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Showing posts from January 5, 2003
Remora From DeQuincey's Miscellaneous Essays , just posted in the Gutenberg Library -- although they still don't have the inimitable essay on The Fine Art of Murder: Yet in the lowest deep there still yawns a lower deep; and in the vast halls of man's frailty, there are separate and more gloomy chambers of a frailty more exquisite and consummate. We account it frailty that threescore years and ten make the upshot of man's pleasurable existence, and that, far before that time is reached, his beauty and his power have fallen among weeds and forgetfulness. But there is a frailty, by comparison with which this ordinary flux of the human race seems to have a vast duration. Cases there are, and those not rare, in which a single week, a day, an hour sweeps away all vestiges and landmarks of a memorable felicity; in which the ruin travels faster than the flying showers upon the mountain-side, faster 'than a musician scatters sounds;' in which 'it wa
Dope LI has a review of Bill Minutaglio's City on Fire , (which is about the Texas City, Texas disaster) in this week's Austin Chronicle -- we think. That disaster was caused by the explosion of a monstrous amount of ammonia nitrate, which was being loaded into a French freighter, the Grandchamp, one April morning in 1947. The first paragraph of the first draft of the review was lopped off -- as we expected it would be. But we liked it as a "dope" intro. It goes: I've been a fan of disaster stories ever since I became so engrossed, at the age of ten, in a history of the Johnstown flood that I suffered a minor panic attack during which I was convinced that the shallow pond at the end of our street was going to rise up and kill us all. The fascinations of disaster are metaphysical. It is in the belly of disaster that accident turns into fate, and in that interminably winding darkness the trivial metamorphoses into the monumental. The stray, tossed match,
Remora LI believes that the first question about taxes should be: what are they buying? In the case of the current administration, there seems to be a desire to buy quite a lot, including a war. On the other hand, there is also the Enron philosophy to which Bush and Cheney subscribe. That is, they believe the company exists to reward its upper tier management -- or, in the case of a company nation, its upper class. So they seem willing to employ certain Enron accounting tactics to do this. Enron would give bonuses to its management based on projected profits -- profits that most often didn't materialize. Thus, Rebecca Mark, for instance, was rewarded with tens of millions of dollars for running projects that lost billions of dollars. In the same way, the Bush administration has apparently decided to destroy any progressivity in the tax system to reward the already inordinately rewarded top tier of the wealthy in this country. The proposal to end the dividend tax is a trademark
Remora Paul Krugman makes the case, in his latest column, that the Bush administration's fumbled strategy for containing North Korean military capability contravenes basic game theory. Krugman's canned explanation of game theory goes like this : "During the cold war, the U.S. government employed experts in game theory to analyze strategies of nuclear deterrence. Men with Ph.D.'s in economics, like Daniel Ellsberg, wrote background papers with titles like "The Theory and Practice of Blackmail." The intellectual quality of these analyses was impressive, but their main conclusion was simple: Deterrence requires a credible commitment to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior." One of Krugman's quirks is to show, at every opportunity, a vocational reverence for "men with Ph.D's in economics." He can't help himself. His larger point, however, is plausible: American power is not increased by the increase in belligerence of A