Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Walter Benjamin

Wednesday Links!

leave a comment »

The Department of English invites candidates holding the rank of Associate or Full Professor to apply for the inaugural Stephen E. King Chair in Literature honoring the department’s most celebrated graduate.

* Next week at Marquette: Cuban science fiction authors Yoss and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo!

2016 James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium: A Celebration of Ursula K. Le Guin.

Inside The Octavia Butler Archives With L.A. Writer Lynell George.

I am writing to apply for the job–or rather “fellowship”–advertised on your website. As a restless member of the creative class, I agree that secure employment, renewable year-to-year, can be a suffocating hindrance. And besides, you specify “tons of snacks and beverages” as part of your benefit package. As a job-seeker motivated by a combination of desperation and snacks, I am an ideal candidate for this position.

The report finds that the cost of forgoing tuition revenue from two- and four-year public institutions could run into the billions for some states: $4.96 billion in California, $3.89 billion in Texas and $2.53 billion in Michigan.

Essentially all criminal-justice policy in the 20th century has been driven by one thing: fear of young black men.

* Pence and gaslighting. Kaine’s tactical defeat. A Con Man of Epic Proportions. Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for A Mere Two Decades. The mind-blowing scale of Trump’s billion-dollar loss, in one tweet. Trump Foundation ordered to stop fundraising by N.Y. attorney general’s office. I want to believe! This seems legitimate. If Donald Trump Published an Academic Article. If you want a vision of the future.

* Scholars for Trump!

* Bananas possible endings to the election, New Mexico edition.

mars* The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Visions of the Future.

* All told, however, Xiberras feels Louise could have done better. “We hoped for more followers to take notice of Louise’s behavior,” he says. “There were a few people who sensed the trap—a journalist among others, of course—but in the end, the majority just saw a pretty young girl of her time and not at all a kind of lonely girl, who is actually not at all that happy and with a serious alcohol problem.” 

* Here’s a piece we can all get mad about, regardless of our pedagogical inclinations: Are We Teaching Composition All Wrong?

* The Luke Cage Syllabus. 15 Essential Luke Cage Stories.

* Teaching the controversy: The Identity of a Famous Person Is News. The outing of Elena Ferrante and the power of naming. Ars longa, vita brevis.

* Yahooooooooooo: Yahoo built email spying software for intelligence agencies, report says.

Tracing the path of one of the world’s most in-demand minerals from deadly mines in Congo to your phone. More here.

* That’s a hell of an act! What do you call it? The Mets. Relatedly: in search of the Korean bat flip.

Nostalgia for World Culture: A New History of Esperanto.

* Harvard loses a mere $2 billion from its endowment. My favorite part of these stories is always the comparison to passive management by an index fund.

* More running it like a sandwich: More than ever, college football programs are finding it difficult to draw and retain the young fans who grow up to be lifelong season-ticket holders. In many athletic departments, the reasons can practically be cited as catechism: high-definition televisions, DVRs, diffuse fan bases and higher ticket and parking costs.

* American University Student Government Launches Campaign in Support of Mandatory Trigger Warnings.

* Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School.

* Karl Marx, Yesterday and Today.

* The last days of Robin Williams, as told by his wife Susan Schneider Williams.

‘Killer Clowns’: Inside the Terrifying Hoax Sweeping America.

* A Pretty Good Day’s Work.

* Being Shirley Jackson.

No one knew then that Springsteen, like Smith, would provide a through-line for his fans as things got worse, shifted in unimaginable ways, shifted again. Springsteen has himself changed with the times, becoming more sensitive to the issues his most-adored music still raises. Born To Rundemonstrates that. The decency at the heart of his memoir is a balm. He’s not only survived a life in rock and roll; he shows how a true believer doesn’t have to get stuck within its illusions, no matter how much they also attract him. After all, to Springsteen, a worthwhile dream isn’t an illusion; it’s a form of work. 

* Unusually Murderous Mammals, Typically Murderous Primates: You know, humans.

One of the most important lessons of Ghosh’s book is that the politics of climate change must not tiptoe around the questions posed by colonial encounters. Issues of climate justice cannot be solved without first addressing questions of equitable distribution of power, historically rooted in imperialism. And therein lies Ghosh’s disagreement with those who find the source of the problem in capitalism itself (Naomi Klein, for example). For him, even if “capitalism were to be magically transformed tomorrow, the imperatives of political and military dominance would remain a significant obstacle to progress on mitigatory action.”

