Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘trauma

The Terrible Serenity of a Browser with Every Tab Closed

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What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum? The barbarians are due here today.

We Reversed Our Declining English Enrollments. Here’s How.

* CFP: Exhaustion: Tired Bodies, Tired Worlds. Graduate conference at the Department of English, University of Chicago, this November.

* When machine learning is astonishing – I collected some highlights from a paper on algorithmic creativity. Great Twitter thread.

* Butler Mons honours Octavia E. Butler, the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur fellowship, and whose Xenogenesis trilogy describes humankind’s departure from Earth and subsequent return. And on the second season finale of Levar Burton reads: “Childfinder.”

‘Describe Yourself Like a Male Author Would’ Is the Most Savage Twitter Thread in Ages.

* The Prequel Boom.

Climate Change, Revolution And ‘New York 2140.’

* Dic Lit.

* Dictators are always afraid of poets. This seems kind of weird to a lot of Americans to whom poets are not political beings, but it doesn’t seem a bit weird in South America or in any dictatorship, really.

* Post-Soviet science fiction and the war in Ukraine.

* Eighty Years of the Futurians’ Vision.

* A Radical Idea about Adjuncting.

* I didn’t really understand how unjust the academic system was for career advancement for women until I had children. What It’s Like to Be a Woman in the Academy.

* The 2018 Hugo Finalists.

* Teach the controversy, Hell edition.

What It’s Like to Watch Isle of Dogs As a Japanese Speaker. Orientalism Is Alive And Well In American Cinema.

* Junot Díaz on the legacy of childhood trauma.

* The Breakfast Club in the age of #MeToo.

* Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is not a video-game-centered dystopian teen adventure but a horror film, a movie of spiritual zombies whose souls have been consumed by the makers of generations of official cultural product and regurgitated in the form of pop nostalgia. The movie, framed as a story of resistance to corporate tyranny, is actually a tale of tyranny perpetuated by a cheerfully totalitarian predator who indoctrinates his victims by amusing them to death—and the movie’s stifled horror is doubled by Spielberg’s obliviousness to it.

Milwaukee students of color say it’s time to talk about the school-to-prison pipeline.

* A Syrian man has been trapped in a Malaysian airport for 37 days.

The Fog of War and the Case for Knee-jerk Anti-Interventionism.

15 Years. More Than 1 Million Dead. No One Held Responsible.

* America should just stop all bombing.

* ‘Star Wars’ and the Fantasy of American Violence.

* Justice Dept. to halt legal-advice program for immigrants in detention. Amid deportations, those in U.S. without authorization shy away from medical care. ICE Won’t Deport the Last Nazi War Criminal in America.

* This proposal, requiring worker seats on corporate boards, is commonly referred to as “codetermination.” A number of European countries require worker representatives to be included in corporate boards, or for councils of workers to be consulted in appointing board members. The emerging plan to save the American labor movement.

* Liberals and the strike.

* Eviction in America.

* There is no humane border regime, just as there is no humane abortion ban. The border will always tear parents from children, carers from charges, longtime residents from the only communities they’ve ever known. It may do it faster or slower, with ostentatious brutality or bureaucratic drag, but it will always do it. Trump is gambling that Americans will embrace the brutal version, as they’ve done so many times in the past. If they do, will we be enough to stop them? Liberals constantly rediscover the violence at the heart of their politics, but can never learn a thing from it.

* Zombie liberalism.

* When an algorithm cuts your health care.

How the American economy conspires to keep wages down.

* Nice work if you can get it.

* Uncle Sam’s largest asset.

Universities Use the Specter of ICE to Try to Scare Foreign Grad Students Away From Unionizing.

Why Your Advice for Ph.D.s Leaving Academe Might Be Making Things Worse.

* King Of Kong’s Billy Mitchell has been stripped of all his high scores, banned from competitive gaming.

* The definitive explanation of why Bitcoin is stupid.

* The new debt colonies.

