Monday, October 31, 2005

A president can only punch himself in the snout so often

Alito options: this and this.

1: hotly interested people offering data (e.g. a, a1, b, c, d), telling you what they think, even if what they believe is a mental codpiece of entire bunkum, or

2: a soylent broth of "neutral" nonsense heralded by a headline like:

Nomination Likely to Please G.O.P., but Not Some Democrats
Anyway, the most telling bit of data I've heard so far was the edge in Nina Totenberg's voice as she spoke about Alito on NPR.

If Bush thought Conservative Backlash was something, he's about to discover how Katrina-esque elements of his non-constituency are -- when suitably motivated.
[Watch this pool: On what date will GWB have to withdraw the nomination of US Supreme Court candidate Samuel Alito? - November 17]

Friday, October 28, 2005

to da victor belong de spoiled

USians have no history, they have the market instead. Nothing is less interesting to today's market than yesterday's market. Continuity is not even for sale. Let the good times roulette. On TV.

In his late poem Victory, Pasolini delicately wonders what existing in the day of its composition (c. 1964) had to do with that for which Italians died savagely only 20-odd years before.

A few lines from Norman MacAfee's translation of Victory -- via Direland via wood s lot -- not in the order of their textual appearance:

little by little in the barbaric breasts
of the sons, hate becomes love of hate,
burning only in them, the few, the chosen.


Who has the courage to tell them
that the ideal secretly burning in their eyes
is finished, belongs to another time, that the children

of their brothers have not fought for years,
and that a cruelly new history has produced
other ideals, quietly corrupting them?. . .


Where have the weapons gone, peaceful
productive Italy, you who have no importance in the world?
In this servile tranquility, which justifies

yesterday’s boom, today’s bust—from the sublime
to the ridiculous—and in the most perfect solitude,
j’accuse! Not, calm down, the Government or the Latifundia

or the Monopolies—but rather their high priests,
Italy’s intellectuals, all of them,
even those who rightly call themselves

my good friends. These must have been the worst
years of their lives: for having accepted
a reality that did not exist. The result

of this conniving, of this embezzling of ideals,
is that the real reality now has no poets.

Monday, October 24, 2005

prickly index

We have power, phones -- farther south it's worse. One checks little things to see how it is: the flowers on this cactus, for example, didn't go on strike, book a hotel room, or evacuate. They opened for business as usual:

Note: Some Indexical signs like this image might contain large meanings for whomever the sign might relate to, and nothing of the sort for those not in close contiguity with the thing that is the sign. The locality of this kind of signification, which is routinely employed by animals.

And, these signs are not always easily translatable. One must reconstruct the syllogism:
This flower is weaker than this house.
The flower is still here.
The house is probably ok.
Without the syllogism, it's a picture of a cactus flower.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hurricane Liberace

Southwest Florida is in a dissociative state today, in anticipation of "Wilma." The scene looks entirely normal, except for the caravans of cars moving north from the mandatory evacuation areas. People are out walking their dogs, swabbing down their boats, listening to the utterly superfluous random Jimmy Buffet tune. A few businesses are boarded up, but otherwise, you'd never suspect. Kids play stickball in the streets like aides in the White House, where no one speaks of Rove. All is calm, but a little tense, a practiced calm, perhaps a kind of wisdom, you go about your business, head down, all the while your sphincter is singing along with Banjo,
didja ever get the feelin' that you wanted to go,
then you got the feeling that you wanted to stay
Spent a couple of hours putting potentially hurlable outdoor objects out of the way, then attended, along with a whole lot of other people, a showing of Good Night, Good Luck.

In our pettifogging era of "bloggers vs. journalists," it has escaped us, what Murrow says at the very opening of the film (to faces who came to praise and bury him) about television used instrumentally "to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us." He is not saying that we need to be better journalists. He is saying that an intricate web of networks, news gatherers, corporate profiteers and advertisers had put the relevance of journalism in question, and television, barely born, had already become a means of subtracting, diverting and deflecting public attention from what could be called, with deadpan absurdity, the Real.

This is different from saying journalists do not have integrity. Or that corporations have allegiance only to capital. Or that the public doesn't care about truth. It's delineating a convergence of money, power, and infantilism clamped in a construct built to withstand hurricane forces. Speak all the truth to power you want: you're competing with Steve Allen, ER, Law and Order, Seinfeld, 24 Hours, The Honeymooners. You cannot escape the syntagm of the medium that relegates news to the status of a rude syncope in the viewer's breastfeeding. TIVO, Comcast, CNN: It's All Suck, All the Time.