Wealth of people in their 30s has ‘halved in a decade.’ Probably definitely totally unrelated: Federal student loans facilitate a pernicious profit motive in higher education.

* Leftists against Apartheid.

* Girls and Their Frenemies.

* McMansions and horror.

* Patent application for a method of curing kidney stones.

The story of D.B. Cooper, a.k.a. Don Draper, a.k.a. Dick Whitman, the only unsolved hijacking in American history.

* Why Does Time Go Forward?

* I think it’s 50/50 at this point that the Purge is a real thing before I’m dead.

* All you need to know.

* So You Want to Adapt The Tempest.

No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously. Climate Change And The Astrobiology Of The Anthropocene.

* The secret lives of trees.

* The secret lives of New Jerseyans.

* On our phenomenal (recent) accomplishments in space.

* And let this be my epitaph.

tumblr_o8jc1hpd7m1swdbnno1_500

Written by gerrycanavan

October 5, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Good Morning, It’s Monday Links

leave a comment »

* TNG and the limits of liberalism (and, not incidentally, why I always recommend The Culture novels to Star Trek fans). And one more Trek link I missed yesterday: An oral history of “The Inner Light.”

* Your obligatory 9/11 flashback this year was all about Air Force One. And if you need more there’s always Tom Junod’s “The Falling Man.”

Sofia Samatar: Risk Is Our Business.

Who’s Afraid of AAARG?

We are, after all, rigged for gratification, conditioned to want to “feel good.” We seek pleasure, not pain; happiness, not misery; validation, not defeat. Our primary motivators are what I have previously called the “Neuro P5”: pleasure, pride, permanency, power, and profit — however these may be translated across socio-cultural contexts. Whenever technologies that enhance these motivators become available, we are likely to pursue them.

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.

* “Why a forgotten 1930s critique of capitalism is back in fashion.” The Frankfurt School, forgotten?

* CFP: “Activism and the Academy.”

* Your MLA JIL Minute: Assistant Professor of Science Fiction/Fantasy Studies at Florida Atlantic University.

Rereading Stephen King’s It on Its 30th Anniversary.

* Rereading The Plot Against America in the Age of Trump.

How ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Built Modern Conservatism.

* Weird temporality in It Follows, by way of The Shining.

* States vs. localities at Slate. Wisconsin vs. Milwaukee is the example in the lede.

Donald Trump and the Fall of Atlantic City. Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign.

* And just in case you’re wondering: What happens if a presidential candidate dies at the last second?

* Once again: A News21 analysis four years ago of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states found that while some fraud had occurred since 2000, the rate was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million registered voters in that 12-year span. The analysis found 10 cases of voter impersonation — the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls.

* 21st Century Headlines: “Airlines and airports are beginning to crack down on explosive Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones.”

* Rebranding watch: Lab-Grown Meat Doesn’t Want to Be Called Lab-Grown Meat.

Passing My Disability On to My Children. Facing the possibility of passing on a very different genetic condition — which, as it turned out, I wasn’t a carrier of– I was very much on the other side of this before we had our children.

* Addiction and rehabilitation, a minority report.

Why Do Tourists Visit Ancient Ruins Everywhere Except the United States?

* Oh, now he’s sorry!

* Jason Brennan (and, in the comments, Phil Magness) talk at Bleeding Heart Libertarians about their followup paper on adjunctification, “Are Adjuncts Exploited?: Some Grounds for Skepticism.”

Why Do Americans Find Cuba Sexy — but Not Puerto Rico?

* This Friday at C21: Brian Price on Remakes and Regret.

* From the archives: Some Rules for Teachers.

* And we’ll never see prices this insane again.

1001 Sunday Links

leave a comment »

CcgUqWmUMAAaA31* Penn Gillette on three-card monty and graduate school in the humanities.

Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera.

“Use Tatooine sparingly” and other rules from the Star Wars style guide. io9 has a few other highlights.

* A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction.

Inside Disney’s America, the doomed ’90s project that almost sunk the company.

“The Contemporary” by the numbers.

From a work in progress: Nomic and net.culture.

* Podcasts and disposability.

