“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, August 18, 2001

Remora.

For those of you who wonder what art gallery curators do, anyway, here's a story.(Courtesy of Wonkoslice) In order to garner a little free publicity and to degrade the lives of thirty artists (the ones chosen for the exhibit), the Blue Gallery in London is sponsoring an exhibit on the theme of Margaret Thatcher.
Here's a quote from the obviously empty-headed Tara Howard:

"The gallery curator, Tara Howard, said: "Time is ripe for a contemporary art response to the Thatcher
phenomenon.

"Inevitably, some artists will take an oblique or politicised approach to the subject but I wanted to keep the focus on her rather than on Thatcher's Britain.

"I'm interested in her erotic-iconic quality and her ability to provoke extremes of response."

Ah, yes, nothing too political - the Saatchis, after all, have unloaded their Hans Haacke's at rockbottom prices. Politics is out, outre, and might be offensive to New Labour sensibilities.

I bet you Ms. Howard spent literally nights at her labtop coming up with that one about how "I wanted to keep the focus on her rather than on Thatcher's Britain." Dribble, you say? Rubbish, garbage, the humming of an empty mind? Your average clerk in a Kentucky Fried Chicken could do better, you say? Well, yes. All that is true. But who is going to challenge it? It is like one of the Red Queen's rules in Alice, it has that same toothy, bullying tone which says everything about the society that makes it possible. And at the opening, can't you see her, in black and red, getting to pal around with some thin, bitter artsy types who are all smiling, all kissing ass, their stories in hand about how what they did has some distant relationship to the Iron Bitch? Somewhere right now some poor bastard is working for his grant in some sloppy studio thinking, okay, non-political, focus on Thatcher, maybe use animal parts a la Damien, hmm. How about wigs? Wigs and, uh, blood. Pig blood. Human blood. And getting desperately thirsty for a cold one.


Remora
- I'm dissatisfied with the fusee category, because I can't put an accent over the e. I'm changing it to remora - a remora is a sucker fish, which once upon a time was believed to have the power of stopping ships by attaching itself to their hulls.

I'm rather sad that the Industry Standard threw in its cards yesterday. Sad, disgusted -- the Net hype and hope, while it lasted, was fun to throw stones at, but anybody who wants to make a living writing has to grieve as the casualty lists come in. My god, who is going to hire us? More on that at some other time.

One of the always underrated aspects of the Net is the way people, spontaneously, do such incredibly wonderful things - like the Nietzsche Channel This site not only includes Nietzsche's texts in German and English, but includes the Nachlass - all those fragments that Nietzsche's evil sister gathered into The Will To Power, a book that as we all know, does not really exist. The Anti-Christ's anti-book, poor deranged sod. A crime against philology. It wasn't until the seventies, with the Coli-Molinari edition of the works, that we knew what a great notebook writer Nietzsche was - like Emerson and Kierkegaard. I could make a long and winding argument that hypertext is not going to be the Net contribution to literature - it will be, rather, weblogs like this one, transforming the uncertain genre of the private daybook into an odd, multifariously referential, public log - with the implication of voyage, sitings, and a weird sense of crew.

Thursday, August 16, 2001

Dope.
Cue the mood music please. Usually I don�t do �my golden memories� posts, but how can I resist, after reading Christagau�s faintly condescending bit on Kurt Cobain in this review of the latest Kurt Cobain bio?

The Argument graf is rather stale: �He had little of the self-regard of Mick Jagger, Alice Cooper, Johnny Rotten, Michael Stipe, and none of the vanity or the clothes sense or the theatrical savoir-faire. Yet he wasn't a symbolic Everyman in the manner of Springsteen, John Fogerty, or Garth Brooks, either. He seemed like every born loser who ever failed gym�a geek you could get wasted with, a shy guy whose cuteness cried out for mothering, an arty weirdo with a common touch. So for two or three years, until his suicide registered as an act of abandonment, he gave a generation of losers a hero who felt like a loser himself, even in success�as opposed to a hero whose triumph they could only admire, emulate, envy.�

Here are some words to the wise: trotting out the tired circus animals of r & r, and then diving into symbolic everyman talk, means we have entered the serious E territory. Exit, get gas, do something. �He wasn�t a symbolic Everyman like � Garth Brooks�? Hey, and he wasn�t black, like Charlie Pride. Nor did he have Glenn Campbell�s shopworn Rhinestone dignity, or the early cabaret moves of Lotte Lenya. Etc. I could do this with one hand tied behind my back. Nothing like the negative comparison series to fill out a piece. Nor do I think his suicide �registered� for the �generation of losers� that listened to him as "abandonment" - more like dark fullfillment. Abandonment is a much more parental feeling. The libido out there after Cobain bought it, that old media tonic �outpouring of grief� � the tv sell, the let�s weep for some dead celeb more than I wept for my mom and my mom�s mom � became, in Kurt's case, much scarier and more interesting. He went out like a highschool massacre, our Kurt did.

