Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘The Matrix

Thursday Links!

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* Call for Papers: Essays on Hootie & the Blowfish. Call for Papers: Reappraising Stephen King. Call for Papers: International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts 41: Climate Change and the Anthropocene.

* Looking for a postdoc? Here’s one on the history of Viagra.

* Congrats to the Hugo winners! And here’s a special shoutout: Why Archive of Our Own’s Surprise Hugo Nomination Is Such a Big Deal. “John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist.” Jeannette Ng, John W. Campbell, and What Should Be Said By Whom and When.

* Indentured.

* We Have Ruined Childhood. Wait a minute here, don’t you try to pin this on me!

How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition.

The notion that students have somehow been coddled is just 100% bullshit. It’s the opposite. They’ve been asked to run a gauntlet which is disengaged from a sense of community, family, even their own natures.

* Persistent Partisan Breakdown on Higher Ed. The partisan rift over college will haunt us.

Life expectancy drops in Wisconsin due to alcohol, drugs.

* The 1619 Project. Who Got the Maddest About the New York Times’ Slavery Coverage? The 1619 Project made conservatives tell on themselves.

Very few of us, myself included, are Kant, but very many of us now must decide how and where to think as the academy contracts. We are losing a community of thinkers at the moment when all of our old modes of thinking are looking increasingly like diversions or repetitions of that which we know too well, while the broader culture dismisses humanists as idiots who forgot to get STEM degrees. At the same time, we are refusing to give those who remain the space to fail, to gawk, to marvel, to stagger in front of the arguments they don’t know how to make, and instead are rewarding the articles and arguments that look familiar in form, if not content. To succeed in academia we demand they fail at failing.

It may be that we fail (and I mean this “we” to include myself) to think anything new about climate change because there is nothing to be thought. Perhaps the danger of climate change is not so different from the threat of nuclear annihilation as the French philosopher Maurice Blanchot once put it in his essay “The Apocalypse is Disappointing”— “an event of enormous size but enormously empty, about which it can say nothing, save this banality: that it would be better to prevent it.”

Columbia Had Little Success Placing English Ph.D.s on the Tenure Track. ‘Alarm’ Followed, and the University Responded. WHAT YEAR IS IT

Can Starbucks Save the Middle Class? No. But It Might Ruin Higher Education.

The Humanities in the Age of Loneliness.

* Gamergate in the classroom.

Alaska Regents Vote to Terminate Exigency Declaration.

Jeffrey Epstein’s Intellectual Enabler.

* The most succinct articulation of the distinction between liberalism and neoliberalism I’ve ever seen.

Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change. The Amazon Is on Fire and the Smoke Can Be Seen from Space. Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate, research center says. Bolsonaro says his critics are setting the fires, to make him look bad. On the Front Lines of Bolsonaro’s War on the Amazon, Brazil’s Forest Communities Fight Against Climate Catastrophe. Scientists decry ‘ignorance’ of rolling back species protections in the midst of a mass extinction. We Can’t Confront Climate Change While Lavishly Funding the Pentagon. At the bottom of a glacier in Greenland, climate scientists find troubling signs. Greenland’s Deepening Ecological Grief. Don’t forget the Siberian forest fires. The guy whose sole platform was climate change never polled higher than 1%. The Case for Climate Rage.

“Every debate has some people who fight on the losing side to the very end. And, eventually, they don’t become convinced. They just disappear.”

* Huge, if true: Golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism.

Truth and Reconciliation and Science Fiction.

* On Representations of Disability: A Reading List.

These Nigerian teenagers are producing short sci-fi movies using a smart phone and other everyday items.

* India’s military blockade of Kashmir is breathtaking in its brutality and violence. We can’t let them silence Kashmir’s dreams for freedom and justice.

* The cruelty is the point.

* Militant Neo-Nazi Group Actively Recruiting Ahead of Alleged Training Camp. Militant Neo-Nazi now the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Militant Neo-Nazis run the New York Times.

How Trump’s Policies Are Leaving Thousands of Asylum Seekers Waiting in Mexico. After ICE. An undocumented Chinese restaurant worker has been fighting for backpay to the tune of $200K. Then ICE arrested him while giving a deposition in a lawsuit. The Trump Administration Wants To Hold Undocumented Children In Detention Indefinitely. Trump admin weighs letting states, cities deny entry to refugees approved for resettlement in U.S. The US won’t provide flu vaccines to migrant families at border detention camps. How the US Exported Its Border Around the World.

Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times. Donald Trump Is Not the Messiah, He’s a Very Naughty Boy. Why Some White Liberals Will Probably Vote For Donald Trump. The President Is on Some Real Shit Right Now, Honestly. Trump draws another primary challenger. Meanwhile, I’ve laid my marker down.

Buying Greenland isn’t a good idea — it’s a great idea.

* The more I look at it, the more this photograph is punctum, punctum, punctum. It barely holds together. It is all disturbance, all accident. Even the wallpaper starts to tremble: Who at the University of El Paso Medical Center violated the Hippocratic Oath by approving this particular photo-op?

* Not exactly a democracy, now, is it.

* The boomers going bust: why elderly bankruptcy is rising in America.

* Their Mothers Chose Donor Sperm. The Doctors Used Their Own.

In “How to Be an Antiracist,” Ibram X. Kendi argues that we should think of “racist” not as a pejorative but as a simple, widely encompassing term of description.

NYPD fires officer who put Eric Garner in chokehold. I lost my job for keeping Charlottesville police accountable. I’d do it again. Fearing for his life, Cleveland cop…

* School reopens inquiry into teens giving Nazi salute as new clips emerge, reports say.

* “We’ve wasted all their fucking resources to make this rally,” Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio said in video captured during the latest extremist rally held Saturday in Portland. “We want them to waste $2 million and we’ll do it again in two months.”

I was skeptical of unions. Then I joined one.

Amazon’s Ring wants police to keep these surveillance details from you.

* Pressured To Spy On NYC Mosques For Two Years, An Immigrant FBI Informant Seeks A Way Out.

* To save the Church, Catholics must detach themselves from the clerical hierarchy—and take the faith back into their own hands. Abolish the Priesthood.

A first grader who found his grandmother’s loaded gun at school this spring pointed it at another student, according to an email released Monday by Highland Local Schools in Morrow County.

* $48M Michigan high school has places to hide in case of mass shooting.

* What Would Happen If the Whole Internet Just Shut Down All of a Sudden?

* Designer babies are on the way. We’re not ready.

* Abdul-Jabbar v. Tarantino.

