Monday, January 31, 2005
(2:07 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Should I sell my truck?I'm getting really discouraged by the trouble I've had over my truck lately. It runs perfectly, but apparently it is an unpopular vehicle in government circles. Doing some research into one of the two parking tickets I received Thursday, I discovered that one of them is for the offense of having parked my truck on a residential street. Apparently in certain wards of Chicago, they recognize the fact that people sometimes use a truck for their primary vehicle and do not ticket those trucks. Apparently I don't live in one of those wards.
I would also add that the City Sticker costs twice as much for a truck -- even, apparently, the smallest truck of them all -- and the only way to avoid getting assessed a late fee is to bring in a copy of a lease, when we don't have a formal lease. That is also the only acceptable evidence for me to contest the ticket that I received on Thursday for not having the City Sticker.
All of this trouble follows a long string of fraudulent tickets I've received from the Illinois Tollway for toll violations I couldn't possibly have committed in areas that I've never been. My explanation: the idiots in the Secretary of State office don't "retire" license plate numbers when they expire; instead, they immediately issue them to someone else. In January 2004, I was apparently issued the same number as someone whose I-Pass transponder wasn't working for most of 2003 and who -- in an incident that brings joy to my heart -- also didn't promptly renew his registration, which meant that he was driving around on my plate number through February 2004, resulting in some tickets that I couldn't actually prove were not mine. Although I managed to get the many, many 2003 tickets cleared up, the 2004 tickets were a bigger problem. I talked to a lawyer about the situation, but he didn't do shit, so I ended up just paying the $100 so that they wouldn't raise the fine to $350, send me to collections, and suspend my license. If there is any justice in this world, the other guy has renewed his plates and been assigned the numbers of someone else who has an I-Pass problem.
So the question is as follows: Is my truck cursed? If so, is the curse livable compared to a curse that would entail physical problems with the truck? Would it be morally acceptable for me to pass such a curse onto another private individual (from whom I could get $6800, according to the Blue Book)? Would the moral issue disappear were I to pass the the curse onto a used car dealer (from whom I could expect a mere $5000)? Or is it sufficiently ridiculous that a poor, unemployed grad student is driving around a truck that could command such a price, such that any misfortune that befalls me is karmically appropriate? Is my ire disproportionate, and if so, is it the result of my having read too much Kafka as a teenager?
(My ownership of this truck stems from a fortunate confluence of some car troubles with my previous, appropriately shitty car and my grandma's unexpectedly coming into a little money, with which she bought me the S-10, the cheapest new car she could find, basically on impulse -- meaning that I have already had my share of the inheritance.)
(10:12 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Credit CardI saw Arthur Miller's American Clock, a Depression-themed vaudeville, this weekend, starring Thomas Edson McElroy. In it, McElroy's character says that when he saw that his company's stock price was still going up despite the fact that he had received no orders for three months, he knew that it was all smoke and mirrors and decided to sell all his stock and use the money to buy gold bars. I think a similar realization hit me today when I was approved for a new credit card with a 0% balance transfer, after writing on the application that I currently had no job and had made approximately $12,000 the previous year.
(American Clock is very good and runs through this weekend; I recommend seeing it if you get a chance.)
(8:39 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Islamic LawI'm no expert on Islam. I had an exceptionally good high school education when it came to such matters, but I haven't really gone out of my way to learn more since then. With that in mind, the remarks that follow could very well be entirely wrong, but I'm going to write it anyway:
Why would it necessarily be a bad thing for Muslim clerics to be closely involved with government, in Iraq or any other country? Why do people worry about the prospect of basing laws on Islam? I think the experience of Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity, has led us to expect that every religion will be politically disengaged to a criminal degree. In point of fact, Islam is a particular form of politics, and Muhammed was a military conquerer -- I'm sure that Islam really is a peaceful religion, as noted Islamic scholars George W. Bush and Tony Blair have repeatedly claimed, but it's not really hard to be peaceful when you hold power over a good chunk of the world, as Islam did for centuries. And apparently that huge swath of the world was governed pretty well by Islamic law, which I'm sure is a much more variegated and rich tradition than the current wacko advocates of Islamic law make it out to be (of course, I might just be assuming that there's a parallel to Christianity here when there isn't one).
Many thought that Milbank's remarks about Islamic forms of government were naive, but conditions in the Islamic world have not been such that Islamic forms of government could naturally develop. Instead, every country has been ruled by some tyrranical dictator (or just plain tyrant -- I agree with Agamben's remarks that we shouldn't dignify people like Saddam Hussein by calling them by the same name as the emergency leaders of Rome), who has incidentally been either installed or supported by our fine Christian nation. In situations like that -- say, in Iran, where the Shah was ruling -- it may well be that only people with crazy religious views (i.e., views that are disconnected from reality) are going to have the courage and resolve to overthrow the leader in question, and they are likely going to have popular support because of what they're defending against. In situations of non-tyrrany, the views of the majority are likely to be non-crazy, because most people refrain from being crazy or supporting craziness except for strictly pragmatic reasons.
In any case, allowing people to draw upon and reactivate existing and long-standing religio-political traditions makes a lot more sense than just assuming that something like "the American system" is universally and immediately applicable to all human groups. Of course, if we dropped the assumption that the American model is necessary for full participation in humanity and the assumption that a population that shows itself to be unworthy of such a wonderful form of government can only be controlled by a tough guy with a moustache who will stave off "the worst," then we'd have to completely reformulate our foreign policy.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
(7:03 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Žižek continuedJodi Dean continues her discussion of Žižek (here are two other parts). She describes her goal as follows:
That's it for now. My goal in these two short pieces has been to try to systematize some of Žižek's thinking on the Party, to demonstrate that there is a consistent line of argumentation throughout his work. And, I'm doing this because there is a sense among some philosophers and political theorists that Žižek isn't serious, that he is an extreme pseudo-theorist. I disagree and so want to trace out the underlying system in a way that might be convincing to his critics. In addition to systematizing some of his other concepts (I have articles on his notions of law and democracy), I will also be working out potential repercussions or extensions of his ideas. That is, I want to argue to political theorists that Žižek is useful in thinking about the present.Certainly it's been a few years since Žižek has produced anything of the quality of For they know now what they do, Tarrying with the Negative, or The Ticklish Subject -- and certainly one could argue that it's a damn shame that his status as academic superstar (and his apparent addiction thereto) did not correspond with the period of his best work, such that some critics who have only read one of his later books have decided that he can safely be dismissed (admittedly with some justification, depending on the book in question).
(9:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Noam ChomskyWouldn't it be funny if the title of Chomsky's latest book were Hegemony: Or, Survival?
UPDATE: So apparently Iraqis are turning out in large numbers despite attacks intended to deter them. As we've learned so many times in Iraq, deterence doesn't work. I just hope this doesn't turn out to be another one of those trademark "catastrophic successes."
A related idea, and a possible slogan for something: Unlike God, George W. Bush has a Salvadoran option for the poor.
And my biggest worry right now? Comcast is trying to charge me $150 for the rental modem that I returned to them -- they're "looking into it." Also, I got two parking tickets in one day, both of which were wrongful. And I'm just really really upset about that, because I feel like the government and the corporations could just team up to extort all my money from me, and I'd have no recourse -- except, of course, for the fact that I am a white, male, educated American citizen, so I do have recourse, and both of these problems will be cleared up by the end of the week. But yeah, that's what really gets my dander up -- parking tickets and inaccurate bills for my high-speed Internet service.
Friday, January 28, 2005
(6:04 PM) | Brad:
I Know Not What I Do ... Or Do I?This may have something to do with my increasingly antagonistic spirit toward life in general, my sense of being 'oppressed' (as one friend described it), but I really am coming to hate National Public Radio. Fair enough, you say. Indeed, there are a couple of common reactions to this: (a) You're right, they're liberal bastards; or (b) You're right, they're not liberal enough bastards. Or, I suppose there is also (c) You're right, where's Avril and Usher? Now, I'll disregard (c) for now, but should probably explain why I think its equally valid to dismiss (a) and (b).
My problem is that, no matter what they like to think of themselves or what its diehard listeners want to believe, NPR is absolutely vacuous. It is, I think, perhaps even worse than Fox News -- because at least there the vacuity is so readily apparent. (It's as though Brit Hume is telling the viewer, 'Don't believe any of this. We're only doing this for the money.' NPR, however, hides itself behind the façade of being 'commercial free'.) There may be no paid advertisements as such, but to think it outside of commercial interest is overwhelmingly naïve. Case in point: like most commodities, what you 'paid for' (metaphorically speaking in this case) is not what you actually receive. When most of us listen to NPR, we're 'paying for' a more robust presentation of world and culture than what is offered on our Clear Corp.-dominated airwaves. What we receive, though, is an ephemeral hint of the world and culture, normally of cultures and worlds not our own -- somewhere out there to be appreciated, to be incorporated into our spectrum of what can be considered entertaining (Iranian cinema, Icelandic pop, etc.). Most importantly, though, we receive the temporary satisfaction of being a responsible, discerning consumer -- 'It's certainly better than Fox News and CNN, right?!'
My problem is not that these things are offered. I prefer a band like, say, Sigur Rós to Kelly Clarkson, and am happy there is a radio station will occasionally play such music. I prefer longish news pieces, wherein details and nuance can be fleshed out, over CNN soundbites and news tickers that give the latest tragedy the look of the latest market tip. No, my problem is, in essence, that what NPR is really offering is the equivalent of kissing your sister in a Josie Maran disguise. She's still your sister, you incestuous bastard.
