Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘power

I Have (Not a Joke) 300 Tabs Open and This Afternoon I Am Closing Them All: Election Night Links!

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I’ve been so ridiculously busy I haven’t been able to tend to my open tabs at all. There’s over 300 — and I’m not leaving this room until I’ve closed them all. Let’s go!

* Really, I’ve been so busy I haven’t even been able to shamelessly self-promote: I missed announcing my trip to Atlanta for SLSA 2016 and my presentations on “Literary Studies after Blackfish” and the upcoming almost-almost-done issue of Paradoxa on “Global Weirding,” as well as my New Inquiry review of the (fantastic) end to Liu Cixin’s (fantastic) Three-Body trilogy. My new essay on “Geriatric Zombies” from The Walking Med was namechecked as part of a larger zombie news report in the Seattle Times. Most importantly I haven’t been able to hype my Octavia Butler book, which is printed and apparently shipping. I’ve even held one in my hands!

* Meanwhile, here’s my guess for tonight’s final results, just to get it out of the way: 340-198.

* CFP: Letters to Octavia Butler. CFP: The Comics of Alison Bechdel. CFP: English Studies in Ruins? CFP: The World of Harry Potter.

* A new issue of the Eaton Journal in Archival Research in Science Fiction is out, including a piece from Larisa Mikhaylova on Star Trek fandom in Russia.

French town upholds law against UFOs.

Invisible Planets / Invisible Frameworks — Assembling an Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF. I’ve been reading the Invisible Planets collection and it’s great.

* Why we should lower the voting age in America.

Žižek on the lesser evil. Jameson on fascism, but not yet. Study Confirms Network Evening Newscasts Have Abandoned Policy Coverage For 2016 Campaign. Americans, Politics, and Social Media. Stop Calling the United States a Banana Republic. Yes, Trump Really Is Saying ‘Big League,’ Not ‘Bigly,’ Linguists Say. The 282 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List. No, “we” are not collectively responsible for anything. Journey to the Center of the Alt-Right. Ivanka is the real threat. A Reading Guide for Those in Despair About American Politics. And did someone order a Constitutional crisis with a 4-4 Supreme Court?

* What Happens if You Vote and Die Before Election Day? Too late for all of us, alas.

In contrast to the Fordist society observed by Gramsci, power now seeks to circumvent the public sphere, in order to avoid the constraints of critical reason. Increasingly, it is non-representational codes—of software, finance, human biology—that mediate between past, present and future, allowing society to cohere. Where, for example, employee engagement cannot be achieved via cultural or psychological means, increasingly business is looking to solutions such as wearable technology, that treat the worker as an item of fixed capital to be monitored physically, rather than human capital to be employed. The key human characteristics are those that are repeated in a quasi-mechanical fashion: footsteps, nightly sleep, respiration, heartbeat. These metronomic qualities of life come to represent each passing moment as yet another one of the same. The New Neoliberalism.

“We are all Thomas More’s children”: 500 years of Utopia. And at LARB.

It isn’t every day that a street criminal—a high-school dropout with two felony convictions—is accused of stealing a centuries-old violin worth as much as $6 million. But nothing about the heist of the Lipinski Stradivarius, which galvanized the music world last winter, was normal, or even logical.

How America Outlawed Adolescence. The Cognitive Benefits of Being a Man-Child.

Inside the NSA’s For-Sale Spy Town. The Indiana Town That Modernism Built.

* Where Ph.D.s Work. IPFW Community Shocked by Restructuring Recommendations. Last month’s strike at Harvard. And its results. A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because ‘Students Lean More Toward the Democrats.’ Saudi college student in Wisconsin dies after assault. Johns Hopkins threatens to close its interdisciplinary Humanities Center, sparking outcry from students and faculty members. San Diego State University tuition, 1959. How State Budget Cuts Affect Your Education.

* Cornell looks for ways to cut time professors spend on administrative requirements, as opposed to teaching and research.

The Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges rates America’s top 150 universities (as listed by US News and World Reports) and will soon rate the Top 50 Liberal Arts Schools according to their commitment to viewpoint diversity.

The American Association of University Professors has launched an investigation focused on the dismissal of Nathanial Bork, who had taught philosophy courses at the college for six years before he was dismissed. The AAUP says that his dismissal raises concerns both because of the issues he raises about rigor and also because he was fired shortly after he complained about the situation to the Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accreditor. Further, Bork was active in efforts to improve the working conditions of adjuncts at the college.

mapmapampA More Accurate World Map Wins Prestigious Japanese Design Award. Love this.

