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Showing posts from January 29, 2006

does it work?

From Suite venitienne Sophie Calle is a French conceptual artist. There’s a good article on Sophie Calle in the winter Cultural Geographies (“Sophie Calle’s art of following and seduction” by Janet Hand). Here are some of Calle’s pieces: Hotel, 1981 “On Monday, February 16, 1981 I was hired as a temporary chambermaid for three weeks in a Venetian hotel. I was assigned twelve bedrooms on the fourth floor. In the course of my cleaning duties, I examined the personal belongings of the hotel guests and observed through details lives which remained unknown to me. On Friday, March 6 the job came to an end.” Hand adds this detail: “The hotel, then, takes the form of a photographic and diaristic series describing her intimate encounters with the business and personal possessions of guests whilst working in the hotel.” In The sleepers (1979) she photographed sleeping people. In The address book (1983), “Calle used a ‘found’ address book to follow ‘virtually’ the man to whom the book belonged

house of cards, 4 br, 3 ba, 1/2 acre lot

Marty Feldstein is not an economist I particularly like – an old Reagan apparatchik – but he does have an interesting column in the Financial Times today. He poses a problem: why didn’t the oil increases spark an economic downturn? He answers this by pointing to one unexpected benefit of Alan Greenspan’s bubble: “The key to the economy's strength in 2004 and 2005 was that household saving declined dramatically while the price of oil rose. Household saving fell from 2.5 per cent of after-tax income in the third quarter of 2003 to a remarkable minus 1.8 per cent two years later. This 4.3 per cent shift of after-tax income was equal to a rise in consumer spending equal to 3 per cent of GDP. In dollar terms, saving fell from a Dollars 205bn (Pounds 115bn) annual rate in the third quarter of 2003 to dissaving at a rate of Dollars 159bn two years later. This shift of Dollars 364bn in the annual rate of saving far outstripped the fall in income caused by the higher cost of oil. This fall

the new civil libertarians

Chris Bertram has a very good take on the controversy about the Muhammed cartoons It nicely breaks down the hypocrisy involved in this sudden overflow of support for civil liberties. Myself, I am astounded by the sudden enthusiasm for freedom of speech by a crowd that has just been busily arguing that the Executive branch in the U.S. has a perfect right to listen to all our telephone conversations and read all of our email – but it turns out there is one right that is precious, and that is to show funny pics of Muhammed. All very well, too, to condemn those ultra-violent Islamists who murdered Theo Van Gogh. We are so with you, brothers and sisters! B.. but how about the U.S. Military murder of Tariq Ayoub? Somehow, this topic seems not to launch a thousand impassioned blogs. And certainly the U.S. military, who investigated the U.S. military and found to its satisfaction that the U.S. military was doing a damn fine job, doesn’t figure on anybody’s list of terrorist threats to fre

this I believe... oh yeah

Notes Still more about the SOTU. LI stands for very little positive legislation, but we do believe strongly in one law. It should certainly be mandated that before every State of the Union Speech, the opening montage from Seven Beauties should be shown. No commentary from the commentariat, just the montage, those wonderful bombings, the destroyed cities, Hitler and Mussolini shaking hands, the fleeing masses escaping strafing of fighter planes, and that jazzy score, and the Italian chant with the English tag, oh yeah, on the end of every line ("The ones who don't enjoy themselves, even when they laugh. Oh yeah./ The ones who worship the corporate image, not knowing that they work for someone else. Oh yeah. /The ones who should have been shot in the cradle... Pow! Oh yeah. The ones who say 'Follow me to success, but kill me if I fail... so to speak.' Oh yeah.) It would add a bit of reality to the theatre, blood to the abstract threats of blood. And we would know what

