Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Wakanda

Sunday Morning After ICFA Links!

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* Two poems from the great Jaimee Hills: “Frosted Palm” and “The Books in the Bushes.”

* ICYMI: My #ICFA39 talk, “Star Trek after Discovery.” Building on my AUFS post from last week, and it’s already inspired an expansion at r/DaystromInstitute.

* Have you played this new gritty realistic fantasy game?

* How does Neil Gaiman work?

* How vulture capitalists ate Toys R Us.

* The constitutional crisis is always arriving and never arrived. It’s been here at least twenty years.

* The market can’t solve a massacre.

And so in schools across the country, Americans make their children participate in Active Shooter drills. These drills, which can involve children as young as kindergartners hiding in closets and toilet stalls, and can even include simulated shootings, are not just traumatic and of dubious value. They are also an educational enterprise in their own right, a sort of pedagogical initiation into what is normal and to be expected. Very literally, Americans teach their children to understand the intrusion of rampaging killers with assault rifles as a random force of nature analogous to a fire or an earthquake. This seems designed to foster in children a consciousness that is at once hypervigilant and desperate, but also morbid and resigned—in other words, to mold them into perfectly docile citizen-consumers. And if children reject this position and try to take action, some educational authorities will attempt to discipline their resistance out of them, as in Texas, where one school district has threatened to penalize students who walk out in anti-gun violence actions, weaponizing the language of “choices” and “consequences” to literally quash “any type of protest or awareness.”

All rise and no fall: how Civilization reinforces a dangerous myth.

* Rethinking dehumanization.

There Are No Guardrails on Our Privacy Dystopia.

On misogynoir: citation, erasure, and plagiarism.

ICE Spokesman Resigns, Saying He Could No Longer Spread Falsehoods for Trump Administration.

* The U.S. separates a mother and daughter fleeing violence in Congo.

James Mattis is linked to a massive corporate fraud and nobody wants to talk about it.

* Amazing that Trump’s personal aide was fired by the White House while being investigated and then immediately rehired by the campaign and it’s like a C story at best.

* The A story.

How America’s prisons are fueling the opioid epidemic.

* The rise of the prison state.

Trump administration studies seeking the death penalty for drug dealers.

Former Black Panther Herman Wallace dies days after judge overturns murder conviction that saw him serve 41 years in solitary confinement.

* Oconomowoc schools impose limits on ‘privilege’ discussions after parents complain.

* With a tightening labor market, CEOs are chasing after the same workers they once derided as unemployable.

America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning.

* The YouTube Kids app has been suggesting a load of conspiracy videos to children.

* The missing Obama millions.

* What America looked like before the EPA.

Supreme Court Can’t Wait to Kill Youth Climate Lawsuit.

Rapid Arctic warming and melting ice are increasing the frequency of blizzards in the Northeast, study finds.

* YouTube mini-lecture from Adam Kotsko: Trump as mutation, or parody, of neoliberalism. And some more Kotsko content: Superheroes, Science Fiction, and Social Transformation.

The Rise of Dismal Science Fiction.

* The Science Fiction of Roe v. Wade.

* Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures. A response.

* Against popular culture.

David Foster Wallace and the Horror of Neuroscience.

* Neither utopia nor apocalypse? Somedays I feel like both is the most likely outcome of all, a heaven for them and a hell for the rest of us.

Who Owns the Robots? Automation and Class Struggle in the 21st Century.

* Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking. His last goodbye.

* Facing Disaster: The Great Challenges Framework.

‘Picked Apart by Vultures’: The Last Days of Stan Lee.

For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.

Why museum professionals need to talk about Black Panther.

PSA: Marvel’s Black Panther Animated Series is Streaming for Free on YouTube.

* Hate spree killings in Austin.

* Wakanda Forever.

* Thus Spake Black Bolt.

* To Catch a Predator. You know it’s a bleak story when the NYPD are the good guys.

The radical vision of Wages for Housework.

* Happy International Women’s Day.

* Hundreds of Missouri’s 15-year-old brides may have married their rapists.

If NYT printed the *actual, real-life* sentiments of today’s conservative masses, it would print a bunch of paranoid, Fox-generated fairy tales and belligerent expressions of xenophobia, misogyny, racism, and proud, anti-intellectual ignorance. 

* Surveillance in everything: A US university is tracking students’ locations to predict future dropouts.

* Dialectics of the superhero: 1, 2.


* Pew pew.

* Huge, if true: Studying for a humanities PhD can make you feel cut off from humanity.