* Borges and maps.

* “University Paid for Bigfoot Expedition.”

* Dig this Beatnik glossary.

* Starship Troopers coming back just as documentary footage of 2016. A darker, grittier Muppet Babies, for a tragic time.

Quentin Tarantino still insists he’s going to stop at 10 movies.

Playing with History: What Sid Meier’s Video Game Empire Got Right and Wrong About ‘Civilization.’

* “Capitalism Broke Earth, Let’s Protect Mars.”

Inside Magic Leap, The Secretive $4.5 Billion Startup Changing Computing Forever.

The video for Soul Asylum’s 1993 smash hit featured real missing kids. Some eventually came home; some never did.

Her toddler suddenly paralyzed, mother tries to solve a vexing medical mystery. Football Alters the Brains of Kids as Young as 8. Why treating diabetes keeps getting more expensive. The Other Sister: Returning Home to Care for an Autistic Sibling.

Inmates Explain How They’d Run Prisons.

* If Women Wrote Men the Way Men Write Women.

* Zork in your browser.

Russia Reveals ‘Satan 2’ Nuclear Missile Capable of Destroying Texas in One Blow. Bathroom air freshener causes emergency response at nuclear site.

* Why can’t the Star Trek timeline advance?

* The end of butterflies.

The Venom From This Snake Will Make Your Life a Living Hell.

Inside The Strange, Paranoid World Of Julian Assange.

* Ruin chic.

Why Did This Guy Collect 500 Screenshots of Soda Machines in Video Games? Because He’s a Genius. And elsewhere on the Jacob Brogan science beat: Everyone Poops. Some Animals Eat It. Why?

* Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, Thumb U.N. won’t intervene.

* Now Is The Perfect Time For The Indians To Quietly Abandon Chief Wahoo.

* Deep time’s uncanny future is full of ghostly human traces. How the Concept of Deep Time Is Changing.

* The Average American Melts 645 Square Feet of Arctic Ice Every Year.

In rural North Dakota, a small county and an insular religious sect are caught in a stand-off over a decaying piece of America’s atomic history: The Pyramid at the End of the World.

Penn State Fined Record $2.4 Million in Jerry Sandusky Case.

* Dibs on the screenplay: Yellowstone’s “Zone of Death.” And I’ll take this one too: The Canadian Military Is Investigating a Mysterious Noise In the Arctic.

How Doctor Strange went from being a racist Asian caricature to a magical white savior.

* A new favorite poem:

* Animal minds: the new anthropomorphism.

* You weren’t educated, you were trained.

Twenty-first century Victorians.

* Remembering Tom Hayden.

How We Tell Campus Rape Stories After Rolling Stone.

* Native lives matter. Tribe vows to fight North Dakota pipeline through winter. The world watches. A Standing Rock Syllabus.

* Superheroes and sadness. Pixar and sadness.

* Presenting The Black Mirror Expanded Universe.

* Wildlife numbers more than halve since 1970s in mass extinction. Inside the Frozen Zoo That Could Bring Extinct Animals Back to Life.

* The secret history of Teaching with Calvin & Hobbes.

* A bad idea, but fine: The Adventures of Young Dumbledore.

Kardashev Type III Societies (Apparently) Do Not Exist.

* And frankly you had me at LEGO, but I like the rest too: LEGO’s New Line of Female Superheroes Is the Toy We Deserve.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 8, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Every Possible Monday Link

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8 Quick Thoughts on the Emmett Rensin Suspension. 21st Century Blacklists in New York.

* The second issue of the MOSF Journal of Science Fiction.

* Huge, if true: Ongoing Weakness in the Academic Job Market for Humanities.

Fig1_JobAds

The university-as-such is a criminal neoliberal and neocolonial institution. It cannot be reformed. It must be abolished and reinvented.

* 13 Ways of Looking at the Humanities.

* Apparent murder of a professor follows a day of terror on campus and reflects a kind of violence that is rare but feared. Hundreds gather to honor slain UCLA professor. Police Say UCLA Shooter Mainak Sarkar Also Killed Woman in Minnesota.

* Decolonizing Yale English.

Brigham Young professor told not to give fake urine to his students to drink.

When universities try to behave like businesses, education suffers.

* Nobody knows how to torpedo their own brand like a university outreach office.

Looks Like We Were Wrong About the Origin of Dogs.

