Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Nisi Shawl

1001 Sunday Links

leave a comment »

CcgUqWmUMAAaA31* Penn Gillette on three-card monty and graduate school in the humanities.

Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera.

“Use Tatooine sparingly” and other rules from the Star Wars style guide. io9 has a few other highlights.

* A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction.

Inside Disney’s America, the doomed ’90s project that almost sunk the company.

“The Contemporary” by the numbers.

From a work in progress: Nomic and net.culture.

* Podcasts and disposability.

* Vice science faction: After the Big One.

Alumnae vowed to save Sweet Briar from closing last year. And they did.

* Radical notion: College Presidents Should Come from Academia.

Simon Newman, the college leader whose metaphor about drowning bunnies made him infamous in higher education, announced late Monday that he has resigned, effective immediately, as president of Mount St. Mary’s University. The Mount St. Mary’s Presidency Was a Corporate Test Case. It Failed Miserably..

The only MFA program in the US that focuses on African American literature could close.

UW slips out of top 10 in new public university ranking. Amid rough seas for UW System, wave of challenges hits UWM.

UC Davis chancellor received $420,000 on book publisher’s board. The University of California paid hedge fund managers about $1 billion in fees over the last 12 years, according to a white paper study released by the university system’s largest employee union.

* A Field Test for Identifying Appropriate Sexual Partners in Academia. She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk ‘Feelings.’

* “The GRE is like taking a cancer test that was invented in the 1940s.”

Putting on a “Brave” Face: On Ableism and Appropriation in the Film Industry.

Justice Dept. grants immunity to staffer who set up Clinton email server. What you need to know about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Did Clinton and Petraeus do the same thing? Clinton, on her private server, wrote 104 emails the government says are classified.

* The Libya Gamble: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Push for War & the Making of a Failed State.

Clinton insiders are eager to begin recruiting Republicans turned off by the prospect of Donald Trump to their cause — and the threat of Sanders sticking it out until June makes the general election pivot more difficult. Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump. Smart to announce it now!

* But, look, it’s not all Clinton negativity: Hillary Clinton promises to ‘get to the bottom of UFO mystery’ if elected, and ‘maybe send a task force’ to alleged alien prison Area 51.

The Official Head Of The Democratic Party Joins GOP Effort To Protect Payday Lenders. Bernie Versus the Earthquake Industry.

Republican Voters Kind Of Hate All Their Choices. 1927 flashback. Kasich May Have Cut Off Rubio’s Path To The Nomination. Trump gives supporters permission to be violent with protesters: If you hurt them I’ll defend you in court. Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win. ‘Not even my wife knows’: secret Donald Trump voters speak out. Is this a realignment? The rise of American authoritarianism. Awkward.

The car century was a mistake. It’s time to move on.

* 2°C.

* Another piece on the end of Louisiana.

* I don’t know that the Melissa Click case is really the best example here, but there’s every reason to think body cameras will be used to serve police interests, not citizen interests.

Lab tech allegedly faked result in drug case; 7,827 criminal cases now in question.

Georgia Police Chief and Officer Accused of Arresting People on False Charges in Order to Extort Them.

Can a 3-year old represent herself in immigration court? This judge thinks so. Please watch my show Three Year Old Immigration Lawyer next fall on ABC.

Did the Spanish Empire Change Earth’s Climate?

* The Flint Next Time: Fears About Water Supply Grip Village That Made Teflon Products. Flint is in the news, but lead poisoning is even worse in Cleveland.

This Guy Spent Four Years Creating an Imaginary Reddit for 3016.

Sci-Fi Hero Samuel Delany’s Outsider Art.

* Marquette in the news! Oh.

Sweetin’s autobiography begins with a very different two-word phrase. The first line ofUnSweetined, which Sweetin wrote (or rather told in bits to a ghostwriter) in 2009, is “fuck it.” She is referring to her attitude right before smoking meth and doing a plateful of cocaine, the night before she was scheduled to give a speech at Marquette University about her commitment to sobriety (she did give that speech in 2007, and she was high the entire time she was on stage).

* Over at Slate friend of the show Eric “The Red” Hittinger explains clearly and succinctly why rooftop solar power probably won’t ever challenge big utility companies.

When People With Schizophrenia Hear Voices, They’re Really Hearing Their Own Subvocal Speech.

Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive.

This video shows what ancient Rome actually looked like.

Steph Curry Is On Pace To Hit 102 Home Runs.

Mysterious Chimpanzee Behaviour May Be Evidence Of “Sacred” Rituals.

* Here’s a silly thing I watched: “Great Minds with Dan Harmon,” 1, 2.

* Sports corner: Ivy League Considers Banning Tackling During Practice.

* A Believer interview with the great Andy Daly.

A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World. Professional Bridge Has a Cheating Problem.

The Enigmatic Art of America’s Secret Societies.

Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming.

The astonishment that such things are “still” possible.

