Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘monopolies

Christmas Eve Eve Links Links

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* There’s a lovely review of my Butler book by Nisi Shawl in the new Women’s Review of Books. It’s not available online so you’ll have to take my word for it, unless your library subscribes…

* And I’m so happy to report that Extrapolation 58.2-3 is finally out, the special issue on “Guilty Pleasures: Late Capitalism and Mere Genre” I edited with Benjamin Robertson. Check out the intro to see what it’s all about, and then check out articles on Dragonlance, the Star Wars and Star Trek expanded universes, Sweet Valley High, Blondie, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones and fantasy roleplaying games…

CFP: Academic Track at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, San José, California. CFP: Punking Speculative Fiction. CFP: Histories of the Future: Proto-Science Fiction from the Victorian Era to the Radium Age. CFP: Chapter Proposals for “Ecofeminist Science Fiction.” CFP: Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

An Incomplete Timeline of What We Tried.

* I thought this was great.

* Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism. Ladies and gentlemen, the great Ted Chiang.

Science fiction when the future is now. With appearances from Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken Liu, and Lauren Beukes.

* The best anti-Last-Jedi piece I’ve seen is Alyssa Rosenberg’s at the Washington Post. And the best pro-Last-Jedi piece from Dan Hassler-Forest at LARB. Somewhere in the middle is Abigail Nussbuam’s excellent piece at Asking the Wrong Questions.

* Lightsabers, by the numbers. Secret history of the porgs. Star Wars from below. Thank goodness somebody realized how terrible this would be. The Last Jedi and the necessary disappointment of epilogues. The films that inspired The Last Jedi. Behind the scenes. In defense of Canto Blight. Anti-nostalgia and anti-salvation. Star Wars without the Empire. How to Read Star Wars.

* Winter Is Coming: Climate Change in Westeros.

* How the Sesame Street Puppeteers Play Their Characters. It was only a year or three ago that I realized that on a basic level I’d still believed Big Bird was real; I had never thought or processed the fact that his lips were being moved by a puppeteer’s hands.

* So old I can remember when Sweet Briar was an inspiring story about a college being saved.

* On faculty and mental illness.

Study finds humanities and social science Ph.D.s working outside academe are happier than their tenure-track peers.

* Podcast alert: how does Samuel R. Delany work?

* Bang. Pow. To the Moon.

* Comedy writers name their most influential episodes: 1, 2.

* SHOCK REPORT: The tax bill is bad.

This Congress’s clear priorities: corporations, not children.

* It’ll also tax large endowments. Meanwhile in the academy: We Will Not Be Your Disposable Labor: Graduate Student Workers’ Fight Goes Beyond the GOP Assault. ‘A Complete Culture of Sexualization’: 1,600 Stories of Harassment in Higher Ed.

* Defund every agency that had any part in this. Murder Convictions Overturned, Two Men Are Immediately Seized By ICE. What happens to children whose parents are deported? 92 Somali immigrants deported in “slave-ship” conditions. ICE is abusing immigrant detainees with strip searches and threats. Shock of shocks, it turns out legal immigration is bad too.

The majority of US workers live in “employment monopsonies” where there is little or no competition for workers.

Why Doug Jones’s narrow win is not enough to make me confident about American democracy.

* Ghosts of 2012.

* First #J20 defendants found not guilty.

* The media wealth of African Americans in Boston is $8.

* People are using Uber instead of ambulances.

* The New York Times oddly reports on a Harry Reid boondoggle in a way that makes it sounds like aliens might be real.

* The Fred Moten century.

The Adult Bodies Playing Teens on TV.

* Monopolies are bad, no matter how much you like the brands involved. Avengers vs. monopoly.

“Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideas.

* The madness of prison gerrymanders.

* Desegregation never happened.

* Climate refugees in Louisiana. Disability and disaster response in the age of climate change. Losing the wilderness.

* The FoxConn boondoggle gets worse and worse.

* The Next Crisis for Puerto Rico: Foreclosures.

* Revising agricultural revisionism.

* Against optimism.

* Against being born.

* On the sadcom.

Your Favorite Superhero Is Probably Killing the Planet.

* Professor X Is a Jerk!

* The Daily Stormer’s style guide.

* Opoids and homelessness. 3,000,000 pills to 3,000 patients in two years. The Opioid Crisis Is Getting Worse, Particularly for Black Americans. What happens after an American city gives a homeless person a one-way ticket out of town.

