Friday, August 31, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Far Behind the CurveI confess that I joined Netflix this week. I feel ridiculously behind the curve -- for most people in my demographic, having a Netflix subscription is roughly equivalent to having running water. I confess that the first movie I put in my queue was The Parallax View, and I anticipate coming up with a Beautiful Mind-esque account of how Zizek's book of the same title (which never mentions the movie) is structured around the film on a rigorous sentence-by-sentence level.
I confess that I'm very tired, in virtually every respect. I confess that allergies appear to be causing most of this.
I confess that I really don't want this semester to start. I'm going to be insanely busy, and then if all goes according to plan, I'll shift immediately into having almost nothing (at least nothing pressing) to do around the holidays -- a time of year when I always feel depressed. I confess that the process of studying pretty much full-time for my qualifying exams and developing my dissertation proposal during the spring semester sounds pretty good, though.
I confess that I always approach editing as though I'll have to completely tear out what I've written and start from scratch, but when I actually do it, it turns out not to be a big deal. I confess that other people's suggestions can be very helpful, provided you choose the right people -- hence my rejection of the standard blogospheric method of posting a draft for comments.
I confess that I'm pleased to have gotten an indexing job, pushing further into the future the date when I will have to implement fiscal austerity measures.
I confess that I never expected Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy to come out in favor of the King James Bible.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
(12:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Joys of Neoliberalism in ChicagoI first began paying attention to state and local politics because of my interest in public transit, which has only increased since I decided to go carless a year or so ago. I can't say to what extent Illinois is representative of the states in general, but it appears to be undergoing a "soft" version of the austerity measures that the IMF imposes on Third World nations. There seem to be a lot of traditional Democrats, but arguably the two most powerful men in the state -- Governor Blagojevich and Chicago's Mayor Daley -- have embraced the neoliberal model (link to a PDF of a David Harvey article), to differing degrees.
Blagojevich has triggered a major budget crisis with his vow to veto any budget that includes new taxes, even though new tax revenues are obviously necessary in order to keep state services at an acceptable level -- such that a state where every branch of government is dominated by the Democrats is completely gridlocked. His political inspiration seems to be Bill Clinton -- a politics of gesture, of showing that his heart is in the right place. In his case, it leads to mutually incompatible goals: for instance, institute a massive new entitlement (universal healthcare for all the state's children) while simultaneously opposing, "on principle," any increase in taxes. Supposedly one can make everything work by eliminating "pork" and other forms of "waste," but -- contrary to popular opinion -- there isn't an infinite amount of "pork" that can be cut. Instead of tailoring tax policy to meet the state's actual budget needs, what we get is arbitrarily "cut" state services to make sure the state "lives within its means" (i.e., within the tax revenues that have been more or less arbitrarily "cut").
Presumably Blagojevich knows that what he's asking for is impossible and is setting up the legislature to take the blame for said failure, so that he can continue to run on his impressive record of accomplishing precisely nothing -- aside from raiding the state pension fund and setting the state up for a completely predictable financial crisis down the road. Doubtless his "tough stance" on taxes will help his presidential ambitions, though arguably those ambitions will be hurt by the fact that the guy literally talks like a mobster.
Daley is, for me, a much more interesting figure. He is well known for his authoritarianism and his near-complete control of every aspect of city and county government, and he is much more consistently pro-corporate. Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader has documented in detail Daley's abuse of tax-increment funding (TIF) districts -- a program that was originally intended to draw investment to blighted areas, but that Daley has tended to direct toward further development of already wealthy areas.
