The Fix…

Scuttlebutt has it that among the recommended for Round Two interviewees is a gal with an art-history degree.  If true, this means:

1)  She’s being brutally strung along simply b/c she’s a minority who applied, but will be squeezed out in round two (because it would be blatantly illegal to hire her:  art history is a completely separate field from history itself).

2)  She’s being advanced over top of people who were legally qualified for the job simply b/c she’s a minority… aka this college district is “going Dallas,” and putting its applicants through an affirmative-action filter.*

Either way, if scuttlebutt is true, this would officially be suckage.  Since none of the department hires were allowed to advance to full-time status this last year b/c the department’s lily-white and they wanted a new round of interviews (and I must be at pains to point out that this is legit, aka, “demonstrate to me that you’ve hired the best from your applicant pool and that your department isn’t pulling some hiring bullshit based on race”), either is credible. 

Which means that in spite of having gotten glowing reviews last year, there’s a very good chance that I’m going to be back to putting out resumes.  I’m good in a classroom, but don’t have the certs that a corporate trainer requires, so this would mean either admining, or else trying to put together a business plan and start a business.  Unfortunately, the entire process is opaque, with nobody willing to say anything to anybody officially because of the legal liabilities involved — I could be just totally hunky-dory for another year, or I could be SOL in favor of an art-history instructor.  And because that process is completly opaque, 10 days on after an interview I’m still completely and utterly clueless.

“38 and career-less” sucks bilge water through a cocktail straw.

3)  Oh, yeah, and option #3.  The rumor mill is full of shit, and she’s got a regular history degree, or else more than one master’s degree, one of which is in mainline history. 

But being forced to depend on said rumor mill is No Fun(tm).

*While it’s  technically illegal to discriminate on race in hiring, Dallas County’s humanities programs only hire via the Visiting Scholar Program, which is a diversity program explicitly dedicated to improving the percentage of non-white professors.  It’s an open secret that straight white males need not apply for full-time positions in the District, and on some campuses this extends even to the adjunct positions.  I’ve had a dept. head at Northlake, for instance, blatantly lie about the qualifications required to teach in order to keep me out of the department (this while I was already employed not only for DCCCD, but also for two other districts).

NORK land invasion?

From what I’ve been hearing, this article falls in the bwahaha category.  My understanding is that the NORKs are critically short on food, fuel, and ammunition that doesn’t date from the 1980s.

Am I wrong here?

The REAL singularity

I’m writing this in the explicit hope that I can get the folks over at Speculist to pick this up and run with it, but my theory is the REAL change brought on by all this singularity stuff will happen when there’s enough bandwidth and storage for the average person to understand how everything around him or her works.

Seriously.  I’ve got an old jeep in the driveway.  It’s a complicated machine which I could never build in an entire lifetime of hand-labor.  And I’m not exactly shy about trying new craft projects I should really have left to others (as several mocking friends and relatives will gleefully confirm).  

But give me some basic tools, and this:

and I can do a lot of the work I’d otherwise have to send to a garage.  Now, whether it’s economically effective for me to do that work myself (often it’s not) is another issue.  But I can look at where the parts go, figure it out, and go.

How about plumbing?  Electrical wiring in your house?  City sewer and transit systems?  Highway bridges?

It’s a tall order to say that massive social change will happen when we can all work on our cars — but when we can all comprehend the rest of the physical and political infrastructure around us, and represent them in a way that aids this comprehension, vast social and political change will be upon us.  For starters, it will cut the legs out from underneath progressivism’s assumption that technocrats need rule on our behalf.  While that will discomfit political liberals, it will also provide cold comfort to the other sides of the aisle(s).  If poorly-distributed, it could lead to techno-oligarchy (the informed making better decisions), or else it could lead to something radically less hierarchical and more communal.

It’s unlikely that it would empower Marx’ dream that one could be a fisherman in the morning, a painter in the afternoon, and write operas in the evening… for now, anyway, I suspect that not even brilliant software would make any opera of mine enjoyable.  YET.

