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Showing posts from May 4, 2008

His name is Raheem Khalif

... fit for the kill In the last month, more than 1,000 Iraqis have died in Sadr City, due to assaults mounted by the U.S. and Maliki’s forces. It is the largest assault by the U.S. since 2004 in Fallujah, with the difference that the criminally supine press has pretended it isn’t happening. In 2003, the press simply stenographed lies from the Bush administration. Now, it simply shuffles reality to page A-10, or doesn't report it at all. Although exception is made for the continuing spinning of White House lies – re the entirety of the journalism of Michael Gordon , who is still being printed in the New York Times, even though his latest “scoops” about Iranian supplied weaponry have been laughable, even by Soviet standards. This is from the LA Times: “A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the conf

Our next prez

LI has gotten used to being a no future guy. Yesterday, however, I had one of those magic Obama moments that seem to infuriate those who don’t see anything magical about Obama at all. A friend sent me the upcoming Time cover, which has a great pic of our next prez. Our next prez. Is that harp music I hear in the background? It isn’t that the Great Fly’s legacy will vanish as the credits play November 8th. But the very idea of Obama being the U.S. president is so startling, on so many levels – so non-inevitable – that I even had a fleeting sense that the future contained me. Not something I have, well, ever felt about living in these here states. However, the best post op analysis of what the last five months gave us in terms of a primary is Susan Faludi’s op ed piece today. I like Faludi novelistic sociology – it is in the best tradition of the Chicago Hangin’ out school, plus some symbolic interactionism well hidden from the reader, back in the guts of the mechanism – but I was not c

killing a mouseketeer for the good of the state

"I'm Mrs. Lifestyles of the rich and famous (You want a piece of me) I'm Mrs. Oh my God that Britney's Shameless" The news stories about Britney are increasingly grim – as those of you who faithfully follow People, Us, and the National Star know quite well. As you’ll remember, the hardest working mousketeer has been prosecuted for not seeing “the harm in working and being a mama”. Quite right, but as soon as she revolted, the machinery of oppression came into play, and she was publicly kidnapped. First act: her children were wrenched from her when she showed them some of the fun side of life (which involved the kind of minor pecadillos – not using the safety seat, etc. - that drive the denizens of the gated community crazy, for there is nothing the G.C. believes more than cocooning its brats in an environment of permanent and ruthlessly enforced invulnerability, hence the monstrous SUV, the soccer mom car par excellence, hence the crammed prisons of these here St

disgusting fancy

Among the scholars who are doing the history of science outside of the Whiggish framework - the latter referring, of course, to Herbert Butterworth’s famous phase about the framework that sees the history of science as essentially a progress - Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer’s The Leviathan and the Air Pump is one of the most cited texts. It focuses on the New Learning in 17th century England, which was in many ways an extension of the Baconian experimental impulse. Robert Boyle was not only the premier experimenter, but, more than Bacon, the natural philosopher who set the rules for experimentation. One of Shapin and Schaffer’s ideas is that the experimental method, depending on witnesses for its veracity, evolves a prose style of witness. Shapin and Schaffer point to Thomas Sprat’s injunctions about the proper mode of representation in his history of the Royal Society – which was, in effect, also a polemic on behalf of the society. Sprat enumerates the inveterate injury done by rh

the vulgar nature of Nature

In 1686, Robert Boyle published the “Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Receiv’d Notion of Nature”. Michael Hunter and Edward Davis make the claim that this is one of the essential texts of the Scientific Revolution. In their essay on the making of the text, Hunter and Davis quote one of Boyle’s “protégés”, Scottish physician David Abercromby, who wrote: I therefore look upon this work as the new system of a new philosophy which fundamentally overthrows the foundation – namely, Nature – of all views hitherto held in philosophical matters.” [219] Others, of course, have cast doubt on the very idea that there was a Scientific Revolution. Myself, I prefer the term New Learning. Certainly there was an institutional revolution – no longer were the virtuosi independent players, like wandering minstrels and alchemists. The Universities were still stacked with Aristotelians and bloodletters, and the real action shifted to the Royal Society, or the semi Royal academies in France (although in France

The Great Fly speaks through us all

Straight from the American Id to your heart – a slogan you can take to the bank! “To manage the slowdown, Las Vegas is revving up an overseas marketing campaign, and in the United States, it is pitching spontaneous Vegas escapes. “Do it without thinking!” says one television spot. ” Isn’t that what the naughties have been all about? The Great Fly speaks through us all.

Anti-Newtonian times

One of the most ignored sentences in all of science is found in Newton’s Principia, in which he wrote: hypotheses non fingo. Or, I don’t make hypotheses. Philosophy of science, from Newton’s time onward, has pretended that Newton was Descartes, and that he used the Hypothico-Deductive method – and even, in the time of Popper, that science simply rids itself of induction. Of course, Newton was strongly inductionist, seeing himself as Bacon’s successor there, believing that when the numbers finally came out in your description of natural phenomena, you could get rid of the hypothesis; he was not a logick chopper, no Aristotelian he; and was very finicky about dividing conjecture from what he thought was law (in the draft of the Principia, he changed the term hypothesis of motion into law of motion). Newton was entirely consistent in this. When corresponding about his color theory with Pardies, he wrote: “… it is to be observed that the doctrine which I explained concerning concerning re

the total social fact

Levi Strauss’s introduction to Mauss’s collected works contained an important reflection on one of Mauss’s fundamental theoretical innovations: the notion of a “total social fact.” Since LI’s work in progress on happiness deals with one such ‘total social fact’, the emotional customs that are accepted in a given community or society; and since we have been thinking of how these customs have changed as the market-based industrial system became dominant in Western Europe and the U.S. over the 18th and 19th century, we thought a coupla posts on Levi Strauss and Mauss would not only rhyme, but be timely. Our duel with LCC turned us on to Derrida’s persistent attempt to interrogate the semantic force of the “material” in dialectical materialism – which frames his patient unwinding of Marx’s metaphoric of specters, spooks and spirits. It is here that two total social facts overlap: one is the capitalist rationality of constant movement – of commodities, populations, and technologies - gover