Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘violence

Sunday Links!

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* Don’t miss my flash review of The Avengers: Age of Ultron! As I say in the update, thanks to my friend Ryan Vu for priming the pump (and look for his brilliant review of Captain America 2 in a few months in SFFTV).

Why Avengers: Age of Ultron Fills This Buffy Fan With Despair. Nerd Plus Ultron: There Has to Be More to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Than Printing More Money.

* Notes on the coming DC disaster: In the early going, some in Hollywood are questioning whether Warners has acted too much in haste without having fleshed out the world on which so much hinges.

These Imaginative Worlds and Parallel Universes Will Forever Change How You Think About Africa.

2030 is set largely in the titular year, 100 kilometers south of Ho Chi Minh City. The initial title card establishes that 80% of the population has been evacuated due to the rising sea level as an effect of global warming.

* Great university boondoggle reporting from Freddie deBoer.

Late last week, using the hashtag #talkpay, people began tweeting about how much money they make—a radical thing to do in a culture that treats disclosing your salary as the ultimate taboo.

Dear Superprofessors: The experiment is over.

I’ve been buried in final book manuscript revisions, and have been noticing that I’m increasingly using the term “management” rather than “administration” in my analyses of university governance.  Part of the reason is that my employer, the University of California, uses Senior Management Group as a formal employment classification. But it’s also because the friendlier aspects of the term “administration” seem decreasingly part of everyday academic life. Friendliness was administration as support structure, as collaborator, as partner, as the entity that did not take orders from obnoxious egocentric faculty prima donnas the way that frontline staff often had to do, but that accepted balanced power relations  and a certain mutual respect that could make decisions move relatively quickly and equitably. It would avoid command and control of the kind that prevailed in the army and in most corporations, where executive authority consisted of direct rule over subordinates.

Pay hike at McMaster University for female faculty.

Lawmakers back away from increased course loads for UNC professors.

Fewer professors, more managers work on Cal State campuses.

* …Carey has produced a sloppy polemic, a revenge fantasy that tries to turn personal resentment and cynicism into public policy.

* Horrifying, literally unbelievable story of peer review gone awry. More here.

* Well, I guess that settles it: In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans.

Study: Climate Change Threatens One in Six Species With Extinction.

Babies born 3 miles apart in New York have a 9-year life expectancy gap. 15 Baltimore neighborhoods have lower life expectancies than North Korea.

The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Protest, 1965-1975.

Rikers Island meatloaf did have rat poison.

An Empty Stadium in Baltimore. A Brief History of Pro Sports Played in Empty Stadiums.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 18: Descending into Violence.

‘Rough Rides’ and the Challenges of Improving Police Culture.

New ACLU Cellphone App Automatically Preserves Video of Police Encounters.

The particularity of white supremacy.

* It’s hard out there for a gifted kid.

* “No one has walked on the moon in my lifetime,” I told them. “Yet you try to tell me that it’s my generation who has lost their wonder?  That it’s the young people of today who have let everything slip and fall into ruin? You don’t understand. You had the dream and the potential and the opportunities, and you messed it all up. You got hope and moon landings and that bright, glorious future. I got only the disasters.”

In some ways Ex Machina may be considered a feminist film by sheer dint of our low standards, the scarcity of stories that explore female desire beyond the realm of sex and romance.

Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle’ to Be Developed as TV Series By IM Global.

The Secret Mountain Our Spies Will Hide In When Washington Is Destroyed.

A 7-Year-Old Girl Got A New 3D-Printed Left Hand For The Wonderful Price Of $50.

This 5-year-old girl knows a lot more about presidents than you do. At this point I say put her in charge.

If you’re 33 or older, you will never listen to new music again—at least, that’s more or less what a new online study says. The study, which is based mainly on data from U.S. Spotify users, concludes that age 33 is when, on average, people stop discovering new music and begin the official march to the grave.

How Old Is Old? Centenarians Say It Starts in Your 80s; Kids Say Your 40s.

“How Does a Stand-Up Comedian Work?”

* Whiteness and the Apple Watch.

* The arc of history is long, but Cheez-Its is finally going to sell a box of just the burned ones.

* The same joke but with this Iceland law allowing anyone to murder any Basque on sight.

* “NASA has trialled an engine that would take us to Mars in 10 weeks.”

* The most racist places in America.

* Daddy, there’s a monster under the bed.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine James Cameron directing Avatar sequels, forever.

* And the same joke but with 21 Jump Street sequels.


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May 3, 2015 at 9:00 am

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From the Archives! Interview with Cory Doctorow on Disney, SF, Violence, Meritocracy, Goodhart’s Law, Fandom, and Utopia

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Several years ago I taught Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom for a Writing 20 class at Duke called “Writing the Future,” which resulted in a lenthy interview between my students and Doctorow. For many years the interview was archived at the course site at, but it looks like it’s been pulled down; even the Wayback Machine has been thwarted. Since I’m fond of the interview, and frequently return to some of the things he says in it, I’m reposting it here. Enjoy!

The interview took place in Spring 2010.

“Trying to Predict the Present”: An Interview with Cory Doctorow

W20: What did this novel mean to you when you first wrote it, and how has the meaning changed in the nine years since? How might the novel be different if you wrote it today?

CD: That’s a really tough question to answer—not specifically because of the change in circumstances, but because of the change in the writer over time. The more time you spend writing, the more different your approach to the work is. That was the first novel I ever finished—it’s fundamentally different to write a book when you know you can finish a book than to write a book when you don’t know if you can a finish a book—and I actually think those differences would swamp any differences that arose from circumstances or politics or new wisdom or whatever. Just the idea of writing a book, when you know you can write a book, completely overpowers any of the other changes.

I don’t know if that makes sense. It probably doesn’t answer your question very well.

One of the things I realized in the course of writing the book, and that I think a lot of people miss when they read the book, is that Whuffie has one of the fundamental problems that accrues to money or property, which is that the more you have the easier it is to get more. That’s a pretty a pretty enormous gap in the Utopian character of Whuffie. A properly Utopian system is one in which you have something that’s a lot like merit, not like circumstance—where people are rewarded based on how great they are, not based how great they used to be. And I think Whuffie is primarily one of those systems that rewards you for having gotten lucky or doing something good some time ago, and then continues to reward you for that forever at the expense of other people.

