October 16, 2014
Jason Schreier, “It Took Two Years To Make Final Fantasy VII‘s Midgar in Minecraft.”
And more in huge fantasy worlds created in Minecraft: Laura Hudson, “How Fans Created Game of Thrones in a Minecraft Map the Size of LA.”
And I think this may very well be the death-knell of the age of superhero blockbusters (but also a megatext I’ll be writing about in, say, 2022): Dee Lockett, “DC Announces 10 New Superhero Films in Next Six Years, Including Wonder Woman“ (and Suicide Squad [!?] and Shazam [!?] and Cyborg [!?] . . . this can’t go well).
Literature and Culture
Sarah Brouillette, “Literature Is Liberalism: The Nobel Prize’s Wish to Separate Literature from Politics Isn’t Just Misguided. It’s Impossible.”
Zachary Loeb, “Program or Be Programmed,” a review of Wendy Chun, Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (MIT Press, 2013).
LM Sacasas, “Our Very Own Francis Bacon,” a review of Peter Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.
In news revolving in a Pynchonian orbit: Markus Krajewski, “The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy.” The Phoebus cartel engineered a shorter-lived lightbulb and gave birth to planned obsolescence. (Poor Byron.)
Ian Bogost, “Why Anything But Games Matters: On Isolationism in Game Development.”
Kyle Wagner, “The Future of the Culture Wars Is Here, and It’s Gamergate.”
Nick Wingfield, “Feminist Critics of Video Games Facing Threats in ‘GamerGate’ Campaign.”
Briana Wu, “No Skin Thick Enough: The Daily Harassment of Women in the Game Industry.”
The abandoned mall in Gone Girl (dir. David Fincher, 2014).
Adriana E. Ramirez reviews Ghosts in the Machine: A Short Story Anthology.
And my colleauge at Pitt, Dana Och, and others debate the return of Twin Peaks.
October 12, 2014
Hyperarchivalism and Big Data
Evgeny Morozov, “The Planning Machine: Cybersyn and the Origins of the Big Data Nation.”
Frank Pasquale reviews Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: “Capital’s Offense: Law’s Entrenchment of Inequality.”
Nathan Jurgenson, “View From Nowhere: On the Cultural Ideology of Big Data.”
Cathy O’Neil, “Who Big Data Thinks We Are (When It Thinks We’re Not Looking),” a review of Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking).
Julia Prescott, “We Saw the World’s First Throne Made Out of Jerry Macguire VHS Tapes.”
And Torie Rose DeGhett, “The War Photo No One Would Publish.”
Literature and Culture
Carolyn Kellog on Patrick Modiano Winning the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature.
A short story from Haruki Murakami, “Scheherazade.”
Tracy K. Smith, “Sci-Fi.”
Michael Nordine, “Muted Golden Sunshine: David Lynch’s Los Angeles.”
Alison Flood, “Creative Writing Courses Are Killing Western Literature, Claims Nobel Judge.” (Someone needs to read Mark McGurl’s The Program Era .)
Forrest Wickman, “The Honest Trailer for Transformers 4 Is a Masterpiece.”
Alexandra Alter, “Literary Biography of Jonathan Franzen to Appear Next Year.”
Manhattan Projects no. 24 has one of the more bizarre takes on the JFK assassination I’ve ever seen.
And Lauren Williamson, “The Alternate-Reality Games That Teach Kids the Cause and Effect of Their Circumstances.”
Humanities and Higher Education
Lynn O’Shaughnessay, “Where to Get a Free College Degree.”
September 23, 2014
In the past two days it has been reported that the US is undertaking an “atomic revitalization,” and will spend a significant amount of money modernizing its nuclear arsenal. William J. Broad and David E. Sanger report on the new direction in US Nuclear policy for The New York Times in “U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms.” They write that there is a “nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for ‘a nuclear-free world’ and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads. Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.”
