Posts Tagged ‘war’
* The future of war, from the author of The Forever War. And a nice flashback from the archive: Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True.
* There’s some really weird, interesting stuff happening in X-Men fandom right now. It’s almost the inverse of the “Bad Fan” problem that tends to plague Quality TV shows like Breaking Bad: fans so devoted to “appropriate” affective investment in a story that the story itself can no longer be pleasurable to them…
* Insane: The EPA is accusing Volkswagen of illegally using software to cheat emissions standards, allowing the German automaker to sell half a million cars that produce nitrogen oxide, which creates smog, at up to 40 times the legal limit. Criminal charges?
* New details released Friday by researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University reveal that 96 percent of NFL players the group has examined showed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease impacting the brain. It seems hard to believe this sport can have much future.
* Counterpoint: no, Jesus Christ, save money in your twenties if you can.
* And the word’s come down: The FBI Says Retweets Are Endorsements.
* The end of UW: Gov. Scott Walker to propose 13 percent cut, more freedom for UW System. UW System predicts layoffs, no campus closings under budget cuts. Layoffs, Building Closures, Slowdown on Admissions. But “few details.”
Giving students access to an important, brilliant, historically significant corpus of art seems to be an entirely appropriate activity for the undergraduate classroom at a university. After you have taken a Zombie Course, you may discover you have actually just taken a Great Books (or in the case of Ware, a Great Box) course without realizing it, and you may also decide that any Great Books course worthy of its name cannot afford to ignore the recent surge of brilliant zombie art. If anything, we need more Zombie Courses than we have, and one hopes — in time — even full-blown Zombie Majors (or at the least Zombie Double-Majors).
* “What I would say about the university today,” he says, “is that we’re living through an absolutely historic moment – namely the effective end of universities as centres of humane critique, an almost complete capitulation to the philistine and sometimes barbaric values of neo-capitalism.”
* Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait Takes On the Entire Internet. It’s a terrible op-ed that makes an important point badly in the midst of saying a bunch of incorrect things, all in the service of a fundamentally bad framing — so of course it’s all we can talk about.
It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.
Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step.
* One aspect of that danger is the “abstract authority” of astrologers, now mirrored by the black-box algorithms of the cloud. The opacity of the analytic method lends forecasts their appearance of authoritative objectivity. In “Astrological Forecasts”, Adorno notes “the mechanics of the astrological system are never divulged and the readers are presented only with the alleged results of astrological reasoning.” “Treated as impersonal and thing-like,” stars appear “entirely abstract, unapproachable, and anonymous” and thus more objective than mere fallible human reason. Similarly, as Kate Crawford pointed out in an essay about fitness trackers for the Atlantic, “analytics companies aren’t required to reveal which data sets they are using and how they are being analyzed.” The inaccessible logic of their proprietary algorithms is imposed on us, and their inscrutability masquerades as proof of their objectivity. As Crawford argues, “Prioritizing data—irregular, unreliable data—over human reporting, means putting power in the hands of an algorithm.” As Adorno puts it, “The cult of God has been replaced by the cult of facts.”
* Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade.
* I linked to a story about this the other day, but here’s the resolution: Vanderbilt Football Players Found Guilty of Raping Unconscious Student. Of course the next horrifying story in this wretched, endless series is already queued up.
* American Sniper focuses in tight on one man’s story of trauma, leaving out the complex questions of why Kyle was in Iraq being traumatized in the first place. The Iraqis in the film are villains, caricatures, and targets, and the only real opinion on them the film offers is Kyle’s. The Iraqis are all “savages” who threaten American lives and need to be killed. There’s some truth in this representation, insofar as this is how a lot of American soldiers thought. Yet the film obviates the questions of why any American soldiers were in Iraq, why they stayed there for eight years, why they had to kill thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians, and how we are to understand the long and ongoing bloodbath once called the “war on terror.” It does that precisely by turning a killer into a victim, a war hero into a trauma hero.
* Freakishly Old System Of Planets Hint At Ancient Alien Civilizations. Okay, I’m in for three films with an option on a television reboot.
* Vulture says Jason Segel is good as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, but I’ll never accept it.
* It’s finally happening, and of course it’s starting in Florida: ‘Zombie cat’ crawls out of grave.
* And while this may be of interest only to those whose children have made them watch untold hours of Dora the Explorer, it’s certainly of interest to me: Swiper the Fox has a totally bananas backstory.
* The new issue of Extrapolation is out! This one was put together before I was an editor, but it’s still really great stuff.
* Dear English Major: A 7-Step Guide to Your Final Semester as an English Major.
* It’s syllabus prep week at universities all across America. Here’s a provocative one from Vanderbilt: PHIL 213: Police Violence and Mass Incarceration.
* Give me the child at 18 or so, and I will give you the man: Nine Percent of 114th U.S. Congress Are Alumni of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
* Why we can’t have nice things, 2015 edition: The Senate’s 46 Democrats got 20 million more votes than its 54 Republicans.
