Sunday, September 30, 2007

Black Holes in Google?

It's being noticed that has suddenly plunged from its former high Google ranking.

Is Google vulnerable to control?

Is Google suppressing sites?

Have conspiracy theorists discovered a new conspiracy?

Google really should say something.

"As Captain Ahab said, 'You are not other men but my arms and legs —' ”

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What do you do when six pre-teens come over?

I know what I'd do. Whereas Jeneane, striving for some virtual Guinness World Record of Virtual Virtu, live-blogged it.

For her, and for Jenna, who somehow is now 10:

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Stiglitz on The Shock Doctrine:
It is striking to be reminded how many of the people involved in the Iraq war were involved earlier in other shameful episodes in United States foreign policy history. She draws a clear line from the torture in Latin America in the 1970s to that at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay.


Market fundamentalists never really appreciated the institutions required to make an economy function well, let alone the broader social fabric that civilizations require to prosper and flourish.

Friday, September 28, 2007

fascist insect lust is here to stay

#8 of Rolling Stone's "25 most outrageous music videos"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hold the Punch, Pinch

Scientists Feel Miscast in Film on Life’s Origin

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: September 27, 2007

A few months ago, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins received an e-mail message from a producer at Rampant Films inviting him to be interviewed for a documentary called “Crossroads.”

The film, with Ben Stein, the actor, economist and freelance columnist, . . .
Turns out to be a completely different film entitled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” with a different producer, a creationist ax, etc.

And downstream somewhere, Ben Stein, actor, economist and freelance columnist is further id'd:
Mr. Stein, a freelance columnist who writes Everybody’s Business for The New York Times, conducts the film’s on-camera interviews.

But you know, as Ben himself tells the Newspaper of Record he gets paid by,
“I don’t remember a single person asking me what the movie was about,” he said in a telephone interview.

And that's fair, isn't it? After all, like Ben, any working journalist knows better than to divulge to his sources, whom he is going to quote and attribute, the authority of the actual story he's getting them to create. Half of them wouldn't agree to speak if
they knew they were tools.

Article Tools Sponsored By

This trick is not unlike the contrivance of simple plots, such as those found in jokes.
"A hard-nosed scientist walks into a Creationist phantasm..."
USian Journalism is the punchline that arrives after the sources have been directed to act as if the story was about them.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

OA: Obviate Arseholiationism

Reminder to US citizens

Please contact your Senators this week, and ask them to support an OA mandate at the NIH. Here are some links to help:

via Open Access News

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"What about the blood song?"

Leslie (blog: Glittering Generalities), a friend of Kia, offers two reports on her time in Jena: Part I, Part II, and more images.


2 mins, $1,000

Monday, September 24, 2007

No tickee, no library

The Firestone Lounge?
People often say, "But everything's available online." This is false. As a test, I decided to check out the online availability of the secondary sources in two recent papers of mine (never mind the primary ones in languages like Hittite). In one, on the linguistic and poetic implications of a newly recognized word in Ancient Greek, I cite 65 references: 41 books or chapters in books, not one of which seems to exist in full in virtual form, and 24 articles from 15 different journals, only four of which are on JSTOR or otherwise electronically accessible. And as for the 124 items in the other paper, which cites almost entirely different things in the course of solving a longstanding problem of Indo-European verbal morphology, all 86 books are absent from cyberspace, and only five of the 38 articles (from 22 different journals) can be read electronically.
In my conversation with Bruce Heterick, Director of JSTOR's Library Relations, he'd noted the possibility that JSTOR could pave the way for more Starbuckses where library stacks used to be. If the Firestone becomes a lounge, c'est la vie princetonienne. More materially in ways we have yet to see, just as USia has fallen behind Korea, Iceland and Belgium (see Table 1) in broadband access and services, the movement to expand the available sources of information and knowledge is also in danger of being stalled. Once again, the corporate appropriative handling of intellectual property in USia -- the system now in place, the system inhabiting our understanding, our legal system, our libraries and academies and "fourth estate" entities as well as the public access to government documents -- is jeopardizing the development of an open society of online resources and therefore access to human knowledge.

Already in certain fields, as noted above, JSTOR's resources are a minor blip -- even so, relatively few of us are able to agree that any of the JSTOR articles Prof. Katz is talking about "can be read electronically."