In this way, the violent, cathartic fantasies of Tarantino’s recent historical-ish trilogy allegorize the very function of fiction itself. They intervene in matters of fact not to rewrite the record, but to remind us that stories are the spaces where we consider alternatives, rework our real-world mythologies, rethink history, and expand upon ideas.

California’s Forgotten Confederate History. A History of White Nationalism in the Pacific Northwest.

* Who’s to Blame When Algorithms Discriminate? No one, silly, that’s the whole point!

* DoorDash is still pocketing workers’ tips, almost a month after it promised to stop.

* Dungeons and Dragons Rules for Progressives.

* Dr. Evil wants to refresh his moonbase.

One Man’s Modernism: J. R. R. Tolkien.

* The poetry of Brexit.

* There is no Africa in African studies.

* The dialectic of enlightenment.

* My life as a background Slytherin. Legolas, what do your elf eyes see?

* Our favorite candid photographs of wild animals—taken via camera trap.

I bought a copy of Hasbro’s mean-spirited and woefully ill-informed “MONOPOLY: SOCIALISM” board game so you don’t have to – a thread.

* Another good thread: What’s the fantasy or SF book that’s not some big famous award winning thing that you think I should read?

* The language of Mario Maker.

* Twilight of the MCU. Here comes Matrix 4, at least.

* The arc of history is long, but Marquette has prohibited motorized scooter use on campus property.

* From the archives: 50 years later, Bob Dylan’s motorcycle crash remains mysterious.

* And this is some extremely relatable content.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 22, 2019 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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July 3 Links! Maybe Our Biggest July 3 Post EVER!!!

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* I have a new review up at LARB: We Are Going on an Adventure: On Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Ruin. Read these novels!

* Marquette gets some very good press: it has one of the top ten highest post-graduation employment rates in the country. Also on the Marquette beat: Marquette goes test optional.

* The university in ruins: Alaska edition.

* CFP: University of Nebraska Press is looking for proposals for its new comics studies series.

When at last the aliens spoke to us, the first thing they did was apologize.

* Another KSR podcast appearance, this time on The Imaginaries. And some more piping hot KSR content: Picturing a Way Forward: Climate change, science fiction, and our collective failure of imagination. The Genre of the Near Future: Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140. Kim Stanley Robinson Built a Moon Base in His Mind.

* It’s been a while since we did a good old fashioned Flash game, so please enjoy Magirune.

In Koopa mythology, Mario is both Satan and a specter of death, and him and Bowser are brothers. Luigi was a later Christian revision. Best thing I’ve read in ages.

Toy Story 4’s Forky Has Haunting Metaphysical Implications for the Toy Story Universe.

The Grand Cultural Influence of Octavia Butler.

* Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds. Producers Behind The Wandering Earth Want to Bring Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem to TV.

* What Slaughterhouse-Five Tells Us Now.

* The Medea Hypothesis.

* Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

* Conservative Philanthropy in Higher Education. Documents show ties between university, conservative donors. Corporate Wolves in Academic Sheepskins, or, a Billionaire’s Raid on the University of Tulsa.

* 2008 killed the university, but not in the way most people think.

* How to Chair an Academic Committee.

* How College Professors Are Fighting for Their Lives. Revenge of the Poverty-Stricken College Professors.

Meritocracy’s Discontents. ‘To succeed in America, it’s better to be born rich than smart.’

* Why can’t everyone get As?

* Another free speech mystery.

* Wild decision at Oberlin.

* When The University Of Wisconsin Persecuted Gay Students.

* ‘Your Heritage Is Taken Away’: The Closing of 3 Historically Black Colleges.

* The Closure.

The Surreal End of an American College.

‘Everything Must Go!’: A Rash of College Closures Keeps This Liquidation Firm Busy.

* Outcomes-based graduate school.

* Nice work if you can get it!

CSU secretly stashed away $1.5 billion surplus, auditor says.

* When you really mess up the lit review.

* Warren to Introduce Student Debt Cancellation Bill. Bernie doubles it. Something’s coming.

Rick Snyder’s Harvard Fellowship and the Limits of Civility.

There would be a cartoon, like for kids. Or it might also have been a prime-time cartoon, actually. The situation was fluid, but consider the growth potential. Honestly, the whole notion was exceedingly hazy and changed a lot, but, as it got pitched among the corps of cold-calling salespeople to potential investors in a company named Premiere Publishing Group, the plan was this: There was going to be a cartoon, on television, that would feature Donald Trump jetting around and solving various problems.


There Are People in Concentration Camps. Why Aren’t We in the Streets?

One reason I think we’ve been arguing about the name of the camps is that life in the shadow of concentration camps is not supposed to be worth living. “Never again” doesn’t mean “Don’t commit genocide” or even “Oppose ethnic cleansing”; the phrase implies a permanent obligation to resist in the Dale Smith sense—stop the camps—or risk being the equivalent of all those Good Germans. The presence of concentration camps should be intolerable, and yet here we are, tolerating it. Either they aren’t camps or we aren’t who we said we were. There has got to be a better way to reduce our cognitive dissonance than playing with definitions.

* Behold as the New York Times reports on an anti-immigrant movement in St. Cloud, Minnesota, entirely from the perspective of the racists. ‘Guats,’ ‘Tonks’ and ‘Subhuman Shit’: The Shocking Texts of a Border Patrol Agent. Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes. An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That’s Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border. There are concentration camps in America. They Are Concentration Camps — and They Are Also Prisons. ‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System. ‘There Is a Stench.’ ‘Children Were Dirty, They Were Scared, and They Were Hungry.’ Torture facilities. Ticking time bomb. Report: 1,000 new migrant adults detained at U.S. border weekly, “serious risk of exceeding safety standards on a regular basis.’ Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met.Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk. How Families Separated at the Border Could Make the Government Pay. Mark Morgan, a man who claimed on Fox News to be able to identify “soon-to-be MS-13” gang members by looking child migrants in the eye, will now head an agency that has thousands of child migrants in its care. Lawyer Draws Outrage for Defending Lack of Toothbrushes in Border Detention. In El Paso, Border Patrol Is Detaining Migrants in ‘a Human Dog Pound.’ 4 Severely Ill Migrant Toddlers Hospitalized After Lawyers Visit Border Patrol Facility. We found the youngest known child separated from his parents at the border under President Trump. He was only 4 months old. Hung jury for Scott Warren. Italy Arrests Captain of Ship That Rescued Dozens of Migrants at Sea. The Trump Administration Has Let 24 People Die in ICE Custody. ICE Stopped Updating Its List of ‘Deaths in ICE Custody.’ No limits. An Open Letter to the Director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. The concentration camp next door. Even (some) ICE agents are losing patience (but not for great reasons). And in a darker register: “Bodies and minds are breaking down”: Inside US border agency’s suicide crisis.