I think Whuffie would follow a power-law distribution, just like in-bound links to blogs, for exactly the same reason.

W20: We talked a little bit about this, and it leads to the second question, whether or not large corporations are starting to create a system that’s sort of like Whuffie, but at the same time proprietary. We were thinking of Google, YouTube, Facebook especially, but even something like LinkedIn—isn’t this something like Whuffie that’s starting to materialize? Blog linkage would be the same sort of thing, facing the same sorts of problems you’ve just been talking about.

CD: I based Whuffie at the time more on Slashdot’s Karma, and I don’t know that Faceook has an exact analogue to it. I guess Facebook has this thing where you can see who has the most inbound links, who has the most friends, and you can “digg” up yourself by getting more of those.

I think that in general we have a pathological response to anything we measure. We tend not to measure the thing we care about; we tend to measure something that indicates its presence. It’s often very hard to measure the thing that you’re hoping for. You don’t actually care about how calories you eat; you care about how much weight you’re going to gain from the calories you eat. But as soon as we go, oh, well, calories are a pretty good proxy for weight gain, we start to come up with these foods that are incredibly unhealthy but nevertheless have very few calories in them. In the same way, Google doesn’t really care about inbound links because inbound links are good per se; Google cares about inbound links because inbound links are a good proxy for “someone likes this page; someone thinks this page is a useful place to be, is a good place to be.” But as soon as Google starts counting that, people start finding ways to make links that don’t actually serve as a proxy for that conclusion at all.

GDP is another good example. We don’t care about GDP because GDP itself is good; we care about GDP because the basket of indicators that we measure with GDP are a proxy for the overall health of the society—except as soon as you start measuring GDP, people figure out how to make the GDP go up by doing things like trading derivatives of derivates of subprime subderivates of derivatives, but which actually does the reverse of what we care about by undermining the quality of life and the stability of society.

So I think that one of the biggest problems that Google has, taking Google as probably the best example of someone trying to build a reputation currency, is that as soon as Google gives you any insight into how they are building their reputation system it ceases to be very good as a reputation system. As soon as Google stops measuring something you created by accident and starts measuring something you created on purpose, it stops being something that they want to measure. And this is joined by the twin problem that what Google fundamentally has is a security problem; they have hackers who are trying to undermine the integrity of the system. And the natural response to a problem that arises when attackers know how your system works is to try to keep the details of your system secret—but keeping the details of Google’s system secret is also not very good because it means that we don’t have any reason to trust it. All we know when we search Google is that we get a result that seems like a good result; but we don’t know that there isn’t a much better result that Google has either deliberately or accidentally excluded from its listings for reasons that are attributable to either malice or incompetence. So they’re really trapped between a rock and a hard place: if they publish how their system works, people will game their system; if they don’t publish how their system works it becomes less useful and trustworthy and good. It suffers from the problem of alchemy; if alchemists don’t tell people what they learned, then every alchemist needs to discover for themselves that drinking mercury is a bad idea, and alchemy stagnates. When you start to publishing, you get science—but Google can’t publish or they’ll also get more attacks.

So it’s a really thorny, thorny problem, and I elide that problem with Whuffie by imagining a completely undescribed science fictional system that can disambiguate every object in the universe so when you look at something and have a response to it the system knows that the response is being driven by the color of the car but not by the car, or the shirt but not the person wearing it, or the person wearing it and not the shirt, and also know how you feel about it. So it can know what you’re feeling and what you’re feeling it about. And I don’t actually think we have a computer that could that; I don’t think we have Supreme Court judges or Ph.D. philosophers that can do that.

W20: That’s sort of a fantastic self-criticism, actually—you’re exposing what’s so great about Whuffie and what’s so impossible about it all at once.

CD: Sure, and that’s why I think Whuffie feeds the fantasy of a meritocratic society. There’s something particularly self-serving about people who are doing very well imagining that society is meritocratic: it means that the reason you are doing so well is because you have merit, not because you were lucky or because you screwed someone else. So I’m always suspicious of people who are doing extremely well telling you how meritocratic society their society is. I’m also somewhat suspicious of people doing very poorly who tell you how meritocratic society is, because I think that’s often aspirational: they’ve basically bought the story that if only they work hard and are good and pure of heart they’ll catch up to the people who have been rich for a hundred generations. So I think the idea of meritocracy is a really tricky one because the embrace of meritocracy is seductive for reasons that transcend logic.

W20: I don’t know if I’ll include this in the interview, to shame my students or not, but this is something that comes up a lot in Duke classes. Duke students believe very much in meritocracy because they’re the winners of the system.

CD: Yeah, sure. I think we have a problem in that we end up with this tautological definition of merit in a meritocracy. How do we know what’s meritorious? It’s the thing that’s on top. You have this very Milton Friedman way of measuring accomplishment: you come up with some self-serving thing that makes you better, and declare whatever outcome you have as the best possible one. And I think that’s pretty nakedly not a great way of apportioning social resources or measuring the quality of life.

W20: Let me switch gears to the next question, which is kind of a shadow version of the last one. We talked a little bit about smartphones, and about closely they seem to match the things you describe in the book as the start of the Bitchun society, these little handheld devices. So on the one hand we have the question of whether or not it can still be Bitchun if it’s run by corporations, if they’re provided not by these collectives but by Apple. And then, as a secondary question, to what extent was this novel your personal prediction for society’s future, and what did you not predict that you wish you had?

I’ve never really done anything predictive in my life. I always say that I try to predict the present. Which is to say that you take those elements that seem futuristic that are kind of floating around in the present, but because they’ve snuck up on us so gradually, because we were boiled frog-style so gently in them that we end up not even noticing that they’re there.

My friend Jim Griffin always says that anything invented before you’re 20 was there forever; anything invented before you’re 30 is the coolest thing ever; and anything invented after that should be illegal. And I think one great way that a science fiction writer can help overcome that, or call attention to that, is to have a look at what’s around you and the stuff that feels futuristic and just write about it as if it hadn’t been invented yet, as if it were something you were making up for a science fiction story. And so everyone goes, “Wow, look at that, it’s this incredibly futuristic thing that we have right here about to happen”—and then they look around again and say “Oh my god, it’s happened!”, even though it was there before you started.