* Vice science faction: After the Big One.

Alumnae vowed to save Sweet Briar from closing last year. And they did.

* Radical notion: College Presidents Should Come from Academia.

Simon Newman, the college leader whose metaphor about drowning bunnies made him infamous in higher education, announced late Monday that he has resigned, effective immediately, as president of Mount St. Mary’s University. The Mount St. Mary’s Presidency Was a Corporate Test Case. It Failed Miserably..

The only MFA program in the US that focuses on African American literature could close.

UW slips out of top 10 in new public university ranking. Amid rough seas for UW System, wave of challenges hits UWM.

UC Davis chancellor received $420,000 on book publisher’s board. The University of California paid hedge fund managers about $1 billion in fees over the last 12 years, according to a white paper study released by the university system’s largest employee union.

* A Field Test for Identifying Appropriate Sexual Partners in Academia. She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk ‘Feelings.’

* “The GRE is like taking a cancer test that was invented in the 1940s.”

Putting on a “Brave” Face: On Ableism and Appropriation in the Film Industry.

Justice Dept. grants immunity to staffer who set up Clinton email server. What you need to know about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Did Clinton and Petraeus do the same thing? Clinton, on her private server, wrote 104 emails the government says are classified.

* The Libya Gamble: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Push for War & the Making of a Failed State.

Clinton insiders are eager to begin recruiting Republicans turned off by the prospect of Donald Trump to their cause — and the threat of Sanders sticking it out until June makes the general election pivot more difficult. Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump. Smart to announce it now!

* But, look, it’s not all Clinton negativity: Hillary Clinton promises to ‘get to the bottom of UFO mystery’ if elected, and ‘maybe send a task force’ to alleged alien prison Area 51.

The Official Head Of The Democratic Party Joins GOP Effort To Protect Payday Lenders. Bernie Versus the Earthquake Industry.

Republican Voters Kind Of Hate All Their Choices. 1927 flashback. Kasich May Have Cut Off Rubio’s Path To The Nomination. Trump gives supporters permission to be violent with protesters: If you hurt them I’ll defend you in court. Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win. ‘Not even my wife knows’: secret Donald Trump voters speak out. Is this a realignment? The rise of American authoritarianism. Awkward.

The car century was a mistake. It’s time to move on.

* 2°C.

* Another piece on the end of Louisiana.

* I don’t know that the Melissa Click case is really the best example here, but there’s every reason to think body cameras will be used to serve police interests, not citizen interests.

Lab tech allegedly faked result in drug case; 7,827 criminal cases now in question.

Georgia Police Chief and Officer Accused of Arresting People on False Charges in Order to Extort Them.

Can a 3-year old represent herself in immigration court? This judge thinks so. Please watch my show Three Year Old Immigration Lawyer next fall on ABC.

Did the Spanish Empire Change Earth’s Climate?

* The Flint Next Time: Fears About Water Supply Grip Village That Made Teflon Products. Flint is in the news, but lead poisoning is even worse in Cleveland.

This Guy Spent Four Years Creating an Imaginary Reddit for 3016.

Sci-Fi Hero Samuel Delany’s Outsider Art.

* Marquette in the news! Oh.

Sweetin’s autobiography begins with a very different two-word phrase. The first line ofUnSweetined, which Sweetin wrote (or rather told in bits to a ghostwriter) in 2009, is “fuck it.” She is referring to her attitude right before smoking meth and doing a plateful of cocaine, the night before she was scheduled to give a speech at Marquette University about her commitment to sobriety (she did give that speech in 2007, and she was high the entire time she was on stage).

* Over at Slate friend of the show Eric “The Red” Hittinger explains clearly and succinctly why rooftop solar power probably won’t ever challenge big utility companies.

When People With Schizophrenia Hear Voices, They’re Really Hearing Their Own Subvocal Speech.

Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive.

This video shows what ancient Rome actually looked like.

Steph Curry Is On Pace To Hit 102 Home Runs.

Mysterious Chimpanzee Behaviour May Be Evidence Of “Sacred” Rituals.

* Here’s a silly thing I watched: “Great Minds with Dan Harmon,” 1, 2.

* Sports corner: Ivy League Considers Banning Tackling During Practice.

* A Believer interview with the great Andy Daly.

A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World. Professional Bridge Has a Cheating Problem.

