Friday, June 30, 2006

obiter dictum

If I was a kid now, I'd find a lot more to rebel against than what we faced in the 1960s: the draft and the insipid program of Levittown. I'd rebel against a generation of adults selling the future for obscene pay packages. I'd rebel against everything from the mendacious nonsense of Rem Koolhaas to the profligate stupidity of Nascar. I'd want to eat Donald Trump for lunch (and set free the wolverine that lives on his head.) I'd utterly reject the false commoditized reality and set out to discover the world. I'd get busy building a society with a plausible future (and be real excited about it).

Sometimes I wonder if we just enjoy lying to ourselves. Sometimes I think: if this nation could somehow harness the energy in all the smoke it blows up its own ass, we'd all be able to drive to heaven in Cadillac Escalades.

Jeb Job

First Brother: Is There a Second Act for Jeb Bush?

To conservatives, gushes John Thrasher, a GOP lobbyist and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, "Jeb is Elvis."

education policy ... is expected to be one of the Governor's strongest legacies.
(Gushing TIME phallophilic wind application.)

Florida 33rd in kids' well-being

TALLAHASSEE -- A national report that shows little improvement in the well-being of Florida's 4 million children is evidence the state should have spent more of its revenue surplus on kids, a statewide advocacy group said Tuesday.

Florida failed to show significant improvement in any of the 10 indicators cited in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2006 Kids Count Data Book, although its ranking increased slightly from 35th to 33rd among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

In the two previous years, Florida had been 34th.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


There is a tremendous opportunity in blogs that are being overlooked or not taken seriously. For example, we have about 2000 customer sites that serve about 150,000 - 200,000 people. Naturally, Disaster Recovery has been stepped up since 9/11 and teams are working on it as much or more than for the Y2K effort.

A simple suggestion that I keep throwing out is to create a site (blog) where the servers are not located in California (earthquakes and floods). On a daily or weekly basis we could attract our customers to the "communication" site by listing current outages and ETAs, post tips, tricks, treats, and more. Get our customers used to going there and remembering the URL or some good search terms.

With this site/blog we all have a place to go to communicate with one another in the event of a disaster. ... The blog could be used to communicate among ourselves and our customers.

Everyone that I mention it to thinks it is a great idea (the "site" with servers located in another state) and they expand on it. Most don't know what a blog is so I try to sell the idea referring to it as a site that would cost very little to operate and everyone could use.... No heavy training.... Access to the blog to various geographical areas, etc.

Right now I think the idea doesn't actually get to Exec staff because they can't dabble in small successes that cost very little.
Michelle Goodrich

Monday, June 26, 2006

living web

I didn't know Meg (Michelle Goodrich). I was aware of her, via others, but to my knowledge we didn't exchange emails. I occasionally visited her blog, and have reason to think she sometimes visited here. My condolences to all who love her.

The host of kind notices of her passing offers some index of what that loss means. What I wonder is whether the world of blogs and "connectivity" is of any use at all here. Of course the notices are valuable in themselves. But they remain notices of a life suddenly gone, after the fact. Is this what the much trumpeted promise of connectedness was supposed to bring? Or, was there supposed to be something more vital - pace Gates and his nervous system - ? Something that might have tilted this replica of the world of print toward something more organic, more anticipating, more alive with the sense that Meg was moving toward something. I don't have an answer. I'm just wondering if we have any actual clue of how to use this thing we've got.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Three Phases of the Commodity-in-Itself

"In the hands of a free spirit, the cinema is a magnificent and dangerous weapon.” ~ Luis Buñuel

Many people are quite anal about their possessions – they keep them with pride, they dust them, have a little story of the acquisition, etc.

But is this well done? A thing possessed, even if it is a nice thing, is still merely a thing. It often comes with a price tag, which we tend to circumcise from the precious object the moment we take it unto ourselves. Foreskin begone! I have tended to do otherwise. The price tag of, say, the painted Madonna on tin that I purchased at El Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City for a few pesos was part of that work. It is a document in its history, and – I guess this is the point – to me, it is the relational history of the commodity, rather than the commodity in its showcased, pristine Ding-an-Sichlichkeit,* that is the object of my curiosity, possibly even of my desire. People have told me they found it somehow tasteless to be looking at some object in my home and then to notice the price tag. Some don't assume I should immediately be adjudged to have bad taste; rather they make the humane inference that I have overlooked the existence and matter of the tag, even when it’s in such plain view, as on the front of the Madonna’s tin frame, as to glare.