Also � wanna talk about context? Yes, let�s do. The New Yorker obviously knows squat about Kurt Cobain � otherwise they would never have headlined their story �What Kurt Cobain did for Rock and Roll,� which is something those New Yorker folks think is probably still out there, probably woke up the guy who does the club listings, yeah, man, those youngsters are still boogeying away to Susie Q, man. Hey hey, my my is all I have to say about that.

Now to unroll a little personal history. I moved to Pecos, New Mexico, in 1993, and � I confess it � mostly I was still listening to British Goth, and its narcissistic dead end in Sisters of Mercy (but, caveat, �Vision Thing� still slays me). In Austin in the 80s in certain circles it was hard not to get caught up in Joy Division, the perfect band partly because it was as dead as Ian Curtis, and partly because its continuation, in New Order, turned anguish into such kitsch fake veneer synth that you knew, you knew it had to be critical theory significant.

Anyway, I get to Pecos and move in with David, the plan being we were going to be artistes. Gonna be Mallarme and Manet. When I first arrived I was playing My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult on my little lo fi boom box and I leap out of that little gray Chevy my brother Dan got off this weird Israeli biking freak practically trading her beads for it and the first afternoon, hey, a nice little stash of vodka and cokey-poo (a drug I don�t like, although I�ve snorted my share of it � give me painkillers, just you know, prescription painkillers, tranqs for cats, or anything you can�t find the label for in your medicine cabinet, any day) all waiting to ambush me in the weirdest house Dave could find, this place that was half designed to be a swiss chalet and half designed to be a restaurant, or maybe Batman's hideout in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, with a little twisty iron staircase about three feet wide spiraling you up to the second floor. Where I had my bedroom, which was distinguished by a blanket on the one part of the floor where there weren't books. That first day and night and whatever, time-wise, was maybe symbolic. The alk and the powder. Yes, we weren�t going to shake the art world in the next two years. Instead, we would lie down under its spreading branches, like the peasants in that Bosch painting � dreaming of the land of Cockagne. Fastforward over the details, that involve quite a few dreary art parties, accidents, fights, and neighbors with sawed off shotguns who were not, shall we say, appreciative of the arty gringo package next door. Okay, David had a bunch of tapes, including Nevermind, and I listened to it for the first time. And I got it. In fact, Nevermind became the house tape. When In Utero came out, at first I wasn�t thrilled with �Heart Shaped Box�, which got the big radio play. But then I got In Utero, too. I just got the whole thing. We played these Nirvana tapes into oblivion. There was a period where David was delivering chocolate cup-cakes and other pastries from this bakery in Santa Fe to Albuquerque, (seriously) and sometimes, for reasons I won�t get into, I either did the delivering or went along � and of course we always had the Nirvana cranked. We also, well, were cranked. New Mexican highways are much safer since we moved, let�s say.

So Nirvana comes to ABQ, and Dave, always the smart one of the two of us, gets tickets. We go down there. Plan is to see them, then crash at Ted and Angela�s place. Ted has an almost sacred regard for Nirvana. We go to this big auditorium, and we are frisked. Everybody going through the door is frisked. I guess Rape Me, Date me was the gang song of the moment in ABQ. But I�m what, 34? But we are through, they discover no weapons on us, and of course we have been ready for this. So the next three hours go by in a blur. I jumped into the mosh pit (I hate the term mosh pit, by the way � that is surely a made up MTV word) and got good and thrown around. Thrown back actually against Dave�s nose, at one point, which he claims I broke. No way. In any case, I must have sweated ten pounds from my frame by the time we somehow found our way back to Ted and Angela�s.

