Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Osama bin Laden

Literally Every Weekend Link There Is

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* It’s official: J.J. Abrams will ruin Star Wars (more).

* More drone fiction, please. Tweets not bombs. Lip-syncing the poetry of empire.

Žižek vs. Zero Dark Thirty.

Imagine a documentary that depicted the Holocaust in a cool, disinterested way as a big industrial-logistic operation, focusing on the technical problems involved (transport, disposal of the bodies, preventing panic among the prisoners to be gassed). Such a film would either embody a deeply immoral fascination with its topic, or it would count on the obscene neutrality of its style to engender dismay and horror in spectators. Where is Bigelow here?

* Anti-war activism at the University of Wisconsin, c. 1940.

* Stunning read on living as a victim of child abuse from the New York TimesThe Price of a Stolen Childhood.

* David Foster Wallace and depression, in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

* Steve Benen and Maddowblog has been all over the Republican vote-rigging scheme, even going so low as to cite one of my tweets. What The 2012 Election Would Look Like Under The Republicans’ Vote-Rigging Plan. Scott Walker, of course, is rigging-curious. And a delicious little bit of schadenfreude.

It is a sin against the new world of mediocrity to be distinct or distinguished.  We are in the chain-store, neon-lighted era.  Almost every city looks the same.  The same people all dress the same – kids as Hopalong Cassidy, men with loud sportshirts and Truman suits, women in slacks.  Sometimes you can tell whether a trousered individual is a man or a woman only by the width of the buttocks.  Only a few cities have individuality.  They are the seaports, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco.  Boston reeks of decay, and is not genteel.  The rest are all Cleveland.

* Today in legal hyperformalism.

Would you believe me if I told you that President Obama is in constitutional trouble—with hundreds of decisions of the National Labor Relations Board from the last year now potentially invalid—over the meaning of the word the?

* When The Shining had an optimistic ending.

* So we’re going to destroy the world: Australian shale oil discovery could be larger than Canada’s oilsands.

* The trouble with English.

None of these past challenges compares with the one under way now. While other humanities disciplines—philosophy, linguistics, and modern languages, for example—have relied upon a range of foundational practices at the modern mass university, many English professors have depended on literature (narrowly defined), written discourse, and the printed book as the primary elements in teaching and scholarship. But hidebound faculty members who continue to assign and study only pre-computer-based media will quickly be on their way toward becoming themselves a “historical” presence at the university.

That’s why I specialized in iPad-2-era Twitter-based fan-fiction, and frankly I’ve never looked back.

* Mainstreaming MOOCs.

* Open, New, Experimental, Aspirational: Ian Bogost vs. “The Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age.”

* New research indicates tuition has little correlation with educational outcomes.

If markets are efficient and if markets make things better, then there is no explanation for why we have the worst media in the world rather than the best. The problem is that markets don’t really make things better or more efficient. They make things cheaper and they’re responsive. That’s why we get the news we want rather than the news we need.

Child labour uncovered in Apple’s supply chain.

* n+1 visits MLA.

* Defending freedom: A St. Paul man who recently purchased an assault rifle out of fear of an impending gun ban threatened his teenage daughter with it because she was getting two B’s in school rather than straight A’s, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.

For The Sixth Time In One Week, Man Shot At Gun Show.

* Adam Mansbach: My fake college college syllabus.

* Copy Of The Scarlet Letter Can’t Believe The Notes High Schooler Writing In Margins.

* Debunkng the “the Soviets used a pencil” gag. The more you know!

* Occam’s Razor suggests it must be Cory Booker who is putting these people and animals in danger in the first place.

* More on the Arizona “loyalty oaths” issue, with a religious freedom focus.

* New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As ‘Tampering With Evidence.’ Republicans, honestly, we have to talk.

* Seriously, though, I could fix the whole damn system if they’d listen to me.

* Even the Pentagon doesn’t know what the the point of the draft is supposed to be.

* Xavier and Magneto Heading to Broadway for Waiting For Godot.

* And a little something just for the Harmenians: “I wanted a memorable Harmontown show in Kansas City, and for my sins they gave me one.” Dan Harmon predicts pain.

Thursday Night

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Any guild with half an ounce of integrity would be marching in the streets if their employers made that kind of threat to open up their market to all comers. We professors, on the other hand, have to navel gaze about the implications of our own obsolescence before anyone chooses to lift a finger. If there really are only ten universities in twenty years and that Ph.D. of yours ends up as a really expensive wall hanging, don’t say you weren’t warned. The professoriate is the worst guild ever.

