Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘optimism

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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Happy Day after My Birthday to Me Links

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* I’ve had a few pieces come out in the last couple weeks, including a short rumination on memory in the Anthropocene (and Richard McGuire’s Here) for the online journal Deletion. I’m also batting cleanup in a beautiful new volume called Science Fiction: A Literary History, with a piece on “New Paradigms, After 2001.”

The Syllabus: A tribute to the late, great Jim Clark. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone singlehandedly hold a thing together the way Jim held together the UNCG MFA Program.

* The C21 conference for 2018 has a theme: Ends of Cinema. There’s also a promising looking conference happening at McMaster University on Embodiment in Science Fiction and Fantasy. CfP: Fandom—Past, Present, Future, DePaul University, Chicago, IL. And a cool postdoc at Madison: Postdoctoral Fellowship on the Plantationocene.

* I loved this episode of The Lit Review podcast on Octavia Butler’s Earthseed books, with Adrienne Maree Brown. Highly recommend!

Angry Optimism in a Drowned World: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson.

The Anthropocene is that moment in which capitalist expansion can no longer expand, and you get a crush of the biophysical system – that’s climate change – and then you get a crush of the political economy.

31 Essential Science Fiction Terms And Where They Came From.

A Timeline for Humanity’s Colonization of Space.

* If China Makes First Contact.

* Science Fiction and the Arab Spring.

8 Sci-Fi Writers on Where Star Trek Should Go Next.

* The Uncanny Resurrection of Dungeons and Dragons.

* Critical Perspectives on Waluigi.

* Welcome to the future, time traveler!

The House Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students. The GOP Tax Plan Will Destroy Graduate Education. Grad Students Are Freaking Out About the GOP Tax Plan. They Should Be. I would expect a massive wave of college closures in 2018 and 2019 if this goes through.

* I’m very excited to read Malcolm Harris’s book on millennials, which is getting rave reviews. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times.

Unions aren’t just good for wage workers. Students can use collective bargaining, too. The idea of organizing student labor when even auto factory workers are having trouble holding onto their unions may sound outlandish, but young people have been at the forefront of conflicts over police brutality, immigrant rights and sexual violence. In terms of politics, they are as tightly clustered as just about any demographic in America. They are an important social force in this country, one we need right now.

It’s in students’ shared interest to seek later start times for the school day to combat the epidemic of insufficient sleep among high schoolers. It’s in their shared interest to improve their mental health by reducing competition. They could start by demanding an end to class rank or a cap on the number of Advanced Placement courses each student can take per year. It’s in their shared interest to make life easier and lower the stakes of childhood in general. Only young people, united, can improve their working conditions and end the academic arms race.

The excerpt from Harper’s was really good, too!

By looking at children as investments, it’s possible to see where the product of children’s labor is stored: in their human capital. It’s a kid’s job to stay eligible for the labor market (and not in jail, insane, or dead). Any work beyond that adds to their résumé. If more human capital automatically led to a higher standard of living, this model could be the foundation for an American meritocracy. But millennials’ extra work hasn’t earned them the promised higher standard of living. By every metric, this generation is the most educated in American history, yet its members are worse off economically than their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Every authority from moms to presidents told millennials to accumulate as much human capital as they could; they did, but the market hasn’t held up its end of the bargain. What gives?

* The Uncounted.

* Documenting bias against married women in junior faculty searches. What It Looks Like When a University Tries to Revoke a Professor’s Tenure. The University and Debt: Thinking About Neocolonialism in the United States. The Great College Loan Swindle. The Finger-Pointing at the Finance Firm TIAA. Public Higher Ed Skews Wealthy. University History Departments Have a Race Problem. Public engagement is a two-way street.

What Flannery O’Connor’s College Journal Reveals.

It’s Official: ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Series Gets Multiple-Season Commitment at Amazon. With Christopher Tolkien stepping down as executor of the estate I really think they should have waited to try to get the rights to The Silmarillion (which would work much better on television than in cinema). Trying to do the Jackson trilogy on a shoestring is just not going to hold up. Elsewhere in Tolkien news: an earnest effort to see him named a saint in the Catholic Church.

* Honestly Amazon just should have done Prydain.

* I’ve been saying it since the 1990s: Bill Clinton should have resigned. And Al Franken, who I thought better of, should now.

* My dream of one day being a federal judge remains alive.

Almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary. Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker In-Between. World’s witnessing a new Gilded Age as billionaires’ wealth swells to $6tn. Weaponizing the tax code. The coming retail apocalypse.

* This is one of the sickest deportation stories yet.

* Two murder convictions for the same shot.

Sexual Harassment Will Change Your Career Forever. Someone is editing all the bullshit out of celebrity sexual assault apologies. The Myth of the Male Bumbler. Let this flood of women’s stories never cease.

* Why Are There No Great Female Werewolves?

* In a time without heroes…

Portrait Of An American Mass Shooting.

* Malice for malice’s sake.

Scientist recalls training Laika for space.

* Mapping Quantum Leap.

Oh No, I Got Sucked Into the X-Wing Tabletop Game.

* The nightmare that is children’s YouTube culture.

* In a historic move I’m limiting myself to just one “we’re all going to die” link: Democrats Are Shockingly Unprepared to Fight Climate Change.

* Remembering that it is in fact possible to solve difficult environmental problems with deliberate intervention and international cooperation.

The truth about Easter Island: a sustainable society has been falsely blamed for its own demise.

* Japan, are you okay? I was worried and wanted to reach out.

* And I’ve been on the record saying this for years! Universe shouldn’t exist, CERN physicists conclude.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 17, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Fall Break Links! Every Tab I Had Open Is Closed!

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* New open-access scholarship: Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling. My contribution is on Rogue One and the crisis of authority that seems to have plagued all the post-Lucas Star Wars productions. Check it out!

* Science Fiction Film and Television 10.3 is also available, a special issue all about Mad Max and guest-edited by Dan Hassler-Forest, including a great piece by one of my former graduate students, Dr. Bonnie McLean!

* My book was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement! That’s wild. There’s a really nice review coming in the next issue of Science Fiction Studies, too, though I don’t think its online yet…

* By far the absolute best thing I’ve found on the Internet in years: Decision Problem: Paperclips.

* Call for Papers: Critical Disaster Studies.

* It’s been so long since I’ve posted that it’s still news Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize. With all due apologies to Margaret Atwood.

* Tom Petty was still alive then. Puerto Rico wasn’t in ruins, then. The worst mass shooting in American history perpetrated by a single individual hadn’t happened then. California wasn’t on fire quite to the apocalyptic extent that it is now then. I still had hope for The Last Jedi. And the GOP wasn’t all-in for Roy Moore.

* There are no natural disasters. The Left Needs Its Own Shock Doctrine for Puerto Rico. Disaster socialism. Many Trump voters who got hurricane relief in Texas aren’t sure Puerto Ricans should. After the Hurricane. Someday we’ll look back on the storms from this year’s horrific hurricane season with nostalgia.

* Page of a Calvin and Hobbes comic found in the wreckage of Santa Rosa, California.

This is the horror of mass shootings. Not just death that comes from nowhere, intruding upon the status quo—but a death that doesn’t change that status quo, that continues to sail on unchanged by it. You may be a toddler in a preschool in one of the richest zip codes in the country; a congressman playing baseball in Alexandria, Virginia; a white-collar office worker in a business park; a college student or professor on some leafy campus; a doctor making your rounds in a ward in the Bronx; a country music fan enjoying a concert in a city built as a mecca for relaxation and pleasure: the bullet that comes for you will not discriminate. It knows no racial bias, imposes no political litmus test, checks no credit score, heeds no common wisdom of whose life should or shouldn’t matter. It will pierce your skin, perforate your organs, shatter your bones, and blow apart the gray matter inside your skull faster than your brain tissue can tear. And then, after the token thoughts and prayers, nothing. No revolutionary legislation or sudden sea change in cultural attitudes will mark your passing. The bloody cruelty of your murder will be matched only by the sanguine absence of any substantive national response. Our democracy is riven by inequality in so many ways, but in this domain, and perhaps in this domain alone, all American lives are treated as equally disposable.

Having achieved so many conservative goals — a labor movement in terminal decline, curtailed abortion rights, the deregulation of multiple industries, economic inequality reminiscent of the Gilded Age, and racial resegregation — the right can now afford the luxury of irresponsibility. Or so it believes. As we have seen in the opening months of the Trump presidency, the conservative regime, despite its command of all three elected branches of the national government and a majority of state governments, is extraordinarily unstable and even weak, thanks to a number of self-inflicted wounds. That weakness, however, is a symptom not of its failures, but of its success.

