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21 April 2007

We Support A Fair Tenure Process for Dr. Norman Finkelstein Petition

Sign it; pass it on.

Letter to Charles Dickens re: "A Christmas Carol," or, "The Work of Children's Literature in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction"

Dear Sir:

We suggest the following changes to "A Christmas Carol."

  • It will be hard to market dolls of poor people. Plus, the Cratchits are so depressing. Can't you give them a Lexus or something? Or at least refer to a temporarily underperforming investment portfolio?
  • The whole exploitation of the workers thing, while properly moralized, is still too harsh for our target demographic (see attached spreadsheet). Even though the problem has been properly personified in the moral failings of Scrooge, as opposed to the economic system at large, it's still a little too depressing. Lighten up the situation -- have Cratchit simply be denied a promotion. God knows this would be traumatic enough!
  • We'll need to increase the Cratchit's economic status in order to maximize product placement. Poor people don't have much; this is a definite cross-marketing problem. At least bring them up to the Ikea level, as we'd like to ink a deal with them.
We realize that the whole thrust of children's literature is the deft suggestion of the darkness of life, of which children are increasingly aware, as well as the hope for light. However, you paint too dark a picture in the beginning of this story, as detailed above.

I think we should define a process by which you can address the changes suggested above for signoff on our end so that we can move together proactively on the same page.

Let's have a meeting to brainstorm this. We'll fly you in to Austin to meet with our marketing team. Then, we'll each make a presentation -- keep it at 30,000 feet, though. Don't bury me in details, for God's sake.

After that, we'll each take it back to our break-out groups and fine-tune the marketing message until we arrive at our brand essence.

Once we have that no-more-than-four-word phrase, we'll have the nucleus of our story.

I think that's the proactive way not to manage the book production process to the exceptional reader while still incentivizing a non-hierarchical, decentralized decision-making process in order to empower our human material to think outside the box while still maximizing buy-in from all stakeholders.

Pleasure doing business with you.

Blackberry ya later.

P. R. McKinsey, Editor

20 April 2007

Doha Debates: 'This House believes the Palestinians should give up their full right of return'

Before you scream, "Anti-semitism," you might want to note that these debates are made up of people on both sides -- in this case, Israelis and Palestinians. Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres, and other well-known anti-Semites have been on this debate show, which (of course) has no equivalent on US television.

See all the different debates here.

Middle Sexes - Experiment on homophobia, HBO Documentary

File this under, "No shit!"

More on this doc here.

Paul Wolfowitz: The Bank

LRB | Perry Anderson : Russia’s Managed Democracy

Looking at Russia is either looking at ourselves or our possible (likely?) future...

Chalmers Johnson interviewed by the CBC

Typically interesting and historically informed thoughts by Johnson...

The Unrecognized

Life of Israeli Arabs in the Negev.

Truthdig - Reports - "Hail and Farewell: the End of the American Empire," Gore Vidal

The audio is too slow; voice too low. Read it, though. On the money, as per usual.

Truthdig - Reports - "NAB-bing the Election," Amy Goodman

Posted on Apr 10, 2007

By Amy Goodman

As the TV pundits on the networks gab about the tens of millions of dollars raised by the top presidential candidates, what they don’t talk about is where that money is going: to their own networks.

[Click the title of the post for more...click "Amy Goodman" above for information on her and links to her other columns.]

Democracy Now! Archived Features

Dalai Lama
Bill Clinton
Amy & Aristide
Mobile phone
Sami Rasouli
Noam Chomsky
Robert Fisk
Noam Chomsky
Part: [ 1 || 2 ]
Hiroshima Countdown
Hiroshima Countdown
[ Stream | Download ]
Hugo Chavez Interview
Part 1 || Part 2 || NYC Speech
Galloway/Hitchens Debate
Video || MP3 Audio

Ana Nogueira Reports from Lebanon: From 2006. You didn't see this on MSM.

Ana Nogueira Reports from Lebanon
Special to Democracy Now!

