Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Chabon

Tuesday!

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* C21’s book on Debt is finally almost out. My essay draws on the bits of the Polygraph introduction I wrote and is about ecological debt.

* Syllabus minute: I have W.H. Auden envy.

MOOC Completion Rates: The Data.

* How neoliberal universities build their football stadiums.

Some projections showed Athletics might not be able to make payments starting in the 2030s when the debt service balloons. The debt is structured so that for the next 20 years, Cal only needs to make interest payments on the debt. The principal kicks in in the early 2030s, resulting in payments between $24 million and $37 million per year.

Look, if it’s good enough for an idea man who settled out of court on securities fraud, it’s good enough for me.

* Kent State fires adjunct who built their journalism master’s.

* Ian Morris, psychohistorian.

* What If? on The Twitter Archive of Babel. The Twitter Archive of Babel contains the true story of your life, as well as all the stories of all the lives you didn’t lead….

Proud Species Commits Suicide Rather Than Be Driven To Extinction By Humans.

* A People’s History of “Twist and Shout.”

PPP: Russ Feingold Poised For Comeback, Could Top Scott Walker Next Year.

* Michael Chabon: Dreams are useless bodily effluvia. Nicholson Baker: Dreams are all we have.

* You and I are gonna live forever: 72 is the new 30.

* Settling nerd fights of the 1990s today:  Is This the Smoking Gun Proving Deep Space Nine Ripped Off Babylon 5?

* The Star Wars Heresies: Star Wars and William Blake. Tim Morton’s essay in Green Planets has a similar impulse with respect to Avatar.

* And in even more insane mashup news: WWE Keeps Pressure On Glenn Beck.

Weekend Links

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* CFP: My friend Alexis Lothian is planning a special issue of Ada on feminist science fiction.

* Sunday map-reading: an index of maps from fantasy novels.

* Study: The U.S. has had one mass shooting per month since 2009.

image001* reclaimUC vs. administrative bloat.

The UC administration constitutes a parasitic bureaucracy that grows and expands by consuming those elements of the university that remain outside of it. It can only survive by extracting tuition from students and wages from university workers. In return, it does not grow the university—it grows only itself.

* Relatedly: MOOCs and university management troubles.

* So basically every college is lying to U.S. News, I guess?

Proponents of the current craze ought to think carefully about the human costs of technology before enthusiastically proclaiming the end of a system that could leave hundreds of thousands of people without work, students cheated out of a quality education, and that would further contribute to the creation of a world where virtualization is always and everywhere, without qualification or questioning, heralded as an unequivocal good.

* Ban double majors! That’ll solve it.

Year-by-Year Comparison of College and University Endowments, 2007-12. Results of the 2012 Faculty Salary Survey.

* Obama administration vs. fair use? My god, why?

* In short, I am tempted to declare the transition from the Cold War to the War on Terror the greatest example of “first as tragedy, then as farce” in world history.

* When they almost domed Winooski, Vermont.

* Film and television news! Is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood the greatest television show ever made? Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective. The “gentleman’s F” and the scourge of deliberate mediocrity.

* Animal news! How owls swivel their heads. Depressed Groundhog Sees Shadow Of Rodent He Once Was. Burger King admits it has been selling beef burgers and Whoppers containing horsemeat.

* All about the North Dakota energy boom. Via Kottke, here it is visible from space.

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Hillary Clinton currently leads the three named Republicans (Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and by eight points, Texas Gov. Rick Perry) in a 2016 presidential test heat. In Texas.

* Oregon Is The Only State Left That Hasn’t Imposed Any Restrictions On Abortion.

* Michael Chabon on Wes Anderson’s Worlds.

The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.”

There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises “adolescence.” The feeling haunts people all their lives.

Of course, on the Cornell box angle, Jaimee was there first.

* Great animated short from Disney: Paperman.

* U.S. carbon emissions drop to lowest level since 1994. In part because at this pace the U.S. won’t get back to full employment until 2022.

* Some iPad and iPhone puzzle game recommendations. I’ve been obsessed with Flow and Hundreds lately myself.