As with discourse about climate change policy, the persistence of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other forms of argument about the value of officially sanctioned torture represents a victory for those who would justify such abuse. Zero Dark Thirty has performed no public service by enlarging the acceptability of that form of debate. Sounds like it was good enough even-the-liberal Jon Stewart.

After complaining for weeks that the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” erroneously implies that torture yielded key information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a trio of senior senators now want to know whether CIA personnel deliberately misled the filmmakers on that point.

Wanted: Tenure-track professor of political science specializing in constitutional law to teach four courses per semester. Juris doctor degree highly desirable. Occasional weight-lifting required.

* Social Text forum on cruel optimism.

* Hitting Peak Topsoil.

* Obama has aged fifteen years in four.

* Via my friend @DanHF: a celebration of Tarantino’s Death Proof.

* And who had Mali in the places-to-invade-next pool? You’ve won some exciting violence.

Monday Links

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* Welcome to the future: Another grandmother gives birth to her own grandchild.

* Whiteness and Breaking Bad: America isn’t flooded with pure meth, and it’s not because our chemists are too ethical. The illegal drug market simply doesn’t reward peerless expertise in the same way celebrity cooking shows do.

The white guy who enters a world supposedly beneath him where he doesn’t belong yet nonetheless triumphs over the inhabitants is older than talkies. TV Tropes calls it “Mighty Whitey,” and examples range from Tom Cruise as Samurai and Daniel Day Lewis as Mohican, to the slightly less far-fetched Julia Stiles as ghetto-fabulous. But whether it’s a 3-D marine playing alien in Avatar or Bruce Wayne slumming in a Bhutanese prison, the story is still good for a few hundred million bucks. The story changes a bit from telling to telling, but the meaning is consistent: a white person is (and by extension, white people are) best at everything.

* Paging Kim Stanley Robinson: NASA seems to have violated its own Prime Directive by failing to consult its Planetary Protection Officer on the Curiosity mission.

Teachers are striking in Chicago. Meanwhile: How Michelle Rhee Is Taking Over the Democratic Party. Thank goodness Obama’s winning, so he can finally crush the teachers’ unions once and for all!

* Solitary confinement in schools? Jesus Christ.

* Richard Posner is making sense: The notion of using the criminal law as the primary means of dealing with a problem of addiction, of misuse, of ingesting dangerous drugs — I don’t think that’s sensible at all.

* Debt Collectors Cashing In on Student Loan Roundup.

“I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represent — for our industry,” the consultant, Jerry Ashton, wrote in a column for a trade publication, InsideARM.com. “It was lip-smacking.”

Meanwhile, America’s defaulted student loans total more than yearly tuition at public colleges.

* Star Trek 2 has a title: Star Trek Into Darkness. Early returns: Pretty terrible! Star Wars on Poverty. Lord of the Rings That Bell.

* James Cameron always envisioned Avatar as 19 films.

I have an idea for a fourth. I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world. Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.

But what happened before that? And before that? And…

* The director of Looper has a metaphor for a model of time travel logic I don’t think I’ve seen before: the universe as a body with an immune system that seeks to push out foreign objects.

The problem isn’t that this is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life; the problem is that it’s seven of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life glued together haphazardly, their inexorable badness amplified by their awkward juxtaposition. Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski wanted to make a movie unlike any other, and they certainly did: Cloud Atlas is a unique and totally unparalleled disaster.

*  Study: There is enough wind on this planet to meet our entire energy needs.

* Tressie McMillan Cottom reviews the captivating documentary The Queen of Versailles, which I caught at the local independent movie house this weekend. It’s quite good—a stunning portrait of the wealthy’s perspective of the “normal” workings of the economy and of the 2008-2009 economic collapse.

* And when polls fail: Do 15% of Ohio Republicans really think Romney killed bin Laden? Probably not.

Potpourri

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* Jacob Remes explains May Day.

* My Joss Whedon zombie essay from PopMatters is out in Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion today. Last night I submitted my abstract for the upcoming Politics of Adaptation conference on Cabin in the Woods, drawing me ever closer to total Joss Whedon scholarly completism.

* Roundtable on Non-Western SF, at Locus.

* A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that “liking” a Facebook post is not free speech. To repeat my own Twitter quips, yeah, because it doesn’t cost money.

* New polling shows Amendment One will likely pass after all.

* al Qaeda’s discovered our only weakness: our insatiable love of porn.

On May 16 last year, a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin was being questioned by police in Berlin. He had recently returned from Pakistan via Budapest, Hungary, and then traveled overland to Germany. His interrogators were surprised to find that hidden in his underpants were a digital storage device and memory cards.

Buried inside them was a pornographic video called “Kick Ass” — and a file marked “Sexy Tanja.”

