April 13, 2003
# Capital, Culture, War Coverage

FTrain: Poems for Young Capitalists

The man in HR gives a terrible shout--
"Here comes the board! Their meeting let out!"

Industrious shuffles as keyboards start typing.
The writers write copy, PR men start hyping.

The dark suits emerge, each member a clone,
And the rooms fill with clamoring cellular phones.

So, just as our profits triumphantly swell,
The horsemen arrive and we all go to hell.

Globe and Mail: Think tusks, not blubber, an article about Walrus Magazine.

Alexander and Berlin insist Walrus will be around for at least five years, not five issues. Which is why they're going into the fray with a war-chest estimated at between $5-million and $6.5-million. "In my view, the start-up period for a magazine isn't three or four months," Alexander remarked. "When I started to look at magazine financing, the thing that became obvious to me was that, today at least, there's no way to launch and sustain a smart, general-interest magazine without a fourth stream of revenue. Advertising, newsstand sales, subscriptions -- they're not enough."

Globe and Mail: Interview with Filmmaker Harun Farocki

He is noticing, though, that the visual texture of war coverage has changed dramatically. First of all, the embedded cameras have made for endless eventless tracts of videotape, which serve as backdrops for teams of expert commentators in the studio back home. "It's like they borrowed the idea from the pre-game coverage of sports events," he says. During the Vietnam War, he remembers, the images were so charged, like distilled pellets of human drama. Here, by and large, we have experienced no drama, just infinite boredom and second-hand speculation.

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April 11, 2003
# Arundhati!

[If you read nothing else, read this.]

Arundhati Roy: "Operation Iraqi Freedom? I don't think so. It's more like Operation Let's Run a Race, but First Let Me Break Your Knees."

posted by dru
January 19, 2003
# Yugoslavia

Michael Parenti's web site has a few excellent articles, including:

The Rational Destruction of Yugoslavia

That U.S. leaders have consciously sought to dismember Yugoslavia is not a matter of speculation but of public record. In November 1990, the Bush administration pressured Congress into passing the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, which provided that any part of Yugoslavia failing to declare independence within six months would lose U.S. financial support. The law demanded separate elections in each of the six Yugoslav republics, and mandated U.S. State Department approval of both election procedures and results as a condition for any future aid. Aid would go only to the separate republics, not to the Yugoslav government, and only to those forces whom Washington defined as "democratic," meaning right-wing, free-market, separatist parties.

posted by dru
# Is War A Racket? Yes, It Is.

War Is A Racket by Major General Smedley Butler (ca. 1930)

posted by dru
January 16, 2003
# Zizek

Ha'aretz: Disaster movies as the last remnants of Utopia (an interview with Slavoj Zizek)

Apparently it's so hard for us to imagine a new global utopian project based on work and cooperation, that the only way we can entertain the thought is to pay a mental price of extreme catastrophe. What fascinates me about disaster films is how circumstances of vast catastrophe suddenly bring about social cooperation. Even racial tensions vanish. It's important at the end of Independence Day that everyone pulls together - Jews, Arabs, blacks. Disaster films might be the only optimistic social genre that remains today, and that's a sad reflection of our desperate state. The only way to imagine a Utopia of social cooperation is to conjure a situation of absolute catastrophe. Disaster films might be all that's left of the utopian genre.
I think that in Communist regimes, things which aren't manifest in liberal democracies have become evident. I believe that liberal democracies are paradoxical in the sense that they contain a fundamental blindness about the ideological mechanisms which operate within them. Take, for instance, the liberal principle of free choice. Choices made by people in democratic states are not necessarily less compulsory, and yet they experience these choices as though they are free.
(via nettime)

posted by dru
November 30, 2002
# pomo wacko as affectionate term

Erik Davis: A review of Deleuze and Guattari's What is Philosophy?

The heady dazzle of such language makes some folks just toss their books down, muttering about wacky frogs who have lost their politics. Others get really jazzed, and learn to mimic the lingo, a perhaps unavoidable superficial enthusiasm that critics of D&G point to as proof of their capitulation to nonsense. Forming a more rigorous engagement with this stuff is a difficult enterprise, because the work evades the categories we want to impose on it—"metaphor," "theory," "fake science," "hallucination." Far from copping out, D&G are going for the gold: they want to re-engineer the nature of productive thought and the corresponding activity of bodies. Long ago, they grew sick of a society stuck in the habitual ruts of overcoded Oedipal subjectivity, State forms of organization, and cookie-cutter cut-outs of what a body can do. (Oedipus is one of these ruts, or but so is the micro-fascisms and redundancies that lurk in so many "radicalisms"). D&G introduce productive noise into the system—even and especially the system of theory—and from the inside they sometimes look like babbling loons. But they're loons bearing gifts.

posted by dru
October 26, 2002
# in them thar hills.

There's an interesting piece on Stephen Jay Gould's work in the New Yorker.

posted by dru
October 14, 2002
# American Political Paradox

Robert Jensen: The American Political Paradox: More Freedom, Less Democracy (via DailyChurn)

legal protections for freedom of expression have expanded and the culture's commitment to free speech has become more entrenched, which is all to the good. But at the same time, the United States today is a far less vibrant political culture than it was then. This is the paradox to come to terms with: How is it that as formal freedoms that allow democratic participation have expanded, the range and importance of debate and discussion that is essential to democracy has contracted? How is it that in the United States we have arguably the most expansive free speech rights in the industrial world and at the same time an incredibly degraded political culture? How did political freedom produce such a depoliticized culture?

posted by dru
October 13, 2002
# Race and Music

Norman Kelley: Rhythm Nation: The Political Economy of Black Music
A four-part series.