The Retirement Crisis Is Getting Truly Scary.

The Fact That None Of The 2016 Presidential Candidates Have A Space Policy Is Tragic.

From the start, in 1967, “Trader Joe” Coulombe devised his “low-priced gourmet-cum-health-food store” with an “unemployed PhD student” in mind as the ideal customer.

Reading from a statement while speaking with analysts, Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said SeaWorld’s board of directors has “directed management to end the practice in which certain employees posed as animal-welfare activists. This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threats.”

* The color thesaurus.

What Mars Would Look Like Mapped by Medieval Cartographers.

New York City Is in the Throes of a Häagen-Dazs Heist Epidemic.

Thus, I conclude that in fact, Gygax’s strength scoring system is actually…pretty good! But only good for fighters, in a system like AD&D where we can reasonably assume that all fighter PCs have been training for 10+ years and are genetically super-gifted. However, if you’re Raistlin Majere from the Dragonlance Chronicles and are in all probability an underweight untrained or novice lifter of average height, then you are probably looking at a STR score of around 6-7. If you are a woman of my current weight and untrained, you are looking at a STR score of around 3-4. If you’re my current weight and train consistently for a couple of years, you can expect to have a score of around 8-9. Men and/or individuals with higher testosterone levels will have somewhat higher scores, but it is definitely out of the question that a 10-11 can represent an average strength in our society, though it may be in a farmer-dominant society where everyone lifts a lot of hay bales.

Every Bryan Fuller Star Trek episode, ranked.

* Secrets of my success: Narcissistic Students Get Better Grades from Narcissistic Professors.

* The dialectic never stops turning: Hope is reactionary: it cocoons actuality in the gossamer of the tolerable, dulling the thirst for change. Despair is revolutionary: it grinds the knife-edge of the intolerable against the whetstone of actuality, sparking the will to change.

* We are the second best girls.

* 20 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Decisions.

Cognitive-Biases

Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Things That Are Bad For You: Steampunk, Football, Graduate School, and Barack Obama Edition

with 7 comments

* MetaFilter calls my name with critiques of steampunk from Charlie Stross and my friend Nisi Shawl. Charlie:

Forget wealthy aristocrats sipping tea in sophisticated London parlours; forget airship smugglers in the weird wild west. A revisionist mundane SF steampunk epic — mundane SF is the socialist realist movement within our tired post-revolutionary genre — would reflect the travails of the colonial peasants forced to labour under the guns of the white Europeans’ Zeppelins, in a tropical paradise where severed human hands are currency and even suicide doesn’t bring release from bondage. (Hey, this is steampunk — it needs zombies and zeppelins, right? Might as well pick Zombies for our single one impossible ingredient.) It would share the empty-stomached anguish of a young prostitute on the streets of a northern town during a recession, unwanted children (contraception is a crime) offloaded on a baby farm with a guaranteed 90% mortality rate through neglect. The casual boiled-beef brutality of the soldiers who take the King’s shilling to break the heads of union members organizing for a 60 hour work week. The fading eyesight and mangled fingers of nine year olds forced to labour on steam-powered looms, weaving cloth for the rich. The empty-headed graces of debutantes raised from birth to be bargaining chips and breeding stock for their fathers’ fortunes. In other words, it’s the story of all the people who are having adventures — as long as you remember that an adventure is a tale of unpleasant events happening to people a long, long way from home. 

* zunguzungu and Adam Kotsko take on the “So you want to get a Ph.D. in the humanities” video that’s been everywhere this week. Here’s zunguzungu:

Mostly, we’re identifying with the person in a position of power bullying the student, and we attempt to pass off  contempt and hatred as cynicism. That’s the thing that’s so striking about the humanities xtranormal video (compared, say, to the law school one): how clueless the prospective grad student is. The law school student at least stands up for herself, but the humanities cliche is just a clueless robot, babbling on in utter hermetically sealed envelope of idealism. And since so many of the things that abusive bully of a professor says are so completely true, her bullying gets passed off as realism. This accomplishes several things. For one, it allows us to contrast our own bitter cynicism (we’re identifying with the jaded prof, remember?) with the naiveté of the student. We would never be so naive, thereforewe are not her. Which is the same dichotomy between good cynical realism on the one hand (though not coded as male here, as it usually is) and stupid (as usual, infantilized and feminized) idealism, just as when Fish quoted Hemingway. And if we get off on seeing the cynical-realist-us attacking and flagellating the dumb-idealistic-naive-us, well, that says a lot about us.

It also, by the way, allows us to defend our own position (or the one we would like to pretend we will have) from the competition. After all, the glaring thing in both cartoons is the fact that the cynical prof figure is trying to deter the student from following his/her own example. Not that one shouldn’t be very careful about encouraging others to follow in your own example — sometimes tenured profs can encourage students to follow in their footsteps without telling them the whole story about their chances – but as someone I’ve been conversing about this on twitter pointed out, this seems much more like an attempt to demonize the faceless masses of competitors who make the likelihood of our getting a job so much smaller. In other words, we address to the “oversupply” of humanities PhD’s by trying to deter potential competition or project onto it the rage we feel about not getting the job and life we rightfully deserve.

