Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘The World Without Us

I Just Can’t Believe It’s December Links

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* Over the weekend, of course, we celebrated the first Star Wars Trailer Day in a decade. Your shot-for-shot dissection. A deeper look. Digging deeper still. The George Lucas Special Edition. Elsewhere on the Star Wars beat: Physicist Proves That R2D2 Is Lighter Than Styrofoam.

* English and foreign language jobs are down nearly 10% again, down almost 40% since 2007.

New NEH Grants Will Promote Popular Scholarly Books.

Call for Papers: Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor.

* Why colleges haven’t stopped binge drinking.

* Donors getting bold in Illinois: U. of Illinois Could Lose Big Gift by Rehiring Adjunct.

* A long, interesting piece on an anti-bullying measure passed by Madison faculty.

When Black Friday devours Thanksgiving, capitalism consumes one of its sustaining myths. Black Friday, Or the Circulation of Commodities.

In not one of those cases did a coal mine owner face criminal charges for the loss of life. That history ended in November, with the indictment of Donald L. Blankenship, the chief executive whose company owned the Upper Big Branch mine near here, where an explosion of methane gas in 2010 spread like a fireball through more than two miles of tunnels, feeding on illegally high levels of coal dust.

* Afrofuturism: The Sonic Companion.

Putting The Sidekick In The Suit: Black Captain America, Female Thor, And The Illusion Of Progress.

Six Myths About Climate Change that Liberals Rarely Question.

But where does it come from? My new answer: nobody builds a megadungeon. Megadungeons build themselves. They are the guilty conscience of rulership; the truth commission against power. Great power corrupts, and absolute power does what we’ve been told. Even those who want to rule well feel the attraction of expedient murder and petulant torture, the convenience of imprisoning one’s enemies without trial, buying off the priesthood and covering it all in a glaze of ceremony and pretty words. On this world, this eventually provokes its own reaction. Beneath the seats of power – castle; trading house; senate building – the accumulated sins happening above begin to literally undo the foundations. Dungeons grow. It might not be so tidy as: 60 starved prisoners in the last few decades means 60 skeletons, with hallways for them to roam through; 20 goblins and some rooms for them to squat in appear as a direct result of last year’s punitive expedition against the recalcitrant border villages; one ghoul for each speech in which you cloak your appetites in the honeyed words of dead philosophers, etc.

B3qKigCCQAAbo8O* How many people are locked up in the United States?

Officers Who Shot 12-Year-Old Holding Toy Gun Refused To Give Him First Aid. The video that caught the cops lying about Tamir Rice. White Cops File Suit, Claim They Are Punished Too Much For Shooting People.

Grand Jury Won’t Indict Officers In Ohio Wal-Mart Shooting, Either.

* Missouri almost out of money to attack Ferguson with. St. Louis police officers’ group demands Rams players be disciplined for ‘hands up, don’t shoot. Ferguson: Message from the Grassroots. No healing.

Why Every Struggle Is Now a Struggle Against the Police.

Similar cases yield very different results in Wisconsin prison system.

Georgia’s Top Court Reins In Private Probation Firms For Illegally Extending Sentences. Reined in! The arc of history is long, but!

* Full Nihilism: “Six Reasons I’m Thankful for a Republican Congress.” Two of the six were “I’m bored.” Media professionals!

* One of the worst “errors” of the Obama presidency was the pivot to deficit reduction, when literally no one cares about deficit reduction.

Like uninsured New Agers afflicted by terminal illness, journalists facing the collapse of their industry are turning in desperation to faith healers, quacks, and hucksters of all sorts. Amway Journalism.

* Abolish the Senate.

* Officials with a Northern California school district expelled a live-in nanny’s 9-year-old daughter after hiring a private investigator to ascertain where she lived, the Contra Costa Times reported. Having been caught, the school district has now reversed itself.

* Life after people: Someone Flew a Drone Through Chernobyl and the Result Is Haunting.

* Science proves people who still read fiction really are just better.

How Often Do “Disruptive” Business Practices Actually Mean “Illegal” Business Practices? The Uberiest thing Uber’s done yet.

Philanthropic Poverty: Bono and other philanthropic capitalists push charity to defend property.

When an assisted living home in California shut down last fall, many of its residents were left behind, with nowhere to go. The staff at the Valley Springs Manor left when they stopped getting paid — except for cook Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor.

The Super Mario 64 Goomba Nobody Has Ever Killed. The Coin That Took 18 Years to Collect.

* The real roots of midlife crisis, or, the second decade of this blog is going to be a shame. At least we have Charlie Stross’s thought experiments to comfort us.

* How Not to Get Away with Murder.

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK.

* An Open Letter to the Administration of Vassar College.

* This TNR piece on the Rolling Stone UVA exposé actually raises some relevant journalism questions, but my sense is this happens entirely by accident in the course of a kneejerk attempt to discredit the story.

The false rape accusation as witchcraft.

. CTRL-F revenue, CTRL-F income, CTRL-F profit: Vox Media Valued at Nearly $400 Million After Investment.

The 22-year-old appeared to have killed himself, police said. A handgun was found near his body inside the dumpster. The text he sent said he was sorry, “if I am an embarrassment, but these concussions have my head all f—ed up.”

Even a single season of high school football might have harmful impacts on the brain.

* Your panel-by-panel breakdown of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Watchmen pastiche Pax Americana #1, this year’s instant-classic comic book.

* You don’t have to beg, borrow, or steal anymore: Black Mirror is finally on Netflix.

* Wanderers. Time Trap. Five Minutes.

