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Archive for September, 2013

The Lowliest Adventure.

“Times are getting hard, boys. Money’s getting scarce. If things don’t get no better, boys, gonna leave this place.” Not to spoil anything for all those a few chapters or seasons behind, but, as you’ve probably heard, Breaking Bad has been firing on all cylinders in its final few episodes.

One comedy highlight in an event-filled and otherwise jet-black episode this past Sunday (and since I’m a sucker for both Glenn Yarbrough ditties and Sisyphus metaphors): Walter White rolling through the desert (even past his old Season 1 pants.) As such, here’s this week’s current earworm, and no mistake: “Take My True Love By the Hand,” by Glenn Yarbrough and the Limeliters. Enjoy.

Take Berk Out to the Ball Game.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can help them pick up a new pastime or two. On account of Pups in the Park night at Nats Park, Berk got to take in his first MLB game Saturday night: Phillies over Nats, 5-4. FWIW, he seemed to quite enjoy the experience, most notably all the many other dogs around and the bag of peanuts in the seat in front of him. The folding chairs, not so much.

All We Have is Now.

“Humans are good at a lot of things, but putting time in perspective is not one of them…If the Earth formed at midnight and the present moment is the next midnight, 24 hours later, modern humans have been around since 11:59:59pm—1 second. And if human history itself spans 24 hours from one midnight to the next, 14 minutes represents the time since Christ.”

Time? What time do you think we have? As has been going around the Interweb, a series of intriguing timelines ranging from last year to the age of the universe. Among the interesting facts pointed out: “The T-Rex is closer in time to seeing a Justin Bieber concert than seeing a live stegosaurus.” Also: “When we refer to the most ancient of ancient history, we are still just talking about…less than 3% of the time that humans who look like us have existed.”

Party Like It’s 1928.

“Most of the coverage has focused on the rate of change for incomes of the top 1 percent, particularly the fact that the top 1 percent have enjoyed 95 percent of all income growth from 2009 to 2012. But I want to focus on levels. I’m going to modify one of Saez’s charts to show something I don’t think has been pointed out.”

Per Mike Konczal of Rortybomb, writing over at Next New Deal: In 2012, the Top 1% (notwithstanding capital gains, which only slightly changes the picture) took home the largest share of the national income since 1928. Socialism!

The Last Thing You See.

As seen at Slate, a haunting montage by Zack Prewitt of the final shots of famous movies. You’ll know ’em when you see ’em.

The Knights Who Say “BWOMP.”

BWOMP, I say. And another via the folks at Slate‘s Browbeat, file this next to Shining: In a world ravaged by the Dark Ages, King Arthur (Graham Chapman) must assemble a band of hardy knights and find a sacred cup lost to history in the action-packed trailer for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. BWOMP.

Chasing Darkness.

“How dark it would have been—imagine leaning out your door and, on the darkest nights, not being able to see more than a few feet in any direction. Historian Peter Baldwin describes as ‘downright perilous’ the streets in early American cities, with few paved and then those only with cobblestones…What lights did exist were intended only as beacons or guides rather than to illuminate the night. The New York street lanterns burning whale oil were, in 1761, merely ‘yellow specks engulfed by darkness,’ and, even more than 100 years later, its gas lamps were still ‘faint as a row of invalid glow-worms.'”

In Slate, Paul Bogart describes (and laments) the end of night all across the world. “With at least 30 percent of all vertebrates and more than 60 percent of all invertebrates worldwide nocturnal, and with many of the rest crepuscular, [the] implications are enormous.”

Academia: A Sucker’s Gambit.

“The de-professionalization of the faculty is another long-running tragedy that gets a little sadder every year, as teaching college students steadily becomes an occupation for people with no tenure, no benefits, and no job security. These lumpen-profs, who have spent many years earning advanced degrees but sometimes make less than minimum wage, now account for more than three-quarters of the teaching that is done at our insanely expensive, oh-so-excellent American universities. Their numbers increase constantly as universities continue to produce far more PhDs than they do full-time, tenure-track job openings, and every time cutbacks are necessary — which is to say, all the time — it is those same full-time, tenure-track job openings that get pruned.”

In a long, angry, and sadly on-point essay for The Baffler, Thomas Frank laments the corporatization (and demise) of the American university. “Just about everyone in academia believes that they were the smartest kid in their class…So tenured faculty find it easy to dismiss the de-professionalization of their field as the whining of second-raters who can’t make the grade…Then again, they will all be together, assuredly, as they sink finally into the briny deep.”

In very related news, an interested reader passes along this extended infographic on the adjunct crisis, which is excerpted above. Click through for the entire dismal story.

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