* And tempered glass can just randomly explode for no reason. The more you know!

Monday Procastination Sensations

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Monday procrastination sensations.

* The Burnt-out Adjunct has some advice at Inside Higher Ed about the difference between adjuncts, add-junks, and instructors.

* 3 Quarks Daily has some thoughts from Timothy Fongon on building a viable American left:

Only about 25 percent of US citizens hold a passport. (See 2007 population data here and number of Americans with passports here.) A majority of Americans have never travelled overseas. Thus, any movement which makes appeals primarily on the basis of universalist/internationalist rhetoric is likely to have an audience significantly smaller than the majority of the US population.

The whole essay strongly echoes a proclamation from the C.L.R. James I was reading just last night: “To Bolshevize America it is necessary to Americanize Bolshevism.”

* A Feministe guestblogger describes the difficulties in filling out forms when one is transgender. The thread also introduces me to a term I’ve missed up to now, cisgender, denoting someone whose gender identity is aligned with their biological sex—which means I can now describe the forms Queen Emily discusses as cisnormative (which they are—no need for little boxes with prescribed answers when you could just have a blank line).

* Nate Silver gets a little more pragmatic with a close look at how a climate bill can get 60 votes in the Senate. He’s also got a post on Sarah Palin’s appeal that, for my money, misses what’s so terrifying about Palin: (1) the clear sense that the right is building itself a second George W. Bush out of identitarian resestment, sloganeering, faux folksy charm, and hero worship, and (2) that it already worked once.

* Steve Benen has your bogus Obama scandal roundup.

Walpin was all the rage in conservative circles, right up until the “controversy” appeared baseless, and White House detractors were forced to move on.

But notice how this has happened quite a bit in the very young Obama administration. Remember when conservatives were convinced that the White House was closing car dealerships based on owners’ political contributions? Or how about the not-so-scandalous Department of Homeland Security report about potentially violent extremists, which prompted some conservatives to call for Napolitano’s resignation? Or about the EPA economist whose bizarre memo on global cooling was “suppressed”?

All of these caused widespread apoplexy among rabid anti-Obama activists. And all of these quickly fell apart after minimal scrutiny.

* Transformers II and racism. More from Ezra Klein.

* And Michael Chabon has a nice essay in The New York Review of Books about the wilderness of childhood set against both adult nostalgia for the freedom of youth and contemporary overparenting and child endangerment hysteria. But the headline (“Manhood for Amateurs”) is wrong under the article’s own terms:

This is a mistaken notion, in my view. People read stories of adventure—and write them—because they have themselves been adventurers. Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes calamity. For the most part the young adventurer sets forth equipped only with the fragmentary map—marked here there be tygers and mean kid with air rifle—that he or she has been able to construct out of a patchwork of personal misfortune, bedtime reading, and the accumulated local lore of the neighborhood children.

Sloppy work from the editor there.

Branded a S.F. Writer

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Guernica interviews Ursula K. Le Guin. Via Enter the Octopus.

Guernica: Do you ever feel that the way your work has been cordoned at times as science fiction is a deflection by the mainstream of the very serious critiques these novels contain of our society?

Ursula K. Le Guin: Yes. I do.

Guernica: Or is it sexism?

Ursula K. Le Guin: Yes. It is.

Guernica: Was there a moment when you realized the shift in the way you were being treated, when you became taken more seriously by the literary establishment, and do you remember it precisely? To an outsider, it appears recent.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Actually, I haven’t felt a major shift. I am still mostly referred to (dismissed) as a “sci fi writer.” When Margaret Atwood writes a serious review of one of my books for the New York Times, it is printed under the title “The Queen of Quinkdom,” to make sure nobody takes it seriously. I am shortlisted for major awards, but the awards go to people like De Lillo and MacCarthy who also write science fiction, using the tropes and loci and metaphors of science fiction, but fastidiously keep their literary skirts from being defiled by the name of genre.

