Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘narrative

Sunday Links!

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* Don’t miss my flash review of The Avengers: Age of Ultron! As I say in the update, thanks to my friend Ryan Vu for priming the pump (and look for his brilliant review of Captain America 2 in a few months in SFFTV).

Why Avengers: Age of Ultron Fills This Buffy Fan With Despair. Nerd Plus Ultron: There Has to Be More to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Than Printing More Money.

* Notes on the coming DC disaster: In the early going, some in Hollywood are questioning whether Warners has acted too much in haste without having fleshed out the world on which so much hinges.

These Imaginative Worlds and Parallel Universes Will Forever Change How You Think About Africa.

2030 is set largely in the titular year, 100 kilometers south of Ho Chi Minh City. The initial title card establishes that 80% of the population has been evacuated due to the rising sea level as an effect of global warming.

* Great university boondoggle reporting from Freddie deBoer.

Late last week, using the hashtag #talkpay, people began tweeting about how much money they make—a radical thing to do in a culture that treats disclosing your salary as the ultimate taboo.

Dear Superprofessors: The experiment is over.

I’ve been buried in final book manuscript revisions, and have been noticing that I’m increasingly using the term “management” rather than “administration” in my analyses of university governance.  Part of the reason is that my employer, the University of California, uses Senior Management Group as a formal employment classification. But it’s also because the friendlier aspects of the term “administration” seem decreasingly part of everyday academic life. Friendliness was administration as support structure, as collaborator, as partner, as the entity that did not take orders from obnoxious egocentric faculty prima donnas the way that frontline staff often had to do, but that accepted balanced power relations  and a certain mutual respect that could make decisions move relatively quickly and equitably. It would avoid command and control of the kind that prevailed in the army and in most corporations, where executive authority consisted of direct rule over subordinates.

Pay hike at McMaster University for female faculty.

Lawmakers back away from increased course loads for UNC professors.

Fewer professors, more managers work on Cal State campuses.

* …Carey has produced a sloppy polemic, a revenge fantasy that tries to turn personal resentment and cynicism into public policy.

* Horrifying, literally unbelievable story of peer review gone awry. More here.

* Well, I guess that settles it: In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans.

Study: Climate Change Threatens One in Six Species With Extinction.

Babies born 3 miles apart in New York have a 9-year life expectancy gap. 15 Baltimore neighborhoods have lower life expectancies than North Korea.

The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Protest, 1965-1975.

Rikers Island meatloaf did have rat poison.

An Empty Stadium in Baltimore. A Brief History of Pro Sports Played in Empty Stadiums.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 18: Descending into Violence.

‘Rough Rides’ and the Challenges of Improving Police Culture.

New ACLU Cellphone App Automatically Preserves Video of Police Encounters.

The particularity of white supremacy.

* It’s hard out there for a gifted kid.

* “No one has walked on the moon in my lifetime,” I told them. “Yet you try to tell me that it’s my generation who has lost their wonder?  That it’s the young people of today who have let everything slip and fall into ruin? You don’t understand. You had the dream and the potential and the opportunities, and you messed it all up. You got hope and moon landings and that bright, glorious future. I got only the disasters.”

In some ways Ex Machina may be considered a feminist film by sheer dint of our low standards, the scarcity of stories that explore female desire beyond the realm of sex and romance.

Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle’ to Be Developed as TV Series By IM Global.

The Secret Mountain Our Spies Will Hide In When Washington Is Destroyed.

A 7-Year-Old Girl Got A New 3D-Printed Left Hand For The Wonderful Price Of $50.

This 5-year-old girl knows a lot more about presidents than you do. At this point I say put her in charge.

If you’re 33 or older, you will never listen to new music again—at least, that’s more or less what a new online study says. The study, which is based mainly on data from U.S. Spotify users, concludes that age 33 is when, on average, people stop discovering new music and begin the official march to the grave.

How Old Is Old? Centenarians Say It Starts in Your 80s; Kids Say Your 40s.

“How Does a Stand-Up Comedian Work?”

* Whiteness and the Apple Watch.

* The arc of history is long, but Cheez-Its is finally going to sell a box of just the burned ones.

* The same joke but with this Iceland law allowing anyone to murder any Basque on sight.

* “NASA has trialled an engine that would take us to Mars in 10 weeks.”