* From the archives: The Racial Injustice of Big-Time College Sports.

* Podcast minute: Screw It, We’re Just Gonna Talk about Spider-Man and The Beatles. The first is new and the second is old but both are worth checking out.

* Goodbye, cruel world.

* And I’m not a lazy home owner. I’m a goddamn hero.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

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Don’t Fall Behind, Spring Ahead with These Sunday Morning Links

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* The R.D. Mullen Fellowship is calling for applications. The deadline this year is April 2, 2018.

Fully Automated Luxury Socialism: The Case for a New Public Sector.

* For Your Consideration: African Speculative Fiction Society Nommos 2018.

I had a few bad parents during my time in One Hour, One Life but only one of them outright abandoned me. Most of them, even if they could barely care for themselves, tried to keep me alive. “We’re going to die,” one mother told me when I spawned into the game with her in the middle of a barren wilderness. We did, but she carried me with her every step of the way through our brief lives. ‘One Hour, One Life’: This Game Broke My Heart and Restored My Faith in Humanity.

We Must Cancel Everyone’s Student Debt, for the Economy’s Sake.

* Solarpunk: Against a Shitty Future.

Despite their claim to be the champions facts, reason, and evidence the right-wing and alt-liberal figures have failed to understand a simple fact about universities: they’re not actually left-wing places at all.

* Fewer foreign students exacerbate financial challenges for some U.S. universities.

* 99 Problems in Academia.

* What passes for intellectualism on the right.

* Unpaid internships are back.

All The Movies I Didn’t See.

My guess is, having elected, much to their surprise, a lunatic as the most powerful man on the planet, a man who boasts of ‘his’ nukes being bigger than Kim Jong-un’s, a man who could actually be crazy enough to unleash a nuclear warhead on millions, the Americans are sorely missing a time when the white man did something right.

* A slow, cerebral, Miracleman depiction of Barry Allen losing all touch with his humanity Dr.-Manhattan-style seems like the only way for The Flash to proceed from here.

* Black Panther crosses $1 billion.

* “President Trump would be able to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during a federal election, a vast expansion of executive authority, if a provision in a Homeland Security reauthorization bill remains intact.”

* Echoes of the Fugitive Slave Act in today’s immigration debate.

We’ll Never See This Politically Themed Black-ish Episode Because of ‘Creative Differences.’

* How to Lose Your Job From Sexual Harassment in 33 Easy Steps.

This Is What Happens When Bitcoin Miners Take Over Your Town.

YouTube, the Great Radicalizer.

* Super Mario as it was meant to be experienced.

* The legend of Kelly.

* The Singularity in theory and practice.

* If you want a vision of the future.

I Felt Despair About Climate Change—Until a Brush With Death Changed My Mind. “Leukemia and climate change have more in common than you might think.”

* Remembering The Hobbit: The Text Adventure.

* love 2 post on social media

* And a much-too-long-delayed Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal roundup: The oceans are warming. It’s altering turtle reproduction so that the vast majority of offspring are female. It was mistake to drop acid with Neil Degrasse Tyson. Pure evil. I’ll do anything for a good grade. Dear science. Dr. Bees. On sequels. I have this nightmare where a giant monster chases me. I’m going to give you a pill that’ll double your intelligence. Welcome to robot heaven. Penguin have a much happier version of the Titanic story. Finegan’s Wake. You are watching The Nihilist Channel. Where do you think all these fossils come from? Get me a scientist! Purposelessness is the only real super villain. Daddy, can I ask you something? The fundamental kid utility function. And my whole life has been one string of failures. Please send help.

Saturday Morning Links!

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* Great piece at n+1 on the late Daniel Quinn. I think this persuaded me to teach Ishmael this fall; I’ve been thinking about doing it for years and the time seems right. I really loved the book when I was 18, and think about it a lot even now.

* Kim Stanley Robinson at the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology: Science Fiction Is the Realism of our Time.

* And a bonus podcast: my friend Isiah Lavender on Minister Faust’s podcast, talking about the pan-African response to Black Panther. (Isiah’s actually in the extended edition, available for free on Faust’s Patreon.)

* Wauconda forever.

The science fiction of this century is one in which great existential threats are known: they are real, and terrible. Something is terribly wrong. Will we listen?

* A decade ago, The Wire series finale aired. The show was a Marxist’s idea of what TV drama should be.

Sweet Jesus, Will the NYT’s Conservatives Ever Write About Anything but the “Intolerant Left” Ever Again?

* Artificial intelligence has a hallucination problem.