The people who are supposed to save us from the fascists don’t have the stomach to fight for longer than a weekend. It’s pathetic.

The Insanity in Oregon Is a Glimpse of Our Very Dark Future.

Joe Biden will never give up on the system, because it never gave up on him.

* The 2020 democratic candidates as dril tweets.

The Courts Won’t End Gerrymandering. Eric Holder Has a Plan to Fix It Without Them. Focus on Wisconsin in this piece, which is so gerrymandered and voter-suppressed at this point that Democrats may never recover the legislature no matter how big they win.

 

* Redlining in Milwaukee.

The Devastating Oddness of E. Jean Carroll’s Trump Accusation.

AOC’s Generation Doesn’t Presume America’s Innocence.

* Who Owns Tomorrow?

* Ta-Nehisi Coates resists the case for reparations.

* Where does money come from?

* Capitalist Workplaces Set Bosses Up to Be Authoritarian Tyrants.

Better Schools Won’t Fix America.

It’s so hot in Spain that manure self-ignited, sparking a 10,000-acre wildfire. It’s 112 degrees in France. 118 in India. Europe has had five 500-year summers in 15 years. Hell is coming. 40 degrees above normal. The poisons released by melting Arctic ice. A city of 9 million people loses water. Mexico Hailstorm Blankets Western Areas Under 3 Feet of Ice. Heatwave cooks mussels in their shells on California shore. Wildfires, heat waves foreshadow what could be a perilous summer across the globe. ‘A major punch in the gut’: Midwest rains projected to create near-record dead zone in Gulf. US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries. “We may find ourselves living shortly in a world that even just a few years ago we would’ve found completely unacceptable and not even be disturbed by it.” Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues. The Climate Crisis Is Mind-Boggling. That’s Why We Need Science Fiction. Global warming may reduce fish and other sea life by 17% by the year 2100. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met Greta Thunberg: ‘Hope is contagious.’ “Batshit jobs” – no-one should have to destroy the planet to make a living. In the kids’ climate lawsuit that is slowly progressing, the US Department of Justice argues that there is “no right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life.” The World Is a Mess. We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism. Confessions Of A Climate Activist: Don’t Blame Yourself, Go After The Criminals Who Sold Out Humanity For Profit.

 

Jim Jarmusch’s new movie is an accusation aimed at his audience: As the world plummets toward an ecological catastrophe, we still shamble through our former existences, brainless, as though the end of the world hasn’t already been written.

* The pocket of East Texas that Keilan calls home is among the state’s regions hit hardest by suicide. The most recent federal data show that in Gregg County, which includes Longview, 335 people died by suicide from 1999 to 2017. The county had a suicide rate of 15 deaths per 100,000 people in that time period, compared to the average state rate of 11.4. Several nearby, more rural counties — including Marion and Morris counties, just north of Gregg — have even higher suicide rates.

Humans Can’t Watch All the Surveillance Cameras Out There, So Computers Are.

* Fifty years ago 180,000 whales disappeared from the oceans without a trace, and researchers are still trying to make sense of why. Inside the most irrational environmental crime of the century.

Canada’s Parliament has passed legislation banning whales, dolphins and porpoises from being bred or held in captivity — a move that was hailed by animal rights activists.

* Trump administration quietly makes it legal to bring elephant parts to the U.S. as trophies.

* Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011.

* The Six-Year Struggle to Regain Ownership of the ‘This Is Fine’ Dog.

* Ravelry bans Trump support.

* Writing Iceman at Marvel.

* Alanis at 45.

* “I babysit for the one percent.”

* You just can’t win: Canada to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. Plastic Bag Bans Might Do More Harm Than Good. Your cotton tote is pretty much the worst replacement for a plastic bag. Your bowl of rice is hurting the climate too.

Americans’ plastic recycling is dumped in landfills, investigation shows.

* Your Business Casual Attire Is Destroying the Planet.

* Americans are terrifyingly supportive of nuking civilians in North Korea. What is the probability of a nuclear war? Why don’t we make movies about nuclear war anymore?

* The Uber delusion. Uber’s path of destruction. Uber Wants Your Next Big Mac to Be Delivered by Drone.

* Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes.

How 9 People Built an Illegal $5M Airbnb Empire in New York.

* How to Speak Silicon Valley.

* The day the music burned.

* The latest study of depression and PTSD in social media moderators.

* Sunoco in Philly.

* We either buy insulin or we die.

According to the UN the chance of a 15-year-old boy dying by the age of 50 is now higher in America than in Bangladesh.

* Amazon will pay $0 in taxes on $11,200,000,000 in profit for 2018.

* The FoxConn scam, one year later.

* Would you like to know more?

Grim New Report Shows Rent Is Unaffordable In Every State.

* Here’s What It’s Like To See Yourself In A Deepfake Porn Video.

* A shocking number of women are harassed, ignored, or mistreated during childbirth.

Phoenix Police Threaten to Shoot a Pregnant Woman After Her Daughter Reportedly Stole a Doll.

Alabama woman loses unborn child after being shot, gets arrested; shooter goes free.

Alabama court forces rape survivor to allow rapist to have visitation with children.

* He Cyberstalked Teen Girls for Years—Then They Fought Back.

Since January, when Bradley Austin learned that his ex-wife was using chlorine dioxide on their sons, he’s been trying to stop her. (He’s also exploring fighting for guardianship of his sons.) But the local police, the state’s division of adult protective services and a medical doctor treating Jeremy have all declined to intervene. A police spokesman said there wasn’t enough evidence that chlorine dioxide was dangerous; a caseworker with the Kansas Adult Protective Services told police that she didn’t see the situation as serious enough for the state to take action.

* Ali Stroker’s #TonyAwards2019 win marks the first time a wheelchair user has won a Tony Award (she was also the first wheelchair user on Broadway & the first nominated for a Tony). Tonight there was no ramp for her to get to the stage to accept her award.

* Ghost networks of psychiatrists make money for insurance companies but hinder patients’ access to care.

* It sucks to go to the doctor if you’re trans.

Bad braille plagues buildings across U.S., CBS News Radio investigation finds.

* The war to free science.

* ‘Horns’ are growing on young people’s skulls. No they’re not!

The accreditation of the University of Maryland, College Park, is in jeopardy a year after a football player died following a preseason workout. News outlets report the accrediting Middle States Commission of Higher Education on Friday announced it has placed the school on warning after finding “insufficient evidence” that it is complying with governance, leadership and administration standards.

* The latest MH370 deep dive.

America Is Stuck With a $400 Billion Stealth Fighter That Can’t Fight.