The flickering witness of the film is to not try to state this in so many words, other than via Murrow's famous speech. Instead, it makes an filmic allegory of television by offering us a vision of human faces, an anatomy of old, squat, dumb, feckless, neutral, indefinable, normal, indefinably uninteresting visages - a semiotician's dream of the now-only-other of television (and movie) faces. It opens with these faces, before you even know the film is there, it broods, lingers on face after face, 50's faces, poorly lit, blotchy, strangely unlike the faces the camera - any camera known to us - is supposed to be worshipping. Faces of the uncool, parents, teachers, functionaries who are now mostly dead. The hopelessly rebarbative generation in dull wardrobes before things got interesting, before color, before Kerouac, before Bobby Darin, before.

Before we get to what went wrong, where, how, why, with television, we get to see what people looked like before television made them look like Liberaces who, having flunked piano, turned to making a living and chattering. (Liberace makes a brief, telling return from the grave as an impotent emblem of the other of Murrow.)

What Good Night, Good Luck aspires to do is big. It's after nothing nostalgic; if anything it's looking for something radically contemplative, monklike: It is saying that we need to do something other than "report" what Power says, like some mindless drooling court recorder. It is that we need to dissociate from the aesthetic and the economic in all their multifarious impingencies. TV didn't just make la vie en rose: it quashed intellect. Literacy, Liberace, same thing.

Good Night asserts the part about needing to listen to what Power is saying and doing -- mulling it, giving it the full weight of what it is about. And then deciding, Bill Keller and Pinch Sulzberger take note, whether what is being proposed meets the daily minimum requirement of integrity, intelligence, and honor stipulated by the ideals muttered in the Constitution among other places.

But these assertions occur in the flesh. The faces, the recorded presence of Joe McCarthy, looking half-mad, bullet-crevice between his eyes, slurring his slander for all to hear, matter less than the way Good Night, Good Luck does not look like television, or if it does, it looks like television before it became TV, when it had no models other than those of film or stage.

Meanwhile, we are entranced by the rorschach blots of Wilma. Quite colorful. So much information, and

nary a fucking clue.

Thanks for your thoughts of us. We plan to manage something along the lines, if one can hazard such an allusion in the wake of that of WonderChicken resurgent, of the Greek:
after he returned to Ithaca, that he must take a well-made oar and walk inland with it until someone asked him why he carried a winnowing-fan on his back. At that place, he was to make a sacrifice to Poseidon. He also told Odysseus that after all that was done, that he would die an old man, "full of years and peace of mind"...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

well, some moss

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Next year in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas...

This year in the penile dongle republic of Quantum Chad:
More than 6,800 federal trailers and mobile homes remain scattered around the state as temporary housing from the six storms, with 934 in Charlotte County alone. Newsday

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Silence not always the most reliable source

Ms. Miller said in an interview that she was waiting for Mr. Libby to call her, but he never did. "I interpreted the silence as, 'Don't testify,' " Ms. Miller said. "The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal," NYT
In today's epic, the Times portrays itself as the "bruised," dull-witted protagonist of a mildewed soap. It's worse than that, however.

Much is wrong with Judy Miller's apparently sovereign decisions, the Times' handling of her and them, and its own efforts to report on these matters... See this and this, for example, suggesting negligence higher up. A certain fecklessness:
Last week, Mr. Sulzberger said it was impossible to know whether Ms. Miller could have struck a deal a year earlier, as at least four other journalists had done. NYT
It's especially impossible if you do not ask real questions.

Miller seems to have a penchant for interpreting silence, absence, invisibility -- e.g., her interpretation of the non-appearance of hard evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The New York Times' inability to edit Miss Run Amok is part of a recurrent problem within its editorial agon: a certain inability to distinguish reporting on what is there from interpreting what isn't.

A problem shared by some psychotics.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

pumpkin soup

I remember, many years ago, city boy, my first encounter with a rural vegetable garden. Large ears of corn, plump tomatoes, but most notably the big naked squash as if positioned for effect by some prop dept. prankster. The implausible information that anything of the kind can and should occur without zoning board review. A stirring sense of proprieties violated, reasonable expectations upended. Not obscene, but country cousins.

That's part of the oddness of plant obesity. One sees, yes, it's a fruit that grows by 30 lb. a day, ok, or a fungus that extends for miles, and something in us immediately begins to wish to ascribe will (Nietzschean, most likely) -- an ideology -- to the thing. How could it not be thinking whatever it is thinking, we think.

It's unclear why we never tire of some kinds of bigness, easily tire of others:
It is as if our imagination is programmed to respond only to one terrible thing at a time; as if, after nine months in which we have seen two of the most dreadful natural tragedies in a lifetime – the Asian tsunami and the New Orleans flood – we have begun to treat disasters like pop records. Guatemala just hasn't charted. Melanie Reid, The Herald.
Is it possible to think humanity without invoking the television model? As AKMA notes, the 'Media We' tends to be selective in our spontaneous outpourings of sympathy. (A new grammar might be necessary to limn this sort of agency.)