As a white aspiring member of the professional class, I have to admit that Daley's vision works in my interests -- the downtown area is remarkably safe, even at night, and it's nice to live in a "vibrant" (gentrifying) neighborhood where crime isn't an issue. But there's a fundamental injustice at work in his program: the tax base continues to dwindle, but more and more of that money goes toward subsidizing corporate interests and developers. One of his pet projects for the CTA, for instance, has been to provide "express" service to the airports. Train service already exists for both, but presumably high-class people will be willing to pay extra not to have to be around ordinary Chicago residents. It's unclear where they will actually put the express tracks, but already there is a "super-station" under construction that presumably has something to do with this new service that will never exist (even though it serves the Red Line, which does not go to either airport) -- three blocks away from Clark/Lake, which is arguably already a "super-station" and where all but one of the city's main train lines (including the two that go to the airports) meet. The Olympic bid is another example -- business interests will profit handsomely, while the city itself will be lucky to break even. Any additional jobs will be temporary and poorly paid, and the best the poorer areas of the city will receive is an unnecessary stadium plopped in the middle of a blighted neighborhood.
I wouldn't mind Daley's authoritarianism if it actually worked in the interests of workers and the poor -- but then he wouldn't need to be authoritarian, because he could get elected on the strength of implementing popular and needed programs. You only really need a strongman when you're siphoning off money for schools to help subsidize the Chicago Stock Exchange, for instance, or more broadly, when you're acting like only about 10-20% of the city's population actually exists.
(Of course, this situation is helped by the fact that one of the most firmly liberal cities in the midwest was for many years served by two Republican-leaning dailies -- supposedly the Sun-Times is going to move in a more liberal direction now, which will be helpful to offset the damage that will likely be caused by the recent buyout of the Reader.)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Information Wants to Be FreeI hate copying a "link location" from a list of Google search results, then getting a 20 mile long redirect URL when I paste said "location." When I haven't had my coffee, I hate it even more. I continue to hate the "feature" on NYTimes.com that brings up a dictionary or encyclopedia entry for words I double-click. Since I am, after all, using the internet while reading the site, I can easily look up any baffling words for myself; those who lack the wherewithal to do so are likely going to be confused and even distraught by the "helpful" information NYTimes.com so intrusively provides them ("Oh God, what did I do? Computers are so confusing! As a middle-aged technophobe, I am so thrown off that I am unable even to laugh self-deprecatingly at my own lack of technical savvy!").
I hate being unable to get started in the morning. I am coming to learn that morning procrastination only occurs when I have no set plans in the evening. Being intimidated by the wide-open expanse of the post-dinner period, I unconsciously "shift" tasks to fill that block of time. Thankfully, self-knowledge is power, so I will no longer have this problem now that I am conscious of it.
I hate that self-knowledge isn't actually power.
I hate that none of the parks in my neighborhood appear to have any picnic tables. Sunday afternoon, in light of the near-perfect weather, I went on a mission to find an outdoor (and free) location to read, and my search came up empty. I hate that my roommate's explanation of the phenomenon is almost surely correct: namely, that picnic tables would attract the homeless. A vibrant neighborhood full of ugly generic condo complexes cannot countenance vagrancy.
Monday, August 27, 2007
(11:58 PM) | Brad:
Weblog Jazz: When the Weekend Just Went Too QuicklyI take my requests seriously. So, to that end, I've tried to incorporate the ones I could. Whoever recommended Lord Buckley, good idea ... sadly, it's going to have to wait a little while. Maybe the next installment of Weblog jazz. For now, I hope many of you will find plenty to chew on with tonight's set.
First up, from Duke Ellington's classic 1943 Carnegie Hall concert, we have
After that, while we're reflecting on and recalling Ellington's genius, Monk eases us through his own take on the Ellington-standard, "Sophisticated Lady."
Mellowed out now? Good, only now are you ready for the maniacal sonic assault that is Eric Dolphy's ode to Monk, "Hat and Beard" (from Out to Lunch ).
And then, just because you've all been so nice & patient, an extra treat. Whoever suggested Blossom Dearie, thanks. I'd not really listened to her before, but I can't get her out of my head now. Case in point, the irresistible "Give Him The Ooh-La-La" (from Dearie's 1958 album of the same title).
(10:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Gonzalez ResignationGonzalez's resignation will, in all likelihood, do the following:
- Cut off any further investigation into the US attorney scandal and any further wrongdoing such investigation might uncover.
