Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘United Nations

Liiiiiiiiinks

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* frieze asked me to write them an end-of-decade reflection on franchise culture, so here it is: “Disney’s Endgame: How the Franchise Came to Rule Cinema.” It bounces off the Scorsese brouhaha, but with an eye towards what I see as the key problematic there (monopoly), as opposed to fretting about spectacle or sequels as such. Check it out!

* Had an amazing time doing the keynote at the UC Speculative Futures Collective Symposium on Speculative Futures and Education this week. Look for more from this group soon!

* I was also on the Gribcast podcast talking about Parable of the Talents, something we’d planned for nearly a year before finally making it happen.

* I was elected president of the Science Fiction Research Association last week, too. It’s been weird!

* CFP: Ecopedagogies for the Anthropocene. CFP: Midwestern Science Fiction and Fantasy. CFP: AU: Alternate University.

* The agrocapitalist sublime: The first map of America’s food supply chain is mind-boggling.

These 8 Men Have As Much Money As Half The World.

* Ken Liu in the Times: How Chinese Sci-Fi Conquered America. The China Science Fiction Research Institute.

* ASAP Journal has a cluster on Latinx SF.

Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in. Come for the SF-fueled theory, stay for the celebration of Mark Fisher…

* Now, novelty is to be found in the refusal of communicative capitalism’s false promises of smoothness. If the nineties were defined by the loop (the ‘good’ infinity of the seamlessly looped breakbeat, Goldie’s “Timeless”), then the 21st century is perhaps best captured in the ‘bad’ infinity of the animated GIF, with its stuttering, frustrated temporality, its eerie sense of being caught in a time-trap.

* The humanities in ruins.

My university is dying. And soon yours will be too. The end of Title IX. The other college debt crisis: Schools are going broke. Academe as the Dystopian Workplace. My god, UNC. One of the smartest and most prescient things I’ve read about current higher education was written in 1974, by the great education editor Fred Hechinger, who predicted splitting aid by income would create a “class war over tuition.” -22.8% per student, inflation adjusted. As Universities See State Funding Threatened, Will They Be Less Outspoken About Climate Change? A strike at Harvard. I told my mentor I was a dominatrix.

* 63 Up.

* Are podcasts a disaster waiting to happen?

Was ‘Oumuamua a cosmic dust bunny?

* Farming and the United Federation of Planets.

Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against. Nine climate tipping points now ‘active,’ warn scientists. A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday. ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks. Global Warming Prediction Sounds Alarm for Climate Fight. Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Irreversible Change. Even 50-year-old climate models correctly predicted global warming. I decided to do a bit of a close read of one particular part of a 1965 report sent to Lyndon Johnson, on atmospheric carbon dioxide. Because I hate myself, you see.

‘It is raining plastic’: Microplastics found in Colorado rainwater. US may face French fry shortage due to poor potato crop: report. Forget ‘developing’ poor countries, it’s time to ‘de-develop’ rich countries. California bans insurers from dropping policies in wildfire zones. Will Buffalo become a climate change haven? Meet Julian Brave NoiseCat – the 26-year-old shaping US climate policy. Exxon and the carbon tax. And what could possibly go wrong? This Bill Gates-funded chemical cloud could help stop global warming. The Failure of the Adults.

* Indict Jair Bolsonaro over indigenous rights, international court is urged.

Border Patrol threw away migrants’ belongings. A janitor saved and photographed them.

* ICE set up a fake university, then arrested 250 people granted student visas. Truly the worst of these cases I’ve seen, no public good rationale whatsoever.

* This gets reported every few months as if it were new or shocking information: DHS never had technology needed to track separated migrant kids.

Inside the Cell Where a Sick 16-Year-Old Boy Died in Border Patrol Care.

* Today in the Forever War.

How “people of color” evolved from a gesture of solidarity and respect to a cover for avoiding the complexities of race.

A staggering one-in-three women, experience physical, sexual abuse.

What is going on? Fears of school shootings hit eight Wisconsin high schools in three days.

* Wisconsin Republicans can completely transform the state’s system of governance on the fly, but the Foxconn deal is sacred writ now and forever.

Trump’s Turkey Corruption Is Way Worse Than You Realize. I predicted Trump would win in 2016 — and I’m predicting the same for 2020. Here’s why liberals don’t understand what he represents. How Trump could lose by 5 million votes and still win in 2020. And it will always get worse: Trump Tells Allies He Wants Absolved War Criminals to Campaign for Him.

If you want to beat Trump, be honest about Biden.

* McKinsey in the news!

* Waiting for Obama. Let’s hang ourselves. The Real Barack Obama Has Finally Revealed Himself.

* Anthony Weiner and the butterfly effect.

* The case for Bernie Sanders.

* ‘A distinctly American phenomenon’: Our workforce is dying faster than any other wealthy country, study shows. It’s Not Just Poor White People Driving a Decline in Life Expectancy. Income inequality in America is the highest it’s been since Census Bureau started tracking it, data shows. Unemployment is low only because ‘involuntary’ part-time work is high. Nearly 700,000 SNAP Recipients Could Lose Benefits Under New Trump Rule. In a small Vermont city: heroin, bullets, and empathy.

* Why Rent Control Works. Highways Give Way to Homes as Cities Rebuild. Against self-driving cars. Today’s Socialist Revival Began on the Streets of Seattle 20 Years Ago. Welcome to the Global Rebellion Against Neoliberalism. Even rich kids need free college.

Millennials weren’t the only ones gutted by the recession. Gen X has never recovered.

* True crime: Indiana manipulated report on Amazon worker’s death to lure HQ2, investigation says. Google fires four employees at center of worker organization efforts. Away’s founders sold a vision of travel and inclusion, but former employees say it masked a toxic work environment. Uber Office Had Separate Bathrooms for Drivers and ‘Employees.’ Uber’s new loan program could trap drivers in cycles of crushing debt. Uber Says 3,045 Sexual Assaults Were Reported in U.S. Rides Last Year.

* “Nearly every Revver who spoke with The Verge said they were exposed to graphic or troubling material on multiple occasions with no warning. This includes recordings of physical and verbal abuse between intimate partners, graphic descriptions of sexual assault, amateur porn, violent footage from police body cameras, a transphobic rant, and, in one instance, “a breast augmentation filmed by a physician’s cell phone, being performed on a patient who was under sedation.” Transcribers for the gig economy service Rev hate the recently slashed rates, but the disturbing content they deal with is even worse.

Watched “The Irishman” and wondered, hey, what happened to those Teamsters pension funds in the end? Turns out that once Rudy Giuliani made a big splash getting the mob out, he handed management over to Wall Street with no oversight, and they wrecked it.

