Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Tolkien

Fall Break Links!

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* CFP: The Fourth Annual David Foster Wallace Conference, June 2017. CFP: The Marxist Reading Group 2017.

* Tolkien news! Beren and Lúthien coming in 2017. Elsewhere in things from my childhood that I’ll almost certainly repurchase: Inside the new D&D Monster Manual.

* “Whoa,” said the gangster/minotaur, awed at how close he’d just come to losing his forearm. He was beginning to understand that this wasn’t the relatively straightforward world of street-level dope dealing anymore; this was Dungeons and Dragons.

* I’m glad somebody finally paged KSR: “Why Elon Musk’s Mars Vision Needs ‘Some Real Imagination.'”

* Forget Mars. Here’s Where We Should Build Our First Off-World Colonies.

“People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.” This is how computer scientist Pedro Domingos sums up the issue in his 2015 book The Master Algorithm. Even the many researchers who reject the prospect of a ‘technological singularity’ — saying the field is too young — support the introduction of relatively untested AI systems into social institutions.

* TFW you cut down a 600-year-old tree.

* On translating Harry Potter. Harry Potter by the Numbers. And did you know Harry Potter was nearly a major cultural phenomenon?

* On The Strange Career of Steve Ditko.

* If you want a vision of the future.

* Mistake on a Lake: In Michigan, privatization and free-market governance has left 100,000 people without water.

* One teaching artist sees it differently. “There will always be bad artists with a lot of money who want to go to art school,” she said. On the Future of the MFA.

* The Professor Wore a Hijab in Solidarity — Then Lost Her Job.

2016_1018b_2* The Secret History of Leftist Board Games.

* There’s More to Life Than Being Happy: On Viktor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning. Relatedly: The World’s Happiest Man Wishes You Wouldn’t Call Him That.

Degree programs in French, geology, German, philosophy and women’s studies are suspended, effectively immediately. Eight additional majors within existing departments, six teaching programs and four graduate programs have been shut down. The university is planning a teach-out program for currently enrolled students. Tenured faculty members in affected programs will be reassigned to different departments. The future of the campus’s nursing, dental education and medical imaging programs is still under discussion. Degree programs in environmental geology and environmental policy were cut previously, in July.

* Advice for how to use Twitter as an academic. Of course, as everyone knows, the only winning move is not to play.

* From David M. Perry: “My non-verbal son communicates through ‘Hamilton.'”

* From Adam Kotsko: From his rebellious debut to modern day, the devil has always been a political figure.

* Dylan, Christ, and Slow Train Coming. Teaching the controversy: Kurt Vonnegut in 1991: “Bob Dylan Is the Worst Poet Alive.” Imperialism-in-Artistry: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Win Is Proof Adichie Is Right about Beyonce. Local Boy Makes Good. But not too good: The Nobel Prize Committee Have Given Up on Trying to Get in Touch with Bob Dylan.

* Game of Thrones is even whiter than you think.

* The self-driving car, Baudrillard, and America.

* On the history of fantasy scholarship.

* Free speech and the kids.

* David Letterman and his beard.

* My friend Sam.

* The LSAT and class struggle.

* Interview With a Woman Who Recently Had an Abortion at 32 Weeks. ‘What Kind of Mother Is 8 Months Pregnant and Wants an Abortion?’ No, There Are No Ninth Month Abortions.

The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of “imaginative power,” and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.

* America dreams of rivers.

* Another gerrymandering primer. I’m inclined to make a joke about Obama’s proceduralism even ruining his post-presidency but this really is a major issue worth throwing his weight against.

* Texas?

In The Hollow: The changing face of Appalachia—and its role in the presidential race.

Derek Black, 27, was following in his father’s footsteps as a white nationalist leader until he began to question the movement’s ideology.

* The Anthropocene and Empire.

* How Trump’s Casino Bankruptcies Screwed His Workers out of Millions in Retirement Savings.

* Atlas Obscura: The Land of Make Believe.

* A People’s History of John Stewart, Green Lantern.

Fear of a Feminist Future.

* And then there’s this one: Earlier this October, at a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice, London paid its rent to the Queen. The ceremony proceeded much as it had for the past eight centuries. The city handed over a knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails to Barbara Janet Fontaine, the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial position in England. The job was created in the 12th century to keep track of all that was owed to the crown.

* Breastfeeding as captivity narrative.

* The Fear of Having a Son.

* Joss supports Spuffy.

* I’ll allow it, but know that you’re all on very thin ice.

By 2050, it’s likely that plastic in the oceans will outweigh all the oceans’ fish. Some reports predict 850-950 million tons of plastic (the equivalent in weight of 4.5 million blue whales).

* Thank god the Mac version isn’t ready yet: Civ VI is out.

* A dark, grittier Captain Planet: Leonardo DiCaprio wants to make a Captain Planet movie.

