Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Superman

Memorial Day Links!

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* This weekend I got a chance to read an advance copy of Iain M. Banks, from the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series. It’s great! Highly recommended for fans of the Culture or of space opera more generally. Alfred Bester, which I also read this weekend, was great too!

* Anyway, who’s ready to be a walking blood-bag for an immortal tech lich?

* What Will Kill Neoliberalism? My money is on the managerial class one but with cash-for-sterilization and euthanasia payouts for the poors.

50 años de Cien años de soledad.

* Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared! Jared!

In the United States, the Trump Organization took Mr. Davies’s coat of arms for its own, making one small adjustment — replacing the word “Integritas,” Latin for integrity, with “Trump.”

What Mr. Trump got was a pair of lawsuits: one filed by Ms. Nwanguma and the other by one of Candidate Trump’s most fervent young admirers among the white nationalist movement, Mr. Heimbach.

* This country is officially a global laughing stock. Or worse.

That third bill, the “Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act,” which appeared in a tweeted photo of White House strategist Steve Bannon’s policy agenda, would see immigration violations traditionally treated as civil infractions transformed into criminal violations, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Speaking before judiciary committee members Thursday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the provision would “turn millions of Americans into criminals overnight.” Nadler added that the legislation was “straight out of the Donald Trump mass deportation playbook.”

* I’m Cory Booker, for #TheResistance.

How low do you have to sink to lose an election in this country? Republicans have been trying to answer that question for years. But they’ve been unable to find out, because Democrats somehow keep failing to beat them.

* Sheriff’s Clarke Definitely Real Medals. Washington Post breaks down Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.’s pins, to Clarke’s ire.

“Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology.” 

The night before the University of California Board of Regents voted to raise student tuition to help cash-strapped campuses, they threw themselves a party at the luxury Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco and billed the university. The tab for the Jan. 25 banquet: $17,600 for 65 people, or $270 a head.

* In the richest country in human history.

* Three trillion and counting.

* “11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida.”

* Threads thinking about slavery, history, and ethical reasoning from @zunguzungu and @BigMeanInternet.

* This has got to be one of the misogynistic things the Post has ever published in its long and august history.

* It looks like Trump somehow managed to ruin even Fargo.

* Science fiction, the future that failed. I would buy this self-help book. The law, in its majestic equality. When you’re sad. Social media is ruining everything. White people, no! Shades of Satan!

*This* is how you issue a heartfelt and meaningful apology.

* And Nintendo says I may, someday, have a Switch.

Thursday Links!

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* Deadline extended: Special Issue: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Narrative, Characters, Media, and Event.

* CFP: Speculative Vegetation: Plants in Science Fiction.

After humanity spent thousands of years improving our tactics, computers tell us that humans are completely wrong. I would go as far as to say not a single human has touched the edge of the truth of Go.

* The banality of evil in Baltimore.

* “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles.” Every revelation in this story is stunning. Trump leans on ‘fake news’ line to combat reports of West Wing dysfunction. Donald Trump says all negative polls about him are fake news. Check out this fake news about voter fraud. Yemen Withdraws Permission for U.S. Antiterror Ground Missions. Milwaukee passes resolution opposing Trump travel ban. White House rattled by McCarthy’s spoof of Spicer. White House Denies Report That Bannon Had to Be Reminded He Wasn’t President Amidst Travel-Ban Chaos. Probably best to put this in writing ahead of time. The simple fact is that Trump has never had real friends in the sense you or I think of the term. Never Believe the Republicans’ B.S. Ever Again. How Each Senator Voted on Trump’s Cabinet and Administration Nominees. Five Theses on Trump. To Stephen Miller, Duke University Class of 2007.

* Elsewhere in Duke News! Bernie and the Duke Grad Student Unionization Movement.

Apparently those who support income redistribution through aggressive top marginal taxation are still willing to accept union busting and poor parent shaming before considering direct infusions of cash. No matter how lofty their rhetoric, there is an intuitive desire within mainstream American liberalism to believe that the trouble in education is not so obvious as poor people not having enough money to do well—but rather, that poor parents are to blame for not being enough like middle class ones. DeVos Was Inevitable. Democrats reject her, but they helped pave the road to education nominee DeVos.

* ok she won me over

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The 10 US colleges that stand to lose the most from Trump’s immigration ban. American Universities Must Take a Stand.

The Nervous Civil Servant’s Guide to Defying an Illegal Order.

* American democracy isn’t.

Meet Antifa, the Most Reasonable People in America.

The Wisdom of Science Fiction in the Age of Trump.

* “All the pieces of the neo-Nazi solution to climate change already exist.”

Dakota Access Pipeline Is Back On, Skipping Environmental Review.

* The New Yorker celebrates the great Mo Willems.

Much has been written about the toxicity of internet “call out” culture over the past five years. But less has been said about the prevalence of efforts to fire people, one of that culture’s creepiest and most authoritarian features. 

Doctor Strange Has Now Made More Money At Box Office Than Man Of Steel. DC is really bad at this.

Liberalism looks and feels like a waiting period that may never end. A primary purpose of this tactic is to allow policymakers and elites to announce their intention to do something about a problem while hoping the problem goes away on its own as public attention dies down or as they move on with their careers.

* Keep Mars Red.

We Asked Sci-Fi Writers About The Future Of Climate Change.