* The final word on should you go to grad school, from 1987.

* But his bosses didn’t like him, so they shot him into space.

* Starlink vs. the stars. Even more here!

Airlines damage or lose an average of 26 wheelchairs a day, report finds.

* What happens after you abandon an entire amusement park?

* You can’t have it both ways.

* This stabs me twice.

* Give it up for Tom Gauld.

* This is a mistake and we should not accept it.

* New book claims Albert Camus was murdered by the KGB.

* The color of the year is… blue. Just — blue.

* Wish I’d been quicker on the blogging trigger to include this Thanksgiving classic in time for the holiday.

* Pretty sick dude. The prequels were close to a good story. I did stand-up last night as “1990s Jerry Seinfeld Doing Bits About His 17-Year-Old Girlfriend.” It Happened to Me: Sinclair Bought My Hometown News Channel and Now It’s Deranged. Bleakest shit I’ve ever seen. The Fire Was Good, Actually. That’s good content. That’s my secret. Inigo Montoya’s Guide to Networking Success. The self care serial killer. Every city has a “guy” they all know about. Give me fucking strength.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s Pizza Hut Thanksgiving Miracle.

* Why Elsa from Frozen is a queer icon — and why Disney won’t embrace that idea.

* The Incendiary Aims of HBO’s Watchmen. HBO’s Watchmen Reveal Unmasks Homophobia and Fetishization. Move over, Joker – it’s time for the OG Superman.

* So the new Ghostbusters sequel follows in the classic franchise legacy mold and is about the original generation of Ghostbusters failing to prevent a disaster that destroyed New York. I really feel like our culture needs some therapy.

* Hands down one of the worst living Americans, virtual lock he’ll be president someday.

* I too can’t wait for December 20th.

* Mark Z. Danielewski drops three new House Of Leaves teleplays, is definitely up to something.

In 1969, a group of boys played a Thanksgiving football game. 50 years later, they’re still at it.

* “There Is An Entity That Cannot Be Defeated”: Former Go champion beaten by DeepMind retires after declaring AI invincible.

* And rest in peace, D.C. Fontana. There’s almost no one more directly responsible for what Star Trek became than her.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 6, 2019 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Surprise! Tuesday Night Links!

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* CPF: JOSF Special Issue on Disability Studies. CFP: Walking in Other Worlds: Fantastical Journeys of Children’s Agency. Enter for the Nine Dots Prize and Win $100,000 and a Book Deal. io9 Wants Your Short Fiction on the Future of Death.

* Job alert! Assistant Professor, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy Lit.

* SFFTV 11.3 is here, with a special section on Orphan Black!

* What Makes The Good Place So Good? The Good Place and Prison Abolition.

A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon.

* Decanonizing R. Crumb.

* The Sokal hoax squared. Trumpeted to the skies by exactly the sort of people you’d expect, we’re stuck with this silliness for the next twenty years despite the fact that it proves absolutely nothing about anything.

Banksy painting shreds itself moments after being sold for $1.4 million at London auction.

The UN report envisions 116 scenarios in which global temperatures are prevented from rising more than 2°C. In 101 of them, that goal is accomplished by sucking massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—a concept called “negative emissions”—chiefly via BECCS. And in these scenarios to prevent planetary disaster, this would need to happen by midcentury, or even as soon as 2020. Like a pharmaceutical warning label, one footnote warned that such “methods may carry side effects and long-term consequences on a global scale.”… Today that vast future sector of the economy amounts to one working project in the world: a repurposed corn ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois. Which raises a question: Has the world come to rely on an imaginary technology to save it?

* Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100. Unbelievably, we have leapfrogged from “climate change doesn’t exist” to “it’s so bad there’s nothing we can do about it” without spending even an instant in the middle.

The Unequal Burden of Climate Change. Marx and the Two Crises in New York 2140. Why Growth Can’t Be Green. How San Francisco rebuilds its beaches every year to make you think San Francisco still has beaches. Geoengineering is inevitable.

Seven endangered species that could (almost) fit in a single train carriage.

* The suffocation of democracy.

* The president sure did some crimes.

* How Will Police Solve Murders on Mars?

* And how will they solve securities fraud?

* KSR: The Daring Journey Across Antarctica That Became a Nightmare.

The Bosses’ Constitution: How and why the First Amendment became a weapon for the right.

NC’s Rev. William Barber wins a MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ and its $625K prize. Kelly Link, too!

The Banality of Brett Kavanaugh. Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding. The Things Males Do for Other Men. Brett Kavanaugh Is A Poster Child For The American Aristocracy. Kavanaugh and Trump are part of a larger crisis of elite accountability in America. The SeaWorld Case. The Stolen Memos. A Sham. The High Court Brought Low. The Judge From Central Casting. The Unbearable Dishonesty of Brett Kavanaugh. The Supreme Court Is Headed Back to the 19th Century. In Defense of Court-Packing.

A new authoritarian axis demands an international progressive front.

Canceling Student Debt Would Stimulate the Economy—and Voter Turnout.

Underwater Yet Again, the Carolinas Face a New Reality. Climate Change Wrought Hurricane Florence, This Freak of Nature. Millions of Chickens Have Drowned in Florence’s Floodwaters. Poop. Most of Florence’s victims have died in vehicles, on the road during the storm. For small-town Carolinians, the question isn’t when they’ll rebuild — but whether they will at all. Nearly One Month After Hurricane Florence, This Campus Is Still Picking Up the Pieces. Hurricanes as unveiling. The unequal distribution of catastrophe.

Puerto Rico Has Not Recovered From Hurricane Maria.

* Mike Davis, The Last Man to Know Everything.

* Deaf, disabled Detroit immigrant in US for 34 years faces deportation. Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever. U.S. Loses Track of Another 1,500 Migrant Children, Investigators Find. Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City. The US Claims It Has A Database To Track Immigrant Kids And Parents. But No One Will Talk About It. ICE arrested undocumented immigrants who came forward to take in undocumented children. Judge’s ruling may force Kansas Army officer’s adopted Korean daughter to leave US.  ICE Agents Arrested Miami Dad After They Found His Lost Wallet, Family Says. A 2-Year-Old’s Day in Immigration Court.

Mr. Weiner, who is married with four children, rebuts the claim. But he acknowledges that he was not a perfect boss. “I’m sad that I might have caused people anguish in the job, or made people unhappy,” he said. “Might have? I did.”

* Somewhere near the bottom of the Star Trek hope-dread hype cycle, but here you go.

* On the plus side, I’m near the top of the Twilight Zone hype cycle.

* Put her in charge. Rules are rules.

How Oregon Trail Took Over the World.