For instance, earlier this week I was listening to my local classical music station, which is also a NPR affiliate, and they played a quick promo for an upcoming five-part series from 'All Things Considered' on different people's opinions about Social Security reform. You know, because different perspectives on social issues is good. It's healthy. It helps us understand one another better, so that we might all stay anesthetized .... I mean, get along nicely. My thought was: what about a five-part series in which numbers are crunched, philosophical arguments presented, and debate facilitated (rather than just suggested or hinted at) about Social Security reform. Do we really need more anecdotalizing of major social issues? Do we really need to be even more 'meta-' about our political discourse -- i.e., how does issue X play to constituent Y? Does this really help? Is tolerance really so helpful when we don't even understand or own the terms in which it is even possible?
Moreover, the reactions I cited above, (a) and (b), are not really as distinct as they might appear. I suspect that those who don't think NPR is liberal enough object to the presence of any conservative perspective at all ... or at least that the nuances of the liberal agenda are not made explicit enough ... that what it gains in ideological balance, it loses in actual substance. The twist, of course, is that the liberal wants NPR to respond to what they perceive as conservative hegemony in media. Most do not simply want the dialectical opposite of Fox; indeed, they'll say they want 'truth' to be presented; but, in the end, this is because the liberal perspective is in fact true and/or more reasonable. I think that while there is something to be said for this criticism, it misses a greater point that actually brings it closer to its conservative counterpart. Namely, that insofar as NPR presents itself as, in effect, above the liberal/conservative fray, to being more intelligent and 'fresh' and 'outside the box', by pretending to be it -- i.e., unfettered news and culture, at its noncommercial freest, NPR effectly conflates the cause and the object of the liberal's desire. She desires NPR both for and because of its false promise of, what else to call it, surplus-value; making it, as such, the ultimate fetish-commodity.
Which is, by extension, is another explanation why, despite my growing antagonism to it, I continue to listen nevertheless.
(8:01 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon ConfessionalTraffic to this site has still never recovered its pre-holiday levels. We were hitting 400 visits a day pretty consistently in the months leading up to the election, and now we're trending downward. Perhaps Google image search no longer associates this site with the infamous ass-capper tattoo. In any case, the confession in there is that I have too much of a fascination with gauging the exact level of The Weblog's popularity at all times.
I confess that I'm really happy with the level of group participation in posting this week and think that everyone's posts were really good -- particularly Robb's musical interlude and Adam's inspired fiction -- and I hope that this is part of a growing trend.
Please feel free to share your confessions below. If anyone would be interested in a Paypal-based indulgences program to complement the confessional, please let me know.
UPDATE: Brey has expressed a wish for a return to the yellow background that The Weblog had this summer. Others, notably Monica Bennett, have also requested the change. For that reason, I am setting up a poll. Voting will extend until I get up Monday morning, at which point I will tabulate and act upon the results:
UPDATE (2): Yeah, the poll isn't working.
Anyway, do we think that George has something to confess about his "family member" Condi?
UPDATE (3): I took down the poll because it seemed to be causing the main page to hang halfway through loading. The current scheme kicked the yellow scheme's ass, though, to such a degree that I can't imagine the yellow one coming back -- which means I don't have to bother changing the template. See, in a democracy, those in power are the real winners.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
(5:05 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Whatever happened to the environment?Those of you who are my age: remember back in junior high and high school, when people talked about the environment, when municipal recycling programs got really big, when Captain Planet reached 200 million households a day? What happened?
I had a long discussion -- or argument -- last night with Lauren that touched on the environment. She argued that our technology had gotten way out of hand, that our objectifying relationship to the earth as a natural resource that we assume is simply inexhaustible is a root cause of that technological degradation, and that we need to come up with new ways of thinking (about God, about ourselves, about our supposed distinctiveness from nature) that would help to reverse the habits that got us into this situation in the first place. To my knowledge, she has never done much study of Heidegger, but her views were remarkably similar to Badiou's summary of Heidegger in Manifeste pour la philosophie.
I won't flatter myself by saying that my opinion, such as it was -- which was formulated on the spot, as a mere reaction to a set of ideas that I had heard somewhere before and found unconvincing, without anything in particular to put in its place -- were identical to Badiou's in any way. I was, however, deeply amused by Badiou's response to Heidegger's technophobia: «Messieurs les techniciens, encore une effort si vous voulez vraiment le règne planétaire de la technique!» ("Honored technologists, try a little harder if you really desire the worldwide reign of technology!") He points out something we've all thought: although technology has admittedly advanced a great deal, it still sucks. I am reminded of the scene in Last Night where the main character, facing the end of the world, expatiates at great length on the fact that car design let us down, that the world was going to end without any really cool car being invented. The problem, Badiou says, is not technology, but the worldwide reign of capital. Capital actually constrains technological development -- I extrapolate from Badiou's insight that the reason technology has ruined the environment isn't because of the values of technology per se, but the values of capitalism. The reason clean technology hasn't been developed and more hasn't been invested in cleaning up existing messes is that capitalism is inherently conservative; having found one means of extracting profit, capitalists will keep at it until it becomes painfully obvious that that flow of capital is no longer going to flow. Extracting oil from the ground and driving inefficient cars turns out to be a pretty effective way of generating profit, whereas any other technology is going to require a great deal of investment and a high degree of risk (to profit) -- so why not just stick to what we know?
I suggested to Lauren -- who said that if humanity would just disappear, the earth would recover and return to some kind of balance -- that maybe we've gone beyond a certain tipping point, such that we humans have fucked things up so badly that further technological advancement is the only hope, that if all of humanity suddenly disappeared today, life could continue in only a very impoverished state (the reign of cockroaches and rats!). Again, this was just a conjecture based on no evidence, but it seemed at least possible -- I do have a preference for the human race not to die out and do believe that I have a greater moral obligation to my fellow humans than to members of other species, so maybe my suggestion was just a last-ditch effort to make humanity's existence a potential asset.
So here, I formulate the position that I couldn't come up with in conversation: The logic that needs to be replaced is not necessarily the logic of divine transcendance (in order to put the divine into the created world and hopefully produce greater "respect" for the created world), nor the logic whereby human beings are qualitatively different from and more valuable than any other living or inanimate thing, nor even the logic whereby the "natural world" becomes a resource that we can shape and use -- the core problem is the logic of capitalism, the reign of surplus value. If we weren't so devoted to the nihilistic accumulation of capital, then we could direct the enormous energy and potential of human reason, human labor, human desire, toward the end of making the world a place in which life can proliferate in ever greater ways -- that is the nodal point that we must break through, and the way through is forward, with more and better technology, with more and better reason.
I have no idea how to implement these ideas, however.
UPDATE: This article wasn't directed toward this post, but I guess I must be a doctrinaire Marxist more concerned with maintaining some out-of-date theory than with actually stopping oppression. (Via Socialism in an Age of Waiting.) Also, one might ask: Am I, with my vulgar Marxist fundamentalism, as bad as those theorists of cyber-politics who stopped reading political theory shortly after the Federalist Papers?
(1:38 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
TV NewsRich of Infinite Diablogue posts his befuddlement about a recent newsradio broadcast in which they reported on the damage that could possibly occur were a terrorist to launch a shoulder-mounted rocket at a commercial airliner. He wondered why they would report about something that hasn't happened and speculated that it might be a desire to drum up fear.
I don't listen to radio news other than NPR, where such scare-tactic pieces seem to have a very limited role, but on TV news -- on every single TV news broadcast I have ever seen, particularly local news -- they seem to do nothing but talk about some previously unnoticed health risk or danger. "Seatbelts -- could they strangle your infant to death?" "Fire-hydrant explosions that kill groups of children playing nearby -- is the city doing enough to prevent them?" "Disgruntled kindergarteners with assault weapons -- could it happen in your child's classroom?" When did this become the dominant format for TV news?
I would propose a unilateral shutdown of all TV news shows, but that would have the unfortunate consequence of rendering many of the jokes on The Daily Show unintelligible.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
(10:44 PM) | Adam R:
Brad and Jennifer Break Up Over CoffeeBrad gave Jennifer a tired look. He couldn’t stand the way she held her mug with two hands, interlocking her fingers behind the handle and pressing her thumbs together as she sipped the hot coffee. Things hadn’t always been this way, he thought. He used to adore these peculiarities.
Now he even hated the slight curl of hair that hung over her face, that style that had become so famous, that had covered so many magazines. This, he thought, is going to be tough. He looked into his coffee.
A few specks of cane sugar rose to the top and spun in a slow circle. He sunk them with his spoon. When he lifted the utensil from his cup the sun caught the concave edge and a gleam of light reflected off of it onto his tooth, which gleamed white. Someone walking past the outdoor café recognized him then.
“Eetsa Mistuh Brad Peet!” the Japanese man said loudly. He started to walk toward the couple but was efficiently redirected by Carlos, who was paid weekly for the favor. Brad smirked.
“What’s with you today?” she said. “You won’t get out of bed. I open the drapes onto the . . . what, the Mediterranean sunrise and you roll away. I take the covers and you don’t move. You won’t get out of bed. Finally you get out of bed but you sit in the bathroom for an hour.”
