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Showing posts from August 27, 2006

the old English magicians and ours

William Lilly, the English astrologer and the last of the great English magicians, was called before a Committee of the House of Commons in 1666. It had been noticed that the eighth plate of his book, Monarchy or No Monarchy, published in 1651, “represented persons digging graves, with coffins and other emblems of mortality, and the thirteenth a city in flames. Hence it was inferred that he must have had something to do with the Great Fire which had destroyed so large a part of London, if not with the Plague, which had almost depopulated it.” In response to a question from the chairman of the committee, Lilly explained that he had written the book after Charles I was beheaded, and sought to depict the future of England, as revealed to him by his stellar sources. “At last, having satisfied myself as well as I could, and perfected my judgment therein, I thought it most convenient to signify my intentions and conceptions thereof in Forms, Shapes, Types, Hieroglyphics, etc., without an

more fun boy-boy girl-girl boy-girl action in Iraq!

If the Dems are serious about censuring Rumsfeld (something that should have been done, oh, on September 12, 2001), then they might well want to get their list of offences from Robert Looney’s article in Strategic Insights, the journal of the Naval Postgraduate School. Discard Looney’s major new idea in the article, another fixer upper suggestion that begs the entire question of means – Looney would like to see Iraq adopt an Alaska style distribution of oil wealth to every member of the population. That’s fine and dandy, and perhaps Looney might consider running on that platform in Basra – except, of course, that if he landed in Basra, he would literally be running for his life. Like others of the ‘reformer-bots’ that have sprung up in the last twenty five years, Looney comes ready programmed with the neo-liberal default settings, which is the plug and play standard in D.C. (we must be brave and wise/and always, always privatize!) as they intone in their mass think tanker meetings. O

an experiment in mercenary war - Iraq

This is how Emir de Vatel, the eighteenth century military writer, defines mercenaries: “Mercenary soldiers are foreigners voluntarily engaging to serve the state for money, or a stipulated pay. As they owe no serve to a sovereign whose subject they are not, the advantages he offers them are their solve motive. By enlisting they incur the obligation to serve him; and the prince on his part promises them certain conditions which are settled in the articles of enlistment.” In Mercenaries, Pirates and Sovereigns, Janice Thompson describes the conditions that gave rise to the great use of mercenaries by the European kingdoms: “Scholars agree that feudalism’s constraints on military service wre a major inducement for monarchs to turn to mercenaries. Whatever its other drawbacks, the feudal military system was based on the principle of defense. Knights were duty-bound to serve only a very limited amount of time – something like forty days a year – but, more importantly, were not obligated

casualty rates in Iraq -- what is that about?

There has been a rather disappointing discussion going on at Crooked Timber about a Washington Post article by Samuel H. Preston and Emily Buzzell about the casualty rate in Iraq. Kieran Healy attacks them, I think justly, for this passage : “Between March 21, 2003, when the first military death was recorded in Iraq, and March 31, 2006, there were 2,321 deaths among American troops in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent were a result of action by hostile forces. Troops spent a total of 592,002 “person-years” in Iraq during this period. The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq. … One meaningful comparison is to the civilian population of the United States. That rate was 8.42 per 1,000 in 2003, more than twice that for military personnel in Iraq. "The comparison is imperfect, of course, because a much higher fraction of the American population is elderly and subject to higher death rates from degene

late breaking news

The World Wide News breaks the story first. The New York Times and The Washington Post both have egg on their faces, although of course the NYT have now assigned the crack team of Adam Nagourney and Elizabeth Bumiller to find the gypsy and ask her if her spells are the reason that, every time they are around the President, he just seems so big, strong, and competent. My sources tell me that the gypsy has been thinking of placing a curse on UFOBreakfast . Don't be suprised if the tone, there, radically shifts to one of squirrel-o-philia. Rumor has it that Mr. Scruggs is writing a sonnet sequence to a certain H.C., beginning, "Like a man struggling vainly in a pillory/so is my heart bound to you, oh my Hilary."

a request

Our filmic friend at CoolSeason gave us some very valuable comments on the first 25 panels of our graphic novel. If any other member of the LI community (somehow, I started laughing when I wrote that phrase. Okay, the LI cult, sect, cell, cenacle, salon, militia – the LI al qaeda, our own base so help us Lucifer), please email me, and I will email them to you. I am fighting my way, in the GN, towards a clearer storyline, but it must ultimately sustain the load of anger and end-of-time angst that is supposed to detonate in the reader’s head, heart, and bowels. D., my illustrator, and me want to launch a virus that will end the war, bring down the military, return the country to the old time constitutional division of powers, and reverse the fatal trajectory towards destroying the planet's atmosphere and fresh water supply. Baby steps, really.

Solnit

Come on, fuck that NYT Magazine article this morning. Trust me – don’t you trust me? Read this article by Rebecca Solnit in Orion magazine instead. Let’s begin with one of the statistics: “The California Gold Rush clawed out of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada considerable gold—93 tons or 2.7 million troy ounces in the peak year of 1853 alone, an estimated 973 tons or 28.4 million troy ounces by 1858, more than 3,634 tons or 106 million troy ounces to date.” My brothers used to be in apartment maintenance. Now, standard practice calls for a quick clean up, laying new carpet and a possible paint job once your resident has vacated his place. If the resident was a smoker, inevitably the paint job followed, since the smoke would stain the walls. This is the literal materialization of human aura, but it isn’t just your renter and his Camels. No, we leave our indelible imprint on the landscape long after we have tidily tucked away the event. In human time, measured by the fingernail and