* The short, unhappy careers of NFL place-kickers.

I stopped writing when we saw the new, bad MRI. Rob Delaney on the loss of his two-year-old son, Henry, to cancer.

Geological time versus capitalist time.

The Radical Dissent of Helen Keller.

The Woman Who Made Aquaman a Star.

‘I Work 3 Jobs And Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills.’ This Is What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in America.

* The Case for Unionizing Comedy.

Weeks after opening near San Diego, a model town for treating dementia is set to be replicated around the U.S.

In 2000, a Haitan American man named Patrick Dorismond was standing outside a bar in midtown Manhattan.

“The comic book industry is made up of freelancers. I think a lot of readers don’t understand the extent of that reality,” Cain says. “Certainly any comic book by Marvel or DC, those are the work of freelancers: Colorists, inkers, pencilers, letterers, cover artists, and writers. The editors work for the company. The freelancers don’t. Maybe some of them have exclusive contracts, which means that they get a little bit more money per page, and absolutely no benefits or protections, plus they don’t get to work for anyone else — but basically, every comic you pick up has been made by someone without health insurance. But these freelancers are still expected to behave like employees. They are told what to say and when to say it… I’ve said it before, but this whole industry is a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s astonishing.”

On Outgrowing David Foster Wallace.

* On raising a non-neurotypical child.

The film’s real heroes are the people, the modern Levellers and Diggers—the gravediggers of capitalism. Robin D. G. Kelley on the greatness of Sorry to Bother You.

* Rick and Morty and the Damaged American Male.

* I’m here only to present the facts.

The Love Song Of Dril And The Boys.

* Breaking: you just can’t win. Everything you know about obesity is wrong.

* Today in our total surveillance dystopia.

* You’re Probably Not Getting That Loan Forgiveness You’re Counting On: Out of almost 30,000 people who applied for a forgiveness program, just 96—less than 1 percent—had their debt erased. And it gets worse.

How I Quit Drinking in a World That Wants Me Drunk.

* From the Archives: the Dungeons and Dragons Epic Level Handbook.

* Of course you had me at Scuba Diving Magazine’s 2018 Underwater Photo Contest Winners. These are really, really good.

* And honestly I think we just can’t accept any visitors right now. We’ve got a lot going on.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 9, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Happy Trumpsgiving

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* From our family to yours, now more than ever: a Thanksgiving prayer.

Turkeys Are a Nightmare from Which We Are Struggling to Awake.

* How Donald Trump Ruined Thanksgiving.

* The CFP for the Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference is up: Asymmetry.

* More scenes from the end of the university.

Science fiction triggers ‘poorer reading’, study finds.

By providing the working class with the absolute bare minimum, universal basic income becomes doomsday prep for the tech billionaire.

ICE Says It Separated Immigrant Father From Infant Son Because He Couldn’t Prove Relationship. New York couple set to be deported to different countries, tearing apart family before Thanksgiving. DACA Twins Are Spending Thanksgiving Fighting Their Parents’ Deportation. ICE officials have invited tech companies, including Microsoft, to develop algorithms that will track visa holders’ social media activity.

* As metaphors go, this is a little on the nose.

* “By 2040, about 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states.” That means 30% of the country will have more than a supermajority in the Senate.

The Dam of Congressional Sexual-Harassment Claims Cracks Open.  Two more Franken accusers emerge. Democrats are facing an important test with Al Franken. They’ve failed it before. ‘You’ll never work again’: women tell how sexual harassment broke their careers. How Our Broken Justice System Led to a Sexual Harassment Crisis. How rape culture makes women poorer. I find the cognitive dissonance required to process what was done to that U.S. gymnastics team in the moment of their assent to global fame almost too much to bear.

* Understand false rape accusations.

* Women surgeons are punished more than men for the exact same mistakes, study finds.

* Unreal: Virginia Mother Charged With Felony After Putting Recording Device in Daughter’s Backpack to Catch Bullies.

The forgotten history of Milwaukee’s police station bombing, the largest single loss of police life until 9-11.

* This company truly has everything: Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People. Oh, Uber. Facebook (Still) Letting Housing Advertisers Exclude Users by Race. And with tech companies this good, why not end Net Neutrality?

* Management openly looting their institution? Gasp!

When they interviewed me and my young trans daughter, both reporters seemed sympathetic to us and claimed to be trans-friendly.  So why did they turn around and write such transphobic articles?  

A transgender professor just won a major court case. Seriously, it’s a big deal.

Alex Azar, Trump’s HHS Pick, Has Already Been a Disaster for People With Diabetes.

In fact, price gouging from Eli Lilly and other insulin manufacturers has already had deadly consequences. Shane Patrick Boyle, a founder of Zine Fest Houston, died on March 18 after his GoFundMe campaign to pay for insulin came up $50 short. Alec Raeshawn Smith, age 26, was found dead in his apartment on June 27. He was rationing his insulin after he aged out of his parent’s insurance coverage. The sad fact is more people would be alive today if insulin was affordable for all Americans.

* Now that’s commitment to a bit.

* Trump’s supporters backed a time-honored American political tradition, disavowing racism while promising to enact a broad agenda of discrimination.

* By the end of all this they’re going to rename trump cards in bridge.

The Jobs You’re Most Likely To Inherit from Your Parents. I had no idea “college professor” was a congenital condition. March for the cure today.

Teen Mom 2 Asks an Important Question: Is It OK to Shoot Down Drones?

* Disney just does not understand Star Wars fans.

* The story of Star Trek: The Animated Series.

* You’re messing up your kids years before you think you are.

* No one has yet given a full accounting of how deranged this essay is.

And, at last, Rick And Morty reveals Mr. Poopybutthole’s backstory. I still think he’s a parasite.

Live from a Hotel Room in Philadelphia – Saturday Links!

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* Climate work and despair. It’s a tough problem in the classroom, too. Climate change conflicts somehow with an assumed, mandatory pedagogical optimism; the lack of a solution or even a “hope spot” often leaves the class feeling somehow incomplete.

* Today our president was trolled on Twitter by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vicente Fox.

* Ted Chiang in the New Yorker. Great piece.

Beyond this narrow Wikipedian territory, Chiang is reluctant to venture. Although he is amiable and warm, he is also reticent and does not riff. Over several conversations, I learned, in addition, that he owns four cats, goes to the gym three times a week, and regards a small cylindrical seal made of hematite sometime around 1200 B.C. as one of his most treasured possessions—it was a gift from his sister, a reference to “Tower of Babylon.” He told me that, when he was a child, his family celebrated Christmas but wasn’t religious. When I asked Chiang if he had hobbies, he said no, and then, after a long pause, admitted that he plays video games. He refused to say what he eats for breakfast. Eventually, I sent him an e-mail with twenty-four questions that, I hoped, might elicit more personal details:

Do you have a favorite novel?
There isn’t one that I would want to single out as a favorite. I’m wary of the idea of a favorite anything.