* Hungerford makes Infinite Jest represent how commercial publishers and their enablers in the mainstream media engineer a novel into a canonizable success. The market is corrupt, she says. But is it any more corrupt or distasteful than the publication and marketing of her university press book? “Post 45” is a scholarly association; Hungerford is one of nine Board members. Two other Board members are the series editors for the “Post 45” imprint. The “Advance Praise” for Making Literature Now includes effusive comments by two people whom Hungerford praises in the book, a blurb by a former colleague at Yale, and other comments so hyperbolic that they appear to have been written under the influence of laughing gas. Hungerford put out a misleading trailer for the book in the Chronicle, excising the misogyny charge that’s essential in her closing chapter, perhaps because she feared anyone who had read Infinite Jest would see through that charge and not order Making Literature Now. Her title is grandiose because her data is extremely limited. Rather than the survey that the title implies, Making Literature Now is literary tourism combined with two takedowns.

* Nonsense paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference.

* Student writing in the digital age.

* Live long and trick or treat.

* I’m telling you, the simulation is crashing.

* And ours is truly a fallen world.


Written by gerrycanavan

October 22, 2016 at 9:00 am

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.


Written by gerrycanavan

October 14, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Tuesday Afternoon Links!

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* Public showings of the Tolkien Manuscripts at Marquette, 2016-2017.

Don’t Panic, But There’s An Asteroid Right Over There.

Why is the keynote speech such a train wreck at most academic conferences?

* Because it’s that time of year again: my two-part piece from Inside Higher Ed from a few years back on entering the academic job market as an ABD, 1, 2. But of course:

How to Do a Better Job of Searching for Diversity.

* How could anyone think graduate students shouldn’t have a Plan B?

* Great teaching document: Some Notes on How to Ask a Good Question about Theory That Will Provoke Conversation and Further Discussion from Your Colleagues.

* And more: Making a classroom discussion an actual discussion.

* Trump: graft :: Clinton : paranoia.

* Disability and utopia.

* And marrying the last two links: One in Six Eligible Voters Has a Disability.

* “Debate” and the end of the public sphere.

* Let history be our judge: Pepe the Frog, an explainer.

If Hillary Had to Drop Out, Here’s How a New Democratic Candidate Would be Chosen. Former DNC chairman calls for Clinton contingency plan.

Researchers at the Karadag Nature Reserve, in Feodosia, Russia, recorded two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, called Yasha and Yana, talking to each other in a pool. They found that each dolphin would listen to a sentence of pulses without interruption, before replying.

Ancient Black Astronauts and Extraterrestrial Jihads: Islamic Science Fiction as Urban Mythology.

A librarian donated $4 million to his alma mater. $100,000 is being given to the library. $1 million is being used to buy A SCOREBOARD.

* NCAA vs. NC.

Getting Restless At The Head Of The Class.

* CFP: this xkcd.

* Demystifying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

* Going viral this week: extinction illusions.

* In search of the universal language.

Reported Concussions in Youth Soccer Soar a Mere 1,600 Percent in 25 Years, According to Study.

* Nice work if you can get it: Wells Fargo won’t claw back $125m retirement bonus from exec who oversaw 2m frauds.

* Sexting in the seventh grade.

Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Is Working.

How the sugar industry has distorted health science for more than 50 years.

* Stories that should be more exciting than they are: We Were Wrong About Where the Moon Came From!

* I read Jason Shiga’s Demon as a crowdfunder — it’s great. Check out the first volume when it comes to print next month.

* Special providence: Catfish Falls From The Sky, Hits Woman In The Face.

The organizing economic metaphor of all of Against Everything is artificial scarcity. The concept usually refers to the way that monopolistic sellers exploit their excessive market power to restrict supply so they can raise prices. Greif’s view is more capacious and idiosyncratic: He describes a culture where the affluent, at sea in a world of abundance, engage in the elaborate restriction of their own demand (to kitsch diners, ethnic food, inappropriately youthful sexual partners). This turns what could be unfussy gratification into resource-intensive performance. On one level, this is about making a technically meaningless life more diverting, but it also gives our atomized selves the comfort of belonging. It serves to differentiate “people like me” from those other, worse people—those without access to the most current information, say, or simply the economic means to act on it. What gives n+1’s economistic turn its authority and novelty is the way Greif and his colleagues show that the market is not, as someone like Gary Becker had it, a bazaar untainted by sinister, irrational notions (discrimination, exploitation, class prejudice), but a site where those things are given free play under cover of neutral utility-maximizing exchange. They have taught us to speak the softer insights of theory (with its sensitivity to symbolic difference and its hermeneutics of suspicion) in the hardheaded but incantatory vernacular of the powerful.

Millions of containers, thousands of ships, hundreds of scientists, 30 laws, 15 federal agencies, and we still can’t prevent the next foodborne illness outbreak.

* The New Yorker remembers the Wilmington coup of 1898.

* And I’m catching up late, but man oh man, Bojack Horseman is a good show.


Seven Pounds of Sunday Links in a Three-Pound Bag

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cr2zpcrw8aa7gey* If you missed it, my contribution to the thriving “Star Trek at 50″ thinkpiece industry: “We Have Never Been Star Trek.” And some followup commentary on First Contact and the Rebootverse from Adam Kotsko.

* Elsewhere: To Boldly Imagine: Star Trek‘s Half Century. 13 science fiction authors on how Star Trek influenced their lives. 50 Years of Trekkies. Women who love Star Trek are the reason that modern fandom exists. What If Star Trek Never Existed? In a World without Star Trek The Star Trek You Didn’t See. How Every Single Star Trek Novel Fits Together. What Deep Space Nine does that no other Star Trek series can. Fighter Planes vs. Navies. Fifty years of Star Trek – a socialist perspective. Star Trek in the Age of Trump. Star Trek Is Brilliantly Political. Well, It Used To Be. Sounds of Spock. A Counterpoint. Catching Up with Star Trek IV’s Real Hero. The Workday on the Edge of Forever. A few of the best images I gathered up this week: 1, 2. And of course they did: CBS and Paramount Royally Screwed Up Star Trek‘s 50th Anniversary.