- Provide the White House with the opportunity to bully Congress into confirming his replacement quickly, which they can present as a pressing necessity -- allowing the Justice Department to get back to simply "doing its job" now that the Democrats' needless investigations have driven out a dedicated public servant. Perhaps now the Democrats' partisan bloodlust is satisfied and we can get back to the business of fighting our common enemy!
But since no one watches the news or reads the paper anymore, the coming election will ultimately be decided by who looks most natural eating a chili dog -- which is part of the reason that I think John Edwards should be the Democratic nominee.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
(11:01 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Punk Rock Sunday: Vaguely Not Punk Rock EditionAwhile back I found this song about Che Guevara by the French actress Nathalie Cardone. I don't know anything about her really and I don't even know when this song was popular. At first I thought it was kind of kitschy and overwrought but it grew on me.
I've been in a cave for the past two months and so someone here in the comments alerted me to the fact that Public Enemy put out a new album. I really like the new single and Chuck D will always make up for Flavor Flav's mainstream silliness.
Which reminds me of one of my favorite performance's of all time - Dead Prez on Chappelle's Block Party.
And just because I have to admit my confusion at what to do in the face of identity politics I support but that structurally exclude me (for good reason) here's the MC5 with American Ruse.
And Kick Out the Jams Mother Fucker.
And, yes, I know no one knows what that means, but it really gets the people going.
Friday, August 24, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Always in LoveI confess that I have not been having a very good week. I confess that if I had to pick some particular moment when things took a bad turn, it was probably when my old insurance company called me to tell me that I was being sued. I was in an accident two summers ago, and apparently the people in the other car have been unable to reach a settlement. Suing me personally is largely a technicality, as the insurance company will continue to cover me in all regards -- at the very worst, I may have to show up in court, though they tell me these things rarely go that far. That said, being alerted that one is being sued remains a disconcerting experience and it threw off the fragile balance that I had struck with regard to other issues that have been weighing heavily on me.
On the other hand, I confess that all three papers from the unofficial "Weblog panel" at last year's AAR (mine, Josh Davis's, and Daniel Barber's) have been accepted for publication in the journal Political Theology, to be accompanied by brief responses to the individual papers, an intro by panel moderator Nate Kerr, and a conclusion by Graham Ward. We are tentatively scheduled to appear in October 2008.
I confess that I don't know whether I'm ready for the semester to start. I confess that it looks to be a busy one. I confess that I am glad not to be serving on any committees, outside of the Student Liaison Group of the AAR -- a position that I will be glad to "hand off" at the end of the spring semester.
I confess that I was Scott Eric Kaufman's first.
I confess that I miss TV. The only shows I watch regularly that aren't currently in reruns are The Daily Show and Colbert Report. It's been weeks since they've aired a Futurama rerun I haven't seen, and though Robot Chicken has already started a new season, the episodes are (a) only ten minutes long and (b) not very good so far. I confess that I especially miss having cartoons to look forward to on Sunday nights, even though in actual fact only The Simpsons was consistently any good, but most of all, I miss House.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
(10:24 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Barack Obama: Stalinist?As readers of Zizek know, "in Stalinism, when the obligatory applause explodes at the end of the leader's speech, the leader stands up and joins the others in applauding" (Parallax View, 291).
Tonight Barack Obama is on The Daily Show. After the interview was over, he stood up and joined the others in applauding.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Dialectical materialism's just another name for nothing left to loseI hate websites that start up the Java runtime for no apparent reason. I hate "new security features" that consist of entering one's password on a separate page with some kind of dumb picture on it. I continue to hate my bank's online banking page, and in fact, I hate that every time they change it, they make it more hateful.
I hate the sound of low-flying jet aircraft overhead.
I hate it when I "have all day" to do something and it expands to fill the time.
I hate it when someone laughs at something I say, and then follows it up by saying, "Thanks, I needed that."
I hate that Superbad disappointed me.
I hate how unreliable Haloscan has been, seemingly for months.
UPDATE: I hate it when people don't participate in Tuesday Love.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
(5:07 PM) | Brad:
Weekend Jazz: Max Roach EditionAs many of you know, we lost a piece of living history this week when the great jazz drummer Max Roach died. It's hard to overstate his role in the evolution of jazz. From the earliest days of bebop to the Cuban/African sound of his later work, Roach kept growing and kept laying down vital music.
