Posts Tagged ‘nuclearity’
* Tomorrow at Marquette! The English Department pop culture group geeks out over The Hunger Games.
“In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”
The point of engagement in this sense is not to involve the public in making decisions, but make them feel involved in decisions that others will make. That this may be done with the best of intentions is important, of course, but ultimately besides the point. Like “stakeholder,” “engagement” thrives in a moment of political alienation and offers a vocabulary of collaboration in response. So if civic engagement is in decline, one thing that is not is the ritualistic performance of civic participation. The annual election-cycle ritual in American politics is a case in point here. In one populist breath, we routinely condemn the corruption of politicians who, it is said, never listen to the average voter. And in the next, we harangue the average voter for failing to participate in a process we routinely describe as corrupted. So it’s not the “apathy” or “disengagement” of the public that we should lament or criticize—it’s the institutions that give them so many reasons to be disengaged in the first place.
JR: In the past you have said that you are a short-term pessimist and a long-term optimist. Could you expand on this a bit: why are you pessimistic about the short term? What changes do you anticipate taking place between the near and far futures that change your pessimism to optimism?
IB: On a personal level, it’s damage limitation; a sanity-keeping measure. Expect the worst and anything even only half-decent seems like something to celebrate. The pessimism comes from a feeling that as a species we seem unable to pass up any opportunity to behave stupidly, self-harmfully (the Copenhagen climate talks being but the latest example). The long-term optimism comes from the the fact that no matter how bad things seem and how idiotically and cruelly we behave. . . well, we’ve got this far, despite it all, and there are more people on the planet than ever before, and more people living good, productive, relatively happy lives than ever before, and—providing we aren’t terminally stupid, or unlucky enough to get clobbered by something we have no control over, like a big meteorite or a gamma ray buster or whatever—we’ll solve a lot of problems just by sticking around and doing what we do; developing, progressing, improving, adapting. And possibly by inventing AIs that are smarter and more decent than we are, which will help us get some sort of perspective on ourselves, at the very least. We might just stumble our way blindly, unthinkingly into utopia, in other words, muddling through despite ourselves.
* The growth of auxiliary activities was the primary driver in spending increases by the schools, the report concludes. From 2005 to 2012, $3.4 billion was spent on instructional and research facilities. The cost for nonacademic auxiliary facilities was $3.5 billion from 2002 to 2012. Limit athletic fees, check construction to control college costs, study says.
* It’s a start: Massachusetts Town Proposes First Complete Ban On All Tobacco.
* The Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) is under attack by critics who say academe is colluding with the mainstream media to push a feminist agenda in video games. How deep does this conspiracy go?
* When we think about the collapse of communism, we should emphasize and celebrate the attractiveness of a social market economy — not free enterprise.
* Today, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced through the New York Times that it may stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession, opting instead to issue tickets without detaining the suspect. This would feel like an important step toward reasonable weed policy if New York state hadn’t already mandated it 37 years ago.
* The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars. Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets to Seize.
* Is Pre-K academically rigorous enough? That’s a real question this real article is asking.
* Grace Dunham is now an adult and she read this book before it was published. She is managing her sister’s book tour and they are best friends. Are we really going to overlook this?
* Also on the subject of Lena Dunham: this is an extremely clickbaity headline, but the testimony from a juvenile sex offender is fascinating and horrible.
* In America, today’s parents have inherited expectations they can no longer afford. The vigilant standards of the helicopter parents from the baby boomer generation have become defined as mainstream practice, but they require money that the average household earning $53,891 per year— and struggling to survive in an economy in its seventh year of illusory “recovery”— does not have. The result is a fearful society in which poorer parents are cast as threats to their own children.
* Although it looks like a traditional typeface, Dyslexie by Christian Boer is designed specifically for people with dyslexia.
* In its gentle sadness, its deceptively light tone, and its inherent contradictions, this is the perfect ending to The Next Generation. One of these days, the crew will be dispersed. The Enterprise will be put in mothballs. Starfleet will complete its transformation into a body that none of them particularly want to serve in. But for now, their voyages continue.
* Peak Prequel: Sony Rumored to Be Prepping Aunt May Spider-Man Spin-Off Movie.
* And the best news ever: HBO Will Make Asimov’s Foundation With Interstellar‘s Jonathan Nolan. I may lose my mind over this show. I may even do a podcast. And a lot of what went wrong with Interstellar wasn’t even Jonathan Nolan’s fault!
* ICYMI: An edited and expanded meritocracy, lottery, game blog post got republished at Inside Higher Ed yesterday. Here’s a reply suggesting a better metaphor than games might be the casting process.
