End of the Semester Links Spring 2014

April 14, 2014

It’s been a busy end of the semester and I haven’t been able to post anything for a bit. So, now that I have a bit of time before the semester wraps up, here’s a bunch of stuff that has been happening the last few weeks. My apologies if I’m a bit late on some of these things.

Nuclear and Disaster

Laura Miller reviews Craig Nelson’s The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and the Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Age.

John Metcalfe, “What Famous Old Paintings Can Tell Us About Climate Change.”

Only .02% of published research rejects global warming.

Adam Weinstein, “Arrest Climate Change Deniers.”


Humanities and Higher Education

Robert N. Watson, “Bottom Line Shows Humanities Really Do Make Money.”

Not student debt, but the driving force of institutional debt in higher ed: “Revenue at Any Cost: Institutional Debt and the Crisis of U.S. Higher Education.”

More on institutional debt.

Something I wish all my students would read: Rebecca Onion, “The Awful Emptiness of ‘Relatable.’”

The University of Pittsburgh is twenty-second on this list of schools in terms of academic performance.

Derek Thompson, “Which College–And Which Major–Will Make You Richest?” Ugh. And “These U.S. Colleges and Majors Are the Biggest Waste of Money.” Double ugh.

Football players at Northwestern granted the right to unionize.

Elizabeth Segran, “What Can You Do with a Humanities Ph.D., Anyway?”

Professors are busy.

“Why Teaching Poetry is So Important.”

What’s wrong with the common core.


National Security State

Charles Savage, “Obama to Call for End to N.S.A.’s Bulk Data Collection.”

Daniel Schwartz, “Drone-Speak Lexicon: From ‘Bugsplat’ to ‘Targeted Killing.’”

Catherine Crump and Matthew Harwood, “Big Brother is Coming: Google, Mass Surveillance, and the Rise of the ‘Internet of Things.’”

David A. Graham, “Rumsfeld’s Knowns and Unknowns: The Intellectual History of a Quip.” And I’m actually teaching Alexander R. Galloway’s thoughts on “unknown unknowns” tomorrow.

Jon Queally, “Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends US Invasion of Iraq.”

The painting of W. And more painting of W.

Why you should be worried about Heartbleed.

Bloomberg reports that NSA has used Heartbleed for years.

What Heartbleed has hit.

President Jimmy Carter calls America the #1 warmonger.

Russia and China are going to decouple trade from the dollar.

US Navy to use seawater as fuel.


US Literature and Culture

A must watch: Fredric Jameson’s radical solution for imagining a life after capitalism. I’m still mulling this over.

Martin Paul Eve, “Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace and the Problems of Metamodernism: Post-Millenial Post-Postmodernism?,” from the first issue of C21: Journal of 21st Century Writings.

DFW predicted selfie anxiety.

More on DFW and irony.

Andrew Hartman’s Great Books in US Intellectual History.

Jason Diamon, “2014 Will Be the Year of Lynne Tillman.”

The fifty science fiction novels you must read.

A study says Facebook is about to lose 80% of its users.

Derek Thompson, “How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1 Percent All Wrong.”

Evelyn Barish, from her new book on Paul de Man.


N. Katherine Hayles, Patrick Jagoda, and Patrick LeMieux on their Alternate Reality Game, Speculation. And there’s more here.

Jesse Stommel, “Toward an Interactive Criticism: House of Leaves as Haptic Interface.”

My colleague at Pitt, John Taylor, “Using Rodney Dangerfield to Rethink Masculinity in Reagan-Era Hollywood.”

“The Culture of Shut Up.”

The Postmodernism Generator: “Thus, the subject is contextualised into a precultural semioticist theory that includes narrativity as a totality.” How postmodern to have an algorithm that generates postmodernism.

A review of Jane Gregory’s My Enemies (2013) by Charles Altieri.

On Monument Valley (2014).




Annalee Newitz, “It Seems More and More Certain That we Live in a Multiverse.”

What happens when you stick your head in a particle accelerator.

A hidden ocean on Enceladus.



My friend Debra Lam is doing great work as Pittsburgh’s first Chief of Innovation and Performance, and received a glowing writeup in Next.

And seriously, check out Pittsburgh.

I wonder how this might effect our reading of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, “The Pseuo-Science of Alcoholics Anonymous: There’s a Better Way to Treat Addiction,” by Dr. Lance Dodes and Zachary Dodes.

Edwin Lyngar, “I lost My Dad to Fox News: How a Generation Was Captured by Thrashing Hysteria.”

Goat Simulator.

“Dungeons & Dragons & Philosophers.”

Have you read this!!!?

“If the Marianas Trench Were a Gathering of Sound” in The After Happy Hour Review

March 27, 2014

A poem of mine, “If the Marianas Trench Were a Gathering of Sound,” was just published in the very pretty first issue of The After Happy Hour Review, along with work from my friends Dean Matthews, Amy Hayes, and others.

Poetry Reading March 27

March 26, 2014

Since this event is being sponsored by the Sprout Fund, I actually just heard a plug for it on Pittsburgh’s local NPR. So I thought it only appropriate to advertise here as well.

After Happy Hour Review Reading Series Poster

Map of the Ways Hollywood has Destroyed the US

March 23, 2014

The Concourse has a great map of the ways that Hollywood films have depicted the destruction of various locales in the US.

Hollywood Nuke Map

Big News in Science and Other Links

March 23, 2014


The first evidence for cosmic inflation–i.e., the Big Bang–was discovered this week.

