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Showing posts from January 20, 2008

the elementary particles and general society

Those who have read one or two of Houellebecq’s novels will immediately see that Jérôme Kerviel sprang out of the brain of Michel Houellebecq. His problem is that he is fictional. It must have bothered him: “ He failed in a bid for town council in his 20s ; he never rose higher than a green belt, a midlevel rank, after years of judo training — because of his bad knees; and he attended an average college where he earned respectable but unremarkable grades. “People who want to be golden boys or clever in the market don’t come here,” said Valérie Buthion, the director of the University of Lyon’s economic and financial engineering department, where Mr. Kerviel earned a master’s degree in market finance. “The showoffs don’t come.” “. . . his hedonistic worldview and the forces that shaped his consciousness were common to an entire generation. Just as determining the apparatus for an experiment and choosing one or more observables made it possible to assign a specific behavior to an atomic s

There will be mud...

Last night, LI went and saw There will be blood. An infrastructure film – what great timing! A shot from the past, when capitalism had its hooks in nature, instead of like it is today, when the real money is made in the supernatural, capital flows marked in nice digits on screens that have as much meaning as messages left on Ouija boards from old Aunt Marge’s avatar in the Beyond. Anyway, I loved the oil derrick. I loved the finding of the oil I loved the gloves on the pipemen, the long johns, the big, thick greasy ropes. I loved the moment the gusher came up. Giant has nothing on this film. Of course, even being a transplant to Texas, certain of the stories of the tribe have penetrated my skull, and I, even I, am stirred primally by an oil strike, vaguely remembering Spindletop and a thousand tents springing up all at once, oil rush towns and gushers that took weeks to cap, wildcatters suddenly rich and then squandering that money and dying on the down in a Houston backalley, of expo

brother, can you spare a trillion?

They used to tell me I was building a dream ... LI had to swallow a little sob of pride, yesterday, as the Bush administration, in the form of the Fed, did what it does best – made sure that our billionaire class is all tucked in and shit. Are they being fed well? Have their diapers been changed? Since last August’s cuts (which, we’ve been assured over and over by financial journalists, were ‘brilliant’), the Fed has shown that it takes its mission (“drinks on the house!”) seriously. Many might be thinking, gee, if trillions of dollars can be lost in the blink of an eye, perhaps the state should have captured that money and used it for something useful. Such thinking is vicious, criminal, and should be outlawed. As libertarians would point out, such thinking would hamper all our freedom – freedom – freedom. Soon we’d be demanding free health care and who knows what other kinds of shit. It would be the Soviet Union all over again. But carpers are always a problem. Econospeak has a ni

Sganarelle, 1848

O er hat nicht unrecht, jener populäre Philosoph, wenn er sagt, daß das Sein, nur ein Begriffsaggregat mit markierten elektro-magnetisch-psychologisch-galvanoplastischen Momenten ist. – Nestroy, Freiheit in Krähwinkel It is strange that Nestroy’s Freedom in Kraehwinkel (Martin Swales once suggested that the title should be Englished as ‘Freedom comes to Chickentown’), which combined songs and music with farce, was never transposed into some equivalent of the Magic Flute of 1848. It is a political farce that takes revolution as another route to the improbable junction of two hearts; it makes a light operetta of revolution and reaction. Those with an interest in opera and Marx – ahem, Chabert? - would, I think, love Nestroy’s play – if this ain’t achin’ for a dialectical-materialist-allegorical reading, I don’t know my Benjamites! That someone like myself, not exactly an expert in real music, especially after the lifetime I’ve spent under the dulling influence of pop, that even I can

Our poor Pres

In some ways, LI feels sorry for Bush. The man’s plan, after 2004, was clearly to set another bubble in motion by clearing out the middle class’ retirement accounts. Plug Social Security into the stock market, watch the shenanigans make his friends rich, and the looting of that retirement wealth would have stretched the bubble well into 2009, when its fall, and the consequent decimation of the middle class ability to retire for the next generation, would fall on somebody else’s head. Oh, ownership society! a swindler’s wet dream, now even farther off! although the thugs in D.C. will still lustily call out for Social Security Reeeform, by which they mean finding that last trillion or two dollars Americans hid in the cabinet. Where’d that bitch hide my drinkin’ money! That is the question good Republicans want answered.

Revolutionary justice in the Mortgage Market.

TKO - watch it on the video! Via Eschaton, LI went to this astonishing site, the Irving Housing blog . The writer uses public information to profile the use of multiple loans on houses to extract money on the “appreciation” of the house’s value – and, of course, that money was not exactly invested in the organs of production in these here states. More like vacations and private schools and the lot. The rhetoric on the site is reminiscent of the charivaris and jacqueries of the Old Country, when communities would come down upon the those who threatened the social order. At the same time, there is a distinct whiff of real estate porno about the whole thing – the comments about the condition of the houses pictured, down to the year and model of the stove in the kitchen, are … amazing. Rather like YouTube comments about whether some stripper/singer in some video is fat or not. The resentments definitely are going to be spilling out this year. I was happy to see, on the NYT Opinion page

Freedom vs. Happiness in the world series of Love

On March 13, 1848, this is how the revolution came to Vienna: “On this day – recounted an eyewitness – already rather early, I observed in Herrenstrasse, on which there were State office buildings, individual workers were standing around, and a giant man, with a jacket, which was covered with patches, that was obviously neither his size nor made for him, moved in the direction of the buildings, with his dirty cap pressed boldly down over his eyes, with balled up fists, flashing glances and a backwards bent posture, all ready for blows, as if going into battle, with giant steps, whilst keeping suspiciously to the middle of the street. In his rear pockets he must have carried a mass of stones as ammunition, because his jacket was stiff on his back, and visibly he had to force himself not to be pulled backwards by the weight of his pockets. At his side hurriedly humped along, in order to keep up with his steps, a small, weighed down, dirty and rather aged man with a long open coat with lo