* Freedom of speech means professors get fired for their tweets while universities rent their facilities to open Nazis for $600,000 below cost. Meanwhile, college administrations continue to look to Trump to save them from their graduate students.

The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics.

Death at a Penn State Fraternity.

* UPenn humiliates itself.

* Octavia Butler: The Brutalities of the Past Are All Around Us.

* African Science Fiction, at LARB.

* The new issue of Slayage has a “Twenty Years of Buffy” roundtable.

Image Journal Exclusively Publishes Flannery O’Connor’s College Journal.

* Honestly, I prefer it when the NCAA doesn’t even bother to pretend.

* One of the classic signs of a failing state is the manipulation of data, including its suppression.

* Internal emails show ICE agents struggling to substantiate Trump’s lies about immigrants.

* ICE Detainee Sent to Solitary Confinement for Encouraging Protest of “Voluntary” Low Wage Labor.

This Is What It Looks Like When the President Asks People to Snitch on Their Neighbors.

A 2-year-old’s kidney transplant was put on hold — after his donor father’s probation violation.

* The arc of history is long, but Federal Judge Rules Handcuffing Little Kids Above Their Elbows Is Unconstitutional.

Body cameras and more training aren’t enough. We need to divert funding for police into funding for human needs.

“Childhood trauma is a huge factor within the criminal justice system,” said Christopher Wildeman, a sociologist at Cornell University and co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. “It is among the most important things that shapes addictive and criminal behavior in adulthood.”

They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants.

When Colleges Use Their Own Students to Catch Drug Dealers.

* The Democratic district attorney of Manhattan openly takes bribes, and he’s running unopposed.

Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream.

How We Found Tom Price’s Private Jets.

What DNA Testing Companies’ Terrifying Privacy Policies Actually Mean.

Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump. Counterpoint: The case that voter ID laws won Wisconsin for Trump is weaker than it looks.

* Conflict in literature.

‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia. Close that barn door, boys!

Mass Shootings Are A Bad Way To Understand Gun Violence. The stats are clear: the gun debate should be one mostly about how to prevent gun suicides. 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days.

* The secretive family making billions from the opioid crisis.

* University of Hawaii’s creepy email subject line to students: “In the event of a nuclear attack.”

* Marvel’s movie timeline is incoherent nonsense, too.

We have a pretty good idea of when humans will go extinct. No spoilers!

* Tokyo Is Preparing for Floods ‘Beyond Anything We’ve Seen.’

* Cape Coral, Florida, was built on total lies. One big storm could wipe it off the map. Oh, and it’s also the fastest-growing city in the United States.

An Oral History of Batman: The Animated Series.

* Why is Blade Runner called Blade Runner?

* How free porn enriched the tech industry — and ruined the lives of actors.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Is the Bleakest Lord of the Rings Fan Fic I’ve Ever Seen.The best way to beat Shadow Of War’s final act is not to play it. Are Orcs People Too? And a trip down memory lane: How ‘Hobbit Camps’ Rebirthed Italian Fascism.

* The Digital Humanities Bust.

We can’t eliminate the profit motive in health care without eliminating copays.

* Twitter as hate machine.

* They’re good dogs, Brent.

* Burn the Constitution.

* Violence. Threats. Begging. Harvey Weinstein’s 30-year pattern of abuse in Hollywood. Study finds 75 percent of workplace harassment victims experienced retaliation when they spoke up. Collective action is the best avenue to fight sexual harassers like Harvey Weinstein. Will Fury Over Harvey Weinstein Allegations Change Academe’s Handling of Harassment?

* A tough thread on ethical compromise under conditions of precarity and hyperexploitation. I think many academics will relate.

* Major study confirms the clinical definition of death is wildly inadequate.

Death just became even more scary: scientists say people are aware they’re dead because their consciousness continues to work after the body has stopped showing signs of life.

That means that, theoretically, someone may even hear their own death being announced by medics.

Dolphins recorded having a conversation ‘just like two people’ for first time.

Here Are the Best Wildlife Photos of 2017.

Meat eaters are destroying the planet, says report.

The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.

In A Post-Weinstein World, Louis CK’s Movie Is a Total Disaster.

Let this battle herald a return to our roots: tax the rich so much that they aren’t rich anymore — only then can the rest of us live in a decent world.

* Civil-Rights Protests Have Never Been Popular.

Every Rick and Morty Universe So Far.