This was a hard mix to make, because there is just so much worth listening to again and again. But, having said that, I think this was the most fun I had coming up with a Weekend Jazz mix. Fortunately, I think it is also my favorite Weekend Jazz mix.
Even if you don't agree, I hope you enjoy.
First, from his live session at Basin Street with Clifford Brown (& Sonny Rollins), "What Is This Thing Called Love".
And then two from their indispensable set at Massey Hall, The Quintet (Gillespie, Mingus, Parker, Roach, & Powell) bring us "Salt Peanuts" and "Wee". Listen as Roach tears it up midway through both of these.
And last, from his 1961 Percussion Bitter Sweet Eric Dolphy, Abbey Lincoln, Booker Little and Roach set ablaze and bring home the classic "Mendacity".
Saturday, August 18, 2007
(12:32 PM) | John Emerson:
Why so many Friedman Units?The Friedman Unit is a running joke at Atrios and elsewhere. Every few months Tom Friedman proclaims that things in Iraq will have to get better in a few months, or..... something. When the months have passed, he says it again:
Things in Iraq will have to get better in a few months, or..... somethingFriedman has been producing overlapping Friedman units for three or four years so far, and there's no end in sight. He's not the only one cranking out the FU's, either: almost everyone is adamant that things will have to get better in a few months, or......something.
This is "jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today". This is like a little kid saying "in a minute, Mom" over and over again. Why are these people making fools of themselves?
My guess is that they keep retreating because they don't want to face the fact that no one in the government cares what they think. They supported the Iraq War under the impression that their opinions were regarded as valuable and that they were part of the team, but by now they've all found out that Bush is going to do whatever he wants for the remainder of his term -- with no regard for legality, public opinion, Congress, the courts, or the Thomas Friedmans of the world. (Bush's snarky comment about the Iraq Study group -- "They can return to their day jobs" -- should have told them this months ago). By now Friedman knows that if he ever calls in his chips and says "No more Friedman units; get out of Iraq" he will find that he is completely irrelevant to the American political process. Pundit Friedman will no longer have any reason to exist.
It gets worse: Congress's feeble responses to the administration's provocations may be motivated by the same fear. Gonzalez's testimony was made up entirely of lies and evasions, and the administration has made no secret of its contempt for the whole idea of oversight, but so far Congress has hardly responded. Shortly after Gonzalez's lying testimony, Bush bullied Congress into rushing the passage of a FICA revision which will put even more power into Gonzalez's hands, and this very effective "fuck you" from Bush nullified any effect that the hearings might have had. Congress is now back to zero and could very well stay there, and Bush is still firmly in the driver's seat.
All of the institutions of the Roman Republic continued into the Roman Empire as empty forms, and Congress and the free press seem to be on the verge of definitively making that transition. (Chomsky, Nader, et. al. have been talking about this for decades, of course.) We have sixteen months of the unitary presidency still to go, and all the evidence is that Bush will continue to use his unprecedented new powers as aggressively as he can. The media and both parties in Congress are heavily infiltrated with Bush loyalists and enablers, and effective resistance from that direction seems unlikely. The 2006 election seemed as though it might be a turning point, but at this point it seems that nothing much happened. Perhaps the 2008 election will be more meaningful, but in times like these a year is a long time. No one has any idea what kind of world we'll be seeing in January 2009.
Friday, August 17, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: John LeonardI confess that at this late date, I still don't understand why the invasion of Iraq happened. I confess that I have a lot of strong political opinions, but I don't know what good they do me or anyone else. I confess that I'm going to save myself a lot of time by declaring my voting behavior in advance:
- If it somehow hasn't already all been decided by the time of the Illinois primary, I will vote for either Obama or Edwards, whichever is still in the running. If by some miracle both are still contenders, I will vote for Obama, because he's black.
