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Showing posts from December 31, 2017

As I was going from Montpellier to Paris: comparison of capitalist cultures

Last night, we took the train from Montpellier to Paris. About 50 kilometers from Lyon, we stopped. Somebody had been on the tracks and was hit. This meant that our train trip was extended about 3 hours, so we got to Paris around 1. Here's what SNCF did. 1. People went through the train while we waited finding people who had connecting tickets from Paris and found them hotels - which were complementary; 2. when we got to Paris, the company had set up a stand to give debarking passengers food and drink; 3. when we got home, they notified us by computer of a refund of our return ticket. Immediately. Now here's what happened when our Spirit airplane was a no show in Kansas City last year. 1. The announcement was made after an hour as the airport vendors closed down; 2. no information was given about what to do next; 3. the number of employees to handle the problems of about 500 people were precisely 2 in number. 3. After a three hour wait in the line, these people were instructed

Thinking from the sixties: Pasolini

Pasolini’s essays are now viewed, with condescension, as typically over the top products of the sixties, when everybody was on drugs. Or something. We are all so much better now. I myself indulged in the old punk disdain for hippies in times gone by. But my sixties contempt was negated in recent years by the internet habit of archiving – for instance, archiving newspapers. As I go through what, for instance, the NYT was reporting in the sixties, I am amazed at the street brilliance that seems, now, to have so sadly disappeared. In the sixties, the demand for the absolute had not become the demented fundamentalists hope for Jesus’s return – it was the reasonable counterclaim to a world in which nations – the U.S., the Soviet Union – had so elevated their claim to historical importance that they’d stockpiled weapons to end the world if they were attacked. It was all done, of course, without any discussion – better Dead for ever than Red being about as far as the discussion went. R

The press wants so much to kiss Trump's ass: why oh why won't he let them?

The strangest thing about Trump’s war on the press is that he is attacking something so systematically sycophantic that it would have embarrassed the courtiers in Louis XIV’s Versailles. The press, of course, would like you to think otherwise, and thus loves to hark back to when it wasn’t sycophantic – almost fifty years ago, during the administration of Richard Nixon. While this is accurate, the corollary that is never explained is that the Democratic party had been in power in the legislative branch almost without interruption since Roosevelt’s time. In other words, the establishment style in DC was set by the aging New Dealers and their kids. Since 1980, this has not been the case. Although the old idea that the establishment media is “liberal” might even have some merit in a purely sociological way – the chance that a journalist will be more liberal than, say, a middle management person in the petroleum industry is pretty high – that liberalism has been confined, for decades,