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Showing posts from February 3, 2002
Remora CEO Time The adulation of the CEO, one of the more puzzling cultural features of the nineties, is turning, predictably, into revulsion. Since Limited Inc has always maintained that most CEOs could easily be replaced by much cheaper computer programs (with the multiple advantages accruing from having a thing at the top that won't borrow money, buy glitzy spreads, aquire trophy girlfriends or wives, or give bogus leadership tips to the young exec crowd), revulsion has always seemed about the right emotional stance to take towards this set. Forbes now has a nice section, CEO Strikeout , targetting these formerly flattered non-entities (although Limited Inc must say that the Strikeout mcguffin, which requires telling the story of a rise and fall by way of balls, strikes, fouls, and, presumably, hits, is a funny idea that should be used once, and then trashed). Today's Bad boy is the CEO of World Comm, Bernard Ebbers. World Comm has been dodging rumors that its acco
Remora Brothers and sisters, are you aware of the Swiss site, culture actif? It is a little treasure trove of unexpected essays for the cultural critics among us. Limited Inc urges a visit. They have a five part interview with Jean Starobinski on his latest book, a meditation on the emergence of the term "reaction." Action et R�action: vie et aventures d�un couple. Don't be skeptical -- just as Sherlock Holmes amazed his companion by lighting on the fact of cigar ash or a hissing sound as the main clue to a murder or theft, the good philosophe spots such seemingly peripheral instances of usage in the language and takes them to be curious. It is the ability to see the familiar as something that once wasn't there, that exists now because of some concantenation of acts, which allows the philosopher to justly appeal to language. The modern philosophical act is liberating in so far as it frees us, momentarily, from a false image of necessity - the idea that because ou
Remora Tom Powers made the case, years ago, that Heisenberg intentionally monkey-wrenched the Nazi Atom Bomb program. He could make this case because of the curious fact that the German atom bomb team had the resources to make much more progress towards the development of the bomb than they actually did. Richard Rhodes book on the hydrogen bomb, Dark Sun , shows that even the Soviet team was closing in on the bomb in the last years of the war. The Soviets, of course, had the advantages accrued from an espionage system that was delivering primo content about the Americans, yet the Soviet physicists got pretty far along on their own, too. When Powers' book, Heisenberg's War, was published, it re-opened a debate about Heisenberg's role in the war. Powers thesis has been disputed for a while due to the release of transcripts showing what German physicists, interned in Farm Hall in England , said to each other when they heard the news about Hiroshima. Heisenberg said, &q
Remora Limited Inc wants to point you, this morning, to this article by Ken Silverstein in the American Prospect. The article is a variation on shooting ducks in a barrel -- Silverstein trolls the American press for its past coverage of various Latin American free marketeers, who have recently been coming to bad ends, along with their countries. The coverage, it turns out (to no one's surprise) was more starry eyed than accurate, reflecting the usual fantasies of the exploiter class. Oh, drat, there's that Marxist vocabulary again! What we meant to say is that it reflected the innovative but sometimes not quite realistic thinking of the entrepeneurial class. Is that better? Here's a pin-em-to-the-wall graf: "Among Latin America's "reform-minded leaders," according to a laudatory 1991 article in the Post, were Menem, Carlos Andres Perez in Venezuela, Carlos Salinas in Mexico, Fernando Collor de Mello in Brazil, and Alberto Fujimori in Peru. A dec
Dope Limited Inc amused a friend in L.A. a month ago by arguing that the 20th century's greatest scientist, in terms of the impact of his work on human history, was not Albert Einstein, but Fritz Haber. True, if Time Magazine had put Haber's picture on the cover as the greatest person of the century, the iconic resonance would have been somewhat less. As in, people would say, who the hell is Fritz Haber? Here's what Haber did: "On July 2, 1909, Haber and a colleague in the laboratory at Karlsruhe produced a continuous flow of liquid ammonia, about a pint in five hours, from hydrogen and nitrogen fed into a hot five-inch iron tube a couple of feet tall, the gases at 200 atmospheres pressure over an osmium metal catalyst." Sounds, well, boring, right? But before Haber synthesized nitrogen, the world agricultural system depended on either organism induced nitrogen enrichment -- via the humble legume -- or enrichment by way of waste, whether that of
Remora Our readers are francophiles to a manjack, right? Or if they aren't, what are they doing reading a weblog named for Derrida's famous invective? Well, messieurs et mesdames, you must go to Eric Ormsby's piece on Louis Simpson's Villon translations in the New Criterion . The first couple of paragraphs try to hard to make the case that Villon was, supremely, the poet of farewell -- although there is, certainly, something to that notion, Ormsby is warming to his subject, and isn't quite there yet. We are being tickled with rhetoric, here. Still, it is a useful idea. One is reminded of that Mandelstam verse, "I have studied the science of farewells", in Tristia -- 'farewells' we prefer to goodbys, and surely to parting, as in this translation of Mandelstam's most famous poem in Archipelago : I have studied the science of parting In the bareheaded laments of night. Oxen chew, the waiting drags on As the vigil stretches the
Remora Limited Inc admits that we were once forced, in a philosophy class, to peruse Anarchy, State and Utopia, Robert Nozick's masterpiece. We did not come away from the experience with the awe of the convert; we didn't even retain a polemical disdain for the book's sophistries. We simply found the book trite. Nozick's book generated excitement among a generation of philosophers trained in logic chopping and little else. Since logic chopping is a useful but minor instrument, they were left at a loss -- what do you do once you have diagrammed the prisoner's dilemma ten times over? They had no sense of repertoire, which they mistook this gap in their brains for a mission to make philosophy a science. Why read anything that wasn't in English? Why read anything that was written before 1945? Well, in one sense the logic choppers have a point. The history of philosophy is, in itself, of little importance. Carnap once noted, somewhere, his distress at the philo