Within a decade, according to a 99-page white paper released today, Uber will have a network—to be called “Elevate”—of on-demand, fully electric aircraft that take off and land vertically. Instead of slogging down the 101, you and a few other flyers will get from San Francisco to Silicon Valley in about 15 minutes—for the price of private ride on the ground with UberX. Theoretically.

* The Singularity has already happened.

* 150 Years to Alpha Centauri. But it’s no place to raise your kids.

* Make stamp-collecting great again.

* Know your alignments.

* Teaching is not longer a middle class job. College professor isn’t either, pretty much anywhere but a town like Milwaukee.

* The Arc of History Is Long But Republicans Are Moving To Scrap Rules That Limit Overdraft Fees.

* The Resistance.

* A clever study showing how protests impact election outcomes, using rain.

A general strike could transform American politics. But we’re nowhere near being able to call one.

* Capitalism is struggling to reproduce the misery and terror required for worker compliance.

* Even baseball hates baseball.

Donald Trump Had A Superior Electoral College Strategy.

* I don’t think there’s been a better postmortem on the election, and what it means for the coming decades, than this by Mike Davis: The Great God Trump and the White Working Class.

In addition, as Brookings researchers have recently shown, since 2000 a paradoxical core-periphery dynamic has emerged within the political system. Republicans have increased their national electoral clout yet have steadily lost strength in the economic-powerhouse metropolitan counties. “The less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015. By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output — just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity.”

* Trump believes his base desires cruelty above all else. Here is today’s case study.

“Uncle Biden” has done a lot to mask the fact that the real Joe Biden fought desegregation, wrote the 1994 crime bill, and appeared to side with Clarence Thomas over Anita Hill during Thomas’s confirmation hearings. The hyper-competent “Texts From Hillary” made it more difficult for the real Clinton to rebut charges of shadiness and corruption, and also served to mask over the fact that she had never won a closely fought election. Liberal Fan Fiction.

* When Details in a Story Can Put People at Risk.

* Creeping Trumpism.

* He speaks for us all: “Man found stuck in waist-deep mud has no idea how he got there, officials say.”

* The best news anybody’s gotten since 1997.

* What it’s like to lose your short-term memory.

* Ubiquitous surveillance watch.

A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months. Oh, well, that explains everything, doesn’t it.

* Rick and Morty and Bojack and existentialism.

* Yes Weekly interviews the great Fred Chappell.

* What a horrible night to have a curse.

* And this is a really good start, but I’m sure we can find a way to do worse.

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 9, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Labor Day Weekend Links!

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20121130* Aliens! Aliens! Not really. But it’s never too early to panic.

* This truly is the darkest timeline: Marquette signs new contract with Pepsi for on-campus beverage services.

Some Of The Best PC Games Ever Made Hit Steam This Week. Quest for Glory! Police Quest! Wow. Waiting now for the Mac port.

* Star Trek: Discovery really will follow Number One. Relatedly: The 2000s-era Star Treks we never saw. Star Trek Beyond, Reviewed by Tim Phipps.

Science Fiction World Building in a Capitalist Society: An Interview with Dan Hassler-Forest (Part One).

* The Exemption Packet.

Jason Scott Talks about Preserving Games with the Internet Archive.

* Be a rebel; major in English. A decent discussion of the fact-free moral panic involving choice of major, clickbait headline aside.

The Peculiar Success of Cultural Studies 2.0.

* How to Write an Effective Diversity Statement for a Faculty Job Application.

Mandatory Trigger Warnings at Drexel?

* Lockout at LIU.

* Symposium: Why Monster Studies Now?

* Nicholson Baker, substitute teacher. Welcome to Terror High.

The most important lesson to take from all this is that there is no way to confront the climate crisis as a technocratic problem, in isolation. It must be seen in the context of austerity and privatisation, of colonialism and militarism, and of the various systems of othering needed to sustain them all.

* Improv as self-help philosophy, as scam, as fad, as cult. (via) I’ve never taken an improv class, but my nonstop consumption of improv-based comedy podcasts has seriously helped my teaching by helping me see the importance of adopting the yes-and stance in the classroom.

Professor hunger strikes against denial of tenure.

Islam and Science Fiction, the long-running website dedicated to “fill[ing] a gap in the literature about Muslims and Islamic cultures in Science Fiction,” has just published Islamicates: Volume I, as a free-to-download release.

Check Out These Amazing Soviet Maps Of D.C.

That’s a serious charge, worthy of being considered seriously. Although easy access to inexpensive Mexican food would be a boon for hungry Americans, what would the inevitable presence of those trucks do to the American economy? How could our country accommodate an explosion of trucks at that scale? The national economic implications of a taco truck on every corner.

* Stranger Things and the spirit of play.

Here’s why: it’s about play. We have good reasons to overthink TV shows, to take them too seriously: it helps us reclaim from them all that they take for granted, all the ideology in which we find ourselves implicated as we enjoy works produced by a capitalist, patriarchal, racist culture, etc. If your fave is problematic, it’s worth thinking about why, not because you or it are bad and should feel bad, but because our world is fallen and all is vanity and what does humanity gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun, etc. Or something like that. Art has baggage; criticism is about rummaging through that bag to see what’s inside, and what you want to do with it.

* Girls feel Stranger Things, too.

