Archive for the ‘Friday Links’ Category

Of course everything didn’t end all at once. Does no one understand the meaning of Apocalypse at all?

As a slightly-related starting point, here’s the voiceover opening montage to The Road Warrior (1981), which is one of the great film intros of all time:

While most people think about apocalypse as a singular event (it’s sexier that way), the reality is that we are living in apocalyptic times where a group of related crises (climate change, resource depletion, etc.) all point toward a wide-scale, gradual collapse of civilization as we know it. One of the most overlooked aspects in this dire scenario, at least beyond existing drought areas, is the increasing threat of water scarcity pretty much everywhere.

This article gets at one particular manifestation of gross negligence with regard to stewardship and so-called “development,” AND the crazy kind of solutions people come up with:

“Want some Missouri water? Colorado, get in line” AGua, 12/19/2012

The slices of the Colorado River pie are getting cut thinner and thinner.  With growing populations in southwestern cities and increased needs for irrigation, doling out the dwindling supplies of the Colorado River has reached such a dried up state that government agents are suggesting piping water from the Missouri River 600 miles across Kansas to Denver.  The federal Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) will be releasing a report this week proposing a constellation of options for mediating growing concern over water supplies for the ~25 million people who rely on the Colorado River, reports the NYTimes.

Words cannot….


Also on the water front:

“Poisoning the Well: How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation’s Underground Water Supply” – Abraham Lustgarten (ProPublica, 12/11/2012)

Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation’s drinking water.

In many cases, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted these so-called aquifer exemptions in Western states now stricken by drought and increasingly desperate for water.

Scary stuff.  Thanks EPA!


Friday Links for 12/7/2012

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Friday Links

In holy-shit-are-we-fucked news . . .

“What Could Disappear”  (The New York Times Sunday Review, 11/24/2012)

Thinking of buying property in Miami Beach?  Good luck with that.

The NYT applied this fun new app to see what various coastal cities will look like with the sea level rise that we’ll see in the relatively near future.  Note that the estimates for how long to reach each level are pretty conservative.  Note also that no one at the NYT apparently gives a shit about places not in the USA.

New Orleans with 5 foot sea level rise (88% flooded)

New Orleans with 5 foot sea level rise (88% flooded)

“You Can Give a Boy a Doll, but You Can’t Make Him Play With It” – Christina Hoff Sommers (The Atlantic, 12/6/2012)

As a parent of a 5 y/o daughter, how certain types of play (and toys) are gendered, and how adults (and, by extension, playmates) reinforce so-called “proper” kinds of play for boys or girls is something I think about quite a bit.  This article looks at how Sweden is probably going a little too far in trying to push equality.  However, the author (note her background) certainly overstates the gender difference and errs too far on the nature side of the nature/nurture spectrum with the underexplained and overstated appeals to scientific studies.  An interesting jumping-off point for thinking about how toys, marketing, and the like structure gender identity.

And on a related note:

“Boys with babies and women with knives: Rethinking gender assumptionist power structures” – Kameron Hurley (Author’s Blog, 9/7/2012)

Hurley, the author of God’s War (which is sitting on my shelf to be read), takes on some dubious and sweeping gender claims made by one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. Le Guin (her original article is here).  Hurley’s critique of Le Guin’s gender missteps are reminiscent of Samuel Delany’s commentary on The Dispossessed and mirror some (thus far unpublished) ideas of my own.  As much as I like Le Guin, she is certainly not above such critiques.  Key paragraphs from Hurley:

So if I generally agree with LeGuin that hierarchies are bad and men certainly benefit from them more than women, and that as women join them, they will also probably become assholes, just assholes with wombs who have more reason to push for for universal childcare and contraception, why am I taking issue with LeGuin’s wording that building these power structures is somehow intrinsic to one’s DNA instead of a social construct we support based on our gender?

Because it’s arguments like LeGuin’s that people use when building worlds full of passive women and aggressive men. “Women are just naturally nurturing people who value interdependence” and “men are just naturally aggressive people who prefer unequal power structures” are statements that let people get away with lazy writing and worldbuilding. They think, “Well, if women are naturally this way, I certainly couldn’t create a society of violent women without radically altering their DNA” or “Surely I can’t create an egalitarian society or society that actually has men in it who don’t abuse people without castrating all of them.”

That’s bullshit.


I’ve let this concept slide for a while, so it’s time to get back on track.  I’m going to try to shift my focus to include more bloggers, small websites, and positions I disagree with from now on.