* The US gymnastics scandal somehow gets worse and worse.

‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread.’

* The Forgotten Life of Einstein’s First Wife.

* The Ghost Economy.

* WHAT YEAR IS IT: How to prepare for a nuclear attack.

Lumberjanes’ Noelle Stevenson is Rebooting She-Ra for Netflix. Sir Ian McKellen Would Totally Play Gandalf In Amazon’s TV Tolkien Adaptations. The Next Bechdel Test.

* “Paradox,” by Naomi Kritzer.

* The Journal of Prince Studies.

* 80% of workers think managers are unnecessary. The other 20% mistakingly think they are managers.

* It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the one our Founders built: The Donald Trump droid is live at Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’ How a President’s Name Became a Racial Jeer. 55 Ways Donald Trump Structurally Changed America in 2017. Fascism has already come to America. Life expectancy declines for the second straight year. On brand.

* Heartbreaking interview with Heather Heyer’s mother.

* Jordan Peele, auteur.

* Dilbert: A Reckoning.

Still, it does make you ponder all the ways this industry works in service of power, and by extension those who abuse it. So many of comedy’s institutions are, at their core, PR machines. Branded content is Funny Or Die’s bread and butter. Every week SNL promotes someone’s new movie or TV show or album. Late night talk shows, with few exceptions, use jokes to bookend celebrity press tours. Comedians host awards shows because otherwise we might see them for the rituals they are—the wealthy and famous celebrating their own wealth and fame. Comedy normalizes power; it’s so successful at normalizing power that it feels weird to even write that as a criticism. Well, what’s wrong with normalizing power? Lots of things, but to start it lets monsters play the straight man in comedy sketches. It makes them relatable, which makes them less threatening. But power is always a threat, even more so when it seems innocuous, even more so when it seems… funny.

* 2018 is already terrible: there’ll be no more Zelda DLC.

* And remembering the reason for the season: Behold the official policy for destroying the head of Chuck E Cheese.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 23, 2017 at 10:06 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Night Links!

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New Photo Seems To Prove Amelia Earhart Survived Plane Crash, Was Captured By Japanese.

If hunger had an effect on our mental resources of this magnitude, our society would fall into minor chaos every day at 11:45 a.m. Or at the very least, our society would have organized itself around this incredibly strong effect of mental depletion. Impossibly Hungry Judges.

* Free download: Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America.

* On My High School Obsession with UFOs.

* It’s in the National Review — and it describes a phenomenon at work in many departments along many political axes — but this piece describes a problem academics should take more seriously than they do. This is probably the most crimethink intellectual position I hold.

* Trump White House openly discusses extorting Time Warner and AOL to manipulate CNN coverage, no one bats an eye.

* Head of Office of Government Ethics resigns, sending President Trump a serious message. The message is “you can do whatever you want and nobody will stop you.”

4 dumb ideas that centrist Democrats simply adore.

Mark Penn has been giving shitty advice for literally forever. But don’t worry, we’ve got this.

Meet the populist Wisconsin Democrat looking to dethrone Paul Ryan.

* But in truth the Declaration wasn’t quite the singular achievement we remember it to be. As it turns out, nearly 100 other “declarations of independence” had already been issued in the months leading up to July 4th, 1776, by states, towns, counties, and assorted other bodies. The Declaration of Independence endorsed at the Continental Congress that July wasn’t a bolt out of the blue: It was more like a final draft in a loose, many-centered, wide-ranging process, authored not by one man but by a chorus of voices in a fledgling nation whose people had caught independence fever and were suddenly proclaiming it with contagious enthusiasm.

* Hobby Lobby Agrees to Forfeit 5,500 Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq.

* No SWAT Zone: Resisting police militarization under Trump.

* Mom Feared Beating by United Employees — So She Gave Up Toddler Son’s $1000 Seat to Standby Passenger. It’s clear the time has come for United to be abolished.

* Rick Perry left his smart-guy glasses at home today. Check out 2nd Term SS 1970.

* Arizona Court Overturns In-State Tuition for Some Immigrants.

Facebook and Google gobble ’99 per cent of new digital ad cash.’ Media buyers warn Facebook viewability ‘diabolical and horrible.’ Taxonomy of Humans According to Twitter.

