly “controversial.”

* Apocalypse soon: Arctic seabed methane stores destabilizing, venting. Climate Progress agrees it’s time to panic.

* A link somewhere took me back to Ze Frank’s Young Me / Now Me today, and it’s still one of the most compelling sites on the Internet.

* Obama made his health care pitch to House progressives today, apparently pledging to return to the public option in the future. Raul Grijalva, who’d previously pledged to vote against the bill from the left, said he found the pitch “pretty compelling”—which is a very good sign.

* Currently watching: Tom Dowd and the Language of Music, about a research assistant on the Manhattan Project who went on to become the sound engineer and producer behind some of the best musicians of the 20th century. It’s great stuff.