You’ve spent many years living near the water. Do you like the sea?
Not particularly. I don’t actually spend much time on the coast; it’s just chance that I happened to move here.

What was the last work of art that made you cry?
Don’t know.

Do you consider yourself a sensitive person?
Yes.

Required Reading: 50 of the Best Sci-Fi Comics.

A Sober Utopia.

* Conspiracy theories we can believe in: the 19A0s, the suppressed decade between the 1970s and 1980s whose memory has been repressed.

Can We Really Measure Implicit Bias? Maybe Not. This article certainly supports my implicit bias against these sorts of studies.

* Trumpism: The Devil We Know.

* Today in the hopeless search for some Trump upside: the end of the campus sex bureaucracy.

* How could it possibly get worse? Oh.

* Tilikum has died.

* From December: UN opens formal discussions on AI-powered autonomous weapons, could ban ‘killer robots.’

* Dogs! In! Space!

* Wisconsin, no. Bad.

I Can’t Answer These Texas Standardized Test Questions About My Own Poems.

* In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.

A Practical Guide to Teaching Children Basic Math Concepts Using LEGO Bricks.

* Vegetarianism and mood.

* And meanwhile, in the other universe…

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Christmas and/or Fascism Megapost Forever and Ever Links – Part Two!

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(here’s part one)

* The story behind the Christmas Truce of 1914, simultaneously the most and least utopian thing that’s ever happened.

* Now that’s running it like a sandwich: College Can’t Prove It Taught 16,000 Online Students.

* Shockwave: A Syllabus for the End Times.

* Addressing the myths of academic job market.

* Arrival and the end of the academy.

* This was not called execution. It was called retirement.

* Colleges should invest in career services.

The Oakland Fire Tragedy and Higher Education.

* Inside the Bob Dylan Archive.

* Afrofuturism: The Next Generation.

* Rewriting Rogue One. And more.

* Rogue One: An Engineering Ethics Story. The Death Star and poor design.

* Rogue One: The Jacobin seal of approval.

* High praise: The Man in the High Castle season 2 is the worst TV show of the year.

* Buck Up, Democrats, and Fight Like Republicans. Team Bernie: Hillary ‘F*cking Ignored’ Us in Swing States. Building a Mass Socialist Party.

* Cabinet of Deplorables: Rex Tillerson. Rick Perry. An Intellectual History. Trump and the Late Deciders. Yes, Pence is preferable to Trump. The supermanagerial reich. The Age of Anger. Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it. What do you do when your reporter is personally attacked by the President of the United States? Twitter, Trump’s Ring of Power. This is fine.

* tfw your research collapses and it’s too late to rewrite the book

Politics got weird because neoliberalism failed to deliver.

* Their fake news, and ours.

The trail of painkillers leads to West Virginia’s southern coalfields, to places like Kermit, population 392. There, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million highly addictive — and potentially lethal — hydrocodone pills over two years to a single pharmacy in the Mingo County town.

* Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump.

A sense of ennui and overdetermination binds the audience of NPR podcasts together in a bloc of obnoxious explainerism.

* The End Is Always Near: The New Inquiry reviews Peter Frase’s Four Futures.

* The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

What Was James Comey Thinking? James Comey never should have been FBI director in the first place.

* Horrors in Aleppo. What Is Aleppo?

* The Business of Institutionalization.

* Michigan search for welfare fraud has a mere 93% failure rate.

* Cover Letter to the Search Committee from My Shadow Self. Eight Excuses I Have Told My Son to Use for His Failure to Hand in English Homework, Excuses I Have Learned Are Acceptable During a Thirty-Year Career in Journalism, Books, and Film.

* Climate change, meet your apocalyptic twin: oceans poisoned by plastic. Real-time interactive map shows the pollution engulfing Earth. The Greater New York City Region Must Plan for “Permanent Flooding.”

* Google and the death of knowledge.

* There’s no safe space for kids anywhere: 368 gymnasts allege sexual exploitation.

* Hey, let’s all fight about Shakespeare again.

Living with Exploding Head Syndrome: This is what it feels like to hear gunshots in your mind.

* United Nations to Wonder Woman: Drop Dead.

We Want To See All the Scifi Movies on the 2016 Black List.

* Sold in the room: New Star Trek Comic Imagines a World Where the Romulans Made First Contact With Earth.

* Norm Macdonald: A Raw and Uncensored Interview.

* Anne Frank may not have been betrayed to Nazis, study finds: Raid that led to her arrest could have been part of investigation into illegal labor or falsified ration coupons.

* Talk to your kids about quantum mechanics — before someone else does.

* By the numbers: the technosphere now weights 30 trillion tons.

The CIA Is Celebrating Its Cartography Division’s 75th Anniversary by Sharing Declassified Maps.

Mr. Thompson confronted the officer in command of the rampaging platoon, Lt. William L. Calley, but was rebuffed. He then positioned the helicopter between the troops and the surviving villagers and faced off against another lieutenant. Mr. Thompson ordered Mr. Colburn to fire his M-60 machine gun at any soldiers who tried to inflict further harm. RIP.

My Life With the Thrill-Clit Cult.

* Billy Joel is really leaving money on the table.

* And dystopian film is never going to be able to keep up with the present.

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 20, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Infinite Monday Links! Just Keep Scrolling!

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* Podcast report! Everyone is listening to every episode of Hello, from the Magic Tavern one after another pretty much nonstop. My favorite one so far.

* My book Octavia E. Butler has a preview page at University of Illinois Press. Get your pre-orders in now!

* From the archives! That thing I wrote about the first season of Kimmy Schmidt. I’ve been pretty unimpressed with the second season, alas, and some of the things I wrote back then seem to point to why.

* You know, after reading this I think I hate the humanities too.

* CFP: 4th edition of “Games and Literary Theory” in Krakow, Poland (Nov 18-20).

Black Holes: Afro-Pessimism, Blackness and the Discourses of Modernity.

* Star Trek 2017 Rumor Watch!

* Local news.

* And you thought you felt bad about your pedagogy already: Are Colleges Too Obsessed With Smartness?

“When the entire system of higher education gives favored status to the smartest students, even average students are denied equal opportunities,” he writes. “If colleges were instead to be judged on what they added to each student’s talents and capacities, then applicants at every level of academic preparation might be equally valued.”

* Administrators at the University of Beirut seem to have blocked an appointment for Steven Salaita.

