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Showing posts from October 16, 2005

Humean reflections

There were a couple posts at the Long Sunday blog this week making the case for Hume being a precursor of postmodernism. The term “postmodernism” brings out LI’s virtuoso middle aged sighing – as a veteran of the 80s, I can’t countenance a thing that was surely fossilized by 1990, and whose reappearance has all the appeal of a remake of the Friday the 13th series . However, in making critical comments about this view of Hume, I re-read Hume’s famous essay, That Politics May be Reduced to a Science and found the essay pretty surprising. Surprising, that is, if you have a view of the Enlightenment in which that phrase in the Declaration of Independence, “the pursuit of happiness,” plays a central role. I think that anyone looking at the political nature of the Atlantic revolutions – in North America, France and Haiti – has to take that phrase seriously. Which is why we were rather shocked that Hume introduces this disjunction between what you might call the aggregate level of virtue amo

turning in clusters

It is nice to begin the weekend on a note of Ionesco like absurdity, which is why I am grateful to Judy Miller’s attorney for adding a new twist to the 1th amendment in the form of the codicil that Ms. Miller was fighting for her freedom not to report her story at all. Not content with acquiring a special security clearance from the Pentagon, Miller also seemed to think she was entitled to a special get out of jail card simply for being employed by the Times. Luckily, Miller’s mind didn’t drift to knocking over convenience food stores, which is also apparently covered by the 1st amendment. That’s some amazing amendment. However, there is some life at the Times suddenly. One of LI’s commentators remarked last week that the much maligned Maureen Dowd was obviously restive about the Times inexplicable bondage to one reporter. Today, Dowd’s column was a little shot across the bow: “The Times's story and Judy's own first-person account had the unfortunate effect of raising more que

Notes on fundraising

This week so far LI's received six pledges. Yesterday, I was going to put up a link to the Cafe Press shop, to direct pledgers, but Harry told me my original idea of taking the pledges, going to the shop, ordering the shirts and shipping them to the pledgees would be wasteful. Anyway, the link will soon be up. Remember as you toss your coins into that blind beggar's cup today, hurrying out of your office building into your limo, to toss LI various currencies, too. Or, if you are the blind beggar in this situation, cull us out some of the ready tonight, as you are going through your day's take.

not that deep

“J. T. Battenberg III, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Delphi Corporation, USA, said corporate governance has changed. Boards tended to be less attentive in the past, but they are now paying very close attention to financial reports and probing deeply into the organization. "I have to force myself to really guard my time accordingly,"he remarked. CEOs need to maintain focus on the entrepreneurial, risk-taking spirit necessary for growth. Battenberg also said the board must have an intimate relationship with the CEO. He finds "few boards do a good job establishing a relationship with the CEO or even among themselves." He is working on ways to improve relationships among members of the boards on which he serves, but finds peer evaluations "difficult for old friends." -- from the World Economic Forum, "Do Ceos earn their keep?" .................... George Will has never been shy about his contempt for the working class

No. 2

In 1998, at a time when her country was mired in hyperinflation, Valya Chervenyashka left her rural Bulgarian village and went to work as a nurse in Benghazi, Libya, for $250 a month, to pay for her daughters' college education. Today, Ms. Chervenyashka and four other Bulgarian nurses, as well as a Palestinian doctor whose family moved to Libya in 1967, are under a death sentence in a Libyan jail and facing a firing squad, accused of intentionally infecting more than 400 hospitalized Libyan children with the AIDS virus, in order, according to the initial indictment, to undermine Libyan state security. They were also charged with working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. "Nurses from little towns in Bulgaria acting as agents of Mossad?" said Antoanetta Ouzounova, 28, one of Ms. Chervenyashka's daughters. "It all sounds funny and absurd until you realize your mother could die for it." Although the motive of subversion has since been dropped, the de

excerpt three

I'm running behind on everything. I meant to put this excerpt up this Sunday, but indignatio gnawed at my bones: this happens when I read the Sunday NYT. Anyway, here's the next excerpt from my novel in progress: Jealous God – Chapter 8 Pike Sterling -- a square jaw, a broad brow, pepper and salt hair at forty – the man was prematurely graying. But his evenly tan skin was robust, was youthful, he bounced along, he always walked down polished halls swiftly, the corridors of power where the colored janitors are keeping the tiles clean or the dusty little passages to the records rooms of old creaky courthouses, he was always proud of his energy, he always kept a watch on his waistline, and he was proud, too, that he wasn’t just finicky about eating, he could eat, his intake of grease in a week, of fries, burgers, when he was on the road, steaks, potatoes, butter, he preferred nice things but he could eat with both the high and the low and had to in his job, but the thing is he d

about sewage...