Business Owners, Workers Charge Israel Deliberately Targeted Lebanon's Economy
[Stream] [Download: 14MB || 82MB]

Rebuilding Lebanon: Residents Struggle to Cope with Destruction
Stream] [Download: 22MB || 97MB]

Unexploded Israeli Cluster Bombs Litter Southern Lebanon

[Stream] [Download: 9.4MB || 27MB]

The Civilian Toll: Over 1,000 Lebanese Killed, One in Four Displaced

[Stream] [Download: 14 MB || 40MB]

19 April 2007

"Unhappy-Headed Cho", or, "The Cho Video(s), Free Speech, and Flak"

Yes, I feel badly for the victims' families. Of course. I'm serious. I also don't like cancer, the neocons' unending rampage, the Nazi holocaust, al-Qaida, existential pain, aging, or regret. I'm serious about that, too.

Isn't that amazing to find out? Do we all have to go around the table and say that over and over again? Just to make sure we're in the in-group? My god, it hasn't stopped for 9/11 yet -- to say nothing about other older tragedies. The emotional reaction for those not personally involved ought to stop after a couple of days so thought can set in. I realize this is a radical concept to some.

Now, can we talk about some actual news, please? Or: how best to prevent, if possible:

  • other mass shootings (gun control/ammo control, anyone? better mental healthcare system, anyone?);
  • environmental triggers for cancer, and not just promulgate genomic grant applica -- I mean, promises;
  • air strikes, possibly nuclear, on, say, oh, I don't know...um...Iran?;
  • genocide, or the abuse of the same for current political cover;
  • terrorism of all kinds, state- and otherwise....
Can't do much about the last three (i.e., existential pain, aging, and regret). Human condition. See Lapham below.

I know, I know...many people are talking about real issues. Not nearly enough. The Princess Di syndrome? Rubbernecking- plus-sticking one's head in the sand? There's an image; perhaps it's apt. The rough beast of humanity burrowing toward Armageddon -- to die?

Anyway, the link above describes why the police didn't want the Cho videos shown.

On first thought, I agree that it shouldn't have been shown, but not for the reasons this cop offers. Wrong, as per usual. It's not that they are disturbing -- that's the line on why we citizens are incapable of seeing images from Iraq. We just can't handle such violence and must be protected!

Which is a steaming pile of horseshit -- if we did see images from Iraq, the OTs, etc., we'd demand an end to the fighting! Any majority of a sufficiently large population of humans would. Unless, of course, Orwell was right. Which he probably was. But I'd like to test that theory.

I saw clips of the videos in a diner this morning with Donna, and the first thing I said was, that is totally irresponsible and reprehensible. Why not just egg on copycatters -- especially since the videos themselves, and the reporting around them, emphasized how this was "inspired" by Columbine?

Even Amy Goodman ran parts of the video. That surprised me.

This is different from banning the filming of caskets from Iraq and such, I think. Even if copycatting dangers are overblown, the only reason to show these videos is essentially pornographic. They should be studied by professionals, not ogled by moralistic masses frothing with prurient interest. What would Nietzsche have made of this? To say nothing of Freud? To say nothing of the TV and film marketers currently kicking "dramatization" ideas around the table, studying demographics.

I'll also note that zero sympathy has been shown for Cho in American media, that I've seen. Maybe that's a lot to ask of Americans. We do so love our Satans but we're not real good at the Jesus part of the theology, are we?

I find the whole thing sad, on many levels beyond the obvious, not least of which is the way in which some victims are worthy and others are not (meaning, the 33 V-Tech victims versus the hundreds a day in Iraq, who don't get multimedia flash presentations that humanize them on the NYT website).

Furthermore, you'll be unsurprised to learn (if indeed this is news to you) that the main angle on the videos has been Cho's "anti-rich bias" -- if I recall the words of the MSNBC talking haircut this morning aright. I assume the right-wing noise machine is deploying as I type to link this mad, sad act to all dissent. You know, like how lesbians caused 9/11.

Did you read Lapham's latest in Harper's? Not online (yet); essentially, he calls Americans children, quoting Cicero re: a lack of historical knowledge:
Cicero: Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.

