Posts Tagged ‘the humanities’
* Also in Marquette news! Marquette to host ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ conference in April.
* Becoming a parent forces you to think about the nature of the problem — which is, in a lot of ways, the problem of nature […] the realities of aging and sickness and mortality become suddenly inescapable. […] [My wife] said something during that time I will never forget. “If I had known how much I was going to love him,” she said, “I’m not sure I would have had him.” Mark O’Connell on transhumanism and immortality.
* From the great Ali Sperling: Reading Lovecraft in the Anthropocene. And this review of Alan Moore’s Jerusalem from the great David Higgins!
* The liberal arts at Harvey Mudd College, whose graduates out-earn Harvard and Stanford.
* Chaos, again. This is fine. Even James Comey. Twilight of Reince Preibus. Ten Questions for President Trump. Ten More Questions for President Trump. Remember when it was scandalous that Obama, years before he became a politician, once sold his house?
* It is through the Justice Department that the administration is likely to advance its nationalist plans — to strengthen the grip of law enforcement, raise barriers to voting and significantly reduce all forms of immigration, promoting what seems to be a longstanding desire to reassert the country’s European and Christian heritage. It’s not an accident that Sessions, who presumably could have chosen from a number of plum assignments, opted for the role of attorney general. The Department of Justice is the most valuable perch from which to transform the country in the way he and Bannon have wanted. With an exaggerated threat of disorder looming, the nation’s top law-enforcement agency could become a machine for trying to fundamentally change who gets to be an American and what rights they can enjoy.
* The emerging effort — dozens more rules could be eliminated in the coming weeks — is one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades. It is the leading edge of what Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, described late last month as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”
* An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the American government has been detained for more than two days after flying into Los Angeles International Airport, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed on Saturday. Profiles of immigrant arrested in Austin. Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws. (Note this lawsuit was filed in 2014.) This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World. And if it were a book, it’d seem laughably contrived: A letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Resisting ICE. Here we go again.
* And while we’re on the subject: The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation. I think this is a very good reminder of the need to stay calm and detached from the chaos of the news cycle.
* Instead, a new model is proposed: the president keeps everyone in a constant state of excitement and alarm. He moves fast and breaks things. He leads by causing commotion. As energy in the political system rises he makes no effort to project calm or establish an orderly White House. And if he keeps us safe it’s not by being himself a safe, steady, self-controlled figure, but by threatening opponents and remaining brash and unpredictable— maybe a touch crazy. This too is psychological work, but of a different kind.
* Democrats keep trusting demographics to save them. It hasn’t worked yet — but maybe this time…
* Austerity measures don’t actually save money. But they do disempower workers. Which is why governments pursue them in the first place.
* No! It can’t be! Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win.
* “These devices don’t have emotional intelligence,” said Allison Druin, a University of Maryland professor who studies how children use technology. “They have factual intelligence.” How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants.
But these second-order obstacles aren’t enough to explain the current collapse of poll-driven political certainty. They’re just excuses, even if they’re not untrue. Something about the whole general scheme of polling—the idea that you can predict what millions of undecided voters will do by selecting a small group and then just simply asking them—is out of whack. We need to think seriously about what the strange game of election-watching actually is, in terms of our relation to the future, our power to choose our own outcomes, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the mysteries of fate. And these questions are urgent. Because predictions of the future don’t simply exist in the future, but change the way we act in the present. Because in our future something monstrous is rampaging: it paces hungrily toward us, and we need to know if we’ll be able to spot it in time.
When I said that opinion polls are sibyls and soothsayers, it wasn’t just a figure of speech. Opinion polling has all the trappings of a science—it has its numbers and graphs, its computational models, its armies of pallid drones poring over the figures. It makes hypotheses and puts them to the test. But polls are not taken for what they are: a report on what a small number of people, fond of changing their minds, briefly pretended to think. Instead, we watch the tracking graphs as if the future were playing itself out live in front of us. The real structure of the electoral-wonk complex is more mystical than materialist: it’s augury and divination, a method handed down by Prometheus to a starving and shivering humanity at the faint dawn of time. Behind all the desktop screens and plate-glass of his office, the buzz of data and the hum of metrics, Nate Silver retreats to a quiet, dark, and holy room. He takes the knife and slits in one stroke the throat of a pure-white bull; its blood arcs and drizzles in all directions. He examines its patterns. And he knows.
* There’s a never-ending fount of stories you can write about when someone is breaking away from canon or not, and create many controversies all the way through preproduction and production and even until a movie opens, about whether or not they’re breaking canon. Is it a blasphemous movie or not? At some point, you gotta stop and say, Is there this expectation that it’s like we’re doing Godfather Part I and II, only it’s going to nine movies? And we’re just gonna cut them into this kind of Berlin Alexanderplatz that never ends? We’re gonna suddenly take a moment to really savor the fact that these movies exist in an identical tone? The reality to me is that you can’t have interesting movies if you tell a filmmaker, “Get in this bed and dream, but don’t touch the pillows or move the blankets.” You will not get cinema. You will just get a platform for selling the next movie on that bed, unchanged and unmade. James Mangold on Logan.