* Turns out they already made a Sopranos prequel.

It’s Time to Abolish ICE.

There Is No Case for the Humanities.

There Is No Campus Free Speech Crisis: An Unreasonably Long Thread.

* “‘Schools will stay closed until we get what we are asking for,’ Oklahoma teachers union president says.” And next: Arizona?

* “Foreigners could ease Japan’s labor shortage, but Tokyo prefers robots.”

Deputy sheriff jails ex-wife after she complained on Facebook about him. This should be an automatic firing, followed by prosecution.

Trump’s Latest Pardon Shows The Best Way To Get One: Go On Fox News.

*  How do 11 people go to jail for one murder?

* Buckle up.

New evidence the Stormy Daniels payment may have violated election law.

* Rules for Reading Jordan Peterson.

* Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

In conclusion, Area X is a land of many contrasts.

‘Unfortunately, Wakanda Will Have to Continue Not to Exist after Black Panther as Well’

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But Black Panther is not a standalone movie, nor an origin story in the traditional sense. Its narrative is disciplined not just by its embedding in ‘real history’ but in a fictional franchise history whose long-term planning is said to extend to the 2030s, if not beyond. We can see the reactionary effects of this disciplining in both temporal directions. The nonexistence of Wakanda ‘up to now’, its refusal to participate in global events, even in the face of the slave trade and European colonization, actually becomes a plot point in the film: the motivation for Killmonger’s anger and the root of his radical politics. And unfortunately – because of the narrative requirements of franchise time – Wakanda will have to continue not to exist after Black Panther as well. A world with an unhidden Wakanda would very soon look almost nothing like our world – Wakandan emergence would be as seismic in its own way as major cities being destroyed by aliens, lifted thousands of feet into the air by killer robots, and smashed to bits by monstrous green Hulks. What Wakanda would actually mean to the globe – materially, technologically, economically, philosophically, spiritually – would be so radical as to permanently sever the connection between ‘there’ and ‘here’ on which the eternal present of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is based.

My short essay on Black Panther and the limits of its politics in the face of the larger MCU franchise is up at Frieze!

Written by gerrycanavan

February 28, 2018 at 9:06 am

Time Travel Will NEVER Be Canon on, and Other Tuesday Links

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* Dialectics of Black Panther: By sliding between the real and unreal, Black Panther frees us to imagine the possibilities — and the limitations — of an Africa that does not yet exist. Ultimately, “Black Panther” does what all superhero movies do: It asks us to place faith in the goodness of individuals rather than embracing revolutionary structural change. In effect, the Wakandan Kingdom is caught between two bleak visions of America: walling itself off, or potentially imposing on other nations. The Afrofuturistic Designs of Black Panther. ‘Black Panther’ offers a regressive, neocolonial vision of Africa. Africa is a country in Wakanda. What to Watch After Black Panther: An Afrofuturism Primer. I was asked to write a short piece for Frieze building on my blog post from the weekend, so look for that as early as tomorrow…

* Adam Kotsko’s talk on Rick and Morty and BoJack Horseman is now streaming from

* Major nerd news: Star Wars: Rebels just introduced time travel into the main canon for the first time. There were minor, often debatable incidents before, but never in the “main plot,” and never as a key incident in the life of a character this important to fans. I’m surprised: I used to use “no time travel in Star Wars” as an example of how franchises police themselves — though as I was saying on Twitter this morning the recent introduction of true time travel to both Star Wars and Harry Potter suggests it may in fact be what happens to long-running fantasy franchises when they grow decadent. Now Tolkien stands alone as the only major no-time-travel SF/F franchises, unless I’m forgetting something — and Tolkien considered a time travel plot for a long time, and actually promised CS Lewis he would write one, but abandoned it…

Leaving Omelas: Science Fiction, Climate Change, and the Future.

Half of world’s oceans now fished industrially, maps reveal. North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists. What Land Will Be Underwater in 20 Years? Figuring It Out Could Be Lucrative. Scott Pruitt’s EPA.

In order to do this I propose a test. A favorite trope among the administrative castes is accountability. People must be held accountable, they tell us, particularly professors. Well, let’s take them at their word and hold themaccountable. How have they done with the public trust since having assumed control of the university?

Lecturers on Strike.

Disaster Capitalism Hits Higher Education in Wisconsin.

Anonymous faculty group threatens to take down Silent Sam.

West Virginia Teachers Walk Out.

Markelle Fultz — along with a slew of huge names and top college basketball programs — have been named in a bombshell report into NCAA hoops corruption involving illegal payouts to players. The Real Lesson of the Weekend’s NCAA Scandals Is That College Basketball Coaches Should Be Dumped in the Ocean.