* Who Gives Money to Bernie Sanders? Understanding Sanders voters. Bernie Sanders Has Already Won California.

“I don’t think anybody had figured out how to win when we got in,” said senior strategist Tad Devine. “It was ‘How do we become credible?’ ”

* Interesting trial ballon: Reid reviews scenarios for filling Senate seat if Warren is VP pick.

* Miracles and wonders: Stanford researchers ‘stunned’ by stem cell experiment that helped stroke patient walk.

Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker. The Stanford Rapist’s Father Offers An Impossibly Offensive Defense Of His Son.

* Report: Milwaukee conducted deceitful water testing for lead. Chicago residents take action to be rid of lead pipes as fear of toxic water grows.

These findings are very preliminary, but they support a decades-old (and unfortunately named) idea called the hygiene hypothesis. In order to develop properly, the hypothesis holds — to avoid the hyper-reactive tendencies that underlie autoimmune and allergic disease — the immune system needs a certain type of stimulation early in life. It needs an education.

* Genes Are Overrated.

SFMOMA Visitor Trips, Falls Into $82 Million Warhol Painting.

* Being Peter Thiel.

This Is How Elon Musk Wants Government to Work on Mars. Elon Musk believes we are probably characters in some advanced civilization’s video game.

What’s the Matter with San Francisco: How Silicon Valley’s Ideology Has Ruined a Great City.

* The Case Against America.

In the scope of the scheming, corruption, and illegality from this interim government, Temer’s law-breaking is not the most severe offense. But it potently symbolizes the anti-democratic scam that Brazilian elites have attempted to perpetrate. In the name of corruption, they have removed the country’s democratically elected leader and replaced her with someone who — though not legally barred from being installed — is now barred for eight years from running for the office he wants to occupy.

Claypool: Without State Funding Chicago Public Schools Won’t Open in Fall. Total system failure.

UC paid billions in fees to hedge funds that only mirrored stock market. Kean U. Broke Law in Purchasing $250,000 Table, State Office Says.

* Jay Edidin on how to be a guy.

* The case for abandoning Miami.

* Huge, if true: Game of Thrones’ Dany/Dothraki storyline doesn’t make any sense. Is Dany the villain? But the real villain is the one you never see coming: Game Of Thrones Season Seven May Be Seven Episodes Long.

Call for Contributors: Fan Phenomena: Game of Thrones.

The media have reached a turning point in covering Donald Trump. He may not survive it. Why Trump Was Inevitable. Why Donald Trump Is Flailing. Why Trump Will Lose. Donald Trump Does Not Have a Campaign. Why Trump Is Losing. Clinton’s case.

The Amazing Origins of the Trump University Scam. State attorneys general who dropped Trump University fraud inquiries subsequently got Trump donations.

Donald Trump rallies are only going to get more dangerous for everyone.

* Alas, Babylon: David French won’t run.

* Steph Curry and the Future of Basketball.

* The Amazing Story of Rio’s All-Refugee Olympic Team.

* The CW Century.

* In Praise of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

* In a panic, they try to pull the plug: A bug in Elite Dangerous caused the game’s AI to create super weapons and start to hunt down the game’s players. It’s hard not to think Skynet won’t view this as a provocation.

* “Researchers Confirm Link Between High Test Scores In Adolescence And Adult Accomplishments.”

* Legal trolling: One of the Leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement Has Been Charged With Lynching.

A Goldsboro, North Carolina woman bought her neighbor’s used freezer for $30, not realizing it contained frozen parts of the seller’s dead mother.

Also unbelievable is that someone would purchase a used, $30 freezer without opening it first.

* No one wants year-round schooling. The Families That Can’t Afford Summer.

* Department of Precrime, Chicago edition.

Sometimes only minutes after the gunshots end, a computer system takes a victim’s name and displays any arrests and gang ties — as well as whether the victim has a rating on the department’s list of people most likely to shoot someone or be shot.

Police officials say most shootings involve a relatively small group of people with the worst ratings on the list. The police and social service workers have been going to some of their homes to warn that the authorities are watching them and offer job training and educational assistance as a way out of gangs.

Of the 64 people shot over the weekend, 50 of them, or 78 percent, are included on the department’s list. At least seven of the people shot over the weekend have been shot before.

For one man, only 23 years old, it is his third time being shot.

The surprisingly petty things that people shot each over last month.

* Power and the typo.

* The Chinese government and science fiction.

Star Trek reboots and the merchandising game.