What the World’s Most Sociable People Reveal About Friendliness.

Dogs’ Eyes Have Changed Since Humans Befriended Enslaved Them.

The Surprising Reason that There Are So Many Thai Restaurants in America.

Do you consume a credit card’s worth of plastic every week?

* If you want a vision of the future: Netflix’s The Edge of Democracy charts the slippery slope from democracy to authoritarian rule.

* wHy DOn’T YOu JuSt SAvE sOMe MOneY

America’s Collapsing Because it’s the World’s First Poor Rich Country.

* Whoa.

* 63 Up.

* No frills.

* Today in dystopia.

* This one too: A cancer patient from Montgomery, Illinois, has been sentenced to four years in prison for ordering a 42-pound package of chocolate marijuana edibles to self-medicate. The day after he pleaded guilty, the state legalized recreational marijuana.

* They finally found the monolith.

* sold

* my brain hurts a lot

* got another capitalism greatest hit. i will give you one hundred thousand dollars if you can guess the brand by the end

* just another classic canavan viral tweet

* Smash that bridge king.

* The mindfulness conspiracy. On the other hand: Two-hour ‘dose’ of nature significantly boosts health – study. Neuroscience shows that 50-year-olds can have the brains of 25-year-olds if they sit quietly and do nothing for 15 minutes a day.

* The Strange World of Sorority Rush Consultants.

* broke: McMansion woke: McTomb bespoke: multi-family housing

* The Empty Storefront Crisis and the End of the American Dream.

Can the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Survive?

* Tetris forever.

* Mario Royale.

* Games Have Always Tried to Whitewash Nazis as Just ‘German Soldiers.’

* On Jameson and genre.

* Futureshock, turn of the century edition.

* Really though, what would the world be like without the Beatles?

A team of researchers found a way to make money legally from online bookies. But then their troubles began.

* Whiteness 101: A Reading List to Abolish the Problem.

Every Post-Credits Scene in the Masters of the Universe Cinematic Universe, Explained.

* Marvel Comics in the 80s: Not Just for Kids Anymore.

A Brief History of the Movie-Summarizing End-Credits Rap.

* Dark Phoenix and the end of the dream.

* Worlds without Men.

* #cancelculture just #cancelled a very big fish.

* I’ve been reading The Walking Dead since the beginning and am not surprised at all it’s ending with #193, given what happened in #192.

* I’m so depressed I can’t even get worked up about this. No, not even this!

The long march of artificial intelligence puts Bastani’s timeframe for communist transition in the shade. But there is a further problem with his vision, which strikes at the core of any proposal for full automation and the introduction of universal social services, as commendable as it may be. This is the possibility that capitalism might not be intelligent after all. Indeed, what if capitalism, on whose technological revolution Bastani’s FALC depends, were stupid? What if capitalism were to prove substantially deaf, dumb, and blind to sound appeals to common sense or rational thinking in the face of ongoing climate breakdown and its related miseries? What would communism or any form of “post-capitalism” look like from this perspective?

* Eventual perverts. Teaching. Moms. Parenting. We thought we had mastered passive aggression. The evolution of consciousness. Self-aware.

* And some personal news: Super Mario Maker 2 rules.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 2, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Catching Up on My Open Tabs After an Incredibly Slow News Week in Which Nothing World-Historically Bonkers Happened

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* CFP: And Now for Something Completely Different: Critical Approaches to Monty Python.

* CFP: The Films of Wes Anderson.

* Three on Dylan, Nobel Laureate. The Guardian reports.

After much consideration my position on this event is that I’m formally opposed, but nonetheless personally delighted.

* Barack Obama for first president of the Federation.

* Le Guin in the Post, the Nation, and the New Yorker.

* PKD and the Problem of 2-3-74.

* An adjuncting career, by the numbers.

Idiots Who Run Harvard Let Their Low-Wage Workers Go On Strike.

* 4 Professors Involved in Philosophy Brawl Find Feces in Their Mail.

With Campus Carry in Place, Some Texas Grad Students Make Bars Their Offices.

* Why a Controversial Palestinian History Class at Berkeley Was Cancelled, Then Reinstated.

* I make a brief appearance at the end of this CBS58 story on Marquette’s incredible Tolkien collection. I also pop up in this review of the first few episodes of Westworld.

* The Trouble with Thanksgiving.

This schedule creates a natural mid-semester break. And if adopted soon, that break would occur next week. Let’s get to work. I don’t think it’s too late.

* Arrested Development Season Five (not really). Women Are Defeating Donald Trump. All of Donald Trump’s Accusers: A Timeline of Every Alleged Grope and Assault. Gerrymandering helped Republicans take control of Congress, but now it’s tearing them apart over Trump. A Trump collapse could give Democrats back the House. Here’s the math. Inside the Bunker. Inside the Meltdown. How One 19-Year-Old Illinois Man Is Distorting National Polling Averages. Trump, the GOP, and the Fall. Let’s never forget what a terrifying thing we almost did. Your Surgeon Is Probably a Republican, Your Psychiatrist Probably a Democrat. I guess I need a new surgeon. If professors made $500k/year, would they be Republicans? U.S. government officially accuses Russia of hacking campaign to interfere with elections. The Evan McMullin Century. A GOP strategist explains why the Republican Party is about to break in two. Even the Humane Society. Teach the controversy. Thank you for your idea about a political thriller but unfortunately we find the plot preposterous. Michelle Obama for President. And because we’re all still asking: What Happens If Trump Drops Out?

* Citizens United, all class.

* Eugenics in America.

As a national prison strike enters its second month, the Department of Justice says it will investigate conditions in Alabama prisons. And some corrections officers are expressing support.

Louisiana isn’t letting immigrants get married.

New Jersey Transit, a Cautionary Tale of Neglect.

“We’d at least like to have it said of us that we tried”: Marvel and the civil rights movement.

How Rock and Roll Became White.

* Atlanta’s lost Afrofuture.

* Brutalism is back.

* “When her best friend died, she rebuilt him using artificial intelligence.”

* Department of Precrime, CIA edition.

* The search for a true blue M&M.

* Whatever this is for, I am so completely in.

* Meanwhile, the Fantastic Beasts expansion of the Harry Potter franchise will top out at an economical and reasonable five films.

* Star Trek explained by epic poetry.

* The four types of board games.

Golden Girls Action Figures Are Here.

* Life with migraines.

* I was pregnant, and then I wasn’t.

* Generation Adderall.

* Poet at work.

* The end of Devin Faraci and the end of The Canon podcast (for now). There’s more at the Mary Sue.

* Huge, if true: Tech billionaires convinced we live in the Matrix are secretly funding scientists to help break us out of it.