The next morning we broke out a sixpack and hopped in the car, and somehow I ended up on the driving side. So I make a casual turn at no great speed in the center of ABQ and low and behold, it�s military pigs. Somehow I turned into an army base. Not only that, but they are knocking on the window, cause somehow I�ve violated a rule. But with Nirvana pumping in me, I wasn�t about to go for the humble shit � no, I keep on my sunglasses and decide to play it all arrogant. Also, I am p.o.-ed that there is an army base in the middle of a major city. In the moment, that seemed to me definitely against the constitution, and much like we were living under some occupying force. Which are points of view I wanted vociferously to discuss. BUTTTT � boys and girls, I must have had a point. Maybe I was right about the unconstitutionality of that base. Cause instead of busting my ass, they simply mulled over my license (to some address in Georgia no longer inhabited by anybody I knew) and � did I have insurance? Must have. So my insurance, too. They mulled, and even called in some more swine, who pulled up behind us. Like we were going to jump out of my little Chevy and really threaten national security. David did point out that if they searched the car, we would be sorry. But at this point I felt it would be better if we went to jail, as it would make the constitutionality point. Well, upshot was that I was merely asked for a local number, which I flawlessly concocted, and a local address, which, by some fatal breakdown in my brain, I actually gave. As in, the real one. Well, it was a P.O., after all.

All of this I owe to Kurt, God bless the boy.
Fusee

On the perks of tenure.

Alan Krueger begins an article in the biz section of the NYT as follows:

"NOT long ago, I asked my research assistant, Melissa Clark, to track down a passage from "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith. Although I expected her to consult the modern edition, she instead requested the original 1776 edition from Princeton's Rare Book Library. The librarian accidentally gave her the fifth edition, published in 1789, and therein she discovered a remarkable signature: George Washington." -

Following this lede, Krueger goes off on Adam Smith and Rothschild's recent book on same, but I was so blown away by the, well, laziness inherent in the cozy system in which the Kruegers of the world have their niches that I had a hard time following. You get your assistant - your assistant - to track down passages in Wealth of Nations? Most of us would simply call it up on the Net - it is on this link - use the find function, then take the book down from our shelves and leaf to the passage for the page number. But of course most of us aren't supplied with assistants we can order about on frivolous tasks, on Princeton's dollar no less. There's a Randy Newman song , My Life is Good, my best friend David loves to quote:
"A couple of week ago
My wife and I
Took a little trip down to
Mexico
Met this young girl there
We brought her back with us
Now she lives with us
In Our Home
She cleans the hallway
She cleans the stair
She cleans the livingroom
She wipes the baby's ass
She drives the kids to school
She does the laundry too
She wrote this song for me
Listen
Yeah"

"She wrote this song for me.." - well, as any indentured slave-slash grad student can tell you, that's almost, uh, the case. And to the Kruegers of the world it is just so obviously normal. Why should he trouble himself to look up passages in an easily available, well known book? He has more important things to do, my God. Krueger so obviously lives in the promised land - and maybe someday, if she is lucky, Ms. Clark will too - she'll have her own Ms. Clark to trot around looking up quotes...

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Fusee

Okay, this is a sort of private joke. But with my friend Margarita in Bulgaria right now, how could I resist this article about watching Latin American telenovelas in Sophia:JMB 2.1: Kotzeva, Private Fantasies, Public Policies?
Dope

Headline in the NYT today Cosmic Laws Like Speed of Light Might Be Changing, a Study Finds begs the question: what are changeable cosmic laws? The very application of law to physis has been a hot philosophical topic since Hume - well, okay, since before Hume, but Hume is the modern touchstone. The modernity of Hume is, to some extent, his full acceptance of the law of non-contradiction - that P can't be both a and non-a. The mystic instinct has always been to protest against the straitjacket of that logic, but the objection, since Hume, has moved from statements about states to statements about events - since events bring up the question of possibility and necessity.

This, of course, is a vast subject. And it touches on today's dope, which will be about the Romanian - French philosopher Stephane Lopasco.