* Easily the most boundary-pushing, offensive path they should have chosen: South Park to Lay Off Trump Jokes, Focus on Childhood Antics.

* The poverty of expanded universes: Man, Rey and BB-8 Went Through a Lot During Their One Night on Jakku.

This is how climate change will shift the world’s cities.

* It really is their century.

* An editing error, you say.

* When your book only sells sixty copies. Don’t tell me what to do. Or, the utopian impulse. And they hated Jesus because he told them the truth.

Monday Morning Links!

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* A personal announcement: I’ll be the Vice President of the Science Fiction Research Association for the next three years. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

* CFP: “Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince.”

* Huge, if true: Reading Literature Won’t Give You Superpowers. And meanwhile: What’s Wrong With Literary Studies? Some scholars think the field has become cynical and paranoid. Only some?

Use Data to Make a Strong Case for the Humanities.

* They did it: Army Corps of Engineers Statement Regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. More from Vox.

* Is there any branch of literature so insecure, so uncertain of its own status, as science fiction?

Inside the world of Chinese science fiction, with “Three Body Problem” translator Ken Liu.

gerrycanavan_2016-dec-04* Marquette in the ne– oh come on.

* Dan Harmon’s story circle at YouTube.

* Trouble in the Heartland: Listening to Springsteen in Wisconsin in 1979.

* Well, that seems fine: GOP rep: Trump has ‘extra-constitutional’ view of presidency. Donald Trump risks China rift with Taiwan call. BREAKING: US President-elect Trump told Rodrigo Duterte that Philippines was conducting its drug war “the right way.” That’s bad. Trump’s education pick says reform can ‘advance God’s Kingdom.’ What the Nazis were doing was not describing what was true, but what would have to be true to justify what they planned to do next. A People’s History of the Third Reich: How Great Man theory allows us to abdicate collective responsibility. Facts are stupid things: Here’s Where Donald Trump Gets His News. Trump and the coming failed state. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Now Is The Time To Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About. Another visit from the goon squad. Trump and the Bush Legacy.

New SPLC reports reveal alarming pattern of hate incidents and bullying across country since election. Note the category just labeled “Trump —  general.”

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* Identity politics and the alt-right.

Premised on the possibilities of political struggle, here was the Douglass Option: “a party in the Southern States among the poor.”

* Seems like this guy is Trump’s very worst pick, clearing a very tough field:

During a tense gathering of senior officials at an off-site retreat, he gave the assembled group a taste of his leadership philosophy, according to one person who attended the meeting and insisted on anonymity to discuss classified matters. Mr. Flynn said that the first thing everyone needed to know was that he was always right. His staff would know they were right, he said, when their views melded to his. The room fell silent, as employees processed the lecture from their new boss.

Flynn also helped promulgate the “Pizzagate” hoax that nearly led to a mass shooting today.

Google, democracy and the truth about internet search.

* Steve Bannon, on the other hand, is winning me over.

It’s true that racism is a powerful and durable force in our politics. But it is also true that Donald Trump is an incompetent clown who ran an amateurish campaign rife with mistakes. The Democrats should have won this election in a landslide. They did not, and there is no nobility or reassurance for them in a narrow loss in the electoral college or a win in the popular vote. And continuing to insist that a Donald Trump win was either some kind of strange fluke or completely inevitable is a recipe for repeated defeat.

* When the Democrats didn’t like monopolies. On not going high when they go low.

* Can the good parts of Obamacare survive Trump?

* Stealing North Carolina.

* Italy votes no.

Friedman just got finished telling us that a black elephant is half black swan, and half elephant in the room that will inevitably become a black swan. But now that half-swan, half swan-within-an-elephant is being contrasted with a black swan: in the near future, things that are really black elephants will be misidentified as black swans.

* Understanding survivorship bias.

* Podcast idea of the week: Like Random Trek, but for Rod Serling.

Which Famous Actor Hustled Chess Games in New York City?

* Life after Seinfeld.

* Fidel without Illusions.

* What does elephant taste like?

Here’s Why You Should Be Watching Netflix’s Brazilian Sci-Fi Series 3%. And on the SF kick: Aaron Bady explains Westworld.

* there is no reason to assume Uber’s obliteration of local competition across the planet will create a sustainable business in the long term. Costs are costs, even if you’re a monopoly. As long as people have cheaper alternatives (public transport, legs), they will defect if the break-even price is higher than their inconvenience tolerance threshold.