* And some more Star Trek: Discovery teasing: Time to rewatch “Balance of Terror.” And Majel might even voice the computer.

Deadline Extended for the 2016 Tiptree Fellowship. The Foundation Essay Prize 2017.

* CFP: Speculative Finance/Speculative Fiction. Editors David M. Higgins and Hugh Charles O’Connell. Call for Chapters: Transmedia Star Wars. Editors Sean A. Guynes and Dan Hassler-Forest.

* Not a CFP, but I’m glad to see this is coming soon: None of This is Normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer.

* Polygraph #25, on sound and the modes of production, is now available.

* Tolkien once said that fantasy can’t work on stage. Katy Armstrong argues that The Cursed Child only works on stage. Harry Potter and the Conscience of a Liberal.

* On Utopia and Reaction.

* Poetry and Class Struggle.

* This LARB essay on scholars fighting about King Lear is as spellbinding as everyone said.

Here is a list of things that I am including in this book. Please send me my seven-figure advance. An Easy Guide to Writing the Great American Novel.

Concerns Over Future of UMass Labor Center.

Lockout at LIU. The Nuclear Option. Unprecedented. This is the first time that higher-ed faculty have ever been locked out. Lockout Lessons. Students Walkout. As Lockout Continues at Long Island U., Students Report Meager Classroom Instruction. This has been, to say the least, an amazing story.

Decline of Tenure for Higher Education Faculty: An Introduction.

Salaita’s Departure and the Gutting of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois.

Inmates Are Planning The Largest Prison Strike in US History. ‘Incarcerated Workers’ stage nationwide prison labor strike 45 years after 1971 Attica riot. Your Refresher on the 13th Amendment.

The long, steady decline of literary reading. History Enrollments Drop. Werner Herzog Narrates My Life as a Graduate Student. My dirty little secret: I’ve been writing erotic novels to fund my PhD.

Quebec’s massive student strikes emerged from an organizing model that constantly trains new generations of activists.

Retirement Plan Roulette.

* The First Trans*Studies Conference.

* Donna Haraway: “Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene.”

The unfinished Chthulucene must collect up the trash of the Anthropocene, the exterminism of the Capitalocene, and chipping and shredding and layering like a mad gardener, make a much hotter compost pile for still possible pasts, presents, and futures.

A bit more here.

* Elsewhere in the Anthropocene: Montana declares state of emergency over pipeline spill, oily drinking water. The Gradual Atlantis (and see Dr. K.S. Robinson for more). Fast Fashion and Environmental Crisis. The Planet Is Going Through A ‘Catastrophic’ Wilderness Loss, Study Says. The Oceans Are Heating Up. A Monument to Outlast Humanity. New genus of bacteria found living inside hydraulic fracturing wells. And from the archives: Louisiana Doesn’t Exist.

The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland. What Should a Four-Year-Old Know? How to Raise a Genius.

* Michael R. Page on the greatness of The Space Merchants. Bonus content from University of Illinois Press: Five Quotes from Frederik Pohl.

The problem with this reasoning, at least as it relates to graduate students, is that we have had fifty years to find out if unions destroy graduate education. They don’t.

How Unions Change Universities. Scabbing on Our Future Selves.

Of Moral Panics, Education, Culture Wars, and Unanswerable Holes.

The Death of ITT Tech, Part One: What Happened?

* Audrey Watters on the (credit) score.

* Clemson’s John C. Calhoun Problem. And Jack Daniels’s.

* Welcome to Our University! We’re Delighted to Have You, But If You Think We’re Going to Cancel the Ku Klux Klan Rally, You’ve Got Another Think Coming. Cashing in on the Culture Wars: U Chicago.

* The things English speakers know, but don’t know they know.

* Raymond Chandler and Totality.

* Writing Like a State.

Slapstick, Fordism and the Communist Avant-Garde.

Capitalist Saboteurs.

Why ‘The Stranger’ Almost Didn’t Get Published.

It’s Getting Harder and Harder to Deny That Football Is Doomed.

After Richmond Student Writes Viral Essay About Her Rape Case, the University Calls Her a Liar.

* Milwaukee vs. Pikachu. The World’s Most Dangerous Game: Pokémon’s Strange History with Moral Panics.

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives.

British artist Rebecca Moss went aboard the Hanjin Geneva container ship for a “23 Days at Sea Residency.” But the company that owns the ship went bankrupt on August 31, and ports all over the world have barred Hanjin’s ships because the shipping line is unable to pay the port and service fees. Artist-in-residence stuck on bankrupt container ship that no port will accept.

* Christopher Newfield talks his new book on the collapse of the public university, The Great Mistake.

Bill de Blasio’s Pre-K Crusade.

* The Plight of the Overworked Nonprofit Employee.

* FiveThirtyEight: What Went Wrong?

The Lasting Impact of Mispronouncing Students’ Names.