Stephane Lopasco was born in Romania, but came to France, like his friend Cioran, and like so many other Romanian intellectuals, did, because of the wonderful myth of France as the home of the free intelligence. He was the companion in the thirties of Lacan, the student of Bachelard (or was the relationship the other way around?), and in the sixties palled around with the veritable pope of the French intelligentsia, Edgar Morin. To get a sense of the man you can read this memoir by the painter Georges Matthieu. It is terribly funny � both of them addressing each other as maitre and expressing themselves in peremptory tones that tend towards the epigrammatic, mixing insincere adulatory exclamation with the dismissive diktat. I love the way Lupasco casually claims that Bachelard plagiarized him � evidemment! This conversational style, born out of the aristocratic cenacle of the seventeenth century, acquires a slightly ludicrous theatrical color in the absence of aristocracy � Matthieu and Lupasco could be characters in a Moliere play, servants playing the masters. The typical stance of the 20th century intellectual, huh?
Lupasco tried to develop a logic that would absorb the discoveries of quantum physics. My first reaction to that kind of project is that it mistakes the domain of logic, which is embedded in language rather than in objects. It is, in other words, a move back to the spurious Naturphilosophie of the 19th century, where even very smart people like Engels could talk of the flower �contradicting� the bud. But this reaction, conditioned into me by the logical positivists, presupposes a that language is autonomous. This supposition has become harder to argue for in 2001 than in 1935.
In any case, Lupasco�s big idea was what he called the tiers inclu � the included middle. I don�t know a lot about Buddhism, but I do know that there is a term in Zen � mu � which means neither yes nor no. These are ideas that my friend, Mary Beth Mader, who teaches in the philosophy department in Memphis, is working with. I think I should tell her about Lupasco.
Here�s a quote from le maitre:
"A tout ph�nom�ne ou �l�ment ou �v�nement logique quelconque, et donc au jugement qui le pense, � la proposition qui l'exprime, au signe qui le symbolise : e, par exemple, doit toujours �tre associ�, structuralement et fonctionnellement, un anti-ph�nom�ne ou anti-�l�ment ou anti-�v�nement logique, et donc un jugement, une proposition,un signe contradictoire : non-e ; et de telle sorte que e ou non-e ne peut jamais qu'�tre potentialis� par l'actualisation de non-e ou e, mais non pas dispara�tre afin que soit non-e soit e puisse se suffire � lui-m�me dans une ind�pendance et donc une non-contradiction rigoureuse (comme dans toute logique, classique ou autre, qui se fonde sur l'absoluit� du principe de non-contradiction)."

"To every phenomenon or element or logical event whatsoever, and thus to the judgment which thinks it, to the proposition which expresses it and the sign that symbolizes it, for example e, there must always be associated, structurally and fundamentally, an anti-phenomenon, an anti-element, an anti- logical event, thus a judment, a proposition and a sign non-e, in such a way that e or non-e can only be the potentialization or actualization of non-e or e, but not their disappearance, which would entail that non-e or e can suffice in itself in an independence and thus in a rigorous non-contradiction (as in all logic, classic or otherwise, founded upon the absoluteness of the principle of non-contradiction)."
I started this post by talking about law and whether law is the best term to use to describe the observed regularities of nature. The philosophy of science makes the ritualistic move to necessity at this point. But perhaps we should also consider what law is, itself, as a social phenomena. Philosophers of science usually casually think, well, law is what the government makes, just like a gene makes a protein. But there is a lot more controversy about the nature of law than that � for someone like Holmes, for instance, laws are about expectations � in other words, law, as a social phenomenon, also plugs into probability.
Well, I�ve written about this in a review of the Menand�s excellent book, The Metaphysical Club � link to the Austin Chronicle, look up the author archives, plug in Gathman and you will see the title of the piece.
To check out a Lupacian view of Marcel Mauss, click here.
Okay, I�ll stop now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Fusee.

For those readers casting about for a different career, here's an article by John Roselli about castrati I think it is a little too late for me to consider castration - but it does seem to have boomed in tough times in 17th century Italy. No service industry back then, you see, to take up the slack - so nothing to do with your younger and more useless children than plop them in nunneries and monasteries. And once in the monastery, well, castration just might be your key to the good life. Here's a graf to consider - the Burney referred to is an English traveller who was apparently the man to go to if you wanted the news about castrati in 1750.

"Other characteristics are as unclear now as they were in Burney's day. Writers of the time were content to repeat a farrago of notions drawn from ancient authors such as Hippocrates: castration cured or prevented gout, elephantiasis, leprosy, and hernia; castrati tended to have weak eyes and a weak pulse, lacked fortitude and strength of mind, and had difficulty in pronouncing the letter R. Burney, from personal knowledge, denied that castrati were cowards or lazy, but could not supply a full alternative account. Males castrated before puberty clearly cannot father children; but the question was often raised: can they none the less experience the sexual drive and engage in sexual intercourse? The only 'authority' available then or now on the practice of castration is outstandingly muddled: its implied answer is at one point 'yes', at another 'no'. The answer 'yes' was current in the ancient world and in early modern Europe; twentieth-century medical opinion, for what it is worth, tends to say 'no'."
Dope

Wow. I love the New York Times Business section. The echt biz columnists are always sharp. But they opinion columnists, people like Virginia Postrel, are the red meat type - the kind that want to contractualize every pee. Today it is somebody named Daniel Akst - In Genoa's Noise, a Trumpet for Capitalism - who resurrects a trope last heard during the Vietnam war - that the protests against the G8 are staged by the spoiled children of the G8 who have just benefitted immensely from it all. Much like the protesters against the Vietnam war who a. didn't understand it and b. benefitted from America's robust, Bomber backed committment to freedom, longhaired punks that they were, and were trying to block the good fight with a lot of weepy-washy malarky about napalming children. Look, those children were dangerous! the Aksts of the world point out, being rational souls.