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Race: Time-travel narratives and bygone bigotry in “11.22.63” and ‘Back to the Future.’

Uber and the sub-prime auto business.

* What’s it like to work construction on a skyscraper?

* Liberate late sleepers.

* Louis on Maron convinced me to finally buy Horace and Pete. The Julia Louis-Dreyfus half of the episode is great too.

* Well, this seems questionable at best: Catholic Church spent $2M on major N.Y. lobbying firms to block child-sex law reform.

* Now we see the violence inherent in the system.

* Science finally proves I was right all along: it’s better to be right than happy.

* Rich people, y’all.

* A Shakespearean Map of the US.

* Tornado Town, USA.

* The Weird Not-Quite-Afterlife of Harry Potter.

* In praise of the punctuation mark I abuse more than any other: the dash.

Every Californian Novel Ever.

* Suits getting started on ruining Story of Your Life early.

* And RIP, Ali. Being Ali’s personal magician. Watching Rocky II with Muhammad Ali.

Shakespearean_Map

Written by gerrycanavan

June 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Tuesday Morning Links!

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On April 10th-12th, 2015, UF will be hosting its 11th annual Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, “Comics Read but Seldom Seen: Diversity and Representation in Comics and Related Media.”

The Review of Capital as Power (RECASP) announces an annual essay prize of $1,000 for the best paper on the subject of capital as power. Open to anyone who does not currently hold a Ph.D. (including current graduate students).

* Happy belated Labor Day: The True Story Of How One Man Shut Down American Commerce To Avoid Paying His Workers A Fair Wage. Labor Day against Work.

* Non-published, non-peer-reviewed study concludes that college football coaches must be worth the money because otherwise they wouldn’t be paid that much. Glad that’s sorted.

So what happened to the GOP, from the time of Nixon to the present, to turn an environmental leader into an environmental retrograde? According to a new study in the journal Social Science Research, the key change actually began around the year 1991—when the Soviet Union fell. “The conservative movement replaced the ‘Red Scare’ with a new ‘Green Scare’ and became increasingly hostile to environmental protection at that time,” argues sociologist Aaron McCright of Michigan State University and two colleagues.

* UIUC will forward Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees after all. Sadly I suspect this is a CYA maneuver after realizing they were in material breach of their contract — though I suppose it’s for the lawyers to decide if they have take-backs on that issue or not.

* From the archives: How Higher Education in the US Was Destroyed in 5 Basic Steps.

* The Darren Wilson fundraiser mystery.

* Guantanamo Defense Lawyer Resigns, Says U.S. Case Is ‘Stacked.’

* The terrifying true story of the garbage that could kill the whole human race.

Man Nearly Dies In Ice Bucket Challenge After Plane Drops Water On Him.

* Are domestic airlines making money by fleecing consumers? No! That’s not true! That’s impossible!

Archaeologists Confirm That Stonehenge Was Once A Complete Circle.

* The A.V. Club reviews David Mitchell’s latest, The Bone Clocks.

* I’ll give you this: Censoring the books your kid reads does seem pretty dystopian. “Divergent” and “Hunger Games” as capitalist agitprop. Utopia and Anti-Utopia.

* How to ruin a protest.

* And Did Stan Lee Confirm a Black Panther Movie? Please?

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Wednesday Night Links

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* The craziest thing you’ll see today: public opposition to a statue in Charleston, SC, honoring black abolitionist Denmark Vesey, on grounds that are frankly baffling.

* An Oral History of Ghostbusters.

To test the dispersal of those weapons, they found a US city that resembled those cities in the USSR, and gassed it.

* Young scholars are compelled to transform themselves into academic entrepreneurs, creating a brand that they promote through their blogs, tweets, and online profiles.

* The college of about 600 undergraduates announced last month it will eliminate 22 of its 52 faculty positions; it has cut 23 staff members and 16 of its 31 academic programs. How Much Can Be Cut?

* Suggestions on a More Humane Academic Job Market.

* How to Earn Tenure.

* From the archives: The Digital Humanities Postdoc.

Late Pay: One CUNY Horror Story.

* Gasp! U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections.

* MFA vs NYC: Whoever Wins, We Lose.

After L.A., Chicago, and NYC, the U.S. prison system has the largest population in America. The American Prison Writing Archive.

Throughout human history, people have done these ridiculously difficult one-way voyages for one reason: because where they lived was so awful they were willing to get on a little wooden vessel that might sink and go across an ocean to some unknown place that they would probably never return from because it was so crummy where they were. Maybe we’ll do that for ourselves. We’ll make the world so miserable that living in some harsh environment on Mars might seem attractive.