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

can we talk?


This evening was the first in about six months that one could sit outside in the evening, and not melt into a mosquito-dappled puddle of sweat. The other season hasn't kicked in yet -- the sky is still too waterlogged, too thundersome, too rich in escapades of heat lightning to be a sky of anything but summer. But as the poet said, the first drumbeat of autumn . . .

Meyer used a lewd term to describe the sex acts that prompted the Clinton scandal. It was the profanity, according to event organizers, that prompted them to cut off his microphone. $ via #


In honor of the profanity that according to event organizers that prompted them to cut off his, etc., one of the collected works of Nicholas Wind:

Fuck the State of the Union

President Bush Shoved a Shitload of Lies in our Face Last Tuesday

Getty Images

  • Newsvine
  • Sweet baby Jesus, you call that the fucking State of the Union? Please. George Lucas writes better monologues for Jar-Jar Binks. You didn’t really think we were going to be sucked in by that load of crap, did you? Try this on for size: the real state of our little union is a mind-bending clusterfuck that would make Ron Jeremy chafe.

    Sorry, was that a little too direct for you? You were hoping to conduct politics in a more . . . civil tone? Fuck you. We’re not complete morons out here, you know. We didn’t miss the fact that your minions outed a CIA agent out of spite, or started rumors that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child, or said that Democrats’ response to 9/11 was to find Al Qaeda a good therapist. And that’s just Karl Rove. How about that Dick you work for telling a senator to go fuck himself right there in the halls of Congress? Tell you what, we’ll put down our guns when you put down yours. Until then, you can stick your civil tone right up your Turd Blossom.

    it gets better . . .


    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Prelude to the foregoing

    This might offer some context for this.

    At Gifthub, Phil writes:
    She is a pocketbook on two legs, an ATM, she is a lead donor, she is a target, a quarry, a prospective client, an ideal client, a customer, etc. To see one another not under the aspect of "use value," but as fellow frail creatures, each seeking, each alive for such a short time, and so often less than our full selves, that way of seeing is a kind of civic love. You know something? That is meaning of the word philanthropy.
    "And in short measures life may perfect be." Yes, but not exactly what we mean today when we talk of outcomes, measurement, and management. How much we have lost, haven't we, of what might have been our Noble Nature? You can't hardly measure how far we have fallen, into the businesslike, can you, since Jonson wrote so limpedly in imitation of the ancients?
    In an email, Phil asked me a question that's probably been on his mind, and certainly has been a governing thread of both of his primary blogs:
    How do we reconcile elite traditions with democracy?
    I consider Phil a friend. He and I have kept in touch over several years. In one of his modes he appeals to humanist traditions emblematized by a teacher we both had the good fortune to study with, though not at the same time, Bart Giamatti. Giamatti was an enigma, a man who more or less had an entire academic career before he was 40. His main man was Edmund Spenser, but his book on the earthly paradise in Renaissance epics was pure sprezzatura, a seemingly effortless voyage of the scholar bee doing the work of entire hives of JSTOR regulars.

    Another significant teacher we shared was Paul de Man. Though both Giamatti and de Man were on the Comparative Lit faculty at Yale at the same time, I'm not aware of their ever engaging in any forum or public dialogue. Giamatti, a born leader who seemed to earn (and deserve) enthusiastic loyalty at every turn, became president of the university, and then, and you'd have to know him to have this seem at all encompassable, Baseball Commissioner (succeeding Peter Ueberroth). De Man chaired the French Department, became a pivotal link between USian and Continental critical theory through his and J. Derrida's preoccupation with the power of texts and language. The notoriety enjoyed by the term "deconstruction" in part was due to certain implications, baleful when all is said and done, for the pretensions of scholarship across the humanities. De Man went on to become poster boy for a certain sort of tarring and feathering after his wartime writings were found. Instead of addressing some of the more disconcerting readings he'd been offering of Rousseau, Hegel, Kant, and the like, the USian academic community was pleased to offer much ado about what they construed as anti-semitic, collaborationist stuff that de Man chose not ever to reveal. His reputation suffered disaster; the bearings of his late work -- which questioned the grounds of academic assumptions about entire fields of knowledge -- are still out there, but with the rap he's got, everyone thinks they're off the hook. They're not. His work will survive the obloquy.

