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Showing posts from April 22, 2018

Drew Cloud - a fraud for our time

News on the fake news front: This Chronicle of Higher Education piece that unmasks an 'expert" on student loans, Drew Cloud, as a simulation - or fraud, depending on your lexicographic preferences - created by a student loan company is interesting. "Drew Cloud is everywhere. The self-described journalist who specializes in student-loan debt has been quoted in major news outlets, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and CNBC, and is a fixture in the smaller, specialized blogosphere of student debt." Now, I am wondering if the Washington Post will have a report on how, how, how they came to quote a fraud as a genuine source of expert opinion on student loans. The Chronicle of Higher Education article is very deadpan, which makes the explanations from various scroungers working for Student Loan Report, LLC , a company that wants to suck your blood after the first serving of your blood has been sucked by some other loan company - oops, I mean, a

who planted the apple seeds? a slam against the rich

Jerome Zerbe was, if not the original café society photographer, at least one of the most celebrated from the 30s to the 50s. He had a regular gig at the Morocco, which was the classier version of the Stork club in New York. He was born into wealth, although not Mellonian wealth, and as time went on and his Dad died, the wealth decreased – which is how he came to take up café society photography. So, he was around a lot of rich people. In an article about him by Brendan Gill in the New Yorker, he tells an anecdote about WWII, where Admiral Nimitz took a shine to him and made him his photographer. Zerbe wanted to be promoted to lieutenant, and Nimitz sent several messages to FDR to have this done by presidential decree, as it was a promotion that required executive order. FDR asked his son, who knew Zerbe, whether he should do it. His son said, “don’t give it a second thought. Jerry [Zerbe] already lives like an officer…” Gill asked Zerbe whether he remained friends with Frankl

Great books are not for finishing

My private criteria for sorting the great works from the less great is that the less great are built to be finished. I have read many a fine novel that tied up all its ends in a completely satisfying way. I’ve reviewed them. They are made to be reviewed. When one can say, without compunction, that I have finished x novel, then it is ready to be praised, reviewed, put in a list – 100 greatest books – and so on. Such is its fate, and I bear these books no grudges, and sometimes love them. But there are other books that lodge in me, much like, oh, the apple that was thrown at Gregor Samsa and that lay in his shell, rotting. I’ve never finished any novel of Beckett’s. I’ve read, it is true, Ulysses maybe ten times in my life, but each reading has given me  different book. To finish Ulysses would be like finishing looking at Notre Dame. There are, of course, the small, fierce books that one can finish, but that take a lot of moves from the unfinishable works. For instance, Kafka’s stories

out of the woods - Dante, Rousseau, Marx

      “All European culture – intellectual not less than material – came out of the woods.” Werner Sombart, Moderne Kapitalismus, Vol. 2   The symbolic key to Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of inequality is found in the circumstances of its writing, as Rousseau described them in the Confessions:   In order to meditate at my ease on this great subject, I made a trip of seven or eight days to Saint-Germain with Therese, and our hostess, who was a good woman, and one of her friends. I count this excursion among the most agreeable ones of my life. The weather was beautiful. The good women took upon themselves the trip’s expenses and organization. Thérèse enjoyed herself with them, and I, without a care, I spent happy hours at mealtime, and for the rest of the day, plunged into the forest, I searched, I discovered there images of the first time, of which I proudly traced the history. I put my hands on the little lies of men, I dared to strip their nature naked, follow the p

Marx in the theater of power

“… he himself was known as the Moor or Old Nick on account of his dark complexion and sinister appearance.” – Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx, his life and environment. The sinister appearance is, of course, Berlin’s own sly Cold War addition to the reasons given after Marx’s death, by Mehring and Liebknecht, for the nickname that had attached itself to Marx in his student days in Berlin – and one he was apparently fond of. In one of his last letters to Engels, he signs himself, “Old Mohr.” Mehring claimed that this was his nickname among his daughters and his wife. Jerrold Siegel, in Marx’s Fate, makes an intriguing argument that the nickname is overdetermined – referring as much to Karl Moor – the disenfranchised son in Schiller’s The Robbers, as to Marx’s skin color. Marx as the Moor and Marx as Karl Moor the robber – it is as if the spirit of Marx future passes over the face of Marx past and present, as the Mohr and the Moor keep signifying, the perpetual alien in the midst of the g