Fortunately, those of us who grew up in the 80s also experienced the 90s, where Dana Scully and Buffy Summers awaited us. But with its flawlessly staged setting and piled-up homages to 80s movies, Stranger Things has performed a kind of time travel: it has reached back into my memories,Total Recall-like, and inserted characters who now seem as though they were there all along. Nancy, the nerd-turned-monster killer who can like more than one boy at once. Barb, the buttoned-up babygay whose best friend won’t let her be disposable. Eleven, the terrifying, funny, scared, brave, smart weirdo whose feelings could save the world.

Global Capitalism, Fan Culture, and (Even) Stranger Things. The Strange Motivations of Stranger Things. Sticking a tough landing: Stranger Things Season Two Will Add New Characters, New Settings, and Sequel Sensibility.

* Teasing the Fall 2016 Pop Culture series at Marquette: Harry Potter, Tarantino, and (yes) Stranger Things.

* $600,000 humanities endowment account at CUNY turns out to be a mere $599,924 dollars short.

* Learn to Write the Vandermeer Way. Keep scrolling!

VanderMeer-Zerfoss

Virtually every decision made by Warner Bros. with regards to its DC superhero movies has been bad. But it’s been so desperate to recreate Marvel’s success that it keeps running forward, trying to constantly course correct, when what it really needs to do it take a break, a deep breath, and start over from scratch with a long-term plan that it will actually stick to.

Jack Kirby’s long-lost, incomplete “The Prisoner” comic book.

The Myth of the Millennial as Cultural Rebel.

Apartment Broker Recommends Brooklyn Residents Spend No More Than 150% Of Income On Rent.

Airlines are surprisingly ill-equipped to handle accusations of sexual assault on their planes.

This small Indiana county sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. Why? Yes, the word “oxy” appears in the first sentence.

Creepy Clown Sightings in South Carolina Cause a Frenzy.

* Tracing the history of the phrase “office-involved shooting.”

How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media. Why Isn’t It a Bigger Deal That Trump Is Being Advised by Sadistic Pervert Roger Ailes?

Democrats really might have a shot at taking the House. Here’s the math.

* Because you demanded it! CBS is developing a scripted drama based on the life of Judge Judy. It’s also graciously decided to allow you to pay extra for an ad-free experience on its subscription service.

* Ah, the good old days. Still not done yet!

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Meet Moya Bailey, the black woman who created the term “misogynoir.”

* Dialectics of Superman: The Old Lois Lane Really Doesn’t Like the New Lois Lane. The Rise and Fall of Axiom.

* Math is cool: The absent-minded driver’s paradox.

Solar Power Plant Can’t Figure Out How to Stop Frying Birds.

Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past. Georgetown’s slavery announcement is remarkable. But it’s not reparations.

Deep in the Swamps, Archaeologists Are Finding How Fugitive Slaves Kept Their Freedom.

* “A short story in English is a story in which the letter e occurs no more than 5715  times.”

* How far are you from an In N Out Burger?

* Works for academic papers too.

* RIP, Gene Wilder.

Debating the Legality of the Post-9/11 ‘Forever War’ at the Council on Foreign Relations.

* Whiteness without white supremacy?

Football and the Buffalo both owe some of their survival today to Teddy Roosevelt, who loved them both because they were accessories to one of his first loves: violence, which he and others of his time and a lot of people living right now believe tempers men into steel.

Avengers: Full House.

* Sold in the room: Alison Brie Will Star in Netflix’s ’80s Lady-Wrestling Series G.L.O.W. And that’s before I even found out Marc Maron would be on it too.

* I’m also excited to option this one: Bizarre ant colony discovered in an abandoned Polish nuclear weapons bunker.

* The L.A. Times is running a six-part story on that framing of a PTA mom in California.

* Screens in Schools Are a $60 Billion Hoax.

* Socialize the EpiPen.

* The critics are saying Arrival (née Story of Your Life) is the real deal.

* The art of Biff Tannen.

* Breaking: Warner Brothers wants another five billion dollars.

Few baseball fans have heard of the tiny Pacific Association, an independent league founded in 2013. But in 2015, during the Stompers’ sophomore season, the team fielded pro baseball’s first openly gay player, Sean Conroy. Then, in the off-season, the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola approached the team to talk about making his Virginia Dare Winery, based in nearby Geyserville, one of its sponsors. That proposal came with another: he wanted the team to recruit female players.

* Understanding Prenatal Depression.

* It’s weird that 911 has an off switch, isn’t it?

* Web comic of the week: Ark.

* Short film of the week: Movies in Space. Chris and Jack’s other stuff is pretty great too.

The New York Times Reassures Parents That Their Sons’ Penises Are Probably Totally Fine.

* And I really think just one more year ought to do it.

in-n-out

Written by gerrycanavan

September 3, 2016 at 8:43 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Last Weekend Before the Semester Links!

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* ICYMI: My new syllabi for the fall! Infinite Jest and Alternate History. There’s also a new version of my “Video Game Culture” class, set for a new eleven-meeting schedule and with a “Capitalism” week added centered on Pokémon Go (what? oh, that thing). Relatedly: Milwaukee County Parks are trying to remove Pokemon Go from Lake Park.

