Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’
Where most contemporary histories of the future imagine climate change as either an annoying irritation or else the end of history — the disaster that will end civilization — in New York 2140 Robinson cuts more of a middle path. Climate change does indeed prove utterly catastrophic in this novel, laying waste to the coastal cities where a startling percentage of the world’s population currently lives, and devastating a huge amount of infrastructure and fixed capital, costing trillions of dollars — but humans are incredibly versatile problem-solvers, and we adapt. Technical solutions like sea walls and skybridges are really only the start of what would be necessary in a flooded Manhattan. Think of the immense social changes, the legal, economic, and architectural structures that would need to be innovated when huge areas of major cities are permanently underwater, or indeed become part of the intertidal zone. Even by 2140, nearly 100 years after the start of the crisis, the long work of retrofitting civilization to rising sea levels goes on, and not all of it is even that unhappy; it’s no secret that the capitalists use the same phrase to denote both crisis and opportunity, creative destruction….
* Getting ready for Marquette’s big Buffy at 20 conference: Every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ranked. Buffy the Vampire Slayer video games, ranked from best to worst. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a feminist parable for everyone – including Anthony Stewart Head. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest show in the history of television. The Enduring Legacy. Genocide of the Vampires. How Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Most Hated Season Became Its Most Important. On “The Body.” Twenty years later, the world needs Buffy more than ever. A few more at MeFi. And from the archives, David Graeber.
* This isn’t a complete picture — it is too nostalgic for a lost age of exclusion, and misses completely the despair caused by the total collapse of the profession — but all the same I found it a powerful critique of the university today: Our Hallways Are Too Quiet.
* Probably the best piece of art criticism ever written: Appraising the Brady Bunch’s Art Collection.
* More Lovercraft from the great Ali Sperling! H.P. Lovecraft’s Weird Body.
* The New York Times reviews Lower Ed by the great Tressie McMillan Cottom.
* On zeitgeist: Ozymandias statue found in mud.
* Rutgers also diverted $11 million in student fees and $17.1 million from its general fund to cover the athletic shortfall. The average undergraduate now pays more than $300 in activities fees exclusively for the university’s N.C.A.A. teams.
* Bodies on the Gears at Middleburg. And from the right: Middlebury Reckons With a Protest Gone Wrong. From Mother Jones to Middlebury: The Problem and Promise of Political Violence in Trump’s America.
* Are the Democrats totally screwed? The Democratic Party Seems to Have No Earthly Idea Why It Is So Damn Unpopular. Outsmarted: on the Liberal Cult of the Cognitive Elite. There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble. The SEIU at the end of the world.
* Trump can’t even do a standard thing like firing all the US Attorneys without turning it into a train wreck. But here’s how he can turn it around. Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media. Descent into Liberalism. Fantasizing about President Pence. Of no fixed address. Here’s How Much ‘Trumpcare’ Fucks You, Based On How You Get Your Insurance Now. Who wins and who loses under the Republicans’ health care plan. A Trumpcare flashback. Truly, freedom isn’t free.
Then, before you know it, the Wall Street Journal is an oracle of truth. You’re rooting for Cold War II. The FBI is your BFF. You’re a Democrat.
* This is so evil: Bill Would Let Employers Demand Workers’ Genetic Tests.
* Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is heaven — for spies!
* Towards a Unified Theory of Why Men Send Dick Pics. Obviously, more research is required.
* Neonazis! I hate these guys. Indiana Jones and the Okay Fine We’ll Try Again.
* Twenty-First Century Headlines: Radioactive Boars in Fukushima Thwart Residents’ Plans to Return Home.
* Star Trek: Discovery announces exciting “the captain is probably evil and in any event will die at the end of the season” arc.
* Knives out for Marvel: they finally made a mistake big enough to be noticed. More from Noah Berlatsky.
* Officials with Alberta’s environment agency inspected the water lines on Tuesday afternoon and proclaimed it safe, while the town completed the required repairs by the end of day. Town’s Water Turns Pink In Horrifying Ghostbusters Throwback.
* Requiem for a Dil. We’re Looking for People with Management Potential. An Experiment to Determine if Rats Can Be Made to Hate Thanksgiving. It’s Not So Bad. Sad Truths: Mythological Creatures Edition. I wish human beings were as peaceful and loving as bonobos. We all have our struggles.
* Nostalgia for the childhood you never had: The Japanese opening for the X-Men Animated Series.
* The arc of history is long, but Rookie Doctors Will Soon Be Allowed To Work Up To 28 Hours Straight.
* Interesting: The New Avatar Theme Park Is a Giant Spoiler.