The Enigmatic Art of America’s Secret Societies.

Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming.

The astonishment that such things are “still” possible.

The Retirement Crisis Is Getting Truly Scary.

The Fact That None Of The 2016 Presidential Candidates Have A Space Policy Is Tragic.

From the start, in 1967, “Trader Joe” Coulombe devised his “low-priced gourmet-cum-health-food store” with an “unemployed PhD student” in mind as the ideal customer.

Reading from a statement while speaking with analysts, Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said SeaWorld’s board of directors has “directed management to end the practice in which certain employees posed as animal-welfare activists. This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threats.”

* The color thesaurus.

What Mars Would Look Like Mapped by Medieval Cartographers.

New York City Is in the Throes of a Häagen-Dazs Heist Epidemic.

Thus, I conclude that in fact, Gygax’s strength scoring system is actually…pretty good! But only good for fighters, in a system like AD&D where we can reasonably assume that all fighter PCs have been training for 10+ years and are genetically super-gifted. However, if you’re Raistlin Majere from the Dragonlance Chronicles and are in all probability an underweight untrained or novice lifter of average height, then you are probably looking at a STR score of around 6-7. If you are a woman of my current weight and untrained, you are looking at a STR score of around 3-4. If you’re my current weight and train consistently for a couple of years, you can expect to have a score of around 8-9. Men and/or individuals with higher testosterone levels will have somewhat higher scores, but it is definitely out of the question that a 10-11 can represent an average strength in our society, though it may be in a farmer-dominant society where everyone lifts a lot of hay bales.

Every Bryan Fuller Star Trek episode, ranked.

* Secrets of my success: Narcissistic Students Get Better Grades from Narcissistic Professors.

* The dialectic never stops turning: Hope is reactionary: it cocoons actuality in the gossamer of the tolerable, dulling the thirst for change. Despair is revolutionary: it grinds the knife-edge of the intolerable against the whetstone of actuality, sparking the will to change.

* We are the second best girls.

* 20 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Decisions.

Cognitive-Biases

Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

First Tuesday after the First Monday in November Links!

leave a comment »

* ICYMI: An edited and expanded meritocracy, lottery, game blog post got republished at Inside Higher Ed yesterday. Here’s a reply suggesting a better metaphor than games might be the casting process.

* Cool stuff happening at Marquette: Conflicting Audience Reception of Tauriel in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. A student-curated exhibit at the Taggerty. And of course there’s my pop culture group geeking out over The Hunger Games.

A college can’t fire an adjunct professor for criticizing it, so long as the issues raised are matters of public concern and the adjunct has reasonable expectation of continued employment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Thursday in a decision regarding Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois.

Walter Benjamin’s Radio Plays. You Know, for Kids.

A Manifesto for the Freelance Academic.

* Colorado Community College Faculty Bill of Rights.

* Is academic science still sexist? No! Yes!

Colleges have no business being vehicles for mass entertainment any more than they have business selling widgets or maintaining a fishing fleet. It is no proper part of a university’s mission to provide quality television programming and year-round gambling opportunities for the rest of the country. That this has become the norm in America’s system of higher education is a monstrous accident of history and of academic neglect, but there it is, and it is not going anywhere, and the only way to do it is simply to make an honest business out of it.

* Gasp! …the average student in a MOOC is not a Turkish villager with no other access to higher education but a young white American man with a bachelor’s degree and a full-time job.

* Cura personalis: The maturation of the student—not information transfer—is the real purpose of colleges and universities. Of course, information transfer occurs during this process. One cannot become a master of one’s own learning without learning something. But information transfer is a corollary of the maturation process, not its primary purpose. This is why assessment procedures that depend too much on quantitative measures of information transfer miss the mark. It is entirely possible for an institution to focus successfully on scoring high in rankings for information transfer while simultaneously failing to promote the maturation process that leads to independent learning.

* The end of the Red Cross.

* The latest from Aaron Bady’s ongoing interview series at Post45: “Not in a million years did I expect some people to be upset about the portrayal of the conquistadors.”

* My Grandma the Poisoner.

* Happy election day! The empty election. The Democrats are doomed. Ginsburg Was Right: Texas’ Extreme Voter ID Law Is Stopping People From Voting. New Voting Restrictions Could Swing the 2014 Election. Black people, white government. Facebook Wants You to Vote on Tuesday. Here’s How It Messed With Your Feed in 2012.