* The NLRB has ruled that graduate students at private universities can unionize. How letting grad students unionize could change the labor movement and college sports. The NLRB Columbia Decision and the Future of Academic Labor Struggles. The Union Libel: On the Argument against Collective Bargaining in Higher Ed. But elsewhere in academic labor news: Adjuncts in Religious Studies May Be Excluded From Religious College Unions.

* Are PhD Students Irrational? Well, you don’t have to be, but it helps…

The point, then, is that a rational choice theory of PhD pursuit is self-sealing: by allowing the job market, and the job market only, to police our understanding of what’s rational, we’re ignoring that doctoral study is a way of accomplishing what the market typically cannot — a long-term, self-directed research project.

* Colleges hire more minority and female professors, but most jobs filled are adjunct, not tenure track, study finds.

* This morning everyone’s fighting about academic freedom and trigger warnings at the University of Chicago.

* I thought I was the only prof who didn’t really care about deadlines. But apparently there are dozens of us!

* That’ll solve it: Replace college instruction with Ken Burns movies.

A New Academic Year Brings Fresh Anxiety at Illinois’s Public Colleges.

Poor and Uneducated: The South’s Cycle of Failing Higher Education.

* Actually, I’m teaching these kids way more than they’re teaching me.

* I’ve dreamed about this since I was a kid: An Epochal Discovery: A Habitable Planet Orbits Our Neighboring Star. Time to teach The Sparrow again…

* Philosophical SF.

* CFP: Futures Near and Far: Utopia, Dystopia, and Futurity, University of Florida.

Cuban science-fiction redefines the future in the ruins of a socialist utopia.

Puppies, Slates, and the Leftover Shape of “Victory.” On that Rabid Puppies thing and my Hugo Award-winning novella Binti.

It was a long time before anyone realized there was something not the same about her.

From all indications, the next X-Men movie will hew closer to Claremont’s original Dark Phoenix story than the previous cinematic effort. But any sense of authenticity it achieves will only arouse and prolong the desire for closure of the loss not only of a treasured character who might have lived endlessly in the floating timeline, but also of the very narrative finitude in which this loss could only happen once. Comic Book Melancholia.

* Bingewatching vs. plot.

* A new book series at Rowman and Littlefield explores Remakes, Reboots, and Adaptations.

Hot Tomorrow: The Urgency and Beauty of Cli-Fi.

Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF.

* The real questions: How Long Would It Actually Take to Fall Through the Earth?

How did an EpiPen get to costing $600? Earned every penny. A Case Study in Health System Dysfunction. But, you know, it’s all better now.

* Amazing study at Duke: Virtual Reality and Exoskeleton Help Paraplegics Partially Recover, Study Finds.

The Epidemic Archives Of The Future Will Be Born Digital.

How One Professor Will Turn Wisconsin’s Higher-Ed Philosophy Into a Seminar.

* Becoming Eleven. Concept Art Reveals Barb’s Original Stranger Things Fate and It Will Depress You. We Will Get ‘Justice for Barb’ in a Second Season of Stranger Things. This Stranger Things fan theory changes the game.

Arkansas City Accused Of Jailing Poor People For Bouncing Checks As Small As $15. An Arkansas Judge Sent A Cancer Patient To ‘Debtors’ Prison’ Over A Few Bounced Checks.

* And elsewhere: Drug Court Participants Allegedly Forced To Become Police Informers.

The times of year you’re most likely to get divorced. Keep scrolling! We’re not done yet.

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Are these the best films of the 21st century? I’m not sure I enjoyed or still think about any film on this list more than I enjoyed and think about The Grand Budapest Hotel, though There Will Be Blood, Memento, Caché, and Children of Men might all be close.

CBS is bound and determined to make sure Star Trek: Discovery bombs.

Dr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranus.

* An Instagram account can index depression.

* After neoliberalism?

* Parenting and moral panic.

How Screen Addiction Is Damaging Kids’ Brains.

The technical language obscured an arresting truth: Basis, which I had ordered online without a prescription, paying $60 for a month’s supply, was either the most sophisticated fountain-of-youth scam ever to come to market or the first fountain-of-youth pill ever to work.

* Nazis were even creeps about their horses.

tumblr_nc27oekkA11t3cxt2o1_500* The Republicans were right!

* Mapping the Stephen King meganarrative.

* Good news for Dr. Strange: Dan Harmon wrote on the reshoots.

* My colleague Jodi Melamed writes in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on white Milwaukee’s responsibility.

The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan. Translated from the Icelandic.

* Saddest postjournalism story yet: “Vote on the topic for a future Washington Post editorial.”

Katherine Johnson, the human computer.

* I arrived at my friend’s party. A few hours later she died, exactly as planned.

* Uber loses a mere 1.2 billion dollars in the first half of 2016. Can there be any doubt they are just a stalking horse for the robots?

* It’s been interesting watching this one circulate virally: Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink.

William Shatner Is Sorry Paramount Didn’t Stop Him From Ruining Star Trek V. Apology not accepted.

Hillary Clinton will likely have a unique chance to remake the federal judiciary. How the first liberal Supreme Court in a generation could reshape America.

Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State. You don’t say… 4 experts make the case that the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising was troubling.

* Does he want a few of mine? Donald Trump Used Campaign Donations to Buy $55,000 of His Own Book.

Curt Schilling Is the Next Donald Trump. Hey, that was my bit!