* Meanwhile.

What directional school is the most directionally correct? A case study.

* The Yale student who secretly lived in a ventilation shaft.

How the Activists Who Tore Down Durham’s Confederate Statue Got Away With It.

The teenagers from Stoneman Douglas are fearlessly reimagining how to effect change in the Trump era.

* Coming soon: Muppet Guys Talking.

Disney’s Frozen musical opens on Broadway: ‘More nudity than expected.’

* Greenwald v. Risen re: Russia.

“What happens when anyone can make it appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did?” technologist Aviv Ovadya warns.

* Despite the NPR’s handwringing about threats and vulnerability, the United States already possesses the most responsive, versatile, and deadly nuclear strike forces on the planet. In essence, the Pentagon now proposes to embark upon an arms race, largely with itself, in order to preserve that status.

* Simulating nuclear war.

* The case against tipping culture.

The Tipped Minimum Wage Is Fueling Sexual Harassment in Restaurants.

* Monica Lewinsky in the Age of #MeToo.

Life Without Retirement Savings.

Americans’ reliance on household debt ─ and poor people’s struggles to pay it off ─ has fueled a collection industry that forces many of them into jail, a practice that critics call a misuse of the criminal justice system.

Inside the Deadly World of Private Garbage Collection.

* Gerrymandering a 28-0 New York.

On Being a Woman in the Late-Night Boys’ Club.

In the article, Sally Payne, a pediatric occupational therapist, explains that the nature of play has changed over the past decade. Instead of giving kids things to play with that build up their hand muscles, such as building blocks, or toys that need to be pushed or pulled along, parents have been handing them tablets and smartphones. Because of this, by the time they’re old enough to go to school, many children lack the hand strength and fine motor control required to correctly hold a pencil and write.

* Understand your user feedback.

Switzerland makes it illegal to boil a live lobster.

* The U.S. Border Patrol’s violent, racist, and ineffectual policies have come to a head under Trump. What can be done? Mother and daughter are now at detention facilities 2,000 miles apart. Warning of ICE action, Oakland mayor takes Trump resistance to new level.

The City & The City coming to TV in 2018 (again).

* BoJack Horseman and modern art.

* Legitimately teared up.

* The future sucks.

* Let’s see what else is in the news. Wisconsin exceptionalism. Mister Sun, why do you wear sunglasses?

A Few Quick Thoughts on BLACK PANTHER I Haven’t Already Seen Elsewhere

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(1) I haven’t seen anyone point out that this was the MCU’s take on a Bond movie, right down to M, Q, a Bond girl, an extraneous mission in Korea, and even a Felix Leiter.


(2) I loved pretty much everything about the Wakandan world-building; pretty much my only minor quibble there was a slight over-reliance on American idioms (like Shuri giving the finger, or the General saying someone “did not get the memo”). It’s a small thing but it fits into point (4) below about the inability of Marvel to imagine a Wakanda that was genuinely independent from Western hegemony, much less the hegemon of the world that it would actually be.

(2a) I do feel a bit like I want to rewatch the T’Challa scenes from Civil War though because I think there was quite a bit of retconning and reimagining happening here; the later scenes with Cap seem not to have happened, and the earlier position of Wakanda in the United Nations seems a bit hard to square with the treatment here.

(2b) Shuri was awesome, incidentally. I demand a Shuri spinoff.

(3) I’ll leave it to others to say “Killmonger was right” but you really do feel your heart sink in the third act as the Wakandans begin to fight each other. For me the real “heart sink” moment was when the planes started exploding over the Wakandan capital; perhaps it was the presence and participation of Everett Ross but you really feel the gut-wrenching rupture of the Wakandan Afrofuturist utopia in that moment.

(3a) Killmonger was right though.

(4) I also had an unhappy moment of clarity about the prominence of Wakanda in the Infinity War trailer. As some of you know I’ve written a chapter on “Wakanda as Nation” for an upcoming collection called Afrofuturism in Time and Space.

Not to belabor the point, but a few more quick quotes from the chapter:

With regard to Wakanda specifically, this problem of interpretation has only compounded over decades of Marvel comics, which frequently upend Wakanda’s historic inviolability in the name of giving individual Black Panther stories sufficient emotional stakes. Thus an African nation that was never colonized historically becomes, over the long run of Marvel stories, the site of repeated meta-imperial11 incursion, from the U.S., from alien invaders, from supervillains like Dr. Doom, from the Atlantean king Namor the Sub-Mariner… As Ta-Nehisi Coates notes in an interview with the science fiction news website io9, part of his task when he took over Black Panther in 2016 was precisely to reestablish Wakanda as the undefeatable global superpower it was always intended as, but never quite was allowed to be.