* I have a new essay out on zombies and the elderly in this great new book on zombies, medicine, and comics: The Walking Med: Zombies and the Medical Image. And if you’re interested in my Octavia Butler book, podcaster Jonah Sutton-Morse (@cabbageandkings) is going through it piece by piece on Twitter with #mmsfoeb. Also, check out this LARB interview with Ayana Jamieson on her work in the Butler archives!
* Maybe the best thing you’ll read this year: Clickhole’s Oral History of Star Trek.
* Wes Anderson made a Christmas commercial. Updated Power Rankings coming soon!
* Las Vegas is a microcosm. “The world is turning into this giant Skinner box for the self,” Schüll told me. “The experience that is being designed for in banking or health care is the same as in Candy Crush. It’s about looping people into these flows of incentive and reward. Your coffee at Starbucks, your education software, your credit card, the meds you need for your diabetes. Every consumer interface is becoming like a slot machine.”
* Stealing it fair and square: In split decision, federal judges rule Wisconsin’s redistricting law an unconstitutional gerrymander. And so on and so on.
* How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red.’ Maybe the Internet Isn’t a Fantastic Tool for Democracy After All. Postelection Harassment, Case by Case. Here are 20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today. Making White Supremacy Acceptable Again. Trump and the Sundown Town. No one can stop President Trump from using nuclear weapons. That’s by design. If only someone had thought of this eight years ago! A time for treason.
* Texas Elector Resigns: Trump Is Not Qualified And I Cannot Vote For Him. Trump and the End of Expertise. On Taking the Electoral College Literally. Some Schmittian reflections on the election. Stop Calling the United States a Banana Republic. Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President. Emoluments. A running list of how Donald Trump’s new position may be helping his business interests. A billionaire coup d’etat. Wunderkind. Voting under the influence of celebrity. We have an institution that could stop this (no not that one), but it won’t. Wheeeeee! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!
* “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did,” Ms. Palmieri said.” Respectfully disagree! The Myth of the Rust Belt Revolt. Who Lost the White House? Careful! We don’t want to learn anything from this.
* I was reminded recently of this post from @rortybomb a few years ago that, I think, got the Obama years right earlier and better than just about anyone. And here he is on the election: Learning from Trump in Retrospect.
* Trump’s already working miracles: Dykes to Watch Out For is out of retirement.
* If I developed a drug and then tested it myself without a control group, you might be a bit suspicious about my claims that everyone who took it recovered from his head cold after two weeks and thus that my drug is a success. But these are precisely the sorts of claims that we find in assessment.
* Moana before Moana. This one’s pretty great by the way, my kids loved it.
* From the archives: Terry Bisson’s “Meat.”
* Parker Posey Will Play Dr. Smith and Now We Suddenly Care a Lot About Netflix’s Lost in Space. TNT fires up a Snowpiercer pilot. Behind the scenes of the new MST3K. The Cursed Child is coming to Broadway.
* Of course you had me at “Science fiction vintage Japanese matchbox art mashup prints.”
* And say what you will about OK Go, this one’s pretty damn good.
* Lots of people are sharing this one, on hyperexploited labor in the academy: Truman Capote Award Acceptance Speech. As with most of this sort of adjunct activist some of its conclusions strike me as emotionally rather than factually correct — specifically, it needs to find a way to make tenured and tenure-track faculty the villains of the story, in order to make the death of the university a moral narrative about betrayal rather than a political narrative about the management class’s construction of austerity — but it’s undoubtedly a powerful read.
* I did this one already, but what the hell: Ten Theses In Support of Teaching and Against Learning Outcomes.
* Open Access (OA) is the movement to make academic research available without charge, typically via digital networks. Like many cyberlibertarian causes OA is roundly celebrated by advocates from across the political spectrum. Yet like many of those causes, OA’s lack of clear grounding in an identifiable political framework means that it may well not only fail to serve the political goals of some of its supporters, and may in fact work against them. In particular, OA is difficult to reconcile with Marxist accounts of labor, and on its face appears not to advance but to actively mitigate against achievement of Marxist goals for the emancipation of labor. In part this stems from a widespread misunderstanding of Marx’s own attitude toward intellectual work, which to Marx was not categorically different from other forms of labor, though was in danger of becoming so precisely through the denial of the value of the end products of intellectual work. This dynamic is particularly visible in the humanities, where OA advocacy routinely includes disparagement of academic labor, and of the value produced by that labor.
* It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe: Nobel academy member calls Bob Dylan’s silence ‘arrogant.’