* The most racist places in America.

* Daddy, there’s a monster under the bed.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine James Cameron directing Avatar sequels, forever.

* And the same joke but with 21 Jump Street sequels.

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Written by gerrycanavan

May 3, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Lesser Whedonia 2: Age of Corporate Directives

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LATER-THAT-NIGHT UPDATE: I hadn’t realized when I wrote this how strongly it was influenced by the great review of Captain America 2 that Ryan Vu wrote for us for Science Fiction Film and Television, but reflecting on it a few hours later I really see Ryan’s review as the clear precursor to this. Look for his review in a few months! It’s really smart.

In my five-sentence Avengers review from a few years ago I wrote:

Of course I deeply enjoyed The Avengers, but my sense is it’ll be up to The Avengers 2: Avengers Reveng’d! to salvage the series from the scrapheap of Lesser Whedona. … Though certainly funny and engaging, and on occasion very clever, The Avengers is more or less superheroes completely by-the-numbers, almost entirely lacking in the deconstructive self-awareness that characterizes more artistically ambitious Whedon creations like Buffy, Firefly, and especially Cabin in the Woods and the too-neglected Dollhouse. The film has zero critical purchase on its genre, and precious little Whedonesque irony about itself.

In short, The Avengers is what Buffy would have been, if it were only fight scenes and quips.

Age of Ultron, like The Avengers before it, is fine, though if anything the film actually doubles down on the hollowed-out anti-cinema of the first film: it’s even fightier and much, much quippier, with very little heart (the paltry attempts at character development are exhaustively cloying) and excruciatingly little self-awareness about the genre it is participating in (it really pales in comparison to Captain America 2 on that front, as you knew it would).

A film like this seems to me to defy either aesthetic or political response. What is there to say about it that it isn’t already screaming at maximum volume? Even the film itself can barely muster the energy to care about its own setup or execution, breezing over the only character choice that has any genuine stakes (the initial creation of Ultron) in the span of five or so minutes (and then assiduously refusing to return to it under any circumstances).

The only really interesting thing about the film, to me, is its metatextual participation involving the endless shifting around of pieces in the MCU for a climax that will never arrive. When I watch Age of Ultron my major critical response is in trying to reverse engineer the corporate directives that Whedon was handed when he started to break out this story, and then trying to imagine other ways he might have tried to move the pieces into the proper places instead. What else could he have gotten away with? What did they make him rewrite or reshoot? What was allowed, and what was forbidden?

Of course this is always fantasy franchise-running, but we can be certain that the #1 directive here was “clear the decks.” The primary point of this film is to get rid of characters who won’t appear in the franchise until the next Avengers film at the end of “Phase 3.” In this sense Age of Ultron culminates “Phase 2,” like The Avengers culminates “Phase 1,” but here the climax is more like a toilet flushing than a fireworks spectacular. The central narrative concern here is to remove the blockage of investment in characters played by too-expensive actors so a new crop of rather less famous stars can run through their own four- or five-picture contracts in due course.

What else, besides that? I’d wager Whedon was given orders to soften the surface anti-Americanism of Winter Soldier, perhaps combined with a stick-a-thumb-in-DC’s-eye directive to “do something that will force reviewers compare this movie favorably to the ending of Man of Steel whether they want to or not.” Other than that: Give us some action figures? Make sure you leave some narrative gaps for the video games and the tie-in comics and Agents of SHIELD to play with later? Make sure that you complete the narrative return-to-origin so utterly that, even within the terms of your own diegetic universe, it’s as if the film never happened at all? There’s really hardly anything here, as (again!) perfectly enjoyable it is for the two hours it is on the screen.

It seems to me that Age of Ultron exemplifies a new type of narrative in this kind of media. First we had the franchise film; then we had the prequel trilogy; now every film is a prequel to a film that hasn’t been written yet, a film that will itself merely set the table for the fantasy of still another sequel or series or reboot or tie-in down the line. The real climax, the real pleasure, is permanently deferred, always another greenlight away.