* The law, in its majestic equality: Black Defendants Punished Harsher After A Judge’s Favorite Football Team Loses.

* Fred Moten on academic freedom, Palestine, BDS, and BLM.

* Being Nadja Spiegelman.

* The Night Of and the Problem of Chandra.

The Book of Springsteen. Relatedly: Bruce Springsteen’s Reading List.

* Defining Unarmed.

New research suggests that humans have a sixth basic taste in addition to sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami. It’s starchiness.

* Against Theory.

Differently from philosophy, which functions under long, frustrating timings, and very rarely reaches any certainty, theory is quick, voracious, sharp, and superficial: its model is the “reader,” a book made to help people make quotations from books that are not read.

* The largest strike in world history?

* The Walrus has an absolutely wrenching piece on stillbirth.

How to Tell a Mother Her Child Is Dead.

“Science thought there was one species and now genetics show there are four species,” Dr. Janke said. “All zoos across the world that have giraffes will have to change their labels.”

The Mysterious Ending of John Carpenter’s The Thing May Finally Have an Answer.

* Teach the controversy: No Forests on Flat Earth.

* The clash of eschatologies.

Wisconsin appeals Brendan Dassey’s overturned conviction.

* Abolish the iPhone. How Apple Killed the Cyberpunk Dream. It’s not much better over there.

* Atwood and comics.

The NEH’s chairman, Bro Adams, tries to make a case for the humanities. Is anyone listening?

* Britain isn’t doing a super great job with Brexit.

* No other image has better captured the struggle that is simply living every day: Drunk Soviet worker tries to ride on hippo (Novokuznetsk, in Kemerovo, 1982). Yes, there’s still more links below.


* The DEA vs. Kratom. Why Banning the Controversial Painkiller Kratom Could Be Bad News for America’s Heroin Addicts.

*Never-Ending Election Watch: How Donald Trump Retooled His Charity to Spend Other People’s Money. Trump pays IRS a penalty for his foundation violating rules with gift to aid Florida attorney general. A Tale of Two Scandals. That Clinton Foundation Scandal the Press Wants Exists, But they Won’t Report it Because it’s Actually About the Trump Foundation. Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college. No More Lesser-Evilism. And Vox, you know, explaining the news.

* Dominance politics, deplorables edition.

* And put this notion in your basket of deplorables: Darkwing Duck and DuckTales Are in Separate Universes and This Is Not Okay.

How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media.

* Yes, Here Comes Trump TV.

* Corporal Punishment in American Schools.

* Black Teachers Matter.

* I say jail’s too good for ’em: US library to enforce jail sentences for overdue books.

Bugs Bunny, the Novel, and Transnationalism.

* Understanding Hellboy.

* The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad. The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes.

* What’s the Matter with Liberals?

* Alan Moore Confirms Retirement from Comic Books. An interview in the New York Times where, lucky for me, he talks a lot about David Foster Wallace.

The Need For Believable Non-White Characters — Sidekicks, Included.

What Your Literature Professor Knows That Your Doctor Might Not.

Geologic Evidence May Support Chinese Flood Legend.

Fully Autonomous Cars Are Unlikely, Says America’s Top Transportation Safety Official.

* Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal roundup: The Clockmaker. Science Journalism. I Am No Longer a Child. Teach a Man to Fish. How Stress Works. On Parenting. You haven’t hit bottom yet. Keep scrolling!


* Today in unnecessary sequels: Mel Gibson confirms Passion Of The Christ sequel. And elsewhere on the unnecessary sequel beat: We Finally Know What the Avatar Sequels Will Be About.

* At least they won’t let Zack Snyder ruin Booster Gold.

* Poe’s Law, but for the left? Inside the Misunderstood World of Adult Breastfeeding.

* The Revolution as America’s First Civil War.

* Mike Konczal on Eviction.

* What Happens When We Decide Everyone Else Is a Narcissist.

45,000 Pounds of Would-Be Pennies Coat Highway After Delaware Crash.

* ‘Illegal’ Immigration as Speech.

* Second Thoughts of an Animal Researcher.

* Conspiracy Corner: Obama and the Jesuits.

On Sept. 16 the opera “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” based on Vonnegut’s play, will have its world premiere in Indianapolis. A dayslong celebration of, and reflection on, the best-selling author’s works called Vonnegut World will precede it.

* The Unseen Drawings of Kurt Vonnegut.

* The Science of Loneliness. Loneliness can be depressing, but it may have helped humans survive.

* Once more, with feeling: On the greatness of John Brunner.

* Let us now praise Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

* Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: Man Dies, Leaving Behind a Sea Of Big-Boobed Mannequins. Yes, it’s a Milwaukee story.

Play The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Video Game Free Online, Designed by Douglas Adams in 1984.

* Taking a Stand at Standing Rock. Life in the Native American oil protest camps.

* Earth First: The Musical.

The Subtle Design Features That Make Cities Feel More Hostile.

* Hitchens wept.

* Rebel propaganda. All the Ewoks are dead.

* Finally.

* Salvador Dali Illustrates Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

* Where the Monsters Are. The Wonderful World of Westeros.

* And I’ll be bookmarking this for later, just in case: A lively new book investigates the siren call—and annoying logistics—of death fraud.


Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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

New Fall Syllabus #2: INFINITE JEST!

