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Showing posts from April 27, 2003
Bollettino Alexander Stille (who wrote a very good book about the mafia in Sicily, Excellent Cadavers), writes about Elias' Civilizing Process in the NYT, and how Elias' theory that it was the civilizing process -- small changes in such things as the visibility one showed in managing one's own dirt, one's mucus, excrement, spit - signaled a larger, invisible change in the fabric of behavioral expectations that spread out over Western civilization tout court -- has been taken up by crime historians. The article is interesting, but it is also symptomatic of a discipline that, at least in the United States, consistently confuses crime and violence. "Although there were no national statistics centuries ago, some historians discovered that the archives of some English counties were intact back to the 13th century. So in the 1970's they began diligently counting indictments and comparing them with estimated population levels to get a rough idea of medieval an
Bollettino A nice report on the Bush administration's plans for getting the fiercely independent Iraqi government, currently subcontracted out to SAIC, to agree to sell Iraqi assets at bargain basement prices to Bush cronies is featured on the Petroleum World site , culled from the WSJ. We are sure that Smilin' Jay Garner will cast a fiery glance with his eagle eye over any plan that he doesn't think is in the best interest of the Spirit of the Iraqi people. Fortunately for American Corporations, Smilin' Jay just might be pursuaded that what is good for Shell Oil is good for Iraq. Whew! So that wondrous privitization just might go through, benefiting the Iraqi people mightily, as it has done in Argentina, the Ukraine, the Soviet Union, and other places around the world! "On the economic side, the AID plan serves as a detailed road map for achieving that end. The proposals for possible mass privatization of Iraqi industry are likely to be the most controver
Bollettino LI has already written one post on Dyncorps. You remember Dyncorps -- the private company America has contracted for policing work in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Dyncorps (unsurprisingly) has its little connection to Enron, as does most of Bush's administration's important cadres. The man who was Dyncorps chairman, "Pug" Winokur, was the head of Enron's board's financial committee -- and approved the setting up of the partnerships for which Andrew Fastow, Enron's CFO, is now undergoing the ritual judicial bastinado -- although we are wise enough to know that the bastinado is mostly mock, and that no man who has a few million dollars stuffed into the mattress is ever going to suffer excessively from Bush's Justice Department. Dyncorps has apparently spread its tentacles far and wide, so that the SEC itself depends on its computer expertise . This makes for an interesting, mobius like situation if the SEC ever decided to investigate
Bolletino Not much attention is being paid to the renting out of Iraq to SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation)-- which is apparently the plan hatched by Paul Wolfowitz and Smilin' Jay Garner. Iraq has already been graced with a paramilitary group, flown out at Pentagon expense, to surround the eventual proconsul of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi. Now the Pentagon is flying out a group of exiles to take over Smilin' Jay's ministries -- including the ever juicy Oil Ministry -- and they are paying them, for reasons unexpressed in the press releases, through SAIC -- an employee owned defense tech company. SAIC is run by one J. R. Beyster, who has worked, in the past, in Los Alamos. SAIC was last in the spotlight for buying the company that has the privilege of deciding who gets domain names on the Internet. At that time, a lot of paranoia was generated among the true net-cognescenti by the composition of the Board of Directors. Yes, here's a bunch of fun facts to
Bollettino KUT, the station LI listens to, has been gamely interspersing its usual fare of music and news this month with short bursts of poetry reading. This is in honor of national poetry month. They have ranged through at least thirty contemporary American poets, and LI has grown weary of getting up and turning off the radio when the poetry starts. One thing has been proven conclusively: contemporary American poetry is worse than you can ever imagine. It is worse than the personal essay, which is bad enough. Mostly, it is the personal essay chopped up into lines that the readers know enough, from grade school, not to linger at the ends of -- which would be pointless, anyway, as the lines are almost uniformly alien to sound. They have abandoned the theater of the voice, these latter day puritans, and they are very righteous about it. They have even abandoned the sound of the American voice, which is a morass, generally, of vocables, a moving pudding of universal stickiness.
Bollettino Paul Krugman makes the Quaint case that it matters when the goverment lies to get us into a war . "We were not lying," a Bush administration official told ABC News. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." The official was referring to the way the administration hyped the threat that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. According to the ABC report, the real reason for the war was that the administration "wanted to make a statement." And why Iraq? "Officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target." Krugman is, of course, talking about the missing WMD. Now, LI was anti-war, just as we are now anti-occupation. But we don't really care that much that the WMD haven't been unconvered. In our humble opinion, the distinction between WMD and W not soMD is bogus - a distinction that is designed to be elastic enough to allow the selling of aircraft designed to
Bollettino So Creative Associates International landed the big job of shipping American made schoolbooks to the schoolkids of Iraq. Just as they had previously landed the contract with Afghanistan. One wonders if Smilin' Jay Garner will be celebrated in the spirit to which Iraq's previous despots have become accustomed. But NO!!! These will be American style textbooks, so they will presumably induce the instant amnesia on all things historical and geographic so endearingly characteristic of American education. Americans are, apparently, old hands with textbooks. In Afghanistan, in the pre-9/11 days, Americans produced textbooks that even the Taliban approved of. An old Wash Post story about this, on the Emperors-clothes site, begins like this: "In the twilight of the Cold War, the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resista
Bollettino Du cote de chez Hitchens Et sans doute, en se rappelant ainsi leurs entretiens, en pensant ainsi a elle quand il etait seul, il faisait seulement jouer son image entre beaucoup d'autres images de femmes dans des reveries romanesques; mais si, grace a une circonstance quelconque (ou meme peut-etre sans que ce fut grace a elle, la circonstance qui sepresente au moment ou un etat, latent jusque-la, se declare, pouvantn'avoir influe en rien sur lui) l'image d'Odette de Crecy venait a absorber toutes ces reveries, si celles-ci n'etaient plus separables de son souvenir, alors l'imperfection de son corps ne garderait plus aucune importance, ni qu'il eut ete, plus ou moins qu'un autre corps,selon le gout de Swann, puisque devenu le corps de celle qu'il aimait,il serait desormais le seul qui fut capable de lui causer des joies et des tourments. -- Proust The first volume of Proust's novel tells the story (imperfectly nested, as is Prou