* University maladministration can never fail, it can only be failed.

272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants?

* How to Build a Major in a Young Field: The University of Toledo’s new disability-studies program attracts undergradute interest.

* Cornell Continues to Receive Scrutiny Over Job Ad.

Philosophers who work outside of academia – Part 3: Transferrable skills and concrete advice.

UC Davis spent thousands to scrub pepper-spray references from Internet. The University of Public Relations.

President Obama to Forgive Nearly 400,000 Disabled Americans’ Federal Student Loans.

Vatican conference urges end to doctrine of ‘just wars.’

* The Minecraft Generation.

Behind the Scenes at the Met.

The Librarian Who Saved Timbuktu’s Cultural Treasures From al Qaeda.

* Wild Chernobyl.

* Huge, if true: Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems. Why Are Voters Angry? It’s the 1099 Economy, Stupid.

A $15 minimum wage is too high and that’s great.

Mississippi Jails Are Losing Inmates, And Local Officials Are ‘Devastated’ By The Loss Of Revenue.

* Special pleading alert! No, DC Should Not Become The 51st State. Here’s A Quick History Lesson To Remind You Why.

* A(other) New Map for America.

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This Former College President Spent 2 Years in Prison. Here’s What He Learned. The answer will shock you!

How Not to Audit the Pentagon.

You could almost forget this, as the term fizzles into a bunch of sagging 4-4 ties and improbable unanimous decisions, but if Antonin Scalia had lived until July the docket was full of poisoned pills and silent time bombs that would have exploded in President Obama’s face this summer. Until and unless we reckon with what might have been at the high court this term, it’s impossible to understand why there will be no hearings for Judge Garland. GOP senators aren’t just angry about losing Justice Scalia’s seat. They are angry because the court as the weapon of choice to screw the president has been taken from them, and they want it back.

* A Huge Portion of Greenland Started Melting This Week. This Is Why the Great Barrier Reef Is Dying. If only someone had known!

New UN report finds almost no industry profitable if environmental costs were included.

Now Keurig says it has found a solution. It is taking longer than it took for NASA to put a man on the moon, but in the coming months, the company will begin to sell K-Cups made of material that is easily recycled.

* Every Disney Song from Best to Worst. Glad we settled that!

* There never was a Bernie Sanders movement. Personally I blame Ben and Jerry.

* Why Democrats Must Embrace A Universal Child Allowance. Working moms have more successful daughters and more caring sons, Harvard Business School study says.

* The time Donald Trump’s empire took on a stubborn widow — and lost.

* I was a men’s rights activist.

* An oral history of Childrens Hospital.

* Behold, King Curry. A flashback.

* Remembering the Dungeons and Dragons Moral Panic.

* As I feared, the tide seems to have turned on Title IX. I continue to think the whole law is at risk if its supporters cannot find a way to frame and articulate the need for reform.

Male chimpanzee Chacha screams after escaping from nearby Yagiyama Zoological Park as a man tries to capture him on the power lines at a residential area in Sendai, northern Japan. The chimp was eventually caught after being shot with a tranquilizer gun and falling from the power lines, Kyodo news reported. REUTERS/Kyodo

It’s Time To Acknowledge How Important the Death Star is to Star Wars. I don’t know that I quite agree with this, but Rogue One does (seem to) point to a vision of the franchise that isn’t so heavily dependent on the Jedi.

Ben Affleck’s Solo Batman Movie Has a Huge Opportunity and One Big Problem. And while we’re at it, just one more beating up Batman v. Superman.

Male chimpanzee Chacha screams after escaping from nearby Yagiyama Zoological Park as a man tries to capture him on the power lines at a residential area in Sendai, northern Japan.

A Zookeeper Known as “The Tiger Whisperer” Was Killed by a Tiger.

Journalist wants Obama’s ‘Game of Thrones’ screeners, so files a FOIA request for them.

* Being Kumail Nanjiani.

* Being Cherie Berry.

* Being Monica Lewinsky.

* Ancient Peruvian Mystery Solved from Space.

Alien ‘Wow!’ signal could be explained after almost 40 years.

Could the Broadway smash ‘Hamilton’ help keep a woman’s face off the front of the $10 bill? Coming soon: Andrew Jackson: The Musical! PS: In 2030.

Why Fans of Hamilton Should Be Delighted It’s Finally Stirring Criticism.

New ABC show ‘Cleverman’ is about an Aboriginal superhero. Australian ABC, not US ABC, alas.

* Someone should have double-checked that math: Man Sentenced to 4 Years After Victim Says She Was Held Captive, Sexually Assaulted for a Decade.

At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction.

Hawking’s Interstellar Starship Would Revolutionize the Search for Alien Life. What Will Make Interstellar Travel a Reality?

* And they said culture was dead!

* As a wise man once said, you don’t exist.

Controversial Illustrations By Polish Artist Reveal The Darker Side Of Modern Society.

Foreskin doesn’t make a man more “sensitive,” study finds.

Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. The Black Radical Tragic : Performance, Aesthetics, and the Unfinished Haitian Revolution. LARoB v. Shakespeare.

Can SeaWorld Redeem Itself?

* Are Humans Definitely Smarter Than Apes?

* Have creepy professors ruined the independent study forever?

* Behold, the US alt-right.

* If you want a vision of the future.

* And I didn’t know him as well as others, but we’ll all miss Srinivas Aravamudan. Some details on the Aravamudan fund.

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Written by gerrycanavan

April 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Links!

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* Coetzee: There is nothing wrong with arguing that a good humanistic education will produce graduates who are critically literate, by some definition of critical literacy. However, the claim that only the full apparatus of a humanistic education can produce critical literacy seems to me hard to sustain, since it is always open to the objection: if critical literacy is just a skill or set of skills, why not just teach the skill itself? Would that not be simpler, and cheaper too?

…in the end, I believe, you will have to make a stand. You will have to say: we need free enquiry because freedom of thought is good in itself. We need institutions where teachers and students can pursue unconstrained the life of the mind because such institutions are, in ways that are difficult to pin down, good for all of us: good for the individual and good for society.

* If you can’t make a case for a discipline on the basis of the actual objects studied by that discipline, it’s doomed. The field needs to have confidence in the things it takes as its subject matter.

* Huge drop in humanities majors at Swarthmore.

Not for the first time, vandals are wreaking havoc in central Europe. Russian police say they’re looking for the intellectually minded miscreants who graffitied “Kant is a moron”—along with a flower and heart—on the philosopher’s home outside Kaliningrad.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 16: Flexibility. Special appearance by Plastic Man.

Higher Education and the Politics of Disruption.