It was true. When he finally lifted himself from the bed—the sheets on which, it should be noted, had a thread count of over 1,000 and were engineered so finely that traditional ratings were meaningless—Brad simply stumbled into the shower and sat on the bench without turning the faucet. His pajama bottoms hung loosely from his sculpted abdomen and his stubble grew in patches.
He looked into his coffee again now, waiting for runaway sugar. None came. He toyed with his spoon, which reflected light several hundred feet across the square. “Could I crash a car with this?” he wondered, shooting beams into the windows of an oncoming Fiat. The car swerved into a cypress tree and Brad guiltily set the spoon onto his napkin.
“Argh!” said Jennifer passionately, looking at the accident then back to her remote husband. The driver climbed out of his dented car and said something in Spanish.
“It’s a perfect effing day for bananafish.”
“Come again there, good buddy?”
Jennifer didn’t know what to make of this. It was nonsense as far as she could tell but on the other hand she was glad to hear him say something finally. Maybe he was thinking about a screenplay or an old joke.
“Well, good. I’m glad you’re happy.”
Brad fixed his gaze on her. In the distance he heard the scream of foreign sirens, so unlike the sound the police cars made in the States. Carlos watched the action across the narrow street. The police officer parked his car behind the Fiat and went to the enraged driver who gestured at Brad’s table, but Brad focused on Jennifer. He was just someone having coffee in Spain with a beautiful woman he no longer loved. “Dum-de-doodle,” he hummed innocently in his head, trying to think of something else to say.
And Jennifer held her coffee mug with two hands, also trying to think of something. Meanwhile, the police officer couldn’t get the driver to lower his voice or to explain why his car was crashed into the city’s tree.
“A Starbucks out here, who’d have thought it?” Jennifer said.
Brad was lifted from his introspection. “You know, that’s just like you to celebrate the gross corporatization of the world. If I wanted to drink this crap I’d have stayed in LA, or in, dang, in Muncie, Indiana. Or I’d have shot myself.” He said “dang” again then emptied his mug onto the sidewalk and stood up.
“Where you going, Tyler Durden?” but Brad didn’t catch the reference because he was already half-way across the street. He opened the door, climbed into the Fiat and backed it off the tree, then past the now speechless driver and the officer who cocked his head curiously, and then, with the problem all solved, got into his squad car and drove away.
(9:11 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Parting with a thing.
One such theme was Austerlitz's backpack that always carried the work and life of Austerlitz from one train station to another. My friends and I could relate, all of us were always carrying a satchel or backpack of some kind. This thing, which always carried more things, was another part of us. I can't think of a time when we were without our bags for any extended period of time. I also remember traipsing all over Paris for what seemed like four hours, all to find the bar that contained the missing bag of a friend who lost it in a very drunken haze.
My own bag had been with me since my 18th birthday. It was a large, red Dickie’s bag that my mom bought me with matching red Chuck Taylor's. After four years of constant use it developed large holes, and was stained with booze, smoke, commuter filth, spilled soda, and God only knows what else. It has carried all my books since my senior year of high school up until this week of my senior year of university. That bag has seen me change as much as my friends, from the patches which once covered it to the books I chose to carry in it. This past week, as if to make our move to Chicago somehow more real, I bought a new bag that was, for the moment, clean and whole.
There is a IKEA commercial where some yuppie buys a new lamp and throws her old one out. The camera position and the music cause a feeling of pity for the old, unwanted lamp which stops abruptly as a Swedish man laughs at the silliness of feeling sorry for a purely material thing. I always hated that commercial precisely because the message was, "Your things don't matter, so throw them out and buy new ones." Not that I would want to be a slave to my possessions (I surely am) and always worry about them, but the way I used that red Dickie’s bag meant something. It was used, and I depended upon it being used. It, in a very silly way, gave me a very special gift of usefulness. As silly as it sounds, I am very thankful for that bag.
(1:18 PM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Sadomasochism: Guns, Germs, and SteelPer recent discussion of Darwin:
So I didn't even know that my brother-in-law knew who Foucault was, let alone that he was one of my favorite authors. Thus my surprise at seeing the title Guns, Germs, and Steel when I opened a gift from him last Christmas. And with that cover. Had to be about sex. Endorsed by Bill Gates on the back cover: Puñetas!
Okay, so instead it was an astonishing metanarrative of the last 15,000 years that finally attempted a defense/rescue of Origin of the Species alternate title (The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life). However, while Diamond delivers a knockout blow to hard scientific racism (something we strangely still needed), his account still very much justifies a kinder, gentler racism (hey, whites just are superior, but it is only an accident of geography - and in the new afterword, maybe the yellowman will catch up before too long, there's been a seesaw battle throughout history - everyone else? too bad, so sad, join western civilization or else). Definitely a product of academia in California.
It is no accident that Bill Gates enthusiasm for the book has been enthusiastically recieved. Darwin has been the very real 'big other' of capitalism in America (and elsewhere) at least since Herbert Spencer. As with gay marriage, conservatives only think they are opposed.
(10:37 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Pundit Payola?This guy, one of several interlopers at Kevin Drum's blog (helpfully distinguished from Kevin's own posts by larger type), is disturbed at the "growing scandal" of conservative pundits taking money from the executive branch to promote Bush administration policies:
What's striking about this emerging payola scandal is the aggressive cluelessness of the participants towards basic standards of journalistic decency. Remember how Armstrong Williams claimed never to have considered that it might be wrong to take a quarter million dollars of government money to promote the administration's education policies as an "independent" opinion journalist and not, at the very least, disclose the fact? Gallagher betrayed the same indifference when confronted by Kurtz. "Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?...I don't know. You tell me."This post isn't so much an attempt to deride conservatives for their lack of journalistic ethics -- something that shouldn't surprise us, given that so-called "journalistic ethics" is what gave us the flagrantly liberal media -- as an attempt to cash in. President Bush, do you or one of your underlings have a policy you want me to promote? I'd be more than happy to help. I'd gladly accept the $21,500 you paid syndicated columnist and pro-wedlock guru Maggie Gallagher to promote your policies -- that would easily cover my student loans from the MA and put me in a great financial position going into the doctorate (i.e., a net worth that is just barely positive, rather than distinctly negative). The fact that "taxpayer money" would be used essentially to pay back "taxpayer money" previously lent to me would render the whole situation significantly less morally suspect.
This is an attitude you're seeing a lot of today in Washington. The ascendant class of conservative pundit-operatives looks upon old strictures of behavior with a kind of incomprehension, even contempt.
(That parenthetical remark about "so-called 'journalistic ethics'" was a taste of the kind of effective, party-line rhetoric you can expect from me, Mr. President. Let me know.)
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
(8:07 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Favorite Phrase of 2004My favorite piece of journalistic insta-jargon from 2004 is easily "the so-called 'nuclear option,'" a phrase deployed in every single story about the Republican plot to change Senate rules to disallow fillibusters. With a little creativity, however, it can be made to apply to virtually every area of one's life.
Similar in sound, although much more horrifying than amusing, is the "Salvadoran option," which is my least favorite piece of journalistic insta-jargon from 2004.
Does anyone have anything to add?
(5:30 PM) | Robb Schuneman:
Desperation, Loss, The Making Up of a Mind...It's happened. Triple team action hotter than when the Freebirds took on Demolition. If they ever took each other on. Those were the only 3-person tag teams I could think of off hand.
Anyway, the ever-rapping MC Mirrors & Tinsel, the beat making DJ Daterape, and you the audience - have created a new song.
You might enjoy it, you might not - I need to go eat my Chef's Ceaser Salad from Jason's Deli.
MC M+T had a sore throat the entire time that we recorded this track, so take pity on him. The vocals will, perhaps, be re-recorded for our forthcoming longplaya, Insincere Laughter.
Also - my mic is still of the 5 dollar variety, but now it is broken in two places from where I stepped on it. It was supported by a role of toilet paper.
Here is the song, it is called "Desperation, Loss, THe Making Up Of A Mind".
By the way - this is a true story. Though the names have been changed to protect the raped.
In addition, here are the lyrics, in case I am milky mouthed at any part.
The night had left me brittle and cold
every hand that was dealt I was forced to fold
until you were there with your ted nugent hair -
I took the physical challenge over a double dare-
I shot darting glances all over the room,
Knowledge comes from the senses, so said David Hume,
You smelled slightly like tennis balls fresh from the can
and had the body of a burnt sienna crayon
You said you had nowhere to go
Your teeth were the color of a crow
I started to form the word no
But you had a sad look in your eye
as if I'd be another jerk of a guy
you'd have to stab in the chest or the thigh
girl was lookin crazy, what do you know
she asked me what color my blood would show
turns out she was a nurse with a hypodermic
it wasn't much longer that I was euthermic
Quick on the draw, she drove the needle to my bone
filled me right up with gamma butyrolactone
there weren't birdies or stars, just a fading view
of those two pockmarked lips mouthing I love you!
You said I have nowhere to go
I'd find the ropes to be a powerful foe
so it just wouldn't do to make a show
I felt vaseline on my every nook
and flashbacks that couldn't be shook
of the innocence that you had took
I cried like a baby man
she took everything from me, and left me with a bedpan
she left for work round about fiver
while she was with the cancer kids, I made like MacGuyver.
I wandered to the gas station, naked to my pooter
asked the clerk, found out I was in hogshooter
200 miles southwest of my locale
I rode the bus back, dressed in just a Jetsons beach towel
The cops told me where I could go
They said, "I wouldn't tell anyone, bro
It'd just make you look like a man-ho"
And the sad thing is that they were right
there was no use in trying to fight
she got my best friend the very next night.