And on the subject of deranged tech madmen: Simpsons did it.

Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad.

The reaction that would give us clean fossil fuels forever.

The coming fight over “nonlethal neuroweapons.”

What’s the Longest Humans Can Live? 115 Years, New Study Says. Challenge accepted.

* Now, I may have to move first.

* The kids are all right: Only 1 in 5 Millennials Have Ever Tried a Big Mac.

* On Delany’s Dark Reflections.

* App of the week: Really Bad Chess.

* The Perils of Becoming a Meme.

* The LEGO Yellow Submarine.

* Finally my condition has a name.

* And I told you, Mom: Science Says the First Born Child Is the Most Intelligent.

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Written by gerrycanavan

October 14, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Weekend Links!

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The link post yesterday went up only partially finished by mistake, so here’s the other half and then quite a bit more…

* Science Fiction Film and Television 9.2 is out, with articles on First on the Moon, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Orphan Black/Extant, and even a review of Kingsman: The Secret Service by yours truly.

The crew of the Enterprise going back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination? Check. Some “mildly erotic, midlife-crisis stuff”? Check. Time travel that results in Spock being the reason that Vulcans turn to logic? Check! Jesus? Check. Elsewhere on the Star Trek beat: Being Simon Pegg. Sulu Is Gay in Star Trek Beyond and It’s Not a Big Deal, unless you’re George Takei.

Why is Hollywood ignoring this incredible black science fiction writer? They certainly haven’t had any problem  ripping her off without attribution.

* The Only Good Tarzan Is a Bad Tarzan.

The Many Faces of Strangelove, or, The Grand Incineration.

The Night Of will turn your love of Serial against you.

* The Moon Is An Even Harsher CEO.

Farewell to Pnin: The End of the Comp Lit Era.

* Social Media as Liturgy.

* Dialectics of the Clinton Tuition-Free-College Plan. Meanwhile, I predict this will be framed by the right as an illegitimate direct payout to her constituents, regardless of the merits.

“Please accept our condolences on your loss,” a letter from that agency, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, said. “After careful consideration of the information you provided, the authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you.”

* Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. San Diego. Dallas. A truly terrible few days in America.

* Alongside the tragedy in Dallas, new debates: Using a Bomb Robot to Kill a Suspect Is an Unprecedented Shift in Policing.

As professions go, ethnography and espionage are, if not siblings, at least distant cousins with a strong resemblance.

The Future of Archaeology Is ‘Spacejunk.’

* Nailing it: “Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer.”

* This Man Keeps Getting Killed in Terrorist Attacks. Dibs on the screenplay but in my version it’s a glitch in the Matrix.

* Clinton’s emails today, Clinton’s emails tomorrow, Clinton’s emails forever.

* George Saunders: Who Are All These Trump Supporters? Inevitably, this nasty but essential explanation of Trump’s appeal will annoy supporters and enemies alike, who insist on ascribing purely economic motives to those who have lifted him so shockingly high in American political life. Sorry, but I don’t think uncontrollable rage at having to “press 1 for English” or say “Happy Holidays” can be explained by displaced anger over wage stagnation or the decline of the American manufacturing sector.

* Syllabus as Terms of Service, Syllabus as Manifesto.

Ah, the life of the mind.

Ah, the pure knowledge of the sciences.

* Life on emergency funding.

* The Myth of the English Major Barista?

When we accept as commonplace the idea that the study of art, especially art that appeals to the masses — television, video games, comics — is less important than the study of much-fetishized STEM subjects, when we claim that the objective and the concrete requires expertise but the subjective and the abstract do not, then we are making a dangerous assumption. We are assuming that because something is made for everyone, and accessible to everyone, that its existence is somehow simple and straightforward — a vehicle for testing out theories without an aura of its own. But, art, especially art that seems to require the least amount of scholarly attention — reality TV, video games, comics — is precisely the art that most needs history, context, and deep study. Media matters and media has consequences.

* What Game of Thrones characters look like in the books. Game of Thrones Season Seven May Be Delayed Due to Inclement Weather.

Corey Feldman has some bad news about that supposed Goonies sequel.

Pottermore problems: Scholars and writers call foul on J.K. Rowling’s North American magic.

* Underwritten Female Character: The Movie.

* Return of the Great Lakes Avengers. A 15-Year-Old Black Girl Is Going to Replace Tony Stark As Iron Man.

The Center for Communal Studies promotes the study of historic and contemporary communal groups, intentional communities and utopias. Established in 1976 at the University of Southern Indiana, the Center encourages and facilitates meetings, classes, scholarships, publications, networking and public interest in communal groups past and present, here and abroad.

The Strange Perils of Running a Novelty Item Empire.

New legal filings detail reporting of Rolling Stone’s U-Va. gang rape story.

* Neoliberalism and the end of roads. Judge Orders Macy’s to Quit Fining, Detaining Suspected Shoplifters in In-Store Jail.

400 athletes vie for US Paralympics Team spots.

African Union launches an all-Africa passport. Against globalization, for internationalism.

* The violence of eviction.

Here’s How That Wild Lawsuit Accusing Trump of Raping a 13-Year-Old Girl Hit The Headlines. Sounds like most major media outlets are staying away from the story for a reason. When your campaign should share images from social media: A flowchart. Only 75 times. “Trump Campaign Departures Suggest That Perhaps This Is a Highly Dysfunctional Enterprise.” A White, Male Reporter Goes to a Trump Rally.

So in the short-term, Britain is likely to be an increasingly nasty and hateful place to live, thanks in no small part to Farage’s accomplishments as a politician; in the long-term, Farage was very much a product of his moment, that spasm of backlash on the part of declining socio-demographic layers still steeped in a colonial culture, which is unlikely to be repeated. With Farage at its helm, Ukip operated adroitly on the accumulating dysfunctions and crises of British politics, finally convoking a popular bulwark that pulled Britain further to the right than it has been since the 1970s. And in the next few years, the reactionaries will seek to use their victory to achieve maximum damage, maximum reversal on all fronts. And there will be other sources of reaction in the coming decades. Yet, Farage’s resignation signals the looming end of this end of the pier show. Even if Britain survives as such, this Britain is finished.

* This is a genuinely scary time: The newly elected Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, urged a crowd of about 500 people on Thursday to kill drug addicts, according to the Guardian.

Hardly Any Former Felons Have Registered to Vote in Virginia Since It Was Made Legal.

Why 13-year-olds can no longer marry in Virginia.

Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape.

You Shouldn’t Have to Crowdfund Your Wheelchair.

The marathon-running Luik sisters of Estonia are believed to be the first triplets to have qualified for an Olympics.