Today, most analyses of black culture are processed through the theoretical prism of the Frankfurt School's "cultural industry" paradigm or through the theoretical template of cultural studies, where the lexicon of post-structuralism thought can be dropped on any subject, provided one uses the requisite "acadospeak" to obfuscate the fact that nothing of real importance is being discussed.

Rather than analyzing the trajectory of black music through the music industry, today's new jack intellectuals have been more interested in discussing or breaking down the high/low distinctions of culture. They are more interested in "interrogating" certain "privileged discourses," than in the nuts and bolts of the music industry:

• how artists are recruited,
• how contracts are structured for maximums profits for records firms,
• how much firms spend on the production of an artist's CD,
• whether rap artists make their living solely by selling units or doing performances (a situation similar to that of blues musicians),
• how musicians lose their copyright to their music,
• the lack of royalty payments, and
• the incredible monopoly of the Big Six.

posted by dru
October 05, 2002
# The enema within

Guardian: The enema within
This article about colon-cleansing is a masochistic read to be sure, but you'll never think of pork roast, fast food or that elusive marble in quite the same way again.

People are constantly appalled yet fascinated by the idea of cleansing, and for some masochistic reason, demand the grim details between starter and main course. As they wait for their medium rare fillet or pork Dijonnaise, they crane forward to hear more...

posted by dru
# Understanding US Nationalism

Anatol Lieven in LRB: The Push for War (via Daily Churn and RRE)
A potent survey of US Nationalism and it's possible futures; or, this does not bode well.

Twice now in the past decade, the overwhelming military and economic dominance of the US has given it the chance to lead the rest of the world by example and consensus. It could have adopted (and to a very limited degree under Clinton did adopt) a strategy in which this dominance would be softened and legitimised by economic and ecological generosity and responsibility, by geopolitical restraint, and by 'a decent respect to the opinion of mankind', as the US Declaration of Independence has it. The first occasion was the collapse of the Soviet superpower enemy and of Communism as an ideology. The second was the threat displayed by al-Qaida. Both chances have been lost - the first in part, the second it seems conclusively. What we see now is the tragedy of a great country, with noble impulses, successful institutions, magnificent historical achievements and immense energies, which has become a menace to itself and to mankind.

posted by dru
by Lauryn

What is an example of U.S. nationalism today?

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October 03, 2002
# Arundhati Roy's tour de force

Arundhati Roy lays it all out in what could be the global justice speech to end all global justice speeches. She covers almost every major topic in a succinct and eloquent way. If you read nothing else about global justice (the movement formerly known as "anti-globalization")...

And then there are the things that one would have preferred not to hear about.

They do it. The only trouble Howard, is that in India right now, I think few Americans know about this, but in March this year, the BJP which is the Bharatija Janata Party is part of what they call the Sangh Parivar, a whole sort of family of Hindu right wing organizations. The BJP is the political end of it and what's called the RSS - the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - is the cultural guild. Now the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the disinvestment minister, all these people belong to the RSS. The RSS has been preparing the ground for this kind of right wing - India is only for the Hindus thing - since the late '20s and they are open admirers of Hitler and his methods and so on, and in March this year there was a massacre of Muslims in Gujarat. As soon as the massacre was over, the Gujarat government, headed by the BJP, wanted to hold elections because they felt that they would win the election because they'd polarized the vote.

All over India they have what are called (untranslatable) which are branches where young people, 10-year-old children, are being indoctrinated into religious bigotry and hatred, and how to create communal trouble, and how to rewrite history books, and all this is happening. So the Fascists will definitely mess it up. In fact the reason they're so desperate is because in State after State they were losing the election. But you see, now, whether they're in power or not, they've injected this poison into the veins of a very complex country and that's very frightening, very, very frightening, to have to deal with on a daily basis.

You cannot imagine the things that happened in Gujarat - little children were... 2,000 people were killed, women were raped, women had their stomachs slit open and their fetuses pulled out. Not one or two but many, many. Little children were forced to drink petrol then matches were put down their throats and they just blew up like bombs. It's a very, very frightening situation just now. This government in India keeps saying, we're natural allies of the U.S. So there hasn't...it's not just a coincidence that this was not reported or that it's being suppressed. The whole nuclear flashpoint with Pakistan was mostly due to the fact that the Indian government wanted to distract attention from - the world's attention from - Gujarat to this, and it was very, very successful in doing that.

And some that we have to hear.

I'd never been to Pakistan. Delhi and Pakistan - I mean Lahore - are maybe a one-hour flight away from each other. I went to Pakistan last month. I had to go from Delhi to Dubai to Islamabad to Lahore. It took me 18 hours. There is so much in the Indian press and equally in the Pakistan press about anti-Indian demonstrations and anti-Pakistan demonstrations and we're all going to kill each other and everybody hates everybody and so on. I landed in Lahore and within seconds we were all sitting at this dining table and I felt like I was in Delhi. It was just so sad and the audience that came... people were just in tears, not because of me or what I said or anything, just because it's such a relief not to always be subjected to this media's representation of government positions. I really feel that the media, the corporate media, has played a terrible part in all this and people are just going to have to blow holes in this dam between them and insist on listening to independent real voices, real human beings.

posted by dru
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As intorducin myself I am Navin Poudyal from Kalimpong. Itz tiny town in Himalayan Region of West Bengal state.