* Here’s Your State’s Favorite Band.

* I don’t understand (1) why this is legal (2) why a governor would be supervising hiring and firing at such a low level.

* Researcher doing her master’s thesis at Halifax’s Saint Mary’s University on missing and murdered aboriginal women found murdered. What a horrible story.

Publishers Withdraw More Than 120 Fake, Computer-Generated Papers.

* Why are they sending paratroopers against Godzilla? Also, must admit I’m taking Godzilla’s side here.

Despite Harold Ramis’ death, Ghostbusters 3 is still moving forward. Is there a single person alive or dead who wants this movie to be made? Besides Dan Akyroyd.

The sad truth about power is that its sidewalks are littered with PhDs.

* New head canon: Andy’s Mom and Toy Story.

And Daleks have now been invented. What could possibly go wrong?

Some Thoughts on Miranda

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I wound up indulging my academic gene after all with a long conversation on Twitter this morning about Miranda rights (Storified here). Distilling this to just a few key points:

* The Miranda warning is a fairly idiosyncratic (and relatively recent) feature of American jurisprudence. It is not by itself determinative of the absolute fairness or unfairness of a criminal proceeding.

* The Miranda warning concerns only the suspect’s post-arrest utterances, which by all accounts the prosecutors in this case would not need to secure a conviction. They claim, after all, to have photographic evidence of the bombs being planted.

* A brief “public safety” exemption to the Miranda warning is a lawful and long-standing procedure that is rationally applied to the circumstances of this case. It should be over (very) soon, but it’s not by itself illegitimate.

* The Miranda warning, in general, is a good thing, but not as good as it sounds; the primary effect of the Miranda warning is to legitimate police attempts to get you to surrender these rights through coercion or deceit. As I was putting it on Twitter earlier:

* Most crucially, there is a zero percent chance that a guilty Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would somehow escape punishment on the basis of a legal technicality. No court — much less the Supreme Court — would ever allow that outcome. What would happen instead is that a sufficiently large exemption to Miranda would be discovered to allow a conviction to stand. Again, as I was putting it on Twitter:

That’s why from my perspective the big issue is not Miranda, it’s presentment. Right now Tsaraev is still within the scope of the normal criminal justice system, as he should be. The bad outcome here is not his being denied a Miranda warning; it’s him not being allowed any trial at all.

More (not always agreeing with the above) from Orin Kerr, Scott Lemieux, Emily Bazelon, Freddie deBoer, and Glenn Greenwald.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Sunday, Sunday

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CPBB_Per_Student_Spending_Cuts(some links via Aaron’s Sunday Reading, which as always has so much more)

* The greatest nation in the world: A few nights a year, Tennessee holds a health care lottery of sorts, giving the medically desperate a chance to get help.

* A Truly Devastating Graph on State Higher Education Spending.

* In sentencing the boys to a minimum of one year in juvenile jail, Judge Thomas Lipps doled out some advice to their peers on how to avoid the same fate. He urged them “to have discussions about how you talk to your friends; how you record things on the social media so prevalent today; and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends.” Tweeting wasn’t exactly the problem in Steubenville, though, now was it.

* Stunning narrative of decades-long abuse (of all kinds) in a New York City high school. The level of administrative incompetence (shading into malice) is just one of the shocking parts of this story; I finally watched Bully last night and couldn’t believe this was how school administrators would act in general, much less when they knew they were being filmed.

* March Madness as class struggle.

* Do Corporations Enjoy a 2nd Amendment Right to Drones?

* So what exactly was in all those old fallout shelters?

* The Iraq war is notable not only for journalistic weakness, but for journalistic futility: the futility of fact itself. Fact could not match the fabrications of power. Eventually, our reality shifted to become what they conceived. “I could have set myself on fire in protest on the White House lawn and the war would have proceeded without me,” wrote Bush speechwriter David Frum. That was the message of the Iraq war: There is no point in speaking truth to power when power is the only truth.

* Rand Paul Is Right On Marijuana, And That Should Scare Democrats Into Action.

* University of Wisconsin professor warns of dangers of reintroducing extinct animals. Spoilsport!

* The world’s first LEGO museum is coming.

* And all about the next board game I’d like to learn to play, Twilight Struggle.