Lawyers, judges, and even journalists tend to have trouble finding people like Eric Kennie—the people who are the most completely disenfranchised by a law like SB14—precisely because such people are, in many areas of life, completely disenfranchised.  If they had the kind of economic and social wherewithal to make their voices heard in political or legal spheres—if they knew lawyers or journalists or legislators or people who knew such people—then they most likely would also have the kind of economic and social wherewithal to obtain the documents SB14 demands.  Their very lack of money, lack of a car, lack of knowledge of how the system works, and lack of options also tend to make them invisible to the more elite actors who, in distant courtrooms and legislative hearing rooms and newsrooms, fight out the disputes that affect whether they can vote.  From the point of view of those more elite actors, looking for Eric Kennie is indeed, as Pilkington puts it, like looking for a vacuum.  It like an anti-social-networking puzzle in our networked age: please find me the people who are the most distant from, the least connected to, me or anyone I know.

* And as if the whole stupid thing weren’t irrational enough: Sense of disgust is ’95 percent accurate’ predictor of whether you’re liberal or conservative.

* Tom Steyer spent $57 million to get voters to care about climate change. It didn’t work. Oh, if only he’d spent $58 million!

* Cancel the midterms! There’s still time!

* Viewpoint Magazine, Issue 4: “The State.”

* 2016 and imperial feminism.

*The dependence of the poor on payday loans is neither natural nor inevitable. It is the result of neoliberal policies. The New Loan Sharks. Payday Loans, You Know, for Kids.

* They’re Still Redlining.

* BREAKING: The stock market is an irrational casino and we have no idea how it works.

* Huge congrats to Obama for triumphing here over a really tough field.

* Bullshit Jobs, the Caring Classes, and the Future of Labor: An Interview with David Graeber.

* Historical Futurology. Check the footnotes for some nice citation of Green Planets!

* The sharing economy has a race problem. The Sharing Economy: 21st Century Technology, 19th Century Worker Protections. The Sharing Economy’s ‘First Strike’: Uber Drivers Turn Off the App.

* Nudes and female corporal ownership.

Hollaback and Why Everyone Needs Better Research Methods.

* How Racism Stole Black Childhood.

* Fracking Wells Abandoned in Boom/Bust Cycle. Who Will Pay to Cap Them?

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

* The justice system is a monster: Why Innocent People Plead Guilty.

* Finally, someone has put transubstantiation to a rigorous scientific test.

* On Saturday, Brittany Maynard used Oregon’s Death With Dignity law to end her life.

Erwin Chemerinsky read a 500-page biography of Antonin Scalia so you don’t have to. Spoiler alert: he’s the worst.

* In praise of A Canticle for Leibowitz. Really bad third act problems, though.

People can feel lots of different things about Lena Dunham and her body of work. What I’m not comfortable with, and certainly not under the mantle of supporting victims and building a culture of consent, is for people to create a narrative of victimization and abuse for Grace Dunham that she has never claimed for herself.

Losing My Career to Illness: Academia and Parkinson’s Disease.

* Bruce Springsteen by the book.

Cheat-Sheet for a Non (or Less) Colonialist Speculative Design.

* FBI Files on African American Authors and Literary Institutions Obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

* Mr. Rogers Talks To The Wicked Witch About Being Misunderstood.

* “The court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” the ruling read.

* In 2014, countries are still paying off debt from World War One.

* UK cultural institutions leave their WWI cases empty to protest insane copyright.

* Dachau’s notorious ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate stolen.

* Secret Fantasies of Adults.

* The legendary comics author Alan Moore has written a million-word novel, tribute to every eternal speck in his universe.

A Melancholy List of Edgar Allan Poe’s Debts, From His Bankruptcy Petition of 1842.

* How to stop global warming, in seven steps. Oh, if only it’d been six steps!

* Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview.

* And kiss your free time goodbye: you can now play 900 pre-1996 arcade games online for free.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 4, 2014 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday Morning Links

leave a comment »

* Your poem of the day: Tracy K. Smith, “Sci-Fi.”

* Philosophical science fiction, 1, 2, 3. Via MeFi.

* Science fiction as white supremacist fantasy.