Yesterday, a friend of mine from my salad days in grad school pledged – so LI is up to two pledges, now, approximately 100 bucks! This friend, he witnessed my self damaging narcissistic flameout from the corridors of the good, the true and the beautiful. As any Freudian will tell you, masochistic narcissists are the worst: St. Sebastians demanding a mirror. Anyway, D., I want to thank you. I’ll email you with a few questions about the t shirt later today. I have been thinking of other enticing goodies besides t shirts, by the way. I think that LI will collect some of the series posts – the posts about the invasion of Iraq, the posts about James Fitzjames Stevens, the posts about Libya, etc. – and create a little series archive, where they would be accessible, and put in order. Enough of that. … As we all know, Judy Miller, a St. Sebastian with a mirror if there ever was one, is all about press freedom. Is all about leaking in the name of press freedom. Is all about stripping dissenters

The Guarantor State

Last week, I wrote two posts about the two mysteries embedded in our current social order. For the convenience of the reader, I am going to repost them after this post. … The mask under which the American social order has changed, in the last twenty-five years, is that of the scale of government. It is either in the favoring the bigness or the littleness of the state that conservatives are supposedly divided from liberals. This mask disguises the very contours of what really happened, but in that it has served its purpose. The end of the old, Keynesian order in the seventies did not arise from the extraordinary size of the state. Rather, it arose from a very traditional capitalist crisis, one which the economists had thought to have managed away: the falling rate of profit. To use just one index: the New York Stock market, which peaked for the decade at the beginning of 1973. By the end of 1974, the Dow Jones Industrial average was 30% lower than it had been in 1964. It wasn’t until 1

ductus of the zeitgeist -- 2

“If you people wouldn’t have drunk it,” Dalitz said thickly, “ I wouldn’t have bootlegged it.” Moe Dalitz before the Kefauver Commission on organized crime, explaining why he sold liquor during the prohibition. From “The Money and the Power” by Sally Denton and Roger Morris. The second mystery – see my Thursday post -- to which I want to point my showman’s cane (see it tremble in my palsied grip) is that of the developmental lag. I think this mystery complicates any simple conclusions we can make from the first mystery, which, if you will remember, is the mystery of how, as we become richer, we become collectively poorer. If there were only one mystery here, then the answer would be pretty simple. We’d just look to the tradition of class conflict for our answers. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple. Instead, our two mysteries are enjambed, intertwined like two dogs in heat. They form a matrix. It would be nice for me to be able to say, well, Reagan was just an upper class stoog

the ductus of the zeitgeist

Every social order depends on a social mystery. The conservative wants to preserve that mystery. The Marxist wants to expose it. The liberal, like me, wants to palpate it a bit. There are two mysteries in the current social order. One mystery is rather obvious bunk. The mystery goes like this: although Western economies are getting wealthier and wealthier, in comparison to, say, the economies of the 1950s, we are told that we are too poor to maintain the social welfare programs that we once took for granted. We are, in other words, getting richer and richer only to be collectively poorer and poorer. Now, one doesn’t have to be an ardent Marxist to question this story. Instead, one might ponder how we expect to maintain a social system in which the multiple of greater wealth taken home by upper management versus the average worker has zoomed from 12 times to about 400 times in the U.S. The increase in collective poverty is, of course, relative. Since this mystery has a readily understa


Fund Raising Week, Month, Whatever Okay, ladies and germs. LI’s official fundraising week is kicking off. Harry has pretty much told me how to put together LI’s product line and what the contribution thresholds should be. The man has bowled me over with his web canniness. Here's how this is going to work. I am setting up an account with Cafe Press. I'll put the link to that account up this week. So it will be possible to go directly to the Cafe Press and simply choose your items. Or you can go through me, telling me what you want and where you want your item shipped. So, here’s the list: We are offering, to those who fork over 50 bucks, the organic t shirt here: To those who fork over 30 bucks, the regular t shirt shown on our stunning model, here: Of course, those who want multiple t shirts for Halloween, Christmas, The feast of the platypus messiah day, etc. – all your favorite Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Sex positive holidays – should tell me. Those who want the Dopamin

sell or smoke dope, get out of jail free

LI’s recommended read: In the LAT today , there is a piece by the ex police chief of Seattle Washington, Norm Stamper, that lays out the case for legalizing drugs. Not just pot – heroin, meth, etc. Cops aren’t usually this sensible. But occasionally a man comes forward who can add and subtract. “As a cop, I bore witness to the multiple lunacies of the "war on drugs." Lasting far longer than any other of our national conflicts, the drug war has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Republican and Democratic administrations, with one president after another — Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush — delivering sanctimonious sermons, squandering vast sums of taxpayer money and cheerleading law enforcers from the safety of the sidelines. It's not a stretch to conclude that our draconian approach to drug use is the most injurious domestic policy since slavery. Want to cut back on prison overcrowding and save a bundle on the construction of new facilities? Open the do

Miller time again

First things first: Guy Baehr is the chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists that is giving Judy Miller a 1st Amendment prize next week. This is his email: This is his official address: Guy Baehr Assistant Director Journalism Resources Institute Rutgers University of New Jersey 4 Huntington St. New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1071 I’ve written him to tell him that I think that the award stinks. I’d urge others to let Mr. Baehr know what this award says about the standards of professional journalists. Surely there are writers for KBR Techtalk , Haliburton’s inhouse newsletter, more deserving of the prize. Second: although, as an old fan of closing the CIA down permanently, I have a hard time getting too lathered about betraying CIA assets in Africa – in fact, given the CIA’s record in Angola, in South Africa, in Mozambique, in Tanzania, etc., etc., and I even find it wonderfully inspiriting that the rightwing is adopting the tactics of the Yippies with regard to tha