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Showing posts from October 10, 2004
Bollettino -- this is the last of three posts. Sorry, campers. I couldn't resist a long series today. To make sense of this, go back to the first post and read upward, I guess. Con't “An enormous power plant south of Baghdad was shut down last weekend by coordinated attacks on fuel and transmission lines, American and Iraqi government officials said Tuesday. The sabotage raised new fears that insurgents were beginning to make targets of major sectors of the infrastructure as part of an overall plan to destabilize the interim Iraqi government. At full production, the plant is capable of supplying nearly 20 percent of the entire electrical output of Iraq. But after the war, the plant's output plunged to nearly zero, and it is still generating only a fraction of its maximum output, said Raad al-Haris, deputy minister for electricity. An official with the Coalition Provisional Authority, which is scheduled to hand over sovereignty to a new Iraqi government on June 30, c
con't In a peppy article on October 23, 2003, the NYT, under the headline For Hussein's Ouster, Many Thanks, but Iraqis Are Expecting More, interviewed the man in the street in Baghdad and elsewhere, finding: “Stability -- in the sense of an absence of attacks on Americans and Iraqis -- appears a long way off. But in dozens of recent interviews in Baghdad with ordinary Iraqis, it was clear that there is a reservoir of good will toward Americans in Iraq, or at least a weary expectation that they will, in the end, leave Iraq better than they found it.” Mysteriously, those pre-war electricity levels seemed elusive: ''America is a great nation -- I think they can do anything,'' said Khanaan Abdul Majeed, 53, a welder in Baghdad. ''I think they can restore security and electricity and everything, but they are slow in their job.'' Mr. Majeed is also an example of another class of Iraqis generally supportive of the United States: those who benef
Bollettino On April 20, 2003, the NYT, under the headline From Power Grid to Schools, Rebuilding a Broken Nation, reported: “United States military officials here make the point that the precision of the smart-bombs dropped on Baghdad limited damage to the most important infrastructure, including power and water facilities. Col. Mike Marletto, commanding officer of the 11th Marines regimental combat team, who also coordinates with Iraqis and aid groups here, said Iraqi electrical engineers told him that the damage this time was far less than during the gulf war in 1991, when power and water plants were direct targets for bombing. ''They say this is a piece of cake compared to what they had to do in 1991,'' he said.” On May 3, 2003, reporting on the appointment of Philip J. Carroll, of Dutch Shell, to “advise” the oil ministry, the Times reported: “The revival of Iraqi oil production, even partially, is crucial to restoring power and with it, water purificatio
Bollettino If you can get to it, read the Independent’s profile of Anna Politkovskaya. She is a Russian dissident, dur et pur. There are many reminders in the profile, actuated by the publication of a collection of pieces on Putin’s Russia, of just why Putin and Bush do see soul to soul. They are the same dreary blend of blinking, staring autocrat. Theirs are the souls that bloom like ragweed among cockeyed schemes for the big killing, the failure of which is inevitably narcotized by the intervention of some family friend, or bloat in the declining era of the organs of repression, looking for patrons. They both had their big chances not because of who they were, but because of who they weren’t. Bush wasn’t a Gingrich Republican; Putin was a policeman, but not the type to nab his boss (Yeltsin) for stealing the billion or so dollars his family made off with. A pair made in heaven. "My heroes are those people who want to be individuals but are being forced to be cogs a
Bollettino My friend T. tells us that we should certainly move on from the Derrida issue. And we agree, but having started up the old philosophic engine – disinterred from the grease and newspapers in the garage – we’ve been thinking more of philosophers than of, say, those two great purveyors of philosophy, George W Bush (ardent student of Jesus H. Christ) and John Kerry (ardent student of Walter Lippman and Donald Duck’s secret lovechild). There was an op ed piece in the NYT this morning by Mark Taylor to balance out the Derrida as abstruse charlaton obit on Sunday . Taylor gets off to a rocky start by making Derrida one of the three great 20th century philosophers – Wittgenstein and Heidegger get to be the other two. That’s plainly nonsensical – whatever one claims for Derrida, he is not a figure in the same league as Husserl, or Russell. And of course there’s the little problem that making up these lists is time that could be spent more profitably masturbating. Taylor does do so
Bollettino The last four years has been, in many ways, a gorgeous spectacle, a pageant of opportunities for the writer. Sometimes, government is bad. Sometimes, government is corrupt. But rarely are all branches of government as bad, as corrupt, as intellectually bankrupt, as willing to serve short term greed at the expense of any other priority, as soaked to the gills in an ethic of blind and lemming like selfishness, yoked to an astonishingly irrational messianism, as in the last four years. It is the culture of the coup. The rapture of the raptors, complete with all the dressings: the unctuous and ignorant Southerners, the Dems pawning their “liberalism” for a song, the demented likes of Zell Miller whose vacances from his accesses of fury are spent in amassing perks for Home Depot, upon whose board he will undoubtedly be ensconced when he retires in three weeks -- it is a zoo with the keepers fled. Was it like this under the Grant administration? LI got all Henry Adam-ish readin
Bollettino As our readers know, LI does like a good debunking. Which is why you should go to Christopher Lukasik’s “The Physiognomy of Biometrics” over at Commonplace and read about the pseudo-science into which the Defense Department is preparing to pour 11 billion dollars. Not that 11 billion is more than chump change at the Pentagon; but for us poor wankers at the LI office, 11 billion dollars is a lot of dough. We’d settle for, say, five and a half billion to pay the bills and such. Lukasik’s article starts out with a reading of an 18th century novel that we’d never heard of , Susanna Rowson’s The Inquisitor, or Invisible Rambler, which “recounts the experiences of a wealthy gentleman who, after complaining about the amount of duplicity in the world, is mysteriously given a ring that can turn him invisible. With the power of invisibility, the gentleman boasts that now "I should find my real friends, and detect my enemies." Our Rambler becomes a self-employed dete
Bollettino Bollettino We’ve been pondering the headline of the NYT’s Derrida obituary. The headline describes him as an “abstruse theorist” in an obvious and spiteful attempt not to describe him as a philosopher. No surprise that petty malice infected even the headline writer. But it did surprise me somewhat that nowhere on the web, at least that I’ve seen, has there been any attempt to improve on the ‘abstruse’ label. That Derrida’s writings are difficult is well known. Kant’s writings are difficult too. But by now any first year philosophy textbook can simplify Kant into a picture general enough to be taught without too much difficulty. Surely it isn’t that hard to do the same for Derrida. If one were to start, the effort would look something like this. A. Begin where Derrida begins. At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a programmatic turn against the naive positivistic account of the human sciences. In the nineteenth century, it was recognized that history
Bollettino Me demander de renoncer à ce qui m'a formé, à ce que j'ai tant aimé, c'est me demander de mourir. Dans cette fidélité-là, il y a une sorte d'instinct de conservation. Renoncer, par exemple, à une difficulté de formulation, à un pli, à un paradoxe, à une contradiction supplémentaire, parce que ça ne va pas être compris, ou plutôt parce que tel journaliste qui ne sait pas la lire, pas lire le titre même d'un livre, croit comprendre que le lecteur ou l'auditeur ne comprendra pas davantage et que l'Audimat ou son gagne-pain en souffriront, c'est pour moi une obscénité inacceptable. C'est comme si on me demandait de m'incliner, de m'asservir - ou de mourir de bêtise. -- Jacques Derrida, interview, Le Monde The headline in the Nouvelle Obs read: Disparition de Jacques Derrida, inventeur de la «déconstruction». Ah, Derrida might very well have smiled at that coupling of inventor and deconstruction. In a series of articles that appr