‘A Lawful Killing in Self-Defense Is Not an Assassination’

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For all the Obama Administration’s efforts to characterize “targeted killing” as a modern solution to a modern problem, the white paper suggests that its real quandary with regard to citizens who have taken up with the enemy is as old as power itself: how to eliminate them without being accused of murdering them.

Tom Junod: All the King’s Drones.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Wednesday Links

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* The Hobbit trailer is out. I think they actually may have gotten the tone just about right.

* My theory that contemporary superhero comics are primarily motivated by a reactionary desire for a return to absolute authority takes a great leap forward today: they elected Captain America president.

* Sci-fi acid-trip of the day: Grounded.

* Inside Higher Ed has decided to run my job “advice” piece for ABDs in two parts. Part One ran today. Meanwhile, the MLA job report for 2011-2012 is out. Don’t look at the long-term trend.

Feds Charge Activist with 13 Felonies for Rogue Downloading of Academic Articles. Death’s too good for ‘im, I say!

* r/Scholar: clearinghouse for requesting and sharing paywalled articles.

* Chick-Fil-A is really, really sorry about that whole Hate Mor Peeple thing. It promises to be totally cool about not hating so many people quite so openly in the future.

* Politics minute:  Yes, Obama is actually winning. Really.

Ten Huge Issues Being Ignored In The Presidential Campaign. Look, if I wanted to talk about things that actually matter, I certainly wouldn’t be following the presidential campaign…

Report: It’s Not Okay To Just Start Talking To People You Don’t Know.

* And These Melting Ice Caps Could Be Great for Business. What was I so worried about!

A Few for Sunday

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Some of these I first saw at the triumphant return of zunguzungu’s Sunday Reading. You may have also seen his piece “The Grass Is Closed” on the arbitrariness of power this weekend, already linked everywhere.

* Chapel Hill anarchists occupy downtown building. Occupy Minnesota protestors occupy foreclosed home.

* UC groups endorse November 15 strike.

* An interview with Susie Cagle.

* The moral clarity of empire:

It’s over 800 billion dollars that we have expended [in Iraq]. I believe that Iraq should pay us back for the money that we spent, and I believe that Iraq should pay the families that lost a loved one several million dollars per life, I think at minimum.

* The Culturally Biased SAT: Hip-Hop Edition.

* From last week, but now more than ever: “Italy is now the biggest story in the world.”

* Except for this one: When do we hit the point of no return for climate change?

And, as the IEA found, we’re about five years away from building enough carbon-spewing infrastructure to lock us in and make it extremely difficult — maybe impossible — to avoid 450 ppm. The point of no return comes around 2017.

* Fat primates rejoice! Obese Monkeys Lose Weight on Drug that Attacks Blood Supply of Fat Cells.

* And I saw this the other day, but forgot to post it: Sam Harris on self-defense.

This is the core principle of self-defense: Do whatever you can to avoid a physical confrontation, but the moment avoidance fails, attack explosively for the purposes of escape—not to mete out justice, or to teach a bully a lesson, or to apprehend a criminal. Your goal is to get away with minimum trauma (to you), while harming your attacker in any way that seems necessary to ensure your escape.⁠

Stay safe out there.

Friday Night Links

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* The absolute craziest thing I’ve ever seen: Berkeley Researchers Turn Brain Waves Into YouTube Videos.

* Even news that the laws of physics have been overturned pales in comparison. I know, I know: Bad Astronomer, xkcd.

* Louis talks to the A.V. Club about Louie: 1, 2, 3, 4.

* Paul Campos: “The law’s absurd formalism was part of its strength as ideology.” Precisely. This insight applies to many more aspects of the legal system than the revolting spectacle of our contemporary system of capital punishment, which in a case such as Davis’s — which is not in this respect was not unusual — psychologically tortures the defendant, the defendant’s family, the victim’s family, and others connected to the case for literally decades before producing what the system then has the temerity to call “justice.” (The climax of this spectacle last night involved Davis being strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm for nearly four hours, waiting for various legal personages to respond to the question of whether, all things considered, it was finally time to stop his heart with state-administered poison).

That we tolerate this kind of thing so readily helps explain, in its own way, why it sometimes seems impossible to do much of anything about the absurdities and dysfunctions of the system of legal education that legitimates it in the first instance. Or perhaps it’s the other way around: perhaps we tolerate the absurdity of something like the 22-year “process” that resulted in the horror of Davis’s final hours because we ‘re socialized from the beginning of our careers in this system to accept all kinds of absurdity and injustice as natural, inevitable, and therefore legitimate.