So I guess the best example of this was a presentation I once heard someone give on gold-farming at a games conference about five years ago. And then I wrote a short story “predicting” there would be gold-farming in the future. And people who discovered the story first and then read the article, or read more articles as the phenomenon increased—there’s now 400,000 people who earn their living goldfarming—assume that I predicted it. And really what I’d done is written about something in the present as though it were being invented in the future.

I didn’t answer the part about whether smart phones can be Bitchun. And no, I don’t think so—I think the problem with smartphones is not necessarily that they’re run by corporations but the specific corporations that run them. Phone companies are basically a regulatory monopoly wrapped around a soft chewy core of greed and venality. The phone companies have always disguised a complete aversion to change, progress, and democracy by wrapping it up in high-minded talk about how they’re guardians our natural infrastructure. There’s a famous case called Hush-a-Phone in which finally customers won the right to attach a Privacy Cone—like the cone you put around your dog’s head when it has stitches—to the receiver of your phone. Because up until then Bell argued that connecting anything to a phone endangered the network, including, you know, putting stickers on it. And you see this today. Why can’t you get an open phone that you could run any software on? Oh, you could crash the network.

So I think the specifically the fact that cells are run by phone companies and then also run by control-freak companies like Apple that have decided that you shouldn’t be allowed to decide what software you want to run. And Apple has made this unholy alliance with the music industry, who are also great believers that you shouldn’t be able to inspect the workings of your device, and that you shouldn’t be able to use protocols anonymously, and so on. That unholy trinity of the entertainment industry, Apple, and the phone companies means you’ll never get anything remotely great out of mobile phones until someone breaks the deadlock.

W20: What about that last part, what did you not predict that you wish you had? I guess this doesn’t make sense as a question because you don’t predict anything.

You know, in terms of staying power, there are a few things that I predicted would still be in Disney World that have just shut down. The Adventurer’s Club, which I still think is the best Disney has ever done, is now shut. But I guess I could say that in my future they’re reopened it; I could fix that by adding a sentence that says, “The first thing they did was reopen the Adventurer’s Club,” and we’d be back in business.

W20: We were surprised to check your archives and find out that you’d liked the Johnny Deppification of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Given your character we thought you might have wanted it to stay the same.

I really like that. In fact we rode it last week, as we’re stuck in L.A. The new Lincoln Bot is good too; The new Lincoln Bot is awesome, actually: he’s lip-synching, he’s gesturing. The last Lincoln Bot, he was really, um—what they did is go back and research all of his historical gestures, and they put every single into his 90-second speech. They’d made it look like he had Tourette’s.

W20: I’m going to skip a question because we’re now talking about Disney World. They were really interested in why it was you set the novel in Disney World, how it fed into the plot or the themes of the novel. They were wondering if Disney World came first, or did it fit into the idea you had for the story line?

CD: No, it was definitely that Disney came first. I’d always wanted to write a book about Disney World. It’s always inspired me, going to Disney World. I find it inspiring as a piece of art and a piece of social engineering. And inspiring not in the entirely good sense, but inspiring in the sense that every time I go there I have a bunch of thoughts. It really gets both my creative and critical juices flowing, to go to Disney World. I’m not the only one; if you read Baudrillard, he spent all this time there too.

It definitely started with Disney, and to be totally frank one of the cool things about writing a book set in Disney World is that it makes your Disney trips tax-deductible. Which is sort of an interesting, science fictiony thing: anything you choose to write a book about becomes tax-deductible. There’s a reason why Iain Banks took a year off from writing thrillers to write a book about whiskey; his whiskey became tax deductible for a year!

Disney has always had a love-hate relationship, or at least an ambivalent relationship, with audience participation. And with remix, obviously, which is ironic given all the ways Disney has borrowed from the culture before it to make new and I think very good cultural artifacts, by and large.

The Mickey Mouse Club, in the early days, actually met and made their Mickey stuff, and did their own Mickey activities. There’s always been this aspect of, you know, take Mickey and make him part of your world—make your Disney memories classic memories of your life that stick with you forever. All that stuff has always been part of Disney’s DNA. At the same time they’re very proprietary: that shalt not copy, we own all rights in all media now known and yet to be invented throughout the universe, and so own. There’s also some of that.

But when you go to Disney World, what you find is that Disney’s implicit and sometimes explicit social contract with its visitors is that you are a resident of Disney World while you’re here. This is your place too. I once did one of the Disney management courses at the Disney Institute, and one of the things they said is that after a couple of days in Disney World people who are staying there start picking up trash when they see it.

So they want to form a social contract with says that you and we are in this together—which I think is one of the reasons Disney doesn’t go after people who put entire ride-throughs of their rides on YouTube, or why by and large they don’t stop you from taking photos even of the photo ops where they sell you the photo. There’s never a time when they tell you to put away your camera because you’re “on stage”; you can always have your camera out, you can always be shooting. And that’s because it’s your place too; you’re supposed to be making memories and taking them home because that’s where they’re getting their value from.

And yet they’re not completely into this; there’s a place at which the social contract breaks down and becomes a commercial relationship again. And I think it’s pretty natural that fans of Disney World, who’ve been told for generations to form a social contract with Disney where they treat it as their own place, and also become not just guests but custodians of it, start to act like custodians of it.

There’s a great book by Greg Egan called Quarantine—it’s his first novel. In it, there’s a conspiracy of kind of bad guys, and one of the things they do to anyone who is on their trail is put a chip in their brain that makes them absolutely loyal to the conspiracy: they can’t betray the conspiracy, they’re neurologically incapable of betraying the conspiracy. And the way that they get out of it is really clever: what they do is have this mental game in which they say, “Only people who have this chip can be truly loyal to the conspiracy. Therefore the people who put the chips in our head aren’t members of the true conspiracy. They’re members of a false conspiracy because they can choose to betray the conspiracy and we can’t. Therefore it is our duty as members of the true conspiracy to betray the people who put the chip in our heads that make us loyal to them.”

