Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘violence

Weekend Links, Omnibus Edition (Only $19.99/Month for the First Six Months at the Canavan Pro Tier)

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* I watched The Stanford Prison Experiment (from 2015) yesterday, so of course I spent the rest of the day reading up on it. Some bonus Milgram!

* Nalo Hopkinson has created the Lemonade Award, which will be awarded to five people or groups who “perform small and large actions of kindness” in the SFF field.

Capybaras break out of Toronto zoo, on the lam for 3 weeks.

* Behold: Pigoons.

* The economics of Hamilton.

* The fuzzy math of drone war.

* PTSD and embodied consciousness, or, modern warfare destroys the brain.

* “The board of trustees voted to cut African-American studies, philosophy, religious studies and women’s studies.” Clearly Bruce Rauner wants to weaken unions. But I suspect that his ambition goes further: the mantra of “flexibility” now in play in Wisconsin would seem to be a strategy to diminish or eliminate whole fields of academic endeavor: African-American studies, art history, classical studies, cultural studies, foreign languages, literature, philosophy, queer studies, women’s studies, whatever might be deemed impractical, unprofitable, unacceptable.

Liberal-Arts Majors Have Plenty of Job Prospects, if They Have Some Specific Skills, Too.

* 25 Words Your Kindergartener Must Know Before First Grade.

Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that’s not entirely what it seems. It’s about three people living in a weird future, possibly on a space station, probably in a love triangle. You know it’s the future because H (played with neurotic gravity by Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch) is wearing a shiny gold jacket, H2 (Elisabeth Gray) is playing with computers, and C (Humphrey Ker) announces that he has to “go to the skull” before sticking his face into a bunch of green lights. It sounds like your typical sci-fi B-movie, complete with an incoherent plot. Except Sunspring isn’t the product of Hollywood hacks—it was written entirely by an AI. To be specific, it was authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that’s what we’d call it. The AI named itself Benjamin.

* This paper seems like a B- at best: The authors regret that there is an error in the published version of “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51. The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed. Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response. Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.

“Shut up and don’t talk to me again, okay?” the flight attendant says in the video. “If you talk to me again, I tell the cops, and you get arrested in Miami.”

There is a Dalek in the BBC that could actually help save your life.

* Department of precrime, parenting edition.

2 Valedictorians in Texas Declare Undocumented Status, and Outrage Ensues.

* Interesting times: Mitch McConnell Won’t Rule Out Rescinding His Endorsement of Donald Trump. Romney says Trump will change America with ‘trickle-down racism.’ #NeverTrump 2.0. Hundreds Say Donald Trump Has a Problem Paying His Bills. How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions. The Next Two Weeks: Either Trump Or Unexpected Redemption Led by Wisconsin.

Gawker Files for Bankruptcy After Losing Hulk Hogan Privacy Case.

* On crafting a victim-impact statement.

Spomenik_01Abandoned Yugoslavian Monuments.

This sense of helplessness in the face of such entrenched segregation is what makes so alluring the notion, embraced by liberals and conservatives, that we can address school inequality not with integration but by giving poor, segregated schools more resources and demanding of them more accountability. True integration, true equality, requires a surrendering of advantage, and when it comes to our own children, that can feel almost unnatural.

Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie.

Last year, inmates served 79,726 dead days at a cost of $143 per person per day in 2015. In other words, people spent 218 years’ worth of unnecessary time in jail at a cost of $11 million to taxpayers.

* The Future of War.

* People who value time over money are happier.

Instead of flipping through photo albums to reminisce, guest contributor Janine Hawkins loads up her late mother’s saved games.

* Headcanon watch: Han Solo was an untrained Force user. Stan Lee Is Playing the Watcher in Every Marvel Film.

What Game of Thrones Changed About Its Big Antiwar Speech, and Why It Matters.

Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland on Their Original Rick & Morty Season 2 Finale Plan, Season 3.

How to Stage a Broadway Musical With Deaf Actors.

Elon Musk and the Pentagon may be working on a real-life Iron Man suit.

* Reckoning with OJ.

Enter the Wild, Disturbing, Alien-Busting World of the Astralnauts.

Study: Most antidepressants don’t work for young patients.

* “I Was 20 Weeks Pregnant When They Told Me My Baby Might Never Be Able to Walk.” Gut-wrenching story. Serious trigger warning for miscarriage and for type-one diabetes.

As far as legal experts are aware, the Oregon court decision is the first time a court in the U.S. has ruled that nonbinary is a legal gender.