Just remember the next place you go
If a woman's face looks just like her toe
she will only bring you to woe
Some nurses are more desperate than me
and that's not a good place to be
when the narcotics room gives you a key
(5:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Shostakovich and related matters
Doubtless this is why, according to Nestyev, Stalin unexpectedly phoned Shostakovich in 1949, asking him to travel to the United States as a delegate to the Congress for World Peace. Stalin said: ‘We have criticized you, but we criticized you because we love you.’Lars Iyer has a lengthy and rich post on the great Soviet composer. His tenth symphony has long been one of my favorite pieces; hearing it performed live, even by a somewhat amateurish orchestra in Oxford's Sheldonian Theater was one of the highlights of my college career -- perhaps because a certain amateurish pianist had performed a movement from one of his concertos for Olivet Nazarene Univerisity's prestigious Commencement Concert.
A recent post at our sister site prompts a reflection -- I do care about the life of Shostakovich, about his ambiguous relationship about the Soviet state, about what it must mean to be loved by Stalin. But as regards the work itself: I was playing Concerto #3 and listening to Symphony #10 before I ever knew that Shostakovich had any kind of relationship with Stalin. Was my enjoyment lessened? I don't know how it could have been greater. And what about the fact that I've focussed on such a small portion of the works of this great composer? How far does one go with pursuing the "complete works" before one is guilty of indulging the biographical fallacy? Certainly someone who has closely studied the complete works of Shostakovich in detail knows many things that I don't know -- but at bottom, does that person know more than I know about Symphony #10? What if she knows all about music theory and appreciates the structure of the work in a way that I can't -- is that better than knowing the symphony through and through, so that one could almost write it out on sheet music given a piano and sufficient time?
Does the appreciation of art as such entail anything other than a surrendering of all our general knowledge to the singular truth of the work of art? Perhaps the scholar's knowledge of the art work really is richer, but richer in a negative way -- he knows in greater detail all that he is sacrificing to the singularity of the work. All of this does sound a bit "theological," as Amardeep says (in the context of a very interesting conversation between himself and Dan Green to which I should have linked much earlier -- you can work your way through it by following Amardeep's link).
In other news, the working title for my Badiou/Wesley paper is close to being changed from "Smoke and Mirrors." Reading this sermon was really encouraging.
See, that last sentence was exactly what I was worried about -- "sounding like" some kind of pietist, even while I'm (ostensibly) talking about something radically different from that agenda.
(10:13 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
I [heart] parliamentary capitalism
Monday, January 24, 2005
(5:19 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Read itFontana Labs gave it to me, and I give it to you in turn. Enjoy.
(5:19 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
(10:31 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Passolini's Saint PaulSomeone needs to translate this screenplay into English -- even better, someone needs to translate it into an actual film. I just finished reading it in the French translation, and I found it to be a sensitive, insightful, and at times moving portrayal of Paul and his mission.
Passolini doesn't make Paul into a likable character by any means -- such a task would be impossible -- but he makes him into a very human and finally sympathetic character, both in his private struggle with the "thorn in the flesh" and in his arrogance and in his blindness to the unexpected consequences of his mission. The last quarter of the screenplay is particularly effective in displaying the latter. The film would have cut back and forth between Paul writing his epistle to Timothy and a scene of the Bishop Timothy, decked out in full ecclesiastical regalia -- there is a gap between Timothy's practice and Paul's advice, but a disturbingly small one. There is also a dream-like sequence in which Paul meets with the established leaders of the movement, who tell him that they need to face up to the fact that they're becoming an organized institution and may have to do things that they would prefer not to do -- because, after all, they don't offer people redemption itself, only the hope of redemption.
In some ways, the film is somewhat heavy-handed, particularly in its treatment of Luke, who is basically under contract with the devil to write an account that will betray the true spirit of Paul's message. Passolini, however, follows the account in Acts almost exactly, as well as including several epistles that would have been acknowledged as spurious even in his own time (even Hebrews). Rather than having the Romans execute Paul, as the tradition has it and as it probably played out in historical fact, he has Paul released to an ambiguous form of house arrest in a New York hotel, where an anonymous assassin trails him for a while and finally shoots him just after he finishes his epistle to Timothy -- and, in a scene that Passolini wasn't sure whether he should include or not, he has Paul, the obsessed theologian and organizer, for once simply go out for a stroll, watch some kids on a merry-go-round, sit on a park bench. Were I to produce this film, I would include that scene, simply for the sake of allowing Paul an excess of humanity above and beyond his single-minded devotion to his mission.
His casual walk in the park would evince a half-consciousness of the completion of his mission -- a half-consciousness that has characterized his being-in-the-world throughout, that allows him to be at the same time a rigorous organizer and a failed politician, a fully rational and consistant theologian and a terrible judge of how his arguments are going to be received. Riots are an ever-present possibility whenever Paul so much as opens his mouth -- riots, or in the case of the intelligensia of every city (not just Athens), walk-outs.
Paul is not afraid to think an idea through to its fullest consequences, and that consitutes both his complete innocence and his complete subversion of the current order -- what Zizek would call "feminine transgression of the Law" through an excessive obedience. The recommendation to submit to the governing authorities, delivered to a wonderful crowd of hippies, drug addicts, prostitutes, and vagrants, causes a riot -- more frightful, Passolini says, than a fascist lynch mob -- is the supreme example. The governing authorities, which stand under the radical judgment of God, must be able to see that the children of the Kingdom are innocent by every standard, and so obedience to them even in the face of injustice only heaps judgment onto their heads.
Passolini's Paul is not a Beautiful Soul by any means -- he is anything but afraid to become involved in the world, much to the disgust of the self-effacing Beautiful Souls who would aspire to leadership-without-leadership. He is a subject who acts in a kind of radical disconnection from the world of utility and of natural causation -- who acts in utter self-assurance not despite setbacks but almost in complete ignorance of setbacks as such, as though toward the end of his life he lost all concept of what a setback might be. When he takes his walk through the park and then meets his death, one is left with an unsettling impression that, on the one hand, his task really is complete, but on the other hand, it is not at all certain what that task was or what it would mean for it to be complete. (Passolini's insistent drawing of parallels to Martin Luther King, Jr., even to the point of wanting Paul's assassination to be filmed in the same hotel where King was assassinated, helps to give us a way of understanding this -- and, I would argue, gives us a new way of understand King's work.)
Passolini's Paul stands finally as a testament to what it means to do something as such -- and surely it is Passolini's Paul more than the Paul of the Epistles who underpins Badiou's appropriation -- and a testament to the fact that one can always stand back and refrain from acting. One is always justified in refraining, and yet an authentic act, an authentic intervention, is also always beyond judgment, beyond assessment. The subject who acts, in the strong sense, is always innocent, and that subject is always immortal and invincible until his work is complete -- one must always say, in the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that "the world was not worthy of them."
(9:33 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A ThirdThe Young Hegelian somehow managed to visit the house of Freud and the grave of Marx, both in the same day. Thinking of the monumental influence both have had, and the frequency with which syntheses of their ideas have been attempted, I was struck by a question that may seem arbitrary: Is it really possible that there are only two? Shouldn't there be three such figures of similar stature, or else just one?
So if my question makes sense at all: Who is the third who walks along with them? Is there a Father to Freud's Son and Marx's Holy Ghost? Darwin, perhaps? -- all the more likely to have been neglected in the intellectual circles in which I and most other American humanities people run, given the evolution fatigue produced by the culture wars and the general neglect of the hard sciences by humanities scholars (produced in at least equal measure by indifference on the humanities side as by scientists' overdefensiveness and a conviction that any non-scientist must by definition be "abusing" or "misunderstanding" science if they attempt to relate it to any other field of human endeavor).
This would, of course, be the Eastern Trinity if it turns out to be Darwin. I don't think there's any figure who would allow the trinity X-Freud-Marx to be Western (i.e., the Spirit procedes from the Father and the Son).
UPDATE: As a public service to those who think the topic of my post is dumb, I offer you a link to the culmination of the recent meta-meta-blogging trend. Via our dear friend Matt.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
(5:31 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Discussion of ZizekJodi Dean has a lengthy Zizek post in which she provides a summary of his work on totalitarianism and democracy, especially in Sublime Object, For they know not what they do, and The Ticklish Subject. Not only is it the best strictly blogological discussion of Zizek I have yet seen, but it also addresses an issue that has been hovering the back of my mind for a while now: what is the role of the Party for Zizek? Is his late invocation of Paul simply a way to bring back party politics, or is it a mutation in the idea of the Party? (His commendation of the fundamentalist Southern Baptist's position that "there will be a lot of good people in hell" could very easily be taken in a Stalinist sense -- one might ask if the shift from Lenin to Stalin is parallel to the shift from the revolutionary import of early Christianity [uncovered by liberationist readings] to the established early catholic church.)
Incidentally, her blog is joining the blogroll.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
(11:54 PM) | Adam R:
Down and Out in Milwaukee: ATR's Survival GuideI've been unemployed for over two months now. Yes!