As I want to request you to send me your personal E-Mail Id. It will be world of good if you kindly send me so .

With regards


by Dastagir

God bless Arundhati Roy. Speaking against injustice before a tyranny, is the hallmark of a divine soul... it shows individuality (personality) and character. Today we know of Arundhati as a superb writer... even if she weren't one... one thing was sure. She'd still be the fine human bieng that she is, with humane values. The highest point one can achieve in intellectual growth is when you put yourself in the other man's shoes and look at things from his perspective. When you develop the insight to form detached opinions.. trying to keep prejudices as far as humanly possible. It is at that point a soul becomes enlightened. A ray of light permeates the soul / heart, and then that outer shell / person in whom the lamp is lit becomes a symbol. A torch that spreads humane enlightenment and emboldens the human soul to resist and fight.

I do not want her email address or postal address. It is childish to write a fan mail. One can love and admire someone without ever meeting or writing. Human likes and dislikes are so momentary.

I'd like to quote a couplet by iqbal :

Haath hai Allah kaa
Banda-e-momin ka haath (Iqbal)

God's work is done thru the +hands of a Momin (a good soul). Arundhati is a living cell..living an examined..thought-proking life, which is very rare. She is a great writer... and still... she is a finer human bieng though.

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October 02, 2002
# McChesney's new book

Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, a new book by by Robert W. McChesney, John Nichols and Barbara Ehrenreich.

posted by dru
by marco

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July 27, 2002
# Weekend Globe

A few decent articles from this weekend's globe and mail:

Russell Smith: Step outside the church of business for a moment

Proof that corporate culture is the new religion: its scandals, its ulcered intestines and remorseful self-loathing; the total astonishment of the media that their idols live in a corrupt and fantastical world. All this exactly parallels the convulsions of the Catholic Church.

Bad luck seemed to happen at the same time in both cases. Just as sexual-abuse allegations against priests seemed to tumble from the rafters across North America all at once, the corporate giants exploded and the expense-account tycoons were unearthed in several major companies in two tumultuous months. The most fervent promoters of business as the model for all human endeavour -- George W. Bush, for example -- became sanctimonious critics of the very culture that they have helped to create.

But sin and repentance don't shake a religion; they are a part of the religion. And the corruption in the system is so well known (again, as with the church), that many of its defenders are rationalizing the excesses, explaining them away as necessary. We have got to such a point of blind corporate worship that intelligent commentators can actually add up the orgiastic expenses of Eleanor Clitheroe, former CEO of Hydro One, and say they were justified, that the poor woman is victim of a witch-hunt.

Simon Houpt: Alotta promotion

This is what synergy looks like. For weeks, AOL's on-line service has been promoting Goldmember to its more than 34-million subscribers around the world. The current issue of AOL-owned magazine Entertainment Weekly features Austin Powers on the cover, with half a dozen articles on the movie inside. Last week, a division of Warner Music released the film's soundtrack.

This week, the AOL-owned U.S. cable station TBS aired the previous two Austin Powers movie to whet appetites. Eager moviegoers who wanted to buy tickets before yesterday's opening could log onto AOL-owned Moviefone.com and drown in Austin ads. On Wednesday, Mike Myers received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, an event dutifully reported by AOL media outlets CNN, People magazine, and a couple of dozen Web sites.

A side note on Austin Powers III: don't see it. It sucks. Ok, the first three minutes are priceless, but the rest of it just falls flat. And it's offensive. (And why is it that when Mike Myers decided to offensive/gross/politically incorrect/whatever, he did so in a way that unfalteringly upheld racist stereotypes? Wouldn't it be so much more interesting to offend sensibilities in a way that undermines the stereotypes? As a bonus, that approach would automatically not be gross and unoriginal, since no mainstream film producer has the guts - or moral sense - to do it.) I saw AP III on Thursday, but I still feel dirty.

Tom Tommorrow features a frozen Republican.

Washington Post: Secret Service agent writes "Islam is Evil" and "Christ is King" on a prayer calendar during a search

Meanwhile, Ashcroft holds daily prayer meetings at work.

posted by dru
July 22, 2002

Noam Chomsky: A World Without War (World Social Forum, Feb 2002)

The importance of protecting the public from information was revealed dramatically at the April Summit. Every editorial office in the US had on its desk two important studies, timed for release just before the Summit. One was from Human Rights Watch, the second from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington; neither organization is exactly obscure. Both studies investigated in depth the effects of NAFTA, which was hailed at the Summit as a grand triumph and a model for the FTAA, with headlines trumpeting its praises by George Bush and other leaders, all accepted as Gospel Truth. Both studies were suppressed with near-total unanimity. It's easy to see why. HRW analyzed the effects of NAFTA on labor rights, which, it found, were harmed in all three participating countries. The EPI report was more comprehensive: it consisted of detailed analyses of the effects of NAFTA on working people, written by specialists on the three countries. The conclusion is that this is one of the rare agreements that has harmed the majority of the population in all of the participating countries. 