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And here’s the Infinite Jest syllabus. This one turned out to be a surprisingly difficult puzzle to put together, just because I felt strongly that the book absolutely had to be finished by the class period before the class period before Thanksgiving (and later determined that we really needed a whole week to talk about the book just as a whole) — while I also felt (after the experience of the Tolkien class was so great) that it would be really good to have a slow start where we talked a bit about Wallace as a thinker and read some of his other work. This seemed especially urgent to me because of the fact of the suicide, which really does seem to risk retrospectively poisoning some aspects of the book and Wallace’s larger career (I’ve included the MLA panel we’re doing explicitly in the course as a last-day exercise, though I realized yesterday while prepping the course that I seem to have completely cryptomnesically ripped off Tom Bissell in my panel abstract — very embarrassing).

I decided early on that “beginning with the end” was the way to do this course, discussing the suicide openly and concretely at length at the very start of the class. My workshopmates in my Jesuit pedagogy seminar last semester very helpfully suggested some strategies for making the course a comfortable place to talk about some very uncomfortable things, and strongly suggested that I include an explicit content note in the syllabus (which as you can see, I did, a fairly lengthy one; I don’t think I’ve ever done one before, except in briefly offering the possibility of an alternate assignment for Lolita in a sophomore-level survey).

The result of all this is a syllabus that I’m pretty happy with and that I hope won’t be too demanding. I’ve thought a lot about not just trying to generate buy-in and a spirit of shared endeavor, but also how to make sure I don’t lose a ton of people along the way. In the end, with a MW class meeting trying to read a 1,079-page novel in nine weeks while leaving space at the beginning and end for other conversations about Infinite Jest, I decided I just couldn’t do much better than around 50-70 pages per class period for the long haul, especially in the back half. I hope the assignments and the structure of the course pull them through, and give them space to get something valuable out of it, even if (as seems inevitable) some number of them completely hate both the book and me by the end…

As before, full syllabus with course procedures and all assignments at the link, but here’s the day-by-day schedule:



audiobook: “This Is Water” (Commencement Address to the Kenyon College Class of 2005) (in class)

W Aug 31 “Alas, Poor Yorick” monologue from Hamlet, Act V, sc. i [D2L]


George Saunders, “Informal Remarks from the David Foster Wallace Memorial Service in New York on October 23, 2008” [D2L]

Jonathan Franzen, “Informal Remarks from the David Foster Wallace Memorial Service in New York on October 23, 2008” [D2L]


roundtable discussion: How to Talk About Sad Things, Together


(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #1

W Sep 7 David Foster Wallace, “The Planet Trillaphon as It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing” (1984) and Afterword by Kevin J. H. Dettmar (2016)
M Sep 12 David Foster Wallace, “Octet” (1997/1999)

Guest Lecture: Tom Moore


(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #2

W Sep 14 David Foster Wallace, “Octet” discussion continues


Infinite Jest forewords by Dave Eggers (2006) and Tom Bissell (2016) [D2L]


roundtable discussion: How to Talk About Literature, Art, Artists, Genius, Greatness, Pretension, Ambition, “Trying Too Hard,” Success, Failure, Annoyance, Fondness, Commitment, Honesty, Community, Solitude, Work, Intellectual Experiences That Might (or Might Not) Change Your Life, &c.


(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #3



M Sep 19 Infinite Jest through p. 17


brief primer: How to Read Infinite Jest [in class]

W Sep 21 Infinite Jest through p. 63 46
M Sep 26 Infinite Jest through p. 127 64
W Sep 28 Infinite Jest through p. 171 44
M Oct 3 Infinite Jest through p. 226 55
W Oct 5 Infinite Jest through p. 283 57
M Oct 10 Infinite Jest through p. 342 59
W Oct 12 Infinite Jest through p. 398 56
M Oct 17 Infinite Jest through p. 450 52
W Oct 19 Infinite Jest through p. 503 53
M Oct 24 Infinite Jest through p. 589 86
W Oct 26 Infinite Jest through p. 648 59
M Oct 31 Infinite Jest through p. 711 63
W Nov 2 Infinite Jest through p. 775 64
M Nov 7 Infinite Jest through p. 845 70
W Nov 9 Infinite Jest through p. 911 66
M Nov 14 Infinite Jest through p. 981


W Nov 16 Samuel Cohen, “To Wish to Try to Sing to the Next Generation: Infinite Jest’s History”

N. Katherine Hayles, “The Illusion of Autonomy and the Fact of Recursivity: Virtual Ecologies, Entertainment, and Infinite Jest


M Nov 21 Research Workshop with Heather James (Raynor)

Bring in the general topic you think you might want to write about, as well as some useful research questions.


* Infinite Jest pages per day (approximate) (not counting footnotes)





Michael Pietsch, editor’s note, The Pale King (2011) [D2L]

David Foster Wallace, “Good Old Neon” (2001) [D2L]

W Nov 30 Lee Konstantinou, “No Bull: David Foster Wallace and Postironic Belief” [D2L]

Adam Kelly, “David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction” [D2L]

M Dec 5 Ed Finn, “Becoming Yourself: The Afterlife of Reception” [D2L]

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “Infinite Summer: Reading, Empathy, and the Social Network” [D2L], “RIP, DFW” [Web]

The Howling Fantods, Wallace-L, etc.