How do I manage? Well, aside from a (relatively) small amount of money my good friend T-- lent me last week, I've been managing by reassessing my values. Here is a list of what I have found to be (and not to be) important to me, a sort-of survival guide for the neo po' folk, for the dumpster intelligentsia:
- What's most essential is the environment where you spend the your time. On several occasions during my new broke-spell, I haven't had enough change to scrounge together to go out for a cup of coffee, or to get to get to the library, so I dallied all day in my room. I'd like to say I read voraciously, or worked on my three volume novel, or drafted the best conceivable resume, but I'd be lying. I woulda, though, if my damn room had been clean. Instead I just sat on my bed or on the floor hugging my dog, Thunder. We shivered together as the wind and snow blew through my storm window-less window. Finally, though, I tidied up and now look at me: I've got a job interview on Tuesday! It's with Mad Science.
- What's not important is your stuff. Trust me. I've been eBaying everything of value that I own (unless it was a gift, Mom). It is the single most liberating thing I've done in my life. I never realized how much expensive crap I have. I sold a Danelectro re-issue for $150, probably made some teenager cream his pants. But the thing sounded like shit to me. I sold a White Stripes CD for $15. There's one born every minute.
- No matter how smart you think you are, if you don't have any money you can get food stamps. And it only takes about 45 minutes. And then you can stop eating potato soup all the time. But if you want to eat it once in a while, here is the recipe: Dice five or six potatoes, brown them in a soup pot, cover them (plus an inch) with water, boil them and then simmer. Salt to taste.
- To be a good friend, have good friends. Friends will take me out to dinner or for coffee two or three times in a row, so I like to repay them by making some soup. Here's the biggest trick, though: whenever you have money, always, always spend it on your friends. I figure that I owe them big time. Probably they don't think that -- at least not "big time" -- so my reciprocity might look a tiny bit like generosity. That, however, is due to their graciousness more than my puppy dog eyes.
- Going to bars is a good idea. It's expensive, though, so try to make your toothpaste last longer. Don't do your laundry. Use an old onion bag for a dish rag. Do whatever is necessary to spend at least $10 a week at the corner tavern. You will feel connected that way.
- Style is important. If you aren't going to do your laundry, it's important to have five or six cheap suits that you can choose from for when you have hit rock-bottom scuzziness. I recently came back from a four-day trip during which I didn't shower at all. I reeked and I even felt gross, which is strange for me. I soaked for a while when I got home, then put on a nice suit that I bought for $5 at the Value Village. I felt like a king as I sat on my bed hugging my dog.
- Ken Burns is better than 24, but I have to admit, 24 is engaging and addictive.
(7:16 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
On the Future: Another Confessional Post.I was accepted to the MA in Philosophical Theology at Nottingham in late October. I have yet to accept their offer because I want to wait and see if any of the state-side schools award me funding. To be honest, the program there really interests me, especially Philip Goodchild, and it leaves open the possibility of either doing my Ph.D. there or looking into completing it at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy. Though I would venture to guess that I am still more of a believer than many of my other friends, I don't hold much hope out for the Church or even care much about its doctrines anymore. Regardless, something about theology or the practice of religion still tarries with me. It reminds of Deleuze when he once asked during a seminar on Spinoza, "Why is philosophy always so compromised with God?" Of course Deleuze and his philosophy was not compromised with God, after all God is a lobster (I was tempted to write merely, but that would be completely unfaithful), still that question resonates within me.
It has always struck me as odd when people asked me why I did philosophy, or what I'm going to do with it when I graduate. It's never really been an intelligible question, much like when people ask me why I married at such a young age. I can give what appear to be real answers, but usually it comes out of the script of the situation or I'm just trying to be clever. The real answer remains even a secret to me, though it surely is some other within me. If Nottingham is the right place for me still remains a secret to myself, regardless of the reasons for and against such a move.
(10:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Bush CorrectiveAngela, one of our most prolific commenters here at The Weblog, has penned a corrective of President Bush's second inaugural address.
(10:49 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Streaming VideoCan we agree that RealPlayer needs to die? I appreciate that it's a useful piece of software, and it was especially so in the early days of Internet popularization, when you could actually listen to streaming audio over a dial-up at reasonable speeds. Yet there's something immoral about a program that wants to take over your entire life.
Friday, January 21, 2005
(1:00 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Derrida Lecture Last NightLast night I attended a lecture on Derrida by Michael Naas. The first half was pretty standard stuff about hospitality, where he said he was making a conscious choice to privilege "deconstruction as hospitality" over other possible entry points, in large part because of his personal history with Derrida. (He frequently repeated Derrida's first words to him, "Alors, qui êtes-vous?" which formed the title of the lecture.) He emphasized that Derrida was working within the tradition, not against it, and that he was trying to make good on promises found in the tradition itself. (Naas's book on Derrida is about the idea of tradition.)
But when he started talking about the various limit concepts of deconstruction -- justice, alterity, etc. -- he said that in his later years, Derrida started focusing on "life" as one of those concepts, as evidenced by his talk of ghosts, of death, and of auto-immunity. He apparently really fleshes out that concept in Rogues, which Naas translated, in discussing the concept of democracy; the book was only published within the last week, so I haven't been able to read it yet.
Life as a concept parallel to justice or otherness just didn't resonate with what I've read -- I wish someone (like me) would have asked in the Q&A, "So, life? Seriously?" Such an emphasis would certainly make Derrida very "contemporary," given the emphasis on life in the Deleuzian tradition (esp. Hardt and Negri) and in Agamben. Indeed, since Derrida is rumored to dispense with Homo Sacer in a footnote of Rogues, one wonders if the late interest in life is part of a rivalry with Agamben, who seems to me to be the true inheritor of something like Derrida's "tradition" -- moving beyond Derrida in territory already mapped out by him. Agamben's debt to Force de loi, for instance, is incalculable, but he never turns his attention to the text in detail, instead accusing Derrida of a "strange misunderstanding" of Benjamin in Homo Sacer and concentrating only on the title in State of Exception. (One small example: in the extract I posted yesterday, the idea that law is always already in decay is almost word-for-word parallel to the passage on "the love of ruins" that I have so often quoted from Force of Law; to wit:
One could write, maybe with or following Benjamin, maybe against Benjamin, a short treatise on the love of ruins. What else is there to love, anyway? One cannot love a monument, a work of architecture, an institution as such except in an experience itself precarious in its fragility: it has not always been there, it will not always be there, it is finite. And for this very reason one loves it as mortal, through its birth and its death, through one’s own birth and death, through the ghost or the silhouette of its ruin, one’s own ruin—which it already is, therefore, or already prefigures. How can one love otherwise than in this finitude? Where else would the right to love, even the love of law, come from?)In short, Agamben seems to be positioning himself -- or being positioned by others -- as a potential "next Derrida," which we can see by the easy authority that is attributed to his writings (why the hell else were all of us "continentalists" quoting Agamben yesterday?), the inclusion of so many of his works in the two Stanford series that served primarily as a Derrida vehicle for many years, etc. It sounds like Rogues may be, in one respect, the vengeance of the ghost of the father upon the rebellious son.
An unrelated note on another book I have yet to read: Is Society Must Be Defended finally the book that everyone wished Foucault would have written instead of going crazy with the Greeks and Romans in the later volumes of History of Sexuality?
UPDATE: discardthename asks in comments that I justify foregrounding Agamben's debt to Derrida as opposed to his debt to Foucault or Deleuze. I would be willing to foreground his debt to Foucault and call him a "more or less faithful son" of Foucault, rather than simply Derrida; on Deleuze, I haven't seen much evidence yet, in my admittedly limited exposure. I hope I'm not just being one of those Derrida partisans who see him as continually underappreciated and unjustly shunned by the academic establishment.
(8:22 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon ConfessionalI confess that even though I know you've got to play politics and build bridges to people on both sides of the aisle, I'm pretty disappointed that Barack Obama was among those who voted to confirm Rice. I was, however, interested to learn that the Bushes consider Dr. Rice a family member. One could always say that the Democrats are unlikely to be satisfied with anyone Bush nominates and that Rice isn't bad enough to make a fuss over. We can, however, demand minimal competence, and we must remember that Rice is the one who complained that no one was bringing the intelligence from multiple agencies together and that we need to create a position that would handle that, when in fact the National Security Advisor is precisely the person whose duty it is to do that. So there's that. But that would start a dangerous precendent of holding Bush administration officials responsible for their mistakes, which could potentially "divide" the country. Better to just play nice.
I confess that I don't want a "purple" America. I do not know what "unity" would mean or whether it would be a desirable goal.
I confess that I've been drinking way too much coffee and that my body seems to want to go to bed at 10 every night anyway. I confess to not having read nearly enough Wesley.
Finally, I confess that I've been putting off starting my Derrida translation, basically for no good reason. Ostensibly, I want to learn how to use my Emacs/LaTeX/BibTeX setup, but the translation is not a particularly citation-heavy work, nor does it make much sense to try to combine the difficulties of translating a complex French philosophical work with the difficulties of learning a new, "powerful" piece of software. [UPDATE: I did start the translation today, at long last, and decided that the limited citations meant that it was a perfect way to get the basics of the LaTeX mark-up, before moving on to the "powerful" citation system. It's going slightly faster than I thought it would be, and it will probably go even faster in successive days, since I'll no longer be previewing my document every two minutes.]
So those are my confessions. What are yours?
Thursday, January 20, 2005
(1:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
LinksThanks to Bloglines -- a service I should have started using months, if not years, ago -- I now have faster access to all the blogging goodness that I cherish. As such, here are some cool links that I found:
- Lenin's Tomb on why the Democrats are evil
- The Graphing Calculator Story, via Bertram Online, is the tale of a young software developer who got fired from Apple and continued coming anyway, in order to finish his project.