* Ready for #Vexit.

The world’s first “negative emissions” plant has begun operation—turning carbon dioxide into stone.

I Have Been Raped by Far Nicer Men Than You.

* They’re bound and determined to ruin Go.

I think I’m on my way. I’ve deposited my first check in a savings account and, as and if I sell more, will continue to do so until I have the equivalent of one year’s pay at GE. Four more stories will do it nicely, with cash to spare (something we never had before). I will then quit this goddamn nightmare job, and never take another one so long as I live, so help me God. On Vonnegut’s “Complete Stories.”

An Anatomy of the Worst Game in ‘Jeopardy!’ History.

* Is your D&D character rare?

* Tolkien’s Map and the Perplexing River Systems of Middle-earth.

The Worst Loss In The History Of U.S. Men’s Soccer.

The Rise And Rise Of America’s Best-Kept Secret: Milwaukee!

* Galaxy brain.

* And RIP, John Couture. A tremendous loss for Marquette English.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Weekend Links! Tabs Bankruptcy! All Links Must Go!

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* Podcast: What is Irish Science Fiction? I’d also recommend a few new podcasts, Off Book (weekly improvised musical) and What Trump Can Teach Us about Con Law.

Octavia Butler’s Prescient Vision of a Zealot Elected to “Make America Great Again.”

Researchers Just Launched a Prototype of Humanity’s First ‘Interstellar Spacecraft.’

‘Make It So’: Star Trek and Its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism.

* Star Trek: Discovery is the first Trek TV series in over 15 years. Here’s everything we know.

Republicans don’t trust higher ed. That’s a problem for liberal academics.

* Three years after Steven Salaita lost a promised tenured position in American Indian studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over the tone of his anti-Israel tweets, he’s leaving academe.

How a New Field Could Help Save the Humanities.

Why the Myth of Meritocracy Hurts Kids of Color.

* They’re still fighting at Hypatia.

* “If There’s an Organized Outrage Machine, We Need an Organized Response.” Recovering academic freedom in an age of social media mobbing.

* Any parent could have told you this: Ravens plan better than four-year-olds.

How to raise an optimistic human in a pessimistic world.

Among the dead was a so-called Dreamer, a migrant who had been brought to the United States as a young child. Frank Guisseppe Fuentes, 20, spent much of his life in the U.S. and had crossed the border in an attempt to reunite with family members living in Maryland after he was deported to Guatemala City, Jose Barillas, the Guatemalan consul general in Houston, told Univision. The Mothers Being Deported by Trump. Slain girl’s father, sister denied visas, miss her funeral. A Veteran Agent Speaks Out.

New Jersey raised its smoking age to 21. The change will likely save lives. Honestly, just ban them outright, and soda too.

Wisconsin is paying as much as $1 million per job, which will carry an average salary of $54,000. I’ve thought about it, and I think I’d rather have the iPhone.

The Company Behind Many Surprise Emergency Room Bills.

* Don’t let your employer microchip you! Ever!

A 21st-century form of indentured servitude has already penetrated deep into the American heartland.

Woman turns home into museum after getting sick of black women being ignored by the art world.

* When there was a Lyme disease vaccine.

Snopes Faces an Ugly Legal Battle.

North Dakota’s Norway Experiment.

Reverse Robin Hood: The Historical Scam of Global Development.

* Dungeons and Dragons in America’s dungeons. Dungeons and Dragons and the Left.

* Who invented the high five?

* Hemingway just got beat by four words.

Why there’s no such thing as a gifted child.

* The Bleak Left.

A new Uber-esque school model turns teachers like me into on-demand contractors for the children of the 1 percent.

The Sinclair Revolution Will Be Televised. It’ll Just Have Low Production Values.

* 110/111.

* The next Matt Groening series isn’t just a Futurama-but-fantasy but a joke Futurama already did. But fine I’ll give it a chance.

* A definitive mapping of the decline of The Simpsons. It’s just math, folks.

The attack on Poland’s judicial independence goes deeper than you may think. Here are 5 things to know. Dodged that bullet. Coming soon to a collapsing empire near you!

* On 500 episodes of Comedy Bang Bang.

* When Pokémon Go defeated Milwaukee County.

* Et tu, Roomba? I trusted you.

The World May Have Less Time to Address Climate Change Than Scientists Thought.

* And yet there’s more dicks around than ever before.