To me a film like Age of Ultron invites speculation about Marvel/Disney’s thirty-year-plan to the exclusion of all other criticism or critique. We need a new theory of artistic creation to explain how films get made in this mode. It isn’t auteurism, it isn’t even really in the hands of individuals at all: it’s a kind of automatic, autonomous process using the combination and recombination of preexisting building blocks, almost on the order of an algorithm, or an artificial intelligence. We have this intellectual property that we think we can monetize more aggressively than we’re monetizing it currently; we have these and those prior narrative elements; now, JARVIS, build me a story.

Wednesday Links!

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* 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.”

* But there’s always money in the banana stand.

In praise of zombies. A response to yesterday’s anti-Canavanist IHE polemic.

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).

* Multiple Choice and Testing Machines: A History.

“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.”

* National Adjunct Walkout Day is coming soon.

Higher Education Is Not a Mixtape.

The Climate Science Behind New England’s Historic Blizzard. Massive Blizzard Exposes How Decrepit New York City’s Infrastructure Is.

All Our Grievances Are Connected.

* How the Left Won Greece.

* Forget immoral; the latest legal challenge to Obamacare is still nonsense.

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.

To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients.

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.

* Associate Dean of What?

Drone, Too Small for Radar to Detect, Rattles the White House.

Defending those accused of unthinkable crimes.

* 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.” 

* America and fractal inequality.

100% of the women of color interviewed in STEM study experienced gender bias.

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography of Important Recent Studies.

* Reasons You Were Not Promoted That Are Totally Unrelated to Gender.

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.

* Marissa Alexander is out of jail after three years.

What has happened before will happen again, subprime auto edition.

Huckabee Complains That Women Can Cuss In The Workplace: ‘That’s Just Trashy.’

Oklahoma GOP wants to restrict marriage to people of faith.

* Corey Robin, against public intellectuals.

* 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.

The Psychology of Flow: What Game Design Reveals about the Deliberate Tensions of Great Writing.

The Politics Of The Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?

* 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.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Cloudy with a Chance of Apocalypse Links

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* CFPs for MLA 2015 from the discussion group for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and utopian literature: Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Concept of Culture (guaranteed session) and From Siberia to the Planet Mars (fingers crossed).

* America’s fraternities, and the lawyers who serve them. Great piece.

‘Rasputin Was My Neighbor’ And Other True Tales Of Time Travel. Unlikely simultaneous historical events.

When pilgrims were landing on Plymouth Rock, you could already visit what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico to stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy Native American silver.

The first wagon train of the Oregon Trail heads out the same year the fax machine is invented.

Nintendo was founded in 1888. Jack the Ripper was on the loose in 1888.

1971: The year in which America drove a lunar buggy on the moon and Switzerland gave women the vote.

NASA’s Gemini program was winding down at the same time as plate tectonics, as we know it today, was becoming refined and accepted by the scientific community.

When the pyramids were being built, there were still woolly mammoths.

The last use of the guillotine was in France the same year Star Wars came out.

Oxford University was over 300 years old when the Aztec Empire was founded.

* A new genre had been born: the apocalypsticle.

* President Obama Pens Personal Apology to an Art Historian. Spoiler: it’s a pretty lousy apology!

* Football workers of the world unite. The cult of amateurism plaguing the sports world.

* This North Dakota Oil Town Has The Highest Rent In The Country.

* The film ‘Back to the Future’ provides the OED’s earliest recorded example of a colloquial sense of ‘hello’, used to imply (sometimes disbelievingly or sarcastically) that the person addressed is not paying attention, has not understood something, or has said something nonsensical or foolish. – See more at: http://oupacademic.tumblr.com/post/52859022183/the-film-back-to-the-future-provides-the-oeds#sthash.3jb8w2Nr.EuYbel9A.dpuf

* Making the rounds again: Kurt Vonnegut Diagrams the Shape of All Stories in a Master’s Thesis Rejected by U. Chicago.

* In Louisiana, which offers some of the most lucrative tax giveaways to Hollywood, the Legislative Auditor’s Office reported that the subsidies cost the state $170 million in lost tax revenue in a single year. By one estimate, the state is handing $70,000 per episode to the cast of Duck Dynasty – all while pleading poverty to justify deep cuts to public health care programs and to retirement benefits for police officers, firefighters and teachers.

* UNC Greensboro Students Walkout Against Budget Cuts.

About a dozen faculty members and 30 students at St. Mary’s College, a public school in Maryland, have proposed a plan to limit the salary of the highest-paid employee to 10 times that of the lowest-paid employee.