Hegemonic Masculinity? What I want to know is…

not the whole male/female thing (one look at any CC class I teach will show the guys tending to drop at twice the rate the gals do, so this article is seriously dealing with an old-news problem).  What I want to know is, what politically correct asshat decided they should redefine hegemony to mean “any pervasive idea?”

This isn’t the first place I’ve seen it… left-leaning academic books are full of the term lately.  But I want to know out of which obscene corner of the MLA conference this abomination crawled, so that the perpetrator can be mocked like a Said wannabe.

There is a special circle in hell

for anyone who laughs louder than I did…

China, Rising

The smart brains across the Potomac understand that this is inevitable and possibly something to be highly desired.  The U.S. needs a hegemonic successor — our own structural issues, just like those of the British in the 19th century, will not allow us to provide stability indefinitely.

BUT,

1.  China vs. India:  the two will need dramatic rapprochement on a number of issues.

2.  Human rights.  They’re not going to adhere to US norms.  China’s government, like Mexico’s PRI of the mid-20c, exists to keep a single party in power.  However, an arrangement allowing the issue to be finessed would allow a modus operandi we can live with (without compromising our own values, if we accept the argument that China’s gradual expansion of the middle class will eventually result in increased gov’t transparency, etc.)

3.  Taiwan and regional competitors.  Japan vs. China is serious.  Taiwan vs. China is a strategic inevitability = the Taiwanese balk at spending on their own defense.  China vs. Russia?  My take is, let the Chinese win.  They’re no worse to ethnic minorities than the Russians (both are awful), but the Chinese at least appear to actually be governing, as opposed to Russia, whose strategy for the 21c appears to be recycling Soviet mythology while the life-expectancy continues to plummet.

4.  Africa:  Chinese dealings with Africa are clearly neo-colonial.  That raises issues, one of which is, “do we care?”

5.  Opportunity: if China and Japan engage in serious re-armament issues, both will have the muscle to provide international security, easing our responsibilities in that respect.  Our responsibilities, otoh, are predicated upon having an economy that can meet them (shades of the 1970s).  The ability to say “this isn’t our problem,” just as we did for a while on the piracy issue, could prompt more responsible behavior from our supposed partners, such as the more feckless members in NATO.  (The European powers are treated “with contempt” because, by and large, the major European powers are contemptible, contributing little except for moral posturing meant to conceal their utter lack of power.)  That in turn may increase our respectability in places that generally like us, but hate seeing us throw our weight around, such as Latin America.

Thoughts?

Animal Cruelty

I used to do “stupid sleeping animal tricks” with my cats… but this is pretty good.

Future Shock: Femtotech??

Next Big Future has the issue and the reaction… but mine would be summed up as “holy shit.”

I’ll let you guys check it out, rather than list the potential applications here.  But suffice it to say.. it’d be an advance that would make 20th-century industrial materials looks as primitive as 19th-century material tech, wherein waxed cloth and leather were our only waterproof fabrics/meshes, look now.

Cats gotta work out, too.

Beep Beep Beep!

For the cat-loving sadist in all of us.

The “Sovietisation of Education”

This is a very, very real phenomenon.  And it’s going to do permanent damage to educational institutions (and not just higher ones).

Snakes on a Plane, Man

Finally, some directors are figuring out that we’re onto them when it comes to summer-time movies.

If it’s going to be brainless, overwrought, badly-acted, and overproduced, make it FUN in the process.

Therefore, I give you…

MEGA-SHARK VERSUS GIANT OCTOPUS.  No, REALLY.

Nerd Fun

And on my blog, there aren’t the sort of geeks who’ll try to argue physics here… but, really, the fist-bump really makes this.

Friday Movie Thing — Wolverine: A Chick Flick

(yes, I’m playing hookey from grading)

Hes strong.  But hes sensitive!
He’s strong. But he’s sensitive!

