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Showing posts from May 15, 2005

Ruins and monuments of the Bush age

The week was pleasantly full of Bush age ironies. There was, first, the curious silence of the Bush administration regarding aging LBO king Perelman’s winning approximately 1.45 billion dollars from Morgan Stanley. Trivial law suits? Misuse of the courts? No, it is a misuse of the court when a man gets his arm sliced off in a meat factory and wins a million bucks from the jury. This is because the man is, originally, shit. Low class. A man who couldn’t make second place to a doorman position at one of the clubs Perelman belongs to. Basically, Bush’s liability reform is class warfare in the raw. Reform, whenever it comes out of the mouth of one of the Bush-ites, means entrenching and legalizing some corruption. Invariably. As anybody who pays attention knows, the big court losses are not to slaughter house workers or Mickey Dee’s customers assaulted by palsied clerks with hot coffee – they are to big corporate players. However, since the money circulates among the upper 1 percent in

odd man out at the orgy

Once, long ago, LI allowed ourselves to be talked into seeing one of the Star Wars series. We must have been in the late teens, early twenties. The blurry memory seems to indicate the talking into was done by a date. So we dipped our toe in the Great American Madness, and picked up from the experience a raging headache, aggravated by the squeals of Wookies. Besides those squeals, we have, honestly, no recollection of the business of the film whatsoever – the humans acting in it, the plot, if any, the S/FX justifying the whole sorry sequence. That we had watched a movie in which the dramatic momentum depended on things named Wookies seems, in retrospect, to eminently justify a little pain. Every time one of that series comes out, there is a rush of interest, a true and naïve interest, in a thing that has such an intrinsically uninteresting story line, and has such a taste for visual gimmickry wholly separate from a taste for visual beauty, that we… can’t figure it out. It makes us feel

poetry and rent seeking

Poetry is a mysterious thing. It can go underground for a century – as it did in eighteenth century France. In the U.S., poetry has always been capricious. What happened in the twentieth century was in some ways miraculous – yet, after the major poets of the forties generation started dying out, they weren’t replaced. Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, James Merrill – there’s no American poet, at the moment, of a remotely similar stature. There’s a factory mindset that worries about this – it is as if there were some production quota for sausages, lawn mowers and poets. In the absence of great poets, the American community has great poetry cabals. There’s a very nice article about this in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Thomas Bartlett . Alas, the article is entitled Rhyme and Unreason, instead of (dream on!) Poetry and Rent-seeking. And double alas, Thomas Bartlett, the author, didn’t seek out any economists for comment. But he nevertheless untangles a wonderfully tangled tale.

the sycophants ball

The Washington Post, in its infinite wisdom, decided to send a staff reporter to interview Phillip Johnson, the gray eminence behind the pseudo-science of Intelligent Design. This is interesting. Are they going to start letting the style section do reports on business, now? How about having a sports reporter do the Pentagon beat. The article, of course, betrays Michael Powell’s powerful eighth grade education in biology, and his charming belief, which probably won him prizes in high school, that a newspaper story doesn’t take sides -- it deals with both sides of the question. He even wrote a very good essay on that in his English class, and Ms. Figworth marked it VERY IMPRESSIVE! One doesn’t blame poor Mr. Powell – he truly seems prepared, if the question is, say, whether Star Wars one is better than Star Wars three – but the brothelkeeper who sent him on his task. As usual, the Washington Post’s response to the conservative establishment that runs D.C., now, is to fetch the bone. Th