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

Basically, @BarackObama Is a Parody Twitter Account.

* [grabs popcorn] Emails Suggest Scott Walker Knew Of Illegal Campaign Coordination.

Wednesday’s proposed reforms efforts — reached in negotiations between the civil liberties group and the state DOCCS — entail an end to the solitary confinement of prisoners under 18-years-old, pregnant women and prisoners with developmental disabilities. You mean to tell me they were using solitary confinement on — what? What?

Missouri Likely To Drop Its Lifetime Food Stamps Ban For Drug Convicts. You mean to tell me they were — really?

* Another day, another coal waste spill.

Cop Allegedly Shot And Killed Teenage Boy After Mistaking His Wii Controller For A Gun. “Allegedly” doing a whole lot of work in that sentence given that plain facts of the matter on which everyone agrees.

* What it’s like living in your 90s.

* Twitter lost $645 million last year, almost as much as its total revenue.

* The death of pool.

The Pentagon’s whitewashed history of the Vietnam War provokes troubling questions about how the invasion of Iraq will one day be remembered.

Frank despises most everybody—why should we be an exception?

* What would Lovelock do now, I ask, if he were me? He smiles and says: “Enjoy life while you can. Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.” Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Bad Fans, Good Fans, and Some Quick Thoughts on ‘Breaking Bad’

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I gave a presentation this weekend at the Reception Studies Society conference on the figure of the “fan-villain”—what Emily Nussbaum in a widely circulated blog post at the New Yorker recently called the Bad Fan. The Bad Fan is that figure whose investment in the text is excessive, or inappropriate, or misplaced, who takes up the text in ways that go beyond or are counter to the idealized “Good Fan” of the author’s intentions, critical consensus, and/or common sense. What I was interested in at the conference were the ways texts and creators seek to talk back to the Bad Fan, most typically by including the Bad Fan within the text either through paraphrase, parody, or (most characteristically, I think) through personification as an actual character within the fictional universe—and further I was interested in this extent to which this talking back is typically quite hostile. But today I’m interested in the other side of that binary.

To back up: Breaking Bad fandom—as is common in the capital-Q Quality TV genre more generally—appears divided between critically sophisticated Good Fans who recognize the show’s nuanced, complicated, and quite emotionally fraught deconstruction of privilege through (again as with most Quality TV shows) its central protagonist, the White Male in Crisis, and the naïve, unsophisticated Bad Fans who take all this in entirely uncritically and who love the show precisely because they think “Walt Is A Badass.” Nussbaum’s recent writings have pointed to the show’s attempts to speak back to the Bad Fan, not simply in Anna Gunn / Skyler White’s recent op-ed in the New York Times decrying the sexism of this portion of the show’s fanbase, and not only through Walt’s bitter and ugly parodying of the #TeamWalt discourse in “Ozymandias,” but through the addition of the creepy sinister character of Todd, who idolizes Walt in a way that seems both increasingly familiar (as the marking of the Bad Fan) and increasingly horrifying.

As may already be evident, I think this imagined division between “Good Fans” and “Bad Fans” is simultaneously useful and potentially deeply misleading, as we can see from Internet insta-reactions to last night’s “FeLiNa,” the final episode of the series. Here we find the Good Fan feeling flattered and pandered to, particularly in the scene in which Walt “confesses” to Skyler that he ultimately become a druglord because he enjoyed it, because it made him feel alive. “Finally,” the Good Fan sighed, “Walt tells Skyler THE TRUTH!” But in fact this scene is almost directly parallel to the phone call scene, in which Walt the consummate schemer deploys partial truths and well-timed emotional outbursts in order to manipulate those around him. This is about controlling his legacy, about telling Skyler (and the Good Fans) a version of what she wants to hear so that she is (and we are) willing to go along with him on his redemption arc.

