rebranding

 It just dawned on me that part of the new covers for the Outlander books–part of the effect of the font change, the centered gold single-icon design–is to make it look more like the many-tomed fantasy series that sell so well today (I’m looking at you, GoT, though I do not read you), versus the 1990s romance novel covers of the original editions. Again, it’s amazing to look back and see the place fantasy has carved for itself in society today, vs. the corner it huddled in when I was little. The resurgence of LOTR, with its movies, together with the sprawling Harry Potter franchise, served chiefly to enable this, I assume. I’m not one to gnash my teeth and cry “it was better when no one thought it was cool!” as is sometimes said. It’s just interesting.

“there is zero solidarity in a meritocracy, even a fake one”

This article! This article. You should read it. Oh, you should read it! But in case you don’t, I’ll give you some choice tidbits below:

“We don’t pause to consider that maybe we’ve got the whole thing backwards—that the big universities expanded in their heyday to keep up with industry demand, not to build the middle class. Instead, what everyone agrees on is this: higher education is the industry that sells tickets to the affluent life. In fact, they are the only ones licensed to do this. Yes, there are many colleges one can choose from—public, private, and for-profit—but collectively they control the one credential that we believe to be of value. Everything about them advertises it. The armorial logos, the Gothic towers, even the names of the great colleges, so redolent of money and privilege and aristocracy: Duke and Princeton and Vanderbilt. If you want to succeed, you must go to them; they are the ones controlling the gate.

What they sell, in other words, is something we believe to be so valuable it is almost impossible to measure. Anyone in her right mind would pay an enormous price for it.
Another fact: This same industry, despite its legal status as a public charity, is today driven by motives indistinguishable from the profit-maximizing entities traded on the New York Stock Exchange.”

and

“Grant to an industry control over access to the good things in life; insist that it transform itself into a throat-cutting, market-minded mercenary; get thought leaders to declare it to be the answer to every problem; mute any reservations the nation might have about it—and, lastly, send it your unsuspecting kids, armed with a blank check drawn on their own futures.”

and

“That the people who hold the ultimate authority at our institutions of higher learning are dedicated to a notorious form of pseudo-knowledge is richly ironic, and it is also telling. The point of management theory, after all, is to establish the legitimacy of a social order and a social class who are, in fact, little more than drones. The grotesque top-heaviness of the American corporation is an old story: we have more supervisors per worker than any other industrialized nation, and quite naturally we have developed an extensive literature of bogus social theory assuring those supervisors of the rightfulness of their place in the world—a literature that also counsels everyone else to acquiesce to their subordinate station in the Great Chain of Free-Market Being.”

and

“What actually will happen to higher ed, when the breaking point comes, will be an extension of what has already happened, what money wants to see happen. Another market-driven disaster will be understood as a disaster of socialism, requiring an ever deeper penetration of the university by market rationality. Trustees and presidents will redouble their efforts to achieve some ineffable “excellence” they associate with tech and architecture and corporate sponsorships. There will be more standardized tests, and more desperate test-prep. The curriculum will be brought into a tighter orbit around the needs of business, just like Thomas Friedman wants it to be. Professors will continue to plummet in status and power, replaced by adjuncts in more and more situations. An all-celebrity system, made possible by online courses or some other scheme, will finally bring about a mass faculty extinction—a cataclysm that will miraculously spare university administrations. And a quality education in the humanities will once again become a rich kid’s prerogative.”

and

“And so we end with dystopia, with a race to the free-market bottom. What makes it a tragedy is that President Obama is right about education’s importance. Not because college augments our future earning power, or helps us compete with Bangladesh, but because the pursuit of knowledge is valuable in its own right. This is why every democratic movement from the Civil War to the 1960s aimed to bring higher ed to an ever widening circle, to make it more affordable. Ours is the generation that stood by gawking while a handful of parasites and billionaires smashed it for their own benefit.”

that moment when…

…you realize your sibling married some some racist trash human. I’m just going to leave this here, because this is William T. Thompson of Savannah, describing, oh hai, the Confederate freaking flag:

 

So let’s let her enjoy her dark-coated livestock named with racial slurs (yupppp) and keep telling herself it’s just her precious trash pride that’s at stake here. No racism, oh no, she just loves “the inferior or colored race.” Uh huh.

like magic

Stinger stuck in skin, too tiny to remove with tweezers + baking soda and water = gone! Who knew?

Husband got stung by a bee this weekend and MIL told me to go and grab baking soda in some water. “Make a paste,” she said. I did so, having no idea why (was it to soothe? to remove swelling? he’s not allergic, so it couldn’t have been that drastic a situation…) You cake the paste onto the area where you know the stinger is, then sit there and wait for it to dry, then scrape it off. The baking soda paste congeals around the stinger and rips it out when you scrape it away. MAGIC.

I had cause to use this technique this morning when what seems likely to have been either a very unlucky mosquito or a now-lopsided spider left some miniscule impaling implement in the palm of my hand, right next to the itchy part that indicates it was not, in fact, a beesting. Having tried all manner of forceful squeezing, I resorted to the baking soda thing with little hope (I hadn’t gotten to see it in action on husband’s foot; the stinger had exited with the bee, which he had plucked off, and the paste was more to assuage my MIL’s fears than because there was a practical need for it then), but voila! The invisible stinger no longer catches on my hair, a towel, the dog. The slivering stab is gone! I had never even heard of this. It’s damn useful.