Lapham: For Cicero, as for Arthur Schelsinger, history was not a nursery rhyme. Actions have consequences, one thing leads to the next, and sooner or later somebody's head shows up on a scaffold or a coin. Children don't see why they should be bothered to work out either the logic or the mechanics of the problem. Why take the trouble to remember what happened yesterday on channels 5 thorugh 9 when tomorrow is available on channels 12 through 24? The national shortage of adult minds suits the purposes of a government that defines its task as a form of child-rearing and guarantees the profits of the consumer markets selling promises of instant relief from the pain of thought, loneliness, doubt, experience, envy, and old age. A country so favored by fortune is one in which no childhood gets left behind. A self-regarding electorate asks of its rulers what the rich ask of their servants: "Comfort us." "Tell us what to do." The wish to be cared for replaces the will to act, and in the event of bankruptcy or rain, travelers stranded on the roads from here to there can send an owl with a message to Harry Potter.
Righto. I feel like I'm surrounded by babies -- even my Sicilian doctor, as he was removing a lipoma that had started to hurt from my forehead was agreeing that we desperately need single-payer national health care but that Americans demand everything yesterday, and so can't wait when there's no medical reason not to wait. This is true.

Finally, like the Imus affair, this story, while sad, is essentially not newsworthy anymore. Thus, it is flak, intentional or not. Millions are threatened with death in Iran; Iraq and Afghanistan are messes; plenty of other issues worldwide, if calculated only by actual or potential body-count, demand our mature attention. But the 33, and endless disputations on the soul of Cho (now that the soul of Imus has been well and truly divined), and any other sequelae from this sad event that will garner ratings, will fill the airwaves, national mental bandwidth, and water-cooler chatter for another couple of weeks -- or more.

Update: Who, exactly, is sicker, Cho or McCain?

Be prepared to back up your opinion with argument.

Filibuster for Peace: Sign the Petition

Kerry doesn't support this. Of course.

John Walsh: Why is the Peace Movement Silent About AIPAC?

As per usual, Kucinich is taking the courageous stand.

"The Vast Power of the Saudi Lobby," John R. MacArthur

Excellent article. Originally in the Providence Journal, a rag I generally excoriate.

There is more than one group of criminals in league with our group of criminals; this is a needed addendum.

18 April 2007

Finkelstein vs. James Petras on The Israel Lobby

Ya got 20 days to listen to this. KPFK, Los Angeles, Pacifica Radio, 90.7. Dig it.

Petras is bat-shit crazy, IMHO, but I haven't listened to this yet.

Iraq Has Two Virginia Techs Every Day

I know this is un-American to even consider, but surely we have emotional room for all victims? From Juan Cole's Informed Consent:

I keep hearing from US politicians and the US mass media that the "situation is improving" in Iraq. The profound sorrow and alarm produced in the American public by the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech should give us a baseline for what the Iraqis are actually living through. They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day. Virginia Tech will be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence. And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars. They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently, perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal and tribal violence, are just shot down. Shot down, like the college students and professors at Blacksburg. We Americans can so easily, with a shudder, imagine the college student trying to barricade himself behind a door against the armed madman without. But can we put ourselves in the place of Iraqi students?

I wrote on February 26,

' A suicide bomber with a bomb belt got into the lobby of the School of Administration and Economy of Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and managed to set it off despite being spotted at the last minute by university security guards. The blast killed 41 and wounded a similar number according to late reports, with body parts everywhere and big pools of blood in the foyer as students were shredded by the high explosives. '

AVAAZ: Peace in the Middle East -- Sign the Petition

Article - Opinion - Robert Novak: U.S. not interested in Hamas peace calls

Make of this what you will, but I think a part of official Washington is putting pressure on the neocons through their favorite organ, Novak.

17 April 2007

Columbia News ::: Video ::: The Roots of American Radicalism, Mar 1, 2005

I was lucky enough to have Jacob as a professor in grad school. She's the real deal: a true intellectual, not a word-gamesmith.

From the Columbia site:

What are the prospects for radical thought in our own times? Some of the most eminent and interesting historians in the world gathered at the Columbia University Heyman Center for the Humanities on March 1 for a daylong conference focusing on some of the dissenting voices of the Enlightenment in both Europe and America. Leading scholars offered their perspectives on the intellectual movement that swept through Europe and the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries, impacting the realms of science, theology and politics.

Margaret Jacob

Margaret Jacob, professor of history, UCLA, "The Radical Enlightenment: A Heavenly City with Many Mansions"

Real Video (23:40)

Jonathan Israel

Jonathan Israel, Institute for Advanced Study, "The Socio-cultural Structure of the Radical Enlightenment, or Why Holland and Not Britain? and Why Spinoza and Not Hobbes or Toland?"