And the editorial board of the Times, in “Backsliding on Nuclear Promises,” also weighs in : “the Congressional Budget Office now estimates that Mr. Obama’s plans will cost $355 billion over the next decade; other studies put the price at $1 trillion over three decades. The wish list includes 12 new missile submarines, up to 100 new bombers, 400 land-based missiles, plus upgrades to eight major plants and laboratories. . . . Not only is this spending unwise and beyond what the nation can afford, multiple studies by the Government Accountability Office have described the modernization push as badly managed. In a statement released on Monday, nuclear weapons experts from the Arms Control Association, the Federation of American Scientists and others called the modernization plan excessive and said the country can reduce the number of missiles and bombers it buys and still maintain a safe and reliable nuclear arsenal. . . . Investing in nuclear security protects Americans more than unwise investment in new nuclear weapons.”
August 31, 2014
Environment and Apocalypse
Hamilton Nolan, “Doom Draws Nearer.”
Daniel Cech, “How the Apocalypse Would Happen if Heaven Were a Small Nonprofit.”
Robert O. Self, “Cataclysm in Suburbia: The Dark, Twisted History of America’s Oil-Addicted Middle Class.”
Emma Hansen, “From Nuclear Bombs to Killer Robots: How Amoral Technologies Become Immoral Weapons.”
Annalee Newitz, “The First College in the US to Open without any Books in its Library.”
Bill Chappell, “Bookless Public Library Opens in Texas.”
Ben Jurney, “2014: A Facebook Odyssey.”
Robinson Meyer, “There Still Isn’t One Good Way to Represent the Internet in Art.”
Becky Sullivan, “For The First Time, Real Tattoos Make Their Madden Debut.”
Danielle Kurtzleben, “How Facebook is Clearing Clickbait from Your News Feed.”
The Eternal September of the No Laptop Policy.
And Adam Gopnik, “Does It Help to Know History?”
French Government Dissolved Over Economic Policy.
Nicki Lisa Cole, “The Ferguson Syllabus.”
Jelani Cobb, “Bullets and Ballots.”
Christian Parenti, “Reading Hamilton from the Left.”
Literature and Culture
Maggie Nelson review Ben Lerner’s 10:04 in “Slipping the Surly Bonds of Earth: On Ben Lerner’s Latest.”
Steven Shaviro reviews Peter Watts’s Echopraxia in “Ferociously Intellectual Pulp Writing.”
My friend Carolyn Kellogg reviews David Mitchell’s Bone Clocks.
Michiko Kakutani review David Mitchell’s Bone Clocks in “A Lifetime Watching the World Devolve.”
Sean J. Kelly, “Adventures in Reading the American Novel.”
Diana Clarke on Bill Morris’s Motor City Burning: “The Idea of Detroit.”
Maria Popova, “Maurice Sendak’s Rare, Sensual Illustrations for Herman Melville’s Greatest Commercial Failure and Most Personally Beloved Book.”
Michael Finkel, “The Strange and Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit.”
William S. Burroughs Sends Anti-Fan Letter to In Cold Blood Author Truman Capote: “You Have Sold Out Your Talent.”
Imaginaries of the Future: Historicizing the Present.
The death of the “gamer.”
Sage Ashford annotates Multiversity, no. 1.
And an eleven year old and his father recreate scenes from Infinite Jest in Legos.
Humanities and Higher Education
Understanding Your Academic Friend: Job Market Edition.
Corey Robin, “What Would Mary Beard Do? Bonnie Honig on How a Different Chancellor Might Respond to the Salaita Affair.”
Brock Read, “Who’s Getting the Tenure Track Jobs? It’s Time to Find Out.”
Mitch Daniels, former Governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue University, is teaching a class this fall. Steven Stofferahn asks, “What Value in Prof. Daniels’s Class at Purdue?” The same Mitch Daniels who just wanted to prevent kids from reading Howard Zinn.
Well now. Catherine Stukel, “Is That Whining Adjunct Someone We Want Teaching Our Young” and “Teaching Cadence.”
And Adam Heiderbrink-Bruno, “Syllabus as Manifesto: A Critical Approach to Classroom Culture.”