The effects on Mexico were particularly severe, and particularly significant for the South. Wages had declined sharply with the imposition of neoliberal programs in the 1980s. That continued after NAFTA, with a 24% decline in incomes for salaried workers, and 40% for the self-employed, an effect magnified by the rapid increase in unsalaried workers. Though foreign investment grew, total investment declined, as the economy was transferred to the hands of foreign multinationals. The minimum wage lost 50% of its purchasing power. Manufacturing declined, and development stagnated or may have reversed. A small sector became extremely wealthy, and foreign investors prospered.

Interview with Robert McChesney

One thing that's crucial is that we're not going to win anything in this struggle without popular support. Having all the best arguments in the world so you can win all the debating society awards isn't going to get you anything in this debate, cause you're going up against spectacular organized money. And what we need to fight organized money, as Saul Alinsky says, is organized people -- we've got to be organized. We'll have people in Congress, but they're going to be at the end of the process, or at the middle of it.

posted by dru
July 12, 2002
# How to Win

Ted Rall: How to win the war on terror

Addressing Islamist demands--not caving in outright--would eliminate most of the broad-based Muslim support for jihadi groups. Moreover, they'd do us more good than harm. Withdrawing our support for the corrupt Saudi dictatorship might lead to a less pro-American regime, for example, but it would begin to inoculate us from the mostly-justified criticism that we pro-democracy Americans promote oppression wherever it suits our business interests. Stopping or reducing our $3 billion per annum flow of arms to Israel would allow us to truly act as an impartial negotiator in the Middle East, not to mention put a dent in the deficit. We could still offer to defend Israel in the event of an invasion, and while that stance wouldn't sate Osama et al., it wouldn't spark much anger among the great Arab mainstream.

It's a simple equation, really: Parse Islamist demands into the acceptable and unreasonable, ignore the ridiculous and respond constructively to the mainstream. Take away the cause's raison d'être and the cause goes away. To be sure, there may always be a few lunatics willing to blow themselves up for Allah. But their bank accounts will be small and so will their bombs.

I said the same thing in Rushdie's Rhetoric and Righteous Response last year, but Rall gives more examples.

posted by dru
May 30, 2002
# Hawkin

A great, complete account of the WTO Protests by Paul Hawken.

It's not inapt to compare the pointed lawlessness of the anarchists with the carefully considered ability of the WTO to flout laws of sovereign nations. When "The Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations" was enacted April 15th, 1994, in Marrakech, it was recorded as a 550-page agreement that was then sent to Congress for passage. Ralph Nader offered to donate $10,000 to any charity of a congressman's choice if any of them signed an affidavit saying they had read it and could answer several questions about it. Only one congressman – Senator Hank Brown, a Colorado Republican – took him up on it. After reading the document, Brown changed his opinion and voted against the Agreement. There were no public hearings, dialogues, or education.

posted by dru
by SMJ

Hawken? (Hawkin)

by Dru

I was trying to be clever, but apparently I failed. :>

April 22, 2002
# Said on Israel, again.

Edward Said: What Israel has done

There are signs, however, that the amazing, not to say grotesque, nature of these claims (its "fight for existence") is slowly being eroded by the harsh and nearly unimaginable devastation wrought by the Jewish state and its homicidal prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Take this front-page report, "Attacks Turn Palestinian Plans Into Bent Metal and Piles of Dust" by the New York Times's Serge Schmemann (no Palestinian propagandist) on 11 April: "There is no way to assess the full extent of the damage to the cities and towns -- Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Nablus, and Jenin -- while they remain under a tight siege, with patrols and snipers firing in the streets. But it is safe to say that the infrastructure of life itself and of any future Palestinian state -- roads, schools, electricity pylons, water pipes, telephone lines -- has been devastated." By what inhuman calculus did Israel's army, using 50 tanks, 250 missile strikes a day, and dozens of F-16 sorties, besiege Jenin's refugee camp for over a week, a one square kilometre patch of shacks housing 15,000 refugees and a few dozen men armed with automatic rifles and with no defences whatever, no leaders, no missiles, no tanks, nothing, and call it a response to terrorist violence and the threat to Israel's survival? There are reported to be hundreds buried in the rubble Israeli bulldozers are now trying to heap over the camp's ruins.

There's only one way to make sure that there are no more suicide bombings: get rid of all the people who are capable of carrying a bomb. The same general idea applies to Iraq: the only way to keep chemical weapons from being developed is to bomb them back to a pre-modern age. That is, if you want to keep ignoring the reasonable criticisms of your actions.

The OpenBeOS project seems to be moving along at a nice clip.

posted by dru
March 25, 2002
# Chomsky take III

Noam Chomsky's interview with Salon has hit the Chomsky archive. A must-read.

QUESTION: You endorse a criminal pursuit of bin Laden and his cohorts -- but why don't you don't believe that the war in Afghanistan is justified in the wake of Sept. 11?

CHOMSKY: The war in Afghanistan targets Afghan civilians, and openly. The British defense minister put it very clearly in a front-page article in the New York Times. He said we are going to attack the Afghans until they finally realize that they better overthrow their government. That's a virtual definition of international terrorism.


QUESTION: What should we say?