* Charlie Stross on why he thinks he’ll be writing more urban fantasy than science fiction in the coming years.

* If you want a vision of the future: Tenure-track jobs in YA lit and science fiction studies at the University of Calgary.

Feces on the Philosophy of History! A Manifesto of the MLA Subconference.

* For Safety’s Sake, Get Rid of Campus Cops.

* This is not to diminish the exuberant commitment of the participants. At the same time, we must reckon with the fact that pop culture really likes to be agreeable along with its thrills. It likes to say yes, and makes endless conciliations to do so. It is safer to say yes. Yes can be deeply pleasurable. History is made by those who say no. Extinction Pop.

* David Graeber has published the piece comparing Rojava to the Spanish Civil War that he and I argued about on Twitter the other day. I have to say I find Richard Seymour’s take much more persuasive.

So if we have no way to make the slogan effective, what is it for?  If it is genuinely intended to pressure imperialist states to “arm the Kurds”, then it is at best unthinking sentimentality.  At its most sophisticated, though, the idea could be to ‘intervene’ in an argument taking place in imperialist countries around the region’s uprisings and military intervention, to attack the weak points in the dominant ideology and open a space in which a leftist argument can be made to a popular audience.  In this view, Kobane represents both the most progressive front of struggle in the region at the moment, and the weakest point ideologically for imperialist ruling classes who have no desire to see the PYD/PKK prevail.  In this sense, the demand to “arm the Kurds” is a sort of feint, akin to a ‘transitional demand’ in that it is both seemingly ‘reasonable’ in light of the dominant ideology and also impossible for the ruling class to deliver.

* Malcolm Harris remembers the Milgram experiments.

* Who Why How are trolls?

* On the post-post-colonial.

“Post-post-colonial” — and that’s just because I can’t think of something wittier right now — I think is a new generation of, well, new-ish generation of writers, where we’re not driven by our dialogue with the former mother country [the United Kingdom]. The hovering power for us when growing up in the ’70s and ’80s was not the U.K. It was the States, it was America. And it wasn’t an imperialistic power, it was just a cultural influence. I’m sure if this book was written in the ’70s or the ’60s, the characters would have ended up in London. They wouldn’t have ended up in the Bronx.

For us [as opposed to the post-colonial writers], for example, identity is not necessarily how to define ourselves in the relation of colonial power, colonial oppressor — so now it’s a matter of defining who you are as opposed to who you’re not.

* Remember: Obama cannot fail, he can only be failed.

* BREAKING: Wall Street is still looting the whole country.

* Big news for a small number of academic writers and artists: Judge Overturns IRS on Artist Tax Deductions.

Open-Carrying Guy Has His Brand-New Pistol Stolen at Gunpoint.

* One high school’s insane quest to make students print “Redskins.”

* Football is a death cult.

* Ebola is the CNN of CNN.

* Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich—Then Vegas Made Them Pay.

* The battle to make Tommy the chimp a person.

* Here’s exactly how much monetary damage Calvin and Hobbes did together.

* Here’s the plot, in a nutshell: Sinatoro follows a necronaut who is sent into the afterlife to save Earth from destruction. It draws influences from the western genre and the classic American highway Route 66. It’s something Morrison considers his magnum opus of sorts, and we’re glad he’ll finally get a chance to tell it.

* Thomas Friedman is paid an incredible amount of money to write this dreck.

* This is literally unbelievable: Fracking company teams up with Susan G. Komen, introduces pink drill bits “for the cure.” I find it difficult to even conceive of anything more absurd than this.

* And judging from the resounding crickets that followed this announcement this feels like a year that maybe I really could have won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

10-620x350

Guiltpiercer

with one comment

I wanted to Storify my back-and-forth with my friend Aaron Bady (and a few other people, but mostly him) on the question of guilt and complicity in liberal politics, which was prompted by his Texas Stands With Gaza post and ultimately looped around, as all things must, to Snowpiercer.