Well, there is one telling difference. Akst avoids saying that the protestors are smelly - among conservatives, the realization has slowly set in that the weapon of fashion is probably not the best stick in the house. It turned out that the hippies were fashionable - and lived to profit from it. So who knows - globo-protest chic might have some bucks in it. So don't knock it. Akst takes another tact - he claims they are beautiful but oh so, like, stupid - while the G8, the WTO, and others are working day and night to put "food on the tables in houses from Bolivia to Bangladesh," the young and restless out on the barricades are pretending like they have a right to have a say in it all. Ignorant ragamuffins! My god, the unmitigated gall. And hey, pay no attention to those pesky statistics that suggest that the share of wealth going to Bolivia and Bangladesh, since the advent of more robust freetradin', has gone down - although it has. Pay no attention to the difference between the economic behavior of a country like the US - which found it convenient, in the 80s, to finance its growth with massive deficit financing - and, say, Argentina, which is being poleaxed because of its deficit financing. Yes, to minds that aren't as, well, subtle as Akst (genius that he appears to be in this article) that might suggest economic policies in less wealthy countries have to encounter different international restraints, and thus might follow different internal courses, such as finding a more interventionist role for the state in supporting enterprises. And to minds less attuned to democratic theory than Akst, it might appear a little suspicious to have these multi-national organizations unilaterally changing domestic law in various countries, according corporations a more than equal legal status.

But heck - who said anything about democracy? Here's the killer graf from Akst's vile little column:
"That is why, young and handsome and idealistic as these protesters so often are, it is important to crush them � figuratively, of course � if they won't go home and find other means of exorcising their great guilt at their own good fortune. You may not like the collection of aging white men who, thanks in part to the power of corporations, lead the world's richest nations. But for all their flaws, the economic vision they represent is infinitely more plausible and more humane than the one their critics appear unable even to articulate."
Ah, figuratively crush them - like the cops were doing all over Genoa! Isn't that precious? The wording is so... well, it is so reminiscent of certain, shall we say, authoritarian regimes - Pinochet's comes to mind, as well as the dirty little junta in Argentina. The crushing metaphor is really what is behind the smiley face of the G8 leaders . Meanwhile we can liquidate those "subsistence farmers" in the third world that lead such crushingly poor lives, as Akst suggests, and send them off happily into cities, where they can die of various diseases for which cures have been found but, alas, patented beyond the pocketbooks of the third world (and by the way - crush those Thai companies that infringe on our godgiven patent law, too!), or drink the wonderfully unfiltered water, or live in wonderfully deconstructed kin patterns in wonderful brick and mortar burnouts in, say, Kampala. It is all to the greater glory of private initiative! And a lot of those poor, too, can be properly inducted into the sweatshop ethos, a much better way to take up 14 hours of their day than futile village pranks. This is civilization, after all. The rest can become what Thomas Friedman, another globo-advocate, calls "turtles" - you know, losers in the race for wealth. They can always steal.
Akst might be happy to know that in Brazilian cities, police are often hired to crush the "young and handsome and idealistic" - well, not so idealistic, and often rather scabby - by simply massacring them.
I am suprised that the headline writer for Akst piece didn't take advantage of his opportunity, though - given the tough love nature of the article. He should have headlined it: Exterminate the brutes.

