Sunday, July 30, 2006


Rice Cancels Trip to Beirut After Airstrike
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 30, 2006; 7:50 AM

Israeli Airstrike Kills More Than 50 Lebanese Civilians, Beirut Cancels Talks With Rice

By Jim Teeple
30 July 2006

Rice Postpones Trip to Beirut After Attack
Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: July 30, 2006
Filed at 7:40 a.m. ET

July 30, 2006, 4:13AM
Lebanon asks Rice not to visit Lebanon
© 2006 The Associated Press
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Lebanese government asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday to put off a visit to Lebanon after an Israeli airstrike that killed more than 50 people.

Rice postpones Lebanon trip

Lebanon junks talks after Israel 'war crime' in Qana
BEIRUT - Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora denounced Israel's "war crime" in raids that killed 51 people in the village of Qana on Sunday, vowing there was no place for talks until Israel ceased its attacks.

"There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as an international investigation into the Israeli massacres in Lebanon now," Siniora said at a press conference.

Lebanese officials said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was no longer expected to visit Beirut during her trip to the region following the Qana attack. AFP
30/07/2006 - 10:13:40

Saturday, July 29, 2006


upscale servitude

In former times, when there was a vast gap between rich and poor, and middle class career paths were few,

knights laid their loads... no,

the very wealthy would buy people to do their work, alleviating resource scarcity and poverty:
As the Roman Empire expanded into Greece, many Greek doctors came to Italy and Rome. Some of these were prisoners of war and could be bought by wealthy Romans to work in a household. Many of these doctors became valuable additions to a household. It is known that a number of these men bought their freedom and set up their own practices in Rome itself. link
Doubtless these purchased doctors (having something to barter) would in turn buy assistants as well as people to cook, clean, etc. Desirable immigrants came in, then, at the top, where personalized cultural exchanges occured within a horizon of eventual economic autonomy.

image via There you go! via

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Here I pause for one moment, to exhort the reader never to pay any attention to his understanding when it stands in opposition to any other faculty of his mind.

via limited inc, via elsewhere in same.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Run, Pheidippides

Sometimes I also fantasize about an unexpected and providential coup d'État that has made me the ruler of the world. I'm omnipotent; nothing and no one can refuse to obey my orders. Every time this reverie occurs, my first decision is to get rid of the media, which to me is the source of all our anxieties. ~ Luis Buñuel.

Friday, July 21, 2006

prehistory of blogging

Picking up a thread from here (and comments there especially from K!):

To situate blogging, try beginning before it existed. Maybe in the arrival of television:
Two grids remained. The grid of two hundred million and the grid of intimacy. Everything else fell into disuse. There was a national life -- a shimmer of a national life -- and intimate life. The distance between these two grids was very great. The distance was very frightening. People did not want to measure it. People began to lose a sense of what distance was and of what the usefulness of distance might be.

Because the distance between the grids was so great, there was less in the way of comfort. The middle distance had been a comfort. But the middle distance had fallen away. The grid of national life was very large now, but the space in which one man felt at home shrank. It shrank to intimacy.
From George W.S. Trow's marvel of a book, Within the context of no context. Trow, writing in the early 80s, put his finger on the vacuum that opened between his two grids. This vacuum, this middle distance that once was there but got obliterated, is reopened in blogging and other Net activities. By writing the pre-history of media dominance, Trow offers the best clue I've seen as to the passion, the thirst, the irrational exuberance of blogging. We, as Trow sees, are media creatures. Not "people who like media" (this makes even less sense than "people who like technology"), but creatures that are part of the structure of media. We're fabric.

But that's all just preliminary. Trow was interested in how TV and magazines replaced history with demographics. TV soon had no other place to go than to itself become the context:
The lie of television has been that there are contexts to which television will grant an access. Since lies last, usually, no more than one generation, television will re-form around the idea that television itself is a context to which television will grant an access. ibid.
As soon as this happened, TV was able to create "Reality TV."

Apply this to blogging, which now prefers itself to other possible contexts.

There's a difference, however. Television, to be produced, needed to make a market in itself. By removing history and replacing it with limitless consumer desire, it transformed itself into a happy land in which anything serious, anything that has to do with history or actual art, say, or scholarship, or unlovely truth, is out of its element. A small unthreatening sampler.

You think news organizations care to convey the news to you? Reconsider. They hold up a mirror to the requisite demographic demanded by its advertisers. Feckless Timesreader, know thyself.

Advertising, that creates the hole in you that it talks you into filling, first must take away history. Your youness. Your context. Your day. Your life. Replacing them with commodified substitutions of same. Cigarette girl.

If television is the holocaust of your life, advertising is its penitential prayer.