Aaron is right that I’m using Snowpiercer (along with Pacific Rim, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and some other recent Anthropocene science fictions) in a piece of academic writing I’m working on, so I’ll hold off on doing a full reading of the film here for now. But I think the film actually figures this debate we’re having in a pretty direct way. The people on the train are all “guilty” and “complicit” with the Snowpiercer system, albeit in different ways and to different degrees; like any necropolitical survivor, they are all alive while/because someone else has died. Even on the level of character development, much of the movement of the film is directed towards making Chris Evans’s character Curtis feel as though he is worthy of great things despite the guilt he carries with him; characters frequently say this to him explicitly, even, most notably, the character he once tried to eat as a baby and who he later abandons in the name of the larger mission! In fact this guilt, in properly liberal terms, is indistinguishable from his worthiness to lead, with the final act of the film culminating in Curtis being offered the position of the Wizard of Snowpiercer. The Curtis plot in the film is more or less a familiar liberal drama about coming to terms with your own guilty complicity in the system, a process which as if by baptismal magic thereby makes you worthy to run the whole thing as if you’d never been guilty or complicit in the first place.

Aaron’s reading on the film insists that this is the only trajectory open to us, even as he repeatedly turns to Kang-ho Song’s Namgoong as the voice of alterity, rejecting his plan as nonviable. Namgoong knows the train is a horror and knows the train is doomed by its own entropic breakdown, rejects guilt or complicity as a frame, and instead works to blow open the doors and escape. (And this is the position Curtis ultimately settles into as well, having finally hit an encounter of guilt which he can’t autoredeem his way out of in the form of the children in the engine.) Here then we see one version of the Canavan position: guilt is a way of becoming re-trapped, linked back into the atrocity engine, while refusing to identify with the system and its terms opens up the horizon of the future. Neither Namgoong nor Curtis survive the derailment of the train (“there is hope, infinite hope, but not for us”), but their protégés do, and in the final shot of the film see a live polar bear moving outside the train, indicating that life of some kind persists outside the train and that therefore there is something like hope after all.

Now, Aaron rejects all of this — “it’s too cold out there! they have no skills or supplies! that polar bear will probably just eat them!” — and of course he’s right to do so on the level of cold realism; like most such apocalyptic scenarios, the situation is too far gone to allow any sort of genuine renewal. (I always think of the way the Matrix sequels had to confront this, ultimately having the heroic rebels make a truce with the monsters they were supposed to slay because the world is too far gone to actually free anyone anymore.) But this is where Aaron’s flattening of Jameson’s theory of utopia hurts him a bit — because the kernel of the Jamesonian reading of the film is not to imagine it as a practical alternative to the present so much as to figure the ongoing exist alternative in an era that, at every turn, loudly insists there isn’t one.

For it is the very principle of the radical break as such, its possibility, which is reinforced by the Utopian form, which insists that its radical difference is possible and that a break is necessary. The Utopian form itself is the answer to the universal ideological conviction that no alternative is possible, that there is no alternative to the system. But it asserts this by forcing us to think the break itself, and not by offering a more traditional picture of what things will be like after the break. (Archaeologies 232)

Snowpiercer, it seems to me, is pretty plainly about this effort of the imagination; neither the setup nor the climax is really amenable to any sort of realistic analysis about the practicalities of the situation. It’s preposterous from start to finish. The point of the film is to disrupt our guilty comfort and our comforting guilt about a system we all know is terrible (“those crooked fuckers”) but think we can’t oppose, only picket and sigh about and be more beautiful than (“oh, we guilty sinners, oh this fallen world”). So of course the film is an allegory after all; what it figures isn’t the actual situation of capitalism but the hopeless prospects for people who can’t see any way to stop the train, other than a crash, and who perhaps for that very reason have come to believe they’re the ones who are driving it.

Monday Morning Links Are Visible from Space

leave a comment »

* The schedule for the next four weeks of my Cultural Preservation course is up at the course blog. Benjamin! Fight Club! Ani DiFranco! Oh my!

Half of Sexual Abuse Claims in American Prisons Involve Guards, Study Says. Nearly 10 percent of inmates suffer sexual abuse.

* Black Chicago Residents Are 10 Times More Likely To Be Shot By Police Than White Residents. What could explain it?

* The comeback of guaranteed basic income. Alive in the Sunshine.

* David Graeber: What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

* After Tyrone Hayes said that a chemical was harmful, its maker pursued him.

* On Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies.

* ICE/ISEE-3 to return to an Earth no longer capable of speaking to it.