- In the 2008 election, I will as always vote a straight Democratic ticket. (I am absolutely serious about this -- I even voted for Todd Stroger in 2006.)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
(1:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Continued State of ExceptionVia Bitch PhD, I find the following interpretation of the administration's oxymoronic designation of Iran's army as a terrorist organization:
Here's what it means on the surface, that U.S. -- which increasingly blames Iran for terrorist meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan -- can try to go after those who do business with the Iranian military unit. Still, it's clearly not a normal move -- the first time that a government military has received this terrorist designation -- something that's usually reserved for non-state actors like al-Qaeda. And so no one seems sure what this morning what the concrete impact of this unexpected move will be.This is one thing that political observers seem to keep forgetting: Bush still thinks that the Constitution is suspended for matters relating to terrorism and that the executive has the sole authority to designate matters as "relating to terrorism," just as it has the right to place individuals in the made-up category of "unlawful enemy combatants."
Nowhere yet have I seen what it seems clear Bush's Iran move is really all about.
The White House hawks in Dick Cheney's office and elsewhere who want to stage an attack on Iran are clearly winning the internal power stuggle. And an often overlooked sub-plot on the long road toward war with Tehran is this: How could Bush stage an attack on Iran without the authorization of a skeptical, Democratic Congress?
Today, the White House has solved that pesky problem in one fell swoop. By explicitly linking the Iranian elite guard into the post 9/11 "global war on terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush's lawyers would certainly now argue that any military strike on Iran is now covered by the October 2002 authorization to use military force in Iraq, as part of their overly sweeping response to the 2001 attacks.
On the conceptual level, the declaration that a sovereign nation's regular army is a "terrorist group" is equivalent to designating Iran an "unlawful enemy combatant" among nations, a status parallel to that of the Taliban in Afghanistan, with one important difference -- in this case, the US is of course unilaterally declaring (all but explicitly) that the present Iranian regime is not the legitimate government of Iran. What else can we possibly conclude from the fact that its army is being designated with a term that by definition refers to non-state actors?
These types of moves are what lead me to think that Agamben's theory of sovereignty does not capture the specificity of the present moment. Butler's approach to this problem in Precarious Life seems to me much more helpful -- it's not that the law is simply suspended, but that the law has become instrumentalized, has become a means rather than an end. Even Democrats now speak of laws as "tools" in the fight against terrorism, and the Bush administration has shown what can only be called genius when it comes to instrumentalizing the law, creating new complications and exceptions, pushing the literal meaning of the law to its limits. That's what's so infuriating -- they're right that non-state actors are not covered by the Geneva Conventions, they're right that the Vice President's constitutional status is ambiguous, even though "everyone knows" what the authors of the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution intended.
Never before has lawlessness been so relentlessly legalistic.
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Zizek PostAccording to Amazon, 25% of people who look at the page for Zizek's forthcoming book preorder it. I'm not sure exactly what that number means -- perhaps they're saying that 25% of people who buy things after looking at that listing end up preordering the Zizek book. But still, that's a pretty big percentage, for what looks to be a complete retread. Have any of you preordered? If so, can you please tell me why the hell you would do such a thing?
An unrelated point: As I have learned through a couple of comment threads, some people are incredulous about Zizek's use of quantum physics. I understand where they're coming from, though I think that claiming that "probabilistic determinism" is the same as plain old determinism betrays a certain over-attachment to the idea of "determinism." Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that Zizek will have jumped the shark if he ever suggests -- even jokingly! -- that the knot-theory stuff in the later Lacan anticipates string theory.
UPDATE: I would be willing to bet that In Defense of Lost Causes reprints Zizek's intros to Robespierre and Mao.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
(3:36 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Raising MoneyUpdate: We've raised about £125 (~$250) so far. Keep it coming if you can, but this does help. Thank you to everyone who donated.
A good friend of mine here in Nottingham just had his laptop, with all the work for his PhD dissertation, stolen along with his wife's laptop. Basically some asshole broke their living room window and found the two things of value in the house. He and his wife have suffered a very hard year; losing a parent to cancer with all the financial burdens of traveling from England to the US to be with them on top of that. This has just made everything that much harder for no good reason at all. The cops have told them they won't really be able to find the computers, even though they know likely did it. I'm wondering if anyone in The Weblog community would help raise whatever funds we can to help them get back on their feet. If you could give anywhere from £5 ($10) up we could really help them out.