A point of critical consensus around “FeLiNa” is that it is characterized by a truly remarkable amount of catharsis and narrative closure, dotting every i and crossing every t. But that catharsis, I think, has to come undone the longer we think about the show; what isn’t being talked about much yet is the complexity and the falseness of the redemption narrative, precisely because both the Good Fans and the Bad Fans alike are happy to buy into it all. This cycle of gaslighting apology, followed by grand-gesture redemptive act, followed by an inevitable slide back to form, is part and parcel of how a person like Walter White abuses those around him; the events of “FeLiNa” only seems to offer narrative closure because this time events have conspired to finally kill Walt at the high moment of the abuse-apology cycle. (He knows his cancer is back, and/so he plans to commit suicide-by-Nazi or suicide-by-Jesse at the camp after achieving “redemption.”) In the spirit of Žižek’s reading of the emergency-exit “happy endings” of Titanic and Avatar, we might perversely imagine the version of the end of the series in which this doesn’t hold: Walt’s cancer has never returned, he does not catch a bullet in the massacre, he lives, and is thereby forced to continue to live in the world and take genuine, not fantasy, responsibility for his actions. How long does his turning over a new leaf last, without the miracle of certain death to propel him forward for a mere eighteen hours, give or take?

As Malcolm Harris succinctly put it in response to some of my tweets:

We can see the Heisenberg-Walt at work even in the moment of Skyler scene; “finally, THE TRUTH,” yes, but also a calculated attempt to set the conditions of her last memories of him in terms that are favorable to Walt. “In the end,” she may have thought, and many Internet commentators actually wrote, “the ‘real Walt’ came back.” And again, maybe, partially; but all the same the legacy money won’t go to her, and her life remains utterly destroyed. Meanwhile his final act is an intricate staging of his own death so that he will receive full credit both for killing the white supremacists and for cooking the blue meth, credit even for the “better than ever” batches he didn’t cook—to again set the terms of reality not in fidelity to truth or to what is best for other people but simply in accordance with the way he prefers things, which as always is having it both ways. Walt’s true chemical genius has always been in controlling the reactions of the people around him, in how easily he gets others (and us) to play along. We Good Fans turn out to be just as happy to be lied to, we just want a different sort of lie.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm

MLK Day Links

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tumblr_mgtgpfnLyP1qap9gno1_50017 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes You Never Hear. The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV. Beyond Vietnam, 1967. And of course “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

* Jacobin gets profiled in the New York Times—and because the magazine was founded by a man, it gets to be in “Books,” not “Style”!

* Graduate school from admissions to job applications, from Karen “The Professor is In” Kelsky: Graduate School Is a Means to a Job.

* Inequality in American Education Will Not Be Solved Online.

To summarize: the answer to underfunded, lower effectiveness primary and secondary education requires subsidizing a private, VC-funded bet made on a roulette wheel fashioned from the already precarious prospects of a disadvantaged population.

Bowling Green State University announced Friday that it will cut the size of its faculty by 11 percent, eliminating 100 full-time faculty jobs, The Toledo Blade reported. The reduction will be made by not filling positions of those who resign or retire, and also by not renewing many one-year teaching contracts. Officials said that more than $5 million would be saved, and that the funds would be invested in other priorities. In addition, administrators said that there would be no impact on the quality of instruction students receive. Also chocolate and puppies for everyone.

* Purdue University’s new president doesn’t really care for universities. Sounds like the perfect guy for the job!

* More new revenue streams: Carleton University has started a commercial rent-a-mathematician service, a calculated move to bring in some cash and also fix real-world problems. Will explain science fiction for food…

Surviving the Next Apocalypse: a Modest Curriculum.

* Because everything in college sports is running so smoothly, the NCAA has decided it’s time to eliminate a whole bunch of rules.

Some Ph.D.’s Choose to Work Off the Tenure Track. “Choose” is doing a lot of work in that headline.

* “What a deformed monster is a standing army in a free nation”: the U.S. and military spending.

* Kid Kills 5 in Family in New Mexico, Planned Slaughter at WalMart.

The weapons included not just the AR-15 but more.  He had gotten them out of his  father’s unlocked closet, not a gun-safe, after he had a “minor disagreement” with his mother.  He shot her in her bed, then the three little kids, in their beds.  Mulitple times.  Perhaps with the semi-auto rifle.   Waited a few hours, then shot dad when he came home.

Then:  Loaded up van with weapons and started to drive to local Walmart, where he planned to slaughter many more,  then kill himself.  Called friend, though, who suggested he stop by church and maybe think about it.  Security guard there calls cops.

5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day. Ohio church sponsors private gun buyback.