Condoms Don’t Necessarily Help Teen Girls Avoid Pregnancy.

Men who harass women online are quite literally losers, new study finds. Shock finding.

Great white sharks congregate every year to party in the middle of the Pacific. This new camera tag might help us understand why.

A new theory seeks two explain childhood disintegrative disorder.

Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb.

Inside the Deadly World of Private Prisoner Transport. As Court Fees Rise, The Poor Are Paying the Price. Police Shootings Won’t Stop Unless We Also Stop Shaking Down Black People.

Sometimes the world really can get together and avert a major ecological catastrophe before it’s too late. Case in point: A new study in Science finds evidence that the Earth’s protective ozone layer is finally healing — all thanks to global efforts in the 1980s to phase out CFCs and other destructive chemicals.

* That’s a hell of an act: “As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession.”

* “Intelligent robot that ‘remembers and learns’ could be scrapped after escaping a lab for a second time.”

* Requiem for Mrs. White.

* Real talk: should I be more worried about snails?

* Nice try, US Navy, but Batman had shark-repellent technology decades ago.

* A watched pot never boils. Self-driving car ethics. Why humanity is doomed.

* Is there life after capitalism?

* The $80M Bomb Detector Scam.

* This answers a lot of questions for me actually.

* And I could watch this GIF forever.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Wherein a Former Academic Blogger Emerges from Book Jail, Weary and Bleary-Eyed, to Discover He Has 300 Open Tabs

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* I had a short interview with the writing center journal Praxis go up this week: “Working Out What’s True and What Isn’t.”

* Can Faculty Deal with Policy Drift? A List of Options.

We know what happened next. After 2008, this paradigm has made it easier for governors and legislatures to cut and not restore, since it established a “new normal” that defined down the limits of reasonable budget requests.  The results have been predictable.  A recent report concluded that “forty-seven states — all except Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming — are spending less per student in the 2014-15 school year than they did at the start of the recession.”

* University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime. An addendum.

Now That We Have Transformed Our Institutions to Compete with the University of Phoenix, It’s on Life Support.

* Academic Freedom among the Very Serious People.

If Colonialism Was The Apocalypse, What Comes Next?

* Digitizing the fanzine collection at the University of Iowa’s science fiction collection.

* Samuel Delany and the Past and Future of Science Fiction.

An Astrobiologist Asks a Sci-fi Novelist How to Survive the Anthropocene.

* Ursula K. Le Guin on China Miéville’s latest.

* “City of Ash,” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Part of a “cli-fi” series at Medium alongside this essay from Atwood: “It’s Not Climate Change, It’s Everything Change.”

19490141502_c48e8b967b_o* Modernist — really, brutalist — sandcastles.

* Early reports are calling Fantastic Four the worst superhero hero movie of all time. Grantland elegizes. Josh Trank points the finger.

* Steven Salaita has won a major victory against UIUC, on the same day that Chancellor Phyllis Rise resigns (to a $400K resignation bonus) amid the revelation that she misused her private email to secure his firing.

Fired University of Akron painter spills the details of president’s $951,824 house remodel. Meanwhile, on the other side of town…

Bullying, I propose, represents a kind of elementary structure of human domination. If we want to understand how everything goes wrong, this is where we should begin.

* The Problem We All Live With.

* This is the sort of adjunct-issue reporting that always frustrates me: it seems to me that it is engaging with the issue entirely on an emotional, rather than structural, basis, in the process more or less accepting entirely the think-like-an-administrator logic of forced choices that paints every laborer as the enemy of every other.

Refusing to foreground the actual monetary costs of academic labor in the current economy is a kind of grad-student gaslighting, and a form of abuse.

Why Your Rent Is So High and Your Pay Is So Low.

* The art of the rejection letter. Personally I think the only thing that is ever going to approach “universally acceptable” here is a very short “We’re sorry, but the position has now been filled.”

* Shoutouts to my particular demographic: A paper forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research identifies a segment of customers, dubbed the “harbingers of failure,” with an uncanny knack for buying new products that were likely to flop.

India’s Auroville was envisioned as an international community free of government, money, religion, and strife. It hasn’t exactly worked out quite as planned.

* Students under surveillance.

Instead of a multiple-choice test, try ending the semester with one last, memorable learning experience.

Nevada is the uncanny locus of disparate monuments all concerned with charting deep time, leaving messages for future generations of human beings to puzzle over the meaning of: a star map, a nuclear waste repository and a clock able to keep time for 10,000 years—all of them within a few hours drive of Las Vegas through the harsh desert.

The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here.

Startups have figured out how to remove carbon from the air. Will anyone pay them to do it?

California Has Lost the Equivalent of an Entire Year’s Worth of Rain.

* Ghost Town Emerges As Drought Makes Nevada’s Lake Mead Disappear.

The Bureaucrats Who Singled Out Hiroshima for Destruction.

* Going to give this effort a C-: Environmental Protection Agency Dumps a Million Gallons of Orange Mine Waste into a Colorado River.

Jimmy Carter: The U.S. Is an “Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery.”

Here Are the Internal Documents that Prove Uber Is a Money Loser. How Uber hides behind its algorithm.

iTunes Really Is That Bad.

* “You May Know Me from Such Roles as Terrorist #4.”

There have been 204 mass shootings — and 204 days — in 2015 so far.

Vermont Struggles With Renewables.

Eight Years After Student’s Unjust Expulsion from Valdosta State U., $900K Settlement Ends ‘Barnes v. Zaccari.’

Doug Williams used to give polygraph exams. Now he’s going to prison for teaching people how to beat them.

* Elsewhere on the legal beat: Lawyer seeks trial by combat to resolve lawsuit.

* Fitbit as confession.

No Charges For Two Officers Who Backed False Version Of University Of Cincinnati Shooting. Alabama officer kept job after proposal to murder black man and hide evidence. How a philosophy professor with ‘monklike tendencies’ became a radical advocate for prison reform. Univ. of California Academic Workers’ Union Calls on AFL-CIO To Terminate Police Union’s Membership.

* Instapundit is terrible, but I think he’s right about jury nullification. More here.

* Campus police, off campus. How the 1960s created campus cops.

* The Milwaukee Bucks boondoggle makes Last Week Tonight.

* Transportation research group discovers 46% of Milwaukee’s roads are in poor condition. I hope it studies the other 54% next.

* The Milwaukee Lion could be an escaped exotic pet rather than a wandering cougar.

MarshallProj_2015-Aug-07* Milwaukee cops are going to GPS-tag cars rather than engage in high-speed pursuit.

* Milverine: Behind the Brawn.