Trump could face the ‘biggest trial of the century’ — over climate change. But really, show’s over, folks.

* The trans brain and gender dysphoria.

This is brilliant and I’m shocked it took the good guys this long to figure it out.

* Some grim news.

* America is already great.

* Kazuo Ishiguro on the coming race of super clones. Never Let Me Go 2: The Revenge.

* Every villain is the hero of their own story.

* And this is pretty much my actual teaching philosophy.

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 5, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Monday Morning Links!

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1476629505-20161016* My superhero identity has finally been scooped.

* Lots of people are sharing this one, on hyperexploited labor in the academy: Truman Capote Award Acceptance Speech. As with most of this sort of adjunct activist some of its conclusions strike me as emotionally rather than factually correct — specifically, it needs to find a way to make tenured and tenure-track faculty the villains of the story, in order to make the death of the university a moral narrative about betrayal rather than a political narrative about the management class’s construction of austerity — but it’s undoubtedly a powerful read.

* I did this one already, but what the hell: Ten Theses In Support of Teaching and Against Learning Outcomes.

Open Access (OA) is the movement to make academic research available without charge, typically via digital networks. Like many cyberlibertarian causes OA is roundly celebrated by advocates from across the political spectrum. Yet like many of those causes, OA’s lack of clear grounding in an identifiable political framework means that it may well not only fail to serve the political goals of some of its supporters, and may in fact work against them. In particular, OA is difficult to reconcile with Marxist accounts of labor, and on its face appears not to advance but to actively mitigate against achievement of Marxist goals for the emancipation of labor. In part this stems from a widespread misunderstanding of Marx’s own attitude toward intellectual work, which to Marx was not categorically different from other forms of labor, though was in danger of becoming so precisely through the denial of the value of the end products of intellectual work. This dynamic is particularly visible in the humanities, where OA advocacy routinely includes disparagement of academic labor, and of the value produced by that labor.

* Bring on the 403(b) lawsuits.

* On being married to an academic.

* It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe: Nobel academy member calls Bob Dylan’s silence ‘arrogant.’

* Eugenics and the academy. Racism and standardized testing. Whiteness and international relations.

* Don’t drink bottled water.

* Language Log reads the bookshelf in the linguist’s office set in Arrival (out next month!).

After years of neglect, public higher education is at a tipping point.

Mass Incarceration And Its Mystification: A Review Of The 13th.

* Springsteen and Catholicism.

1476542143-20161015* White masculinity as cloning.

Balibar on exploitation.

* Parenting is weird. If God worked at a pet store, He’d be fired. Part Two. It’s a mystery!!! Wooooooooooh! The Fox and the Hedgehog. Science and technology have reached their limit. Self-destructive beverage selection: a guide. Motivational comics. Has the media gotten worse, or has society? Understanding the presidency. The oldest recorded joke is from Sumeria, circa 1900 B.C. There’s a monster under my bed.

Tenure Denials Set Off Alarm Bells, and a Book, About Obstacles for Minority Faculty.

* Trump’s Milwaukee Problem. Let’s Talk About the Senate. From Pot To Guns To School Funding: Here’s What’s On The Ballot In Your State. Todd Akin and the “shy” voter. The banality of Trump. The latest polls indicate the possibility of a genuine electoral disaster for the GOP. A short history of white people rigging elections. Having not yet won it back yet, Dems are already getting ready to lose the Senate (again) in 2018. The Democrats are likely to win a majority of House votes, but not a majority of House seats. Again. Today in uncannily accurate metaphors. This all seems perfectly appropriate. Even Dunkin Donuts is suffering. But at least there’s a bright side. On the other hand.

Slavery: Colorado

Yes, you read that right. There is a vote on slavery in 2016. The Colorado state constitution currently bans slavery and “involuntary servitude” … except if it’s used as punishment for a crime. This amendment would get rid of that exception and say that slavery is not okay, ever.

* And so, too, with the new civic faith enshrined in Hamilton: we may have found a few new songs to sing about the gods of our troubled history, but when it comes to the stories we count on to tell us who we are, we remain caught in an endless refrain.

* Speaking of endless refrain: Emmett Till memorial in Mississippi is now pierced by bullet holes.