* Oh, so now the imperial presidency is bad.

* Good news, everyone!

At least Democrats are currently on track to retake the Senate.

* Scenes from the richest country in the history of the world: Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds. Raw sewage has been leaking into Baltimore’s harbor for five days, city says. It appears aquatic life — the moss that grows on rocks, the bacteria that live in the water and the bugs that hatch there — are the unexpected victims of Americans’ struggle with drug addiction. Ramen is displacing tobacco as most popular US prison currency, study finds.

No Man’s Sky is like real space exploration: dull, except when it’s sublime.

A.J. Daulerio, bloodied but unbowed. How Peter Thiel Killed Gawker. Never Mind Peter Thiel. Gawker Killed Itself. Gawker Was Killed by Gaslight. And if you want a vision of the future: A Startup Is Automating the Lawsuit Strategy Peter Thiel Used to Kill Gawker.

* Greenlit for five seasons and a spinoff: The astonishing story of how two wrestling teammates from Miami came to oppose each other in the cocaine wars — one as a drug smuggler, the other as a DEA agent.

* Also greenlighting this one.

* The legacy board games revolution.

25 1/2 gimmicky DVD commentary tracks.

The millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income because of climate change. The children of millennials will lose tens of trillions.

* When Icon fought Superman.

* Do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks.

An Exciting History of Drywall.

* Title IX: still under serious threat.

* And it’s not a competition, but Some Turtles See Red Better Than You Do.

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 26, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Fall Syllabus #1: Alternate History!

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I’m teaching three classes this semester, ENGLISH 4615/5615 (“Infinite Jest”), ENGLISH 2010 (“Alternate History”), and HOPR 1953 (“Video Game Culture”) (one-credit, pass/fail, now with Pokémon Go!). I’m very excited about all three. The Infinite Jest course is one I’ve wanted to do for a very long time — I came up with the whole idea of adding the new 4615/5615 course number to the Marquette English just so I could do this course — and the alternate-history course has been puttering around in my brain as a pedagogical opportunity for just about as long.

I got a lot of help from folks on Twitter and Facebook with the alternate history novel course, both at the level of generating texts but also at the level of conceptualizing the course a little different so it could be more inclusive, and I’m really grateful for that. I was finally sold by Alexis Lothian on the idea that I was being silly by being resistant to stories like The Lathe of Heaven and “The Book of Martha,” for instance, and that the practical effect of that resistance was to make the class much whiter and much maler than it really needed to be. Now, the course is still pretty white and very male, but the genre itself is, and somehow or another that’s something I want to start to talk about as the semester progresses. The excellent suggestion of Karen Joy Fowler’s story “Game Night at the Fox and Goose” will really help me make that pivot, I think, as will In the United States of Africa (a great novel I couldn’t believe I forgot to include until it was pointed out to me I’d forgotten to include it, I think by Aaron Bady).

A few other things I was very sad to lose:

  • I was originally going to do “an alternate history of an alternate history” thing to end the semester, Superman: Red Son, but it just didn’t make sense the way the course took shape. I held on to the idea way too long, and only cut the book two days ago. Sorry, bookstore!
  • The whole original point of all this was to use the course as an excuse to teach The Years of Rice and Salt, a book I love which seems just too long too teach in any other context. And it still seems too long to teach (at least at the sophomore level). I had to give it up, and wasn’t able to include even any excerpts because I crammed in too much other stuff. Someday!
  • Another thing that fell out of the course was a group presentation structure in which individual groups researched the actual history of the hinge point of each divergence and reported on it. I realized that with the newer, more expansive idea of the course this wasn’t going to work very well for at least half the books, and probably would have been reductive and overdetermined our conversations in practice, so it had to be abandoned as well.
  • I really, really wanted to include a Ted Chiang what-if-religion-were-empirically-verifiable story like “Hell Is The Absence of God,” but, again, it seemed just a bit far too off the mark this time.
  • I am, indeed, doing literally just one page from The Plot Against America, fulfilling my perverse desire to do so.
  • There were many other great suggestions for books that I wasn’t able to use. A few that I really struggled over:
    • Life After Life: a Replay-style reincarnation novel about World War I;
    • Replay itself, which is just too time-travel-ish for this (though I’ve always really liked it);
    • I likewise ruled out some other really good alternate-timeline stories because they were really time travel stories, from my puritanical perspective;
    • Something longer from Butler, perhaps Wild Seed (again, just too far afield generically for what I’m hoping to do);
    • Something truly (“merely”) generic, like Turtledove or Bring the Jubilee;
    • Lion’s Blood, Atomik Aztex, The Indians Won, The Bird Is Gone, The Heirs of Columbus, etc. I was so hung up on the idea of doing The Years of Rice and Salt that it crowded out this space for me (and then I added In the United States of Africa instead, to take on this question from a different direction). Next time.
    • Swastika Night, 1984, Handmaid’s Tale, Battle Royale: all good suggestions but didn’t hit the sense of “pastness” required by my conception of alternate history as a genre, as they were all future histories in their original moment of production;
    • District 9: only (re-)occurred to me at the last second because I was talking about it to somebody in another context, and didn’t have time to do it because the syllabus was (again) too crammed with too much other stuff. Someone had suggested Born in Flames to me as well, which also would have been great.
    • I also really wanted to play some board games like Twilight Struggle, Risk, Axis and Allies, and Chrononauts, but it seemed like it would be unwieldy and pointless with 35 students in the room. I think Civilization could scratch the same itch, though…

All right, with all those caveats, apologies, and thanks, here’s the week by week schedule (and full syllabus with all course procedures)! Three papers, the first two “traditionally scholarly,” the third one with a creative option, as well as a few creative micro-assignments here and there. If there’s anything more I should explain or you have any questions about the decisions I made, feel free to ask in the comments!