W Dec 7 FINAL THOUGHTS: MLA 2017 panel: “Infinite Jest at 20” [D2L]



Bring in four copies of the prospectus for your final project.




All Your Weekend Links

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* Waywiser Press has two new MP3s of Jaimee reading from her first book, How to Avoid Speaking: “Derrida Eats a Dorito” and “On Beauty.”

* New SF from Cixin Liu: “The Weight of Memories.”

* Duke Lit is hiring. And Georgetown has a cluster hire in African American studies.

* Automatically preordered: Kim Stanley Robinson’s next novel, New York 2140. China Miéville’s October: A History of the Russian Revolution. The Miéville- and Le-Guin-fronted new edition of More’s Utopia. Box Brown’s graphic history of Tetris.

* I love this Oulipoesque writing game from Steve Shaviro, on writing like a pundit.

  1. Every sentence must be a cliche.
  2. There must be no logical or narrative connection among the sentences. Each one must be a complete non sequitur.

Supporting Transgender Students in the Classroom.

Reevaluating Teaching Evaluations.

Can grad students unionize? Academia awaits major labor board ruling.

Univision buys Gawker for $135m, shuts Gawker itself down.

Conservatively, counting just the biggest chunks of staff time that went into it, the prison story cost roughly $350,000. The banner ads that appeared on the article brought in $5,000, give or take. Had we been really in your face with ads, we could have doubled or tripled that figure—but it would have been a pain for you, and still only a drop in the bucket for us.

* Relatedly: Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons. Some immediate effects.

* The new Star Trek distribution model in a global context.

15 Technologies That Were Supposed to Change Education Forever.

* Foundation 124 is out, with a special focus on More’s Utopia.

* I feel this now about a lot of things I read: Why Scott Snyder Doesn’t Write Damian Wayne Much.

Unfortunately, Landis — the director who co-wrote and executive produced Clue — and the studios were completely wrong about there being any box office appeal for a film with three endings. As Lynn explained, “The audience decided they didn’t know which ending to go to, so they didn’t go at all.”

* Meanwhile, from the death of culture.

It was the deadliest massacre of disabled people since World War II. How do we honor the victims if we don’t even know their names? Remembering the Sagamihara 19.

Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing.’

* Something unexpected I learned recently: the practice of giving presidential candidates classified intelligence briefings began in the 1950s with President Truman, who didn’t want his successors coming into office without knowing crucial information (the way he hadn’t known about the Manhattan Project).

* Donald Trump is assembling gathering the Legion of Doom. (The ubiquitous Twitter joke was calling it “the hospice stage.”) Trumpism: first as tragedy, then as farce. The Presidential Debates Will Almost Definitely Exclude Third Parties. Finding Someone Who Can Imitate Donald Trump. Battleground Texas? The short, unhappy life of the Naked Trump statue. #TrumpExplainsMoviePlots.

The GOP’s Chances Of Holding The Senate Are Following Trump Downhill.

* A digital exhibit from the Milwaukee Public Library on the history of race and class in Milwaukee. Milwaukee by the numbers.

hobbiton-google* Frodo’s trip to Mordor as a Google Map. Via Boing Boing.

* Aetna to pull out of the Obamacare markets, apparently for revenge. EpiPen Price Hike Has Parents of Kids With Allergies Scrambling Ahead of School Year.

Diagnoses of 9/11-linked cancers have tripled in less than 3 years.

Why gifted kindergarten is 70 percent white. How schools that obsess about standardized tests ruin them as measures of success.

“Clickbait”-esque titles work for academic papers too.

* Why aren’t there more women in Congress?

* What crime is the robbing of a neighborhood, compared to policing it?

These Researchers Are Using Reddit to Teach a Supercomputer to Talk. In a panic, they try to pull the plug…

The Original Plan for Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four Sounds Completely Amazing.

In addition to Annihilus and the Negative Zone, we had Doctor Doom declaring war against the civilized world, the Mole Man unleashing a 60 foot genetically-engineered monster in downtown Manhattan, a commando raid on the Baxter Foundation, a Saving Private Ryan-style finale pitting our heroes against an army of Doombots in war-torn Latveria, and a post-credit teaser featuring Galactus and the Silver Surfer destroying an entire planet. We had monsters and aliens and Fantasticars and a cute spherical H.E.R.B.I.E. robot that was basically BB-8 two years before BB-8 ever existed. And if you think all of that sounds great…well, yeah, we did, too. The problem was, it would have also been massively, MASSIVELY expensive.

By coincidence, we watched the actual Trank Fantastic Four tonight and I was utterly shocked to see that there was almost a decent movie lurking in there somewhere.

Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered.

The spectacle of mixed gender racing unravels fascistic models of sex/gender difference and sex/gender purity.  Every woman runner competes with the lie that men are faster than women. That fiction can only be maintained by ensuring that men and women never run with each other — when men and women run with each other, they scale down each other’s understanding of their differences. The Life and Murder of Stella Walsh, Intersex Olympic Champion. Capturing Semenya.

The Forgotten Tale of How America Converted Its 1980 Olympic Village Into a Prison.

That time NASA accidentally sold a piece of irreplaceable Apollo history for less than $1,000.

* Nothing gold can stay: The Heidelberg Project is coming down.