District Judge John McKeon, who oversees a three-county area of eastern Montana, cited that exception this month when he gave the father a 30-year suspended sentence after his guilty plea to incest and ordered him to spend 60 days in jail over the next six months, giving him credit for the 17 days already served. His sentence requires him to undergo sex offender treatment and includes many other restrictions.

* On Anime Feminist. (via MeFi)

* Today in the Year of Kate McKinnon: ten minutes of her Ghostbusters outtakes.

Jessica Jones’s Second Season Will Only Feature Female Directors.

* I don’t really think they should do Luke Cage season two — or Jessica Jones for that matter, as Daredevil proved already — but just like I’d love to see a Hellcat series with Jessica Jones as a supporting player I’d love to see Misty Knight guest starring Luke Cage.

* The Case against Black Mirror. I haven’t been able to tune in to the new season yet but the backlash surprises me. This was one of the best shows on TV before! What happened?

* Famous authors and their rejection slips.

* How much for a hotel on AT&TTW? AT&T to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion.

* New York vs. Airbnb.

* “This is still the greatest NYT correction of all time imo.”

* This is [chokes] great. It’s great if they do this.

* This, on the other hand, is unbelievably awful: Thousands of California soldiers forced to repay enlistment bonuses a decade after going to war. Everyone involved in trying to claw back this money should be ashamed of themselves.

* Gee, you don’t say: U.S. Parents Are Sweating And Hustling To Pay For Child Care.

* Welcome to the Machinocene.

* I’ve discovered the secret to immortality.

* And there’s a new Grow game out for that mid-2000s nostalgia factor we all crave. Solution here when you’re done messing around…

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Written by gerrycanavan

October 24, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Wednesday Morning!

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021814-nu-union-150* Man tragically unable to remember saying Barack Obama would make a great president says Hillary Clinton will make a great president. Meanwhile, the rest of us are reduced to talking about Obama’s secret achievements.

* Faculty on Strike at UIC.

Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Days, Neuroscientist Says.

* Last Night on Jeopardy No One Wanted to Answer Qs About Black History.

Noose Found Around The Neck Of Statue Honoring Civil Rights Icon At Ole Miss.

* On Teaching While Black.

What Does it Mean that Most Children’s Books Are Still About White Boys?

The J.R.R. Tolkien Manuscripts: Public Showings in 2014.

* Here are the hoops a college football team has to jump through to be allowed to form a union.

* 84-Year Old Nun Sentenced To Prison For Weapons Plant Break-In.

Academic freedom with violence.

Has humanity produced enough paint to cover the entire land area of the Earth? The dream remains alive.

* Whistle-blower fired from Hanford nuclear site.

“We do not agree with her assertions that she suffered retaliation or was otherwise treated unfairly,” URS said, adding Busche was fired for reasons unrelated to the safety concerns. “Ms. Busche’s allegations will not withstand scrutiny.”

Busche is the second Hanford whistle-blower to be fired by URS in recent months. Walter Tamosaitis, who also raised safety concerns about the plant, was fired in October after 44 years of employment.

* A new China Miéville short story collection, scheduled for November 2014.

* A world of horrors: There is no such thing as a child prostitute.

In the same way that certain styles of dance simulate sex, the Winter Olympics simulates scraping one’s February-chapped nostrils against the surface of a Kleenex whose aloe content is useless and reaching out for the warm escape of death. It’s an art of failed suicide attempts.

* A preliminary sketch of the data reveals, of course, that by 2050 films will be reviewing us.

* “First, why would we even think about letting it go through?”

“This whole thing is totally and completely bonkers.”

Grace Kerr sometimes jokes with her family that “Amanda was not that great. Zach is awesome.” What she means is that her son is finally happy, and is helping others.

* Diseased and unsound meat: Hot Pockets®!

In Act Of Protest, Ai Weiwei Vase Is Destroyed At Miami Museum.

* News You Can Use: Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo.

A portrait of Steve Jobs made entirely out of e-waste.

* The Ice Caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Candy Crush: Addictive Game, Incredible Business, Horrible Investment.

How the north ended up on top of the map.

* Inside Kappa Beta Phi, the Wall Street Fraternity.

* And our long national nightmare is over: Obama apologizes for disparaging art historians.