* When I later asked him whether the “Mr. Nobody” moniker ever bothered him he said “No, why should it have? There are two things about me. First, I am a very happy person, though I’ve lived an unhappy life. And sec­ond, I’m happy until I have to say my name, which carries a great deal of negativity for me. What troubles most people is that I want to be anonymous, without an identity. To them, this idea seems absolutely dangerous.”

Aphantasia: How It Feels To Be Blind In Your Mind.

Welcome to Larry Page’s Secret Flying-Car Factories.

* The end of the gas station.

* The end of non-digital film.

Bryce Masters was 17 years old when a police officer tased him for 23 seconds. His heart stopped for almost eight minutes. His life will never be the same.

What’s the most “normal” place in the US?

How the Police Identify Threats on Social Media. How Colleges Train for Active Shooters on Campus.

* Miracles and wonders: Man lives 555 days without a heart.

I am awaiting some sign from Twitter that it cares whether its platform is becoming a cesspit of hate.

* I want to believe! Sorry But Medieval Armies Probably Didn’t Use Fire Arrows.

* Understanding time travel in Game of Thrones. Distills down the leading Bran theories for your lunchtime consumption.

* I think I’ve done this one before, but: Class Struggle: The Board Game.

* It sounds like Larry David is thinking about Curb Your Enthusiasm again.

* Rolling Jubilee v. John Oliver in The Baffler.

Creative Ways To Fix Your Broken Phone Screen.

* Let William Shatner Sell You a Commodore VIC-20.

* Animal liberation now! Harry Potter play to stop using live owls.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 11, 2016 at 10:22 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Make Mine Tuesday Links!

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* “Once upon a time, there was an angry guy, who hated the story he was in. All right?” Charles Yu in the New Yorker.

* Huge congratulations to my recent (last week!) student Michael Welch (ENGW ’16), winner of the 2016 Florence Kahn Memorial Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies and the author of the poetry chapbook But Sometimes I Remember, now at Amazon!

* “Marquette reports surge in student demand for incoming class.” Well, that’s good news!

* Division of Precrime: There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 11.34.56 PMJust How Few Professors of Color Are at America’s Top Colleges?

So what can we do? The solution is very simple! Don’t date your students. Don’t stalk, harass, or overshare your feels with your students. Don’t expect them to perform emotional or sexual labor for you. Treat them like professionals, so that they can become the professionals they want to be without being humiliated or having their or your intellectual enthusiasm questioned or second-guessed.

* The number of times DoJ has invoked the state secrets privilege is a state secret.

In effect, we have two American economies. One is made up of expensive coastal zip codes where the pundits proclaiming “recovery” are surrounded by prosperity. The other is composed of heartland regions where ordinary Americans struggle without jobs. Over 50 million Americans live in what the Economic Innovation Group calls “distressed communities”—zip codes where over 55% of the population is unemployed. Of those distressed communities, over half are in the South, defined generously by the census as the region stretching from Maryland and Delaware to Oklahoma and Texas. The rest tend to live in Midwest rust belt cities that have long suffered from economic decline, like Gary, Indiana and Cleveland, Ohio. It is nearly impossible for Americans of the latter group to move to the cities of the former group—or to work in the industries that shape public perception of how the economy is going.

* This ed-reform trend is supposed to motivate students. Instead, it shames them.

* I’m actually surprised Terry McAuliffe almost made it the entire way through his first term.

“The apocalypse is never that single cataclysmic event,” remarks a resistance leader of an imaginary nation to her psychiatrist in a conversation at the heart of “In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain” (2015), the most recent film of Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour and the central piece in her solo exhibition at Sabrina Amrani Gallery. In the film, a resistance group is on a mission to produce a future history for a made-up civilization: by making underground deposits of elaborate porcelain, the group supports its claims to the existence of a people before their obliteration by a colonial power. In line with the classical sci-fi format, the digital film is set in a dystopian territory without a future, or at the very end of historical time. The master narrative of the end-of-times is not an event but a condition: Disaster becomes not sheer bad luck, but a fixed lens through which history is narrated.

* Visual cultures of indigenous futurisms.

Program’s focus on Aboriginal literature a first.

1890 Map of Indigenous Languages of the Americas.

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* Why you should respond to student requests.

* “Possible Conflict at Heart of Clinton Foundation.” Well I suppose anything’s possible.

February national polls are the best you get until August. But let’s all panic just the same.