    For Phil, as for me, Giamatti and de Man represent two key moments in a certain shared tradition of learning: the humanistic, heroic union of contemplation and action in the figure of the Renaissance Man on the one hand, and a skeptical questioning via a critical philology, an attention to linguistic components of texts, rhetoric, and problems of knowledge traceable through a line running from Diogenes through Montaigne, Rabelais, Pascal and Fred Schlegel and some heavy hitting Germans to Baudelaire and Nietzsche on the other.

    Both men were enormously witty, attuned to people, overworked, and generous with their time. It could be argued that de Man was the plague infecting the rose in Giamatti's vision of academia as a humanistic paradise. It could be argued that without the searching, caustic imagination that people like de Man brought to academic self-understanding, the garden would be even sicklier. Giamatti will forever be remembered for dealing courageously with another sick Rose. De Man, despite the forthright tribute of an honest friend, is still in the doghouse, where USians, with strangely patriotic fervor, place public figures linked deservedly or no to any scintilla of anti-semitism.

    Anyway, all this is by way of offering some context for something I wrote in response to Phil's email. I've no idea whether this will help anyone make sense of that. But there it is.

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    Amid the stately frontispiece of poor

    An email exchange, some context setting here. I added a few links and emended a few phrases mostly for clarity.
    How do we reconcile elite traditions with democracy? - Phil asked, sending along this link and a quick reference to A.B. Giamatti and his sense of what is noble.
    To Phil:

    Bart Giamatti would have a lot to teach us about the possible relations of elite traditions and democracy. He might start by parsing the terms -- are all traditions elite? There are cultures and folkways that maintain a kind of eternal now of wisdom and practice among the poorest on the earth. Are all elites traditional? Are all elites rooted in the same source of eliteness? etc.

    I don't know, the two things, "democracy" and "elite tradition," seem like two optimizations, each of which requires some sacrifice of the other in order to fulfill its own realized whatness. It's why, even as the poor and random waifs of democracy might have their noses to the windowpanes of private entitlement, the poor saps attending "ivory snow" decorumed events occurring in cultural and human vacuums more than likely pine for the "jazz clubs" or other rawness, the demotic ferment of open inspiration.

    I spent a little time on that IPI site you linked to; its buttoned up reek of pillow mint struck me as essentially a different flavor of this, this, and this sort of thing -- the same worldwide migration of sharks circling around the hint of blood, just a different rhetorical costume.

    I keep thinking there is vast opportunity for hilarity in these programmed elite masques. A Fred Wiseman docu-satire, a staging of yes-men intervention, a peeling away of the napkin from the rawer appetite beneath.

    I guess I'm wondering if an aim of reconciling these things makes sense. I mean, the goal is - really it is - noble. But a synthesis that somehow avoids destroying what is so valuable in each is difficult to imagine.

    The country house is a genre, a vast system of ideas, values, about man and his world, society, justice, art, law, order. The book of the people begins in Genesis with a bunch of miserable goat herders getting chosen. One of them, running from his brother's wrath, sleeps on a stone, dreams a dream, and realizes he's in the house of God. This is an entirely different system, only the image of the house is in common between them. If one is, like Peter Karoff, informed by both worlds, a certain restlessness is understandable, even necessary, if one happens to be alive at all.

    I certainly can't envision a synthesis. But it seems entirely worthwhile to ask with you, what can each of these worlds learn from the other? From what you've written, Tracy Gary sounds like one who can speak to that. Confronted with democratic openness, certain Institutes might provoke a shattering laughter. Still, the man in the street approaches the works of aristocratic aspiration with a certain degree of respect or risks idiocy.

    Noble Cubeta, you are writing - and we are learning from you about all this - from your perch where these worlds sit in unstable adjacency. Aristocrats walk among the million in disguise in order to feel alive, free. But when they mix among their own, walking around with their ivory snow labels, protected by buffers of time and distance and access and police, they are free to be "themselves."

    low Things clownishly ascend. -

    How to make any headway in your question, this quest. We might not yet know whether any reconciliation is in the cards. Consider the motives and appetites of the players. Currently among the quite extraordinarily wealthy (at least in the US) there is the appetite for private experience and pedigreed paideia. Affluent communities are being built with faculties for ongoing education. Ivy League schools offer tours to fabulous locales for those who can afford them.