CHOMSKY: We should say, "Yeah, we supported [Hussein] in his worst atrocities; now we don't like him anymore and what should we do about him?" And, yeah, that's a problem.

My own feeling, to tell you the truth, is that there was a great opportunity to get rid of Saddam Hussein in March 1991. There was a massive Shiite uprising in the south led by rebelling Iraqi generals. The U.S. had total command of the region at the time. [The Iraqi generals] didn't ask for U.S. support but they asked for access to captured Iraqi equipment and they asked the United States to prevent Saddam from using his air force to attack the rebels. The U.S. refused. It allowed Saddam Hussein to use military helicopters and other forces to crush the rebellion.

You can read it in the New York Times. It was more important to maintain stability -- that was the word that was used -- or as the diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times put it, the best of all worlds for the United States would have been for an iron-fisted military junta to seize power and rule in Iraq the way Saddam Hussein did. But since we couldn't get that, we'd have to accept him. That was the main opportunity of getting rid of him. Since then it hasn't been so simple. The forces of resistance were crushed with our help, after the war.

Since then, there's a question of whether the Iraqi Democratic opposition forces could mount some means of overthrowing this monster. That's a tricky business. The worst way of doing it is to undermine opposition to him. That's exactly what the sanctions do. Everyone who observed the sanctions has concluded -- including the humanitarian administrators, Dennis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who know more about it than anyone else -- that the sanctions have severely harmed the civilian population and strengthened Saddam Hussein. People under severe sanctions and trying to survive are not going to carry out any action against an armed military force.

Here's another, more fast-paced interview with a British talk show host of some kind with a lot of questions. It's kind of fun.

QUESTION: So [the situation?] isn't as bleak as you thought it was?

CHOMSKY: It's not as bleak as I thought it was forty years ago. In fact, what I've insisted over and over again, and I think is true, is that the effect of the popular activism of the last forty years has been to make the country a much more civilized place.

posted by dru
# Frankness

Thomas Frank reviews Bias.

posted by dru
March 02, 2002
# A little less topical

Bitch Magazine: O is for the Other Things She Gave Me: Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and Contemporary Women’s Fiction.

Female novelists dominated the development of the novel in the U.S. through the 19th century, and when male authors wanted to distance themselves from what Nathaniel Hawthorne called the “horde of scribbling women,” they often did it by attacking the types of novels associated with women writers (mostly the sentimental novel, roughly the 19th-century equivalent of the chick flick). Regionalist fiction, a form popularized mainly by women at the turn of the century, was dismissed by later literary critics on grounds similar to the Oprah “socio-fiction”—namely, the joint charges of autobiographical self-indulgence and raw nonfictional description. Because regionalist fiction usually relied on the writer’s first-hand knowledge of a picturesque locale, it got written off as a kind of artless transcription of personal history—as if all a person needed to write a good story was a quaint birthplace and a quill pen. Like women themselves, women’s fictional forms were considered sentimental, unskilled, and self-obsessed.

posted by dru
February 26, 2002
# Beer Riots

Tim Wise: The Invisible Whiteness of the Olympic Beer Riot

That the coverage of the Olympic "beer riot" was decidedly different than that for any riot ever led by people of color goes without saying. News reports of the events in the land of Mormon discussed the violence in a whimsical, bemused fashion, on a sort of "gee, don't they have anything better to do" kind of tip -- as opposed to the preachy and scared shitless tone reserved for black and brown folks who act up in such a fashion. And of course the mere labeling of the phenomenon as a "beer riot" in the first place is instructive. With apologies to the National Rifle Association, beer doesn't riot, people riot. Specifically, people who are desperate for beer riot -- white people, to be precise.

Looks like its almost time to switch to MacOS X

posted by dru
February 19, 2002
# On Intellectuals' Responsibilities

Two excerpts from two excellent books that I'm reading: Arundhati Roy's Power Politics and Edward Said's Representations of the Intellectual, which I originally typed up for a friend.

Arundhati Roy:

...In the midst of a bloody military coup, for instance, you could find yourself fascinated by the rituals of a purple sunbird, or the secret life of captive goldfish, or an old aunt's descent into madness. And nobody can say that there isn't truth and art and beauty in that. Or, on the contrary, in the midst of a putative peace, you could, like me, be unfortunate enough to stumble on a silent war. The trouble is that once you see it, you can't unsee it. And once you've seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There's no innocence. Either way, you're accountable.

Today, perhaps more so than in any other era in history, the writer's right to free speech is guarded and defended by the civil societies and state establishments of the most powerful countries of the world.. The writer is embraced and protected... The artist, I imagine, is finally as free as he or she will ever be. [talks about the extent to which (famous) writers are lavished with attention and made into big time celebrities]

...There is very real danger that this neoteric seduction can shut us up far more effectively than violence and repression ever could. We have free speech. Maybe. But do we have Really Free Speech? If what we have to say doesn't "sell", will we still say it? Can we? Or is everybody looking for Things That Sell to say? Or the subtle twenty-first-century version of court eunuchs attending to the pleasures of our incumbent CEOs? You know -- naughty, but nice. Risque perhaps, but not risky.