* #welcometonightvale: For all the advances in transplant surgery in the 62 years since doctors first moved a kidney from Ronald Herrick to his identical twin, Richard, the method of transporting organs remains remarkably primitive. A harvested heart, lung, liver or kidney is iced in a plastic cooler, the kind you might take to the beach, then raced to an operating room where a critically ill patient and his surgical team are waiting. The new approach flips that idea — emphasizing warmth instead of cold and maintaining an organ’s natural processes rather than slowing them down. That may speed an individual heart or liver’s return to service, and it offers the eventual possibility of more: the potential to reduce the chronic shortage of organs for transplant by expanding the pool of usable ones.

* Inside The Looming Disaster Of The Salton Sea.

* One Hundred Years of Gender-Segregated Public Restrooms.

* Parts of New Orleans Are Sinking Fast, Study Finds.

Has the age of quantum computing arrived?

Zika is coming, but we’re far from ready.

* Nothing gold can stay: Lego sets have become more violent to keep up with the times, new study shows.

* #ready4tyrion

* #Holdthedoor (from 2014!).

* #bluelivesmatter

“Dad wrote pirate porn, ghost porn, science-fiction porn, vampire porn, historical porn, time-travel porn, secret-agent porn, thriller porn, zombie porn, and Atlantis porn.” LARoB reviews Chris Offutt’s My Father, The Pornographer.

* No more water, the fire next time: xkcd explores the weirdly specific promise of the rainbow.

* William Gibson’s first comic book project, Archangel.

* Blastr actually liked DC Rebirth.

The planet would warm by searing 10C if all fossil fuels are burned, according to a new study, leaving some regions uninhabitable and wreaking profound damage on human health, food supplies and the global economy. ^when

* And we are all star stuff.

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Friday Morning Links!

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* CFP: Anticipations: H. G. Wells, Science Fiction and Radical Visions.

* “A mysterious infection may have killed 15 people in Wisconsin, and health officials aren’t sure why.”

* The Coming Desert.

* It’s basically become a standing assignment at the Marquette Tribune to ask me about some weird thing I like once a semester. And while we’re on that subject: a preview of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther.

* Hard times at Mizzou. This new enrollment decline — seemingly on top of the demographic dip nationwide — looks like a complete disaster for the troubled campus, which the administration has effortlessly managed to weaponize in pursuit of its own goals. Meanwhile: Melissa Click Breaks Silence, Backs AAUP Inquiry.

Luxurious College Apartments, Built on Debt.

In Illinois and Pennsylvania, eight-month budget stalemates threaten the future of public higher education.

* The end of tenure in Wisconsin.

* “Are becoming.”

* March Sadness, 2016.

* AlphaGo wins again.

Fukushima: Tokyo was on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, admits former prime minister. Miami’s oceanfront nuclear power plant is leaking.

* What happens if there’s a supervolcano?

* The Wachowski sisters.

Teaching kids philosophy makes them smarter in math and English.

* Alternate title: Bernie Sanders has no path to a delegate majority. Even so, that Michigan win was pretty great.

* Even the neoliberal Matt Yglesias: How Bernie Sanders convinced me about free college.

Study suggests grad students may outperform faculty members in the classroom and may also benefit from time away from their dissertations.

In stories of classroom sexual harassment, popular teachers are often the perpetrators.

The survey found that presidents did seem to be aware of the frustrations of minority students on other presidents’ campuses.

* Dystopia now: United confirms 10-abreast seating on some of its 777s.

* …just another instance of the bipartisan “smell weakness, then mercilessly swarm” routine that everyone has apparently decided is a healthy and beneficial norm for online life.

At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs And Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot To Stop Trump. It’s Getting Harder For Donald Trump To Deny That His Top Aide Assaulted A Reporter. Donald Trump Encourages Violence At His Rallies. His Fans Are Listening. Legitimacy and violence. The plan.

* The arc of history is long, but Home Depot might pay up to $0.34 in compensation for each of the 53 million credit cards it leaked.

“Magic in North America”: The Harry Potter franchise veers too close to home.

Revealed: the 30-year economic betrayal dragging down Generation Y’s income. (via)

* 100% absolutely yes: Janelle Monae Will Co-Star in a Movie About the Women Behind the Space Program.

Former College Student Wins Lawsuit After Being Told Men Were ‘Turned On’ By Her Pregnancy.

* xkcd: Map of the Repositioned United States.