* I say teach the controversy: “Creationist: Aliens Will Go to Hell and Not Even Jesus Can Save Them.”
* Actual Supreme Court decisions: To remain silent, one must first speak.
* Dog bites man: 2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record Globally By Far.
* On the 60th anniversary of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” the Los Angeles Review of Books has assembled a group of female authors, artists and performers who, dedicated to examining the faces, bodies and voices of the young girl, consider the significance of Nabokov’s pubescent protagonist as both a literary conceit and an object of patriarchal fetish.
* As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set ’em free.
* People diagnosed with serious mental illness — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression — die 20 years early, on average, because of a combination of lousy medical care, smoking, lack of exercise, complications of medication, suicide, and accidents. They are the most discriminated-against and neglected group in the U.S., which has become probably the worst place in the developed world to be mentally ill.
* “The little girl come to my door,” 71-year-old Larry Wilkins told NBC News. “She told me that her mom and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down. She asked if she could stay here.”
* “I’m no longer watching television in which middle-aged men figure out how to be men. I’d rather watch shows about teenaged girls figuring out what it means to be a monster.”
* A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below 25 grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those earning more than 150 grand a year give away only 2.7 percent. A UCLA neuroscientist named Keely Muscatell has published an interesting paper showing that wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy: If you show rich people and poor people pictures of kids with cancer, the poor people’s brains exhibit a great deal more activity than the rich people’s. (An inability to empathize with others has just got to be a disadvantage for any rich person seeking political office, at least outside of New York City.) “As you move up the class ladder,” says Keltner, “you are more likely to violate the rules of the road, to lie, to cheat, to take candy from kids, to shoplift, and to be tightfisted in giving to others. Straightforward economic analyses have trouble making sense of this pattern of results.”
* I can’t believe I’d never read this before: the original script to Back to the Future is wonderfully bananas, including the “nuke the fridge” scene from Crystal Skull thrown in as a sweetener.
* Peak neoliberalism: eventheliberal Kevin Drum says an AI revolution that will be “pretty brutal for the 90 percent of the population that occupies the middle classes and below” will be a “basically positive” development.
* PS: Drum might have been overestimating the timetable here. In 10 years, your job might not exist.
* The paper makes no claims about in-person classes or very large online courses, but says that the study’s findings provide “the first evidence that increasing class sizes in the online context may not degrade the quality of the class.” And the paper says that “these results could have important policy and financial implications.”
* Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed.’ Well, that’s debatable.
* Police say at least 30 people are sleeping permanently in Madrid airport’s terminal 4 but the number goes up in winter.
* In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a “Vision Zero” plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. “We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads,” says Hans Berg of the national transport agency. Swedes believe—and are now proving—that they can have mobility and safety at the same time.
* Science fiction poetry: “Sci-Fi Violence.”
* It’s good to get ahead of things: Should Martians Pay U.S. Taxes?
* And the winner of the Worst Thing Written in 2015 has been announced. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you again in 2016.
* Call for applications: The 2015-16 postdoc seminar at Rice, “After Biopolitics.”
* In the absence of sparrows: the front page story says you’ve been missing since / November 22, 2012. Everything else it doesn’t say. / In the absence of sparrows: you simply wandered off, past the Sunoco, pockets stuffed. / The door to your apartment is open still—
* Together, these forums, initiatives, and spy teams constitute a sustained effort to suppress meaningful resistance to the university’s privatization program by placing strict boundaries on dissent. Policing Civility.
* Elsewhere in campus civility: The Pentagon Is Giving Grenade Launchers to Campus Police.
* Hence I propose that, roughly speaking, one’s privilege level correlates with the likelihood that expressing anger will make people take your concerns more seriously rather than less — or at the very least, that it will prompt a reaction to you as an individual rather than triggering an immediate generalization about your demographic profile. This is one of the most intimate and insidious things about privilege dynamics: even the right to express perfectly natural and justified human emotions can’t be taken for granted.
* The Paris Review interviews Ray Bradbury.
If I’d lived in the late eighteen hundreds I might have written a story predicting that strange vehicles would soon move across the landscape of the United States and would kill two million people in a period of seventy years. Science fiction is not just the art of the possible, but of the obvious. Once the automobile appeared you could have predicted that it would destroy as many people as it did.
They affect us because we realize that if they are monsters it is because we, the adults, have made them so. In them we find everything: Freud, mass culture, digest culture, frustrated struggle for success, craving for affection, loneliness, passive acquiescence, and neurotic protest. But all these elements do not blossom directly, as we know them, from the mouths of a group of children: they are conceived and spoken after passing through the filter of innocence. Schulz’s children are not a sly instrument to handle our adult problems: they experience these problems according to a childish psychology, and for this very reason they seem to us touching and hopeless, as if we were suddenly aware that our ills have polluted everything, at the root.
* As fast-food workers demonstrate nationwide for a $15 hourly wage, and congressional Republicans fight off a $10 federal minimum, little SeaTac has something to offer the debate. Its neighbor, Seattle, was the first big city to approve a $15 wage, this spring, but that doesn’t start phasing in until next year. SeaTac did it all at once. And, though there’s nothing definitive, this much is clear: The sky did not fall.