Edward Said:

... Politics is everywhere; there can be no escape into the realms of pure art and thought or, for that matter, into the realm of disinterested objectivity or transcendental theory. Intellectuals are of their time, herded along by the mas politics of representations embodied by the information or media industry, capable of resisting those only by disputing the images, official narratives, justifications of power circulated by an increasingly powerful media--and not only media but whole trends of thought that maintain the status quo, keep things within an aceptable and sanctioned perspective on actuality--by providing what Mills calls unmaskings or alternative versions in which to the best of one's ability the intellectual tries to tell the truth.
posted by dru
November 10, 2001
# Arundhati

Arundhati Roy has done some interesting writing.

An Salon Interview with Roy.

The reincarnation of Rumpelstiltskin, by Arundhati Roy.

An Indian Online Magazine, which has an interview with Osama Bin Laden, among other things.

I blundered into an extended set of notes on the supposed synchronization between Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz, as well as the annotated American Pie lyrics.

The Remembrance Day issue of the Argosy is probably the best issue yet this year. My editorial: Dulce et Decorum Est. Apparently, it's hard to tell what the image on the cover is ('tis a poppy).

posted by dru
August 21, 2001
# the local beat

Robert Fisk on working at regional newspapers.

And we wrote in clichés. Always clichés. When the police were seeking a hit-and-run driver, they either "spread their net" or "narrowed their search" or "stepped up their hunt". Company directors were "bosses", scientists were invariably "boffins", officials were always "chiefs", storm-battered ships inevitably "limped" into port. Suicides were always tragic, brides always beautiful, angry councillors were "hopping mad" and protesting villagers would always "take to the streets". Those who discovered bodies were, of course, "horror-struck" or "mystified"; the latter applied to the construction gang building a new Blyth bypass who excavated dozens of corpses – all in their Victorian Sunday best – and thought they'd discovered a mass murder before realising they were digging up an old cemetery. Needless to say, Tory election candidates always "lashed out" at the sitting Labour MP, Eddie Blythe.

I'm on a bit of a Chomsky kick.

Chomsky on Postmodernism:

...that ``plain language is not enough when the frame of reference is not available to the listener'' [is] correct and important. But the right reaction is not to resort to obscure and needlessly complex verbiage and posturing about non-existent ``theories.'' Rather, it is to ask the listener to question the frame of reference that he/she is accepting, and to suggest alternatives that might be considered, all in plain language. I've never found that a problem when I speak to people lacking much or sometimes any formal education, though it's true that it tends to become harder as you move up the educational ladder, so that indoctrination is much deeper, and the self-selection for obedience that is a good part of elite education has taken its toll. Johnb says that outside of circles like this forum, ``to the rest of the country, he's incomprehensible'' (``he'' being me). That's absolutely counter to my rather ample experience, with all sorts of audiences. Rather, my experience is what I just described. The incomprehensibility roughly corresponds to the educational level. Take, say, talk radio. I'm on a fair amount, and it's usually pretty easy to guess from accents, etc., what kind of audience it is. I've repeatedly found that when the audience is mostly poor and less educated, I can skip lots of the background and ``frame of reference'' issues because it's already obvious and taken for granted by everyone, and can proceed to matters that occupy all of us. With more educated audiences, that's much harder; it's necessary to disentangle lots of ideological constructions.

On Economic Experiments:

There have been quite a few experiments in economic development in the modern era, and though it is doubtless wise to be wary of sweeping generalizations, still they do exhibit some regularities that are hard to ignore. One is that the designers seem to come out quite well, though the experimental subjects, who rarely sign consent forms, quite often take a beating.

posted by dru
July 06, 2001
# books

I bought some books.

I've also been reading these (among others, in no particular order):

That's enough for now..

posted by dru
by wikinger

ist OK

June 29, 2001
# The Global Privileges of Whiteness

Kendall Clark: The Global Privileges of Whiteness

The average White American's attitudes about race and racism are a mixture of self-congratulation and defensiveness -- ``Yes, America has had some episodes of racism and racial bias, but that's all clearly in the past.'' In truth, White racism hasn't gone anywhere. Its tenor and tone have evolved; now it's expressed in carefully coded messages rather than in crudely overt themes. White racism, and the White supremacist ideology it reflects, and the network of White privilege it maintains, are alive and well.

posted by dru
June 19, 2001
# protesting

There's a whole lotta protestin' goin' on. Indonesia, Venezuela, Poland, Terre Haute, Vieques, Argentina, NYC, Paris, New Jersey, Cincinatti, Sweden, Slovenia, South Korea, Chile, Algeria, Israel, Las Vegas, South Africa, Hong Kong... and that's just since June 15.

A large number of those are explicitly anti-US.

The Boston Review on photojournalism:

The photos—such as one showing a baby being passed, over barbed wire, between members of a divided family—were undeniably moving. But in fact they told us little about the Yugoslav wars, and would be useless in ascertaining the moral import or political utility of the NATO bombing. Still, the editor knows his readers, and he is on to something important: in a culture in which history has ended but spectacle is forever, we need not—and perhaps can not—grapple with the thorny quandaries or moral challenges of the "full story." Too often, a photo of a baby will suffice.


The stark yet crowded photos—of mass demonstrations and funerals, veiled and wary women, drug addicts, beggars, smoky tea shops, ornate mosques, bleak cemeteries, and guns, guns everywhere—are edgy, nervous, weirdly cropped, both confused and confusing. Rather than assert their own authority, Peress's images invite the viewer to seek insights outside the frame. Though his pictures are striking, dynamic, skillfully composed, and sometimes even beautiful, they contain a striking humility, reminding us of all they can not show.