As a result, the complaint stated, Choudhry was disciplined with a 10 percent reduction in salary for one year and required to write a letter of apology to Sorrell. Sorrell alleged in the lawsuit that she was told by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele that he had “seriously considered terminating the Dean” but had decided not to because “it would ruin the Dean’s career.” Berkeley’s handling of sexual harassment is a disgrace.

U.N.C. Football Player Who Ended Up Homeless Had C.T.E.

Reddit Users Were Asked To Sum Up Their First Sexual Experience With A GIF.

* How many LEGO would it take to…

* A brief history of allergies.

* google lightsaber truth

* google jar jar truth

* google spiderman sounds weird truth

The Armed Campus in the Anxiety Age.

The making of Cosmic Encounter, the greatest boardgame in the galaxy.

* Being Sid Meier.

* Sleep is important, apparently. I know I miss it.

* Saturday Morning Breakfast Orpheus.

* Y’all ready for a tech crash?

* And the worst part is, now they won’t even let us complain!

* And this is very promising: Huntington’s disease gene dispensable in adult mice.

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Written by gerrycanavan

March 11, 2016 at 9:30 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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NYEE Links! A Whole Lot of Them!

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* What happened when slaves and free men were shipwrecked together. Amazing read.

* Schedule for the MLA Subconference.

The MLA’s annual report on its Job Information List has found that in 2014-15, it had 1,015 jobs in English, 3 percent fewer than the previous year. The list had 949 jobs in foreign languages, 7.6 percent fewer than 2013-14. The full report.

“These young T.A.s believed they were being asked to prostitute themselves in order to increase enrollment in the Spanish Department.”

33fede02e91b49a340ebc73e372b33f9* A gallery of interesting gravestones.

* Reading Everything Aaron Swartz Wrote.

* “Obscure law lets Prince of Wales set off nuclear bombs.”

* “The hidden legacy of 70 years of atomic weaponry: at least 33,480 Americans dead.”

* Your weekly must-read: N.K. Jemisin has a new SF/F column in the The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Gender, Sex, and Sexuality in SF: A Conversation.

Adjuncts at Loyola University Chicago Want a Union. Will the Jesuit University Respect Their Demands?

* The Absolute Disruption blog has some thoughts on spoilerphobia and The Force Awakens, with a digression through my Tolkien/TFA piece. That piece has had some interesting patterns of circulation, incidentally; the Salon piece did well on Facebook and Twitter while the WordPress version has had a second life in the conservative blogosphere by way of Ross Douthat and Tyler Cowen….

* George Lucas, genius. Another oral history of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Star Wars and the death of culture. What was cut from The Force Awakens. 13 Story Ideas That Were Dropped from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. What is a Mary Sue, and does Star Wars: The Force Awakens have one? I have not seen the new Star Wars but ambient levels of Star Wars have reached such a peak that I feel eminently qualified to review it without actually seeing the film or even reading a plot synopsis. Anakin Skywalker and the Methods of Rationality.

Given that the term Mary Sue will always carry gendered connotations and that it is highly likely to be disproportionately applied to female protagonists—who, in big budget epics, are already vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts—I see very little benefit to its continued use.

* “This iconic picture will live in history. When a women escaped ISIS territory and was able to wear color again.” More links after the photo.

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A suggestion for search committees, and some questions.

The Irresistible Psychology of Fairy Tales.

* From the archives: The Really Big One.

When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover* some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people.

* ESPN is such a money pit it’s even dragging Star Wars down.

* My life as a job creator.

Guy Beats Fallout 4 Without Killing Anyone, Nearly Breaks The Game.

It’s a brute-force method, yes. Like I said earlier, Fallout 4 really doesn’t want you to play the game this way, and all of its mechanics ensure that, at some point during a normal playthrough, you’ll have to lodge bullets into someone’s noggin. Even if you take the so-called peaceful perks.

Cleveland Officer Will Not Face Charges in Tamir Rice Shooting Death. How Can No One Be to Blame for Tamir Rice’s Death? How Philadelphia prosecutors protect police misconduct: Cops get caught lying — and then get off the hook. Police Rarely Criminally Charged for On-Duty Shootings. When is it legal for a cop to kill you?

Why we turned off comments on Tamir Rice news stories.

* ASU’s Global Freshman Academy Is a Complete Bust.

* Being Véra Nabokov.

* Today in loopholes: consumptive demand.

* Loophole watch, part two: Pope Francis: atheists who follow their consciences will be welcome in Heaven.