M Aug. 29 FIRST DAY OF CLASS

in-class writing exercise: “What If…”

W Aug. 31 class discussion: “What If…”
UNIT ONE: ALTERNATE WORLD WAR IIs
F Sep. 2 Kim Stanley Robinson, “The Lucky Strike”
M Sep. 5 LABOR DAY—NO CLASS
W Sep. 7 Kim Stanley Robinson, “A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions”
F Sep. 9 FIRST PAPER GUIDELINES DISTRIBUTED

Star Trek: “The City on the Edge of Forever” (discussion only; watch it on your own!)

criticism: H. Bruce Franklin, “Star Trek in the Vietnam Era” [D2L]

M Sep. 12 Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, chapters 1-3
W Sep. 14 Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, chapters 4-6
F Sep. 16 Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, chapters 7-9
M Sep. 19 Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, chapters 10-13
W Sep. 21 Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle (whole book)
F Sep. 23 The Man in the High Castle (2015 Amazon pilot) (discussion only; watch it on your own!)
M Sep. 26 Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds (discussion only; optional screening date and time TBA)
W Sep. 28 Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds (discussion continues)

·      review: Ben Waters, “Debating Inglourious Basterds” [Web]

·      review: Michael Atkinson, “The Anti-Blockbuster” [Web]

·      review: Lee Siegel, “Tarantino’s Hollow Violence” [Web]

·      review: Jeffrey Goldberg, “Hollywood’s Jewish Avenger” [Web]

F Sep. 30 Lauren Davis, “Quentin Tarantino’s Spin Through Alternate History” [io9.com]

 

creative writing: Draft a short flash fiction [500-1000 words] or create an artifact, document, or image set in the 2016 of the world of Inglourious Basterds

 

Philip Roth, The Plot Against America (excerpt) [D2L]

UNIT TWO: OTHER HISTORIES
M Oct. 3 FIRST PAPER WORKSHOP

Bring in at least your introductory paragraphs, main claim, and an outline of your paper.

W Oct. 5 Sid Meier’s Civilization

videos: Civilization V timelapse gameplay videos [YouTube]

post: Trevor Owens, “Sid Meier’s Colonization: Is It Offensive Enough?” [Web]

thread: Lycerius, “I’ve Been Playing the Same Game of Civilization for Almost Ten Years. This Is the Result” [Reddit]

F Oct. 7 Sid Meier’s Civilization

criticism: Kacper Pobłocki, “Becoming-State: The Bio-Cultural Imperialism of Sid Meier’s Civilization”

 
M Oct. 10 FIRST PAPER DUE

SECOND PAPER GUIDELINES DISTRIBUTED

Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” [D2L]

W Oct. 12 Karen Joy Fowler, “Game Night at the Fox and Goose” [D2L]
F Oct. 14 criticism: L. Timmel Duchamp, “Playing with the Big Boys: (Alternate) History in Karen Joy Fowler’s ‘Game Night at the Fox and Goose’” [Web]
M Oct. 17 Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
W Oct. 19 Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

thinkpiece: Jennifer Schuessler, “Hamilton and History: Are They in Sync?” [Web]

interview: Rebecca Onion and Lyra D. Monteiro, “A Hamilton Skeptic on Why the Show Isn’t As Revolutionary As It Seems” [Web]

F Oct. 21 FALL BREAK—NO CLASS
M Oct. 24 Terry Bisson, Fire on the Mountain, pgs. 1-66
W Oct. 26 Terry Bisson, Fire on the Mountain, pgs. 67-119
F Oct. 28 Terry Bisson, Fire on the Mountain (whole book)
M Oct. 31 Abdourahman A. Waberi, In the United States of Africa (part one)
W Nov. 2 Abdourahman A. Waberi, In the United States of Africa (whole book)

criticism: Justin Izzo, “Historical Reversibility as Ethnographic Afrofuturism: Abdourahman Waberi’s Alternative Africa”

F Nov. 4 CONFERENCES—CLASS CANCELLED
UNIT THREE: DREAMING OF DIFFERENCE
M Nov. 7 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (chapters 1-4)
W Nov. 9 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (chapters 5-6)
F Nov. 11 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (chapters 7-9)
M Nov. 14 SECOND PAPER DUE

FINAL PROJECT GUIDELINES DISTRIBUTED

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (chapters 10-13)

W Nov. 16 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (chapters 14-16)
F Nov. 18 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (chapters 17-19)
M Nov. 21 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (whole book)

Martin Puchner, “When We Were Clones” [D2L]

W Nov. 23 THANKSGIVING BREAK—NO CLASS
F Nov. 25 THANKSGIVING BREAK—NO CLASS
M Nov. 28 Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven (chapters 1-4)
W Nov. 30 Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven (chapters 5-8)
F Dec. 2 Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven (whole book)
M Dec. 5 Octavia E. Butler, “The Book of Martha”

creative writing: Imagine God comes to you with the same offer he/she/it brings to Martha. What one change would you make to the world, and why?