I always thought that was a really interesting little bit here, to say: Who are you to say that you’re the true keeper of the flame? Maybe I’m the true keeper of the flame. You’re just a corporation who’s in it to make as much money as you can from these assets. And maybe that converges sometimes with being the best custodian, and maybe sometimes it doesn’t; maybe sometimes you’ll go off and chase the quarterly profits at the expense of long-term value. Meanwhile, I have no commercial interest in it – therefore I’m a better custodian than you, I should have more say in it that you do. And I think that relationship beats in the heart of big Disney fans, the people you see who know the park like the back of their hand.

W20: So then my follow-up question about whether Disney is a utopia or an anti-utopia has again already been answered in the sense that it’s both, right—that it has these utopian qualities and then these other kinds of countervailing qualities that push against it.

CD: Yeah, that’s right.

W20: So, then, two more questions. The first one—we’ve had a lot of talk about ecology and the environment in our course, and we got a little hung up on what you meant by Free Energy, whether this was something you were imagining seriously as a post-scarcity economics or if it was just something that was some magical thing.

CD: This is Free Energy in the kind of crank sense—zero point energy, cold fusion, perpetual motion machines. The perpetual motion machine has been a feature of Utopianism since Newton I guess. It’s science fiction shorthand, I think, for all of the above—an entropy reversing ray, another universe from which you can siphon off energy, whatever it is. You know, theoretically, fusion, if we ever get, fusion becomes more or less free energy. Not even cold fusion; moderate temperature fusion is more or less free energy forever, because it turns water into electricity.

W20: I think the feeling of the students who asked this question really had to do whether or not this was kind of like the short-circuiting you were talking about with regard to Whuffie; that you kind of skip over the post-scarcity engine that makes this thing work, and that without something like Free Energy (which may or may not actually be possible, probably not) we could never actually get to the Bitchun society because we’d constantly be falling back in to the scarcity wars, constantly falling back into exploitation.

CD: I don’t know that scarcity is necessarily what drives exploitation. I think abundance can drive exploitation too. The record industry certainly responded to a death of scarcity in its core product as a social evil. I don’t know that abundance is necessarily the necessary precondition.

But this is more like the physicist who sits down at the start of the Gedankenexperiment: let us assume a perfectly spherical cow of uniform density. Every Gedankenexperiment necessarily elides certain details, because that’s not what the experiment is about. The thought experiment is not about

how we would get infinite energy, the thought experiment is about what we would do if scarcity vanished. There’s a different thought experiment about how we could get infinite energy; Damon Knight wrote a book called A for Anything that’s very good about that. A very cynical book, I think, but very good. And so there’s a lot of different variations on that theme.

W20. Last question and then I’ll let you go. Thanks for doing this. This was about whether you want to live in the Bitchun Society personally: Would you deadhead, erase memories, flashbake, use backups? What wouldn’t you do? Basically the question is: is the Bitchun Society Cory Doctorow’s Utopia?

CD: I would definitely backup; I would probably flashbake; I don’t think I would deadhead though it’s hard to say what you’d do after 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 years. Nobody really knows the answer to that question. And I think that by and large the Bitchun Society would be better than the one we have now; I don’t know that it’s Utopia. But one of the advantages of the Bitchun Society as opposed to other Utopias is that it doesn’t require a tabula rasa as an interim step.

I think Utopianism has genocide lurking in its bowels; I think a lot of Utopians are saying, “First we eradicate all the systems that are present. We settle all the grievances, we wipe the slate clean, we level the earth, we pave everything, and then we start from go.” The Bitchun Society doesn’t require that at all; it does have a lot of social upheaval in it, but it doesn’t begin “First what we do is kill anyone who has a beef with anyone else in the Middle East, and then we settle up with whoever is left.” That’s a bad solution.

All The Wednesday Links!

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* I got some really good news the other day: an NEH Summer Stipend! Here’s the full list of $22.8 million in awards and offers for 232 humanities projects.

* Two of the poems from the award-winning first collection of my partner, Jaimee Hills, are up at Waywiser Press: “Synaesthesia” and “Derrida Eats a Dorito.”

* I taught #GamerGate in my video game class yesterday. It wasn’t my favorite day of the semester, not by a long shot, but TNI‘s “Gaming and Feminism” post was a great help, particularly the link to Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games: Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 and Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male. I didn’t spend that much time on it, but I’m still tickled by Why So Few Violent Games?

Salvage-Marxism embraces the Socialist rococo, the feel-good where we can and the feel-bad where we must, the utopian and the unflinching. Salvage will bring together the work of those who share a heartbroken, furious love of the world, and our rigorous principle: Hope is precious; it must be rationed.

An ontology of the present is a science-fictional operation, in which a cosmonaut lands on a planet full of sentient, intelligent, alien beings. He tries to understand their peculiar habits: for example, their philosophers are obsessed by numerology and the being of the one and the two, while their novelists write complex narratives about the impossibility of narrating anything; their politicians meanwhile, all drawn from the wealthiest classes, publicly debate the problem of making more money by reducing the spending of the poor. It is a world which does not require a Brechtian V-effect since it is already objectively estranged. The cosmonaut, stranded for an unforeseeable period on this planet owing to faulty technology (incomprehensibility of set theory or mathemes, ignorance of computer programmes or digitality, insensibility towards hip-hop, Twitter, or bitcoins), wonders how one could ever understand what is by definition radically other; until he meets a wise old alien economist who explains that not only are the races of the two planets related, but that this one is in fact simply a later stage of his own socio-economic system (capitalism), which he was brought up to think of in two stages, whereas he has here found a third one, both different and the same. Ah, he cries, now I finally understand: this is the dialectic! Now I can write my report! Fredric Jameson, “The Aesthetics of Singularity.”

Terry Pratchett: “Not having battles, and doing without kings.”

* Confabulation in the humanities.

Fantasy scholarship needs theory. Badly.

The first African science fiction short story? Leonard Flemming’s ‘And So It Came To Pass.’

* Adam Kotsko: Notes toward an overanalysis of a failed sci-fi spin-off.

Did the Anthropocene Begin with the Deaths of 50 Million Native Americans? Defining the Anthropocene. The Inhuman Anthropocene.

* Scars of the Anthropocene: Japan builds a sea wall.

Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought. A $600-Million Fracking Company Just Sued This Tiny Ohio Town For Its Water.