- Long Story; Short Pier discusses the exaggeration of Christian assholes and condemns Tom Delay.
(1:19 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Terror ContinuesGeorge W. Bush has claimed that the United States has the right and duty to remake the world as part of the ongoing quest of freedom:
We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.Various military music groups then performed "Faith of Our Fathers," introduced by Senator Lott. All the commentators for National Public Radio were duly impressed with the president's sweeping vision and his wonderful (for him) delivery. Ah, liberalism!
We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events.
Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul.
When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the author of liberty.
When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still.
America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
To protest this, one could attend the Anti-Inaugural ceremonies at Acme Art Works, aka Blackwater Cafe, at 1741 N. Western Ave. Lauren is planning on attending that event, and I would be attending with her, if not for the reservation I made to attend Michael Naas's Derrida lecture at the Alliance Française tonight; there is only room for 100 people to attend.
Is attending a Derrida lecture an adequate protest against an obscurantist imperialist? Perhaps not adequate, but a protest -- just as a quote from Agamben may well constitute a protest. Here's another, not a quote about our President, but a quote that encapsulates Agamben's project in State of Exception:
The juridical system of the West appears as a double structure, formed by two heterogeneous yet coordinated elements: one that is normative and juridical in the strict sense (which we can for convenience inscribe under the rubric of potestas) and one that is anomic and metajuridical (which we can call by the name of auctoritas).For the quote about Bush, see Mark Kaplan, who just bought the book this morning -- as should all of you. In protest!
The normative element needs the anomic element in order to be applied, but, on the other hand, auctoritas can assert itself only in the validation or suspension of potestas. Because it results from the dialectic between these two somewhat antagonistic yet functionally connected elements, the ancient dwelling of law is fragile and, in straining to maintain its own order, is always already in the process of ruin and decay. The state of exception is the device that must ultimately articulate and hold together the two aspects of the juridico-political machine by insinuating a threshold of undecidability between anomie and nomos, between life and law, between auctoritas and potestas. It is founded on the essential fiction according to which anomie (in the form of auctoritas, living law, or the force of law) is still related to the juridical order and the power to suspecd the norm has an immediate hold on life. As long as the two elements remain correlated yet conceptually, temporally, and subjectively distinct (as in republican Rome's contrast between the Senate and the people, or in medieval Europe's contrast between spiritual and temporal powers) their dialectic--though founded on a fiction--can nevertheless function in some way. But when they tend to coincide in a single person, when the state of exception, in which they are bound and blurred together, becomes the rule, then the juridico-political system transforms itself into a killing machine.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
(11:32 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
My CommemorationTonight, it just seems appropriate to break out this Photoshop job by Jared Sinclair, entitled Holbein's Dead Kerry:
Fare thee well, my love.
(7:08 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Epistemological problemI have thought about this story many times, but only upon thinking to tell it tonight did it occur to me that it may not be true. I distinctly remember a conversation in my first grade classroom, when we were learning how to read using phonics. The topic was the combination wh, which as we all know is pronounced with a simple w sound in most dialects of English. Being the children that we were, we wanted the rules to apply rigorously in every situation, and being the grade school teacher that she was (unfamiliar with the real foundations of the topic at hand, merely able to teach the rudiments), our instructor finally told us that there was just a hint of an h sound before the w, so that whale was actually pronounced hwale. (This is more effective when the story is told verbally.)
On the face of it, this story is ridiculous. Our teacher told us something that clearly wasn't true, acting as a rank apologist for the (non-phonetic) English spelling system. Thus, it occurs to me that maybe this didn't happen. Maybe my agile first-grade mind, unsatisfied with the superfluous h, first mentally constructed a rule whereby it was barely pronounced, then upon realizing that the h would not really sound if it was pronounced after the w, I constructed a further fictional rule whereby it would be pronounced before the w, serving my mental purpose of making all the letters sound, while subverting my attempt to render the spelling system of English coherent phonetically. And I now remember this as clearly as if it had actually happened -- perhaps more clearly.
So what do you think? Did my teacher really say this, or did I hallucinate it on the day we were learning about the letter w?
(9:25 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Global Security ThreatIn a recent Foreign Affairs article (found via Political Theory), Francis Fukayama mentions that some people believe that the United States presents a greater threat to global security than does Islamist terrorism. Of course we know that for Fukayama, such a conclusion is impossible and absurd, as is any statement in the form "The United States presents a greater threat to global security than x." I'm sure that this would be the case for most US commentators, except for the fringe lefty types (none of whom, it should be noted, have syndicated columns in major newspapers or positions of power in the Democratic party).
It seems to me that this is the case because "global security" is taken to mean the continued hegemony (here taken as a descriptive, rather than pejorative term) of nations that embrace the two-pronged strategy for achieving a rational freedom: some form of parliamentary democracy, coupled with a free market economy. The United States, as the most successful implementation of this two-pronged strategy, is the model and guarantor of any possible "global security" worthy of the name.
What if, however, we took a different view of "global security"? What if, for instance, we defined it not in terms of the continued stability of particular structures of political economy, but rather in terms of the likelihood of survival? After all, most people would view their own personal "security" first and foremost in terms of their own life and only secondarily in terms of various structures (one's home, job, etc.). Thus, in this definition, the greater threat to global security would be the force that is more likely to get one killed. Now here I'm going to throw out a hypothesis, which admittedly is not yet backed up by actual numbers. (If someone can give me stats on this, that would be great, but my Google research skills have apparently gotten rusty.) I would venture to guess that within, say, the last four years, deaths resulting directly from US military operations have far exceeded deaths resulting directly from terrorism. I would venture to guess that this is the case even if one uniformly defines all Iraqi insurgent attacks as terrorist attacks.
Thus, if we think of global security in terms of not inflicting death on civilians, then it would seem that the US is in fact a greater threat to global security than is Islamist terrorism, since one is statistically more likely, on a global level, to be killed by agents of the US government than by terrorists. (Of course, this equation changes if we look at it just in terms of the US or even of Western powers in general -- the citizens of those nations are much more likely to be killed by terrorists than by agents of the US government. But we were supposedly talking about "global security," not "Western security.") Thus, those who view the United States as a greater threat to global security than Islamist terrorism are not taking as absurd a position as it is usually assumed to be. In fact, their position may well conform rather closely to the dictates of common sense.
UPDATE: I added parentheses to a sentence in the final paragraph that seems to have created confusion; I then added an additional clarifying sentence within the parentheses.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
(5:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
MathYou know the rumors you've heard about how Badiou is really into math and how you assumed that it was just some comp-lit person overreacting -- well, no, the rumors are actually true. The guy is a veritable mathlete.
(1:13 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Obsolete Print PublicationsWaiting for the cable guy this morning, I had plenty of time to catch up on the Atlantic Monthly. This particular issue contained Richard Clarke's fictional account of the future history of the War on Terror, James Fallows' scathing critique of current homeland security policy and proposals for getting our priorities in order, an essay on the Tribune's new advice columnist and a personal history of the encounter between a meritocrat and the world of Ivy League prestige -- together with a series of articles about the supposed "division" of American society, many book reviews, etc., etc., etc.
I did not link to any of those articles, as you will note, even though some are likely freely available online. I'm sure that Josh Marshall et al. have already commented extensively on most of them, weeks ago. I'm also sure that their comments were swallowed whole by most of their readers, who will never personally read the articles in question -- which is fine, really. I don't mind the instantaneous shallowness of the blogosphere, although I am resolving to cut back on visits to Atrios's site. I do, however, want to carve out a space, at least in my own life, for useless reading, for the long articles that I may or may not ever talk about with anyone. I'll admit it: as I read, I often mentally highlighted paragraphs I might type into my window and share with the world, but I resisted the impulse. Not everything has to be part of the relentless flow of information; some stuff can ferment in the back of one's minds for years, until perhaps a conversation arises in which one can say, "You know, I remember something from an article I read in the New Yorker a couple years ago, I think it was by Seymour Hersh."
Hardt and Negri have taught me to be suspicious of the urge to carve out little islands of sanity, so perhaps leaving the print articles in the biosphere rather than the blogosphere, for what are finally moral reasons, is not the answer -- perhaps the answer is to blog in such a way as to dig up those old fragments, to reinject the "I think I read somewhere" into the flow. If blogging is to replicate the genuine spontenaity of "natural" communication, it must somehow distance itself from the tyrrany of the new, while not indulging in arbitrary moral judgments of the new that disregard the tremendous potential that unrestrained information flows unleash.
(1:08 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
RSS ReaderDo any of you guys use an RSS reader? What do you recommend? What features should I look for?
UPDATE: I decided to give Bloglines a try. The H is O should note that their traffic will be drastically decreased now that I have a piece of software watching for new posts, thus rendering my thrice-daily visits unnecessary. I like to think that my actual readership is huge compared to my visits, since many would be reading using RSS readers; the thought is all the more comforting for being unverifiable.
Soon software will be developed to automatically blog, that is, to track down links that the author would probably blog about and create posts in the following format:
[$BlogAuthor] has written an [interesting/frightening/"surprising"] post about [the Bush Administration's/Rumsfeld's/Condi's] [malfeasance/malice/incompetence]. Here's an exerpt:[blockquote of "juicy" paragraph]Atrios may well be using a rudimentary "alpha testing" version of this software.