* Faces of Auschwitz.

* Wisconsin in the news: Suspected White Supremacist Died Building ISIS-Style Bombs.

* I predicted this: Apple orders its most ambitious TV series yet: An adaptation of Asimov’s Foundation.

* More than half your body is not human.

* Learning styles as a myth.

* Stan Lee needs a hero. Sounds like the sooner the better.

* Neanderthals cared for each other and survived into old age.

* Star Wars is RUINED.

* The oceans’ circulation hasn’t been this sluggish in 1,000 years. That’s bad news. Dangerous climate tipping point is ‘about a century ahead of schedule’ warns scientist. Greenland Ice Sheet is Melting at its Fastest Rate in 400 years.

The greatest environmentalist of postwar America wasn’t a scientist or a wonk. He didn’t even finish high school.

* Atheism and the alt-right.

* Amazon and/against Tolkien.

Tony Gilroy on ‘Rogue One’ Reshoots: They Were in “Terrible Trouble.”

* Catholic Colleges and Basketball.

* A people’s history of the Undertaker.

* John Carpenter: The First Fifteen Years.

* Only young people do revolutionary mathematics.

* Political correctness strikes again! MIT cuts ties with company promising to provide digital immortality after killing you.

The Working Person’s Guide to the Industry That Might Kill Your Company.

* I was going to watch it anyway, but: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2 Casts Tig Notaro.

* A Jar, a Blouse, a Letter: The story of Julia Kristeva.

Facebook is unfixable. We need a nonprofit, public-spirited replacement. Mark Zuckerberg’s 15-year apology tour.

Why several trainloads of New Yorkers’ poop has been stranded for months in Alabama.

Unusual forms of ‘nightmare’ antibiotic-resistant bacteria detected in 27 states.

* The best news I’ve heard in years: Fireball Island is coming back.

* That’s a relief! Don’t worry, the US would win a nuclear war with Russia.

* And no one’s hands are clean.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 14, 2018 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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All Your Friday Links!

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* The itself.blog Star Trek: Discovery event is underway! Star Trek: Discovery Is Optimism, But Not for Us. “Can you bury your heart”? Having feelings about Discovery. Star Trek: Discovery as the End of Next Generation Triumphalism.

* CFP: Activist Speculation and Visionary Fiction (MLA 19).

* Jaimee Hills is officially a dangerous woman.

* The Male Glance.

* The university in ruins: UW Stevens Point. The administration clearly doesn’t even understand what it’s proposing:

When releasing the plan, university officials said that English majors for teacher certification would continue. But Williams said that under the state Department of Public Instruction’s certification criteria, a person looking to become an English teacher has to have been an English major.

“They just both have to exist, or both have to be eliminated,” Williams said. “One depends directly on the other.”

Professors earn about 15 percent less than others with advanced degrees, finds a study circulated Tuesday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Though perhaps some of us make it up in job satisfaction (really).

* It’s gotten so bad in the humanities even the Yale grads don’t get jobs handed to them as soon as they graduate.

Why Creative-Writing Programs Have Been Havens for Harassment.

It has taken me two and a half decades to recognize that my experience of having a senior male nominal adviser and a female (usually more junior) actual adviser is common throughout academe. On Ghost Advising.

* Abusers and enablers in faculty culture.

* 5% raises in West Virginia. Onward to Oklahoma.

* Marquette vs. Trauma.

Snowflake students claim Frankenstein’s monster was ‘misunderstood’ — and is in fact a VICTIM.

On the Blackness of the Panther.

* Loved this from Barbara Ehrenreich: Body Work: The curiously self-punishing rites of fitness culture.