Devastating report finds humans killed almost 3 million whales last century.

Costa Rica powered with 100% renewable energy for 75 straight days.

It’s May 2065, and Cornell’s Dean of Nonlitigable Revelry is angry. So good.

Welcome to Ohio State, Where Everything Is for Sale.

It’s true that some of the faculty opposed this deal (but only 84 percent,according to a survey), and it’s also true that since the Australian takeover, prices for parking permits have gone through the roof. But it is not true, as has been reported in some places, that faculty have formed hitchhiking co-ops because they can no longer afford to park on campus.

The important point here is that this deal puts the lie to the complaint we hear so often that college doesn’t prepare people for the real world. Our CFO, the guy who orchestrated this deal, has just landed a very lucrative job with the Australian firm he sold the parking to. It’s called synergy, baby! Look it up.

* Ayn Rand comes to UNC.

* UW Struggle: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Public Authority Edition. This Is What Wisconsin’s 2.5% Budget Cut Looks Like.

Sweet Briar Alumnae Outline Legal Case Against College.

U.Mass. Faces $3B in Debt. reclaimUC: “That’s nothing.” More links below the chart.


New York Attorney General Is Investigating Cooper Union’s Decision to Charge Tuition.

* “Why Tenure Matters.” Holy moly.

A former administrator at Chicago State University has accused its president and other officials of firing her in part because she refused their demands that she file a false sexual-harassment charge against a faculty member critical of the leadership.

University protests around the world: a fight against commercialisation.

* Free expression and academic labor.

It’s that mass contigency– the dramatic rise of at-risk academic labor like adjuncts and grad students– that creates the conditions that Cooke laments on campus. In the past, when a far higher portion of college courses were taught by tenured professors, those who taught college courses had much less reason to fear reprisals from undergraduates. They had the protection of the tenure system and often the benefit of faculty unions that could agitate on their behalf. But with so many instructors in a state of minimal institutional protection or authority, lacking long-term contracts, benefits, or collective bargaining, the risk of angered students multiplies. Adjuncts don’t even need to be fired; they can just not get any classes the next semester. Grad students don’t even need to be fired; they can just have their job applications placed on the deny pile. This is why I think the problem is actually probably much larger than the high-profile anecdotes would suggest. The greatest impediment to real pedagogical and political freedom on campus is self-censorship due to labor insecurity. Discussion of contingency is almost entirely absent in Cooke’s essay.

* Academics talking about money.

On the Meaning of “Natural Born Citizen.”

What If Education Reform Got It All Wrong in the First Place?

* Nearly a quarter century ago, “A Nation at Risk” hit our schools like a brick dropped from a penthouse window. One problem: The landmark document that still shapes our national debate on education was misquoted, misinterpreted, and often dead wrong.

Education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It’s a social and political project neoliberals want to innovate away.

What Happens When A 38-Year-Old Man Takes An AP History Test?

How one dad opted out his kindergartner from standardized testing.

Trying the 12-year-old “Slender Man” stabbers as adults is as illogical and barbaric as they are.

Plane Safety Cards Explained.

*A University of Calgary professor has written “the first scholarly study of the Archie comic,” titled Twelve-Cent Archie. Though some of his colleagues were skeptical, his motivation, Bart Beaty explains, was “to really challenge the kind of snobbery that’s inherent in the way that comics aren’t studied.” 

* Meanwhile, we live in very weird times: Archie vs. Predator.

* Ted Cruz, I think, speaks for us all: “My music tastes changed on 9/11.”

Lead prosecutor apologizes for role in sending man to death row.

* BREAKING: your weed killer is poisonous.

America’s race problem has been solved, and it was easier than you would have thought.

SF Bishop Sorry Sprinklers Installed To Roust Homeless Were Discovered ‘Misunderstood.’

* SMBC explains Heaven.

* Worst person in the world speaks.

* If you give a lion a CAT scan.

This Floating McDonalds Has Sat Empty For 28 Years.

* There goes my Plan B: Business Owner Millions in Debt Arrested Two Years After Faking Death.

Bruised Woman On Billboard Heals When People Look At Her, Reminds Passersby Of Dangers Of Ignoring Abuse.

* “As They Lay Dying”: Two doctors say it’s far too hard for terminal patients to donate their organs.

1. An Unknown Alien Being acquires a child’s forgotten book and mistakenly beliefs that it depicts proper protocol for interaction with the human world. Mustaba Snoopy.

Texas’ brazen attempt to silence one of its most effective death penalty defense lawyers.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the leading trade group for compound pharmacists is now discouraging its members from supplying the drugs necessary for lethal injections — in what represents the first official stance the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) has ever taken on death penalty issues. Relatedly.

* I’m not one for tech solutions generally but they should figure out a way to put microlocal cell phone jammers in cars. Nothing else is going to stop this from happening.

* The best description of social media I’ve ever seen:

Podcast: Government Doesn’t Want Anyone to Know FBI Agents Can See They’re Creating Terrorists.

Why Health Care Tech Is Still So Bad.

The strange things people Google in every state. The most common job in every state.

Before Judges, the Godfathers Become Sick Old Grandfathers.

H-Bomb Physicist Ignores Federal Order to Cut 5,000 Words From Memoir.

​The Apple Watch Is the Perfect Wrist Piece for Dystopia.

* The Second Death of Chinua Achebe. Chinua Achebe, no longer at ease.

* Nothing gold can stay: The Zelda TV show isn’t going to happen.

* And it’s not all death and destruction: There are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined.



Written by gerrycanavan

March 25, 2015 at 9:00 am

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One Thousand and One Wednesday Links!

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I’ve been incredibly busy lately, and things are only going to get worse in the next few weeks. But for now, some links!

* I made a Twitterbot that I’m pretty pleased with: @LOLbalwarming. It’s the only authentic voice left to us in these tough times.

* Book plug: Shaviro’s No Speed Limit: Three Essays on Accelerationism is really good. It’s the #3 book you should buy right now after the longstanding #1 and #2.

* And while I’m hawking stuff on Amazon: they discontinued my Swiss Army canvas wallet, so I had to find a new one. It’s leather, alas, but this Fossil wallet is everything else I want. It’s great.

* Submitted without comment: Letters in support of John McAdams from FIRE and AAUP.