Relative size is one powerful element, another is less easy to define. Pumpkin #23 on this list (via wood s lot) may soon be a frightful withered head, if the concatenated logic of networked bankruptcies has anything to do with it. That list (and its report) most definitely needs updating, but the garden it presents is surely more grotesque than the carnival of obese orange fruit we admire.

Are markets conversations? If nothing else, it's pretty clear that the private sector, which has no FEMA, now uses evolving bankruptcy mechanisms as its emergency management tool of early and often resort. The condottieri called in to subjugate these pumpkins when the fruits of their labor fail to support their labor have options that diminish the need for "conversations" with workers and unions.
The average union worker's wage-and-benefit package at Delphi is about $65 an hour, according to Delphi. Last week, just days before Delphi filed, the UAW rejected demands to cut workers' pay package to between $16 and $18 an hour. Reuters
The large, monstrous, strangely obscene is covered up. In Guatemala by mud, propitious for vegetable growth.

In New Orleans by blackwater.
"Well, you know this is all about bankruptcy," he says. "That levee? They letting it fail." Willie Walker


Truth in advertising link
, in case.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Apocalypse upon demand

The Wall St. Journal is freaking out about avian flu. It reports that scientists have recreated the bug of 1918-19, which killed some 50 million people. The studies in Science and Nature indicate that bug "was most likely caused by an avian virus."

It's not news that there could be a flu pandemic. The threat's been voiced by medical types for a while. The alleged news is that the US is not prepared.

"Avian flu could be the Katrina of medicine," warned John Bartlett, chief of the infectious-diseases division of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The Journal's special section contains some 20 stories and reports on avian flu. The Times Nonselect ("This is huge, huge, huge,") is on it here.

Some are seeing this as the Bush Admin's new effort to panic the population. After all, it's easier to broker use of the military when the populace is in turmoil.

Might we just suggest that the Bush Administration's tendency to instill fear is curiously incompatible with its demonstrated capacity for leisure time? This is the guy who is on course to have spent over one year at his ease by the end of this calendar year.

But as some gently keep reminding us, nothing is simple, or simply about Mr. Bush. It is publicly noted that there is a failing US infrastructure, a senseless war in the toilet, an emergency agency without a clue, and a backwardness in preparing for flu that compares unfavorably with other nations.

Yet Mr. Bush takes his ease. Logic suggests either that an entire solar system of certifiable goofballs -- who owe Messrs Bush, Rove, Cheney et al their jobs -- acquiesce in a mode of administration that has no excuse, or,
  1. These people honestly believe that they (and their Lord) can counterspin any and all reality-based crises -- or,
  2. Crises are needed - the more the merrier - to further the purposes and ends of those so blithely underprepare for them -- or,
  3. We have the fortune to be governed by a cargo clack of lunatics.
Crisis is the fuel of apocalypse, derangement. Nothing could be farther from mental coherence than an elected leader who spends more time vacating than he does doing anything else. But suppose there were a referendum, and USians favored having Mr. Bush and associates referred to psychiatric experts for a few little tests, and the tests proved what we've all been quietly thinking.

The follow-up question still would be: Whose purposes and ends are being served?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Media Tip #4: Confronted with Total Unhinged Gibbering Insanity, slip into Meta

President George W. Bush on Tuesday defended Harriet Miers, his Supreme Court nominee, against charges that she lacked the principles or preparation needed for the country's highest court, insisting she was "the best person I could find."

In a long White House news conference, Mr Bush sought to reassure Republican conservatives, saying his White House counsel "is someone who shares my philosophy today and will have that same philosophy 20 years from now".

The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused. "She's eminently qualified. She shares my judicial philosophy. She is a pioneer when it comes to the law. She's an extraordinary woman," he told reporters.

MSN Money: Bush defends Miers Supreme Court nomination


IMproPRieTies now sports comment filtration. It will miss all the love - it really could not hear "awesome blog!" often enough. But the system seems unfair. When I go to the splogs to which I am adverted by spamlove, they do not appear to be festooned with spamadmiration.
Why, Mommy, Why?

To the mortgage providers, dick enlargers/erectors/extenders/topology exaggerators, adware enthusiasts, edating communitarians, Automated Hurricane Katrina Bloggers, Evangelists of Financial Liberation, movie listers, P2P file sharers, Confidence Building Artistes,
Eyeless Directors of the Digital Gaze;

To the legion of microvendors, servicers, jobbers, middlemen, hale bots well met, bodacious boosters of the mechanical libido, panhandlers without portfolio, whose name, Legion, is a primitive understatement:

Great Comments! Awesome Blog! Mad Knowing You!