W Dec. 7 Octavia E. Butler, “The Book of Martha” (discussion continues)

creative writing: Draft a flash fiction [500-1000 words] or create an artifact, document, or image set in the world that exists sometime after the end of “The Book of Martha.”

 

Octavia E. Butler, “Afterword to ‘The Book of Martha’”

Gerry Canavan, Octavia E. Butler (excerpt) [D2L]

F Dec. 9 FINAL PROJECT WORKSHOP

LAST DAY OF CLASS

F Dec. 16 FINAL ASSIGNMENT DUE BY 12:30 PM
     

 

 

Tuesday! Tuesday! Tuesday!

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* Rob Latham’s anthology of essential historical science fiction criticism has a pre-order page. Here’s a table of contents.

* Elsewhere on Amazon: Star Trek Barbies! Rick & Morty Season Two DVDs (out today)!

The arrival of annual reports on the job market in various humanities fields this year left many graduate students depressed about their prospects and professors worried about the futures of their disciplines. English and foreign language openings were down 3 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. History jobs fell 8 percent.

* Those of us working in the humanities must accept that our golden age lasted just one generation, argues Leonard Cassuto, and was not the norm.

* The end of the GRE?

* Some smart comparison between Game of Thrones and the Southern Reach trilogy from Phil Maciak.

Small-Town America Has a Serious Drinking-Water Problem.

* Bible Verses Where “Behold” Has Been Replaced With “Look, Buddy.”

* Teaching Philosophy on Death Row.

* “American conservatives are the forgotten critics of the atomic bombing of Japan.” Even they forgot about it!

* Antiuniversity now!

The Mercenary University.

* When former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff. I have to say, this is getting pretty good.

* Inside Trump University. Maybe Trump Really Does Make Less Than $500k a Year.

* “When ‘Diversity’ and ‘Inclusion’ Are Tenure Requirements”: Faculty at Pomona College have set new guidlines—but the students who pushed for the change don’t agree among themselves on their implications.

* John Oliver Steals Rolling Jubilee’s Bad Idea, Doesn’t Give Credit.

The Creator of Settlers of Catan Has Some Important Gameplay Advice for You.

* A major Native American site is being looted. Will Obama risk armed confrontation to save it?

* Dialectics of The Little Mermaid.

Supergirl Is Finally Going to Show Superman as an Actual Character. This only compounds the original mistake; the solution was always to just say Superman is dead or missing and be done with it.

* Seems legit: State Department Blocks Release Of Hillary Clinton-Era TPP Emails Until After The Election. But who’s counting.

* Contemporary architecture is more interested in mega projects for elites than improving ordinary people’s lives.

* Wisconsin, are you okay.

* And progress certainly has its advantages.

Sunday Night Links!

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* CFP: Afrofuturism in Time and Space.

* I was supposed to be at a conference this weekend, but the United flight left so amazingly late that it would have actually arrived after my panel (despite planning an ample buffer). I can’t remember the last flight I took that wasn’t at least partially a disaster. How much worse can air travel get? The Reason Air Travel Is Terrible and So Few Airlines Are Profitable. The airlines have maximized profits by making travel as miserable as possible. The Airline Fee to Sit With Your Family. And of course: Waiting in Line for the Illusion of Security.

* I’m 36, and I’ve never felt more “halfway there” than I have since my birthday last November.

* This is mostly anecdata, but all the same Milwaukee really does have the absolute worst drivers in the world.

* What happened to CUNY? The Relentless Shabbiness of CUNY: What Is To Be Done?

Students should study what they love, work hard, learn a lot, and they will find employment success.  We have become so vocationalized in our thinking about higher education that we have come to believe that a major is a career.  It is not.

* Climate Change: Views from the Humanities.

Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors.

* Western universities are opening campuses in some odd places where they really don’t need to be.

Students With Nowhere to Stay: Homelessness on College Campuses.

For First Time in Modern Era, Living With Parents Edges Out Other Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds.

* Why Sci-Hub Will Win.

“Without provocation or warning, a large swarm of bees descended on both of them as they continued on the trail,” the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

We’ve separated the work of medicine and the work of the humanities for too long. After all, the creation of meaning is most important during our inevitable periods of suffering — whether the suffering is a patient’s physical illness or a physician’s emotional anguish.

Here’s the data: The National Health Interview Survey from 2011–12 found that children between the ages of six and 17 from families under the poverty line were significantly more likely to be prescribed psychiatric medication than any other economic group. The same study found that children on Medicaid were 50 percent more likely to get a prescription than those with private insurance. An analysis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses among kids between the ages of five and 17 between 1998 and 2009 found rates rose twice as fast for working-class and poor kids. A measurable class gap has emerged among children when it comes to mental health. And elsewhere from Malcolm Harris: why the dreaded term ‘millennial’ is actually worth saving.

We, the undersigned graduate students from the UCSD Literature Department and their allies, are writing to publicly voice our concerns about the building where the Literature program is currently housed.  In the past twenty-six years, many members of our departmental community have been diagnosed with cancer, forming an as-yet unexplained cancer cluster centered on the Literature Building.