* The shame of America’s parental leave.

Why, in this day and age, is there even a Save command in any application? Its very presence implies — indeed, guarantees — that the default state of the world is unsafe. This breaks the rule our ancestors learned over billions of years of interaction with the objective world: when you do something, it stays done, until undone. Saving considered harmful. After what happened to me the other week, I am 100% on board with this.

Manifesto of the Committee to Abolish Outer Space.

On Weird Fiction and the Interstitial.

Chris Ware, The Art of Comics No. 2.

* Great job alert: Associate/Full Professor/Shell Oil Endowed Chair (Shell Oil Endowed Chair in Oceanography/Wetland Studies/Tenure-Track/Tenured).

Salaita Goes After University Donors in Lawsuit Over Job Loss at Illinois. UIUC responds.

The Medicalization of Reasonable Accommodation.

* Facebook vs. the News Feed.

* Against professors as mandatory reporters.

Scott Walker budget cut sparks sharp debate on UW System. Deep cuts in Wisconsin. Anticipating budget cuts, nervous UW System tried to strike deal. Republican UW Professor Has Sharp Words For Walker Over Faculty Comment. Scott Walker’s State of Ignorance. A reckless proposal. A self-inflicted wound. Be skeptical. Chasing away UW’s stars. Cut athletics.

* Of course there’s time to kill primary and secondary ed, too.

* From the archives, apropos of absolutely nothing: Stalin, CEO.

“No Crisis” is a Los Angeles Review of Books special series considering the state of critical thinking and writing — literary interpretation, art history, and cultural studies — in the 21st century. A new installment to the series will be released at the beginning of each month through the fall of 2015. Our aim, as our introductory essay explains, is to “show that the art of criticism is flourishing, rich with intellectual power and sustaining beauty, in hard times.”

As an opening gambit, I want to suggest that undergraduate students do not care about digital humanities. I want to suggest further that their disinterest is right and even salutary, because what I really mean is that undergrads do not care about DH qua DH.

* Exciting new degradations: Bill Would Allow Texas Teachers To Kill Students.

Howard Middle School Teachers Fired for Teaching Black History.

Detroit Cop Who Killed 7-Year-Old Aiyana Stanley-Jones While She Slept Walks Free.

Texas school suspends 9-year-old for making ‘terroristic threats’ with magic ‘Hobbit’ ring.

Kermit Elementary Principal Roxanne Greer told the Odessa American that she could not comment on the suspension, because “all student stuff is confidential,” but Steward said that she told him that any and all threats to a child’s safety — including magical ones — would be taken seriously by the school.

* Harper Lee to publish new novel, 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird. Her editor tries to put a good spin on what for all the world looks like elder abuse.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 15, Cont’d: “Wellness” and the Anti-Vaxxers.

In France, police bravely defend liberal democracy from an eight-year-old boy.

The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland.

* Why is there no Norton Anthology of Paperwork?

Grace has Type 1 diabetes, for which there is no cure. Now 15 years old, she has endured approximately 34,000 blood tests, 5,550 shots and 1,660 medical tubing injections to keep her alive.

* “Soldiers familiar with social media sought for 77th Brigade, which will be responsible for ‘non-lethal warfare.’”

* The War Photo No One Would Publish.

* On running and street harassment.

* Bring the Jubilee: Croatia Cancels Debts For Tens Of Thousands Of Its Poorest People.

* Boing Boing reviews David Graeber’s The Utopia of Rules.

* Understanding The Man in the High Castle.

In the TV pilot, Juliana finds a banned newsreel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which portrays a world in which the Allies won the war. The idea that this might be true fills her with an almost religious, tearful enthusiasm. In Dick’s version, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a book. Juliana discovers that that book is true—but her reaction is not exactly fervor. Instead, it’s a mixture of hope, bafflement, and a kind of displaced, distant fear. “Truth, she thought. As terrible as death.” That truth, or at least one possible truth suggested by Dick, is that there is no radical disjunction between his alternate history and our own. The TV show encourages us to congratulate ourselves on our horror at the Nazis, and our distance from them. But Dick’s novel suggests, disturbingly, that the defeat of the Nazis did not, in fact, truly transform the world. Their evil was not banished; it’s still here with us, a dystopia we can choose, and that many of us do choose, every day.

The Institute for Dark Tourism Research aims to advance knowledge about the act of visitation to tourist sites of death, disaster or the seemingly macabre.

* Jupiter Ascending is the latest movie to prove there’s no movie so bad the Wachowskis won’t be allowed to make another one.

Americans Are Working So Hard, It’s Actually Killing People.

* The kids aren’t all right.

ecjrirbclmfyo1s1jzswStudy: You Can’t Change an Anti-Vaxxer’s Mind.

* Roald Dahl vs. the measles.

* Let’s politicize vaccines because why not.

* But friends, I’m here to tell you: it gets worse.

Although there were negligible differences among the racial groups in how frequently boys committed crimes, white boys were less likely to spend time in a facility than black and Hispanic boys who said they’d committed crimes just as frequently, as shown in the chart above. A black boy who told pollsters he had committed just five crimes in the past year was as likely to have been placed in a facility as a white boy who said he’d committed 40.

* Great read about one of the founders of the Men’s Rights Movement, a former national feminist.

* Inside that creepy Nationwide ad. “Show a gun. Show a gun. Show a gun.”

Which Racist UNC Building Are You Today? The University of North Carolina’s Silent Sam Statue Represents a Legacy of White Supremacy.

Clergy Send In Photos To Replace Images Of Black Youth Police Were Using For Target Practice.

Food Not Bombs Sues Fort Lauderdale Over Homeless Feeding Law.

* A brief history of the Star Wars expanded universe.

* A brief history of the Super Bowl points spread.

* The shame of the Patriots fan. They even managed to sneak in one more on their way to the championship last weekend.

Study Links Playing Tackle Football Before Age 12 To Cognitive Impairment.

Watching football after a traumatic brain injury.

Football has become a sport of science fiction, one that inhabits a world that only exists on television.

* The last days of football.

Florida says parents can’t opt out their kids from standardized tests.

The Cops Don’t Care About Violent Online Threats. What Do We Do Now?