If anything, the culture of fitness has grown more combative than when I first got involved. It is no longer enough to “have a good workout,” as the receptionist at the gym advises every day; you should “crush your workout.” Health and strength are tedious goals compared to my gym’s new theme of “explosive strength,” achieved, as far I can see, through repeated whole-body swinging of a kettleball. If your gym isn’t sufficiently challenging, you might want to try an “ultra-extreme warrior workout” or buy a “home fitness system” from P90X, which in 2016 tweeted a poster of an ultra-cut male upper body, head bowed as if in prayer, with the caption “A moment of silence please for my body has no idea of what I’m about to put it through.” Or you could join CrossFit, the fastest-growing type of gym in the world, and also allegedly the most physically punishing. The program “prepares trainees for any physical contingency,” the company boasts, “not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable, too. Our specialty is not specializing,” and the latter category includes the zombie apocalypse. The mind’s stuggle for mastery over the body has become a kind of mortal combat.

* Too big to tax.

In this economy you’re either burned out, or you’re boxed out.

* The Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie And Brutally Beat People — And Still Keep Their Jobs.

A prosecutor who obtained a wrongful conviction that sent a Houston man to death row for nearly 10 years didn’t just withhold evidence but also denied under oath that he had information that supported Alfred Dewayne Brown’s alibi, court records show.

* Twilight of the cult film.

Could Trump get a White House job if he weren’t president? Didn’t we already know Trump couldn’t get a loan before he was president?

Beware Liberal-Baiting “White House in Chaos” Stories. Trump’s Position Is As Solid As It’s Ever Been.

* Gratuitous cruelty by Homeland Security. Lying to the immigrant soldiers you promised citizenship.

A Dozen Democrats Want To Help Banks Hide Racial Discrimination In Mortgages.

Guess Who’s Not Coming To America? International Students.

* Kobe Steel’s Chief to Step Down as It Discloses Wider Quality Problems Fifty-Year Conspiracy to Defraud Customers.

* Toddler feelings helpline.

— If you still feel pretty messed up about how they were just going to burn the Velveteen Rabbit, please mash all of the keys but mostly 2.

* White flight remains a reality.

* Liberate our schools.

‘50 or 60. If I get lucky maybe 150.’

* The grim reality of job hunting in the age of AI.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe only really makes sense when you remember Captain America is a trans man.

Wait, what exactly was Luke Skywalker’s plan in Return Of The Jedi?

* The opioid crisis has become an “epidemic of epidemics.” Meanwhile, a new study suggests opioids are no better than Tylenol for treating some kinds of pain.

* Kentucky’s ‘child bride’ bill stalls as groups fight to let 13-year-olds wed.

* U.N. Report On Magical Realism Warns Of Increased Incidences Of Women’s Tears Flooding The Entire World.

False news stories travel faster and farther on Twitter than the truth.

* There’s no idea so terrible there isn’t someone in favor of it.

York University philosophy professor and team submit brief supporting chimpanzee personhood.

* Ok, but you’re on a very short leash.

Her name was Kanga and she was trouble.

* I Am the Very Important Longread Everyone Is Talking About.

* The United States of Middle-earth.

* Understanding Fight Club.

* And the arc of history is long, but.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 9, 2018 at 11:39 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Wednesday Links!

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* The end of UW: Gov. Scott Walker to propose 13 percent cut, more freedom for UW System. UW System predicts layoffs, no campus closings under budget cuts. Layoffs, Building Closures, Slowdown on Admissions. But “few details.”

* But there’s always money in the banana stand.

In praise of zombies. A response to yesterday’s anti-Canavanist IHE polemic.

Giving students access to an important, brilliant, historically significant corpus of art seems to be an entirely appropriate activity for the undergraduate classroom at a university. After you have taken a Zombie Course, you may discover you have actually just taken a Great Books (or in the case of Ware, a Great Box) course without realizing it, and you may also decide that any Great Books course worthy of its name cannot afford to ignore the recent surge of brilliant zombie art. If anything, we need more Zombie Courses than we have, and one hopes — in time — even full-blown Zombie Majors (or at the least Zombie Double-Majors).

* Multiple Choice and Testing Machines: A History.