* Chomsky in Jacobin.

Watch what happens when regular people try to use handguns in self-defense.

* Tressie McMillan Cottom: “I Am Not Well.”

* Good kids make more money. Bad kids make more money. Losers make more money. So that should clear it up.

* Game of the weekend: Ennuigi.

* House of Picards.

* Vox interviews Bernie Sanders.

* Two centuries of Chicago’s rivers being super gross.

* On Clinton and Cosby. Speaking of which, my hiatus also covered the amazing New York Magazine spread of the accusers.

* On the other side of things, there’s this from Freddie deBoer, on sexual assault accusations and the left.

* Gambling! In a casino! Wealth doesn’t trickle down – it just floods offshore, research reveals.

* Gasp! Middle class parents use ‘glass floor’ to ensure their children succeed over poorer peers, report finds.

* What could explain it? Millennials Who Are Thriving Financially Have One Thing in Common.

At 12 years and 9 months, she remains the youngest girl ever executed in the United States.

* I shared What Happens One Hour After Drinking A Can Of Coke last week, now I’m duly shamed.

* Science ain’t an exact science with these clowns: When Researchers State Goals for Clinical Trials in Advance, Success Rates Plunge.

* Is fat a sixth taste?

What on Earth is Fake Cream Made Out Of?

Man born with “virtually no brain” has advanced math degree.

* Chaos on the Bridge: When Gene Roddenberry Almost Killed Star Trek.

A fucking interesting history of swearing on television.

* The prisoner’s dilemma as pedagogy.

* Class and free will.

Dystopic stories are attractive. They appeal to a readership that feels threatened — economically in an age of downward mobility, and politically in an age of terror. But we need to be asking what kinds of stories about living and working with media these influential narratives offer. How do the stories orient young peoples to the potential power and danger of media use? What kinds of literacy practices are sponsored in them?

Kids in the Aftermath: Katrina in Young Adult Fiction.

The Cherry’s on Top: Celibacies and Surface Reading.

 

* …there is a profound link between literature and evil.

* A brief history of Tijuana Bibles.

Man Creating Women’s-History Museum Decides Last Minute to Make It Serial-Killer Museum Instead.

Are you holding your own daughter back? Here are 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders.

* The cutthroat world of competitive bagpiping.

* The arc of history is long, but it bends towards degoogleplusification.

The long, repressed history of black leftism.

* The austerity delusion.

* Clickhole has the series bible for Breaking Bad. Amazing how much the series changed from its original conception.

* Also at Clickhole: 7 Words That Have No English Translation.

* A dark, gritty Little Women reboot.

* Another scene from the dark, gritty Subway reboot.

* A delightful pitch for a Matrix prequel.

* There is hope — plenty of hope, infinite hope — but not for us.

* The future looks great: Facebook patents technology to help lenders discriminate against borrowers based on social connections.

* Woody Allen finally found a way to characterize his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn that’s even more sickening than “the heart wants what it wants.”

Twitter Asks: What if Hogwarts Were an HBCU?

* #FreeJudyGreer.

* #FreeBritneySpears.

* #BanCarAlarms.

* Do people start off crazy, or just end up that way?

What’s it like to be a top Magic: The Gathering player?

How do you plan on spending the $1 tax cut WI Republicans gave you?

* Everyday evil.

* Review is back. Life is sweet again. Four and a half stars.

* PS: Andy Daly and Paul F. Tompkins interview each other in honor of the occasion.

When your self-driving car crashes, you could still be the one who gets sued.

* And don’t even get me started on what happens if your robot umpire crashes.

* The World Turned Upside Down, or, The Folly of Man Exemplified in Twelve Comical Relations upon Uncommon Subjects.

* The latest in Twitter’s executives working overtime to destroy it.

* Decadence watch: KFC’s new chicken bucket is also a Bluetooth photo printer.

* Decadence watch: Solitaire now has in-app purchases.

* statementofteachingphilosophy.pdf.

* Say goodbye to Jon Stewart the Adam Kotsko way.

* Because you demanded it! Soviet-era erotic alphabet book from 1931.

* And you don’t have to take my word for it! That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket.

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 8, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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For His Unwavering Devotion to Weekend Links, Gerry Canavan Has Been Awarded the Nobel Prize for Linkblogging

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* Every so often the Nobel Committee accidentally picks a genuinely deserving, genuinely inspiring recipient of the Peace Prize. This year was one. A 2013 profile of Malala Yousafzai. A speech to Pakistani Marxists. What did one Nobel laureate say to the other?

* Every so often the Supreme Court accidentally makes a good decision. Last night’s overturning of Wisconsin’s voter suppression law was one.

* What would the twentieth-century history of English studies look like if we had thought to preserve the records of our teaching? How could that history be different if we had institutional archives of syllabi, student notes, lecture drafts, handouts and seminar papers, just as we have archives of journal articles, drafts of novels, recordings of performances, and committee meeting minutes? What if universities had collected classroom documents alongside other records and traces of the knowledge they create and culture that they value?

* Another lovely Chomsky rant on the university.

So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal.

* Recent cuts have unfortunately made future cuts inevitable: The University of Wisconsin System is about to do some wholesale, strategic belt-tightening, according to its president. But it’s not all absolutely miserable news:

Regent Janice Mueller noted that of the $1.6 billion total paid to unclassified staff on UW campuses, faculty accounted for $550 million, leaving more than $1 billion going to non-faculty. “That seemed a little out of whack to me,” Mueller said. “I would think faculty salaries would be the larger share.”

I didn’t think Regents were allowed to notice things that like.

* A new law that more strongly prohibits discrimination against pregnant graduate students could be coming to a state near you.

The Excessive Political Power Of White Men In The United States, In One Chart.

* Phil Maciak on the greatness of Transparent.

* Why we need academic freedom: On Being Sued.

* Neoliberalism is the triumph of the state, not its retreat. The case of Mexico.

On the cultural ideology of Big Data.

It Would Actually Be Very Simple To End Homelessness Forever.

* It seems that all of Pearson’s critical foundational research and proven classroom results in the world couldn’t get the question 3 x 7 x 26 correct.

* Federal spending was lower this year than Paul Ryan originally asked for. Ha, take that Republicans! Another Obama-led triumph for the left!

* But things will be different once Obama finally becomes president. Obama Plans to Close Guantanamo Whether Congress Likes It Or Not.

* Nightmares: Could Enterovirus D68 Be Causing Polio-Like Paralysis in Kids?

* NYC airport workers walk off job, protesting lack of protection from Ebola risks.

* SF in everything: Malware needs to know if it’s in the Matrix.