In an interview conducted inside the park, Cameron said that the park is set in a timeline after the five movies. A time when the war between humans and Na’vi is over. A time when the Na’vi have begun to welcome humans onto their planet with opens arms.
* And dibs on the screenplay: Right now, in a vault controlled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, there sits a 752-pound emerald with no rightful owner. This gem is the size of a minifridge. It weighs as much as two sumo wrestlers. Estimates of its worth range from a hundred bucks to $925 million. Over the past 10 years, four lawsuits have been filed over the Bahia emerald. Fourteen individuals or entities, plus the nation of Brazil, have claimed the rock is theirs. A house burned down. Three people filed for bankruptcy. One man alleges having been kidnapped and held hostage. Many of the men involved say that the emerald is hellspawn but they also can’t let it go.
* The route Google Maps recommends if you’re headed to Ferrum College from the west involves what may be the loneliest and most roller-coaster-like stretch of roadway ever to earn a state route number from Virginia. It’s a narrow ribbon of pavement with no center line, a twisting trail you drive imagining that if you go over the edge, weeks could pass before anyone found the wreckage. Only at the other end do you spot a yellow sign that reads, “GPS Routing Not Advised.” Small, Rural Colleges Grapple With Their Geography.
* Old and busted: AI. New hotness: IA.
* As an added experiment, the researchers applied their model to the current distribution of human populations on Earth. They found that, under all the same assumptions, 12.5 percent of the global population would be forced to migrate at least 1,000 kilometers, and up to a third of the population would have to move more than 500 kilometers.
* In a paper published in the May issue of the journal Astrobiology, the astronomer Woodruff Sullivan and I show that while we do not know if any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations currently exist in our galaxy, we now have enough information to conclude that they almost certainly existed at some point in cosmic history.
…what our calculation revealed is that even if this probability is assumed to be extremely low, the odds that we are not the first technological civilization are actually high. Specifically, unless the probability for evolving a civilization on a habitable-zone planet is less than one in 10 billion trillion, then we are not the first.
* Because poetry is considered so small, so irrelevant, it’s tempting for poetry critics to look for the BIG themes in poems to demonstrate that poetry matters. I continue to learn from critics who take on this labor. However, because ALL African literary criticism is assumed to matter the more it focuses on the BIG SOCIOPOLITICOECONOMICDISASTERTHATISAFRICA, I am inclined to turn to quieter moments—spaces for the intimate, the friendly, the quiet, the loving, the depressed, the depressing, grief, and melancholy. I’m drawn to the register that is not the shout, and never the headline. I linger at the quotidian to insist that the African imagination considers livability and shareability.
* For everyone, he claims, is shortchanged when the guiding principle and “key driver” of the institution is no longer thought, but money (ix). Faculty are silenced, yes, by the drive to conformity and homogeneity. But students are also cheated when they are treated simply as “human capital”: “When the university is reduced to the function of preparation for jobs and not for life, life itself gets lost under the jobs” (85). Most broadly and seriously of all, society as a whole suffers as the university abandons its traditional role as “that institution that has a responsibility to counter the incipient violence of natural force” (40). The fate of the university is bound up with the fate of democracy and citizenship at large. If society is to change, and injustice and inequality challenged, we need now more than ever an institution whose role is to be “’critical’ of the existing world state of affairs, dissident with respect to it” (6).
* White supremacist PACs and Trump. The stain of Trump. “A GOP senator might vote for Hillary Clinton. Here’s how rare that is.” Trump has underperformed the real estate market by a mere 57% since 1976. Alas, Mitt.
* I’m calling it: Trump will drop out of the race by July 5 at the latest. He will blame the unfair media and political correctness, allude to some wack-ass conspiracy involving Black Lives Matter and/or Hezbollah, and go to his grave telling everyone he knows that if he had stayed in the race, he would’ve beaten Clinton.
* You may be done with your quasi-legal homebrew server, but your quasi-legal homebrew server is not done with you: The FBI has been conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information for months.
* We narrowed Clinton’s vice-presidential possibilities to 27. Now you pick one. For a long time I’ve thought it definitely be one of the Castro brothers, probably Julian, but Elizabeth Warren has made such a push lately I’ve started to think it could actually be her. Of course you can pick Trump’s too, from such a weak field it includes his own daughter.
* Let me close with a broad statement. In the news you will see some rather hysterical statements about how all bets are off this year. That is true to an extent: on the Republican side, the national party’s positions and their rank-and-file voters’ preferences are far out of whack. In a deep sense, their decision process in 2016 became broken. But that does not mean that opinion is unmeasurable. Far from it. In the aggregate, pollsters still do a good job reaching voters. And voters are still people whose opinions move at a certain speed. To my thinking, polls may be the best remaining way to assess what is happening.
