Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘The Dark Knight Rises

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Written by gerrycanavan

April 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Monday Night Links

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* The kids are all right: Last Friday night, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council announced that the student body had voted 72% in favor of Harvard University divesting its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels.

* Barbarians at the Wormhole: On Anthony Burgess.

The trope of invasion is doubly brilliant, first because the invasion plot is a mainstay of SF and second because the trope captures quite neatly what it must feel like for some literary intellectuals to be forced to confront the increasing cultural cachet of SF, to face its meteoric rise over the last thirty years from lowbrow genre to literary respectability. The genre now comfortably occupies university syllabi, best-of lists, and handsome Library of America editions — though some hardened highbrows might suspect its popularity is more a function of marketing than of quality.

For all its brilliance, Clowes’s trope of invasion makes an important mistake, failing to note that the invasion is largely moving in the other direction. After all, one wouldn’t expect Asimov’s Science Fiction to run a special issue featuring “literary fiction,” but publications like the New Yorker apparently do feel the need for a science fiction issue, perhaps trying to freshen themselves up by tapping into the unruly energies of a disreputable genre. Indeed, the lure of the so-called low genres — and SF in particular — has long proven irresistible to those who otherwise fashion themselves as literary types, at least since Kingsley Amis’s classic 1960 study of the genre, New Maps of Hell.

Clowes’s New Yorker cover is, in fact, a perfect example in miniature of the subgenre Amis called the “comic inferno” — humorous dystopias such as those written by Frederick Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth, and Robert Sheckley. This subgenre, by Amis’s account, mocks ideas of progress in its humorous rendition of dystopian futures. What is dystopian about Clowes’s comic cover is very precisely that SF cannot be ignored, that it disrupts the bourgeois regularity and comfort that informs the imagination of hypothetical readers of The New Yorker. The genre — which always bears with it the threatening knowledge that the world might change inexorably, beyond human control, or at least beyond the control of those who are humanistically inclined — cannot be ignored, because the signs of our world’s deepening state of crisis (political, technological, environmental) cannot be ignored.

* Bonus: “Anthony Burgess Answers Two Questions” by Jonathan Lethem.

Not only are student loans not a burden on the federal government, they’re a good investment. In 2012 the DOW estimated its subsidy for student lending at -17 percent. In other words, the DOE “subsidies” actually represent money coming in. Including all expenses, from loses on defaults to debt collection to program administration, the DOE will pull in more than $25 billion in profit from student lending this year alone—billions more dollars than the IRS will assess in gift and estate taxes combined, and more than enough to pay NASA’s whole budget. The DOE explains the negative subsidy through a divergence between “the Government’s borrowing rate and the interest rate at which borrowers repay their loans.” After all, no one can borrow at lower rate than the U.S. Treasury, certainly not college students and their families. Bondholders aren’t the only ones who think student debtors—including defaulters—will pay back every cent they owe, with interest. The government is literally counting on it.

* The headline reads, “Charges dropped against man arrested for wearing an elaborate wristwatch.”

* Elmo accuser wants to retract his retraction. Hostess may survive after all.

Hostess Bankruptcy Has Worked Out Well for CEO Brian Driskoll.

This is not identical to the story with the American Airlines bankruptcy, but there’s something similar about it. There the CEO gets a large payday if he can avoid a merger, regardless of the value for the enterprise.

The handwriting is on the wall. Until Republican candidates figure out how to perform better among non-white voters, especially Hispanics and Asians, Republican presidential contenders will have an extraordinarily difficult time winning presidential elections from this point forward.

JSTOR provides free access to Wikipedia editors via pilot program.

* Cory Booker to live on food stamps for a week.

My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it’s not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won’t give little girls much care.

* Remixed trailer of the moment: Gotham High.

* And a new game: impressions of Sean Connery as Gandalf. Oh, what might have been!

Wednesday Night Links: Žižek, Affleck, and More

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Wednesday!

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* It isn’t the law that is struggling to catch up to drone technology; it’s us. Like it or not, the NextGen computerized autonomous national airspace is coming. It’s not a joke, and it’s not science fiction. Coming to terms with that is important. Disbelief won’t help at this point. The coming shift in our national airspace will push our boundaries. We’ll be able to mount legal challenges against particularly egregious uses of the technology — it’s unlikely that the sheriff of Montgomery County, Texas, will get much mileage out of his wet dream of a remote-controlled aircraft armed with tear gas and rubber bullets — but we won’t be able to imagine every permutation this technology will take. This is going to be some Minority Report–level shit.

* James Cameron: Avatar was always imagined as a six-picture hexalogy. Stick around for a fun Doctor Who spoiler/rumor if that’s your thing.

* Rethinking depression in teenage girls: “Depression? Really? How About Anger and Powerlessness?”

* No! No! I won’t believe it! Military expert says there’s no way Batman’s TDKR ‘Bat’ could fly.

* Battle Royale is an obvious can’t-miss hit for a post-Hunger-Games, post-Walking-Dead TV landscape. Just about the only way it could miss is if network executives changed it so the kids weren’t killing each other, just beating each other up…

* And you can take it to the bank: Human immortality could be possible by 2045, say Russian scientists. Guaranteed!

Batman Is At Least Fascist-Curious

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In my humble opinion, this act — this decision to not end poverty because you might release a weapon into the public sphere — demonstrates the real driving force for the movie’s morality, sense of history, and its understanding of civic virtue: the violence within, which must be contained. On the one hand, to say that we could solve all problems of human need and want, but we won’t, because it might become a bomb, is to assert that inequality is not what creates the specter of violence (it’s also, oddly, a lot like the argument that “people don’t kill people; guns kill people!”). The threat of violence is prior and separate from complaints over inequality, however much they might claim to motivate it. And indeed, this was the lesson of the first movie, the lesson Bruce Wayne learned from the death of his parents: you can build an awesome Keynesian super-train and fix Gotham’s economy forever, but some random street criminal will still murder you, because. Better to invest in a secret police force.

Like the Batman himself, Aaron “zunguzungu” Bady returns from self-imposed exile for one last rip-roaring caper.

The Last ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Review You’ll Ever Need

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“The Dark Knight Rises pays a bit of lip service to our recent economic woes, staging shoot-outs on Wall Street trading floors and offering copious Occupy Gotham monologues. Still, there’s only so far you can go in this direction when your movie’s hero also happens to be a billionaire fascist who likes to dress up like a rodent and beat the shit out of people. Anyone who claims they can spot a coherent political agenda in this picture is obviously insane.” Thanks, @DanHF!

Written by gerrycanavan

July 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Thursday!

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* Most girls as young as 6 are already beginning to think of themselves as sex objects, according to a new study of elementary school-age kids in the Midwest.

* Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.

* Bruce/Batman, distracted by his mommy-daddy-me orphan issues, has not realized that he has become the villain. Batman Occupied.

* So you say you want to be vice president.

* And just because: What Playing Cricket Looks Like to Americans.