Real Video (51:39)

Akeel Bilgrami

Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, reading a series of notes by Joyce Appleby on "Another Look at American Radicalism"

Real Video (31:59)

Eric Foner

Eric Foner, Dewitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University

Real Video (22:10)

Phyllis Mack

Phyllis Mack, professor of history, Rutgers University, "Agency and the Unconscious: Spiritual Dreams in 18th- Century Britain"

Real Video (46:31)

Deborah Valenze

Deborah Valenze, professor of history, Barnard College, commentator

Real Video (21:35)

Akeel Bilgrami Challenges Widely Held View of Basis of Gandhi's Philosophy on Non-violence

Chomsky, via the Znet Sustainers board, was nice enough to suggest looking into Prof. Bilgrami on Gandhi. This clip is about six minutes long and is from 2001.

Philosophy's Akeel Bilgrami argues that Gandhi, who was assassinated on Jan. 30, 1948, believed the adoption of moral principles generated criticism of others and eventually led to violence. In contrast with Western understanding, Bilgrami argues that Gandhi believed exemplary actions, not principles, are at the root of his philosophy on non-violence.
Some more by Bilgrami on Gandhi: "Gandhi, Newton, and the Enlightenment: Akeel Bilgrami Conjures a World Re-enchanted" (much longer -- about an hour -- from fall 2006).

If last year's Columbia-hosted panel discussion on the intelligent design controversy made one thing clear, it's that the stakes in the debate are much higher than simply arguing about whether the world was created in six days a few thousand years ago.

For Akeel Bilgrami, even though he is a secularist and an atheist, such spiritual yearnings are not only understandable but also supremely human. Columbia's Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy has argued in many essays that in our modern world, "religion is not primarily a matter of belief and doctrine but about the sense of community and shared values it provides in contexts where other forms of solidarity—such as a strong labor movement—are missing."

Invited by President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost Alan Brinkley to deliver this semester's University Lecture on Oct. 25th, Bilgrami chose to focus on the roots of modern society's "disenchantment," a term coined by German philosopher Max Weber in reference to the process through which all aspects of the world become explainable by natural science.

Bilgrami argued that there is a distinction between a "thin" and "thick" notion of scientific rationality. The former is politically and culturally innocuous whereas the latter views nature in essentially predatory terms—as something that is to be conquered with nothing but material gain as its end. Many of us recoil from this "thick" concept, claimed Bilgrami, because it supports the destruction of nature and has disastrous cultural and political consequences.

Bilgrami devoted much of his talk to tracing the origins of "thick" rationality as well as the critiques it has received over the years. He identified the 17th century as the critical turning point, when scientific theorists such as Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle put forward the idea of matter and nature as "brute and inert"—as opposed to a classical notion of nature as "shot through with an inner source of dynamism, which is itself divine."

Even at the time, there were many dissenters who accepted all the laws of Newtonian science but protested its underlying metaphysics, Bilgrami explained. They were anxious about the political alliances being formed between the commercial and mercantile interests and the metaphysical ideologues of the new science—anxieties echoed by the "radical enlightenment" as well as later by Gandhi.

According to Bilgrami, both Gandhi as well as these earlier thinkers argued that in abandoning our ancient, "spiritually flourishing" sense of nature, we also let go of the moral psychology that governs human beings' engagement with the natural, "including the relations and engagement among ourselves as its inhabitants."

Bilgrami expressed a certain sympathy for this dissenting view, noting that even if we moderns cannot accept the sacralized vision favored by these earlier thinkers, we should still seek alternative secular forms of enchantment in which the world is "suffused with value," even if there is no divine source for this value. Such "an evaluatively enchanted world" would be susceptible not just to scientific study, Bilgrami argued, but would also demand an ethical engagement from us all.

Some info on Bilgrami.

From SDS to Life After Capitalism: Z Mag Founder Michael Albert on Activism, 'Parecon' and a Model for a Participatory Society

Michael Albert on DN! Participatory economics is an interesting alternative to the disaster we live in, and worship, now. No, it's not socialism. Nor is it capitalism. Stumped? Click the previous link.

Info on Albert.