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Wisdom CubeI hate it when The Girl won't go to El Cid with me. I hate comment threads about the risks associated with going to grad school.
I hate it when Tuesday rolls around and I'm feeling uninspired hatred-wise.
Monday, August 13, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
China and Africa: A Game-Theory PerspectiveWestern powers are apparently concerned about China's increasing investment in Africa. Long-time readers of this site know precisely why: global politics are based on the game of Risk. The Western powers assumed that since the Chinese were starting out in Asia, they would never be able to control an entire continent and get the bonus troops that came along with that. After all, anyone who has played Risk knows that getting bogged down in Asia is a ticket to overextension and defeat. Now, of course, the Chinese are going for the relatively "easy" continent of Africa while no one else is paying attention.
I wouldn't be surprised if, after consolidating their control of Africa, they next turned their sites on Australia. After that, can South America be far behind? The US's influence over Brazil is waning just when China's activities in the adjacent Northen Africa sector are increasing. Some strategically placed bonus divisions and a few lucky rolls could very well mean the end of the Monroe Doctrine.
The dangers for the European Union are if anything even starker -- all they have going for them is the single continent, and history has proven that the power that holds northern Africa can very easily take Spain as well. Italy also provides an obvious route, as demonstrated in World War II. If I were the EU, I would divide my extra troops evenly between Spain and Italy for the next few turns, and also redouble my efforts to get Turkey to join, in order to provide an additional buffer.
Along those same lines, the US should seriously consider annexing Kamchatka.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
(5:13 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
"Vote Accordingly"We all know what we can do to become politically involved. The easiest way is of course to blog, becoming a kind of armchair editorialist and media critic, helping our comrades to keep informed. Similarly, one can write letters to the editor or even op-eds, to make one's convictions heard in the public sphere. One should also make sure to stay informed about the issues that matter most and vote accordingly -- perhaps even going so far as to donate money or time to campaigns. And when a big vote is coming up, it is one's civic duty to write to politicians, encouraging them to vote the right way.
All of these methods of political involvement are widely discussed on blogs, and the blogosphere has probably led to more political involvement among young people in this sense. That is all to the good. Yet something is missing here -- namely, the idea of actually running for office. There are all kinds of practical reasons why people don't often talk about running for office, but I think that the total absense of the topic from the conversation is deeply symptomatic of the utter passivity of our political culture. Everything is about the choice between the options that are presented to us. When the Republican/Democrat dichotomy doesn't work well enough, there might be talk of "supporting a primary challenger" -- but hardly anyone will even jokingly say something like "Hell, I'll run against the guy myself if that's what it takes." People who complain about the range of choices tend to be derided as naive Naderites, who will one day likely betray the better of the two realistic options in our professional political class.
To extrapolate from the existing pattern, it seems that even if the "netroots" started directly producing candidates rather than simply funnelling support to candidates who already exist, the implicit goal wouldn't be directly to take power, but to put pressure on the "real" politicians. The idea of actually intervening in a way that might alter the coordinates -- even on the comparatively minor level of attempting to insert oneself into the system -- is radically absent from anyone's mind. Instead, all political activity falls within the basic frame of the informed observer. We might offer occasional feedback, but we remain essentially spectators.
Friday, August 10, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Win-WinI confess that one day this week, I finished off a box of cookies and then realized that I was doing so primarily for the sense of accomplishment. I confess that it was a desperate gambit, but it worked.
I confess that when I erroneously received a used jazz CD in place of an anthology of Hadewijch's mystical writings through Amazon, I ripped the CD to my computer before returning it.
I confess that this guide to productivity only listed a few things that I wasn't already doing in one form or another. I confess that the non-fungibility of time sucks.