“Batman and the Problem of Constituent Power” – David Graeber (guest post at De Dicto 10/28/2012)

I’m a fan of David Graeber as a critic of capitalism; as a critic of film and pop culture, however, I’m much more ambivalent.  This is his take on The Dark Knight Rises (and superheroes in general) vis-a-vis the Occupy movement.  The main problem with the essay is that it starts out with cliched and at times incorrect or overstated claims about the superhero genre. To put it bluntly, Graeber comes across as someone who is not well-read enough in the existing criticism of superheroes to be writing about them.  Because of this, I’m guessing this essay will lose (or enrage) most comic fans and critics early on as he seems to be appropriating something without studying it thoroughly, and doing so in order to make a point about one specific film that he could have made without such overgeneralizations.  That said, the concluding arguments about how The Dark Knight Rises ends are worth pushing through to the end and considering.

“The Myth of Meritocracy” – Christopher Powell (The Practical Theorist 11/14/2012)

Powell is one of those relatively rare, practicing academics whose public writing is written clearly, with a minimum of jargon, and without arrogance.  He often deals with difficult theory but doesn’t try to make concepts harder than they need to be.  I’m a big fan of that.  In this essay he lays out the structural inequalities that affect student academic success.  Upon reading it, the points he makes seem so obvious that you tend to just nod your head like you knew this all along, which you probably did even if you never articulated it clearly.


Friday Links (9/21/12)

Posted: September 21, 2012 in Friday Links, Uncategorized

Goodbye, summer.  😦


Not surprising. And it’s nearly impossible to avoid eating this crap because it is in so many things:

Monsanto’s Roundup And Roundup-Resistant Corn Found To Be Toxic In Rats” – Michael Kelley (Business Insider, 9/19/12)

“The first animal feeding trial studying the lifetime effects of exposure to Monsanto Roundup weedkiller and Monsanto’s NK603 Roundup-resistant genetically modified corn found that exposure levels currently considered safe can cause tumors, multiple organ damage and premature death in rats.”

Related: Anna Ghosh at The Food and Water Watch Blog (via Common Dreams)reports on the push to label foods w/ GMO ingredient and big Ag’s well-funded (in part thanks to taxpayer subsidies) counter-attack: Who’s Deceiving Whom?” (9/2o/12).


“Creationists are about to have even more scientific data to ignore,” writes Prachi Gupta in this brief Salon article on a recent experiment where scientists actually watched E. coli develop mutations that allowed for the digestion of previously-indigestible citrate:

In experiment, scientists watched evolution happen: Researchers have documented a step-by-step guide to how organisms evolve – Prachi Gupta (Salon, 9/20/12)


Friday Links (9/14/12)

Posted: September 14, 2012 in Friday Links

It’s been a busy week for me: another birthday gone, my daughter’s first full week of school, and various business-related snafus.  So, this week’s links are going to be brief and light on my commentary and heavy on quotes, and, as usual, I’m going to avoid all the more obvious things most people already read about (9/11 anniversary, unrest in Libya and Egypt, teacher’s strike in Chicago, the US election year circus, the debut of some new Apple device I don’t care about, Chris Brown still having a career/being newsworthy, et cetera).


For the academics and former academics out there:

An Update on Colorado State’s “No Olds Need Apply” Ad” – JC (From Grad School to Happiness, 9/12/12)

This story has been all over academic news/blogs (ie, Inside Higher Ed).  I first heard about it via JC’s prior post, and I like the direct, honest approach s/he takes here:

“These days, someone looking to break into an entry-level tenure track job in the humanities could either be: (1) someone who is currently ABD but graduating in May 2013 or (2) someone who graduated in 2008 and has been cobbling together part-time adjunct gigs at multiple schools, barely bringing in $20k per year while leaving no time for research or a personal life. Neither of these people have ‘as much as six years’ more experience’ than the other. Both of them are just barely scraping by while trying to find that first, entry-level tenure-track job that they’ve been dreaming about since the moment they first showed up at their grad school’s doorstep.

Do you understand that, CSU?? Both of those people are entry-level candidates. Neither of them have gotten started in their academic careers yet. Either of those people would probably jump at a chance for an “entry level” tenure-track job. Because they are BOTH “entry-level” applicants.

But your ad only excludes one of them.

And it does so in a way that confirms many people’s suspicions – that long-term adjuncts are seen as damaged goods and are not seriously considered for tenure-track jobs.

