Friday, August 28, 2009

Typo on NYT Homepage Drew Notice 

Compound in Kidnapping Case Drew Notice
By MARIA NEWMAN and JESSE McKINLEY 15 minutes ago
Neighbors said they had known that a man charged with kidnapping a girl had a structures behind his house.

"...had a structures..."



"He had little girls and women living in that backyard, and they all looked kind of the same," Ms. Pratt said. "They never talked, and they kept to themselves."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

the weirdness 

Glenzilla goes off the reservation in a comments section:

Most of all, I’m currently under contract to write two books, one of which is a comprehensive examination of Chomsky’s life as a public intellectual as a means of understanding how America’s dominant media controls and narrows political debates.

I gotta say, even though I already know exactly what will be in it, it should be an interesting read. Greenwald's metamorphosis, er...radicalization, over the last eight years from a constitutionalist legalistic liberal to someone who can follow a chain of thought through to its logical conclusion has been...what? emblematic? interesting? encouraging?

Meanwhile Matt Taibbi, also someone I generally consider one of the good guys even in spite of his picket-line crossing on The Daily Show, comes up with this headscratcher:

There are some days when it almost seems like the national press is making a conscious effort to prove Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent gospel. If the national commercial media really did exist solely to perpetuate the attitudes of the political elite, and to create phony debates around unthreatening policy poles, endlessly pitting a conservative/reactionary status quo against an “acceptable” position of dissent — if that thesis were the absolute truth, then you’d see just what we’re seeing now in the coverage of the health care debate.

Um, yeah Matt. It's almost like that. So close. So very close. Well, except the part about "conscious effort", "gospel" and "absolute truth". I honestly can't tell in this passage whether he's trying to distance himself or embrace the "gospel". Maybe he's cleverly slipping it in to a mainstream publication while not wholeheartedly advocating it thus giving himself room for plausible deniablity should he be accused of Chomskybot-ism? Very mysterious. Whatcha tryna say here, Matty?

At any rate, two swallows do not a summer make, however perhaps one may indulge a hope that they portend a trend. It's near axiom in radical circles that hard-times and repressive reactionary leadership will galvanize the somnambulent mass into social struggle. Although if contemporary American history is anything to go by, the reverse may actually be closer to the case. The 60's didn't really get into gear until it became clear that Kennedy had no interest in reversing Eisenhower. Similarly, the Clinton bait-and-switch made the actual state of affairs eminently clear to at least enough people to shut down the WTO talks in Seattle. The scales had fallen so far that Big Labor and Big Student were united for the first time in nearly two generations.

On the glass-half-full model, let's view Greenwald and Taibbi as an encouraging sign that prominent dissenters are pushing their critique ever leftward as the Obama Presidency continues to "fail" rightward.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Regardless of present and future disappointments, I will always remember this as Edward Kennedy's finest moment. It is not remarked upon enough that without his switch during the primary, Obama would likely not gotten the nod over Clinton.

There is hope and the subsequent reality that reveals hope to always be an ideal of what could happen. The Kennedys embody that problematic yet essential potentiality that defines the sunny side of the 1960s, the flipside of riots, assassinations, cults and coups.

Bizarrely, it is as though the 1980s are dying now, SIMULTANEOUSLY with the 1960s. Did "the 1970s" really exist, as anything other than aftermath or prelude? Surely the 1990s are an equally identityless decade when compared with the nightmare of Bush. The 60s and the 80s are counterpoints to one another, pure ingenuousness and pure falsehood, or as they called it then, simulacrum. Perhaps the 80s cannot exist without this earlier decade that it relentlessly tried to erase from memory. Now both will go together, while the rest of us gaze out on an abyss.

In this sense, the speech above is one of the most moving rebukes of death that I have ever witnessed. For these instants he staves off the demise of an entire era, and shoulders its weight.

Rest in Peace Ted Kennedy 

I found reason for hope in the passion of Obama's words about Senator Kennedy:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

I hope Senator Kennedy gave Obama something like the following advice, and that Obama has been listening to it: "Use the office to get things done. Take the measure of where you are and see what you can accomplish. Forget about glory. Don't worry about the anger that people will feel and the criticism that they will level. A lot of it may in fact be warranted -- but there may be no way for you to avoid it. In the morass of Washington, it takes compromise with and appeasement of evil forces to get anything done. This makes people angry, as it should; you may have to take this anger on yourself if you want to use your power to save a few, or a few thousand, human lives. Make the deals you have to and let God and the people who truly know you be your judges."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


It's a tough life once off the breast.

"Court papers pertaining to the death of Michael Jackson revealed that the star had a nickname for the anesthetic propofol, as The Times reported:

Dr. Murray [Jackson's personal physician] told the police that the singer referred to propofol as his “milk.” On the day he died, Mr. Jackson was unable to sleep and, after repeated demands, the doctor administered propofol in an IV drip."

And fuck the "Vocab Blog."

a funny 

IOZ interviews Malcolm Gladwell:

Today I am thrilled to be joined by America's most important thinker, Malcolm Gladwell, who writes for The New Yorker and will soon publish his fourth book, Hey!. Today, Gladwell talks to us about his new book, elections in Afghanistan, Health Care, and state of the American economy.

IOZ: Mr. Gladwell, thank you for joining us.

MG: Thank you.

IOZ: Malcolm, what is your new book about?

MG: Well, IOZ, it's about how when you call across a room, street, or open outdoor area to someone who hasn't previously noticed you, they will hear you and become aware of your presence. This is really a remarkable phenomenon, but much of the newest research has yet to be written about for a general audience. I got the idea one day when I was in Manhattan. I was on Bleeker, and suddenly someone called, "Hey!" Before that, I hadn't known he was there. Afterward, I did. So I started to ask myself, what goes on in that moment. What is the real story there? In a broader sense, it is a book about what it means to be human.

IOZ: Heady stuff, no doubt. But Malcolm, won't some people say, oh, that is just glib repackaging of a totally banal and widely appreciated fundamental of everyday, lived experience?

MG: They might, but they would be misunderstanding the central idea of the book. You see, this isn't a story that's been told before. It isn't about hearing, or voice recognition, or the habits of human public interaction. Those stories have been told before. This is really a story about an idea.

IOZ: Do stories and ideas mix, Malcolm?

the rest

Monday, August 24, 2009

Important Petition 

From Jewish Voice for Peace:

On Thursday, August 20 the LA Times published an op-ed in which Ben Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon, a prominent political scientist and long-time peace activist, wrote that the question that kept him up at night, both as a parent and as an Israeli citizen, was how to ensure that his two children as well as the children of his Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime. His pained conclusion is that the only strategy left is "massive international pressure" in the form of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). He therefore endorses the Palestinian BDS campaign proposed by a wide swath of Palestinian civil society.

Following the publication of the article there has been a vehement and aggressive attack against Gordon in Israel that calls into serious question Israel's committment to academic freedom and the democratic right to free speech.

We now believe that "massive international pressure" will be needed to keep him from being fired from his job.

...Prof. Rivka Carmi, the President of Ben Gurion University, was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying that the "university may no longer be interested in his services." She added that "Academics who feel this way about their country, are welcome to search for a personal and professional home elsewhere."

Sign the letter.


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