Blogging has an idea it is about something real, and is less dependent so far upon the market (Murdoch has yet to figure out what to do with mySpace). Conveniently, reality has been sidling into position: much of what was once just stuff is now represented via blogs. Legions of them. That's part of the seductive turn by which blogging re-centers itself upon itself.

Television and news organs made themselves into Pee-Wee's Playhouse to abort any friction with the poetics of advertising. Blogs expend a great deal of wit, intelligence, style. And, despite technological and other conjiggerations, live or die thereby. So far.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

electric legacy

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

tagging difficulty

In what group, then, do we put our fish with wrists? Neil Shubin.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

small beer

The martyrs have damaged the truth. #53

How can the truth can be damaged? It might be more true to say that martyrs resort to cheap shots in the semiotics of allegation.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Times, Distilled.

[Voice of Julia Child]: Oh, Oh, X (phenomenon) is happening and Oh it's something for you to be Oh anxious about.

Irradiated by the voluminous clucking of 1,000 chickens, this is the headline of every story that the New York Times will ever tell.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bastilley Dan

Thanks to and Rx @


The odd thing is, the "treatment" doesn't change much. The transaction between speaker and recipients remains on point.

Susurrance of net value: link. via Scruggs.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Choicepoint south of the border

Update: Florida con salsa

Palast: ChoicePoint is back in the voter list business - in Mexico - at the direction of the Bush government.

And: Having chosen our President for us, our President’s men chose ChoicePoint for this sweet War on Terror database gathering.

Thanks to Ulises for the heads up. I haven't been watching Choicepoint lately (here's a recent story), but here's a bit about them from last year.

And Choicepoint's response to Palast.

More on the Mexican election here and passim here. And there's always this.

Sunday, July 09, 2006



We wanted to reserve the chef's table at the fancy Victoria &

Albert's restaurant at Disney World. We had been told that we

needed to call at precisely 7 a.m. exactly 180 days in advance to

make the reservation.


The wine and food spoke to each other in a way that was quite special.


When we wrote about wine at Disney World last year, that column, to

our surprise, elicited more response than almost any all year.

Clearly, Disney World has become a wine destination for many people --


The wine and food spoke to each other in a way that was quite special.


Disney World, including the Disney Cruise line, opens more than a

million bottles of wine a year and has more than 300 active

sommeliers, according to John Blazon, manager of wine sales and

standards for Walt Disney World.


We understand that things will cost more at Disney World. It's hard

to beat the spectacle of fireworks over the Magic Kingdom and the

light show on the water or the memory of your first hug from

Mickey. That's priceless stuff.


The wine and food spoke to each other in a way that was quite special.


The bubbly was $54 a bottle, the Malbec $48 and the Tempranillo $66

-- all fair restaurant prices for wines that are very difficult to

find and quite memorable. In other words -- and we found this

throughout Disney World -- if you know something about wine and you

are willing to pay somewhere around $45 to $65 for a bottle of

wine, there is some terrific stuff, and we're grateful for that.


After making our reservations six months in advance and calling

twice to reconfirm, John got lost during a predinner run on the

night we were scheduled to eat at Victoria & Albert's.


He finally found an emergency phone in the woods...


The wine and food spoke to each other in a way that was quite special in a way.


We have had wine-food pairings at some of America's best restaurants, but

we've never spoke to each other had more thoughtful combinations.


...the fruity and acidic Riesling coddling

the sweet, earthy quail

and velvety asparagus

to make






pure. in a way. bliss.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

The forms formerly known as things unknown

The self-congratulatory esprit of early blogging was nothing if not fecund in the production of mantras, and there is much to be said for the repeating of a theme or set of key ideas, encoded in such a way as both to pique attention and to convey to the already clued-in that a certain set of assumptions about speaking, writing, community formation, were in play, harboring large shifts in power, control, and dominance. From the bottom up, new groups, new communities told themselves they were organizing, cross-connecting, learning to act in new ways.

But the theory behind the social transformation -- not to speak of the theory of communication that would encompass this momentous shift from passive consumption to massive production -- oftimes remained tacit. One could never be sure that the same understanding of social modes, of power, and of the act of writing suddenly taken up by hoards of persons who, until blogging came along, mainly limited their writing activities to shopping lists and professional publications, was shared even by attendees to BloggerCon, let alone by anyone less immediate to the core coterie of early Bloggers.

But mantras are not required to bear the burden of explicating and demonstrating the truth of their pronouncements. They merely need to dispense themselves with the proper aplomb to infect with credence those who attend.

All this by way of just wishing to point to some comments by Ulises Ali Mejias of Cornell and Columbia University Teacher's College, directed to Jay Rosen's eloquent thinkpiece.

