Skip to main content


Showing posts from January 1, 2006

from pirate to preacher -- the civilizing mission

"Aged 44. Fell into sea … Witnessed by a lady called Mrs Foley with three young children. Body not found - weather terrible. Did not appear to attempt to swim. No visible efforts. Screams. She tried to reach down. Suddenly he was swept under and disappeared. He was upright in water. Was wearing boots." That was the end of one of LI’s favorite novelists, J.G. Farrell. It came in 1979, when he was at the height of his powers, having just finished Singapore Grip. LI reviewed Singapore Grip for Newsday a couple of years ago, in a summer Sunday supplement devoted to rediscovering older novels. Alas, a cursory search via Google and Factiva has found no trace of our compressed masterpiece, but we like to think that it did some good – after all, last year NYRB books reissued Singapore Grip, along with Troubles and The Siege of Krishnapur. These three books – one set in Singapore in 1940, one set in Ireland in 1920, and one set in India in1856 – made up Farrell’s Colonial trilogy. Th

B58/732 was pulled in by mistake

David Ignatius has a nice profile of Cheney’s Cheney, as he calls him: one David Addington. Addington has the typical cold war criminal’s profile: active in Casey’s CIA as the illegal operations were mounted against the Sandinistas, a big supporter of torture, the kind of enabler who emerges in certain historic situations – the dirty war in Argentina, the conservative support for the jihadis in Afghanistan – always on hand to make sure that the worst are not only full of passionate intensity but have the blowtorches and the electric generators they need to put in a good eight hours: “A special target of Addington's needling during the first term was John B. Bellinger III, at the time the chief legal adviser to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Addington would attack any sign of caution or wariness from Bellinger about proposed policies, breaking in to say, "That's too liberal," or "You're giving away executive power," remembers a colleague. Bel

Vince Young, mon amour

I saw the best football game I will ever see tonight. With rabid U.T. football fans, five babes and four year olds strewing toys all over the floor, and beer, which I wasn't planning on drinking this week (this was juice/purify the body week) in my belly and roaming the fretted paths of the consciousness. U.T. -- Champions. A lovely, lovely game. And Vince Young owns this town. ps Last night, I finagled a spot watching the Rose Bowl game with two friends who were going to a third friends house. The house was down in Kyle, in a new, rather raw subdivision, one of those cruel exposures of wood and glass and brick to the pitiless Texas sky, the trees and other vegetation having been thoroughly routed by bulldozer and just creeping back into precarious existence via the aboriculture of some of the more green-thumby householders. There were approximately four infants scattered around the living room, three of them appropriately dressed in burnt orange, before the large screen tv that c

any primary products for you today, ma'am?

If LI were Evo Morales – a thought out of H.G. Wells, no? – we would definitely be taking notes about the recent Russia-Ukraine tiff. Putin "hates" Mr Yushchenko and is happy to try to undermine him,” according to the Financial Times in an article that overviews the recent, slow return of resource companies to state control. State control does not mean total state control, however. It means that the state has a majority share in Gazprom and Rosneft, oil and gas groups. This, we think, is a logical fit for Russia. Both groups have private investors, but given the Russian national economy’s strengths and weaknesses, it never made sense to make Russia into neo-liberal heaven – consideration of the right mix of private to public enterprises should have made the state very cautious about giving away its crown jewels. In fact, no country in its right mind gives away its high value resource extraction industries – witness the recent dustup in this country when China made an offer f

philosophical taxonomy

Ophelia Benson at Butterflies and Wheel s made an ingenious, but we think ultimately misleading, comparison the other day in a post about Gene Sparling’s discovery that the ivory billed woodpecker is not extinct. She finds the story inspiriting – as we do. But the philosophical moral that she draws from it we find, well, unsatisfactory: “It's kind of a black swan story, kind of a story about falsification, and the difficulty or impossibility of being sure of a negative. It's about the fact we've talked about here more than once: the fact that not having found X does not necessarily mean there is no X to find. It could mean that, but it could just mean you haven't found it. And it can be very very difficult to know which.” OB adds to this notion of finding and falsification the notion of a scale of far-fetchedness: “Because Sparling wouldn't let himself think he'd seen what he suspected he'd seen, at first - in fact for quite awhile. Why? Because he didn&

the buzzard's prodigal relative

Opinion-makers are cheap. However, managing opinion-makers is still a profitable biz. Thus the interest in the unraveling of some of Lincoln Group’s tricks in today’s NYT. In the old days – the 1830s – the American expansionist typically inclined to coonskin caps, long rifles, the cheerfully racist views of slaveholders, and homespun penny sheets. Today’s filibusters are infinitely more sophisticated – at least, in their haberdashery. While the old filibusters would recognize a kindred spirit in the Lincoln Group, they would also frankly recognize that the group is a collection of carrion eating pinheads whose lack of conscience would embarrass a buzzard. Here is the Lincoln Group in a typical moment, cannibalizing the dead, rolling in their viscera and insulting their memory in Pakistan, according to the Pakistan Press: “Washington based Lincoln Group is demonstrating keen interest for continuous relief activity going on in quake hit areas of Azad Kashmir and NWFP. This was stated b

sentimental post

Happy New Years to all our readers. We realize that sometimes LI goes off on tangents. That we exaggerate. That we exhibit symptoms of mania that would do Dr. Caligari proud. That we misspell. That the complex grammatical structures into which we are sometimes forced (like troops retreating in disorder over a hostile landscape) sometimes collapse upon themselves and surrender without reaching the magical moment of meaning. But many of you come here anyway, if not day after day, at least with enough frequency that I am sometimes interviewed by people who want to know about blogs. Giving me an ersatz importance that I can look back upon with pride as I creep from day to day like one of Beckett’s tramps. Especially heartening are all the comments, the emails, and the financial support. Paul comes here and gives me a corrective Augustinian karate chop every once in a while, and I hope he isn’t disappointed that I have STILL not left off my Gnostic politics. Mr. T, LI’s far flung correspond