[Indeed/Read the whole thing/As they say, "read the whole thing"]
Monday, January 17, 2005
(11:53 PM) | Robb Schuneman:
Mo' Money No' ProblemsLadies and gentlemen,
Adam Kotsko deserves, needs, favors, and even swims like scrooge McDuck in his vault of ... money. We don't want him to break his head next time he dives in and finds little in the vault due to non working...
I have a solution.
For the betterment of the google ads to the left, and our web rankings on the web, I submit the following treatise which is bound to create masses of adclick wealth. Consider this me playing "Adclick Tycoon", surely the next creation from those geniuses with the tycoonese products.
Here we go:
Boobs. Lots of boobs. Women with boobs and sometimes men with boobs too. So long as there's boobs and they are naked. Naked celebrities play rugby in the snow on llama-back while watching Britney Spears, Britney Spears, Britney Spears naked, Britney spears boobies xxxx cum see 4 free Britney Spears - shake it in a bald man's face while he does his TAXES FOR FREE. And they have sex. Sexy sex with sex and nudity and nakedness. Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, naked Scarlett Johansson, boob jobs for free Angelina Jolie, they all are friends and get along quite nicely. Except the one time that they went to JOHN MAXWELL'S FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY (FPU) and had a naked bra cat fight gay sex in the butt sex rectum anus snatch. This happened because Julia ROberts - no nix that, no one clicks Julia Roberts naked anymore, Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff get naked have sex and don't like each other very much. But what can Adam Kotsko do to that? He can get his FREE PENIS ENLARGEMENT and perhaps a FREE BREAST ENHANCEMENT, and then have naked gay butt sex sex sex sex free nude pics girl on girl and threesome with milfs who have destroyed their entire family structure on tape for you FREE ON THE WEB.
Thank you, this has been a blatant ad click-boosting post.
(5:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
LinksBoth The H is O and à Gauche are hosting discussions that I believe to be pertinent and helpful in a time of rapid change. à Gauche's discussion proceeds from the theses recently advanced by your humble interlocutor. One wonders whether we shall ever be through with our Lacano-Marxist/biblicist debates.
In other news, I am considering long-term unemployment to complement my current uninsured status. That is to say, I have no medical insurance; I do, however, have car insurance as well as renter's insurance. My material possessions are insured, while my body itself is not. Is this an appropriate way to resist the commodification of the human person, or does it represent a certain gross irresponsibility? (Lauren C. Cannon, in a statement earlier today, identified my no-insurance policy as the latter; I tend to think that the question as it stands represents something of a false dichotomy, but side more with the first option than with the second.) In any case, I have enough cash on hand to live frugally (that is to say, to live in a manner in which I am currently not living) for approximately two months; I am soon to receive a tax refund, as well as the bulk of my student loans. It would almost be irresponsible of me not to remain unemployed, when the full value of my accounts receivable is taken into account. What is the opinion of the blogosphere on this matter? Shall young Kotsko "not bother" with getting a job until after his thesis is done? Would such a move be foolhardy? Is there some third option I have not considered?
In any case, I have the utmost respect for the Google-based sponsors of The Weblog and believe their websites to be thoroughly worthy of a quick visit, though I have no opinion on whether one should gain access to such sites through the ads on my page or through another delivery method.
Tomorrow, the Comcast man shall come and hook up cable internet access in The New Weblog HQ, surely a joyous occasion for all involved. The question remains: Will Anthony post anything as a result, or will he continue his sullen silence?
Sunday, January 16, 2005
(6:32 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Martin Luther KingIt's become my tradition to post this article on Martin Luther King Day. I would post it tomorrow, but I am not assured of having Internet access.
(6:09 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Best part about life in the big city?It's either the shitty water pressure or the fact that none of the doorknobs work properly.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
(3:42 AM) | Adam R:
Word.I'm the best drunk typer on the planet.
Friday, January 14, 2005
(9:29 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Serial KillerNow that I'm moving in with Anthony, Hayley, and their three cats, should The Weblog join the blogosphere-wide trend of Friday Cat Blogging? Or should we get a jump on the crowd by doing it on Thursday, reserving Friday for confession?
Either of these scenarios would entail a "Buy The Weblog a Digital Camera" fund drive.
UPDATE (Saturday morning): Robb is in charge of any and all future Weblog-based cat-blogging. In other news, there's a fair chance that I won't have internet access until Tuesday morning. I'm just warning you.
(9:50 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Friday Afternoon Confessional: The End of an EraTonight is the last night I will spend at the Bresee Avenue house. It will be good to live on a street not named for the founder of the Church of the Nazarene. As Tara Smith has aptly put it, this is the end of an era that was actually over already. Given that the era is over, perhaps she and her husband should move to Chicago; to join me in my letter-writing campaign to encourage such a move, please e-mail her at tsmith3 at olivet dot edu.
I came late to my last day at this job, without having shaved. I turned down a moderately healthy breakfast to "save time" this morning and ended up stopping at McDonald's, feeding the beast by purchasing the new cancer-causing Sausage and Egg Biscuit. As a sidenote, whose idea was it to change the recipe on the cinnamon (sp.) roll? They used to be great, but now they basically suck. McDonald's should expect a marked decrease in my patronage of their restaurant. I officially announce to the McDonald's accounting department: your budget projections should reflect the fact that you can't expect to receive the same $12.00 over the next three years that they have received over the last three!
I confess that I have too many damn books. I might need to make an emergency Target run tonight to secure a new bookshelf -- together with one of those rubber filing-cabinet bin things, and perhaps a wireless router. Maybe I can't actually get all that at Target. Thankfully, though, there's an Office Depot on the same block as Target, just like in every soulless, generic suburban shopping area in America.
I confess to not having made any concrete efforts toward securing employment. I want to get some serious work done on "Smoke and Mirrors," or the Derrida translation, or just something. But I definitely plan on getting a job by February. Totally.
I confess that Dr. Grumish might have seen me blogging, but what's he going to do, fire me?
And this is more an announcement than a confession, but I've been accepted to Nottingham's MPhil program in theology. I'm going to wait to hear from other schools before making a decision, but I feel good about being 1 for 1 so far.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
(10:54 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Theses on Scripture
- The texts we now know as Scripture -- the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament -- arose during moments of intense creativity and transformation in the cultural and political history of the people of Israel.
- Given the wide variety of historical circumstances and creative personalities that contributed to the production of those texts, "the Bible" as a single document is necessarily a self-contradictory text.
- The preservation of these texts is not originally bound to the bolstering particular institutional claims, other than the claim to a certain continuity with an ongoing cultural/political tradition (i.e., Judaism and/or Christianity).
- We must therefore expect and thus take into account the "abusive" and a posteriori nature of most institutional readings of scriptural texts.
- We must similarly avoid the mistake of simply consigning these texts to their institutional fate. These texts, as texts, are the property not simply of the institutions that happen to have preserved them, but of humanity at large. The institutional readings that have attempted to subvert the texts' original import do not exempt us from the responsibility of hearing the texts on their own terms.
- We must therefore expect and thus take into account the "abusive" and a posteriori nature of most institutional readings of scriptural texts.
- Those who do simply dismiss these texts, which represent many of the most intensely creative moments of one of the most distinctive and fertile cultural traditions in human history, based on the institutional uses to which they are put are making a two-fold mistake:
- First, they are denying themselves potentially very useful resources on the basis of a political agenda. Whatever the practical necessity of such a move, such limitations must be rejected in principle.
- Second, even if they acknowledge the fact that the scriptural texts address contemporary political issues (economic justice, ideology critique, etc.), they too often succumb to a facile "presentism," according to which those texts that have been produced later in human history must necessarily address those questions more adequately. Even if such a contention is true in particular cases, it must never become a matter of a priori presumption.
- First, they are denying themselves potentially very useful resources on the basis of a political agenda. Whatever the practical necessity of such a move, such limitations must be rejected in principle.
- Any political discourse claiming universality must be as willing, in principle, to be instructed by Isaiah as by Plato, by Paul as by Marx.
- Yes, I'm talking to you, my dear sister.
- All of this can be developed out of my reading of the parable of the dishonest manager.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
(10:51 PM) | Robb Schuneman:
I still love you, 2004.Look. It's late. I know - you know. Yet, I felt the need to give the Dec. 28th cds the same chance as the rest of the albums. So, I've spent the past 2+ weeks listening very carefully to "The Very Best of Brooks & Dunn", Zito & Zalo's "Raizes Sertanejas", Fats Domino's "Sweet Patootie", and the Japanese reissue of Hot Rod Crue's "Hot Rod Cruezin'"
It all went for not though, as the scientific method has proved - all those folks suck, except Fats, who is disqualified for using the word "Patootie".
I think a lot of CDs came out in 2004. I don't know. I feel like I had a hold on music for a little bit, and then I lost it. It's remarkably similar to the feeling I had in 1994 when Donruss put out the "Studio" stuff, and Upper Deck put out another 80 side sets, and Fleer continued to suck, and Topps put out another 160 subsets before finally buying Upper Deck and increasing subset production to some 250,000 subsets.
Up until that point I'd collected every set every year - I had the routine, I bought a few boxes of topps until I had close enough to go hunt down commons and continued through the donruss and everything until I got down to like..collecting Pannini Stickers to keep feeding my habit. Then boxes went from $18 to $75, subsets multiplied like Bebe's Kids, and I was left alienated.