* But just in case: I Spent the 90s Fighting Fascists on the Streets of Warsaw.
* If you’re not sick of these yet: What Hamilton Forgets About Hamilton.
* Because you demanded it! Kevin Smith Says That His Mallrats Sequel Will Be a 10-Part TV Series.
* Same joke but for The Passion of the Christ 2.
* Sixty Million Car Bombs: Inside Takata’s Air Bag Crisis: How the company’s failures led to lethal products and the biggest auto recall in history.
* The case for Lady Stoneheart showing up in season six of Game of Thrones. Let me say I have my doubts.
* CFP: “Queers Read This!”: LGBTQ Literature Now, a Special Issue of GLQ. And a stray thought not-really-apropos of that:
* UWM introduces plan to cut $41.25 million from budget. That includes the end of the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research. But there’s always money in the job security stand:
“We have a fundamental tension between job security and the ability for this university to continue to be viable,” Mone said. “Those are inherent tensions. The reality is, when I talk about numbers, when I talk about budgeting, what we’re really talking about is people. And we’re talking about the ability to continue to operate as effectively and as efficiently as possible given the environmental changes that we have.”
* Shock of shocks: The NFL has been lying about concussions.
* Batman vs. Superman is apparently in that delicious category of film so terrible that the critics compete to deal it the cruelest blow. FilmFreak. GQ. BMD. AV Club. Deadpan. The Guardian. Village Voice. And the rest! But I give the round to A.O. Scott:
For fun there are shots of the heroes shirtless and of Lois Lane in the bath. But the point of “Batman v Superman” isn’t fun, and it isn’t thinking, either. It’s obedience. The theology is invoked not to elicit meditations on mercy, justice or sacrifice, but to buttress a spectacle of power. And in that way the film serves as a metaphor for its own aspirations. The corporations that produce movies like this one, and the ambitious hacks who sign up to make them, have no evident motive beyond their own aggrandizement. Entertainment is less the goal than the byproduct, and as the commercial reach of superpower franchises grows, their creative exhaustion becomes ever more apparent.
* Garner (not really) v. Affleck. This is actually a really interesting longread on the crafting of celebrity persona, despite your assumptions to the contrary.
* As a child I was unsatisfied with the world, already looking for ways out. I read some online pamphlet about Advaita Vedanta and decided I believed in it; I made myself a little diagram of the cosmos, within and without Māyā, dotted lines connecting Brahman to Atman to my own confined and unhappy self far across the limits of observable reality; I was weird. I liked things that weren’t really real; not pure fantasy but all those lenses that made the world bearable in its new capacity to be somehow otherwise, that gave me a kind of conceptual power to change things that I didn’t have in daily life. Conspiracy theory, pseudohistory, socialism, faith. I think it wasn’t long after my grandfather died that I found a collection of alternate histories, little stories told by pop-historians about what might have happened if one battle or another had gone the other way, a prism of worlds that never were. I don’t remember the title; it was actually a fairly stupid book (one account described the result of Lenin’s assassination on the way to St Petersburg: the Bolsheviks are effortlessly sidelined and we get a happy, prosperous, liberal-democratic twentieth century). The cover was utterly inevitable: a black and empty sky, and a swastika flag on the Moon. But that really did happen. The space programme that sent the first people to the Moon was the Nazi space programme, all those scientists snatched up in Operation Paperclip, effortlessly swapping Hitler for Washington. Watch the dialectic at work, preserving what it negates, proceeding as always by its bad side. It’s not that the Nazis are another example of Benjamin’s defeated of history; how could they be, when putting a swastika on the cover is still the best way to sell a book? But the litter that chokes our planet remains, all the bones remain, and one day we are promised the resurrection. This is why utopia is always melancholic, the refusal to simply mourn, the tight grip of the living to the dead.
* Miracles and wonders: Controlling diabetes with a skin patch.
* STEMJ: Researchers have long noticed that an oddly large number of jihadists have engineering backgrounds. Recently two social scientists, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, scrutinized the numbers and concluded that, yes, the proportion of terrorists who are engineers far outpaces expectations.
* Elsewhere on the terrorism and statistics beat: American Mormon, 19, left with burns and shrapnel injuries in Brussels attack also survived Boston and Paris bombings.
* I guess the Singularity really is near: Microsoft’s ‘teen girl’ AI turns into a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours.
* The latest in the letting-the-superintelligent-AI-out-of-the-box subgenere: ANA.
* And, from the archives, some change we can all believe in: Abolish Caillou.