A “Chick Flick” is a movie designed to appeal to female audiences in which a character, usually male, with the guidance of another character (usually female), develops emotionally in response to a series of crises, with an emphasis cast not primarily upon the conflict (as in classical drama), but upon the emotions encountered within the conflict.

In this respect, the movie at hand (which was crap), falls into the Chick Flick narrative.  Now, I will admit that it does so partially by default — the fundamental conflict of the plot being utter self-contradictory crap (the female lead, having effectively seduced him, could simply have compelled him to undertake the experiment, with any number of plausible explanations for why, and without revealing the actual compulsion/seduction).  In addition, the “brothers who can’t agree forced to take on the world together” angle is indeed a well-used trope — albeit, again, in this case one which makes little to no sense, as said antagonist’s actions clearly do not match his motives.

What we are left with is a constantly-vacillating series of scenes, in which
a) Wolverine is tough
b) Wolverine is sensitive

Wolverine.  Sensitive.  Point A for the exhibit — Wolverine is many things, but he is NOT sensitive.  In order to provide some reference for why he develops a conflict with his brother, W must clearly be saddled with an Alan-Alda level of conscience, deploring violence (in stark contrast to the actual character, ready to happily deploy violence at the drop of a hat.  Anybody’s hat.)

The remaining premise involves Wolverine’s decision not to run away from an emotionally painful scene (as he did in Africa), but rather to return and confront evil rather than allow it to progress in his absence (thus allowing for cheesy fight scenes). 

Were this an actual moral decision, aka, a story of cowardice turned to bravery, it could be a “guy film” moment, as that sort of “manning up” is fundamental to male maturity and a heavy trope within it.  But rather, it is NOT such a decision.  Rather, W decides he must engage with evil (emotional growth?) **for the sake of a chick who is complicit in said evil.**  Fifty nameless, powerless villagers who will be slaughtered in cold blood?  Meh.  A hot chick who seduced him and done him wrong?  FIGHT-O!!

I believe that the overwhelming majority of male viewers is due to a small number of simple facts.
a)  comic book movie
b)  eyeball lasers (who doesn’t like eyeball lasers, especially on sharks?)
c)  fanboyz

But if we strip the (dare I call it a film?) down to its essentials, nothing happens except gratuitous violence and the presence/death of numerous far more-interesting secondary characters, leaving only two hours of special effects, raw feelings, and secondary characters who far outshine the primary actors and about whom one would much rather watch a movie (even Juggernaut, in this retelling, obtains a deep sense of pathos, portrayed not as a thuggishly evil bully, but rather a not-so-bright, almost sympathetic tormented spirit gone horribly wrong).  Nothing is then left for the viewer upon which to remark except

a) Wow, Wolverine’s tough
b) Wow, Wolverine’s sensitive

this being the crux of the film, where, at its climax, Wolverine maintains the emotional growth to lovingly close the eyes of a dead woman he doesn’t know, but who has nevertheless provided him with a sense of identity, aka, a cool nickname.

Oh.  And, of course the real draw of the film, as my wife so succinctly put it, “naked Hugh Jackman.”  (About which I cannot argue, as eye candy is its own reward, and one to which I am, while arrow-straight, certainly not immune).

Thus, “chick flick.”

Egregious but hardly surprising

Consider also recent bank risk-taking. The media has recently reported that Citigroup and Bank of America were buying up some of the AAA-tranches of nonprime mortgage-backed securities. Didn’t the government provide insurance on portfolios of $300 billion and $118 billion on the very same stuff for Citi and BofA this past year? These securities are at the heart of the financial crisis and the core of the PPIP. If true, this is egregious behavior — and it’s incredible that there are no restrictions against it.

Given that Ken Lewis’ strategy for BofA has been to damn the fiscal sanity while proceeding with a strategy intended to gobble up market-share regardless of its actual value (something I witnessed while working there), I’d be inclined to believe it.

Term papers come, but

today, I am not fazed, for I possess the power of Momentary Slack.

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