How one California university faked students’ scores, skated by immigration authorities — and made a fortune in the process.

* Ole Miss Admits Former Assistant Football Coach Helped Falsify ACT Scores.

America’s atomic vets: ‘We were used as guinea pigs – every one of us.’

It’s time to acknowledge the genocide of California’s Indians.

Who paid for a professional oppo-research team to mock an environmental activist? The answer is secret. One could argue that the campaign isn’t substantially different from that of a corporate lobbyist, but, unlike registered lobbyists, America Rising Squared doesn’t have to file public disclosures or pay taxes, because it purports to be a social-welfare organization.

* For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could mean “the end of the road” for antibiotics. That New Superbug Was Found in a UTI and That’s Key.

* The Ethics of Hodor.

* Ecotopia 2121.

The Player Kings: On Shakespeare’s Henriad.

Huge Marvel Comics twist changes Captain America forever*, and you might not like it.

* six months tops

* I get the anger, but I just don’t think Steve will be Hydra long enough to be outraged about. It really might not last past the next issue. Needless to say, on the question of outrage, others disagree. Jacobin weighs in: Captain America Doesn’t Have to Be a Fascist.

What’s it Like for Peter Parker Growing Up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

* Where is Wakanda?

* Super-antics.

“Unprecedented” discovery of mysterious structures created by Neanderthals.

Archaeologists discover Aristotle’s 2,400-year-old tomb in Macedonia.

A ‘Devastating Account’ of Diversity at Yale.

The Obama Administration Is Using Racist Court Rulings to Deny Citizenship to 55,000 People.

Hillary Clinton’s email problems just got much worse. More. What the new inspector general report on Hillary Clinton’s emails actually says.

* Hard not to feel like Democrats are really bad at this. Really bad.

Bernie Might Be Helping, Not Hurting Hillary Right Now.

* The Independent didn’t think this pair of glasses left on the floor of a museum was art.

* Geraldine Largay’s Wrong Turn: Death on the Appalachian Trail.

Peter Thiel just gave other billionaires a dangerous blueprint for perverting philanthropy. Peter Thiel, Tech Billionaire, Reveals Secret War With Gawker.

The iron-clad rule of all punditry and freelance social media opinionating: everything that happens must be construed such that it helps Trump.

* Pure class.

How to Get Trump Elected When He’s Wrecking Everything You Built.

12 Fringe Conspiracy Theories Embraced By A Man Who Might Be The Next President.

* The Gingrich Century.

Inside A White Nationalist Conference Energized By Trump’s Rise.

* A coup in Brazil, not that anyone seems to care.

How to Plug In Your Brain.

Research reveals huge scale of social media misogyny.

* Algorithmic injustice.

Teaching Veronica Mars in a season of campus sex crimes.

The turn to whetted appetites is supposed to be a compliment, but it just goes to show that there is no non-sinister defense for the “American male birthright” as a conceptual category.

* Gay Essentialism in a Eugenic Age.

“Frivolous” Humanities Helped Prisoners Survive in Communist Romania.

* Sad story: Gorilla shot dead after 3-year-old falls into enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo. A lot of people seem to be blaming the parents for neglectful watching, but having any way for a child to gain access to an enclosure is a catastrophic failure of design.

* Elsewhere in animal news: A Dutch Company Is Training ‘Low-Tech’ Eagles to Fight Drones.

In winter breeding grounds like Hawai‘i and Mexico, migrating humpback whales arrived later, left earlier, and showed up in fewer numbers than normal.

* There are a lot of pieces of this argument that I don’t agree with, but this part seems right to me: What its steadfast defenders fail to grasp is that, by promoting the PhD as a sort of generalist’s degree that should be used to do all sorts of things by as many people as possible, they are damning the humanities to continued irrelevance.

* 50 Years of Joan of Arc at Marquette.

* The end of Salon.

New Evidence Suggests a Fifth Fundamental Force of Nature.

Cell Phones and Brain Cancer: A Mother Jones Symposium.

Every Single Pinky and the Brain Plan to Take Over the World, Ranked.

* Do you think humans really have feelings, or are they just programmed to act like they do?

I try to remember the day I stopped believing in the Loch Ness Monster, the day I realized heaven and earth provided more than enough to think about. I cannot, which seems strange. I have never regretted my obsession with the Loch Ness Monster. A strong belief in UFOs, say, is somehow contaminating, so many of its paths leading into the intellectual urinal of conspiracy and cover-up. Belief in the hard-core paranormal is not something one grows out of but something one is reduced to. Accepting the Loch Ness Monster’s existence, on the other hand, did not mean signing on to any particular pathology, except possibly that of optimism. The Loch Ness Monster made the world a little stranger, a little more wonderful.

Welcome to Disturbia: Why midcentury Americans believed the suburbs were making them sick.

* Reproductive futurity watch: Congress member goes on bizarre anti-LGBTQ rant about sending gay people to space.

* Huge, if true: J.K. Rowling Confirms Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Will Be Sad.

The Sad State of Game of Thrones’ Direwolves.

* Game of Thrones: This is canon now.

* Winter is going: The Arctic Heat Wave Is Literally Off the Charts Right Now.

* But there’s a Plan B: The Time To Nuke Mars Is Now.

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Written by gerrycanavan

May 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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