* Allow me to recommend the Julia Louis-Dreyfus portion of this episode of the Katie Couric Podcast, where she talks Veep, Hillary Clinton, and Trump. The Al Franken episode is pretty good too.

* This episode of Criminal, on the founder of The Leaky Cauldron’s experience of being cyber-stalked for eight years, is also a really fascinating listen.

* I’m sad about this, but it’s probably time: Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman Announces End of Long-Running Superhero Comic Invincible.

“Distance from center of diagram measures explanatory generality, comprehensive power, & potential banality”

Perhaps, once at a summer barbecue, when both were still alive, Maude grabbed Marge’s hand under the table and held tight.

* Meritocracy and system dysfunction. Meritocracy and system dysfunction and free tuition at public colleges.

* One of the biggest crime waves in America isn’t what you think it is: wage theft.

The race of the police officer doesn’t matter. The race of the mayorimplementing the policy doesn’t matter. What matters is who enjoys a “right to the city” — and who gets thrown up against a wall and patted down.

New Museum Connects History of Slavery to Mass Incarceration.

* Elsewhere at Jacobin: Jacobin vs. Scientology.

* google sugar high truth

Scenes From the Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Airport Shooting That Wasn’t.

* Stranger Things, Parallel Universes, and the State of String Theory. And an interesting proposition from Chuck Rybak: Is the ubiquity of cell phones driving the nostalgia craze in film and TV?

* Please don’t mess this up: Marvel And Hulu Announce Runaways TV Series.

* Or this one either: Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar return for animated Batman movie.

* What killed The Nightly Show?

* When Nixon almost implemented universal basic income.

* Understanding the Harambe meme. Understanding the bees are dying at an alarming rate meme.

* A list of 150+ SF Writers of Asian Descent.

* Terraforming Mars without Nukes.

Gins often said that the reason she and Arakawa made art and architecture was to “construct optimism.” Their whole philosophy began there, in the desire to embrace being alive and to shift their focus away from the certainty of death. Gins made the choice to believe that art, and her work, were strong enough to do that. It was her version of faith, and her work made that faith solid, physical. Her life, like all our lives, was often filled with sadness and difficulty. There were periods of depression, anxiety, sick parents, financial problems, her husband’s illness and death. Through it all, she insisted not just on continuing to live, but on living forever. Trying to build a world where fewer people suffered made her own suffering bearable. A year and a half after Arakawa’s death, Gins recalled in a letter to a friend her struggle to move forward. “Despite my shattered state,” she wrote, “in spite of the gaping hole that had been punched into my optimism, I asserted that nothing is of more interest than to be alive.”

J.K. Rowling announces new Harry Potter short story collections.

* Stop me if you’ve heard this one: In the 136 years scientists have been tracking global temperatures, there has never been a warmer month than this July, according a new NASA report. 

* Arctic Cruises for the Wealthy Could Fuel a Climate Change ‘Feedback Loop’.

* RIP John McLaughlin, who I watched with my father every week for a decade. Bye-bye.

* Dune, as it was always meant to be experienced.

* Feet of clay: Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland vs. the unions.

* Exercise we can believe in: Watching horror films burns nearly 200 calories a time.

* And physicists may have discovered a fifth fundamental force of nature. This is the one that gives people superpowers, I know it.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 19, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Sunday Links and Every Tab Is Closed, Forever and Ever Amen

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Second, and more surprising to me: Most papers simply lacked a soul—a compelling and well-articulated reason to exist.

I’ve noticed, to my bewilderment, the question circulating of whether J. K. Rowling should have agreed to this project. What could be the case against it? That the play could dilute the accomplishment of the original series? That Rowling’s readers might revolt when asked to read a script? That characters and stories best beloved by readers no longer belong to their author?

* Into the Black: Stories of People Getting Out of Debt. Via MeFi.

* Babies Before Tenure?

* The three student loan crises.

* Five years on Skid Row from University of Chicago sociologist Forrest Stuart.

* Off to a great start: Rio officials had to open Olympic Stadium with bolt cutters after losing key. These Are the Actual Costs of the Rio Olympics. The ideology of the Olympics. A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases. With just days to go until the Rio Olympics begin, the AP—which has been testing viral levels since last year—reports water conditions are worse than ever. Inside the Gloria Marina, where the sailing races take place, adenoviruses per liter have jumped more than 42 percent since they first sampled it in March, 2015.

* Burn your money the higher education way.

* Elsewhere in obviously functional organizations: Recent construction of emergency exit near chancellor’s office for security reasons symbolizes closed-off nature of Dirks’ administration.

“As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” Mr. MacConnell, 77, wrote in a letter to the college’s alumni fund in December, when he first warned that he was reducing his support to the college to a token $5.

“We call on the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a thorough examination into the prevailing practices of major American air carriers, including Delta Air Lines, and to develop policy guidelines on the objective factors that are to be considered when determining that a passenger may legally be removed from a flight,” CAIR-Cincinnati attorney Sana Hassan said.

* Clinton’s tuition plan and private colleges.

“Free college” is a moralistic ruse, in other words, used to smuggle in a market logic where it has no place without addressing the core question of exploitative, exorbitant college costs. It treats education like anything else you’d buy in a store, and scolds those who feel otherwise by pretending they want to get something without working for it. There ain’t so such thing as a free lunch, of course: students and the public have amply paid for it already. They’re just not eating.