* The knife’s edge between utopia and apocalypse: First Human Embryos Edited in U.S.

* #NotAllTVIsDarkAndFullOfTerrors.

* And July 30 can’t come fast enough.

And because Trump is a nightmare from which none of us will ever awake:

We’re Approaching a Major Turning Point in Trump-Era Pop Culture.

* The Scariest Nuclear Threat Is Coming From Inside the White House.

After Pyle’s list of questions wound up on Bloomberg News, the Trump administration disavowed them, but a signal had been sent: We don’t want you to help us understand; we want to find out who you are and punish you. Pyle vanished from the scene. According to a former Obama official, he was replaced by a handful of young ideologues who called themselves “the Beachhead Team.” “They mainly ran around the building insulting people,” says a former Obama official. “There was a mentality that everything that government does is stupid and bad and the people are stupid and bad,” says another. They allegedly demanded to know the names and salaries of the 20 highest-paid people in the national-science labs overseen by the D.O.E. They’d eventually, according to former D.O.E. staffers, delete the contact list with the e-mail addresses of all D.O.E.-funded scientists—apparently to make it more difficult for them to communicate with one another. “These people were insane,” says the former D.O.E. staffer. “They weren’t prepared. They didn’t know what they were doing.”

* The End of State.

* Turtles all the way down: Scott Pruitt wants to hijack the peer-review process to push bad climate science.

* Trump announces an unvetted transgender ban without telling either the White House press office or the Pentagon.

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

Were we ever so young?

* This guy is running communications now! Come on! COME ON!

A Constitutional Crisis Is Inevitable. It’s not too early, or too nutty, to discuss grounds for impeachment. This presidency can’t be saved. A Trump Tower of Absolute Folly. Hot mic. 1 in 4. On the Brink of a Constitutional Crisis, the Nation Goes Numb.

* Psychiatry group tells members they can ignore ‘Goldwater rule’ and comment on Trump’s mental health.

Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals. Sixteen years. We’ve long lost even the pretense that there is a rational reason for this.

64 years after Korean War, North still digging up bombs.

William Regnery II, a man who inherited millions but struggled in business, tried for 15 years to ignite a racist political movement — and failed. Then an unforeseen phenomenon named Donald Trump gave legitimacy to what Regnery had seeded long before: the alt-right. Now, the press-shy white separatist breaks his silence.

How Breitbart Media’s Disinformation Created the Paranoid, Fact-Averse Nation That Elected Trump.

This is the tradition Ryan Alford sets himself against in Permanent State of Emergency: Unchecked Executive Power and the Demise of the Rule of Law. It is from a position of deliberate disinterest in institutional personality, particularly presidential personality, that Alford builds his account of the lawlessness of US counterterrorism efforts since the 9/11 attacks and charts our country’s official passage across the “threshold between an imperial presidency and an elective dictatorship.”

* Is this fascism?

What if Trump Ordered a Nuclear Strike on China? I’d Comply, Says Admiral. Not great, Bob!

* When you’ve lost the Boy Scouts.

Who Is Killing American Women? Their Husbands And Boyfriends, CDC Confirms.

Trump administration is sitting on tens of thousands of student debt forgiveness claims.

Our Long, Troubling History of Sterilizing the Incarcerated.


* There’s nothing he can’t ruin.

How to put Trump on Mount Rushmore, something he’s never even thought about.

* #Actually Stubbs’s tenure as mayor was deeply problematic.

* John McCain Just Proved He Is the Senate’s Biggest Fraud (Again). Your enemies are human too.

The fact that John McCain would get up off his deathbed to participate in this cruel farce does not make him a hero, it makes him a bad person. He had a perfectly valid excuse to skip the vote. Indeed, he had a perfectly valid excuse to resign his senate seat altogether and wash his hands of this mess. Those would both be understandable human actions. What he chose to do instead was completely gratuitous and cruel, which is comprehensible only as an attempt to bask in the media’s adoration one last time. That motivation is human, and that’s what makes it morally blameworthy. If he were a mystical creature who fed on the praise of journalists, then we could write it off as a survival instinct. Since he is a human being with human moral agency, we are entitled to our equally human moral judgment. And in my judgment, which is my right as a human being, John McCain is an evil man and anyone who is trying to use his unfortunate medical condition to distract from that fact is a fool at best and a fellow villain at worst.

* Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos.

* Understanding skinny repeal.

* Don’t forget: they win because the system is rigged in their favor. Not that they don’t get a lot of help.