It’s not just historical data like price and provenance, though. I had to decide the fate of a number of things I owned after the hurricanes of 2004. Some things suffered mild damage. If it was a matter of harm – mildew on wood bookcases – I did all I could to eliminate it. But for example, there are two little prints that hung on a wall beneath a ceiling that caved in. Bits of attic insulation, wet, drifted down onto these little prints, and dried on them. Not enough to give them a whole new skin, just blotches here and there. I’ve never removed them. The prints bear the marks of their vicissitudes under my stewardship –- marks that belong to their history, and therefore, who am I, just because I have some legal claim as their owner, to deprive them of the traces of their past?

I am sure a certain reader is thinking this is all quite silly and how this could be taken to absurd lengths. I might for example have simply left my house in its storm-damaged state, with its insulation snowfalls, its indoor rain forests, mold and all, because that would be truer to its history. It would also have made it unhealthy and uncomfortable to live in –- aside from the fact that the state itself took the trouble to condemn the building, barring me, the owner, from inhabiting it until it was repaired and inspected. No, I don’t pretend to that sort of single-minded dedication to the idea of the Commodity-in-Itself. But I do fantasize about one day walking into someone’s home and, instead of furnishings such as paintings, books, chairs, and so on, seeing nothing but price tags. The tags that were on those now missing items when they were purchased. I fantasize about that person whose monastic purity put such value in the vertiginous moment of price acceptance, if that’s what it would be, as to require nothing more. He would jettison the things themselves with the same dispassionate dispatch with which the rest of us cut off the tags. Such a person I would congratulate for having worked his way so deeply into the conundrum of property and appropriation as to prize the tag above the thing, and above the history of the thing. With such sufficiency, we are on the far side of historical stewardship – as extreme in its own way as are those others who insist on sitting on chairs, and dining on tables, and looking at works of art under the sterile privation of untagged, ahistorical, unreflected commodity blindness.

*the horrendum pudendum, says Nietzsche.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

art thou there, truepenny?

"...there's a moral context for political events." Michael Gerson, signal ghostvoice of our time.

From the cellarage: "And the political context for your moral context?"

Monday, June 12, 2006

le temps, maitresse crudele

Wines of the Times

Bloggers of the Times

Friday, June 09, 2006

This day in history

Many of us know Jeneane Sessum mainly as the Social Director of the Internet. Did you know she got her start with the New York City Women Police Reserves?

Happy Birthday, Jeneane.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Karl Rove can't wait to drink this blood

Some expert interviewed on NPR assures us Al-Zarqawi was "evil," and says it was a matter of the US military "quietly putting the pieces together," tracking down and killing the bad guy.

Now a joyfest of celebration. As if the 80,000 to 100,000 dead Iraqis, the 2,463 dead US servicemen and women and so many dead others (not to mention cascading collateral damage direct and indirect across the face of Earth that defies spreadsheet totalization) were now redeemed. Justified. Bought and paid for.

When the proper response to 911 all along was to do what the expert is claiming the US just did. The key, the word that never got heard: "quietly."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Where the boors are

Diverse Bunch

In Mexico, the lower-middle class is a diverse bunch, ranging from those who can barely afford a television and refrigerator to families that can qualify for a mortgage and own a car. "In Mexico, Wal-Mart Voters May Be Key," Wall St. Journal.
Replace Mexico with "the US" and re-read.

The moment US corporate media steps out of the market that it thinks of as its equal or its breadandbutter sales target, the linguistic wetnaps come off and condescending social portraiture comes to the fore. The Journal's news division (as opposed to its Medieval editorial page) is relatively restrained compared with the NY Times.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

it's a book

Go raysweat.

Update: Get it here.