Posts Tagged ‘the Cabinet’
* A nice endorsement of Octavia E. Butler from Steve Shaviro. Some bonus Shaviro content: his favorite SF of 2016. I think Death’s End was the best SF I read this year too, though I really liked New York 2140 a lot too (technically that’s 2017, I suppose). I’d also single out Invisible Planets and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, both of which had some really good short stories. In comics, I think The Vision was the best new thing I’ve seen in years. There’s a lot I bought this year and didn’t have time to look at yet, though, so maybe check back with me in 2019 and I can tell you what was the best thing from 2016.
* Duke warns professors about emails from someone claiming to be a student, seeking information about their courses — many in fields criticized by some on the right. Some Michigan and Denver faculty members have received similar emails but from different source.
* I don’t think Children of Men was ever actually “overlooked” — and I’m shocked it was considered a flop at a time — but it certainly looks prescient now.
* From Tape Drives to Memory Orbs, the Data Formats of Star Wars Suck. Remembering Caravan of Courage, the Ewok Adventure Star Wars Would Rather You’d Forget. Anti-fascism vs. nostalgia: Rogue One. How to See Star Wars For What It Really Is. And a new headcanon regarding the Empire and its chronic design problems.
* The seduction of technocratic government—that a best answer will overcome division, whether sown in the nature of man or ineluctable in capitalist society—slides into the seduction in the campaign that algorithms will render rote the task of human persuasion, that canvassers are just cogs for a plan built by machine. And so the error to treat data as holy writ, when it’s both easier and harder than that. Data are fragile; algorithms, especially when they aggregate preferences, fall apart. Always, always, power lurks. The technocrats have to believe in mass politics, believe for real that ordinary people, when they organize, can change their own destinies. Whether that happens depends on the party that gets built, and the forces behind it.
* Four Cabinet nominations that could blow up in Donald Trump’s face. Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliances. Why Donald Trump Might Not Be All That Good for Art. How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler. This all certainly seems on the up-and-up. And today in teaching the controversy: Nuclear diplomacy via Twitter is a bad idea.
* The arc of history is long, but Google Search will not longer return Holocaust-denying websites at the top of page one.
* It wasn’t just your imagination: more famous people did die in 2016.
* Mother Jones on “the White House’s private outrage at former Secretary of Energy Steve Chu’s impromptu decision to talk about climate change while visiting an island nation uniquely threatened by it.” How dare he…
* Six women filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday alleging that Vanderbilt University, a prestigious school in Nashville, has failed to adequately respond to incidences of sexual assault on campus.
* Here come the ACA scammers. Meanwhile, in Obamacare follies: the “administrative fix.” The shorthand explanation for what’s going on here is that everybody — the insurance companies, members of Congress, and Obama — is bullshitting.
* There is plenty of violence in the world of hunter-gatherers, though it is hardly illuminated by resorting to statistical comparisons between the mortality rates of a tiny tribal war in Kalimantan and the Battle of the Somme or the Holocaust. This violence, however, is almost entirely a state-effect. It simply cannot be understood historically from 4000 BC forward apart from the appetite of states for trade goods, slaves and precious ores, any more than the contemporary threat to remote indigenous groups can be understood apart from the appetite of capitalism and the modern state for rare minerals, hydroelectric sites, plantation crops and timber on the lands of these peoples. Papua New Guinea is today the scene of a particularly violent race for minerals, aided by states and their militias and, as Stuart Kirsch’s Mining Capitalism shows, its indigenous politics can be understood only in this context. Contemporary hunter-gatherer life can tell us a great deal about the world of states and empires but it can tell us nothing at all about our prehistory. We have virtually no credible evidence about the world until yesterday and, until we do, the only defensible intellectual position is to shut up.
* The Eighth Doctor finally gets his sendoff in a prequel to the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special.
* Malcolm Harris against the unpaid internship for credit. I think there’s still a place for educational internships, but at nothing like the rates we see today, and it should never be used to displace waged workers or make the company money.
* Shocked that Google Books is fair use. College and university administrators, take note!
* And I took so long posting this link dump the latest Andy-Kaufman-is-alive hoax has already fallen apart.
* The Obama administration apparently approached Arnold Schwarzenegger about a cabinet position in 2011. The article’s explanation of the thinking makes this only slightly less ridiculous.
* ‘There was a tornado of fire swept over the farming district’: The October 8, 1871 Peshtigo Fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, was a firestorm which caused the most deaths by fire in United States history, killing as many as 1,500.
* And Grenada is (so far) your per-capita Olympic winner. Congratulations!
* The twenty-first century: an FAQ from Charlie Stross.
* Hypothesis: Sufficiently usable read/write platforms will attract porn and activists. If there’s no porn, the tool doesn’t work. If there’s no activists, it doesn’t work well. (via)
* Aside from their nihilism and incompetence, the biggest problem facing Republicans is that their mythology has become too difficult for the average person to follow. It’s like a comic book “universe” where the writers have been straining to maintain continuity for decades — all the ever-more-fine-grained details are really satisfying for the hardcore fans, but intimidating for potential new readers, who are left asking, “Trickle-what? Chappaquid-who? What’s that about Obama’s birth certificate? Obama’s European now? I thought he was a Muslim! Darn it, I’ll never catch up!”
I suggest, therefore, that the Republicans use their current time of wandering in the wilderness to do their own version of Crisis on Infinite Earths. They wouldn’t have to ditch their favorite heroes, of course — we could also be treated to limited series like Rush Limbaugh: Year One, Newt Gingrich: Year One, etc. They can reboot all the plotlines, free the beloved characters of the chains of continuity, and then do it again, and yet again — until finally they find success in some genre other than politics, much as comic book superheroes have moved on to the movies. GOP: Year One.
* See also: the GOP’s voice and intellectual force, Rush Limbaugh.
* Slowly but surely, here comes marijuana decriminalization/legalization. Don’t forget your revenue stream.
* And put aside that old question of “justifying” the humanities: the real problem is that for much of the past decade, the culture isn’t listening to what the humanities have to teach.
Gregg withdraws. Huzzah!
UPDATE: FiveThirtyEight gets in the line of the night on this, going off the official White House statement on the withdrawal.
Here is the statement the White House just put out on kicking Judd Gregg to the curb, in full:
“Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for Secretary of Commerce. He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart”.
Translation: Gregg asked us for the gig and lied to us, so eff him, this is his fault.
As one longtime White House correspondent just told me, “I have never seen a White House statement that kicks someone in the balls that hard before.”
Do we all understand now that you can’t work with people who won’t work with you? Sounds like we just might.