Several weeks later, after laborious efforts to crack a password and software to make the file almost invisible, German investigators discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence — more than 100 al Qaeda documents that included an inside track on some of the terror group’s most audacious plots and a road map for future operations.

* Hungry for good nerd press, Netflix is teasing it might resurrect Jericho.

* Five anarchists arrested by FBI for trying to blow up Cleveland bridge with fake bombs given to them by FBI.

* Aetna, according to the report, cited exclusions and said it would not cover the claim because Scott developed breasts after she changed sexes. N.J. transgender woman wins battle with insurance company to have mammogram covered.

* …legal chicanery has reached such high levels that the SEC is toying with the idea of going after it directly.

* And somebody page Nick Bostrom: Entire Observable Universe Modeled Using French Supercomputer.

Friday Afternoon About-to-Go-See-Harry-Potter Links

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* Erick Erickson, cheering on apocalypse: Obama has a legacy to worry about. Should the United States lose its bond rating, it will be called the “Obama Depression”. Congress does not get pinned with this stuff. See also. Steven Benen on the reality gap. Ezra Klein: How default would harm homeowners, cities, businesses and everyone else.

* And then there’s Rick Perry.

I tell people, that “personal property” and the ownership of that personal property is crucial to our way of life.

Our founding fathers understood that it was a very important part of the pursuit of happiness. Being able to own things that are your own is one of the things that makes America unique. But I happen to think that it’s in jeopardy.

It’s in jeopardy because of taxes; it’s in jeopardy because of regulation; it’s in jeopardy because of a legal system that’s run amok. And I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God and say, “God, You’re going to have to fix this.” […]

I think it’s time for us to use our wisdom and our influence and really put it in God’s hands. That’s what I’m going to do, and I hope you’ll join me.

* Osama bin Laden was working to assemble a team of militants to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, according to communications Navy SEALs seized from his Pakistani hideout when they killed the al Qaeda leader this spring. The article claims that the planned attack targeted the U.S. train system.

* Fox News is comparing the News Corp. hacking scandal to companies that were hacked. The only suitable reaction is awe.

* And local news now: Lawsuit filed over Duke basketball tickets.

A woman filed a lawsuit Friday against her sister, her sister’s husband and Duke University regarding the transfer of two tickets that once belonged to her father for games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Katina Dorton is seeking unspecified damages and asking the court to invalidate the “fraudulent transfer” to Gordon and Sophia Caudle that occurred without the knowledge or consent of her father or other family members, according to the complaint.

“This is important and it’s valuable,” said Randall M. Roden, an attorney for Dorton. “She’s a graduate. She genuinely wants to support the Blue Devils and go to the games. But she was shocked by the way Duke handled this.”

Wednesday Links: Breaking Bad, Divine Justice, Fake Vaccines, and More

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* Just got an email alert from CNN: there appear to have been another set of terror attacks in Mumbai. Very sad news.

* Drug trials in Africa show two AIDS prevention drugs are apparently successful in preventing the spread of the disease.

* And the inevitable dark reflection of the previous link: The headline reads, “CIA used a fake vaccination campaign in hunt for Bin Laden.”

* Justice is sweet: News Corp. has lost $7B in the last four days, shareholders are furious, and Lautenberg is joining the call for DOJ and SEC investigations into Murdoch’s empire.

* ThinkProgress: Meet The Indonesian Workers Who Make Your Nikes.

* Reduce the deficit by stopping building pointless superweapons we can never use.

* Premature victory lap watch: Obama for America raked in $86 million for the last quarter, crushing the GOP. The bulk of the money came from small donors.

* Chuck Klosterman: Why AMC’s Breaking Bad beats Mad MenThe Sopranos, and The Wire.

* And RSA Animate explains why there’s no empathy in Heaven, or in Utopia:

Good Friday

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* The New York State Senate just passed marriage equality 33-29, bringing the number of states allowing gay marriage to six but more than doubling the number of Americans eligible. Twitter tells me this is the first time a Republican-held legislature has passed a marriage equality provision. 44 states to go. Great news that in my own small way I’ve personally been waiting a long time to see.

* I feel so happy I can’t even get mad at news that the GOP walked away from the debt limit negotiations in order to protect tax breaks for people earning $500,000 a year. In fairness I’m pretty sure they were going to walk away from the table no matter what they were offered.

* Self-parody watch: bin Laden was looking to rebrand al Qaeda before he died.

* The streak is over: Cars 2 is the first Pixar movie to receive a “rotten” rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

* And Peter Falk has died. If I were home, I’d pop in The Princess Bride to mourn…