“What I would say about the university today,” he says, “is that we’re living through an absolutely historic moment – namely the effective end of universities as centres of humane critique, an almost complete capitulation to the philistine and sometimes barbaric values of neo-capitalism.”

* National Adjunct Walkout Day is coming soon.

Higher Education Is Not a Mixtape.

The Climate Science Behind New England’s Historic Blizzard. Massive Blizzard Exposes How Decrepit New York City’s Infrastructure Is.

All Our Grievances Are Connected.

* How the Left Won Greece.

* Forget immoral; the latest legal challenge to Obamacare is still nonsense.

Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait Takes On the Entire Internet. It’s a terrible op-ed that makes an important point badly in the midst of saying a bunch of incorrect things, all in the service of a fundamentally bad framing — so of course it’s all we can talk about.

To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients.

It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step.

* Associate Dean of What?

Drone, Too Small for Radar to Detect, Rattles the White House.

Defending those accused of unthinkable crimes.

* One aspect of that danger is the “abstract authority” of astrologers, now mirrored by the black-box algorithms of the cloud. The opacity of the analytic method lends forecasts their appearance of authoritative objectivity. In “Astrological Forecasts”, Adorno notes “the mechanics of the astrological system are never divulged and the readers are presented only with the alleged results of astrological reasoning.” “Treated as impersonal and thing-like,” stars appear “entirely abstract, unapproachable, and anonymous” and thus more objective than mere fallible human reason. Similarly, as Kate Crawford pointed out in an essay about fitness trackers for the Atlantic, “analytics companies aren’t required to reveal which data sets they are using and how they are being analyzed.” The inaccessible logic of their proprietary algorithms is imposed on us, and their inscrutability masquerades as proof of their objectivity. As Crawford argues, “Prioritizing data—irregular, unreliable data—over human reporting, means putting power in the hands of an algorithm.” As Adorno puts it, “The cult of God has been replaced by the cult of facts.” 

* America and fractal inequality.

100% of the women of color interviewed in STEM study experienced gender bias.

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography of Important Recent Studies.

* Reasons You Were Not Promoted That Are Totally Unrelated to Gender.

Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade.

* Marissa Alexander is out of jail after three years.

What has happened before will happen again, subprime auto edition.

Huckabee Complains That Women Can Cuss In The Workplace: ‘That’s Just Trashy.’

Oklahoma GOP wants to restrict marriage to people of faith.

* Corey Robin, against public intellectuals.

* I linked to a story about this the other day, but here’s the resolution: Vanderbilt Football Players Found Guilty of Raping Unconscious Student. Of course the next horrifying story in this wretched, endless series is already queued up.

* American Sniper focuses in tight on one man’s story of trauma, leaving out the complex questions of why Kyle was in Iraq being traumatized in the first place. The Iraqis in the film are villains, caricatures, and targets, and the only real opinion on them the film offers is Kyle’s. The Iraqis are all “savages” who threaten American lives and need to be killed. There’s some truth in this representation, insofar as this is how a lot of American soldiers thought. Yet the film obviates the questions of why any American soldiers were in Iraq, why they stayed there for eight years, why they had to kill thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians, and how we are to understand the long and ongoing bloodbath once called the “war on terror.” It does that precisely by turning a killer into a victim, a war hero into a trauma hero.

Freakishly Old System Of Planets Hint At Ancient Alien Civilizations. Okay, I’m in for three films with an option on a television reboot.

* Vulture says Jason Segel is good as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, but I’ll never accept it.

The Psychology of Flow: What Game Design Reveals about the Deliberate Tensions of Great Writing.

The Politics Of The Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?

* It’s finally happening, and of course it’s starting in Florida: ‘Zombie cat’ crawls out of grave.

* And while this may be of interest only to those whose children have made them watch untold hours of Dora the Explorer, it’s certainly of interest to me: Swiper the Fox has a totally bananas backstory.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

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‘Terror and Mismemory’: On 9/11

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Like the Normandy Invasion, like World War II, as time passes 9/11 is increasingly figured as a lost, Utopian past, a perverse sort of Golden Age which in the same singular instant is both forever lost and always just around the corner.