We see a similar contradiction in the depiction of Wakandan trade, which has the effect of eroding and destroying Wakandan traditions through Western influence even as Wakanda is ostensibly the more powerful trading partner in this equation—replicating the colonial narrative but with an ahistorical logic that takes the superiority of Western values as axiomatic (and totally untied to the West’s brutal practices of invasion and domination). Already by the 1970s, Black Panther is unsure whether he has done the right thing in entering foreign markets at all, wondering if the reforms he and his father have instituted in opening Wakanda to the world have actually doomed the country—as are many of his countrymen. It is relatively late in the game that Marvel writers even begin to interrogate the techno-progressivist, secular assumptions behind the foundation of the Wakanda story: that a monarch would actually strip-mine a “sacred” site, the Mound, instrumentalizing its special properties for technological gadgetry and even selling parts of it to the West in the name of economic development, all without any cultural struggle or resistance from the population—much less the nearly magical faith that doing so would make things in Wakanda better rather than worse.

Indeed, by the “Doomwar” storyline of the 2010s, the presence of the vibranium within Wakanda has proved to be such a “resource curse” that the heroic resolution of the story sees T’Challa activate a process he has invented that renders all the vibranium in the world (both inside and outside Wakanda) inert, in order to protect it both from foreign invaders like Dr. Doom but also to break the country’s cruel-optimistic dependence on the resource.


Here, as always, we see the fundamental tension in Wakanda as both/and/neither/nor, as it has been reproduced again and again across its fictional history: an Afrofuturist vision of African superiority that nonetheless must always be disciplined by final subordination to the West…

So, look back at that Infinity War trailer. Based on my study of fifty years of Black Panther stories for my chapter, I’m feeling very confident that white supremacy will reassert itself here again precisely as it always does in Wakanda stories; we’ll never get to see Wakanda become the global hegemon it by all rights ought to be because it’s going to get catastrophically smashed up beyond all recognition before it gets the chance. Count on it.

Tuesday Links!

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* A Political History of the Future: Black Panther. Does the film ask its audience to root for the wrong character? Black Panther’s Right Thing.

Directly following from the notion that life is often boring and annoying, comes the consequence that our characters cannot always be wrapped up in galactic struggles to save existence. Sometimes it just has to be a day at the office, and we keep watching simply because a Federation starship is a more interesting and inspiring office than ours. That thought motivated me to portray the communist future not as a magical resolution of the human condition but, to follow Freud by way of Corey Robin, the conversion of hysterical misery into ordinary unhappiness. To Boringly Go.


If science fiction, for example, satisfactorily addresses the challenges of narrating the Anthropocene, why should we care whether the mainstream novel does or not?

According to a new study, we might be locked in this deadly embrace. Research by an international team of scientists recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters says that the cooling effect of aerosols is so large that it has masked as much as half of the warming effect from greenhouse gases. So aerosols can’t be wiped out. Take them away and temperatures would soar overnight. Turns out we have been unwittingly geoengineering for decades, and just like in the movies, it’s gone off the rails.

We’re witnessing the fastest decline in Arctic sea ice in at least 1,500 years.

The Cardinals will become the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball program to vacate a national title during the Final Four era, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

* The Real Threat To Campuses Isn’t ‘PC Culture.’ It’s Racism.

* Why the media can’t report the truth about John Kelly.

In many instances, the people forming that early narrative about Kelly — the reporters writing the profiles and the sources they quoted — were white. That’s not a determinative fact, but it was likely a factor in which parts of Kelly’s resume were focused on, and which aspects of his personality were prioritized.

I’m autistic. I just turned 36 — the average age when people like me die.

Michael: So one day, we were taping, and Fred comes in, and starts singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day … ” puts the shoes down here, goes to hang up the sweater in the closet. And he’s singing, and he opens the door — and there’s his floor manager, Nick, this big guy with his long goatee, pierced ears, hair all over the place, totally nude, just standing there naked in the closet. Well, Fred just fell down; it was the most hysterical thing you’ve ever seen. He was totally cool.

Why Do Star Wars Fans Want the New Han Solo Movie to Flop? Rey is the new Anakin.

Challenging new reading of Garfield reframes canonical “anti-Mondays” stance.