* And finally, we get to the meat: Pope’s astronomer says he would baptise an alien if it asked him.



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December 2, 2014 at 10:02 am

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The Very Long Now

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Geologist Jan Zalasiewicz’s new book is a World Without Us for the very long now: 100 million years.

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October 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

The World Without Us

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I’m painfully busy for the next few days, but for now here’s my interview with Alan Weisman about his bestselling book The World Without Us, which I’ve talked about a few times before. He’s reading at the Regulator here in town next Tuesday night.

This was not the first time Weisman had examined nature’s resilience in the absence, nor near-absence, of humans. Glausiusz approached Weisman because she had been struck by an essay he wrote for Harper’s Magazine in 1994, “Journey Through a Doomed Land: Exploring Chernobyl’s Still-Deadly Ruins,” chronicling his Ford Foundation-funded trip to Chernobyl and the discovery of a deeply damaged ecosystem that was, astoundingly, already in recovery. Rather than apocalyptic, that essay emerged for Glausiusz as a powerfully hopeful, even optimistic look at the resilience of the Earth, of nature itself.

Weisman remembers the trip well: “You’d go into these places [near Chernobyl], and there’d be bountiful crops and plants, huge mushrooms and rhubarb everywhere. It was wonderful—until you turn on the Geiger counter.”

Weisman says the same strange beauty can be found in such places as the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, where a recent photo shoot in USA Today revealed cars covered by moss and flowerbeds, or in the abandoned, prairie-like regions of shrinking post-industrial cities like Detroit. It’s the same attitude he brings to The World Without Us, which he is always careful to describe as a kind of anti-apocalypse. The sudden disappearance of humans reveals not only the scope of the damage we’ve done to the planet, but also the speed with which the planet could bounce back, if we’d only let it.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 12, 2008 at 2:02 pm

‘No one has missed me. The city is a cruel and lonely place. I was right to have disappeared.’

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Ralph Garnello considers the world without him. Via MeFi.

Two days after my disappearance, very little has changed in my apartment. A red dot blinks on the answering machine, announcing a missed call. The refrigerator’s compressor turns on and off at regular intervals. A cockroach emerges from under the stove and skitters beneath the dishwasher. The most noticeable difference is the milk, which has been left out on the counter and gone sour. Perhaps I had it out when I inexplicably vanished. More likely, I just forgot to put it away again, as usual.

Ten days after I’m gone, the roaches move about with impunity. Rats scurry, unseen, through the cabinets. The houseplant near the window is brown and withered, although it could have been like that before my departure. I never paid much attention to it. The milk on the counter is slowly turning into a solid, giving off a foul odor that blends in seamlessly with those emanating from the month-old pizza boxes and piles of dirty laundry.

After three months, animals not usually encountered in urban areas will have ventured into the apartment. Wolves roam freely, scavenging for food and drinking out of the toilet. An antelope buries its snout in a half-empty box of Cheerios. A mountain lion knocks over the milk, rendering the entire kitchen and part of the connecting hall uninhabitable for several months…

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March 26, 2008 at 3:34 pm

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My name is Ozymandius, king of kings! Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair. The Web site for The World Without Us has a nice little interactive timeline detailing some of what happens as the humanless future progresses. What I find most interesting about this is the way in which the initial horror of desolation begins to take on a kind of eerie beauty the further and further you get from your projected personal lifespan.

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August 31, 2007 at 4:25 pm

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* A brief history of science-fiction spacesuits. Via Gravity Lens, of course.

* Nabokov’s genius.

There, in front of us, where a broken row of houses stood between us and the harbor, and where the eye encountered all sorts of stratagems, such as pale-blue and pink underwear cakewalking on a clothesline, or a lady’s bicycle and a striped cat oddly sharing a rudimentary balcony of cast iron, it was most satisfying to make out among the jumbled angles of roofs and walls, a splendid ship’s funnel, showing from behind the clothesline as something in a scrambled picture — Find What the Sailor Has Hidden — that the finder cannot unsee once it has been seen.

Genius, transcendent, makes a game of life’s transience. It was such games-playing, and the sense it gave him of God the games-player, that made Nabokov the fundamentally happy man he was, as if he, supreme games-player in literature, had worked out the rules of the secret game of the world.

* This AskMe has links to some big scans of images of post-apocalyptic New York from that World Without Us Scientific American article I’ve linked to before, suitable for framing.

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August 24, 2007 at 2:01 pm

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Alan Weisman, author of the key apocalyptic text of the moment, The World Without Us, was on The Daily Show last night. Here’s the video:

Ron Riggle’s Operation Fluffy Bunny report was also pretty excellent.

Meanwhile, just about all of The Colbert Report was mandatory viewing last night as well: here’s Stephen on the Freakonomics terrorism kerfluffle, skepticism, and (maybe my favorite news story of the year) corporate edits of Wikipedia.

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August 22, 2007 at 5:59 pm

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A review of The World Without Us from the New York Times.

Over all, this book paints a punishingly bleak picture. Entries in its index indicate the scope of its pessimism. For instance: “Birds, plate glass picture windows and”; “Central Park, coyotes in”; “Earth, final days”; “Embalming, arsenic and”; “Human race, robots and computers as replacements”; “Great Britain’s shoreline, rubbish along”; “PCBs, and hermaphroditic polar bears.” “Dessication,” “Meltdowns” and “Slash-and-burn” also play their roles here.

I’ve previously blogged a Scientific American interview with Weisman. I have to say, I’m pretty excited for this book—it’s like twenty years of my darkest thoughts have suddenly been given material form.

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August 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm

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