Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stupids 'R' US, says Times Columnist

My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.”

"we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely."

Except we want to be dumb, and are dumb, right Tommy? So, who exactly is going to provide the wisdom we must have?

You exhort without having found your way to anything resembling an analysis. Failing to locate the cause of national stupidity, you soapbox your rant du jour into submission.

Tommy -- son, brother, monster, frere: get this clue, if you never get any other: it's not that 300 million humans one day decided it liked them well to be stupid.

If they don't have good cell service, it's because they were defrauded. If they don't have decent nourishing food, it's because they were defrauded. If they don't have decent schools, or electric trains, or healthcare, or literacy, it is because they were defrauded.

By whom, you ask? By you, Tommy, for one, because you keep telling them they want to be stupid.

There are reasons why this fraud happens, it is called unconflicted corporate capitalism. That's where corporations become the artists who design the world we have, and the desires we have, and the ignorance we have, all with great zest, for the sake of profit and nothing else. There 'tis. Right there, Tommy boy. Look at it carefully -- not too close or it might chew right through your mustache into your chubby wubby cheeky weeky. 

How stupid would that be?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Community and/not social media

It's a measure of where we have traveled from the days of blogging that it is nearly impossible not to urge Inspector Lohmann to convert his magisterial blog posts on New Community of two years ago (already!), 1, 2, and 3, into a set of tweets.

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Evaporation Nation

—through all these different crises, what you see is, the government wasn’t there at a time when it was supposed to be there.

There are different reasons in all those cases. In Iraq, certainly there was a lot of violence. Certainly, it was difficult to get people to go over to Iraq and pay attention. With Madoff, we’ll see what the Securities and Exchange Commission has to say about why they weren’t adequately regulating that issue. But time and again, the issue is, we’ve had a government which has been really shrunk and hollowed out in terms of its ability to oversee and regulate private businesses, private corporations and what it is they’re doing. And that is the function of government, is to make sure that everybody plays fair. They’re referees. And if there’s not enough referees around, the game gets ugly. T. Christian Miller on DN

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Did our cosmos exist before the big bang?

Some theoretical models speculate that the nature of dark energy could change over time, switching from a repulsive to an attractive force . . .

um . . . no.

"There is no innocent explanation."

bernard madoff
Hotness: Volcanic 

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

numbers game

... the task before us is the introduction of a real state of emergency. Benjamin #8.

Volcker also understood that financial markets need to be regulated. Reagan wanted someone who did not believe any such thing, and he found him in a devotee of the objectivist philosopher and free-market zealot Ayn Rand. Stiglitz #1

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Eco #3.

...when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... Source concealed by the New York Times.

When repeal of Glass-Steagall brought investment and commercial banks together, the investment-bank culture came out on top. There was a demand for the kind of high returns that could be obtained only through high leverage and big risktaking. Stiglitz #2.

"Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style." W

...the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death. Eco #11.

The flood of liquidity made money readily available... But it should have been clear that we were living on borrowed money and borrowed time. Stiglitz #3.

During the evening of the first skirmishes, it turned out that the clock-towers were shot at independently and simultaneously in several places in Paris. Benjamin #6.

The rating agencies, like the investment banks that were paying them, believed in financial alchemy...Stiglitz #4

Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise. Eco #12

The administration talked about confidence building, but what it delivered was actually a confidence trick. Stiglitz #5

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “emergency situation” in which we live is the rule. Benjamin #8.

The above involved Capitalist Fools, Joseph Stiglitz; Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt, Umberto Eco; On the Concept of History, Walter Benjamin. Ayn Rand via Mystic Bourgeoisie.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

not cheap nor easy

As people in the US struggle in the murk of the economic disaster, the international malaise, the unending Bush bravado, the inklings of the new administration, it would, one supposes, be up to the "fourth estate" to help it reach some stage of self-understanding - at least a couple of steps on the ladder. 

But alas, the thinking, the perspectives and the conceptual systems that people might now turn to to help gain some awareness of, some insight into the current predicament are not folks that are exactly household names. Look for viewpoints from Naomi Klein, Seymour Hersh, Amy GoodmanAndrew BacevichNoam Chomsky and the like and you find precious little in the pages of the major newspapers, let alone amid the radio and broadcast television news outlets. 

It's not that these non-mainstreamy folks are entirely right, or can explain everything. But it's that without their side of the picture, part of the picture remains obscure. Now that we're in deep shit, news organizations are having a difficult time explaining how we got here, because they left the conceptual apparatus behind - at the party where subprime mortgages were the toast of the town.

So when NPR and Bill Keller assume that newspapers "tell people what's happening," I have to beg to differ. They don't because they can't. They can't because they are beholden to advertising and marketing and their own industrial interests; it worked for them to ignore a portion of the spectrum of the thinking out there in presenting the world to their readers. 

It worked because times were good, advertising capitalists were happy without Roubini and Goodman and Chomsky and sundry others. As Mr. Keller says, "Good journalism does n0t come cheap." The inexplicability of "what's happening" was less problematic, because house prices were rising -- at least according to the "lights" of the Times (if Mr. Friedman and Mr. Kristol etc. can be so qualified without teh qualifier enjoying an aneurism). 

That home prices were rising and rising was, in fact, inexplicable. So long as the vector pointed up, that seems not to have perplexed the editors. How do they now imagine they can make this story intelligible?

Hit the lights on your way out, Bill.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Galileo to Hannity, Limbaugh, misc. asshats etc.

Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue concerning them, while on the other hand to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgment upon anything new.  ~ The Assayer.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Nice USian: Clusterfuck yourselves

US Refuses to Sign Treaty Banning Cluster Bombs

Around 100 nations have begun signing a new international treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. . . .

Washington, Moscow and other non-signers say cluster bombs have legitimate military uses. But according to the group Handicap International, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians, and 27 percent are children. DN

Cluster bombs

No One Ever Wins

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De-corporatizing the panhandling panjandrums

(Hokey newspaper headline free of charge)

Just a passing thought, listening to lawmakers' skepticism toward Eminem's neighbors' pleas for moolah: It seems to me that these companies are doomed by virtue of their coming to Congress as corporations. Their arguments reek of corporate interests. If they came as wounded communities (which is in fact what they are) - not just CEO's but workers and families and localities - and if they made the case that this is not about antiquated industries surviving, but about a malleable pile of capital and a group of people in transition, and here's an opportunity to help them out while reshaping GM, Chrysler, and Ford into entities that will genuinely become something else -- hybrid entities involved with life, health, finance, education, infrastructure, optimal safety and resource deployment -- i.e., if they were humble and open enough to consider inviting investors out and bringing people, a broader vision of agencies, and human values in -- they might have a shot at hearts and minds and the big bucks.

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Berkman seeks permission to crawl crypts

A team from Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society has requested an exemption that, in the event that a central-server based DRM scheme fails in the future, would permit consumers to circumvent and evade the DRM protecting the music, movies, software and games that they have previously purchased -- in order to maintain their existing lawful right to access those works.

Wake me when they request the DRM except itself from operational existence. More at JOHO.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Lava Hubblelamp