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Showing posts from October 28, 2007
Like one of North’s M & M astronauts , LI is blasting off to D.C. for the next four days. I’m going to be attending the Society of the History of Science conference there – or, really, sneaking into it. My friend M. is giving a paper there, a brief prospectus of her upcoming book on Colonial science. Then we are heading out to see the D.C. sites – ah, you FBI/Homeland security people who’ve been reading my pot-bouille of disgruntlement, take note! Yes, I plan on scourging with my fearsome criticisms every branch of government whilst up there. I’m taking my soapbox. (Although, in actuality, I’ll probably go to the zoo. Fuck worrying about the guv’mint. Picture me givin a damn I said never ).

finally, monsieur, a wafer thin mint

Finally,monsieur, a wafer thin mint. It is a minor thing, really. The Fed’s rate cut yesterday. It goes against every principle that the Federal Reserve used to adhere to. It was accompanied by a Commerce Department report that told a tale of epic fiction about inflation – down this quarter to its lowest point in years, apparently. Such is the magic of the hedging formulas now used to produce almost any result that you want. The rate cut sank the dollar further, and raised the price of oil. In effect, the Fed declared that its raison d’etre, at the moment, is simply and solely to help out the richest investors in this country, and the rest of the country be damned. Sure, that has been the Bush mantra since 2001. Although it is a mistake to think that the change in degree brought about by the Bush seizure of power is a change of kind – we have had the same economic and social trends since 1981. The quiet violence of a policy intended to reduce the majority of the country to a comfortab

no little murders

“What connexion can there be between the place in Lincolnshire, the house in town, the Mercury in powder, and the whereabout of Jo the outlaw with the broom, who had that distant ray of light upon him when he swept the churchyard-step? What connexion can there have been between many people in the innumerable histories of this world who from opposite sides of great gulfs have, nevertheless, been very curiously brought together!” It is a funny thing, murder. I am definitely romantic enough to be sympathetic to the right murderer. But in truth, I am not in the economic class where something like me being wiped off the face of the earth is going to make much of a stink. I am among the easily murdered rather than the other way around, and I suppose that makes me sensitive. So I have cause for some solidarity with the spilt blood of Raheem Khalif, a man whose image I can’t find on Google. No fame or fortune for him, indeed. And such a small, such a tiny, such a remote soul does not haunt t

Update on the prosecution of Andrew Moonen for murder

For those interested in justice for the murdered Iraqi bodyguard, Raneem Khalif, the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung runs a shocker today. Apparently the State Department people in Iraq promised Blackwater guards involved in mowing down Iraqis in Nisoor square in September 'immunity.' As I said in a previous post, the comparison of Bush's administration to some European fascist regime is truly off base - it is much more like a Cold War classic kleptocracy, Argentina in the 80s, the Philippines under Marcos - a place in which the air of impunity that hangs over the elite allows them maximum leaway to flout the law until the stones cry out in the street and some crystallization of all discontents emerges. Of course, given the cholesterol around the American householders sense of justice, that crystallizing moment will have to be something that especially strikes them - perhaps a speech by the President that pre-empts a really exiting episode of American Idol. At that mome

I'll give you four mars for one venus

Worldwide, irrigation guzzles about 70 percent of the freshwater people use. To grow food for expanding human populations, people divert rivers, drain inland seas, and extract fossil groundwater collected over thousands of years, often at unsustainable rates. Worse, current agricultural practices often waste as much water as they use: about half the water that flows through conventional irrigation systems never actually reaches a crop plant. A lesser--though still formidable--amount of water is siphoned off to slake the thirst of cities and industry, and when you add it all together, it's clear that people are using more than their fair share. The Mekong still manages to reach the sea. But at least ten other major rivers, including the Colorado, Ganges, Jordan, Nile, Rio Grande, and Yellow, now regularly run dry before they reach their outlets. – Sold down the river, Eleanor Sterling and Merry Camhi, Natural History, Nov. 2007 Via Crooked Timber , LI read this article in Nature’s c

Banners: charging andrew moonen with murder

You will notice that I've been trying to make some banners. One says: CHARGE ANDREW MOONEN WITH MURDER. The other is going to be: JUSTICE FOR RANEEM KHALIF. The murder banner is the more attention getting, I think. So far, the banners suck. But once I get them right, it will be relatively easy to copy the code and put them on a site.

the sweetness of life, Donna Summer and Madame du Chastelet

In a famous phrase, Tallyrand once said that those who did not live before 1789 did not know what the true sweetness of life was like. We’ve been zapping that douceur de la vie with x rays, lately, on LI. And I hope all true followers of this death march through hedonism did note, in the Vibrational Man post, that we discovered something – yes, an actual discovery! Which is that the epicurean notion of pleasure, which preceded 18th century hedonism, was still anchored in the notion that, given pleasure and pain as quantitative descriptions attaching to the continuum of sensation, the idea that too much sensation – a quantitatively greater intensity of sensation – gives us pain, led logically to the fact that the maximum of pleasure should then be found in the maximum of non-sensation. In the early modern period that witnessed Gassendi’s rediscovery of Epicure, this notion of pleasure and pain changed to another. The change in conceiving of the structure of pleasure and pain is caught