* BREAKING: Politicians listen to rich people, not you.

* Propaganda has gotten way more sophisticated since the old days.

Man Wakes Up From Bender With Financial Problems Solved.

Consumption Of Buncha Crunch Reverently Paused During Unsettling Scenes Of ‘American Sniper.’

Report: Most Americans Can’t Even Name Their State’s Shadow Lord.

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

* Student evaluations are terrible, episode 281.

Transgender Kids Identify With Their Gender As Completely As Cisgender Kids.

Coming out as poor at an elite university.

* Probably wouldn’t be my first choice if I had that kind of cash, but: The Vatican Will Offer Free Shaves And Haircuts To Rome’s 3,276 Homeless People.

* Emoji and the law.

* Disability, the state, and minimum wage.

* Pettiness and the human condition.

* UVM Recognizes “Neutral” as a Gender Identity.

Police Reform Is Impossible in America.

* How to tell if you are in a soft science fiction novel.

Fun With Conspiracy Theories: Did the Chernobyl Disaster Cover Up Something Even Worse? WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!

* New York cooks up a special unit for kicking hippies.

When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild.

Meet the Two New Yorkers Who Are Starting a Preschool for Adults.

* When you stare too long into the abyss.

The #1 reason people die early, in each country.

Useless but Interesting Facts About America’s Married Couples.

* No, you’re lonely and depressed and lack self-control.

The United States is becoming a terrible place for air travel. “Becoming.”

* Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is back.

* And you can always spot the children of sociologists.



Written by gerrycanavan

February 4, 2015 at 8:00 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

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Closing All My Tabs Before I Flee The Country Links

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* The new issue of Extrapolation is out! This one was put together before I was an editor, but it’s still really great stuff.

* CFPs: Current Research in Speculative Fiction 2015. Tolkien at the University of Vermont. The Marquette Undergraduate Humanities Conference.

* Dear English Major: A 7-Step Guide to Your Final Semester as an English Major.

* It’s syllabus prep week at universities all across America. Here’s a provocative one from Vanderbilt: PHIL 213: Police Violence and Mass Incarceration.

* #MLA: Every Time You Fly, You Trash The Planet — And There’s No Easy Fix.

Solidarity without Affect: The MLA Subconference Enters Its Second Year. Via Freddie deBoer.

* Give me the child at 18 or so, and I will give you the man: Nine Percent of 114th U.S. Congress Are Alumni of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory.

California colleges see surge in efforts to unionize adjunct faculty. Washington University adjunct faculty vote to form a union.

Is depression a kind of allergic reaction?

* Why we can’t have nice things, 2015 edition: The Senate’s 46 Democrats got 20 million more votes than its 54 Republicans.

Pot Tax Adds $40+ Million To Colorado’s Economy: Crime, Traffic Deaths And Unemployment Are Down.

The Economics (and Nostalgia) of Dead Malls.

* Great moments in headcanon, Guardians of the Galaxy edition.

* I say teach the controversy: “Creationist: Aliens Will Go to Hell and Not Even Jesus Can Save Them.”

* Actual Supreme Court decisions: To remain silent, one must first speak.

* Dog bites man: 2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record Globally By Far.

On the 60th anniversary of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” the Los Angeles Review of Books has assembled a group of female authors, artists and performers who, dedicated to examining the faces, bodies and voices of the young girl, consider the significance of Nabokov’s pubescent protagonist as both a literary conceit and an object of patriarchal fetish.

* The process used is ridiculous and would result in termination if used.

As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set ’em free.

Here’s a comic strip about children dying of preventable diseases.

* Horrible attack on a satirical magazine in Paris.

A Colorado NAACP Office Was Bombed Today. A gasoline can near the bomb, apparently intended as a firebomb, failed to ignite.

People diagnosed with serious mental illness — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression — die 20 years early, on average, because of a combination of lousy medical care, smoking, lack of exercise, complications of medication, suicide, and accidents. They are the most discriminated-against and neglected group in the U.S., which has become probably the worst place in the developed world to be mentally ill.

In Defense of Prince Hans.

Tangled, Brave, and Frozen All Made the Same Critical Mistake.

* How doctors die.

Nestle CEO: Water Is Not A Human Right, Should Be Privatized.

The Suburbanization of the US Working Class.

Few things we criminalize because they are ‘harmful’ are anywhere close as harmful as prison.

How White Liberals Used Civil Rights to Create More Prisons.

Ferguson Grand Juror Sues Prosecutor To Lift Gag Order.

“The little girl come to my door,” 71-year-old Larry Wilkins told NBC News. “She told me that her mom and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down. She asked if she could stay here.”

“I’m no longer watching television in which middle-aged men figure out how to be men. I’d rather watch shows about teenaged girls figuring out what it means to be a monster.”

* Gender, blah, blah, blah.

A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below 25 grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those earning more than 150 grand a year give away only 2.7 percent. A UCLA neuroscientist named Keely Muscatell has published an interesting paper showing that wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy: If you show rich people and poor people pictures of kids with cancer, the poor people’s brains exhibit a great deal more activity than the rich people’s. (An inability to empathize with others has just got to be a disadvantage for any rich person seeking political office, at least outside of New York City.) “As you move up the class ladder,” says Keltner, “you are more likely to violate the rules of the road, to lie, to cheat, to take candy from kids, to shoplift, and to be tightfisted in giving to others. Straightforward economic analyses have trouble making sense of this pattern of results.”

Our New Politics of Torture.

The Cost of US Wars Since 9/11: a mere $1.6 Trillion.

The CIA has to approve every script for spy drama The Americans.

* Here’s what’s in the new issue of The Journal of Puerile Mathematics.

* Preach! Scientists Agree Work Makes You Wake Up Too Early.

United States Passes Old Soviet Union For Largest Prison System In History.

“Police Shoot, Kill [X].”

Visibility As Violence On Social Media.

‘Bullsh*t jobs’: Guerrilla posters welcome commuters back to work.

In Preventing Trans Suicides, ‘We Have Such A Long Way To Go.’

The True Cost of Teach For America’s Impact on Urban Schools.

* I can’t believe I’d never read this before: the original script to Back to the Future is wonderfully bananas, including the “nuke the fridge” scene from Crystal Skull thrown in as a sweetener.