Maybe some of the points in that article were what I was getting at with my rambling about Paul Ford's photos last week.

posted by dru
June 15, 2001
# McChesney

Making Media Democratic, by Robert McChesney

Our goal should be to craft a media system that reduces the power of a handful of enormous corporations and advertisers to dominate the media culture. But no one will press for reform until we have some ideas worth debating.


The starting point for media reform is to build up a viable nonprofit, noncommercial media sector. Such a sector currently exists in the United States, and produces much of value, but it is woefully small and underfunded.

Nader responds:

In the absence of a mobilized constituency, even structural reforms will inevitably fall short of achieving their democratic purposes. Corporate interests will reassert themselves (or new corporate interests will arise) to corrupt even a decentralized media, and eventually chip away at the structural limitations on media concentration.

More in the "Future of Media" issue of the Boston Review.

posted by dru
June 13, 2001
# new politics

Michael Moore's letter to Dr. Laura is quite amusing.

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a

pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev.1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

The New Politics Initiative in Canada looks interesting.

posted by dru
June 03, 2001
# "I prefer not to"

Paul Ford has a copy of Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, illustrated with photos of present-day Wall St. on his ftrain.com.

There is no such thing as free speech (an interview with Stanley Fish) is well worth reading twice.

Once you realise that racists don't think of themselves as racists but as tellers of the truth, then you realise that hate speech or racist speech as we designate it is not an anomaly, is not a cognitive mistake, is not a correctable error, is not something that can be diagnosed and therefore cured, but is in fact the rationality and truth telling of a vision we happen to despise.

posted by dru
May 09, 2001
# Lest We Forget Two Million Vietnamese

Two editorials (1, 2) look at the Myths of the Vietnam war. For the most thorough look at the Vietnam war, however, I can't recommend Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's Manufacturing Consent enough. The section on Vietnam looks at the facts of the war, and how they were consistantly selected and distorted by the media. The rest of the book is more or less essential for anyone who reads newspapers or watches TV news, too.

posted by dru
by David Grenier

Hate to be picky, but don't you mean you can't recommend Manufacturing Consent enough? Totally changes the meaning of that sentence.

by Dru

Indeed. The perils of self publishing. :<

by Kendall

It's my standard first comment about the book, but I'm really enamored of it, so I'll repeat it here: that is one of the 5 best social science books published in English in the 20th century. (Up there with Clifford Geertz's The Interpretation of Cultures.) And, as Dru hints, it's merely indispensable if you want to understand the world (and you want to understand it first if your goal is to change it).

by David Grenier

The other big myth about the Vietnam war is that it was stopped by a bunch of white liberal college students having protests on their campuses. For some reason white liberals have a real problem with the idea that the Vietnam was was stopped because Vietnamese people were kicking our ass, and soldiers were killing their commanders and/or running to Canada. The whole "white liberals save the world" thing really bugs me.

May 07, 2001
# fresh meets

Michael Moore: Why Don't We All Just Cut the Crap Right Now?

For eight long years, Clinton/Gore resisted all efforts and recommendations to reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and the arsenic in the water. Just last October, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and sixteen other Democrats successfully led the way to STOP any reduction of arsenic in the water. Why? Because Clinton and the Democrats were beholden to the very industries who had financed their campaigns --- and who were responsible for high levels of arsenic in the water.

It doesn't stop there.

Chomsky on the magic answer:

The question that comes up over and over again [is] "It's terrible, awful, getting worse. What do we do? Tell me the answer." The trouble is, there has not in history ever been any answer other than, "Get to work on it."

Another gem from the Chomsky archive

James Madison, one of the most influential of the framers at the Constitutional Convention, who explained and insisted and stressed that the primary responsibility of government, in his words, is to "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." Therefore, democracy is a threat. We must make sure that the wealthy are in charge, what he called the "most capable class of men", and that the rest of the population is marginalized, fragmented, and dispersed. Well, a lot of people didn't like that, and there were plenty a conflict about it, but that's the constitutional system.

Only two people showed up to the Argosy meeting on Saturday evening, so I spent most of Sunday tracking down volunteers, and got a decent turnout for the make-up meeting. (Traditionally, the newly-elected Argosy Editor-in-Chief is responsible for putting out the last issue of the year. Since most of the staff are out of town, and not obligated to show up, I have to round up a whole bunch of volunteers.) In any case, it looks like it will be a decent paper.

posted by dru
April 29, 2001
# it's [still] simple

This pretty much sums it up:

income since 1967

From Boom for Whom?, by Doug Henwood.

posted by dru
April 10, 2001
# Stanley Fish

There is no such thing as free speech, an interview with Stanley Fish.

Reverse Racism, also by Stanley Fish.

posted by dru
April 01, 2001
# global hypocrisy index

Someone from IBM's Almaden Research Center is really intent on lowering the karma on all of misnomer. Whoever it is, must have a lot of time on their hands. I'm tempted to call karma a failed project, as every time I see that the karma has been changed, I wish that someone had posted a comment instead. I'll keep it around for a little while longer, just for kicks... though it is nice to know when people are generally pleased with one post or another.