* Profiles in courage: Obama to delay his big move on immigration until after election.
* Not really how it’s supposed to work: An atheist airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was denied re-enlistment last month for refusing to take an oath containing “so help me God,” the American Humanist Association said Thursday.
* Female privilege is real: Sharks nine times more likely to kill men than women, study says.
* The eight white identities. I’m not 100% clear on the daylight between White Traitor and White Abolitionist, but otherwise it seems to taxonomize approaches to white supremacy I see on the Internet all the time.
* Could it be possible that police departments are lying when they say suspects handcuffed behind their backs are shooting themselves in the chest with hidden weapons that were somehow not found when they were searched? Truly, a bold provocation. Perhaps it will always be a mystery.
* And: you fools: every day is Bill Murray Day.
* Someone needs to check their Save the Cat: Video shows CEO kicking puppy in elevator.
* Elites spent months arguing we should attack Syria to dislodge Assad. Now these same elites want to intervene in the war on his behalf. “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?”
* The 14 Best National Universities According To Washington Monthly has Case at #9 and UC Riverside at #2. Arbitrary college ranking systems forever!
In addition to his constitutional claims, Salaita has an almost textbook version of a contract law claim under the doctrine of “promissory estoppel” (the classic case on the subject is Red Owl). The basic idea is simple: even if there is no formal contract between two parties (my expectation, as noted, is the court will find no contract between Salaita and Illinois), if one party reasonably relies on the promises and representations of the other, and then the other reneges, the injured party is entitled to compensation to the extent of his reasonable reliance. It was clearly reasonable for Salaita to rely on an offer letter from the Dean–an offer letter that specifically mentioned the academic freedom protections the University of Illinois affords faculty!–even with a clause saying the appointment was subject to approval by the Board of Trustees (after all, there does not appear to be a case in the last half-century in which the Board failed to approve a tenured appointment that went through the normal university channels, as Salaita’s did). Indeed, the reasonableness of Salaita’s reliance is enhanced by the fact that the University scheduled his classes this fall and even referred to him in public as a faculty member.
The harder question will be Salaita’s damages. At a minimum, he should recover for the costs of relocation, his housing costs this year (since he rented his prior home), the cost of insurance and related expenses, and his salary for this academic year; but he has a strong claim for asking for compensation for having relinquished tenure and his job and salary at Virginia Tech, i.e., for several decades worth of salary and benefits. In other words, I would expect Salaita’s lawyers to ask for several million dollars in lost wages and benefits extending over a career. Now there is always a duty in contract cases to “mitigate” damages–to take steps to prevent the unnecessary growth of damages–which here would mean seeking other academic employment. If Salaita can not secure such appointment–and given the smear campaign against him, aided and abetted now by the University of Illinois, it is hard to see a public university, vulnerable to the same political pressures, being able to hire him–then he has a claim for his lost wages and benefits as a professor for the next (roughly) thirty-plus years.
That respectability politics is the narrative of the oppressor digested and regurgitated by the oppressed is obvious. But we shouldn’t dismiss it without understanding its allure and durability: it reframes the terms of power, restoring agency into black hands. For the black upper class, it is the parable that allows them to rationalize their privilege as a sign of their own worthiness, while simultaneously giving them cover to righteously withdraw concern from the plight of the less fortunate of their race. It’s no coincidence that the black people advocating for blacks to somehow be cleansed of their blackness by bathing in the waters of post-racial healing are many of the same complaining that “we” don’t pay attention to “black on black crime”. For the black middle class, respectability becomes an aspirational fable, a promise that they, too can be free of racism if they become successful enough to transcend their race. For the black underclass, it becomes a morality tale that explains their own destruction. Respectability politics is a false narrative, but it maintains its power because, like so many powerful lies, it sits adjacent to the truth and set slightly askew: they are looking for a way to turn you into a nigger, and if necessary, they will find one. You will never leave a body pure enough to not be judged complicit in its own destruction.
* MA Police Apologize After Accusing Man Of Faking Photo Of Trooper’s Racist Bumper Sticker. Police trampled the makeshift memorial built by Michael Brown’s mom. That is to say: Police Drove Over Michael Brown Memorial, Let Dog Piss on It.
* Meanwhile: Ben Stein has awful opinions and should be ashamed.
* There is no way this is true: Milwaukee, Madison drivers among the nation’s safest. Real talk: Milwaukee drivers are some of the absolute worst drivers I have ever encountered.
* Did Tony die at the end of The Sopranos? Yes, and David Chase knows it.
* Elsewhere on the front lines of culture: Is Hello Kitty a cat? How dare you. How dare you.
* LEGO really, really letting down its fans. I knew I should have loaded up on the female scientist sets when I had the chance.
* Why we can’t have nice things: Americans strongly agree: You shouldn’t stop people from reclining on planes.
* When J.J. Abrams set out to make the absolute worst Superman movie possible. It would have been amazing.