    I guess I'm saying, there is need, in both realms. Different needs, where one might be in a position to help the other. The possibility of exchange has to start, I'll wager, in the willingness of those in each to be open to the idea that they and their worlds do not know everything, or have everything. Can they learn from those they constitutively exclude?

    The Ben Jonson vision of measure invokes music, harmony, over spectacle, in part because it derives from a calm unblinking awareness of mortality. The Big Legacy can't cheat death. Perhaps this is where the marshaled forces of USian wealth and poverty can find common ground, this absence of ground who respects no rank, no distinction, no privilege.

    I know none of this helps. What can we do -- that's not a rhetorical question. You are asking important non rhetorical questions. What can I do that might be of use?

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    Friday, September 14, 2007


    Thivai offers relevance on Dialogic:

    Chomsky on Media

    Carlin on USian Education

    Common to both: the asymmetry, in the big club, between ownership and us, whose balls nestle in the white gloved hand of the proprietors.

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    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    "That crocodile will never be a pet."

    "When we came in here, we arrested everybody. . . Everybody is in jail, everybody has a relative in jail. . .we can make, we can make huge friends if we can help to release them." Two-part video here.

    Take away the precious thing, barter it back. End of the day, we're friends.

    Update: The alleged Lawrence of Arabia of al-Anbar reportedly is no more.

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    Tuesday, September 11, 2007


    An update of the expanding universe of open access from Heather Morrison, a Canadian librarian whose blog deserves an award for its name:

    The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
    Imagine a world where anyone can instantly access all of the world's scholarly knowledge - as profound a change as the invention of the printing press. Technically, this is within reach. All that is needed is a little imagination, to reconsider the economics of scholarly communications from a poetic viewpoint.

    Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series

    Early figures are from my preprint, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing, Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16, 3 (2006), and my updates:
    Dec. 31, 2005 Update and 2006 Predictions
    March 31, 2006 Update.
    June 30, 2006 Update.
    September 2006 Update.
    Dramatic Growth December 2006 & Predictions for 2007
    Dramatic Growth March 2007 Update & Open Data Edition
    Dramatic Growth June 2007 Update
    The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: June 2007 Open Data Edition
    The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Open Data Full Data Edition
    DOAJ: Strong Growth, and Understanding the Numbers
    Dramatic Growth of Open Access Inclusion Criteria

    On the other hand, the comment thread about the utter idiocy of Prism has grown considerably.

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    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Thinking, reading, acceding: For AKMA

    Over the weekend I saw Everything is Illuminated. It's as if someone took Walter Benjamin's figure of the collector (from "Unpacking my library") and built a story around it, a narrative of erasure and re-collection. There's a moment in it when - this may contain spoilers - the last surviving native of Trachimbrod, a Ukrainian village wiped by Nazis from the face of the earth in 1942 - receives three visitors; Elijah Wood, playing the USian grandson of a villager; Eugene Hutz, of Gogol Bordello playing his feckless tour guide; and Boris Leskin, playing Hutz's grandfather who founded the tour company, which "specializes" in offering tours of Ukraine to wealthy USian Jewish families. Leskin's character is hilariously blunt. He despises his Jewish clientele, is devoted to his insane dog and claims to be blind, though he continues to drive. He's a survivor who yet seems shell-shocked, moving in a world that is somehow shaped and rigged by a preceding moment in time that is completely unavailable to him.

    The woman survivor also turns out to be a collector. Both she and Wood, for seemingly different reasons, are, like the figure of Benjamin's essay, cut off from the realm of experience. Since she began collecting, it seems, she has never traveled, never been visited, never had any mode of commercial or social intercourse. It is 2005 but she doesn't know that World War II ever ended.

    During their brief encounter, the old man asks the woman her name. In reply, the woman pulls out a photograph of a man holding three books. She animatedly describes how this man, Baruch, checked more books out of the village library than anyone else. He'd sit before the library each day thinking about them. "He could not even read," she says, adding, "they said he was insane."

    The story smites the old man. "Leave us," he commands his companions. A short while later a buried moment rises up within him, bearing truth that recalibrates his entire existence in a shock of recognition and recollection.