* Ira Steven Behr has been working on a Deep Space Nine documentary that apparently somehow includes a “notional season eight.” And while we’re at it: Oh, That’s Where Carol Marcus Was During Star Trek Beyond. Rumor of the Day: Star Trek: Discovery to take place before The Original Series?

Roger Ailes Used Fox News Budget to Finance ‘Black Room’ Campaigns Against His Enemies. This story is just going to get more and more incredible as time goes on, I think.

* Seinfeld: “The Twin Towers.” An original spec script.

* Secrets of the Millennials Revealed: They’re Poor.

But in a consumer culture committed to prolonging adolescence at all costs, the boundaries demarcating child and adult experience have blurred to the point that it’s no longer obvious just who is imitating whom. The American state of play is terminally confused. Much of it feels grimly compulsory, and carries with it a whiff of preemptive failure to achieve the target level of revelry.

This Joke Was Off-limits at Donald Trump’s Comedy Central Roast. Who Lies More? The Answer May Surprise You. You Always Hurt the Ones You Love. On Veterans. On Unlikely Voters. The Shrinking Electoral Map. Georgia as Battleground State. Bloodthirstier than Cheney. If President Trump decided to use nukes, he could do it easily. Congressman Proposes Law To Prevent Trump From Being Able To Launch Nukes On His Own. Only in America could proposals to bomb at least three nations and indefinitely occupy another be labeled “isolationism.” Senior GOP Officials Exploring Options if Trump Drops Out. What Happens If Trump Drops Out? If Trump Drops Out, The Result Will Be A Horrible Legal Quagmire. Premediating a Loss. Just 92 More Days in the Bunker. Here’s what an 8% Clinton Lead Looks Like. Trump, or Political Emotions. A Fable, by Teju Cole. Of course there’s more links after the chart.


Anagha Uppal, an activist at the University of Tennessee, describes the meal plan rule as “an exercise in tyranny.” Ms. Uppal has not used her plan — “I don’t purchase from Aramark,” she said between bites of chicken salad in pita (cost: $5.74) at the Golden Roast Coffeehouse. On her laptop: a Food Recovery Network sticker; she’s a campus coordinator for the network, a national student group that fights food waste. It was Ms. Uppal who prodded officials to start the Big Orange Meal Share to let students donate swipes.

* google flossing truth

* Possibilia, or, Love in the Multiverse.

* Why Amish Children Rarely Get Asthma.

* When Exhaustion Became a Status Symbol.

* Travel reimbursement voucher, trip to Moon, July 16-24, 1969.

* Like the blog, my Tumblr has been languishing the last few weeks while I’ve been teaching, but every so often I throw up some gold. I don’t know what else I was expecting. I’m with Her(zog). You have every reason to go on living. The last week of my comics class.

A Radioactive Cold War Military Base Will Soon Emerge From Greenland’s Melting Ice.

Perhaps our billboards are the civic sludge, the highway litter, of America’s ambitions and aspirations — literally writ large.

* A Brief Publishing History of Game of Thrones.

* Tolkien: The Lost Recordings.

* On La Jetée.

* Quantum Computing, Getting Closer.

Crows Continue to Be Terrifyingly Intelligent.

A new report from Zillow estimates that with a six-foot sea level rise, “almost 1.9 million homes (or roughly 2 percent of all U.S. homes) – worth a combined $882 billion – are at risk of being underwater by 2100.”

Five years after the tsunami that killed tens of thousands in Japan, a husband still searches the sea for his wife, joined by a father hoping to find his daughter.

What’s Wrong With the DC Comics Movie Franchise? Report: Warner Bros. Turned Suicide Squad Into a Mess in Its Panic Over BvS Criticism.

* …it increasingly makes less and less sense to divorce or sequester games from other forms of cultural study or to think that videogames are so unique that game studies requires its own critical modality. The function of video game criticism.

* The end of sex.

* Men, am I right. Marriage, men, and alcohol.

* The “biological mystery” of the female orgasm.

Last year, though, the National Institutes of Health banned funding of animal-human chimeras until it could figure out whether any of this work would bump against ethical boundaries. Like: Could brain scientists endow research animals with human cognitive abilities, or even consciousness, while transplanting human stem cells into the brain of a developing animal embryo? Would it be morally wrong to create animals with human feet, hands, or a face in order to study human morphology? Modern medicine thinks before it acts. SMASH CUT TO: After a nearly year-long ban…

Life in the city without cops or firefighters would be unpleasant and, inevitably, tragic. But, she notes, “if sanitation workers aren’t out there, the city becomes unlivable, fast.”

* Malcolm Harris reviews The Last Days of New Paris.

Head shots of all of the ways US intelligence thought Hitler might try to disguise himself.

In Super Mario Galaxy, whenever Mario drowns in a swamp, his hand reaches out from under the surface before being sucked in. However, since Mario’s head is so big, he cannot raise his hand above the surface without his head being still visible. To solve this, the game simply shrinks Mario’s head so it doesn’t interfere with the animation.

* How Bill Cosby Finally Landed in a Courtroom.

The Blackest Superhero Story That Marvel Comics Ever Published.

* Everything is not fine.

* And Wisconsin, once again in the news.


Written by gerrycanavan

August 7, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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