Ali Mejias introduces a note of skepticism from the start:

My argument is that TPFKATA function as a mass of producers, and that this has everything to do with technology (or more specifically, with how technologies are being applied in a technocracy. Citing an intriguing theory of how nationhood develops via media, he adds: the kinds of sociality that these "virtual communities" prescribe are actually more aligned with the dynamics of a mass than with a community.

Masses are not sites of rich social interaction. Masses foster an alienated form of individualism, making it difficult for people to come together meaningfully. Because of their large numbers, masses may give the appearance of robust communities, but a closer look reveals that people feel irreparably alone in a mass.

Technocracies engender masses by commodifying the interactions between people. The blogosphere is a perfect example of how interaction has been commodified and reduced to the exchange of attention. In an attention economy, attention is capital, and bloggers with (bigger) audiences can capitalize on that attention —quite literally, if they are using things like Google ads. But a blogger with lots of readers can be said to have rich social interactions with them in the same impoverished sense that a person in MySpace with lots of contacts can be said to have many good friends. In fact, I would suggest that the more attention capital is accrued, the less opportunities for meaningful social interaction are engendered, and the more entrenched one's position in a mass becomes.

TPFKATA are content to believe that blogs are "First Amendment machines." That might be the case in a few instances, but not for the mass. From the perspective of a technocratic hegemony, what could be more perfect than a system where all is talk and no action? TPFKATA, armed with the new technologies, are ascending to power, we are told. But the meaning of this form of power revolves around commodification, which in the end neutralizes and domesticates it. TPFKATA have gone from being massified, pacified consumers to being massified, pacified producers.

Don't get me wrong: I am very appreciative of good citizen journalism, open content projects, etc. But to assume that the mere use of the technologies is enough to liberate the old audience is unwise, and not warranted by the majority of the current examples.
There is more -- read the whole thing.

My one meager point, for now, relates to the fact that Ali Mejias's analysis takes some of its inspiration from the analysis presented by Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, which he cites.

Anderson argues that national identities have been shaped more by print than by anything having to do with actual commonalities of patria. In other words, without the discipline and ordering of the imaginary via realms of media, there would, in many cases, be nothing especially necessary binding together random assortments of humans. Without the invention of printing, the world's map would look rather different, as might the complexion of loyalties found among the various bodies politic.

Whither then blogging?

Clearly over time many bloggers have discovered substantial communion with others for as many reasons as there are bloggers. Deep and varied friendships have formed, and the mere fact of blogging has seemed to compel bloggers to gather at restaurants and gatherings. (I haven't been a conference attendee, but will cop to sometimes wondering if the entire purpose of blogging isn't to give rise to conferences at which formerly imagined social formations can be concretely tagged with a local, if temporary, habitation and a name.)

Whether the prognosis of an actual change in reality, as promised by the mantras, is warranted by the invocation of many speakers speaking of community, is still to be determined. Are we at the beginning of a new mode of genuine community, or do we -- "we" -- share an aberrant dream -- produced like nationhood as an uncanny side-effect in the mass -- of a new wrinkle in technology?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Laid to rumor

Lay's death sends Wikipedia reeling

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The death of former Enron Corp. chief Kenneth Lay on Wednesday underscored the challenges facing online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which as the news was breaking offered a variety of causes for his death. CNN

Here I thought the hooha was going to be that Ken Lay was the Angel, the secret partner, responsible for funding Wikipedia. Or, that the demise of Mr. Lay was a heartfelt blow to his secret lovers, all 13,000 of them, at the online encyclopedia.

But no, it's merely another instance of Print rushing to judge Online Media, without having the faintest clue of what is pertinent. Print thinks that because it is encased in matter and consigned to the morgue, that other media must be as well. Eternal standards we bear.

Print is experiencing Anxiety of Advertising. (CNN, for all its "multimedia" apparatus, is Print.)

In fact, the speedy turnaround of information spurting onto Wikipedia moments after word of Kenny Boy's death is exactly the sort of elated combination of wild guesswork and nasty gossip that occurs in every newsroom, every day, behind every story.

Someday Print, when it is no more, will comprehend that what is necessary to, what is wanted by, the sliver of public that still pays any attention to it at all, is that spirit of adventure, of uncertainty, of humor and wide-open calculi of possibilities that could only be captured if Print took off its leaden cloak and opened its editorial priestliness to the zingers its own people love and suppress every day, every way, for every Lay.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Binary lifestyles for the Fourth of July

Soft -
  1. uterine sound carpet, under;
  2. egg in nest turned;
  3. distant breakers

Loud -
  1. Bush
  2. plosives