* Parenting is weird. If God worked at a pet store, He’d be fired. Part Two. It’s a mystery!!! Wooooooooooh! The Fox and the Hedgehog. Science and technology have reached their limit. Self-destructive beverage selection: a guide. Motivational comics. Has the media gotten worse, or has society? Understanding the presidency. The oldest recorded joke is from Sumeria, circa 1900 B.C. There’s a monster under my bed.
* Trump’s Milwaukee Problem. Let’s Talk About the Senate. From Pot To Guns To School Funding: Here’s What’s On The Ballot In Your State. Todd Akin and the “shy” voter. The banality of Trump. The latest polls indicate the possibility of a genuine electoral disaster for the GOP. A short history of white people rigging elections. Having not yet won it back yet, Dems are already getting ready to lose the Senate (again) in 2018. The Democrats are likely to win a majority of House votes, but not a majority of House seats. Again. Today in uncannily accurate metaphors. This all seems perfectly appropriate. Even Dunkin Donuts is suffering. But at least there’s a bright side. On the other hand.
Yes, you read that right. There is a vote on slavery in 2016. The Colorado state constitution currently bans slavery and “involuntary servitude” … except if it’s used as punishment for a crime. This amendment would get rid of that exception and say that slavery is not okay, ever.
* And so, too, with the new civic faith enshrined in Hamilton: we may have found a few new songs to sing about the gods of our troubled history, but when it comes to the stories we count on to tell us who we are, we remain caught in an endless refrain.
* Speaking of endless refrain: Emmett Till memorial in Mississippi is now pierced by bullet holes.
* District Judge John McKeon, who oversees a three-county area of eastern Montana, cited that exception this month when he gave the father a 30-year suspended sentence after his guilty plea to incest and ordered him to spend 60 days in jail over the next six months, giving him credit for the 17 days already served. His sentence requires him to undergo sex offender treatment and includes many other restrictions.
* Today in the Year of Kate McKinnon: ten minutes of her Ghostbusters outtakes.
* I don’t really think they should do Luke Cage season two — or Jessica Jones for that matter, as Daredevil proved already — but just like I’d love to see a Hellcat series with Jessica Jones as a supporting player I’d love to see Misty Knight guest starring Luke Cage.
* The Case against Black Mirror. I haven’t been able to tune in to the new season yet but the backlash surprises me. This was one of the best shows on TV before! What happened?
* How much for a hotel on AT&TTW? AT&T to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion.
* This, on the other hand, is unbelievably awful: Thousands of California soldiers forced to repay enlistment bonuses a decade after going to war. Everyone involved in trying to claw back this money should be ashamed of themselves.
* Gee, you don’t say: U.S. Parents Are Sweating And Hustling To Pay For Child Care.
* And there’s a new Grow game out for that mid-2000s nostalgia factor we all crave. Solution here when you’re done messing around…
* A major new report suggests serious underemployment among liberal arts majors, affecting as many as 50% of recent graduates in some majors.
* Liu Cixin has an essay on Death’s End up at Tor: Chinese Literature and Apocalyptic SF: Some Notes on Death’s End (and has a review up already as well). My review probably won’t be published for another few weeks, so I’ll just say again: just buy it!
* Once more, with feeling: Student evaluations are useless.
* David Fahrenthold’s reporting on Trump’s foundation has yielded a major scoop, evidence of self-dealing in public documents that would appear to be trivially against the law. Even wilder: this is their defense.
* America: taste the rainbow.
* Instapundit has been suspended from Twitter for a tweet about the Charlotte protests. The tweet in question seems pretty indefensible to me, though Reynolds tries at the link, and regardless of its defensibility suspending him for it seems likely to have very bad consequences both for Twitter and for left academics on a pragmatic level. 9:04 AM UPDATE: He’s already back on.
* “Actuaries shamelessly, although often in good faith, understate pension obligations by as much as 50 percent,” said Jeremy Gold, an actuary and economist, in a speech last year at the M.I.T. Center for Finance and Policy. “Their clients want them to.”
* From Back to the Future II to Stephen King’s saving-JFK novel 11/23/63, the lesson one learns again and again is that trying to improve the world through time travel is a fool’s game, creating far worse problems than whatever you’d hoped to fix. Most of time travel fiction these days is one way or another designed to help us swallow the bitter pill that this life is the one we’re stuck with, that trying to make things better will only backfire.
* Going to go ahead and greenlight this one too: Family flee home after finding spiders which can cause four-hour erection followed by death in ASDA bananas.
* In the Criminal Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups, the police and the police.
* Teaching the controversy: “Should police officers be required to provide medical aid to people they’ve shot?”
* Take that, every authority figure in my personal history! A new study finds that fidgeting — the toe-tapping, foot-wagging and other body movements that annoy your co-workers — is in fact good for your health.
* And now, truly, more than ever: “Tonight the Character of Death Will Be Played by Brad Pitt.”