Black UVA Student Beaten Bloody by Police Over Alleged Fake ID: Reports. UVA’s White President Outsources Outrage Over Martese Johnson to Two Black Administrators.

Chapel Hill Will Pay $335,000 to Whistle-Blower in Fraud Scandal.

More Scrutiny of Decision to Close Sweet Briar.

Penn State Fraternity’s Secret Facebook Photos May Lead to Criminal Charges.

Despite Progress, Only 1 in 4 College Presidents Are Women.

The New York Times ran the Duke story—a story about the internal politics of an English department—on its front page.

* I can’t remember if I already linked to Jalada #2: “Afrofuture(s),” but it’s great. I think my favorite little piece is one of the short poems, “Found: An Error in the System.”

Schools Plan Massive Layoffs After Scott Walker Guts Funding.

21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor.

Why The U.S. Won’t Let the U.N. Look Inside Its Prisons.

* Modern-Day Caligula Orders Everything Bagel.

* Everything’s different in Denmark: Porn belongs in the classroom, says Danish professor.

* What could possibly go wrong? The Scientist Who Wanted To Bring A Death Row Inmate Back From The Dead.

* Starbucks loses its damn mind. Starbucks Wants To Talk To You About Race. But Does It Want To Talk To You About Racism? Starbucks’s Race to the Center of Civic Life.

* Simians, Cyborg-Women, and Godzilla: 40 Years of Terror of Mechagodzilla.

41 Awesome Euphemisms For Vagina Around The World, Because Your Pupusa Speaks All Languages.

Mars One Finalist Explains Exactly How It‘s Ripping Off Supporters.

* The New Optimism of Al Gore.

* Antarctica appears to be melting from below.

* Climate change and full communism.

* When the CIA funded the National Student Association.

The Problem With History Classes.

Rise of the Gender Novel: Too often, trans characters are written as tortured heroes. We’re more complex than that.

The lonely shame of student debt.

Queer Silence and The Killing Joke.

* #LightenUp: On Comics and Race.

I’m Al Lowe and I created a series of games called Leisure Suit Larry for Sierra back in the ’80s and ’90s along with another 20 games and titles back in that period. I was with Sierra from 1982 until 1998 when it — well, it was the poor victim of a hostile takeover by criminals. How about that for an opening?

* Did Terry Brooks save epic fantasy? Given the years involved if anything did it seems more likely to me that it was Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s a nice remembrance of the franchise regardless.

* I’m good for five seasons at least: Bridgeport Priest Who Ran Meth Ring Pleads For Leniency.

* Really bad idea watch: Sherlock Goes Old-School For Its Christmas Special.

* The Walking Disney.

* The Hidden History of Miscarriage.

One chart that shows just how ridiculously huge Wall Street bonuses are.

Where to expect upsets on your NCAA bracket.

* New edition of Catan coming down the pike.

* You had me at fully automated luxury communism (FALC).

* And because you demanded it! Sam Jones Says New Flash Gordon Is A Sequel.

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So Many Wednesday Links It Is Guaranteed to Make You Sick

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* Brian Thill on academia, labor, and the prestige economy.

* Freddie de Boer on the unbearable wretchedness of higher education journalism.

* The only situation in which one would treat free speech as an end would be one in which there were no fundamental problems: no iniquities, immiseration, exploitation. No need for free speech as means. So we might say Dirks is speaking from the position of campus-as-utopia, a campus of nothing but speech, where the sun always shines and all other issues have been resolved happily for all. A campus wherein there was no privatized public education, no massive debt- and labor-loads for students, no shitty working conditions for campus workers, no cops being called in to beat or pepper-spray students and faculty into the hospital. No struggle over BDS, no systematic racism, no burying of rape statistics and accompanying leniency for perpetrators — struggles in which the administration is an aggressive antagonist, a side.

* Remember the other day when I linked to that piece about colleges recruiting lacrosse players as a proxy for wealth? Totally and absolutely unrelatedly, colleges are now giving out athletic video game scholarships.

* Steven Salaita has now spoken publicly at UIUC about his firing by UIUC.

* The New Inquiry 32: Back to School.

School is the alibi for class society. Passage through it is supposed to be what makes the unequal distribution of violence and luxury in the bourgeois world a fair outcome, what makes the bodies it disposes of earn their disposal. It is also the house of knowledge and so a powerful node of induction into the mysteries of this bloody society. Those who want to approach the knowledge held there must also internalize its mechanisms. Some go on to help it reproduce itself, as teachers. Unexpected success in this self-­transformation is sometimes called class mobility, but to celebrate those who are capable of moving admits that the majority are fixed in place.

How long will we have to wait for the poll finding that most Americans “regret” having supported this new war in Iraq and Syria and view it as a “mistake”, as they prepare, in a frenzy of manufactured fear, to support the next proposed war? Even the liberal Kevin Drum hopes Obama can stop Obama before Obama invades Iraq.

* Against TFA: “I am, I am asking you to quit.”

* Crisis for the crisis in the humanities. The full report is here.

* Scalia wept: Death penalty fans reel as one of their go-to examples for the necessity of capital punishment turns out to involve two innocent men.

* Hell in Rotherham.

Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour Shifts in the Tobacco Fields.

* Too rich to punish.

* From the archives: Almost everything in Dr. Strangelove was true. Capitalism Whack-a-Mole.

* Almost All the Books People Say Influenced Them Were Written for Children.

* Steve Almond on quitting football.

* Segregation forever: Share of white kids attending majority white schools. More links after the map.

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UC Berkeley police have obtained more than a dozen M16 rifles via the 1033 program, as of June 2014. That’s outrageous. I can’t imagine them needing more than four or five tops.

* The Economist Has a Slavery Problem. Reagan reviews Roots, 1977.

A new portrait of the founding father challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder. No! No! I simply won’t believe it!

* Logistics, Capitalist Circulation, Chokepoints.

* Cuomo (and de Blasio) after Teachout.

Where MacArthur fellows were born and where they lived at the time of the award.

How Much Carbon Dioxide Is in the Atmosphere? A Massive Increase in 2013 Sets a Record. “We are running out of time.”

* Milwaukee wept: Meteorologists Predict Record-Shattering Snowfall Coming Soon.

Almost Half Of North American Bird Species Are Threatened By Climate Change.

* Amazon Indian Warriors Beat and Strip Illegal Loggers in Battle for Jungle’s Future.

* Louisiana doesn’t look like Louisiana anymore.

* The oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years.

* Whiteness and conservation.

Fracking May Be Worse Than Burning Coal. People Who Live Near Fracking More Likely To Become Sick, Study Finds.

* Twilight for alumni donations. As someone remarked on Twitter, this piece seriously undercounts the rise of student debt and twentysomething un- and underemployment as factors here.