* Cool stuff happening at Marquette: Conflicting Audience Reception of Tauriel in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. A student-curated exhibit at the Taggerty. And of course there’s my pop culture group geeking out over The Hunger Games.
* A college can’t fire an adjunct professor for criticizing it, so long as the issues raised are matters of public concern and the adjunct has reasonable expectation of continued employment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Thursday in a decision regarding Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois.
* Colleges have no business being vehicles for mass entertainment any more than they have business selling widgets or maintaining a fishing fleet. It is no proper part of a university’s mission to provide quality television programming and year-round gambling opportunities for the rest of the country. That this has become the norm in America’s system of higher education is a monstrous accident of history and of academic neglect, but there it is, and it is not going anywhere, and the only way to do it is simply to make an honest business out of it.
* Gasp! …the average student in a MOOC is not a Turkish villager with no other access to higher education but a young white American man with a bachelor’s degree and a full-time job.
* Cura personalis: The maturation of the student—not information transfer—is the real purpose of colleges and universities. Of course, information transfer occurs during this process. One cannot become a master of one’s own learning without learning something. But information transfer is a corollary of the maturation process, not its primary purpose. This is why assessment procedures that depend too much on quantitative measures of information transfer miss the mark. It is entirely possible for an institution to focus successfully on scoring high in rankings for information transfer while simultaneously failing to promote the maturation process that leads to independent learning.
* The latest from Aaron Bady’s ongoing interview series at Post45: “Not in a million years did I expect some people to be upset about the portrayal of the conquistadors.”
* Happy election day! The empty election. The Democrats are doomed. Ginsburg Was Right: Texas’ Extreme Voter ID Law Is Stopping People From Voting. New Voting Restrictions Could Swing the 2014 Election. Black people, white government. Facebook Wants You to Vote on Tuesday. Here’s How It Messed With Your Feed in 2012.
* Lawyers, judges, and even journalists tend to have trouble finding people like Eric Kennie—the people who are the most completely disenfranchised by a law like SB14—precisely because such people are, in many areas of life, completely disenfranchised. If they had the kind of economic and social wherewithal to make their voices heard in political or legal spheres—if they knew lawyers or journalists or legislators or people who knew such people—then they most likely would also have the kind of economic and social wherewithal to obtain the documents SB14 demands. Their very lack of money, lack of a car, lack of knowledge of how the system works, and lack of options also tend to make them invisible to the more elite actors who, in distant courtrooms and legislative hearing rooms and newsrooms, fight out the disputes that affect whether they can vote. From the point of view of those more elite actors, looking for Eric Kennie is indeed, as Pilkington puts it, like looking for a vacuum. It like an anti-social-networking puzzle in our networked age: please find me the people who are the most distant from, the least connected to, me or anyone I know.
* And as if the whole stupid thing weren’t irrational enough: Sense of disgust is ’95 percent accurate’ predictor of whether you’re liberal or conservative.
* Tom Steyer spent $57 million to get voters to care about climate change. It didn’t work. Oh, if only he’d spent $58 million!
* Cancel the midterms! There’s still time!
* Huge congrats to Obama for triumphing here over a really tough field.
* Historical Futurology. Check the footnotes for some nice citation of Green Planets!
* The justice system is a monster: Why Innocent People Plead Guilty.
* Erwin Chemerinsky read a 500-page biography of Antonin Scalia so you don’t have to. Spoiler alert: he’s the worst.
* In praise of A Canticle for Leibowitz. Really bad third act problems, though.
* People can feel lots of different things about Lena Dunham and her body of work. What I’m not comfortable with, and certainly not under the mantle of supporting victims and building a culture of consent, is for people to create a narrative of victimization and abuse for Grace Dunham that she has never claimed for herself.
* How to stop global warming, in seven steps. Oh, if only it’d been six steps!
* Smartly realizing that nothing is going to change on the climate change beat, NPR guts its environmental reporting.
* Epigrams for my research agenda: That’s to say nothing of the fact that the people involved in GamerGate that Grieco defends are, in fact, not poor bullied kids. They are, overwhelmingly, employed, educated, privileged adult men, many of whom work for some of the most powerful and profitable industries in our economy. Their beloved sci fi and comic books and fantasy genres and media– those aren’t reviled and disrespected properties that people are ashamed to like. They’re economically dominant and critically lauded, and given the way the internet makes culture spread more broadly and intensely than ever before, are probably the most powerful force in the history of the arts.
* Spock was right: Concern for equality linked to logic, not emotion.
* National insanity watch: Students at a Nebraska High School Can Now Pose With Guns in Their Senior Portraits.
