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Showing posts from September 9, 2001
Remora When I first started logging, I made a private resolution to try to do something every day. What I would like to do, today, is write a long commentary on Voltaire's response to the Lisbon Earthquake, with invidious references to yesterday's day of prayer. But I have to work my ass off this weekend, in order to catch up with my committments: three reviews, and then a piece I am supposedly doing, due wednesday, on terrorism. So I am going to have to suspend the Voltaire thing. Also, I have received a few comments on my posts about the WTC bombing (or holocaust, or mass murder - one thing it wasn't was a tragedy. Unless building a skyscraper is considered an act of hubris. But even then, the hijacking and jet fuel explosion doesn't compute as a tragedy. Sorry.). The comments surprised me - my friend David said that my posts were cold. He said he didn't mean this as an insult, just that is what they were. I guess I have responded, so far, in these posts,
Remora Invading Afghanistan. I talked to my brother a couple of days ago, and he told me he thought we should try to invade and hold Afghanistan, like we did Germany in 1945. I think that is a crazy idea, although it seems to be floating around in the American psyche right now. There's a nice site on the Soviet Afghanistan war as a possible " harbinger of future war ."by a General Mohammed Nawroz. Facts to know and tell: a. "Yet, their [the Soviet] force commitment, initially assessed as requiring several months, lasted ten years and required increasing numbers of Soviet forces. It proved a bloody experience in which the Soviet Union reportedly killed 1.3 million people and forced five and a half million Afghans (a third of the prewar population) to leave the country as refugees. Another two million Afghans were forced to migrate within the country. Today, the countryside is ravaged and littered with mines. On a percentage basis, the Soviet Union inflicted more
Dope The article that you must go to today is on the New Yorker site. It is a profile of Osama bin Laden by a Mary Weaver, originally published last year. Here's a key graf: "He is part puritanical Wahhabi, the dominant school of Islam in Saudi Arabia, yet at one time he may have led a very liberated social life. He is part feudal Saudi, an aristocrat who, from time to time, would retreat with his father to the desert and live in a tent. And he is of a Saudi generation that came of age during the rise of OPEC, with the extraordinary wealth that accompanied it: a generation whose religious fervor or political zeal, complemented by government airline tickets, led thousands to fight a war in a distant Muslim land. That Pan-Islamic effort, whose fighters were funded, armed, and trained by the C.I.A., eventually brought some twenty-five thousand Islamic militants, from more than fifty countries, to combat the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The United States, intentiona
"The less any thing is, the less we know it: how invisible, how unintelligible a thing then, is this Nothing! We say in the School, Deus cognoscibilior Angelis, We have better means to know the nature of God, than of Angels, because God hath appeared and manifested himself more in actions, than Angels have done: we know what they are, by knowing what they have done; and it is very little that is related to us what Angels have done: what then is there that can bring this Nothing to our understanding? what hath that done? A Leviathan, a Whale, from a grain of Spawn; an Oke from a buried Akehorn, is a great; but a great world from nothing, is a strange improvement. We wonder to see a man rise from nothing to a great Estate; but that Nothing is but nothing in comparison; but absolutely nothing, meerly nothing, is more incomprehensible than any thing, than all things together. It is a state (if a man may call it a state) that the Devil himself in the midst of his torments, cannot wish.
Dope My post today was going to address the reparations issue, following on the heels of the Durban, South Africa conference on racism. But I'm sick today - I have a sore throat, and I've just finished watching, for the 100th time, the World Trade Tower collapse, and I'm so sick of that. When a disaster like this strikes - although, actually, there hasn't been a disaster like this in the US - the public personalities who float ectoplasmically across our tv screens suddenly come into relief, some for good, some for ill. I'd have to say that Peter Jennings is the most palatable of tv anchors. Dan Rather was at least more subdued than his usually ebullient, dyslexic self. Brokaw was pretty bad - he kept remarking that prominent people were probably killed in the planes that went down. Well, death is a nasty equalizer. Fox TV went psychotic, so that I couldn't really watch it. The immediate question was where had they rounded up so many multi-fold fat white
Remora. Interesting article by David Bradley in this month's Elemental Discoveries, a sci-zine. He scrolls through recent Pharma discoveries, and finds a high percentage of recycled drugs, now touted for other uses. The graf that interested me, however, was this one: "The metabolites of common antipsychotic drugs, such as clozapine, have been found to inhibit replication of HIV in human cell cultures, which could lead to yet another multipurpose drug. Antipsychotics have for several years been suspected of having antiviral activity, for instance lithium inhibits Herpes simplex replication. Such activity is consistent with the theory that certain forms of mental illness are thought to have a viral component." Elemental Discoveries - August 2001 As some of you might know, I've written about this subject myself, in an Austin Chronicle article reviewing various books on Cancer, viruses, and medical discoveries. A couple of months ago there was a brief flur
Remora More stuff about Fujimori - who now ranks up there with Craxi in the "former leaders who flee criminal prosecution" department. American papers hadn't reported on this sterilization campaign. My big grievances with population control people is that the focus seems suspiciously eugenic - get brown and black people to have less kids. The Times Lede graf: "A PARLIAMENTARY commission in Peru is investigating reports that hundreds of poor indigenous women died after 300,000 were forcibly sterilised in a scheme backed by the disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori."
Remora The Post beats the Times for pungency, today, with its story about the Bush tax cut - about as fraudulent a piece of economic policy as a systems player's plan to beat the odds at blackjack at Trump Casino. Interesting, given the parallel between what Bush did on a national level and what he did in Texas. The same publicity driven tax cut, the same post budget repair work. The Times references further tax cuts to jumpstart the economy being mooted by both parties. It's beginning to feel a lot like a recession, so politicos are naturally getting antsy. The Post, however, revisits the budget which was passed this spring by the live wire Repugs and the cadaverous Dems, and guess what, my happy readers? Now that the budget is yesterday's papers, there's a lot of grinning and shuffling about how, shucks, the whole thing was sorta built out of fraudulent spending projections, taxes cut which will be supplanted by obscurer taxes revived, and the promise of consensual r
Dope. This is a story of orange peels. One of the most famous facts about Mexico City is probably not known to a vast majority of the inhabitants of Mexico City. In the 80s, William Rathje, the archeologist who started the famous Garbage project at the University of Arizona, conducted a comparative study of waste disposal between households in Mexico City and the average American urban household. With his associate, Michael Reilly, he published an article, "Household Garbage and the Role of Packaging." The article isn't on the Net, but there is an excellent article by Frank Ackerman of Tufts University at the Society for Philosophy and Technology, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF PACKAGING IN THE U.S. AND MEXICO , which summarizes it: "The tradeoff between food waste and packaging waste explains one of the most remarkable empirical results in the field of "garbage research." Detailed surveys in the early 1980s found that households in Mexico City dis
Remora There's a couple of stories in the NYT Biz section today on the interplay between the profit motive and the environment. One touts the savings and even profit to be made from redesigning the flow of wastes from production plants, both in terms of its composition (fining safer chemical products, for instance) and its re-use. Unfortunately, its smily business message is rather contradicted in the article on low emission autos. If you follow the auto company juggernaut and their fight against CAFE standards (an obsession with yours truly, as my readers know), the profit to be made from more environmentally sensitive autos is balanced, in Detroit's mindmeld, by the panic that Green cars might, after all, compete successfully with the Behemoth guzzlers that are the most profitable sector of the auto industry. So Detroit follows a two-fold strategy. It poormouths the technology needed to produce cleaner cars, with the big claim being that they are more dangerous - an ironic c