Indie rock was the new cool thing of 2004. Franz Ferdinand and Modest Mouse led the way, and soon that annoying kid at your work was talking about Xiu Xiu and the newest Zoloft The Rock & Roll Destroyer cd.
Needless to say, I grew disinterested to an extent, and caught up on a lot of older stuff. I'll level with you - once I saw a second Modest Mouse video on MTV's regular rotation, I just huddled in the corner of my room listening to "Family Affair" by Sly & The Family Stone the rest of the year. So, anything after October is a wash for me, but I did catch some cds that were released this year, and then I ranked them here. So, this isn't the list, but it is a list.
The rankings lie behind this cut.
(9:36 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The weatherIf possible, could someone explain to me the thunder and lightning that are occuring in January? One might also wish to prepare an explanation for a January tornado, which is a distinct possibility given the rapid temperature change we Illinoisans are about to experience.
It just goes to show you: Global climate change is a myth! Remember when there used to be distinct "seaons," back in the 1980s? Well you remember wrong! We've always had cool summers where it only gets really hot for a week or two in August, and we've always had relatively mild winters. Fall and spring are figures of speech, the stuff of poetry, not of rigorous meteorology. Solstice? Equinox? Pish-posh! Just days like any others! October is as hot as July; September is as cold as June -- foundations once destroyed, what can the just do? Thanks be to God -- my car gets good milage, at least on the highway. I'm not as big a part of the problem as I could be, and in our contemporary postmodern context, what more can you ask?
I mean, it's not like I kill a lot of people!
If you guys don't like this topic, here's something else to discuss: What's your favorite Pavement song? I asked Robb, and he said he settled on "Platform Blues" (Terror Twilight) after flirting seriously with "Folk Jam" (Terror Twilight). I opted for "Zurich is Stained" (Slanted and Enchanted), though both of us later wondered if we'd adequately considered "Cut Your Hair" (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain).
Failing that: What's your favorite Shins song? Other than "New Slang," of course -- that's everyone's favorite.
(5:09 PM) | Adam R:
- "The game and its extensions. The woman cooking cabbage. The man who wishes he could be done with drink. They are the game's remoter soul. Connectedby the pulsing voice on the radio, joined to the word-of-mouth that passes the score along the street and to the fans who call the special phone number and the crowd at the ballpark that becomes the picture on television, people the size of minute rice, and the game as rumor and conjecture and inner history. There's a sixteen year old in the Bronx who takes his radio up to the roof of his building so he can listen alone, a Dodger fan slouched in the gloaming, and he hears the account of the misplaced bunt and the fly ball that scores the tying run and he looks out over the rooftops, the tar beaches with their clotheslines and pigeon coops and splatted condoms, and he gets the cold creeps. The game doesn't change the way you sleep or wash your face or chew your food. It changes nothing but your life."
That's Don DeLillo in Underworld. I mean, I don't know about how he wraps up that nugget -- a little melodramatic for me -- but I like the line, "They are the game's remoter soul."
- Had a ski trip last weekend, boy howdy. I picked up some real sweet equipment -- Elan cap skis with Marker bindings, Salomon boots, Scott poles (with straps) -- for a total of $7.92 at the Value Village. The bindings were a touch loose, hardly worth mentioning except the left ski popped off a few times and sent me spiraling like a jet airplane with an engine afire. One time the thing popped off in mid-air. I landed on my boot and then my head. Did Kierkegaard have a Knight of Nothing?
- The cool thing about the trip was the drive home, when Benji found our travel log from our ridiculous Cleveland trip of 1999. Benji -- the Captain; Bill -- the Pilot; Bethany -- the Bombardier, and me -- Lord Robinson who exists parallel to them -- decided on the spur of the moment to drive from Kankakee, IL to Cleveland, OH's Blossom Theater to see Counting Crows play the next night. The Pilot drove my car and took back roads the whole way, our Captain navigating by the stars. The 350 mile drive took over 30 hours. Here is the unabridged log, transcribed from the Captain and Bombardier's and my own scrawls:
LORD ROBINSON writes:
Oh Benji will you ever come down to the car?
7:12pm Adam lusted.
What's the fastes mph that human has run that we know of?
8:02 arrive at Kniman. Waved at by locals.
8:03 left Kniman.
8:04 saw industry. Civilization!
8:08 Fear of Deliverance sequel. Writing shaky due to uneven gravel road. Don't be mistaken: there are unfriendlies.
8:08 cont. But our Pilot is strong and wise. Fear subsides.
8:17 Bill, rather than hear directions [at a rest stop] turns his back to the lady and plugs his ears.
Van Morrison's Moondance is THE dusk tuneage.
8:22 Elected to head south at the T, toward Kasmir Pulaski fish emporium (?).
Linguistic query: What are the ramifications of using T, emboldened as one usually finds it in phonetic cartography, not as a letter but to signify a shape instead? And I will carry it further. The symbol "T" is used because the road is shaped in a T, not the phoneme "tuh." Thus the Heideggerian argument concerning priority: vocal speech or the more ambiguous written word? And here again I will go further. Which is most fundamental: 1) the symbol as ontological device, or 2) as a signpost? In other words, is a T an instrument wit which to delve into dialogical quandries or a marker along the way?
After eating at the Indianhead restaurant the Pilot asked the waitress if there were any roads around here that went east. She replied, "Yes, there are tons of them."
"The have bridge builders that don't want to build bridges. They have ditch diggers that don't want to ditch diggers." -- Pilot
Message from God to stay at the Hampton Inn. Also passed the Geneva Convention center.
We are nickle 'n' dimin' our way to Cleveland.
Ran out of road trying to get to a huge light in the air.
[page missing] . . . got 'em. 96.3 The Edge that's the one worth comin' home for. Nothing but fond memories of Albion free coffee and toys those fuckin assholes always end up in jail.
From Hicksville to Farmer. Now a left to Bryan.
We are now receiving signs from God on a regular basis. [Pilot] Brower the Eye, a prophet, interprets them and quite correctly I think.
Well, I guess there's some catching up to be done.
By 4:45am we found our room at Wauseau's Holiday Inn Express. Bill and I finished watching Deep Blue Sea then got some breakfast.
We slept for an hr. after checkout, showered, then hit the road.
At first our strong and wise Pilot motored us through %0 cents worth of thruway but the fuzz buzzed so we headed off for off the beaten track.
2 minutes later when whoa it's the Munchkin Book Shop, which I found disappointing from a book shopping perspective but as a cultural phenomenon, as a monument to waste preservation, and as a firetrap, I think we all found it top-notch.
Through Toledo is not easy but we've made it.
Resources Used: book light, duct tape.
Heading east (?) on 183 we've intersected 80/90.
The slingshot was a good buy. Our Captain is a crackshot.
So many signs from God, how can we not stop?
11:37am "We're getting to Cleveland via hell or high water." -- Captain
11:38 leave Witley County
325S bridge 57-2000
Note send letter to county about a sign notifying the driver of the hard left on Gilbert W.
The smell of death in the air.
- This comment thread is great. It gives me pause. I'm the luckiest guy in the world.
(1:02 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Personal UpdateToday's weather is nearly perfect. I don't want it to be sunnier. A grey day where you don't quite have to wear a coat has always been a sentimental favorite for me.
Last night we moved some stuff into the new Weblog HQ. I work like a man possessed when it comes to moving; if not for having to work the rest of the week here at Bourbonnais, I would have gladly turned around and used all necessary means to finish moving out last night. Lauren came along, and we all four went to a nice Thai restaurant down the street. I'm sure that for many of you, that's not a big deal, but the nearest non-Chinese Asian restaurant I can think of is a 45 minute drive from Bourbonnais. In addition, there are several Mexican restaurants as close to the new HQ as El Burrito Loco is to the Bresee Ave. Estate. Plus, I timed it, and the drive to the greater Chicago Theological Seminary area is around 20 minutes. Now all I need is a job and a CTA schedule.
Today at work, the associate doctor came into the x-ray room, where I was working on marking up some of the x-rays. He sat down at the desk, which was at the opposite corner of the room from me, and after a couple seconds, he said, "How to have the clearest bowels ever." He added, "Ever ever!" and left.
Also at work today, I was a bit stuffed up, but in a dry way. There was no one in the waiting area, and so I took action, flagrantly picking my nose well past the first knuckle. After retrieving my prize, I looked around and realized that the people in the back office might have seen, but I doubted they were paying attention. I didn't care. It was the single most satisfying nose-pick of my life, and I wasn't ashamed for people to know about it!
Some songs I like lately:
- "Us" by Stephen Malkmus
- "Two of Us" covered by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn
- "Trickbird" by Califone
Lately I feel like I've spent just as much time on the computer as ever, but that I'm reading fewer blogs -- in fact, I can't quite pin down what it is that I'm doing. I guess I've just gotten back into that IM habit that I thought I kicked after college. Plus there's the factor of formatting my hard drive a dozen times in the process of installing Linux/destroying my computer, then getting a new one and having to tweak it to my specifications. (Incidentally, if any Windows user out there wants to try an Emacs/LaTeX/BibTeX solution to the Citation Problem, the instructions here work like a charm to get you a working system, though you still have to actually learn how to use the software. I have an alternate address to get the GhostScript stuff if the University of Wisconsin server doesn't cooperate with you.) So, to all the bloggers out there whom I've neglected: sorry. It will all get back to normal once I'm settled into my nest in the big city.