Megan Garber at The Atlantic, “What It’s Like to be Right About the Big Bang?”

The search for Flight MH370 is revealing one thing: the ocean is filled with garbage.

Kim Stanley Robinson alert: Paul Rosenfeld, “Would You Take a One-Way Ticket to Mars?”

And as part of his forthcoming 3 million page novel, Breeze Avenue (2015), Richard Grossman has buried a crystal ball deep inside of Princeton Mountain in Colorado. The ball, “made of synthetic sapphire, which is almost as indestructible as diamond,” has the Ten Commandments inscribed on it in Hebrew, and in “20 million years, as a result of natural forces carefully calculated by the geologists, the Torah Ball will emerge from its eroded resting place and bear the Ten Commandments down the mountain.” Hyperarchivalists of the deep future rejoice!

Richard Grossman, The Torah Ball (Synthetic Sapphire, Princeton Mountain, 20 Million Years of Erosion, 2011).

Richard Grossman, The Torah Ball (Synthetic Sapphire, Princeton Mountain, 20 Million Years of Erosion, 2011).


Stephen Slemon, “The Humanities Crisis Industry.”

Simon During, “Stop Defending the Humanities.”

Timothy Burke on anxiety, academia, and the humanities: “Frame(d).”

The worst picture of the week:

Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace on the set of The End of the Tour.

Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace on location at The Mall of America for the film The End of the Tour.

Frederick C. Moten on “The Beauty of José Esteban Muñoz.”

David Golumbia on boundary 2‘s digital turn.

Eileen Jones has a review of Wes Anderson’s new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) at Jacobin, “Wes Anderson and the Old Regime.”

Richard Brody, Nymphomaniac: Lars Von Trier’s Joyless Sexual Tantrum.”

A discussion of the “twee fascism” of Her at Database Animal.

Alex C. Madrigal, “Why It’s Time for the Journal of Porn Studies.”

The Journal of Porn Studies.

Heather Havrilesky on the contemporary injunction to “Play, Dammit.”

Ken Bauman on Earthbound, interviewed by Salvatore Pane.


And more news in recently declassified nuclear stupidity that one of my students just drew my attention to (thanks Matt!): ‘”Starfish Prime” Video Shows 1962 Nuclear Explosion in Space.” “‘Starfish Prime’ [was] a test conducted in the summer of 1962 when a 1.45-megaton nuclear weapon was launched 250 miles into space above the Pacific Ocean and then detonated.”

US and International

Peter Beinart, “America is Too Broke to Rescue Ukraine.”

George Packer on understanding the Ukrainian Crisis for The New Yorker, “Terms of Crisis.”

Andrew Leonard, “Is Privacy Really Dead? Julia Angwin and the Quest to Escape Big Brother.”

Eric Schmitt, “Iranian Ship, in Plain View but Shrouded in Mystery, Looks Very Familiar to U.S”:Iran is building a nonworking mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that United States officials say may be intended to be blown up for propaganda value.”

Radley Balko on how “overwhelming paramilitary force is on the rise”: “‘Why Did You Shoot Me? I was Reading a Book’: The New Warrior Cop is Out of Control.”

NASA Says We’re Doomed

March 16, 2014

In “NASA-Funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for ‘Irreversible Collapse’?” Nafeez Ahmed reports for The Guardian on a recent study produced by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center that “highlight[s] the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.” The most striking thing about the report to me is its interdisciplinarity, mixing bleeding edge environmental science, historical perspective, economics, Marxist cultural analysis, etc.: “Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most ‘detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners,’ allowing them to ‘continue “business as usual” despite the impending catastrophe.’ The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how ‘historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).’” We’re doomed.

A Miscellaneous Group of Not Very Doomy Links

March 15, 2014

Surveillance, consent, networks, numbers, the hyperarchival condition of the contemporary: Natasha Lennard writes “Of Being Numerous” for The New Inquiry.

This doesn’t seem like reading at all: the new “speed reading app.”

Rebecca Stoner in The Daily Sophist: “What’s Love Got to Do with Anything? DFW Biographer D.T. Max Speaks on Campus.”

“A Game is Being Beaten” by Leigh Alexander at The New Inquiry: “The trend in video game design is to comment on violence by asking players to perform violence. But could there be pleasure in performing consent?”

“How Benjamin Kunkel Went from Novelist to Marxist Public Intellectual” by David Wallace-Wells at Vulture.

Between Two Ferns: The Selling of the President, 2014.”

A very interesting forthcoming issue of Critical Inquiry.

A(nother) soundtrack for the apocalypse. Track 1 seems especially doomy. (Thanks Michael.)

My good friend Ryan Pierson on The Lego Movie: “On the Nonessential Beauty of Legos.”

And because I saw it yesterday and enjoyed it (though I am a bit confounded by this fact), another: Andrew O’hehir for Salon: The Lego Movie: Plastic Blocks Fight for Freedom!”

German philosophers play Monopoly. (I wonder what would happen if they got a game of Risk [The Game of Ruining Friendships] going.)

And sad news in hyperarchival realism. Google is redoing its Street View for many places in Pittsburgh, and thus Ben Kinsley and Robin Hewlett’s wonderful Street With a View is going away. (Right now it goes from a marching band in the rain to a deserted, sunny street. Uncanny.) Ah, the transitory internet–perhaps it isn’t an archive at all, for really, how do we archive the present in the present. . . .

A short film on Street With a View:


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