* And yet! Sometimes they don’t. Good for Collins, Murkowski, McCain, and literally every Democrat in Congress, and remember that Trumpcare isn’t truly dead (no matter how many bullets you put in it) until Democrats get a veto point back…

White Male Critic Asks Why If Wonder Woman Is Really So Great Why Didn’t She Prevent the Holocaust

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As I mentioned on Twitter earlier this morning, the hype turns out to be right: Wonder Woman is really pretty good, especially by the poor standards of the DC Cinematic Universe. DC would be absolutely crazy not to use Wonder Woman as the model for production going forward rather than Batman v. Superman or (god forbid) Suicide Squad; it’s the only one in the DCCU that has been remotely successful from either a political or artistic point of view. (A Twitter friend even suggested that this might be (another) way the film might replicate Captain America, beyond the obvious, templating future entries in the shared universe and becoming the new franchise anchor after a somewhat slow start.) It gives me hope that Wonder Woman (and, soon, Batgirl) can show DC there’s real money in female-oriented superheroes.

I’ll admit I did have some trouble with how obviously the film was cloning Captain America, and I don’t think this is mere pushing-up-your-glasses nerdery: World War II, and the Holocaust especially, hangs over the film in a really direct way, I think, and not only because of Gal Gadot’s Jewish ancestry and its place in the strange debate over whether or not this Wonder Woman qualifies as a woman of color. WWI vs WWII is not a situation where you can just change the dates and tell the same sort of triumphalist story; WWI is simply a very different sort of moment, and a WWI narrative mandates a sort of bitter aftertaste even at its most triumphant.

At least since Star Wars SF and fantasy trilogies have tended to follow a particular template:

  1. optimism
  2. disillusionment
  3. recuperation

The historical existence of World War II is the original and ultimate dark, gritty sequel, a nightmare that like so many filmic sequels was made possible by the conditions of victory of the first one. The choice to set Wonder Woman during WWI thus makes both WWII and WW2 its necessary extension, a situation the film itself even nods at by having its poison-gas-themed villainous Dr. Poison spared by Diana and escape at the end (presumably to help develop Zyklon-B somewhere down the line). Our foreknowledge of the Holocaust — and Wonder Woman’s own retrospective knowledge of it in the film’s unexpectedly quiet frame narrative — haunts the film’s apparently victorious climax, telling us immediately that there is something off or incomplete about her apparent defeat of the God of War: that in some way it was deceptive or incomplete, perhaps, or potentially that her seemingly liberatory victory over Ares only made things worse. The obligatory Empire-Strikes-Back dark turn of Wonder Woman 2 is built into the historical logic of the film’s WWI setting from the jump — and similarly makes any sort of final recuperative turn in WW3/WW3 somewhat hard to imagine. (Perhaps a temporarily pacifistic Diana Price using the spy look from the 1970s comic stops nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis? I’m just spitballing.)

Another Twitter friend had an idea for WW2 I thought was great, and wrote this longer post more or less entirely to popularize: a Wonder Woman film that sidesteps the stale supercharged-Nazi-demons angle in favor of street-level resistance in a Warsaw ghetto:

Depowered or in some other way hamstrung by the Spear of Destiny, perhaps, but still needing to make a difference where she can… In the same way that some MCU movies can be political thrillers and others can be heist movies, Wonder Woman 2 could be and should be a Holocaust film. Knowing nothing about screenwriting and caring nothing about money, I really think that’s the way to go.

Live from a Hotel Room in Philadelphia – Saturday Links!

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* Climate work and despair. It’s a tough problem in the classroom, too. Climate change conflicts somehow with an assumed, mandatory pedagogical optimism; the lack of a solution or even a “hope spot” often leaves the class feeling somehow incomplete.

* Today our president was trolled on Twitter by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vicente Fox.

* Ted Chiang in the New Yorker. Great piece.

Beyond this narrow Wikipedian territory, Chiang is reluctant to venture. Although he is amiable and warm, he is also reticent and does not riff. Over several conversations, I learned, in addition, that he owns four cats, goes to the gym three times a week, and regards a small cylindrical seal made of hematite sometime around 1200 B.C. as one of his most treasured possessions—it was a gift from his sister, a reference to “Tower of Babylon.” He told me that, when he was a child, his family celebrated Christmas but wasn’t religious. When I asked Chiang if he had hobbies, he said no, and then, after a long pause, admitted that he plays video games. He refused to say what he eats for breakfast. Eventually, I sent him an e-mail with twenty-four questions that, I hoped, might elicit more personal details:

Do you have a favorite novel?
There isn’t one that I would want to single out as a favorite. I’m wary of the idea of a favorite anything.

