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Showing posts from February 19, 2006

Our bodies, God's hand, or the doctor's

Some people think of oil when they think of Houston. Some think of millionaires, some think Bush, some think Enron. But those plugged into the deeper level of American psychopathology think: breast augmentation. Yes, more symbolic than the Menil, than Enron Tower, than Houston rap or dayglo lowrider graffiti, down in the dreamzone where symbol converts into matter and matter into symbol, is the discovery, in 1963, of a silicon gel breast “protheses” to replace the old sponges, the old transfer of fats. It was invented by Houston surgeons Thomas Cronin and Frank Gerow. By this time silicon had already emerged as the techno-edge element, but while those Bell lab boys were playing with the response of silicon to light and electricity, Houstonites knew there was a better world a-comin’. A world of hi tech infantilization that would eventually sweep the country. Or as the account of the correspondence between Dow chemical and our Houston surgeons observes, soberly: “Although implants wer

weasels fighting in a hole

None of these exit strategies will work for the simple reason that they are based on an unrealisable ambition: to have the Iraqi cake and eat it. All the Bush and Blair strategies are based on maintaining a pro-US regime in Baghdad. -- Sami Ramadani, Guardian. All of the U.S. papers have been touting the civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites in Iraq, and some of them have even stopped and listened, with headshaking American grins, to certain indications that the natives blame the Americans. Well, that takes the cake. Really. We are only there to help the little people. This is so evidently outside the realm of reality that reality itself must be censored. So, as Ramadi points out, while the Americans view themselves as standing between Iraq and civil war, there is the little business of what the Iraqis are doing themselves. From the Guardian: “It has not been Sunni religious symbols that hundreds of thousands of angry marchers protesting at the bombing of the shrine have target

money makin' ideas for the AEI to consider

Being broke at the moment, LI has been in search of a surefire source of revenue. And then it occurred to us: what kind of pro-active, pro-business response to global warming would warm the hearts of rightwing moneybags and bring in the checks? Surely the thing to do is controlled volcanic management! We keep our cars, SUVs and coal generated plants going along at full carbon tilt, toss in a few atom bombs into the crater of some isolated volcano every year or so, and get the wonderfully cooling effect of pumping “sufficient amounts of ash into the air.” This package has everything: major manipulation of nature, atom bomb use, and a pro-carbon agenda. We are writing to the Scaife foundation for a grant right away! Happy days are here again! From the Washington Post Q and A with Eugene Linden, author of Winds of Change : Q: “As I've followed the global warming/climate change discussion, three historically based questions have always interested me. First, the drop in temperatures fr


There’s a peculiar moral deadness in the use of Nazi Germany as a standard of evil. It is as if, before the Nazis murdered six million Jews, a million gypsies, twenty million Russians, etc., etc., we didn’t know that mass murder was bad. As if the destruction of the American Indians and deaths of millions of Africans in the slave trade and the rubber business had happened in pre-lapsarian times, where every murder was blessed by the tooth fairy. This is why I generally try not to compare what is happening here or there with the Nazis. Which is an intro to doing exactly that… Lately, I’ve been watching Heimat, the German movie series made in the late seventies, I believe. Heimat covers a German village, and particularly the large Simon family (who sometimes threaten to enlarge to the point of incomprehensibility, particularly after the WWII episodes). It is a reminder of how a morally disgusting regime, one looking for excuses to wage pre-emptive war, one spending a monstrous amount on

perestroika in the Cold Warrior set

The National Interest is as central to neoconservatism as the Starship Enterprise is to Star Trek – so the readers of the winter issue might well have wondered if the Borg had invaded the captain’s quarters. In an article entitled, Jihad, Unintended, Dmitri Simes, the president of the Nixon Center, gave a brief, unvarnished account of our “heroic” intervention in Afghanistan in the 80s that could have appeared in Counterpunch. In fact, his notion that the U.S. lured the Soviet’s into Afghanistan has appeared in Counterpunch. It is on short list of fun facts to know and tell that no Chomskyite can leave home without: “ACCORDING TO former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, now one of the most acerbic critics of President Bush's handling of both Iraq and radical Islam, the Carter Administration authorized a covert CIA operation, notwithstanding an expectation that it would provoke a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In an interview in Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998, Brzezins

a pygmy speaks

Foreign policy is one of those areas in which pygmies are treated as giants. This, LI thinks, is the reason “Frank” Fukuyama has such an outsized reputation. I might be unfair – I am judging him on the basis of the only one of his books I have read: The Great Disruption. Fukuyama's theme is a cockamamie attempt to cast the postwar period, the West’s Magic time (les trentes glorieuses, as the French say) as a time of Hobbesian insecurity. To distort history like this, you have to go to ridiculous extremes – and I remarked on one of them on my review of the book in the Austin Chronicle. It should be remarked that the distortion of history by the right, here, is consistent with their effort to distort the EU economy as it works now -- both are ways of embedding a corporationist conservatism as a sort of utopian template. That in fact the European health systems work so much better than the American that the comparison is laughable (same with workers rights, pensions, etc.), and that t
Well, here’s a sad confession for you: LI didn’t attend the historians against the war conference. It isn’t because times are tight – an LI reader thoughtfully offered us the ready. It is because the weather is cold, and LI has this thing about biking through 40 degree weather on the off chance that we will be able to see a panel discussion to which we may be barred, for lack of registration. Besides which, the other top ten thing on the list of what we don’t do is we don’t get up early – or at least, we don’t do that well. We did get up and think, okay, time to hit the 8:55 a.m. session, but then our will slumped, and generally we proved that we would never have built the British empire or laid the tracks of the transcontinental railroad by drifting off. Sorry! I’m more of a big rock candy mountain guy in my heart, a descendent of one of those Brueghel peasants, dreaming of the fruit falling into my mouth. My scythe is rusting in the grass, and I feel the trickle of sand through t