* Dystopia now: Airlines have never been better at making certain your flight is full.

Forty Percent of Police Families Experience Domestic Violence.

Peacekeepers Sexually Exploited And Abused Women And Girls In Somalia.

Video Shows NYPD Officers Taking Turns Beating Man After He Asked Why He Was Being Searched.

Cops Are Sorry They Keep Losing Cool Guns That the Military Gives Them.

“Driving while black” is, indeed, a measurable phenomenon. Look, if we’re going to make this about facts…

* BREAKING NEWS: Gambling is terrible city planning.

* License to kill: CBP Requests Federal Court Keep Identity of Border Patrol Agent Who Killed Teen Secret.

* Court rules Yelp has no obligation to publish positive reviews.

For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance—not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. Turns out you actually have to teach the kids to get results. Crazy.

* And on the complete other end of the positivity spectrum: Teacher Allegedly Locked Kids in Closet to Teach Them “How to Survive.”

* Millennials aren’t using credit cards, and it might come back to haunt them.

* Now that I’m a parent, it’s hard for me to understand how roller coasters are allowed to exist.

* Silicon Valley’s Cult of Male Ego.

* Reddit is a failed state.

* The service, which launches September 16 in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, works with a fleet of women drivers and will only be available to female passengers. Drivers are hailed with an iOS app—like Uber or Lyft—and arrive wearing “hot pink pashmina scarves,”according to the New York Times.

* Marriage counseling before feminism.

* Today in the voter fraud fraud.

Striking down Pennsylvania’s voter ID law in January, its state court found “no evidence of the existence of in-person voter fraud in the state.” Plus, the state failed to establish any connection between photo identity cards and the integrity of elections. Courts in Texas, Arizona, and Arkansas ruled similarly.

Wisconsin federal district court Judge Lynn Adelman in Aprilstruck down that state’s voter ID law for violating the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Adelman found about 9 percent of registered voters – about 300,000 – lacked the government-issued ID required for casting a ballot under the Wisconsin law, enough to change election results.

‘Unprecedented’ Outbreak Of Rare Virus Strikes Hundreds Of Children In The Midwest.

The Leaky Nuclear Waste Dump and the Town That Loves It Anyway.

* The kids are all right: LEGO Is Now the Biggest Toymaker on the Planet.

8 Things We Can Do Now to Build a Space Colony This Century.

* And Harvard has received a record $350 million donation. So glad those guys will be able to keep the lights on.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Sunday Night Links

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* The New World Order One World Government wants to ban golf! Wake up, sheeple!

* …if we look closely enough, we’ll have to conclude that poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.

* From Aaron’s latest Sunday Reading:The Intellectual Situation of n+1. For U.S. universities, a failing grade in economics. The Irish Begin to Wake Up to the Fact That They are Repaying Money That is Then Burned. The Hand That Feeds. Historicizing the Conservative Think Tank. A short history of the vibrator. The Inside Story of How John Carter Was Doomed by Its First Trailer.

* Longform.org flashes back to another This American Life truth panic.

* Roland Barthes’ last doctoral student describes the writing of his dissertation. Via MeFi.

* Scientists think they’ve figured out what’s causing Colony Collapse Disorder (again). Surprise! It’s pesticides. Also via.

* Crooks & Liars has some advice for Lakoff-style reframing.

1. Never say Entitlements. Instead, say Earned Benefits.
2. Never say Redistribution of Wealth. Instead, say Fair Wages For Work.
3. Never say Employer Paid Health Insurance. Instead, say Employee Earned Health Insurance.
4. Never say Government Spending. Instead, say The People Are Investing.
5. Never say Corporate America. Instead, say Unelected Corporate Government.

* And here comes the Romney shadow cabinet. It’s even worse than you think!

‘The Strong Do as They Wish, While the Weak Suffer as They Must’

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A third principle is that virtually every use of force in international affairs has been justified in terms of R2P, including the worst monsters. Just to illustrate, in his scholarly study of “humanitarian intervention,” Sean Murphy cites only three examples between the Kellogg-Briand pact and the UN Charter: Japan’s attack on Manchuria, Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, and Hitler’s occupation of parts of Czechoslovakia, all accompanied by lofty rhetoric about the solemn responsibility to protect the suffering populations, and factual justifications. The basic pattern continues to the present.

The historical record is worth recalling when we hear R2P or its cousin described as an “emerging norm” in international affairs. They have been considered a norm as far back as we want to go. The founding of this country is an example. In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was granted its Charter by the King, stating that rescuing the natives from their bitter pagan fate is “the principal end of this plantation.” The Great Seal of the Colony depicts an Indian saying “Come Over and Help Us.” The English colonists were thus fulfilling their responsibility to protect as they proceeded to “extirpate” and “exterminate” the natives, in their words – and for their own good, their honored successors explained. In 1630, John Winthrop delivered his famous sermon depicting the new nation “ordained by God” as “a city on a hill,” inspirational rhetoric that is regularly invoked to this day to2 justify any crime as at worst a “deviation” from the noble mission of responsibility to protect.

Chomsky on the responsibility to protect, via @zunguzungu, who also has similar thoughts from Jean Bricmont and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

Big Monday Links

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* Lost Back to the Future audition tapes. You win this round, SNL.

* Then and Now with Goofus and Gallant.

* zunguzungu has some final thoughts on the Rally to Restore Sanity taking Andrew Sullivan’s glowing endorsement as his departure point.

Americans who want to emphasize that “politics isn’t all there is to life” are people who don’t feel very keenly the sting of injustice or the anxiety of uncertainty or the horror of what this country does in our name. When you lose your job because of politics, or can’t afford to go to school because of politics, or are denied full citizenship because of politics, or die because of politics, the idea that “politics isn’t all there is to life” will be cold comfort to you.

But what if, for example, you look out into the world and see not a basic normality of everyday justice and brotherhood and comity and happy cookies but, rather, a massively inequitable system getting both steadily worse and more deeply enmeshed into our everyday reality? An America which has, for example, rendered it normal to be conducting military operations in multiple theatres for no publicly acknowledged or agreed upon purpose? Where 10% unemployment is normal? Where immigrants are presumed guilty until documented innocent? What if you think things actually are completely fucked up?

* On not being obliged to vote Democrat. We voted last Thursday, straight ticket as always, but I confess I didn’t take much pleasure in it.

* What happens after Republicans win tomorrow? For one thing, Virginia’s climate witch-hunts will go national. Via Boing Boing.

* What happens after Republicans win tomorrow, Nevada edition: Angle victory means return of Yucca nuclear waste dump.

