Bunch of gems this week. Seriously, gems.
- Meet the next, biggest financial crisis: student loan debt. It’s way worse, it’s way grosser, and it’s arguably due to the federal government completely shitting the bed.
We’re doing the worst thing people can do: lying to our young. Nobody, not even this president, who was swept to victory in large part by the raw enthusiasm of college kids, has the stones to tell the truth: that a lot of them will end up being pawns in a predatory con game designed to extract the equivalent of home-mortgage commitment from 17-year-olds dreaming of impossible careers as nautical archaeologists or orchestra conductors.
- Related: On President Obama’s new education policy and why it’s mired in counter-productive technocratic waffle batter.
The idea with higher education is, “I can get rid of for-profits and I can get rid of shitty fifth-tier colleges and universities and I don’t have to take the political heat for doing either. And I don’t have to actually say what I think mass higher education should be if not an expensive imitation of what elite selective education should be, because ‘wisdom of crowds’ and all that, if we set the incentives right, that will emerge.” Technocrats live in the wonderland of the question marks in the Underpants Gnomes business model, endlessly fussing over the exact terms of Point #1 and certain that the Profit! of #3 will follow.
- Ever feel like your job might be unnecessary and useless? It’s not just you. And you might be right. Because this is how we do now.
If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.
- Anna Gunn on Skyler White and why people just hate her so goddamn much.
As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch. But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or “stand by her man”? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?
- “Thin Women: I’ve Got Your Back. Could You Get Mine?” Just fucking read it. It almost made me cry it’s so great.
Thin-shaming is wrong. It is bad and it is harmful and I long for its eradication and I will dance upon its corpse with my fat feet. But it’s important to note that thin-shaming is a symptom of the fact that all women’s bodies are policed all the time—not evidence of some culture-wide, systemic campaign to stigmatize thinness. Thinness is valued. Thin bodies are privileged over fat bodies. Despite the efforts of body positive activists (whose express goal, by the way, is to promote the acceptance of all bodies, including fat ones, not to further women’s oppression by gratuitously shaming the thin), “I’m proud to be fat” is still a radical statement. “I’m proud to be thin” is the status quo.
- “The 7 Most Common Misconceptions About Science Fiction Publishing.” I find it hard to believe that anyone actually believes at least a couple of these, but here you go.
- This one is actually three years old, but I just found it this week and in addition to being – I feel – still totally relevant, it’s an almost perfect articulation of my own feelings. I don’t hate steampunk; I love the aesthetic and I love what it could be. But it isn’t that most of the time, though there are exceptions. Most of the time it doesn’t deserve the “punk” moniker. It’s just bleh. And sort of troubling.
When I look at steampunk books and how they’re marketed to us, all I see is surface. Look! The megasites say. Airships! Goggles! Pirates! Zombies! All these cool things! And if it has enough of the Exclamation Point Items, then by god, it must be good. And geek culture grabs on and worries it until there’s nothing left, and even after that, still pronouncing it awesome, that fateful, overwrought, overused, now meaningless word, like some kind of huge literary all your base joke. The whole mass of it is just a bunch of things that either sparkle or blow up strung together on the hope that some kind of magic will happen and a zeitgeist will be capitalized upon. It’s not even about books. Most steampunkers I know aren’t dressing up as characters from books. They’re role playing the same airship pirate crew every other person with goggles and a spray-painted nerf gun is…Steampunk runs on potential right now–the obvious cash potential of a group of people with disposable income invested in a subgenre already, the potential of the genre itself to produce something real and beautiful, the potential to access that geekly longing for a world clotted with gorgeous mechanical toys, a world devoted to them and ruled by them, a world in which their particularly strengths would be of prime use.
Of course, that world sure as hell ain’t the 19th century. But never you mind. We can remake the 19th century. We can make it better, faster, stronger. We have the technology. Just don’t look behind the curtain. It’s a fucking mess back there.
- Finally, me on how I use Twitter and why, which is to say messy and confused and unprofessional and I’ll probably never get a goddamn job now.
I don’t even like the idea that there are “poor” or “illegitimate” decisions when it comes to self-presentation in social media, at least not in the way those concepts are often used. But I can’t escape the feeling that this has all been an elaborate exercise in professional suicide. I have been told for years that this is something I shouldn’t do. Yet I also can’t escape the feeling that when the majority of people are telling you not to do something, that might be an indication that it’s something worth doing.
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