Reading this I was reminded of Duncan Kennedy’s excellent article “Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy,” which Corinne linked the other day on Twitter.

* Ground Zero Mosque opens without controversy. It’s almost as if the objections to this were complete bullshit.

* I’m steadfastly not paying attention to the GOP primary, but this is pretty astounding, even by Republican standards.

* DOJ: Rick Perry’s Texas Redistricting Plan Purposefully Discriminated Against Minorities.

* Why Is TV Suddenly Overstuffed With Buxom Bunnies, Sexy Stewardesses, and Charlie’s Angels?

* How long—how long must we sing this song? Forty years, give or take.

* Genetic sequencing indicates Australian Aborigines may have been the world’s first explorers, leaving Africa more than 60,000 years ago.

* Taxpayers in the San Francisco area spend $2,762,295 each year in junk food subsidies, but only $41,950 each year on apple subsidies.

* Speaking at a Climate Week NYC event hosted by the Maldives, the TckTckTck campaign, and the U.N., Greenpeace International President Kumi Naidoo argued that the path to a sustainable future will involve peaceful, popular civil disobedience. “The struggle for climate justice is not a popularity contest,” he argued. He said the lesson of the Arab Spring, and the history of struggles from suffrage to civil rights to the end of apartheid, is that change only comes when decent men and women are willing to risk their lives and go to jail in peaceful protest.

The world’s rudest hand gestures.

Great Lost Pop Culture Treasures.

And Chris Ware on your iPad. Have a good weekend.

Monday Links

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* Nightfall: Tonight is the darkest night in 500 years.

* Is it me or has Obama kind of got his mojo back? Republican senators say privately they expect the Senate to ratify the New START treaty this week, which would hand President Obama his third major victory of the lame-duck session.

* But don’t get cocky: ‘Conservatives Threaten Government Shutdown Over Debt Limit Vote.’ ‘Republicans In The House As A Whole Want To Get Rid Of The EPA.’

* Power and morality: It is shown that high power increases the use of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking styles, whereas low power increases reliance on outcome-based (consequentialist) moral thinking. Stated differently, in determining whether an act is right or wrong, the powerful focus on whether rules and principles are violated, whereas the powerless focus on the consequences. For this reason, the powerful are also more inclined to stick to the rules, irrespective of whether this has positive or negative effects, whereas the powerless are more inclined to make exceptions.

* Jessica Valenti has your concise readers’ guide to the #mooreandme debacle. Ryan sends along the Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman argument from Democracy Now!, which is pretty astounding. The second part (via Student Activism) is even more astounding:

Friedman: If someone asks me twenty times, do I want to have sex with them, or do I want to have sex without a condom, or whatever sexual act we’re negotiating, and I say no twenty times, and the twenty-first time I say yes because I am worn down, and because I’m being pressured and coerced and I’m afraid, and because I woke up to him already raping me, and I’m freaked out, that is not real consent. That is not a chance to have actual consent. That’s not legitimate consent.

Wolf: Well, I guess you and I will have to part ways.

* Inside Paris’s secret Metro.

* The CDC has found that a majority of Americans had troubled childhoods. As a friend recently said on Twitter: Please stop fetishizing childhood. You are misremembering your life.

* More from the minimalism meme: minimalist superheroes.

* And The Day Comedy Won: How 30 Rock Beat Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I may be one of the few people in America who liked both shows.

On Giving Up the Dream

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Chris Hedges talks neoliberalism and neofeudalism, the civil rights movement, Camden, Obama, Clinton, Tea Parties, moral nihilism, inverted totalitarianism and corpocracy, NAFTA, welfare reform, health care, labor, poverty, Yugoslavia, post-industrial capitalism, economic crisis, imperial collapse, socialism, and democracy, among other things. The speech itself is only 27 minutes. (Via Elsie.)

It is not our role to take power. It is our role to make the powerful frightened of us. And that’s what we’ve forgotten. Give up that dream!

‘A Few Notes on The Culture’

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Essentially, the contention is that our currently dominant power systems cannot long survive in space; beyond a certain technological level a degree of anarchy is arguably inevitable and anyway preferable.

The Biology in Science Fiction blog introduces me to Iain M. Bank’s ultra-Utopian enunciation of The Culture. Of course, as with any Utopia, labor turns out to be a pivotal concern:

Briefly, nothing and nobody in the Culture is exploited. It is essentially an automated civilisation in its manufacturing processes, with human labour restricted to something indistinguishable from play, or a hobby.

