Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘The Matrix

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

leave a comment »

* 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.

tumblr_oeysbwxsux1romv9co1_500

Written by gerrycanavan

October 14, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekend Links!

leave a comment »

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

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

leave a comment »

* 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.

1438008706-20150727

Written by gerrycanavan

August 8, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

leave a comment »

* 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.

BziMlVlIEAA_k0g

* 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

with one comment

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.

Weekend Links

with 2 comments

* By allying us with its protagonist, Gravity universalizes its image of exploited female labor, sells it back to its entire audience, men and women alike. Gravity shows a contemporary ideal of femininity still more sinister than the pinup. It presents woman as an intricate machine, strapped to dozens of wires, working her ass off with the goal of appearing weightless.

* We were born too late: …in the early universe, as Loeb speculates in a paper published in Astrobiology late last year, everything would have been a habitable zone.

* Terry Gilliam thinks he could have screwed up Watchmen waaaaaaay worse than Zack Snyder.

* Another day, another Title IX class action against a major university.

Students Joke About Raping Student Union President, Then Threaten to Sue Her.

Objectification, Humiliation and the Liberal Arts.

* Surprising minimum wage jobs.

Wisconsin income gap widening faster than nation as a whole.

* New Study Confirms It: Breast-Feeding Benefits Have Been Drastically Overstated.

* Man Wakes Up In Body Bag At Funeral Home. Wow.

* Chomsky on academic labor. Life off the tenure track at Boise State.

Polynesian seafarers discovered America long before Europeans, says DNA study.

* Watch Six Colorado Senate Candidates Deny Climate Change Exists In 18 Seconds.

* Inception: The Board Game.

* Man, the rich are different.

“While the entire U.S. population has increased about one-third over the last 30 years, the Federal prison population has increased at a staggering rate of 800 percent, currently totaling nearly 216,000 inmates and currently operates at a 33 percent overcapacity. One-half of those Federal prison populations are drug offenses. While some of them are truly dangerous persons, as Deputy Attorney General Cole said, many of them are first-timers, and by possession only, wound up under Federal laws, the crack cocaine laws, in the Federal system”, she said.

Researchers Find CTE In A Soccer Player For The First Time.

This Is What Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers Looks Like.

When May I Shoot a Student?

Twelve Fixed, Eternal Commandments for Academic Job Candidates.

* The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from: Wachowskis prepping new Matrix prequel trilogy.

* And I think we should all just agree this is the true ending to Harry Potter now.

Syllabus: ’21st Century Science Fiction’

with 8 comments

I’m obscenely excited about my “21st Century Science Fiction” course, which starts today. As you can see from the planned schedule below I had to make some hard choices about what to exclude—but it should be a truly great time.

DATE

ASSIGNMENTS AND RESPONSES DUE BY 1 PM

T JULY 5

INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE

Defining SF

in class: The Matrix, Star Trek

R JULY 7

Space Empire

at home: Wells Tower, “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned”

in class: Battlestar Galactica, Firefly

M JULY 11

Zombies

at home: Kelly Link, “Some Zombie Contingency Plans”; Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Vol. 1

in class: 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, etc.

T JULY 12

Reproductive Futurity

at home: Nisi Shawl, “Deep End”; Brian K. Vaughn, Y: The Last Man

in class: Children of Men

R JULY 14

Superheroes

at home: Ted Chiang, “Understand”

in class: X-Men, Iron Man, etc.

M JULY 18

Cognitive Estrangement

China Miéville, The City and the City (first section)

T JULY 19

Cognitive Estrangement continued

China Miéville, The City and the City (second and third sections)

R JULY 21

CONFERENCES—NO CLASS

M JULY 25

                 MIDTERM DUE—NO CLASS

T JULY 26

in-class screening: Avatar

R JULY 28

Avatar and Others

FIRST LONG RESPONSE DUE

at home: Annalee Newitz, “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar?”; Slavoj Žižek, “Return of the Natives”; Octavia Butler, “Amnesty”

in class: “Pumzi”, “Plastic Bag”

M AUGUST 1

Eco-Apocalypse

at home: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (first half)

in class: Daybreakers, Moon

T AUGUST 2

Eco-Apocalypse continued

at home: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (second half)

in class: WALL-E

R AUGUST 4

The Singularity

at home: Charles Stross, Accelerando (first half)

RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS, DAY ONE

M AUGUST 8

The Singularity continued

at home: Charles Stross, Accelerando (second half)

RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS, DAY TWO

T AUGUST 9

Cyberpunk and Its Discontents

at home: Nalo Hopkinson, “A Habit of Waste”

in class: Dollhouse

W AUGUST 10

make-up class: Inception screening (time and location TBA)

R AUGUST 11

Science Fiction as Philosophy

at home: Guy Hasson, “The Levantine Experiments”; Han Song, “The Wheel of Samsara”; Inception

Closing Thoughts

SECOND LONG RESPONSE DUE

LAST DAY OF CLASS

S AUGUST 14

FINAL PAPERS DUE BY 5 PM BY DIGITAL DROPBOX

I’m beginning this afternoon with a lecture that looks at a multitude of different ways of looking at SF, organized around quotes from well-known SF writers and scholars. As the course goes on we’ll look at some of this critical work in more detail; for now I just want to introduce some basic frameworks for approaching the material. We’ll go over these and then set about applying them as best we can to the opening titles of Star Trek: Enterprise (both verisons) and the classic “battery” scene from The Matrix. The quotes:

SCIENTIFIC/PREDICTIVE
“…a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision.”
—Hugo Gernsback

 FORMALIST
“Science fiction is a branch of fantasy identifiable by the fact that it eases the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ on the part of its readers by utilizing an atmosphere of scientific credibility for its imaginative speculations in physical science, space, time, social science, and philosophy.”
– Sam Moskowitz.

COSMOLOGICAL
“Science fiction is the search for definition of man and his status in the universe which will stand in our advanced but confused state of knowledge (science), and is characteristically cast in the Gothic or post-Gothic mold.”
—Brian Aldiss

 HISTORICIST
“Sf is that species of storytelling native to a culture undergoing the epistemic changes implicated in the rise and supercession of technical-industrial modes of production, distribution, consumption, and disposal.”
—Damien Broderick

 UTOPIAN
“SF is, then, a literary genre or verbal construct whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environment.”
—Darko Suvin

“I would argue, however, that the most characteristic SF does not seriously attempt to imagine the ‘real’ future of social system. Rather, its multiple mock futures serve the quite different function of transforming our own present into the determinate past of something yet to come.”
—Fredric Jameson

REVOLUTIONARY
“The intellectual crime for which Zamyatin was reviled and silenced was that of being an ‘internal emigre.’ (The American equivalent would be “un-Americanism.”) This smear-word is a precise and noble description of the finest writers of SF, in all countries.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin

DIFFERENTIAL
“At the root of all science fiction lies the fantasy of the alien encounter.”
—Scott McCracken

“Science fiction comes into visibility first in those countries most heavily involved in imperialist projects—France and England—and then giants popularity in the United States, Germany, and Russia as those countries also enter into more and more serious imperial competition…. It is not a matter of asking whether but of determining precisely how and to what extent the stories engage colonialism.”
—John Rieder

AFROFUTURIST
“Black people live the estrangement that science fiction writers imagine.”
—Greg Tate

“The blunt thesis underlying Afrofuturism is that all black cultural production in the New World is SF.”
—Isiah Lavender

CORRELATIONIST
“Science fiction turns out to be the realism of our time.”
—Kim Stanley Robinson

“We live science fiction.”
—Marshall McLuhan

LINGUISTIC
“In science fiction, ‘science’—i.e., sentences displaying verbal emblems of scientific discourses—is used to literalize the meanings of other sentences for use in the construction of the fictional foreground. Such sentences as ‘His world exploded,’ or ‘She turned on her left side,’ as they subsume the proper technological discourse (of economics and cosmology in one; of switching circuitry and prosthetic surgery in the other), leave the banality of the emotionally muzzy metaphor, abandon the triviality of insomniac tossings, and, through the labyrinth of technical possibility, become possible images of the impossible.”
—Samuel Delany

NOMINALIST
“Science fiction is anything published as science fiction.”
—Norman Spinrad

“SF is what is marketed as SF.”
—Edward James

Written by gerrycanavan

July 5, 2011 at 9:00 am