I confess that I want to learn more about jazz, and Brad's weekly feature is helping in that regard. I confess that I also want to learn about film, and that I bought a cheap guide to calculus off Amazon, in preparation for one day gaining a layman's knowledge of this "set theory" thing people talk about so much. I confess that I want to buy a copy of the new edition of Limits to Capital so that I can re-read it more closely with underlining, but I'm a cheapskate.
I confess that there are many aspects of my general education that the PhD process is forcing me to neglect, and I'm starting to think that that's no accident. I confess that I'm glad that I am at least in religion, which is (arguably) as close to the Department of Everything Studies as one is likely to get.
I confess that I sometimes read Adorno while listening to jazz.
I confess that it's well past midnight in the United Kingdom, so I'm posting this early in honor of our beloved British readers.
UPDATE: I confess that Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is a dumbass:
Blagojevich also criticized the number of pork-barrel projects.I'm sure we could come up with follow-up jokes, all equally hilarious:
"It's got so much pork in it that if you were to hold the budget document itself, you'd probably be unable to hold it because it's so greasy," Blagojevich said.
- "I sure hope someone brings napkins to the negotiations! Or better yet -- moist towelettes!"
- "We should change the name of this document from 'Illinois State Budget' to 'The Other White Meat' -- get it? Are they still doing those commercials?"
- "Like Porky Pig, this budget catches the state legislature with its pants down."
- "All this pork, and yet the legislature still failed to bring home the bacon for the state of Illinois."
Thursday, August 09, 2007
(10:28 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Armchair Political ConsultingIt seems to me that Hillary is not non-Republican enough. Both John Edwards and Barack Obama would, it seems to me, be significantly better. Obama may be able to pull ahead, but Edwards doesn't appear to have a realistic shot.
So here's what they should do: Obama should immediately declare that if nominated, he will selected Edwards as his running mate, and Edwards should tell all his supporters to switch over to Obama. It seems likely to me that the majority of Edwards supporters would choose Obama over Hillary anyway. To sweeten the deal, Obama could say that he'd put Edwards in charge of policy in his key areas -- poverty, labor, whatever.
I don't know if the numbers add up to the point where Obama would then become the front-runner immediately, but even if they wouldn't, it would allow the Democratic candidates to break out of the current impasse where if candidate A attacks candidate B, it ends up benefitting candidate C -- perhaps allowing real differences to come out more clearly. Of course, given that Hillary is a rank opportunist who will say and do literally anything to get elected, maybe that wouldn't make a difference.
If an Obama/Edwards ticket ends up carrying the day, that's the best outcome that could conceivably come out of this election -- both are young, so we potentially wind up with 16 straight years of pretty good presidents. The alternative is that we're forced to choose between Hillary and a Republican, and I fear that Hillary might not be "less bad" enough to stave off disaster.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
(9:01 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Footnotes: Ease of UseMy life, and I imagine many of my readers' lives, would be marginally improved if I could set up Word so that, with some keystroke (perhaps an unused F-key), I could jump from editing a footnote to resuming the body text.
Here's what I know so far (I'm using Word 2003). First, the only defined shortcut key for footnotes pertains to insertion. Once you're in, as far as the keyboard is concerned, you're all in. The mouse-based way to get out is either to manually click on the body text or to double-click on the footnote number itself. If I do the latter, however, Word puts the cursor before the footnote reference. Clearly that is wrong -- the cursor should be placed after the footnote reference so that I can continue typing away.
So to achieve my goal, I need to develop a macro that will activate whatever command is associated with double-clicking a footnote, then advance the cursor. Ideally, said macro will do nothing more malevolent than "beep" if invoked when I am not in the act of editing a footnote. Is this possible? I'll let you know if I come up with something. Until then, feel free to give me a solution in comments.
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Ezra PoundI hate writer's block. I hate the cycle of self-disgust that comes from getting involved in comment threads when I'm supposed to be writing. I hate that I have only just now realized the central thing that makes comment debates so frustrating to me: I hate being misunderstood, especially when I feel like I've made myself as clear as possible. I have the same problem in my personal life, but it rarely gets as out of control as it tends to get in online forums. I hate that I'm apparently unable to arrive at any kind of self-understanding without the mediation of Bitch PhD.