“If the district attorney agrees to send me to prison for a long time, then I will confess and plead guilty,” Hubatch told Madison police Detective Tom Helgren after his arrest on Monday, according to a criminal complaint. “Otherwise, I have nothing else to say, and if released I will do it again.” The versatile law degree, University of Wisconsin edition.

CVS Manager Fatally Strangles Homeless Man for Shoplifting Toothpaste. No charges filed because America.

* Where to Be Born: 1988-2013. Do your research, kids.

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* 50 collective nouns. The best of these I’ve heard recently was totally fake, but funny, on the new Paul F. Tompkins “Analyze Fish” Jaws podcast: “a jar of jellyfish.”

* Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Shapes of Stories,” Tumblrfied.

* ‘Quadruple helix’ DNA discovered in human cells. I feel certain this is where the X-factor that creates mutants is located.

* I’m taken in by the needless honesty of a telepathic shield maker that bothers to say “only one failure since 1998.”

* Fracking on the San Andreas Fault? What could possibly go wrong?

* “Escape from Tomorrowland,” filmed without Disney’s knowledge at Disney World.

* And your text adventure of the day: Reset.

Midweek Links

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* Erik Loomis is being targeted by prominent figures on the right in what has to be the most ludicriously unfair, bad-faith attack I have ever seen.

Walker declares state of emergency in Wisconsin due to snowstorm.

Guide to Answering Academic Job Interview Questions.

Argument Over Sandy Hook Shooting Ends in Gunfire. Why Won’t We Talk About Violence and Masculinity in America? Gun Violence In American Schools Is Nothing New. Top Conservative Publication: Shooting Occurred Because Women Ran The School. Weaponize the husky twelve-year-olds. Virginia Republican Legislator Actually Wants To Require Concealed Weapons In Schools. The Arms Race of Stupid.

I can’t help wondering if the bullets of Sandy Hook Elementary will be for Obama what the snarling dogs and high-pressure fire hoses of Birmingham, Alabama, were for John F. Kennedy in 1963: the human tragedy that will force him to take a political risk, simply because it is right.

Conservative Historian Warns Obama and Democrats are ‘Much More Radical’ than Marxists. So much more radical. So much more.

Best Astronomy Images of 2012. (Keep scrolling past the image for more links.)

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Wayne State faculty gives OK to union leadership to call strike if necessary.

* Terrible person to teach terrible class at terrible university.

* News from Nerdistan: What Frodo would have looked like as Gollum. Joss Whedon wanted the Wasp and an extra villain in The Avengers. Tolkien vs. technology. Someone at Disney is already trying to lay the groundwork for a second sequel trilogy after Star Wars 7-9. Nearby Tau Ceti may host two planets suited to life. Netflix Instant Adds a Bunch of Fake ‘Arrested Development’ Shows and MoviesLEGOs run the world now.

It’s time to start asking serious questions about the safety of lube.

Here: an exercise in choice. Your choice. One of these tales is true.

* Petraeus Scandal 2.0. Nothing about sex, so no one will care.

* Matt Yglesias has the most logical incoherent “think piece” you’ll read on Society Security today. Money doesn’t magically become not-money when it’s spent by retirees.

* Plans to avoid the fiscal cliff cut government more than the fiscal cliff. Why, it’s almost as if this whole debate is total bullshit!

Shale Oil Might Be Less Awesome Than We Think. From a personal perspective, I doubt that’s possible.

Top 20 most valuable college football programs all made at least $24 million in profit last year, according to Forbes. $200K Average Salary for Asst. Football Coaches in Major Programs. Bill Introduced for IRS to Collect Student Loan Payments.

Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said he supported the bill, arguing it could “nearly eliminate student loan default.”

But the reinvention conversation has not produced the panacea that people seem to yearn for. “The whole MOOC thing is mass psychosis,” a case of people “just throwing spaghetti against the wall” to see what sticks, says Peter J. Stokes, executive director for postsecondary innovation at Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies. His job is to study the effectiveness of ideas that are emerging or already in practice.

The Wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon is Emitting a Mysterious Substance Into the Gulf of Mexico.

Quentin Tarantino Says Drug War, Justice System Are Modern Day Slavery.

Apocalypse and Revelation Are the Same Word.

* And life’s not all an endless series of miserable atrocities: Found: Whale Thought Extinct for 2 Million Years.