* Lady Ghostbusters will be a reboot, almost assuredly a terrible one.

I love origin stories. That’s my favorite thing. I love the first one so much I don’t want to do anything to ruin the memory of that. So it just felt like, let’s just restart it because then we can have new dynamics. I want the technology to be even cooler. I want it to be really scary, and I want it to happen in our world today that hasn’t gone through it so it’s like, oh my God what’s going on?

* It’s happening again: Vastly Different Stories Emerging In Police Shooting Of St. Louis Teen. The Associated Press is On It:

* Baton Rouge officer who texted about ‘pulling a Ferguson’ allowed to retire, can still work as a cop.

* Teenagers in prison have a shockingly high suicide rate.

* Roger Ebert: The Collected Wikipedia Edits.

* The many faces of capitalism.

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* The University of Wisconsin at Madison Police Department issued an apology Wednesday after a list of safety tips posted to the department’s website was criticized for appearing to blame victims of campus crimes, particularly survivors of sexual assault.

* What We Talk About When We Talk About Trigger Warnings.

* Today in theology: Europe’s history of penis worship was cast aside when the Catholic Church decided Jesus’s foreskin was too potent to control.

By the 15th century, the Holy Prepuce had become the desirous object of many mystics’ visions. Bridget of Sweden recorded the revelations she received from the Virgin Mary, who told the saint that she saved the foreskin of her son and carried it with her until her death. Catherine of Siena, the patron saint of Italy, imagined that her wedding ring—exchanged with the Savior in a mystical marriage—had been transmuted into the foreskin. In her Revelationes (c. 1310), Saint Agnes Blannbekin recounts the hours she spent contemplating the loss of blood the infant Christ must have suffered during the circumcision, and during one of her contemplative moments, while idly wondering what had become of the foreskin, she felt the prepuce pressed upon her tongue. Blannbekin recounted the sweet, intoxicating taste, and she attempted to swallow it. The saint found herself unable to digest the Holy Prepuce; every time she swallowed, it immediately reappeared on her tongue. Again and again she repeated the ritual until after a hundred gulps she managed to down the baby Jesus’ cover.

* LEGO, against oil.

* Two Bad Tastes That Taste Bad Together: The US Doesn’t Have Enough Railroads to Keep Up With the Oil Boom.

* For some unfathomable reason somebody handed Cary Nelson another shovel: A Civility Manifesto.

* Science proves that in female-dominated societies men have to work twice as hard to destroy everything with their bullshit.

* Another piece on the law and Tommy the Chimp.

* Trick or treat.

* And maybe there are some doors we just shouldn’t open: I’m Slavoj Žižek, AMA.

20141010

Guiltpiercer

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I wanted to Storify my back-and-forth with my friend Aaron Bady (and a few other people, but mostly him) on the question of guilt and complicity in liberal politics, which was prompted by his Texas Stands With Gaza post and ultimately looped around, as all things must, to Snowpiercer.

Aaron is right that I’m using Snowpiercer (along with Pacific Rim, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and some other recent Anthropocene science fictions) in a piece of academic writing I’m working on, so I’ll hold off on doing a full reading of the film here for now. But I think the film actually figures this debate we’re having in a pretty direct way. The people on the train are all “guilty” and “complicit” with the Snowpiercer system, albeit in different ways and to different degrees; like any necropolitical survivor, they are all alive while/because someone else has died. Even on the level of character development, much of the movement of the film is directed towards making Chris Evans’s character Curtis feel as though he is worthy of great things despite the guilt he carries with him; characters frequently say this to him explicitly, even, most notably, the character he once tried to eat as a baby and who he later abandons in the name of the larger mission! In fact this guilt, in properly liberal terms, is indistinguishable from his worthiness to lead, with the final act of the film culminating in Curtis being offered the position of the Wizard of Snowpiercer. The Curtis plot in the film is more or less a familiar liberal drama about coming to terms with your own guilty complicity in the system, a process which as if by baptismal magic thereby makes you worthy to run the whole thing as if you’d never been guilty or complicit in the first place.

Aaron’s reading on the film insists that this is the only trajectory open to us, even as he repeatedly turns to Kang-ho Song’s Namgoong as the voice of alterity, rejecting his plan as nonviable. Namgoong knows the train is a horror and knows the train is doomed by its own entropic breakdown, rejects guilt or complicity as a frame, and instead works to blow open the doors and escape. (And this is the position Curtis ultimately settles into as well, having finally hit an encounter of guilt which he can’t autoredeem his way out of in the form of the children in the engine.) Here then we see one version of the Canavan position: guilt is a way of becoming re-trapped, linked back into the atrocity engine, while refusing to identify with the system and its terms opens up the horizon of the future. Neither Namgoong nor Curtis survive the derailment of the train (“there is hope, infinite hope, but not for us”), but their protégés do, and in the final shot of the film see a live polar bear moving outside the train, indicating that life of some kind persists outside the train and that therefore there is something like hope after all.

Now, Aaron rejects all of this — “it’s too cold out there! they have no skills or supplies! that polar bear will probably just eat them!” — and of course he’s right to do so on the level of cold realism; like most such apocalyptic scenarios, the situation is too far gone to allow any sort of genuine renewal. (I always think of the way the Matrix sequels had to confront this, ultimately having the heroic rebels make a truce with the monsters they were supposed to slay because the world is too far gone to actually free anyone anymore.) But this is where Aaron’s flattening of Jameson’s theory of utopia hurts him a bit — because the kernel of the Jamesonian reading of the film is not to imagine it as a practical alternative to the present so much as to figure the ongoing exist alternative in an era that, at every turn, loudly insists there isn’t one.

For it is the very principle of the radical break as such, its possibility, which is reinforced by the Utopian form, which insists that its radical difference is possible and that a break is necessary. The Utopian form itself is the answer to the universal ideological conviction that no alternative is possible, that there is no alternative to the system. But it asserts this by forcing us to think the break itself, and not by offering a more traditional picture of what things will be like after the break. (Archaeologies 232)

Snowpiercer, it seems to me, is pretty plainly about this effort of the imagination; neither the setup nor the climax is really amenable to any sort of realistic analysis about the practicalities of the situation. It’s preposterous from start to finish. The point of the film is to disrupt our guilty comfort and our comforting guilt about a system we all know is terrible (“those crooked fuckers”) but think we can’t oppose, only picket and sigh about and be more beautiful than (“oh, we guilty sinners, oh this fallen world”). So of course the film is an allegory after all; what it figures isn’t the actual situation of capitalism but the hopeless prospects for people who can’t see any way to stop the train, other than a crash, and who perhaps for that very reason have come to believe they’re the ones who are driving it.