* Why not cubic centimeters, or raw tonnage? Among other issues, the report said, Princeton had allotted “only 1,500 square feet” for student incubator and accelerator programs, “whereas Cornell has 364,000; Penn 200,000; Berkeley 108,000; Harvard 30,000; Stanford 12,000; Yale 7,700; N.Y.U. 6,000; and Columbia 5,000.” 

* Great moments in political campaigning.

* This story has everything.

* Like Goodfellas but for embezzling from a fruitcake company.

For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions.

* Africa and the Looting Machine.

* The House That Marx Built. Marxism for Tomorrow.

How Esurance Lost Its Mascot to the Internet.

* NSFW, obviously, but: These Real Women Want to Show You How to Give Them an Orgasm.

* Everything is totally normal, don’t even sweat it.

* We’ve been talking about climate change for a long time. Why Engineers Can’t Stop Los Angeles’ Enormous Methane Leak.

The Opium Wars, Neoliberalism, and the Anthropocene.

The Radical History of 1960s Adult Coloring Books.

The DMCA poisoned the Internet of Things in its cradle.

* More than one-third of wells in dairy farm-intensive Kewaunee County were found to be unsafe because they failed to meet health standards for drinking water, according to a new study.

William Gibson: how I wrote Neuromancer.

This Man Just Guessed How Much the Movies Have Spent “Rescuing” Matt Damon.

* For the poor in the Deep South’s cities, simply applying for a job exposes the barriers of a particularly pervasive and isolating form of poverty.

* Your 2016 TV Preview.

Why Do Employers Still Routinely Drug-Test Workers?

When Gun Violence Felt Like a Disease, a City in Delaware Turned to the C.D.C.

Reports of rapes of college-age women in localities of big-time teams go up significantly on game days, national study finds.

After difficult summer, UW-Madison fighting off efforts to poach top professors. The view from the provinces.

The Coolest Images From National Geographic’s 2015 Photo Contest. This Is Your Brain on Nature.

Star Wars Lego Sets Exploding at 3,000 Frames per Second Is the Best Guilty Pleasure.

* When Bobby Shrugged.

The science myths that will not die.

* Because you demanded it! The DeBoerist Manifesto.

* And Here’s More Evidence That Galactic Super-Civilizations Don’t Exist. But don’t you believe it! Bring on 2016!

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 30, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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End of the Semester Fire Sale: Every Link Must Go

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* Another galaxy is possible: Toshiro Mifune turned down Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader roles.

* CFP: Current Research in Speculative Fiction 2016.

The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

* Huntington’s disease and engineered humanity.

* A little on-the-nose, don’t you think? USS Milwaukee breaks down at sea.

* Elsewhere on the Milwaukee beat: Millennials: They’re Just Like Us!

College Football Coaches Are Making Millions Off A Useless Metric.

* AAUP calls UI search a ‘crude exercise in naked power.’

Report Highlights Faculty Conditions at Jesuit Colleges.

We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to publish internationally bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson’s first stand-alone short story in twenty-five years.

* The Marquette Tribune did a short followup on my magic and literature class, returning this spring.

* 95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue. How Will the Professors Act When Fascism Comes to America? I asked 5 fascism experts whether Donald Trump is a fascist. Here’s what they said. Understanding Trumpism the Scott Adams Way. And here’s where things get wild: GOP preparing for contested convention. Trumpism would be the perfect ideology for a third party.

When Popular Fiction Isn’t Popular: Genre, Literary, and the Myths of Popularity.

* On English studies and ennui. Gee, I wonder why a cohort of people who have discovered too late that they have committed themselves to an imploding profession might feel a little bit depressed.

* On the plus side: More Useless Liberal Arts Majors Could Destroy ISIS.

* The College of Saint Rose has laid off a number of tenured faculty, among them Scott Lemieux.

* Another mass shooting was over. The country had moved on. But inside one house in Oregon, a family was discovering the unending extent of a wound.

* Every year, roughly 40,000 people die in Minnesota. For some, it’s weeks or months before anyone finds them. Meet the crew who comes in to clean up the mess.

Amazing Graphics Show How Much Fruits Have Changed Since Humans Started Growing Them.