* Should the left try to use our democracy’s systemic biases towards military spending to drive a progressive spending agenda? Ezra and Matt take aff and neg. I give the decision to Ezra—let’s take our victories where we can get them.

* Corporate synergy, the Fox News way.

* UN Convention on Biodiversity: Climate-related geo-engineering activities [should not] take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts.

* Cornell President David Skorton wants to save the humanities.

* How can this many colleges charge over $50,000 a year for tuition? That’s completely insane.

* From the campus newspaper: What’s Duke’s policy towards undocumented immigrants?

* Another great Strange Map: an alternate New York City with a filled-in East River where Manhattan and Brooklyn merge. Via Kottke.

* And rest in peace, Ginny Sack.

Star Trek

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Call it the soft bigotry of low expectations or heretofore unexpected reserves of good will for the franchise—or maybe J.J. just nailed it—but I found Star Trek surprisingly good. And “good” is an amazing accomplishment given the self-contradictions inherent to the project:

1) innovate and revitalize a franchise that, let’s face it, is built almost entirely on the bedrock of nostalgic repetition;
2) do so while further hamstrung by the excruciating prequel format.

But Abrams strikes a more or less successful balance, aside from a few hamhanded “R2-D2, meet C-3PO” moments and a little too much handholding and lampshade-hanging.

As is probably to be expected, the prequelization provides both the worst parts of the movie and its primary source of narrative pleasure. As a certified member of the Nitpicker’s Guild I confess I was a bit annoyed to see how little effort was made to stick with the original continuity, even granting the timeline shift. Many of the gadgets had different behaviors and limitations than in the original show; no one knew Romulans were related to Vulcans until part of the way through the original series; Chekhov didn’t join the ship until later; Pike wasn’t the first captain of the Enterprise; etc, etc, etc. (You can fanwank most or all of these away with “The USS Kelvin Changed Everything,” but that’s not very satisfying. Clear lines of cause-and-effect matter, especially in time travel stories.)

That this cherished original continuity is essentially bulldozed permanently by the film is pretty unfortunate and will, I think, permanently damage the franchise in the eyes of its loyal and notoriously defensive fanbase, especially as fifty years of strict adherence to Roddenberry’s particular Utopian vision has not prepared them well for our heroes to lose a planet, much less the entire timeline.

But at the same time it is quite fun to see these characters meet each other, and Abrams does an amazing job of capturing the feel of the original series (all the way from aesthetics right down to the level of contrivance and occasionally nonsensical plot points). That the actors playing McCoy and (especially) Spock are very good mimics of the original actors helps things along a lot as well.

It’s also astounding how apolitical the film tries to be; I went in with the idea of writing a post about neoliberalism and Star Trek and it just didn’t give me much to work with. Now, this is a neoliberal, United Nations fantasy of the future, to be sure, in which difference only exists to be flattened out—but that’s really true of almost all Trek, DS9 and some other choice episodes excepted. (There’s also a making explicit of the longstanding metaphorical connection between Vulcans and Jews, with a Vulcan Holocaust followed by a choice between diaspora, assimilation, and resettlement in a “new colony,” but I don’t know what to do with that yet.)

Star Trek (2009) is no better or worse, politically speaking, than what Star Trek‘s always been: a fantasy of what the world would be like if consumer capitalism had no labor or environmental costs and American military-cultural hegemony was pure, stable, and uncomplicatedly good. It remains our defining ideological fantasy, in other words, the thing that blinds us still to the sort of world we’re really living in and the sort of future we’re actually creating.

So it’s no surprise that at this point my thoughts turn to the mediocre, to the unchosen, to the radicals and the subaltern and the dissidents. What becomes of difference in this future? We see these people only sometimes, in the background: Sisko’s dad, Picard’s brother. Usually they exist only to be made Star Fleet officers or good Federation citizens by the end of the episode, and we see no one like this in this movie at all. The lack of flexibility in this narrative template has grown, I think, exhausting, and it’s for this reason that over the years I find myself much more drawn to presentist and mundane SF, or apocalyptic futurity, or to anti-Trek futures like Firefly, the first few seasons of BSG, or Samuel Delany’s Triton.

But all the same every so often it’s nice to come home again.

Just one request: no more product placement, please; there’s no money in the future, much less corporations…

Another Round

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Another round: religion and politics.

* The U.N. has apparently passed a resolution banning the defamation of religion. In the U.S., at least, truth is absolute defense to defamation…

* Don’t tell the U.N.: quantum theory may make omniscience mathematically impossible.

* Richard Nixon analyzes an episode of All in the Family. Those White House tapes are a national treasure.

* Truth commissions vs. prosecutions.

* A visitor’s guide to Chinese conceptions of hell. Via MeFi.

* And are video games teaching kids the skills they need for the Apocalypse? The Onion reports.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 27, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Sunday, Sunday

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Sunday.

* Uncool: A U.N. resolution on the right to food passed 180-1. Via Lenin’s Tomb.

* Lots of links floating around to this revisionist interpretation of It’s a Wonderful Life:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

… Take the extended sequence in which George Bailey (James Stewart), having repeatedly tried and failed to escape Bedford Falls, N.Y., sees what it would be like had he never been born. The bucolic small town is replaced by a smoky, nightclub-filled, boogie-woogie-driven haven for showgirls and gamblers, who spill raucously out into the crowded sidewalks on Christmas Eve. It’s been renamed Pottersville, after the villainous Mr. Potter, Lionel Barrymore’s scheming financier.

Here’s the thing about Pottersville that struck me when I was 15: It looks like much more fun than stultifying Bedford Falls — the women are hot, the music swings, and the fun times go on all night. If anything, Pottersville captures just the type of excitement George had long been seeking.

* Will Obama gut NASA? Nice followup to last week’s discussion on Poli-Sci-Fi Radio.

* On the plus side, Obama pledges allegiance to science.

* Ultimately, these disputes can’t really be resolved until Obama is in office. Only then will we know whether Obama’s embrace of every establishment and even right-wing figure he can find is a reflection of what the substance of his governing will be, or whether — as many of his supporters claim — it’s a master strategy designed to diffuse tension and hostility in order to enable easier enactment of his progressive agenda. If Obama devotes genuine efforts to repealing DOMA and don’t-ask-don’t-tell, I doubt anyone will care how many times he hugs Rick Warren — just as if Obama really closes Guantanamo, withdraws from Iraq and forges a diplomatic peace with Iran, few people will care how much he embraces Joe Lieberman — though obviously those are very, very large “ifs.” Only time will tell. Via Open Left.

* Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models. Response to global warming 20 years behind rational policy-making.

* Hadley Center study warns of “catastrophic” 5°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path. Did I mention we’re screwed?