Fluff and Circumstances

So the president followed his bliss last night. I missed it. I no longer have the stomach to watch Bush go the nine rounds with the English language. The English language has the odds, the weight, and the experience, while the President takes the body blows and collapses at the end. What was once funny is now the kind of thing that some society to prevent cruelty to the animals should surely look into. I imagine he was heavily applauded for making the usual adolescent tough remarks about the rest of the world. I imagine he did not refer to Pioneer Jack Abramoff as a close and important friend. Was it last year, or the year before that the axis of evil shifted to steroids being used by switch hitters? Well, I imagine the steroid references were dropped. At least this year he has laid off proposing doing away with other New Deal and Great Society programs. Although proposing doing away with his own pill company entitlement program would actually garner a blip in the polls. Instead of w

la vie francaise

"The periodical press has been, as is its nature to be, only an instrument of disorder and sedition. . . . The press has thus disseminated disorder into the most upright minds, shaken the firmest convictions, and produced in the midst of society, a confusion of principles that yields to the most sinister attempts. Thus by anarchy of doctrines, it prepares anarchy in the state." – Report to the King, July 25, 1830, from Spectacular Realities : Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-siècle Paris by Vanessa Schwartz.. The story in Bel Ami is pretty simple. It is another story about a man rising to social success using the instruments of capitalism. This story, in an English novel, would be about the ‘natural’ rise of this man, through either a death (an inheritance) or sex (a marriage). In France, death and sex are wrenched from their natural poles – they are manipulated in one way or another. The English illusion that the peculiar stratifications of class respond to a natural order is, i


At the moment, in the street outside my window actors are strolling around, clothed in what looks like some vintage 70s gear. The trucks showed up Saturday. The dressing truck, I suppose. A truck from which wires extend. A house up the street has black paper tacked up on the front, and cameras in the yard. In the back yard, this morning, there was a picnic atmosphere. As far as I can tell, there are no name stars – although I might have just missed them or not recognized them in the cruel natural sunlight. Moviemaking seems to consist largely of people wandering up and down with cell phones held to their ears, making self conscious dialogue. The best thing I’ve heard so far was a young woman saying they have to be naked in this scene. Both of them. I’m not sure what I dislike more: the businessman’s approach to cell phones, which is basically to carry on in public spaces by an astonishing immersion into the mechanics of private conversation – yelling, a lot of “fuck” this and that, and

more fun ...

I’m going to do something different … I planned to pick through the recent controversies at the WAPO over the ombudsman’s remarks about Abramoff, and the response to those remarks by readers and blogs, and the rather astonishing response in turn by various WAPO appartchiks. But then I thought, that’s no fun. The point is to try to get a half nelson on the growth of media criticism as a form of politics. LI wanted to use the article by Singh, et al, to complicate, complexify, lye and dye the matter of media, where at one time we made our bread and where, even now, we keep the sly hand in – today, for instance, we should have something in the Austin Statesman. Or is that going to be next week? And something in the Raleigh News and Observer. But that seems all so boring. Instead, why not segregate out that stuff from Singh et al (and yes, we do like writing Singh et al – it’s a Here Comes Everybody moment) about the constituencies and then apply it to a paper we know more about than WAPO

Enron, the Washington Post, Oprah

“On August 27, 2002, the LAUSD board voted unanimously to ban the sale of soft drinks on its campuses, which included 677 schools with 748,000 students.” Which is the center of a case study on trust done by Jagdip Singh, Jean E. Kilgore, Rama Jayanti, Kokil Agarwal and Ramadesikan Gandarvakottai and published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. Actually, there are two case studies described in “What Goes Around Comes Around: Understanding Trust--Value Dilemmas of Market Relationships,” but the Coke case is more fascinating to me, simply because Coke’s struggle to retain its “pouring rights” in schools was a sorta typical 'we want to own your soul" corporate ploy. As the authors put it: “Although Coke attracts a wide variety of consumer segments, our focus is the youth segment, especially school-going children. Children ages 5-14 spend $35 billion each year and influence the spending of approximately $200 billion annually (Harvey 2000; Rosenberg 2001). In an aggress