Maybe that’s not what you intended to communicate … but it IS what you communicated. And if that’s not what you intended? Then I have to admit, I’m a little terrified to see that the head of a major university department has such a shocking lack of understanding of the status of the current job market in English.” [emphasis added]

And I’d add that it shows not only a lack of understanding of the current job market, but a really poor understanding of effective communication and rhetoric.  I suppose it at least saves long-term adjuncts (and other non-tenure track PhDs from before 2010) the time and energy of applying when their materials won’t even get looked at by people who largely consider them worthless.

Also, it’s great to see such a large number of people like JC and those cited in the IHE article writing on how fucked up academia is these days, especially in terms that don’t cower to entrenched power and call out the kind of out-of-touch nonsense seen here.  It would be a nice turn of events if more tenured/tenure-track faculty followed suit, but I’m not holding my breath on that.



Friday Links (9/7/12)

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Friday Links, Uncategorized

It’s been a hectic week for me.  I’ve pretty much had to fully neglect blogging, reading friends’ blogs, social media, perusing dumb (and smart) shit online, and everything else internet-related.  I have, however, maintained something resembling my normal reading schedule, including newsy stuff.  So, here are a few interesting, frightening, and/or amusing things worth a look.

“Maryland politician out of line for attacking Brendon Ayanbadejo’s support of gay marriage” – Dan Wetzl (Yahoo Sports, 9/6/12)

I don’t usually read, much less post, a lot of sports news, but this one was too good to pass up, especially since Wetzl does a nice job of rebuking the offending party idiot politician.  Per the article, a member of the Maryland State House of Delegates by the name of Emmett C. Burns Jr. went out of his way to attack Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo over the latter’s public support of same-sex marriage.  In a letter to the team, Burns wrote:

“I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player . . . Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement.”

Besides once again proving that the GOP has no monopoly on hating gays and civil rights, and proving that politicians don’t give a rat’s ass about (or really understand) free speech, what is really laughable is that last phrase (in the added bold).  Think about it: the NFL is “strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement” . . . .


Claim of Romney taxes theft a puzzling whodunit(AP, 9/6/12)

Assuming it’s not a hoax, the purported theft of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s tax returns has all the trappings of a high-tech whodunit: a politically themed burglary, a $1 million demand in hard-to-trace Internet currency, password-protected data and a threat to reveal everything in three more weeks. But can it be believed?

The Secret Service and FBI were investigating the case Thursday after someone claimed to have burglarized a PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting office in Franklin, Tenn., and stolen two decades’ worth of Romney’s tax returns.

There’s a lot to look at here: monetary vs political motivation, the probability of this being a hoax (anyone with knowledge of legit hacking incidents (I know, right?) is privy to the fact that most hackers prove they had access immediately), and the like.  What might be most interesting to me is the attention this is drawing to bitcoin from mainstream sources and audiences.  No doubt a moral panic over anonymous currency and a legislative effort to ban it will follow.



Friday Links (8/31/12)

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Friday Links

This is hopefully going to become a regular thing here.  What I want to do is create a roundup of interesting and often frightening articles published during the week.  Most will focus on politics, environmental issues, and the ongoing crisis we are living through, but I’ll do my best to include some lighter stuff too.

On living well in Ray Bradbury’s dystopia: Notes toward a monastic response” – Matt Cardin (The Teeming Brain, 8/28/20112)  –  One of my favorite bloggers, and a like-minded individual, reflects on living in a world roughly equivalent to Fahrenheit 451 and what it means to resist.

“Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists” (Guardian (UK), 8/26/2012)  –  Writing on a recent report by the Stockholm International Water Institute, and another by the International Water Management Institute, Guardian environment editor John Vidal explores a few possible futures for water needs and food production.  While the article says little about the use of water in other industries (a rather important factor in global water use, and another way industrialization is killing the world), it does manage to briefly make the case, contrary to typical bigger-is-better thinking, that small-scale agriculture is actually a better solution to such problems in some (most?) regions:

“[T]he best way for countries to protect millions of farmers from food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia was to help them invest in small pumps and simple technology, rather than to develop expensive, large-scale irrigation projects.” – Dr Colin Chartres, director general of IWMI.

RealClimate has confirmed that Artic sea-ice is now at a record minimum (RealClimate, 8/26/2012)  – Not much to say on this; it was only a matter of time.   Here’s the illustration:


This was of course immediately followed by ideologically-driven skeptics and paid industry shills trying to undercut or cloud the point, arguments that are rebutted pretty neatly at Skeptical Science here (see also the Arctic Sea Ice Blog here on the alleged similar melts during WWII).