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Showing posts from August 26, 2001
Remora Companeros - I'm going to Mexico City today, and won't be back for a week. This will probably be my last post until the 7th. I'm going down there to visit my friend, Miruna, and her husband, Rodrigo. Their daughter, Constanza, will be one year old tomorrow. Imagine - I'm told she has gotten too old for her bouncy-bounce, which was her favorite thing to do in the morning when I visited them in January. From her seat, dangling in the doorway in the kitchen, she could preside, with appropriate shrieks, over the coffee being brewed there, and the reading of the morning's Jornada. Back then, staying upright on the sofa was a job - not one Constanza particularly liked. But even during the two weeks I was there, she was visibly gaining motor skills. Or at least she was getting good at balancing herself upright. Now I'm told she's an ace crawler. My god, she'll be walking pretty soon. The biped thing. She is traversing worlds. I write fiction when
Remora Every once in a while, I think of Ulrike Meinhof. Of course, when the Red Army Faction and the Red Brigades and Direct Action were doing primal political therapy by planting bombs and having shootouts with police, I was an American teenager, thinking that listening to old Bob Dylan albums was an act of extreme bohemianism. Besides, I was a conservative teenager - my folks were Republicans, and until I was in college, my heros were William F. Buckley and Solzhenitsyn. At the same time, though, I was a romantic - I still am, essentially - so that I always understood the terrorist position, which is that politics is always a subset of drama, and that it should be judged by the same standards. A polis that was stagnant, smug, self-satisfied - that was, in short, dramatically uninteresting - was, if one investigated it, usually living on buried crimes. The uninteresting, in other words, is motivated - and the motivations for it are often not uninteresting. In fact, they are
Remora Tony Blair is finally getting a bit of resistance in his party for trying to complete the Thatcher revolution. Usually a good Marxist would have some French Revolutionary analogy at hand - you know, Blair is playing the Demoulins to John Major's Lafayette, or some obscure thing like that - but there is nothing I can think of at the moment. Roy Hattersley has a nice denunciation of Blair in today's Observer . Key grafs "...during the general election campaign Tony Blair was asked on television why he was not prepared to increase taxes on the rich in order to help the poor. He replied that increasing the top rates of income tax would drive entrepreneurs from the country - without explaining that they would be unlikely to go to those other European Union members where both direct taxes and gross domestic product are higher than in Britain. The second part of his answer must have chilled thousands of Labour Party members to the bone. The object of his pol
Remora John McNeil at Genomeweb reports that the headlines last June (like the NYT'S Genetic Code of Human Life Is Cracked by Scientists ) were a little premature. We don't have a final count of human genes, yet. All that stir last year - it is rather like announcing that men have landed on the moon, and then finding out, a year later, that they actually have gotten very close to the moon. Bringing up the always interesting question, what was behind the hype? Here's the graf from McNeil's article. "Writing in a letter to the editor of Cell , a group of scientists led by Michael Cooke and John Bogenesch at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, together with researchers at the Scripps Research Institute, said a comparison of the two published versions of the human genome showed for the first time that they have only about 16,000 genes in common. Thus, if the two teams of researchers have accurately predicted their additional 26,000
Dope I read a rather dismal piece by the anthropologist Robin Fox today, in the London Review of Books. Fox, who is the head of the Anthropology department at Rutgers, reviewed the biography of Colin Turnbull, the man who studied the Ik and the Mbuti Pygmies. Turnbull's book on the Ik , The Mountain People, became famous in the seventies. It supposedly showed a people who had lost any claim to humanity - a people reduced, by starvation, perhaps, to an appalling, Hobbesian state of man against man (und Gott gegen alles). This view of the Ik was dramatized by Peter Brooks and was well propagated, even though it was based on a faulty observation of the Ik by an openly prejudiced man who advocated a form of cultural genocide being practiced against these people. Turnbull's earlier book about the Pygmies had stressed how good they were, in tacit comparison, especially, to the civilized Westerner. But the Mountain People, with its supposedly tough minded debunking of the Noble