You’ve spent many years living near the water. Do you like the sea?
Not particularly. I don’t actually spend much time on the coast; it’s just chance that I happened to move here.

What was the last work of art that made you cry?
Don’t know.

Do you consider yourself a sensitive person?

Required Reading: 50 of the Best Sci-Fi Comics.

A Sober Utopia.

* Conspiracy theories we can believe in: the 19A0s, the suppressed decade between the 1970s and 1980s whose memory has been repressed.

Can We Really Measure Implicit Bias? Maybe Not. This article certainly supports my implicit bias against these sorts of studies.

* Trumpism: The Devil We Know.

* Today in the hopeless search for some Trump upside: the end of the campus sex bureaucracy.

* How could it possibly get worse? Oh.

* Tilikum has died.

* From December: UN opens formal discussions on AI-powered autonomous weapons, could ban ‘killer robots.’

* Dogs! In! Space!

* Wisconsin, no. Bad.

I Can’t Answer These Texas Standardized Test Questions About My Own Poems.

* In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.

A Practical Guide to Teaching Children Basic Math Concepts Using LEGO Bricks.

* Vegetarianism and mood.

* And meanwhile, in the other universe…



Submitted for Your Approval, Wednesday Links

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* CFP with a Monday deadline: Paradoxa 29, “Small Screen Fictions.” And relevant to my current courses: CFP: The Man in the High Castle and Philosophy.

Application period now open for 2016-17 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship.

Yet we still have not thought seriously about what it means when a private investigative project—bound by no rules of procedure, answerable to nothing but ratings, shaped only by the ethics and aptitude of its makers—comes to serve as our court of last resort.

* Tor has an excerpt from Cixin Liu’s Death’s End, which is amazing (and which I’ll be reviewing for The New Inquiry, by and by).

Just in the nick of time, the United States’ newly minted Solar Forecasting Center was able to convey the true cause of the radar jamming: a rash of powerful solar flares.

* On Pokémon Go and Psychogeography (and Philip K. Dick).

Submitting (SFF) While Black.

* Trump, Second Amendment people, and stochastic terrorism. Could this actually be rock bottom? Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not two sides of the same coin but libidinally necessary for one another. The horror of Trump manages to create the ultimate liberal fantasy of post-partisanship, consensus and respect for the discourse.

How the Trumps Got Rich.

Remember When Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Were Maybe Forced To Pose Nude In College?

* Coming soon to a university near you: We’re implementing new general education requirements without having first figured out how we want to deliver it or even what it is we’re trying to deliver, on a model where all the previous examples we can think of have failed.

The US government will track killings by police for the first time ever.

Justice Department to Release Blistering Report of Racial Bias by Baltimore Police. Should shock even the most cynical.

Chicago Police Can’t Explain Why Their Body Cameras Failed At The Moment Of Unarmed Black Teen’s Death. I suppose it will always be a mystery.

A generation of lawyers has been wiped out in Quetta, and it will leave Baluchistan, in more ways than one, lawless.

Oneida: The Christian Utopia Where Contraception Was King.

Israel’s supreme court has ruled that Franz Kafka’s manuscripts are the property of the National Library of Israel, ending a lengthy legal battle, judicial sources said in Monday.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 26: Bootcamp.

Finally, there’s a good way to play Dungeons & Dragons online.

* The debate over who should be allowed to compete as a woman has more to do with ethics than endocrinology.

An unsettling thing happened at the Olympic diving pool on Tuesday: the water inexplicably turned green, just in time for the women’s synchronized 10-meter platform diving competition.

* Exceptionalism: More and more women are now dying in childbirth, but only in America.

* Nailing it: We’ve Devoured a Year’s Worth of Natural Resources in Just Seven Months.

* DCTVU Watch: This is a bad idea and they shouldn’t do it, though they will.

* Harley Quinn and sexism by committee. All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better.

* Trailers! Luke Cage! Story of Your Life Arrival! Even an improvised Rick and Morty mini-episode!

* And a friendly reminder to always look on the bright side of life.


Written by gerrycanavan

August 10, 2016 at 8:06 am