I admire Doris Lessing for calling her science-fiction books science fiction; I only wish I liked the books. Atwood herself has walked a very fine and sometimes wavering line trying to keep her science fiction books out of the genre ghetto without trashing the people who live in the ghetto. I can’t wait for people like Michael Chabon to finish chainsawing that damn thorn hedge and knocking down all the genre walls. Now, there’s a man with courage, Chabon. He just joined the Science Fiction Writers Association. He steps over the walls in both directions.

Most recently, my three books of the Annals of the Western Shore have been ignored by both the science fiction community and the literary critics, because they are published as “young adult.” The label YA actually means nothing except that the protagonists, or some of them, are young. Publishers like it because it is a secure marketing niche. But the cost of security is exclusion from literary consideration. The walls of disdain around any book perceived as being “for children” are much higher than they were when I began publishing the Earthsea books, forty years ago. Oh, Joshua, won’t you blow your horn?

Monday, Monday

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Monday, Monday.

* Speaking of my once and future TA Heather W., I’m told she’s devoting her Thursday radio show this week to apocalyptic music in honor of our dear, departed class at [Undisclosed Location]. I’m told the show will air at 9pm on Thursday evening, and you can listen in over the Internet at wxyc.org

* Of course we always knew Fox was getting its talking points straight from the White House, but it’s definitely nice to have actual confirmation.

* What liberal media? Part 5,000,000: The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

* Michael Chabon talks genre to the L.A. Times.

* And Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons talks about why Alan Moore hates Hollywood:

There’s been some implication that [Alan has said], ‘Hollywood is impure, you really shouldn’t go there, Dave.’ No, it’s nothing to do with that at all. The fact is that Alan has had some very bad experiences with Hollywood, and he doesn’t care to repeat them. Now Alan is not a man who does things in halves. You or I might go, ‘Oh, well, if they want to make a film, that’s alright.’ Alan said, ‘No, I don’t want my name on it, and I don’t want any income from it. I don’t want anything to do with it at all.’ So, consequently he asked me to ask the movie company to send him a piece of paper that he could sign that would make both of those things happen. Which I was happy to do. …That’s what he wanted. He was extremely happy, he said, ‘Now I’ve had the piece of paper signed, I don’t care, I’m indifferent.’ I do speak to him from time to time, and occasionally I’d start to talk about Watchmen, and he’d say, ‘Well, I’m pleased you’re enthusiastic Dave, but I can’t really share it.’”

* Can GM save itself from bankruptcy with the Chevy Volt?

Written by gerrycanavan

July 28, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Quotes to Squirrel Away Somewhere

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Quotes to squirrel away somewhere, Michael Chabon edition:

“All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.”

and

“All literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeneid onward, is fan fiction.”

Via the Valve.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Chabon on Entertainment

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Michael Chabon writes in praise of entertainment.

Therefore I would like to propose expanding our definition of entertainment to encompass everything pleasurable that arises from the encounter of an attentive mind with a page of literature. In so doing I will only be codifying what has, all my life, been my operating definition.

Here is a sample, chosen at random from my career as a reader, of encounters that would be covered under my new definition of entertainment: the engagement of my interior ear by the rhythm and pitch of a fine prose style; the dawning awareness that giant mutant rat people dwell in the walls of a ruined abbey in England; two hours spent bushwhacking through a densely-packed argument about the structures of power as embodied in nineteenth-century prison architecture; the consummation of a great love aboard a lost Amazon riverboat, or in Elizabethan slang; the intricate fractal patterning of motif and metaphor in Nabokov and Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”; stories of pirates, zeppelins, sinister children; a thousand-word-long sentence comparing homosexuals to the Jews in a page of Proust (vol. 3); a duel to the death with broadswords on the seacoast of ancient Zingara; the outrageousness of whale slaughter or human slaughter in Melville or McCarthy; the outrageousness of Dr. Charles Bovary’s clubfoot-correcting device; the outrageousness of outrage in a page of Philip Roth; words written in smoke across the sky of London on a day in June, 1923; a momentary gain in my own sense of shared despair, shared nullity, shared rapture, shared loneliness, shared broken-hearted glee; the recounting of a portentous birth, a disastrous wedding, or a midnight deathwatch on the Neva.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 1, 2008 at 3:06 am

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