Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Omelas

Time Travel Will NEVER Be Canon on gerrycanavan.wordpress.com, and Other Tuesday Links

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* Dialectics of Black Panther: By sliding between the real and unreal, Black Panther frees us to imagine the possibilities — and the limitations — of an Africa that does not yet exist. Ultimately, “Black Panther” does what all superhero movies do: It asks us to place faith in the goodness of individuals rather than embracing revolutionary structural change. In effect, the Wakandan Kingdom is caught between two bleak visions of America: walling itself off, or potentially imposing on other nations. The Afrofuturistic Designs of Black Panther. ‘Black Panther’ offers a regressive, neocolonial vision of Africa. Africa is a country in Wakanda. What to Watch After Black Panther: An Afrofuturism Primer. I was asked to write a short piece for Frieze building on my blog post from the weekend, so look for that as early as tomorrow…

* Adam Kotsko’s talk on Rick and Morty and BoJack Horseman is now streaming from mu.edu.

* Major nerd news: Star Wars: Rebels just introduced time travel into the main canon for the first time. There were minor, often debatable incidents before, but never in the “main plot,” and never as a key incident in the life of a character this important to fans. I’m surprised: I used to use “no time travel in Star Wars” as an example of how franchises police themselves — though as I was saying on Twitter this morning the recent introduction of true time travel to both Star Wars and Harry Potter suggests it may in fact be what happens to long-running fantasy franchises when they grow decadent. Now Tolkien stands alone as the only major no-time-travel SF/F franchises, unless I’m forgetting something — and Tolkien considered a time travel plot for a long time, and actually promised CS Lewis he would write one, but abandoned it…

Leaving Omelas: Science Fiction, Climate Change, and the Future.

Half of world’s oceans now fished industrially, maps reveal. North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists. What Land Will Be Underwater in 20 Years? Figuring It Out Could Be Lucrative. Scott Pruitt’s EPA.

In order to do this I propose a test. A favorite trope among the administrative castes is accountability. People must be held accountable, they tell us, particularly professors. Well, let’s take them at their word and hold themaccountable. How have they done with the public trust since having assumed control of the university?

Lecturers on Strike.

Disaster Capitalism Hits Higher Education in Wisconsin.

Anonymous faculty group threatens to take down Silent Sam.

West Virginia Teachers Walk Out.

Markelle Fultz — along with a slew of huge names and top college basketball programs — have been named in a bombshell report into NCAA hoops corruption involving illegal payouts to players. The Real Lesson of the Weekend’s NCAA Scandals Is That College Basketball Coaches Should Be Dumped in the Ocean.

* Meanwhile.

What directional school is the most directionally correct? A case study.

* The Yale student who secretly lived in a ventilation shaft.

How the Activists Who Tore Down Durham’s Confederate Statue Got Away With It.

The teenagers from Stoneman Douglas are fearlessly reimagining how to effect change in the Trump era.

* Coming soon: Muppet Guys Talking.

Disney’s Frozen musical opens on Broadway: ‘More nudity than expected.’

* Greenwald v. Risen re: Russia.

“What happens when anyone can make it appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did?” technologist Aviv Ovadya warns.

* Despite the NPR’s handwringing about threats and vulnerability, the United States already possesses the most responsive, versatile, and deadly nuclear strike forces on the planet. In essence, the Pentagon now proposes to embark upon an arms race, largely with itself, in order to preserve that status.

* Simulating nuclear war.

* The case against tipping culture.

The Tipped Minimum Wage Is Fueling Sexual Harassment in Restaurants.

* Monica Lewinsky in the Age of #MeToo.

Life Without Retirement Savings.

Americans’ reliance on household debt ─ and poor people’s struggles to pay it off ─ has fueled a collection industry that forces many of them into jail, a practice that critics call a misuse of the criminal justice system.

Inside the Deadly World of Private Garbage Collection.

* Gerrymandering a 28-0 New York.

On Being a Woman in the Late-Night Boys’ Club.

In the article, Sally Payne, a pediatric occupational therapist, explains that the nature of play has changed over the past decade. Instead of giving kids things to play with that build up their hand muscles, such as building blocks, or toys that need to be pushed or pulled along, parents have been handing them tablets and smartphones. Because of this, by the time they’re old enough to go to school, many children lack the hand strength and fine motor control required to correctly hold a pencil and write.

* Understand your user feedback.

Switzerland makes it illegal to boil a live lobster.

* The U.S. Border Patrol’s violent, racist, and ineffectual policies have come to a head under Trump. What can be done? Mother and daughter are now at detention facilities 2,000 miles apart. Warning of ICE action, Oakland mayor takes Trump resistance to new level.

The City & The City coming to TV in 2018 (again).

* BoJack Horseman and modern art.

* Legitimately teared up.

* The future sucks.

* Let’s see what else is in the news. Wisconsin exceptionalism. Mister Sun, why do you wear sunglasses?

Syllabus: Science Fiction in the Summertime

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I find teaching in the summer very agreeable in some ways and very difficult in others: I really feel as though a “life during wartime” spirit of camaraderie develops in the classroom, which is nice, but at the same time it can be difficult to cover the amount of material I’d normally cover in a semester (especially since it’s so hard to assign the usual amount of either reading or writing). This summer in particular I’ve really had to accept that summer classes are just different — my class meets only two days a week, for an impossible 3 1/2 hours at a stretch.

My plan is to break each class period into roughly three one-hour chunks, with two short breaks between each. There’s a lot more in-class stuff than I usually do, and even more little clips and exercises that I have planned that won’t be the major focus of the day and so aren’t listed in the syllabus. No papers — just take-home midterm, take-home final, forum posts, and quizzes.

People who know my classes or my work can probably tell that I’ve chosen texts I know inside and out, including a bunch I’ve written on. This is not an accident.

With all those caveats, here’s the gameplan:

M June 29 INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE

in class: Ted Chiang, “Liking What You See: A Documentary”

in class: excerpts from Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica (2000s), Interstellar, Mass Effect, etc.

W July 1 in class: film, Avatar (2009)
M July 6 Avatar discussion continues: Annalee Newitz, “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar?” [web]; Slavoj Žižek, “Return of the Natives” [web]

Kim Stanley Robinson, “The Lucky Strike”

in class: Kim Stanley Robinson, “A Sensitive Dependence on Internal Conditions”

W July 8 Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (first third)
M July 13 Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (second third)
W July 15 Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (whole book)
M July 20 TAKE-HOME MIDTERM DUE TO D2L BY 5:30 PM

James Tiptree, Jr., “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” [ARES]

in class: Ursula K. Le Guin: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

in class: film, “The Space Traders” (1994)

W July 22 Mark Bould, “The Ships Landed Long Ago” [ARES]

Samuel R. Delany, “The Star Pit” [ARES]

in class: TV, Star Trek: Deep Space 9: “Far Beyond the Stars” (1998)

M July 27 Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (parts one and two)
W July 29 Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (part three)
M August 3 Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (whole book)

in class: excerpt from Octavia E. Butler, Adulthood Rites

W August 5 Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Volumes 1 & 2

in class: zombie film and television, zombie games

LAST DAY OF CLASS

M August 10 TAKE HOME FINAL DUE TO D2L BY 12:00 PM