* At least five police officers present during a shooting that was captured on a video that has created a firestorm of protest in this city supported a discredited version of events told by the officer who fired the fatal shots, newly released records show. Laquan McDonald and police perjury: a way forward. The U.S. Department of Justice unit that investigates civil rights violations by police departments has only about 18 employees who work on such investigations full-time. According to a former head of the unit, a forthcoming probe into the Chicago PD could overwhelm its “ridiculously small” staff. Good luck to them! Meanwhile, Rahm tries to hold on to power despite a clear need to resign.

* Here’s how Las Vegas police halted a trend in excessive force.

* In the 1950s, a group of scientists spoke out against the dangers of nuclear weapons. Should cryptographers take on the surveillance state. 

* How the Democrats flubbed San Bernardino. The worst part is most them seem not to have noticed.

* Nice work if you can get it: Top 20 billionaires worth as much as half of America.

* An Isochronic Map of the World from London, c. 1914. More links after the map!

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* The geography of student debt.

* UBI in Finland — though it looks a bit like stealth social safety net cuts to me.

* On Jane Vonnegut.

Does America Deserve Malala?

* @Batman66labels.

* Obama scandal watch: This one does seem pretty corrupt, actually.

* Abandoned America: the Hershey Chocolate Factory.

* God save Title IX from its champions: ‘Hunting Ground’ Filmmakers to Harvard Law Profs: Criticizing Our Film Could Create a ‘Hostile Climate.’ When the core belief is that accusers never lie, if any one accuser has lied, it brings into question the stability of the entire thought system, rendering uncertain all allegations of sexual assault. But this is neither sensible nor necessary: that a few claims turn out to be false does not mean that all, most, or even many claims are wrongful. The imperative to act as though every accusation must be true—when we all know some number will not be—harms the over-all credibility of sexual assault claims. Relatedly, Newsweek has an article covering “the other side” of campus rape investigations.

* Telltale will make a Batman game.

* Two strikes against the next Wes Anderson movie: “…it’s a Japanese story and I’m playing a dog.”

* The Last Dalai Lama?

Servicemen Contradict Military’s Account Of Attack On MSF Hospital In Afghanistan.

* The arc of history is long, but Red Mars is finally going to series.

* Last year carbon emissions dropped while the economy grew for the first time in history.

* On anorexia.

* Public history at UNC: tracing the history of building names.

Reading Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Islamophobia.

* ACA collapse watch: The lone health insurance cooperative to make money last year on the Affordable Care Act’s public insurance exchanges is now losing millions and suspending individual enrollment for 2016.

* The Sports Bubble Is About to Pop. Don’t Let Kids Play Football. It’s Time To Take The Warriors’ Chances Of Going 73-9 Seriously. Golden State Warriors: best team in NBA history? The last team to start 20-0 like the Warriors was so good that its league folded.

* Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence.

All The Items Of Clothing Women Have Been Told Not To Wear In 2015.

This Supercut of All the Non-Leia Female Dialogue in the Original Star Wars Trilogy Will Astound You.

* The Founders and Islam.

* These People Took DDT Pills In the 1970s to Prove it Was Safe.

Being a good looking man could hinder your career, study finds. Happiness Doesn’t Bring Good Health, Study Finds. Stonehenge may have been first erected in Wales, evidence suggests.

* Why didn’t anyone stop Doctor Hardy?

* Latinx.

* Vice got the Rachel Dolezal profile.

Fractal Problems in Comparative Domestic Policy.

* How D.C. spent $200 million over a decade on a streetcar you still can’t ride.

* Kill Bill 3, please.

* Serial‘s back y’all. UPDATE: And it’s already super irritating!

UFO truthers want to make Roswell an issue for 2016. Meet their lobbyist.

Ron Howard says Arrested Development season 5 is in the writing stage.

* Teach the controversy: Building the Death Star Was an Economic Catastrophe.

* Pretty grim America: Gun Rights Groups to Hold Fake Mass Shooting at UT This Weekend.

* Just another here’s-what-happens-when-you-adopt-a-chimp story.

FDA Approves Device That Can Plug Gunshot Wounds in 15 Seconds.

The Definitive Guide to Sci-Fi Drugs Was Produced by the Government in the 1970s.

Why are so many toddlers being put on heavy psychiatric drugs?

* All right, I’m in: Margaret Atwood Is Writing A Part-Cat, Part-Owl, Part-Human Superhero Comic.

* xkcd explains the Three Laws of Robotics.

* Well, at least now we know.

* I’ve had dreams like this.

* And in an age without heroes, there was Matt Haughey.

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 12, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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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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Written by gerrycanavan

May 3, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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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 duke.edu, 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.

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