    For some reason the scene strongly reminds me of a moment in The Prelude:

    And once. . . 'twas my chance
    Abruptly to be smitten with the view
    Of a blind Beggar, who, with upright face,
    Stood propp'd against a Wall; upon his Chest
    Wearing a written paper, to explain
    The story of the Man and who he was.

    My mind did at this spectacle turn round
    As with the might of waters, and it seem'd
    To me that in this Label was a type,
    Or emblem, of the utmost that we know,
    Both of ourselves and of the universe;
    And on the shape of the unmoving Man,
    His fixed face, and sightless eyes, I look'd
    As if admonish'd from another world.

    I'm also reminded of AKMA's thinking about reading and interpretation. His approach derives from a larger historical imagination than most scholars, who assume actual reading began with their generation or not long before, can accede to. He sees the differences among readers of sacred texts not as necessarily destructive of the power of those texts. Rather, that power is manifest in the lives, the total lived world, of the readers. Even those who cannot read, but remember to think, to bear witness, not to some ideocrafted message, but to something our powers of intellect have possibly all but effaced.

    Warm birthday greetings to the man and blogger upon reaching his first half century. May the next half be even better, and the third half simply divine.

    & thanks to Jeneane for the heads up.

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    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Strike in Second Life

    Avatars of the world, unite!

    Welcome to Second Life, not entirely unlike the first.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    nessun dormira

    "They continually accompany young men to death and recall their ghastly fate."

    sequins of vents

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007


    Impatience, pure and simple, with the declarative.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    disarticulating nazis

    an account of clown power:
    “White Power!” the Nazi’s tried once again in a doomed and somewhat funny attempt to clarify their message, “ohhhhhh!” the clowns yelled “Tight Shower!”

    a Lacanian comment on it:
    the clowns do not seem to be defending themselves, so much as they seem to be distancing the neo-nazis from their own signifiers. . .

    possibilities for street massings

    Sunday, September 02, 2007


    Jouissance de JSTOR

    I think what I find most hilarious in the JSTOR project is the mutually assured destruction at the base of both its mission and its business model.

    • If the mission is to preserve and perpetuate the archives of human understanding in the form of scholarly journals,
    • And the business model is to preserve and perpetuate monies due upon accessing aforesaid scholarly journals,

    Then to present us with pages like this is to manage at one and the same time to ensure that
    1. no transmission of human knowledge occurs, and that
    2. the possibility of even buying said knowledge is put out of reach of all but those who belong to a payor institutional subscriber.
    Bottom line: Mr. Vettori's review of Mr. Hollander's $55 book about a single letter allegedly by Dante Alighieri remains a closed book. Ignorance, except for a happy very few, is assured; no money changes hands. Just one more blissful adventure in the psychosis of capital blindness.

    Happy Labor Day, JSTOR.

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    Saturday, September 01, 2007

    Looking good

    As we age, it's good to look as best we can.


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    Two modes of electronic waste

    about 80 percent of the electronic waste in the United States that is brought to recyclers is in fact not recycled in the United States but exported to Asia, and especially China where it is melted down in primitive, environmentally damaging conditions including the cooking and melting of computer circuit boards in vast quantity.

    Dr. Weidenhamer’s analytical work now implicates electronic waste as a source of the lead that comes back to harm our children in the form of toxic children’s jewelry made in China for the American market. The vast majority of electronic waste found in China comes from North America. via

    China owns the mortgage on your house

    Brad Setser estimates that Chinese banks bought about $100 billion of US mortgage-backed securities from mid-2005 to mid-2006, and that they might have bought as much as $124 billion in the last year. He opines:

    In some deep sense, this whole system is nuts.

    China is a poor country. It is buying this debt on terms that almost guarantee enormous financial losses for Chinese taxpayers simply from the RMB's appreciation against the dollar. Plus, Chinese demand for safe assets – and the resulting low-yields on those assets – also helped to induce a lot of the excesses that are now clogging up the arteries of the US financial system.

    At the same time, if China stopped buying -- especially now, when the private market is clogged up -- US financial markets would really seize up.

    The US is in a position where it has no realistic alternative to ongoing financing from China -- at least in the short-run. In the long-run, though, I continue to believe that the scale of China's dependence of the US to provide financial assets that will retain their value and the United States dependence on credit from China is unhealthy for both parties. Creative Destruction

    via Notebulb