I hate spoiling my dinner with sweets.
UPDATE: Kari McElroy guest-hosts Tuesday Love this week.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
(11:59 AM) | Brad:
Weekend JazzThere's been a void in my life, perhaps as big as the one in yours. The absence of our weekly feature Friday/Weekend Jazz has been felt across the internet. Things almost shut down for a while. Thankfully, somebody uploaded a fat load of porn on PornTube, and things were rescued.
I missed a week, but I have an excuse. I've been absolutely obsessed with a track that I simply could not find through my normal means -- i.e., BitTorrent, ITunes, used CD shops, etc. For a week, I refused simply to buy the CD with the track I wanted so badly, on sheer principle. That principle being, surely I could find it cheaper elsewhere. After two or three weeks of vain searches, I finally gave up last night. It helped that it was my anniversary, and my wife told me to pick out something I wanted as a gift.
She got a nice, big potted plant for her office. And I got Brad Mehldau's 2004 CD Live in Tokyo. If you think we're cheap on the gifts, you will be even more scandalized to learn that (a) the bartender did not let us pay for our celebratory beers -- a toe-tinglingly number of Westmalle Triples, if you must know, which, Jesus Christ on a stick, are expensive in San Francisco -- and (b) we somehow managed to become immediate friends with a stranger at the bar who insisted that he pay for our dinner. It was a splendid anniversary, made all the more splendid by its being so ridiculously cheap. For a moment, I forgot I was not especially enjoying myself in San Francisco.
Enough about me, though. The reason I've been so keen on this CD is its much ballyhooed 20-minute rendition of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android." Intrigued? Forgive me for the fairly shoddy .mp3 quality here, but hey, it's a huge freakin' file and had to be tamed. Take a listen before Nonesuch sends us the cease & desist letter.
After that, if you think to yourself it was a one-off, that surely Radiohead could never be turned into jazz again, we have the Brad Mehldau Trio rip into Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film) -- on their The Art of the Trio, Vol. 4: Back At the Village Vanguard.
Both songs take a while to get going, like many a great jazz number. Both are worth your while. And both are vital examples of why jazz is still alive.
Speaking of which, for those of you in the Bay Area, James Carter is bringing his sax to Yoshi's later this month. I've never seen him live, but I'm definitely there for at least one show. Tickets are pretty cheap, and there are enough shows that there should be plenty of room. In other words, hope to see some of you there.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
(10:57 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Fair and BalancedThis article makes me really angry -- and not about the "partisan rancor in Washington."
Friday, August 03, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: August is the cruellest monthI confess that as I sit down to write this, at 11:30 at night, it is still about 80 degrees out. I confess that August as a whole is looking like it's going to be pretty boring.
I confess that my long-time dislike of air conditioning has disappeared. I confess that as of right now, I'd say that I prefer suffering through Chicago winters over Chicago summers, because at least in winter I'm not sweating.
I confess that I've been eating a lot of junk food lately. I confess that I want to see Superbad when it comes out.
I confess that I met Ackerman last weekend and he's a cool guy.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
(7:03 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
Two niggles. Has anyone else noticed how Ralph Fiennes has done a great job at impersonating British writer Will Self in the Potter films?
(11:53 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Ranking David Lynch MoviesTonight is the end of the Siskel Center's David Lynch retrospective. They are showing Mulholland Dr. at 6:30, and I'm planning to attend. In the last month, then, I will have seen all of the canonically "David Lynch" movies except Inland Empire (the handheld camera work deterred me from seeing it in the theater). I've noticed in various comment threads that people have really strong feelings about the relative quality of Lynch films, but also that there does not appear to be any well-defined conventional wisdom on the matter.
If there's one thing that blog comments are good for, it's generating consensus on controversial issues, and so I figured that we could hash out the ranking among ourselves. (Since very few people have seen Inland Empire, I say that we should provisionally leave it out of consideration.) Here is a chronological list of what most would consider to be the true "David Lynch films":
- Blue Velvet
- Wild at Heart
- Lost Highway
- Mulholland Dr.