I'm really quite busy. Mostly interviewing Argosy staff all this week. Today it was the staff writers. I'm really quite encouraged by the quality of the applicants so far. In other words, there's nothing much to see here on misnomer, move along...

... except for the long list of links about the FTAA that is presently on the front page of Maritimes Indymedia. The links are well worth reading, if I do say so myself.

"Anyone who says they can 'manage' any species except for humans is either delusional or lying outright" -- Paraphrase of David Suzuki, talking about the fish stocks off the Atlantic coast, which have been managed out of existance by the government fisheries types. Now, the natives are bearing the brunt of the animosity created by the death of the fisheries, instead of the bureaucrats who botched it in the first place. Here's a stat: 90% of the fish in the ocean are gone (compared to 200 years or so ago).

Suzuki mentionned the Union of Concerned Scientists' Warning to Humanity as well. It contains a lot of common sense, but it's worthwhile to note how far away from the obvious we are.

posted by dru
March 26, 2001
# yowks

I'm really busy trying to recruit people for the Argosy staff, arguing about the FTAA, and catching up on schoolwork, so there will be fewer postings these days.

Go read Paul Ford's Internet Culture Review again. It's worth it. I'm (slowly) compiling a list of really interesting or engaging articles that I've read online, in order to somehow prioritize the good stuff from the usual flood of links. Ford's essay is on it. So is this interview with Scott McCloud.

posted by dru
March 19, 2001
# Spree Feech

Bijan Parsia: Freedom to Spew: Appropriate Responses?

"For a country where freedom of speech has been interpreted so narrowly (and broadly) as to make bribery protected and community-based micro-radio unprotected, I don't see the tradition as all that worthy of following."
Damn straight.

posted by dru
by Dave Larlee

Dru this is totally unrelated... but i thought you might be interested...

Did you know you can listen to NY Police Scanner... yahoo is broadcasting it for the world to hear... it's live non-stop 24 hour crime.... boggles the mind.

February 21, 2001
# Rethinking genetics

Dang. I just watched the long version of All your base are belong to us, and was really quite impressed. A lot of work went into that. PeterMe's comments are kinda interesting, too. Taylor has posted what looks like the "original" but who knows how these things work. Ah! The thread over at plastic has a lot of answers, history, and urls.

Flash and (to a lesser extent) animated gif seem to be spawning a new, uber-low-budget way to get memes moving or distribute art. An early example of this was stick figure death theatre, but lately, I've noticed people watching Zombie College in the Argosy office. See also: Elian Wassup, that turkish/swedish thing, and don't miss Push Media, my submission to the SFDT, years ago.

Fascinating piece by Stephen Jay Gould in the NYTimes.

From its late 17th century inception in modern form, science has strongly privileged the reductionist mode of thought that breaks overt complexity into constituent parts and then tries to explain the totality by the properties of these parts and simple interactions fully predictable from the parts.
AFAICS, it's the "what is water?" problem on a more complex scale. If you divide water into its parts, you get oxygen and hydrogen. Understanding those doesn't give you a very good sense of what water is (i.e. oxygen and hydrogen make a flammable combination, but water doesn't). Vygotsky identifies this as a central problem in Psychology: if you seperate thought and language early in the analystic process, then you can never see them as a whole later on; you're stuck with two seperately formulated concepts. Of course, this only illustrates part of the problem, but it's a neat example.


Another Salon meta-review of Eminem, with which I can feed my continuing morbid fascination.

The most irritating rock-crit tendency -- the desire to appear risky even though you're 27 and have an M.A. from Brown -- was replayed in almost every review.

Ooh, Opera for Mac.

If the SAT was done away with permanently, it wouldn't be a moment too soon.

"There will be strong pressure on other state college systems to follow California?s lead," said Robert Schaeffer of FairTest, which advocates less emphasis on standardized test.
Bitter? Me?

posted by dru
February 17, 2001
# The real democracy..

I'm thinking of moving misnomer to another server. Namely, to http://www.dru.ca/misnomer/ . I'll be posting the same content to both sites for a while, and eventually I'll discontinue this site, I think. There are a number of reasons for this. Salient among them is the fact that editthispage.com was started as a 60-day demo, and eventually got extended. Thus, I can't really expect it to be free forever. There have been some been some performance issues with editthispage.com off and on for while now, which I'd like to avoid. Other than that, Greymatter has some really cool features, and I'd like to have all my stuff on one domain (dru.ca) if at all possible.

For some reason, I've got a craving for old-school rap these days, so I've been listening to A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and just to keep things international, a bit of Dubmatique and MC Solaar.

Phil Agre's thoughts and analysis of the effects of internet on democracy are well worth reading.

Michael Moore's opinion about the solipsism of the left is also worthwhile.

This page on Proactivist.com has a potentially interesting format for online photojournalism: small audio recordings that add atmosphere to each photo.

posted by dru
January 14, 2001
# White Privilege

Kendall Clark: My White Problem -- And Ours.

"Charges of racism, so the habituated response goes, are so stigmatizing (really?) that making them effectively forecloses all possibility of rational discourse. The risk, they claim implicitly, of mismarking racism far outweighs the gains of marking it properly. That's exactly backwards. The costs of its perpetuation far outweigh the price of mismarking it."

posted by dru