Monday, August 13, 2001

Fus�e


Smoke Signals is an interesting little Village Zine - apparently rooted in the old 50s to 70s boho scene. Scroll to the end of the page to read Barney Rossett's account of how Grove Press was taken over - as in sit in taken over, as in seventies activism - by a contingent of protesting women's libbers - that is the language used in the article. Yes, a whiff of the archaic. It is a sad story for Rosset - but I am conflicted about it, ultimately. One of the great things feminism did for American culture was sweep away that schlocky male adolescent view of women in the Great American Novel (which I take it is that Novel consisting of all the aspirant novels). From Miller to Pynchon, this did a lot of damage to American lit, reducing female characters to a photo spread thinness. Compare, say, Henry James. There was nothing pleasant about seeing women thrown about like so many blow up sex dolls by male writers in the throes of temper tantrums better thrown when they were, say, thirteen.
On the other hand - Grove Press. One of the great publishers...
Fusee.
Alan - who is on my tail about this issue - makes the reasonable comment that, if I am competing with arts and letters, my macro commentary might be excessive load for good link. I hope my "fusee/dope" categories solve this problem. For those who want to be pointed to an interesting link without excessive interference by my interpretation, there are the fusee; and for those who don't mind me hopping around like some combination of Rumpelstiltskin and Karl Marx frothing about some possibly esoteric issue, there is the dope.

Yesterday, I was finishing up - for review - a copy of William Vollman's next novel, which relies heavily on John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia, and I decided to look up the Generall Historie on the web. Shockingly, there is no complete text on-line. I found a fragment here. Even that fragment reveals that Smith was a admirable writer - and, even more, he eerily presages American humor. Apparently laconic exaggeration - the "whoppers" of Mark Twain, which are half initiatory test (do you get it? do you care?), half comedy routine - came with the country.

Sunday, August 12, 2001

Fusee

A link to a nice essay on noir writer Jim Thompson (Jim Thompson's Lost Hollywood Years). Although the attempt at noir metaphor in the piece is a little silly ("Wielding words like a baby with a chainsaw" - a sentence that could only have been written by a man with a very unclear idea of what the conjunction of a baby and a chainsaw would actually look like - hint: it isn't very much like deathless prose), the fate dealt Thompson by Hollywood's studios reminds me of a bracing little essay by Joan Didion about the place in the pecking order accorded screenwriters by the sybaritic semi-literates that own the studios and act in the movies. Oh, well - why should Hollywood be any different from the rest of the country?

Now that I am starting to get technically sound and sassy on this site, I've been thinking about tightening up the writing.
From now on, I'm dividing up the posts between "fusees" - little fireworks - and dope. Dope will be elaborate, fusees will be one to two grafs.

This, for example, is dope:

The NYT report on water this morning -Near Vast Bodies of Water, Land Lies Parched - reminds me of a large piece I wanted to do on water last year. It is going to be one of the fascinating fights of the future. Very simply, the problem goes like this.

In the twentieth century an elegant technical solution was found to the problem of the land surface to crop ratio. This was synthesizing ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases - fertilizer. It is a sign of how accustomed we are to our present food system that fertilizer, as a technical advance, doesn't even register in the popular imagination. Fritz Haber's name is generally not known - Time magazine did not include him among the worthies of 20th century civilization, even though they included Elvis Presley. Haber and Bosch's work is probably the most important technical innovation of the 20th century, even if it is not difficult to see, in hindsight, that it was technically inevitable, given the state of the German Dye industry. It's estimated, by the historian William McNeil, that without synthetic fertilizers the present population of the earth would require an addition of farmland equivalent to all of South America to feed it.

Now, however, we are just on the limits of a problem that is technically more intractable. Because the effect of water can't, so far, be synthesized - in fact, it is difficult to see what that would mean. Water is a very strange liquid - it has properties, notably those when it is heated or cooled, that seem different from other liquids in ways that aren't clearly understood.

Okay. Now, who do we meet at the crossroads of want and necessity but this decade's candidate for the anti-Christ - Enron corporation!

Graf from the Times story that should scare us:

"Already, bottled water costs more than gasoline in most stores, but nearly 90 percent of all municipal water systems are publicly owned. Enron, the nation's No. 1 marketer of natural gas and electricity, saw water as a commodity that would eventually be deregulated, just as electric power was in California. If that happened, Enron would be free to buy and sell water to the highest bidders � no different from oil or megawatts.
The company set up a Web site to trade water, and went prospecting for liquid gold. The people at Enron followed a trail already blazed by a fellow oilman, T. Boone Pickens, who has been buying underground water from farmers in hopes of selling it to parched cities in Texas, and the Bass brothers, who bought 46,000 acres in the desert of Southern California, only to be stymied by legal and technical problems over underground water rights."

Enron, it appears, has not yet prospered in the water trade - but that was before the Corporation owned a president. Look to see the Republicans in the House try to strip states and localities of rights to their water. The principle of local control, remember, is always subservient, among business conservatives, to the principle of profit.