* I want to talk about how badly we’re failing the boys who can’t see their way out of a totally lethal, totally toxic distortion of masculinity — the kind that says that if boys aren’t manly, or gentlemanly, they can be gunmanly.
* Forty percent of mass shootings start with the gunman targeting his wife, girlfriend, or ex. And access to firearms makes it seven times more likely that a domestic abuser will kill his partner.
* LARoB interviews David Mitchell.
* Why Google wants to replace Gmail. They should have nationalized Google fifteen years ago.
* Now we see the violence, &c: Wisconsin cops deploy armored vehicle to collect fines from 75-year-old man for messy land.
The Wire extends and elaborates melodrama in remarkable ways. But, as Williams says, melodrama remains a broadly liberal medium — and as Williams doesn’t say, liberalism and neoliberalism are not especially distant cousins. Liberalism can critique neoliberalism for its inequities, its cruelties, and its callousness. But to neoliberalism’s call for data and surveillance, liberalism can only respond with a call for better data and more nuanced surveillance; to neoliberalism’s doctrine of individuality as sameness, liberalism can only offer a deeper individuality subsumed within a deeper sameness. The Wire is undoubtedly one of the greatest melodramas extant, and an object lesson in how powerful the form can be. Its limitations aren’t a failure on the part of its creators so much as an indication that melodrama, having gotten us to this particular liberal democratic impasse, is unlikely, on its own, to get us out.
* And I learned today that Star Trek secondary canon features a running subplot where an unfrozen Wall Street guy slowly takes over the Federation. This is going in the Khan essay for sure…
This week Strange Horizons reprints my favorite Kim Stanley Robinson story, “The Lucky Strike” (podcast), though for my money it’s really worth getting the PM Press edition that pairs it with his great “A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions” essay.
* The Department of English invites applications for an entry-level, tenure-track Assistant Professor position in medieval literature, language, and culture, primarily British, before 1500. Marquette English is hiring!
* Maybe my new favorite page on the Internet: r/DaystromInstitute’s list of long-running Star Trek what-ifs and what-abouts.
* I think I’ve linked this thread before, at least a different version of it: “I want to see a sci fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.”
* Creative Destruction: Tech and the evolution of the desk, 1985-2014.
* Bousquet breathes some fire: This change in appointment types is not accidental or caused by outside forces. The adjunctification of faculty appointment has been an intentional shock treatment by campus administrations. Of course, there may be some claims regarding saving money; however, most critical observers note that “saving” on $70,000 faculty salaries generates a vast, expensive need for $80,000- to $120,000-per-year accountants, IT staff members, and HR specialists, plus a few $270,000 associate provosts. Not to mention the $500,000 bonus awarded to the president for meeting the board’s permatemping target and successfully hiding the consequences from students, parents, and the public. It should be obvious to most of us that any money left over from bloating the administration is generally directed to consultants, construction, and business partnerships.
* The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a recent survey that questioned the correlation between internships and full employment upon graduation.The findings were astonishing. Hiring rates for those who had chosen to complete an unpaid internship (37%) were almost the same for those who had not completed any internship at all (35%). Students who had any history of a paid internship, on the other hand, were far more likely (63%) to secure employment.
* Casinos are the autoimmune disease of city planning. They destroy everything else in the area, then die when the host is dead.
* …white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.
* BREAKING: Elizabeth Warren won’t save us.
* Unskew the polls! Democratic Senate edition.
* Today in climate change neologisms: “Megadroughts.”
* The arc of history is long, but: “Doctor Who ‘lesbian-lizard’ kiss will not face investigation.”
* A unique experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe—including whether we live in a hologram.
* Asst. Principal Fined for Changing His Son’s Failing Grades 11 Times. This story has everything:
According to the New York Daily News, Ali has been reassigned away from Bread and Roses, but has not been placed at a new school. He remains on the Department of Education’s payroll with a $104,437 annual salary.
The school, the Daily News reports, is expected to close by 2016 for poor performance.
* ALS Foundation floats trademarking the concept of an “ice bucket challenge,” but immediately gets talked out of it.
* Thoughtcrime watch: Dorchester County discovers one of its teachers is a novelist, completely flips its wig.
* The inexorable march of progress: This Cheap Exoskeleton Lets You Sit Wherever You Want Without a Chair.
* Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker: What’s the point of studying history?
* The Politics Of Every Major U.S. Religion, In One Chart. Way to claim the vital center, Catholics!
* Suddenly I’m up on top of the world: They’re rebooting Greatest American Hero.
* If you want a vision of the future, imagine Mitt Romney running for president, forever.
* And just this once, everybody lives: Family Cleans House, Finds Pet Tortoise Missing Since 1982.