Chomsky and Zinn: Part 2; Amy Goodman: Force of Nature

1. Dershowitz gets called what he is: a jihadi. The esteemed lawyer's continuing project? To cover up his cover up of Israeli governmental crimes. The latter's been going on for 30-odd years; the former since Norman Finkelstein dismantled Dershowitz's The Case for Israel, a compendium of lies and plagiarism, in Beyond Chutzpah, which Dershowitz tried to keep from being published. It's all online (you can start here and here); the mass media has picked up on the story. A confrontation between Finkelstein and Dershowtiz on Beyond Chutzpah on DN! Part 1 (starts at 2:30), which was broadcast. Part 2, which was not (legal threats?).

2. Part one of Amy Goodman's joint interview of Zinn and Chomsky is here.

3. We saw Zinn and Goodman last night in Boston. Zinn was funny and informative.

Of course, Zinn was dryly funny and informative, as always.

But Goodman was a revelation. She is a force of nature. I had no idea what she was like as a speaker; had just seen her on DN! and in other fora where she did not have the stage to herself. She truly was, as Zinn mentioned, the reincarnation of Emma Goldman.

Smart, passionate, hilarious, and inspiring. She brought the house down several times. She was on fire -- like a secular preacher. Donna, my wife, was blown away, too -- the whole building was. Ended with a black-power salute, which was absolutely perfect given the crescendo she had built up. I don't usually use the word "thrilling" -- that moment was thrilling.

She weaves in stories of people with amazing skill and passion. That's what journalism is (pace Michael Gordon) -- it reminded me of Orwell, even. I said to Donna, whatever portion of her speech was part of her book tours' "usual," was amazingly fresh, heartfelt, and passionate; whatever part was extemporaneous (surely the part dealing with the V-Tech shootings) was admirably well-constructed. She wins either way. A real pro, in the best sense of that word...nice to know there are some people in their 50s (just recently!) who can carry on...

With Vonnegut gone, Vidal ailing, and Chomsky probably not immortal, all appearances to the contrary, it had been worrying me! A truly moving speech.

16 April 2007

Democracy Now! | In Rare Joint Interview, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn on Iraq, Vietnam, Activism and History

Just occured an hour ago; we'll be at the Zinn/Goodman event in Boston tonight.

Here's the video.

Part 2 of the discussion coming later in the week.

Two sane, rational, and highly ethical thinkers.

15 April 2007

Noam Chomsky on American Foreign Policy in Latin America

This [is] an interview with Professor Noam Chomsky on American Foreign Policy in Latin America, and Latin American integration. In the interview, Noam Chomsky addresses the traditional relationship between the United States and Latin America, the impact of neoliberal economic policies, and Latin America's "turn to the left."

I am the Director of Investigative Reports for "The Global Current," which is an international news show entirely run by undergraduate students at Seton Hall University. Our radio show airs every Saturd[a]y morning in the NYC metropolitan area ["The Global Current" airs on WSOU 89.5 FM every Saturday at 6:30am], and we also create videos for all of our reports and host them on YouTube. Please check out all of our videos on our main YouTube website, and also check us out on our blogger site.

Part 1:

Part 2:

"The Emerging Framework of World Power," Noam Chomsky

Tuesday, April 23, 2002
Northeastern University, Blackman Auditorium

Exploring the repercussions of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Noam Chomsky talks about the war on terrorism, US involvement with Afghanistan, and the long-term implications of America's military attacks abroad. His extensive knowledge of American foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia sheds light on the new contours of world power while posing important and troubling questions about our country's role in international affairs.

Holocaust Memorial Day

An apt and classy message from Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich.

If only all such remembrances were actually remembrances rather than abuses of memory.

Let's try to keep this event free from political abuse.

AlterNet: Blogs: Video: Daily Show does Israel [VIDEO]


Psyche, Science, and Society | New piece: Aid and Comfort for Torturers: Psychology and Coercive Interrogations in Historical Perspective

Excellent history lesson; frightening commentary on the psychological profession --at least at its elite levels, and unlike psychiatrists and doctors in general.

Truthdig - Reports - The Final Act of Submission

Scott Ritter on the removal of language from a bill that would have required congressional approval and sanction before any action against Iran.

As usual, the comments below the article range from the truly anti-Semitic to the knee-jerk accusations of Ritter being anti-Semitic. Hard to get any sanity on this issue in this country.