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Showing posts from October 23, 2005

turning thoreau on his head

LI likes to find out things that challenge what we thought we knew – especially if the challenge comes from the direction of what we think makes the most sense. Lately, there has been a lot of bustle made about Jared Diamond’s theories of the biological and material constraints on civilization. For those interested in such things, we’d urge you to pick up Charles Mann’s 1491. Mann is a journalist who has worked for Science and other magazines. His book is a great sweeping up of the new Americanist school that has emerged since the late fifties. This school takes its bearings from a demographic theory: the American continents were much, much more populous than the early 20th century anthropologists ever thought. The corollary is that the continents were de-populated. While the Americanist estimates of just how many people existed in the world Christopher Columbus bumped into, the old estimate of 10 million tops has long been trashed, and the new controversy is really about where to put

post coital, after the press conference post

Fitzgerald’s interview was a pretty impressive performance. With the spotlight on Cheney’s office, we hope some reporters will take a look at the Oil-for-food investigation that wrapped up this week. The headlines, of course, packaged the report in terms of nationalities – the dirty French, the dirty Russians. But that kind of packaging is a joke. Corporations involved in selling oil related equipment or buying oil from Iraq are necessarily of the scale to be multinationals. Our interest, really, is in the subsidiaries of Haliburton. We already know that, contrary to what Cheney claimed in the 2000 campaign, Haliburton companies Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll Pump did business with Iraq. And we know that after the Clinton administration blocked Haliburton from dealing with Iraq from its American base, Haliburton did an end run through France. The dirty officials in France have never properly suffered, but the corporations involved in propping up Saddam haven’t either. According to a WSJ su

Hephaestus, from Ida on Libby and Rove

When Clytemnestra announces the news that the city of Troy has been sacked to the chorus, who have been waiting uneasily for news, the chorus, a bunch of codgers, wants to know the source of her information. Was it a dream? These vieux garcons are a distrustful bunch, and obviously the intelligence systems have more than once spit out misleading omens and instructions. Then of course, there is the old festering scandal of the event that occurred right before the invasion of Troy, the sacrifice of Iphegenia, engineered by a technician of the divine, an early think tanker. Clytemnestra, like many a leader of many a coalition of the willing since, has obviously crucified her credibility on the power of back channel chatter and the self dealing of her hard to read heart. Here’s the Q and A between the Chorus and Clytamnestra: “Chorus But at what time was the city destroyed? Clytaemestra In the night, I say, that has but now given birth to this day here. Chorus And what messenger could

peak cynicism

Back in the glossy days when LI was a grad student, we wrote a master’s report in philosophy that made various approaches to Derrida. The first part of this report posed the question: why has eavesdropping never incited any philosophical interest? Contrast that to voyeurism, for instance – huge swathes of Sartre are devoted to peering at the voyeur who is peering at you. Anyway, we took up the task of eavesdropping, but – in keeping with the worst habit in our nature – we simply made a few fragmentary suggestions and moved on. Our idea was that foreclosing the possibility of eavesdropping is the central task of logocentrism – but don’t worry, we have no intention of plopping that down and going through all those dirty socks here. In any case, our report was gravid with suggestions that we never worked out. As my former roommate M. used to observe, LI always leaves food on our plate and always leaves some last dish or fork in the sink when we are cleaning the dishes. There is a sloth t

foreign policy, cheap

Info on contributions: Our friend and foil, Paul, wrote to us to express some confusion: do we want contributers to send money to LI via our Paypal button, or to go to Cafe Press and buy our tchothkes? Here's the deal. We'd like contributers to channel contributions through Paypal uhtil Novemember 15. The reason is that we would like to collect about 15 pledges, which will make it cheaper for us to buy and ship out the tchotchkes, t shirts, etc. After the 15th, however, we encourage shopping at the Cafe Press place and using their buttons and bells for purchase. So remember, if you want to contribute to this site, please do it through the Paypal button that you will find, if you are using IE6, on the sidebar. Returning you now to your regularly scheduled program. Brent Scowcroft’s interview with Paul Goldberger in the New Yorker has been going the rounds in the anti-war sphere. And in one way, that’s a good thing – LI believes that the anti-war movement has foolishly excluded

buchi della verita of edna, texas

A couple days ago, LI was perusing the collected radio speeches of Ronald Reagan, circa 1976-1979. Research, doncha know, for my novel. In any case, they were impressive, and happily distant from the ape-like norm that now rules the air waves on the right. The Gipper extolled Scottsdale, Arizona, for instance, for having a private fire fighting department. The Gipper said that this was part of trimming the government’s extension into sphere where they didn’t belong and functioned below par. The Gipper pointed out that the Labour government in Great Britain was turning, in desperation, away from the statist model and towards free enterprise. The Gipper pointed out that the Socialist party in Sweden had lost to the Conservatives, and this was because Sweden, in desperation, was turning away from the statist model and towards free enterprise. The Gipper went to Japan and was impressed with the work ethic, which he attributed to free enterprise. So, when I came upon the radio address about

begging, second week

Some Begging Those who pledged last week – and those who want to pledge to keep this site alive! (to use the overheated sales technique of public radio) can now look at the Café press site. The link is café . Please contribute – we have items for the top of your list of bric a brac and the bottom. Eventually, I will be putting a little book up in the shop – LI according to topics. That is, if there is any demand for such a thing. Café press can apparently print up texts, glue covers to em, and send them out. Just the thing to give a friend, an enemy, or someone who needs that special five inches of support to fit under a wobbly table. And … in one way or another … who doesn’t need a special five inches?

the messianic timetable

The spirit of the common place book is about one of those facts in the reader’s natural history: suddenly there will loom, out of one’s loose and general reading, some phrase or anecdote that seems mysteriously to signal one – a wink in the suddenly lighted up dark. The darkness descends again, the wink is registered. The reader continues, spending a portion of his life in one book or another. LI received one of those winks from the beyond while reading this in Mark Mazower’s Salonica: “In 1524, a mysterious Jewish adventurer called David Reuben arrived in Venice and presented himself as prince of one of the lost tribes of Israel. He gained an audience with the Pople and told the Holy Roman Emperor to arm the Jews so that they might regain Palestine. Crossing his path was an even less modest figure – a Portugese New Christian called Diego Pires. After rediscoving his Jewish roots and changing his name to Solomon Molcho, he studied the Kabbalah in Salonica with some of the city’s most

chronicle of a war crime foretold

In Dexter Filkin’s depressing NYT Magazine piece about the murder of Zaydoon Fadhil – which thinks it is a depressing NYT Magazine piece about the downfall of Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman – there are several “admissions” about the way the war is being conducted in Iraq that are especially strange coming from a paper that routinely reports on the death of Iraqis just as the Pentagon labels them. If the Pentagon blows away 100 people on the Syrian border, then 100 insurgents are killed, and that is that. No hint of such things as this: “On a mission in January 2004, a group of Sassaman's soldiers came to the house of an Iraqi man suspected of hijacking trucks. He wasn't there, but his wife and two other women answered the door. "You have 15 minutes to get your furniture out," First Sgt. Ghaleb Mikel said. The women wailed and shouted but ultimately complied, dragging their bed and couch and television set out the front door. Mikel's men then fired four antitank missile