That “distressed baby” who Tim Armstrong blamed for benefit cuts? She’s my daughter. Armstrong could have paid for the full “cost” of both the babies directly out of his own salary and still made ten million dollars that year (in base salary).

* Dylan Farrow Responds to Woody Allen: “I Have Never Wavered.” 10 Undeniable Facts About the Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation. Just the Facts
. Brainwashing Woody.

What would Middle Earth look like from space?

South Bronx Students May Have Found Site of Slave Burial Ground.

* Duke’s Own Julia Gaffield describes her finding the first known copy of the Haitian Declaration of Independence.

* I think about the ways to address people who think computers are magic, and there’s lots of them, the ways I mean although there are also lots of people sufficiently baffled by their own phones to presume that physical laws SHIT LIKE TIME AND SPACE don’t apply to digitization projects…

“The legislation is almost certainly unconstitutional, it’s a bad law, and it reinforces stereotypes about Jewish influence,” said one pro-Israel Democratic strategist familiar with the groups’ thinking. “It’s so bad that AIPAC and ADL oppose it.”

* At long last, the purges begin at Occupy Wall Street.

* No one likes Obama’s terrible college rankings.

Concerned with growing class sizes, teaching assistant union files complaint against UC.

Renowned science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning “Mars Trilogy,” will select the winners of a national flash-science fiction contest co-organized by Wisconsin Public Radio’s nationally syndicated show “To the Best of Our Knowledge” and the Center for the Humanities and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Gates “Beverly Crusher” McFadden will produce the scripts for radio.

* The Truman Show as eldercare: ‘Dementia Village’ – as it has become known — is a place where residents can live a seemingly normal life, but in reality are being watched all the time. Caretakers staff the restaurant, grocery store, hair salon and theater — although the residents don’t always realize they are carers — and are also watching in the residents’ living quarters.

* The Squalid Grace of Flappy Bird.

* The prohibition and attempted eradication of drugs can be a nightmare for the climate and environment. Particularly in Latin America, the fight against drug production has led to deforestation, widespread contamination with toxic chemicals, and contributed to a warming climate. Meanwhile: Climate Change Comes for Your Cup of Tea.

* I used to be a good teacher.

* Ideology at its purest: Saying it needed to prevent inbreeding, the Copenhagen Zoo killed a 2-year-old giraffe and fed its remains to lions as visitors watched.

Scientists Think They Have Found The Mythical ‘Sunstone’ Vikings Used To Navigate Warships.

11 Alarming Weather Flukes That Happen When it Gets Really Cold.

The Way We Live Now, by David Brooks.

This Student Is On His Death Bed, But His Family Still Has To Prove He Can’t Take A Standardized Test.

* The worst people in the world: Four Long Island workers arrested for running ‘developmentally disabled fight club.’

* Sports Corner! How will news that Michael Sam is gay affect his NFL draft stock? 10 Points About College Hoops All-American Marcus Smart’s Pushing a ‘Fan.’ Why Superfan Jeff Orr Is A Much Bigger Problem For College Basketball Than Marcus Smart. More details on the Raiders’ cheerleaders wage theft suit. Olympic Committee Supports Russia’s Arrest of LGBT Activists. Why the Olympics Are a Lot Like ‘The Hunger Games.’ Detroit’s Unrealized Olympic Dreams. Only six of the previous 19 Winter Olympics host cities would be suitable to host the Games again by the end of this century due to warming temperatures, according to a new analysis. And The George Zimmerman-DMX Fight Has Been Cancelled, So At Least There’s That.

* How Crowdworkers Became the Ghosts in the Digital Machine.

New York State has roughly 15,000 zombie homes and leads the nation in the time required to foreclose on a home, at almost three years, according to data from RealtyTrac, a company that tracks troubled properties.

* If you’ve been wondering how Mockingjay will handle Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden death, here’s your answer.

Nabokov’s immigration card. (Nationality: “without.”)

* If You Thought You Couldn’t Go To Jail For Debt Anymore, You’re Wrong.

* And standardized testing? Just opt out.

* Werner Herzog casts Mike Tyson, Pamela Anderson, and Russell Brand in his next movie, because life is chaos.

* Justice Department to give married same-sex couples equal protection.

* Good news: FX will make Redshirts a limited series.

* And can The LEGO Movie really be that good? MetaFilter is on the scene.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 10, 2014 at 8:00 am