* Peak neoliberalism: eventheliberal Kevin Drum says an AI revolution that will be “pretty brutal for the 90 percent of the population that occupies the middle classes and below” will be a “basically positive” development.

* PS: Drum might have been overestimating the timetable here. In 10 years, your job might not exist.

The paper makes no claims about in-person classes or very large online courses, but says that the study’s findings provide “the first evidence that increasing class sizes in the online context may not degrade the quality of the class.” And the paper says that “these results could have important policy and financial implications.”

‘Philosophy is for posh, white boys with trust funds’ – why are there so few women?

What To Do When You Discover Your Co-Worker Writes Erotic Hulk Fanfic.

Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed.’ Well, that’s debatable.

67 Science Fiction And Fantasy Movies To Watch Out For In 2015.

The 20 Worst Films Of 2014.

The 10 Most Insignificant Wars in History.

A Nuclear Plant Leaked Oil Into Lake Michigan For Two Months Straight.

* Our Animal Hell.

Police say at least 30 people are sleeping permanently in Madrid airport’s terminal 4 but the number goes up in winter.

In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a “Vision Zero” plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. “We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads,” says Hans Berg of the national transport agency. Swedes believe—and are now proving—that they can have mobility and safety at the same time.

* Cell Phones Don’t Seem to Cause Brain Cancer.

We lost our son to football and brain disease. This is our story.

They Might Be Giants, Again: The Adult Comeback of a Cult Band. Even Dial-a-Song is back.

* Science fiction poetry: “Sci-Fi Violence.”

Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy are Probably Totally Illiterate.

* Star Trek: The Next Generation in forty hours.

* It’s good to get ahead of things: Should Martians Pay U.S. Taxes?

“Hold for release till end of the world confirmed.”

* And the winner of the Worst Thing Written in 2015 has been announced. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you again in 2016.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 7, 2015 at 8:30 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Weekend Links!

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* C21 2015 call for papers: “After Extinction.”

* More 2014 postmortems: The Democrats Have Two Choices Now: Gridlock or Annihilation. And in Michigan: Democrats Get More Votes, Lose Anyway. Davis Campaign Marked by Failed Tactics, Muddled Messages. Stop denying the truth: The Democrats got walloped. What happened to that Democratic turnout machine? Game Change ’14. What Does It Mean for Hillary? Stop Whining About Young Voters, You Jerks. Shockingly, my call to abolish the Constitution altogether has received little traction.

* Thankfully, it’s not all bad news: I was about to hype up a Scott Walker 2016 run. Then I watched his victory speech.

* Elsewhere in the richest, most prosperous society ever to exist in human history: Ninety-year-old man faces jail for giving food to homeless people.

* The 85 richest people on the planet now have as much money as the poorest 3.5 billion.

* It’s Cheaper to Buy a Judge Than a State Senator.

* Uber Is Pushing Drivers Into Subprime Loans. If you want a vision of the future: Amazon Is Beta-Testing Uber to Deliver Packages.

What I’m not concerned with here is achieving some final and total harmony between the interests of each and the interests of all, or with cleansing humanity of conflict or egotism. I seek the shortest possible step from the society we have now to a society where most productive property is owned in common – not in order to rule out more radical change, but precisely in order to rule it in.

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing. Flipping Schools: The Hidden Forces Behind New Jersey Education Reform. Massachusetts Committed to Chasing Teachers Away.

* Are We Forgiving Too Much Student-Loan Debt? CHE is ON IT.

* What could possibly go wrong? Obama Vows to Work With Republicans on College Costs.

* Oh, right, thatBanks Urge Investors To Buy For-Profit College Stocks Now That The GOP Is Taking Back Congress.

B1i4ZGTCMAAO3IW.jpg-large* Seems like a great bunch of guys: For-Profit Groups Sue to Block Gainful Employment Rules. The estimate is that 65% of for-profit students are enrolled in programs that wouldn’t pass.

* Six years after the crisis that cratered the global economy, it’s not exactly news that the country’s biggest banks stole on a grand scale. That’s why the more important part of Fleischmann’s story is in the pains Chase and the Justice Department took to silence her.

* R0y Lichtenstein’s “Whaam!” painting is based on one of my panels from an old DC war comic. Roy got four million dollars for it. I got zero.

Violence Is Currency: A Pacifist Ex-Con’s Guide To Prison Weaponry.

* How GamerGate Is Influencing MIT Video Game Teachers. I’m wrestling with how much this needs to take over the syllabus of my “Video Game Culture” seminar next semester.

* It’s hard to study Scientology.

“For those of us born in a post-Reagan America, having operated within this system our whole lives, there can be no doubt that Michel Foucault’s thinking describes our present.”

* In search of oil realism. I’ve just submitted an abstract for a chapter title “Peak Oil after Hydrofracking,” so this is definitely on my mind.

* NYC pastor: Starbucks is flavoured with the semen of sodomites. It’s called pumpkin spice, sir.

* My evil dad: Life as a serial killer’s daughter.

* Scenes from the class struggle in the legal industry.

* Star Wars 7 has a name.

I actually don’t think this sounds terrible. I like the hint of menace I hear in “The Force Awakens,” as if the Force itself could be the enemy in the new trilogy. Who put this unelected energy field in charge of everything, anyway? Abolish the Force.

* Abolish the CW: Physicists determine that being rescued by The Flash is worse than being hit by a car.

* If you want a vision of the future: Disney announces Toy Story 4. More below the hilarity.


* I regret to inform you the ideology at its purest contest has closed. Thank you for your submission, but we have a winner.

* In a era without heroes, his website was our last hope: Meet the Mysterious Creator of Rumor-Debunking Site

* The original version of Being John Malkovich, which I have fond memories of, would have been almost completely unwatchable.

The Slow Unveiling of James Tiptree Jr.

* About 200,000 years ago, it was determined that spaceships could be powered by ennui.

* The Innocence Project was the last thing I believed in. Now I’m finally purged of hope.

* And just in time.

* And they say this society can no longer achieve great things: Reality TV’s New Extreme: Being ‘Eaten Alive’ by a Giant Anaconda Snake.


Written by gerrycanavan

November 7, 2014 at 8:37 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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