As I have been lax in posting things, yesterday I posted a bunch of links on recent stories regarding the NSA. Today I’m posting links of more general interest. I’ve tried to organize them by category.
The biggest story I have not had time to address were the diplomatic talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. So here are some links to that.
On 5 November 2013 Reuters reported that Iran, Israel, and Middle East countries “took part in a meeting two weeks ago about prospects for an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”
Right on the verge of a nuclear agreement, perhaps the biggest event in nuclear nonproliferation in my lifetime, Bob Mendez fights Obama on imposing new sanctions on Iran, as do fifteen other democrats. More here.
Though from today: progress in nuclear talks.
Nuclear and Disaster
More terrible news (and more leaks): endless war in Afghanistan.
The nuclear launch code was 00000000. As Karl Smallwood writes, “Today I found out that during the height of the Cold War, the US military put such an emphasis on a rapid response to an attack on American soil, that to minimize any foreseeable delay in launching a nuclear missile, for nearly two decades they intentionally set the launch codes at every silo in the US to 8 zeroes.” Wow. And by the way, my password is “password.”
E. J. Dionne on “Nuclear Thursday” (not what it sounds like).
Adam Kotsko “On the Respective Ease of Imagining the End of the World and the End of Capitalism”: “In the light of such an absolute and irretrievable failure, I think we need to revise the slogan about it being easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. It’s as though we collectively were given a choice of which we would choose, and we chose to end the world. The decisive victory of liberal-democratic capitalism really was the end of history, just not in the sense intended.”
And “The 38 Most Haunting Abandoned Places on Earth.” A couple examples:
New thoughts on doom: “The Hyperobject is indeed the bringer of fate, destiny, death. This destiny comes from beyond the (human) world, and pronounces or decrees the end of the world. This decree marks a decisive pivot in Earth history in which humans discern the nonhuman and thus reckon the fate of Earth with greater justice. Or, just to go hog-wild Heidegger-style for a moment, doom comes from doom and dooms doom; this doom marks a decisive moment in which humans doom the nonhuman and thus doom the doom of Earth with greater doom.”
And even more doomy, the universe could collapse at any moment.
The (absent/destroyed) postcolonial archive: Britain burns records at the end of empire.
Google’s practices fall under “fair use.” Here is the court ruling.
The excellent magazine Triple Canopy announces a new publishing platform.
Selling off the archive: Detroit assesses its art.
Humanities and Higher Ed
“Forget Sokal, 157 Science Journals Accept Hoax Paper.” Maybe now we can stop thinking that science is any more (or less) rigorous than the humanities.
Minnesota State University Moorhead and the University of the District of Columbia are slashing departments, including history, English, and physics (wow, I don’t even know what to say. English, history, and physics!? What will they possibly teach?). And Rebecca Schuman responds to personal pressure from MSUM, and provides a harrowing email.
“National Humanities Reports Reinforces Stereotypes About the Humanities,” by Lindsay Thomas.
Mark Edmundson, who raised a lot of ire last summer with his critique of contemporary poetry, thinks about “The Ideal English Major” in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “All students—and I mean all—ought to think seriously about majoring in English. Becoming an English major means pursuing the most important subject of all—being a human being.”
Gerald Howard, “The Triumph of the English Major.”
I will believe it when I see it: “Why English Majors Are the Hot New Hires.”
A fairly shocking solution: “My Idea for Higher Ed Reform: Do Nothing,” by John Warner.
Nathaniel W. Donahue, “Žižek, Toilets, and a Defense of the Humanities,” from The Harvard Crimson.
At The New Yorker, Kim Stanley Robinson as our greatest political novelist.
Review essay on Gravity and the past and future of Hollywood.
And finally, a bit of shameless self-promotion. I have an essay coming out in a new collection on David Foster Wallace’s novels, David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing”: New Essays on the Novels, edited by Marshall Boswell, and scheduled to be released in July 2014. This book will collect two issues of Studies in the Novel, where a slightly different version of my essay, “‘Then Out of the Rubble’: David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction,” previously appeared.
 Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 148.