Several years ago I wrote an article about 9/11 for a book that, due to the whirling speed of academic publishing, is only just now coming out: Portraying 9/11: Essays on Representations in Comics, Literature, Film and Theatre. My piece for the book is titled “Terror and Mismemory: Resignifying September 11 in World Trade Center and United 93” and is about the way the trauma of 9/11 has been reimagined by film and journalistic retrospectives as “a permanent state of emergency from which there is no possible relief or escape.” Instead of allowing time to progress forward, we simply replay the tape over and over again, stuck in the single moment when the Towers were still on fire but before they collapsed.

After discussing briefly my own memories of 9/11, including the myriad reports of phantom attacks from that morning that are now no longer discussed and the long list of “possible” attacks in news reports since then that have similarly never happened, the piece concludes like this:

This feeling of permanent, unmitigated existential threat has begun at last to dissipate, but it has never really left us — a temporal loop caused by that day’s repeated reconsumption as spectacle. Though the attacks lasted only a few hours on one very devastating morning, on the level of spectacle they remain ongoing and unending. This is perhaps one reason why Freedom Tower, the new office complex and memorial long scheduled to be built on the ruins of Ground Zero, has for so long remained unbuilt and perhaps in some real sense unbuildable. We have been frozen in time, unable to move on.

I have never felt this more than I did after opening Twitter and my RSS reader this morning to discover a ubiquitous wall of chatter about 9/11. @ibogost sums it up in a single evocative phrase: “The sad exhaustion of an event named to repeat itself forever.”

Adam Kotsko makes much the same point from a different direction in a blog post he put up last night, “An Isolated Incident: Or, The Day Nothing Changed.” While I disagree in an important sense with Adam’s major conclusion — I do believe 9/11 makes a turning point in the breakdown of the rule of law in the U.S., as well as the attitude of the U.S. towards imperial exercise of its military superpower — I agree with him in nearly all the particulars. 9/11 was a trauma, not a new reality. Constantly reliving that trauma, constantly re-experiencing it over and over to the point where it becomes a strange sort of macabre celebration, is not helping anybody. We need to move on.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2011 at 10:32 am

On Celebrations

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While there’s undeniably something uncomfortable in scenes of jubilation and celebration following the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden—which, of course, will not return a single person back to life—I do think we have to remember that many of the young people who are making up these crowds were very young children on 9/11/2001. (A 21-year-old was eleven on 9/11; an 18-year-old was eight.) Teaching teenagers the last few years in classes titled “The Imagination of Disaster” and “Apocalypse Soon” has made extremely clear to me how vivid their memories of 9/11 are, and how real their fears from that day remain for them. To them it’s a little bit like Obama killed the devil. I don’t feel any urge to dance in the streets, but I’ve read enough of their essays over the last few years to understand why they do.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 2, 2011 at 1:46 am

Sunday Night

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* On the strength of “Plastic Bag” and “Play,” it’s clear that Futurestates is the Twilight Zone of March 2010. Looking forward to having time to watch the rest.

* Indiana Threatened By Giant Poop Bubbles. Stay safe, Hoosiers.

* The most depressing thing you’ll read tonight: A Harvard undergraduate is sick and tired of all this useless diversity. Americans of color have undoubtedly done some things of note, but their “encounters” and “experiences” are not of paramount importance to a university education. The ethnic studies movement is motivated by an attempt to direct more attention to a topic that deserves no more attention than it already gets, and probably a good deal less. Other similarly useless departments, like Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality serve similar purposes—no one would deny that Macbeth’s wife is an interesting study in the construction of femininity, but such occasional instances of relevance do not justify an entire academic field.

* Game of the night: Splitter.

* And there’s nothing that can go wrong with you that Tetris can’t cure.