And here’s Adam, very nicely describing my approach to graduate school better than I could:

My approach has been that the job market is apparently very random. We can follow all the best advice in the world, but it still comes down to the preferences of a handful of people at some randomly-chosen department and the outcome of a power struggle that probably no one outside the situation could ever fully understand or predict. So aside from broad guidelines (try to publish in good journals! present at conferences! get teaching experience! finish!) that 95% of PhD candidates are following anyway, there’s essentially no way of tailoring yourself to the job market.

Under such circumstances, the only thing you can do is be true to yourself. Use your grad school years (and as many years after as you can hold out without going crazy) to do what you want to do and what you probably wouldn’t be able to do under other circumstances. For me, that included language work, serious reading in the intellectual traditions most important to me, and serious writing that intervenes into debates I find compelling and important — and more recently getting the privilege of introducing young people to those intellectual traditions and debates.

All of those things are worth doing, and I wouldn’t have been able to do them otherwise. I maintain that they’re worth doing even if society isn’t willing to pay what they’re worth. I could’ve made a lot more money, or at least had a lot more job security, doing other things, but I don’t think those other things are likely as worthwhile, and having a full-time job takes up a lot of time, particularly in the kinds of professional fields that college grads try for — so that I wouldn’t have been able to do basically any of the things I’ve done during my time as a grad student and young academic. I would’ve kept reading regardless, and I would’ve wound up a well-informed person and a good conversationalist, but I never would’ve written the books and articles I’ve written, nor would I have been able to teach anyone in any kind of sustained way.

The fact that I chose what I did doesn’t make me a cynical badass, and I also don’t think it makes me particularly “idealistic” — after all, it’s not as though I’m making some noble sacrifice for the common good: I’m doing what I want to do and what I enjoy. I’m proud that I’ve been able to publish this much. I’m satisfied that I’ve done a good job of teaching and that students like me and my colleagues here want to advocate for me. Having made these choices might adversely affect my quality of life further down the road, but in the meantime it’s greatly enriched my quality of life compared to working 40-60 hours in some office.

There’s no sacrifice involved here, because I didn’t finally do all this stuff so that I could get a job — I want to get a job so that I can continue doing all this stuff! I want to get tenure so that I can finally stop worrying about where the next paycheck is coming from and have all that emotional energy freed up for my work. The fact that it might not work out doesn’t make me a jaded self-destructive badass, it makes me a person living in a world where we don’t always get what we want.

* Shock study: playing football is incredibly bad for you.

* Obama sits down with left critics to discuss DADT.

* And Obama defends his record on tonight’s Daily Show.

“What happens is it gets discounted because the assumption is we didn’t get 100 percent of what we wanted, we only get 90 percent of what we wanted — so let’s focus on the 10 percent we didn’t get,” Obama added.

Someday they’ll learn that this is a terrible messaging strategy. Someday.

Events You Should Attend

with 4 comments

Competing Cosmologies, Effecting Worlds: Intersections of Science and Religion
Friday, January 29, 10 AM-5 PM
Breedlove Room, Perkins Library, Duke University
Open to the Public

Four speakers—two academics and two writers in science fiction/fantasy—will consider the way science and religion both work together and compete as theories of the universe in its totality. Each speaker will talk for forty-five minutes, followed by a short question-and-answer session; the event will culminate in a discussion period in which the audience and all four speakers can speak on questions that have come up throughout the day. Co-organized by Priscilla Wald (English, Duke University) and Barry Saunders (Department of Social Medicine, UNC), the symposium is sponsored by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, California, as well as the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, the Department of Religious Studies at UNC, and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at UNC. Open to the public. Come for all or part of the day. Tell your friends!

Written by gerrycanavan

January 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Tabdump #1

with one comment

* The New York Times has a short piece on The Wire and its popularity among academics on the very day I sent in a proposal for an MLA 2011 special session to be moderated by Lisa and myself:

After The Wire. The cultural and intellectual legacy of The Wire, particularly its critique of neoliberal institutions and its place in the social realist tradition. 250-300 word abstracts due by 15 March 2010 to afterthewire@gmail.com.

* “Transracial Writing for the Sincere.” By Nisi Shawl, visiting Duke later this month.

* Avatar is a billion-dollar film after just 17 days.

* Star Wars status updates.

* 50 things we know now that we didn’t know this time last year.

* Barbara Ehrenreich on the “gift” of breast cancer and the trap of positive thinkinng.

* Last fall, the American Law Institute, which created the intellectual framework for the modern capital justice system almost 50 years ago, pronounced its project a failure and walked away from it. This welcome news comes by way of Srinivas.