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Showing posts from May 13, 2007

The exacta - For North

Go Rimbaud and go Johnny go! The exacta: 1. Street Sense 2. Curlin 3. King of the Roxy The last named didn’t race at the Derby, and I know, I know that Hard Spun will be out there, biting Street Sense’s flank. Deep in my gut, I have deep doubts about my horsey’s chance of winning this time. On the other hand, he’s a balanced horse. I like his views about getting out of Iraq now, nationalizing health care, and the hydrogen fuel cell. Street Sense is also all about Jackson Pollack, his favorite painter, and mine. Curlin is a strong horse. Everybody knows he’s a strong horse. He does one hundred push ups every night before he goes to bed. If somebody is going to beat my horsey, it will be Curlin. It might be a KO. Curlin not so secretly wants to be a boxer, having once said, "fuck racin'! I can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." He has also stolen milk money from other horseys in the stables. Bad pony! Finally, King of the Roxy. Since all eyes are gonna be on

abusing president backbone

An old friend and foil of LI wrote us an email the other day, asking how we were doing and whether we were still lobbing insults at the president. The question made us hang our head in shame. In fact, a quick survey of LI backpages lately will show an astonishing paucity of commentary about that human equivalent of the green garbage fly, the POTUS. President Backbone. Or, as he was known to the prophet Isaiah, a drunken man who staggereth in his own vomit. We might as well confess: we’ve reached the limit with the old pissingpost. The burden of the torchsinger’s song needn’t be some magnificent object, nor does it need to arouse the deepest sentiments. A song I learned as a lad and could still sing for you on a long car trip, as my friend D. can testify, commemorates a bad day at the races for some slack rounder who didn’t bet on Old Stewball, but took the odds on favorites, the gray mare and the bay. Now, this isn’t the kind of news that should lend its impress to the collective

holy and unholy fools in the streets

- Sophie Calle, Les dormeurs Okay. To summarize our last post, Fred Hirsch proposed that, enfolded within the material economy, there is a positional economy, one derived from and dependent on social hierarchy. This is a broader notion than Ann Krueger’s rent-seeking, which was also being floated by the neo-classicals in the 70s, but you can see how they dovetail with one another. While Krueger thinks the extraction of rents is ‘non-productive’, Hirsch is saying, in effect, that Krueger is using the criteria of the material economy to analyze the positional economy, and that won’t do. In fact, there are positional goods and services, and one of the key drivers of the material economy since the dawn of capitalism has been positional competition. Well, LI could spell out the current political implications of Hirsch’s notion – but we’d prefer to apply Hirsch’s notion to the little thread of history that LI has made its little theme over the past six months. If you take the positional econ

a gloss on the political hocus pocus of our time

Back in the 70s – the era that suckled LI, and that provides the whole framework for Bolano’s great novel, which all should read, The Savage Detectives, and all should talk about, bringing an end of all talking about 300 and Spiderman, enough enough enough! – an economist named Fred Hirsch wrote a tract reflecting the time and the mores entitled The Social Limits of Growth. And then, of course, they came from nowhere – or from Pentagonia – the Reaganauts, and for the past thirty years the only discourse about Growth is how we are blessed its many wonders to behold. Meanwhile, we laid claim to another piece of the atmosphere to store our car exhaust and coal exhaust shit, destroyed the Aral Sea, depleted the Ogallala Acquifer, and etc., etc. This week, LI is going to say some things about Hirsch’s idea of positional goods. It is an idea that has its ancestry in institutional economics and Veblen, but Hirsch was a post-World War II economist, a quantifier, and he wanted a more specifi

Jerry Fallwell goes to heaven

In other news - Jerry Fallwell did make it to heaven. He was admitted as part of an affirmative action program for the delusional. "We try to encourage diversity among our heavenly hosts," according to Peter, a spokesman for Heaven. "Oftentimes people have the most astonishing preconceptions about our admission system. Jehovah is going to be unveiling an advertising campaign this fall to reinvigorate interest in the Heaven brand. Heaven: it's not just for losers! There's a whole generation out there who think, well, I'm scorin' dope, I'm fucking anything that moves, and I voted for gay marriage. I'm bound to go to hell. Au contraire! If people only knew: our older alum were whacked out on anything from morning glory seeds to starvation in the desert - that's a real high! - and as for sex, well, we've assimilated cultic prostitutes, self castrators and everybody in between! In fact, we are trying to combat the idea that Jehovah is particula

Come back!

If you see any of these little things humming around, tell them how very very very very very grateful you are, and that you want them to come back!

God in the Zoo

At various points in my life, I’ve called myself a Christian, an atheist, an agnostic, and a Spinozan. I have never found God an indifferent proposition in any guise, although I have often thought that the habit of attributing the name God to objects of such vast and conflicting variety must say something about, at the very least, our systems of classification. I won’t get all deconstructive on your ass (as the policeman said to the monkey), but it is no accident that the signifier which floats so freely in a system built, ostensibly, to fix the meanings, is that of the creator of the structure itself. From the speaker of the word comes the word 'confusion'. As a middle aged man working on being a sage, of course, my meditations naturally turn to the Gods or Goddesses. And being a perennial, low carat, glue sniffing punk, my inclination is to mix and match my divinities, scratching the cosmic record – which is why, lately, I’ve been thinking a lot of the spirits at the porta

Iraq was not a doomed enterprise, but a U.S. crime

It has become fashionable for those who originally supported the war but turned against it – like Matt Yglesias – to push a strange sort of deterministic anti-war critique that has caught on elsewhere as well in the liberal side of the blogsphere . Yglesias’ version is smart in many ways. Today, he uses a version of it to defend Bremer: “I think Bremer has essentially been turned into a scapegoat for very broad intellectual errors and policy mistakes that affected a wide swathe of the American elite from 2002-2005. Rather than acknowledge that this is what happened; that certain stupendously wrong ideas gained widespread adherence in the two years after 9/11, there's been an enormous willingness to believe that, hey, no, everything's fine, it's just that Paul Bremer and Donald Rumsfeld are really dumb. The trouble with trying to defend Bremer from this unfair position, however, is that every time he opens his mouth he's refusing to adopt the only really viable defen

Always read nir rosen

Right after the invasion of Iraq, Lujai told me, Shiite clerics took over many of Baghdad’s hospitals but did not know how to manage them. “They were sectarian from the beginning,” she said, “firing Sunnis, saying they were Baathists. In 2004 the problems started. They wanted to separate Sunnis. The Ministry of Health was given to the Sadr movement” — that is, to the Shiite faction loyal to Moktada al-Sadr. Following the 2005 elections that brought Islamist Shiites to power, Lujai said, the Sadrists initiated what they called a “campaign to remove the Saddamists.” The minister of health and his turbaned advisers saw to it that in hospitals and health centers the walls were covered with posters of Shiite clerics like Sadr, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Shiite religious songs could often be heard in the halls. In June of last year, Ali al-Mahdawi, a Sunni who had managed the Diyala Province’s health department, disappeared, along with his bodyguards, at the mi