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MOnOpoly CapitaliSm and Invasive Species

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And teaching jobs in the academy of the future with its hundred thousand students per course? An expanding industry, right? Forget about it. If you are one of the preternaturally lucky people, you will still vault into a job teaching well-prepared (if privileged) students at one of the ten or twelve surviving institutes of higher education that may be allowed to continue. For the rest, MOOCs have all the biome-destroying capacity of a Walmart (there go the mom-and-pop markets), an Amazon (there go the bookstores, new and used, and the record stores), of kudzu and crabgrass. Why, in the minds of the specialists in efficiency (we do so love efficiency in this country), should there be more than one Edu-Store? Why should there be more than one course on Homer? If it’s different from Professor Nagy’s course, people will reason, it must be either worse, or better. What are the others charging? No one can compete with Nagy on the likely combination of low price and high reputation, and the MOOC companies have enough venture capital to last them the years it will take to eliminate the competition, as Amazon went through years without a profit, all the while steadily grinding down the traditional bookstores with shallower pockets. The idea that it is a good thing for there to be thousands of classrooms in which people approach the texts in their hundreds of thousands of different ways, not passively receiving the prerecorded standard course (no matter how good that is, and I’m willing to believe Greg Nagy’s is as good as they come), seems to have eluded us.

From a printculture piece on MOOCs last month. I like this bit, too, about student debt:

A figure I’ve seen bandied about in these sometimes heated discussions is $26,000: the average debt level of the college graduate today. People ask, why should they take on such levels of debt to obtain a degree that may not help them get a job? To put things into perspective, the average buyer of a new car pays $30,500, much of it in the form of medium-term financing, for an object that starts to lose value the moment it’s driven off the lot and needs periodic repair. But I don’t hear anyone screaming for car dealerships to be replaced with driving RPGs.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 4, 2013 at 8:03 am

‘Who Killed Science Fiction?’ and a Few More

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* We’re so screwed: one foot in sea level rise projected by 2050.

* Cyber-utopia has been called off: Despite all the heady social theorizing of Shirky and the Wired set, the web has not, in fact, abolished the conventions of market value or rewritten the rules of productivity and worker reward. It has, rather, merely sent the rewards further down the fee stream to unscrupulous collectors like Chris Anderson, who plagiarized some of the content of Free, a celebration of the digital free-content revolution and its steady utopian progress toward uncompensated cultural production, from the generous crowdsourcing souls at Wikipedia. How egalitarian. It’s a sad truth that in Shirky’s idealized market order, some people’s time remains more valuable than others’, and as in that gray, old labor-based offline economy, the actual producers of content routinely get cheated, in the case of Free by the very charlatan who urges them on to ever greater feats of generosity.

As for crowdsourcing being a “labor of love” (Shirky primly reminds us that the term “amateur” “derives from the Latin amare—‘to love’”), the governing metaphor here wouldn’t seem to be digital sharecropping so much as the digital plantation. For all too transparent reasons of guilt sublimation, patrician apologists for antebellum slavery also insisted that their uncompensated workers loved their work, and likewise embraced their overseers as virtual family members. This is not, I should caution, to brand Shirky as a latter-day apologist for slavery but rather to note that it’s an exceptionally arrogant tic of privilege to tell one’s economic inferiors, online or off, what they do and do not love, and what the extra-material wellsprings of their motivation are supposed to be. To use an old-fashioned Enlightenment construct, it’s at minimum an intrusion into a digital contributor’s private life—even in the barrier-breaking world of Web 2.0 oversharing and friending. The just and proper rejoinder to any propagandist urging the virtues of uncompensated labor from an empyrean somewhere far above mere “society” is, “You try it, pal.” See also: John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney, The Internet’s Unholy Marriage to Capitalism:

But this collaborative potential, arguably the democratic genius of the Internet, runs up against the pressure of capital to consolidate monopoly power, create artificial scarcity, and erect fences wherever possible. At nearly every turn, industries connected to the Internet have transitioned from competitive to oligopolistic in short order.

Wisconsin Dispute Could Mobilize Democratic Base. Gee, you think?

* How I Passed My U.S. Citizenship Test By Keeping the Right Answers to Myself. Via MeFi.

* Worldwide university rankings. I’m sure it’s killing the Duke admins that they don’t constitute one of the eight globally recognized superbrands.

* And a great find from somewhere or another: Earl Kemp’s Who Killed Science Fiction?

Anybody who announces that he is a science fiction writer is announcing that he is in damn bad company financially and artistically.

Oh Kurt, say you don’t mean it!