No machine is exploited, either; the idea here being that any job can be automated in such a way as to ensure that it can be done by a machine well below the level of potential consciousness; what to us would be a stunningly sophisticated computer running a factory (for example) would be looked on by the Culture’s AIs as a glorified calculator, and no more exploited than an insect is exploited when it pollinates a fruit tree a human later eats a fruit from.

Where intelligent supervision of a manufacturing or maintenance operation is required, the intellectual challenge involved (and the relative lightness of the effort required) would make such supervision rewarding and enjoyable, whether for human or machine. The precise degree of supervision required can be adjusted to a level which satisfies the demand for it arising from the nature of the civilisation’s members. People – and, I’d argue, the sort of conscious machines which would happily cooperate with them – hate to feel exploited, but they also hate to feel useless. One of the most important tasks in setting up and running a stable and internally content civilisation is finding an acceptable balance between the desire for freedom of choice in one’s actions (and the freedom from mortal fear in one’s life) and the need to feel that even in a society so self-correctingly Utopian one is still contributing something. Philosophy matters, here, and sound education.

Banks isn’t coy; what he’s talking about is a vision of interstellar socialism made possible by the concurrent elimination of both scarcity and hierarchy:

Let me state here a personal conviction that appears, right now, to be profoundly unfashionable; which is that a planned economy can be more productive – and more morally desirable – than one left to market forces.

Of course, there is a place for serendipity and chance in any sensibly envisaged plan, and the degree to which this would affect the higher functions of a democratically designed economy would be one of the most important parameters to be set… but just as the information we have stored in our libraries and institutions has undeniably outgrown (if not outweighed) that resident in our genes, and just as we may, within a century of the invention of electronics, duplicate – through machine sentience – a process which evolution took billions of years to achieve, so we shall one day abandon the grossly targeted vagaries of the market for the precision creation of the planned economy.

The Culture, of course, has gone beyond even that, to an economy so much a part of society it is hardly worthy of a separate definition, and which is limited only by imagination, philosophy (and manners), and the idea of minimally wasteful elegance; a kind of galactic ecological awareness allied to a desire to create beauty and goodness.

Note too that it’ll take both:

The one thing that won’t be enough is getting to a post-scarcity society; a statistically valid number of us have lived in something very like that for the past decade and a bit and we still collectively behaved like slavering morons, so it’ll take more than just having more toys than we know what to do with to make us truly civilised.

There’s more at io9 and, of all places, CNN.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 30, 2008 at 12:15 pm

More on Bush at 82%

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I like what Ezra Klein has to say about the recent wrong-track and Bush-disapproval numbers so much I’ll just quote it:

It’s something of a crisis for our political system that the president has now spent over three years hated and mistrusted by the majority of the country, and yet has never felt the need to take steps to restore his legitimacy. Something is wrong.

It’s worse than that, of course, when you consider the cloud of corruption under which the man was both elected and re-elected. Something, indeed, has gone drastically and dramatically wrong with our democracy; it’s almost as if the opinion of the governed doesn’t actually matter at all.

That said, I must admit I’m pretty fond of the photo he chose to illustrate this somber reflection.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 13, 2008 at 1:51 pm

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Romanian artists Lia and Dan Perjovschi (whose just-dismantled installation at the MoMA I was so impressed with this summer) are visiting the Nasher this week for the opening of their joint retrospective “States of Minds,” and I was lucky enough to interview them for the Indy this week. Definitely one of my more exciting assignments. Here’s the traditional taste:

Despite their aesthetic variation, on the level of politics the work of both Perjovschis always remains an outsider’s stern critique of power. What has changed is their recognition of power’s many insidious forms. “I will, all the time, be on the side of the weak one,” Lia says. “Before the revolution, when I was thinking of the dictator [Nicolae Ceausescu], who was really stupid, I hated him. I wanted to kill him, and symbolically I think I killed him each day. But I learned something that’s a little bit more complex: We cannot accuse only the guy on top. We all have a part.”

“And also not the system in general, so nobody’s guilty,” Dan quickly interjects.

Lia goes on: “I don’t believe that it’s the time, in this moment, the time to be on a list or to make noise or yelling at people to wake up. [We need] to build, no matter how small, not only make scandal or destroy. It’s too general—destruction is too general. If we don’t want to be part of something, then somebody on top will take advantage of this…. On the whole planet, it is always the same story: We are part of something.”

Don’t miss the photos at the link.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 30, 2007 at 2:46 am

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