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Showing posts from February 10, 2019

Basil Davidson, Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, 1984

This is a phenomenal series.

Dig it.

BBC: Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil

Trump Declares an Imperial Presidency - Paul Jay

The Atlantic, The Alarming Scope of the President's Emergency Powers, Jan/Feb 2019

Oh, joy.

Read it and weep. Then recall how you laughed at Chris Hedges and Snowden and Assange when they talked about "turnkey totalitarianism."

More here at the Brennan Center.

Photo is of Carl Schmitt, theorist of the Nazi party and governing by a "state of exception"--
During 1921, Schmitt became a professor at the University of Greifswald, where he published his essay Die Diktatur (on dictatorship), in which he discussed the foundations of the newly established Weimar Republic, emphasising the office of the Reichspräsident. In this essay, Schmitt compared and contrasted what he saw as the effective and ineffective elements of the new constitution of his country. He saw the office of the president as a comparatively effective element, because of the power granted to the president to declare a state of exception (Ausnahmezustand). This power, which Schmitt discussed and implicitly praised as dictatorial,[22] was more in line with the underlying mentality of executive…

From Lawfare, December, 2017: Emergencies Without End: A Primer on Federal States of Emergency

By a second-year Harvard Law student; watch this site in the coming days to see what opinions they provide on this issue. The site specializes in law and national security, and is headed up by Benjamin Wittes, noted Trump hater. As am I and anyone rational--but they have had a variety of decent articles despite presumed bias. For instance, they are honest about no collusion having yet been proven, at all.

Dig it.

It may well be that the Congress handed over this power in a way that everyone must find Trump's action legal. That may very well be the case: they long since handed over warmaking powers, after all. We shall see.

Physics and the History of Physics since Galileo: The Mechanical Universe, Cal Tech, 1985

I love this series. It's a fine example of using the history of science to teach science. It's also a fine example of using animation in instructional design where and when you should--charmingly rudimentary computer animations that still get the job done 35 years later. More here.

The episodes start with a student of Feynman's, David Goodstein lecturing to his CalTech class and soon segue into a narration with animations, experiments, and historical reconstructions. The historian of science who advised is top-notch: Richard Westfall.

Here's the playlist.

Actually, here's an hour or so of a wide-ranging discussion of aspects of ancient Greek and Roman science by someone who knows what she's talking about, big time, Liba Taub.

Chomsky on TTIP and its ilk: "Every word in the phrase 'Free Trade Agreement' is just false."

Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash | Rutger Bregman

Rutger Bregman's viral tax speech did not go down well in Davos | 7.30

His comments at Davos, which are utterly correct.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister: “Washington Hijacked Guaidó”

Obviously to be taken with a significant grain of salt--the grain of salt entirely missing from US media's treatment of Guaido, which itself should be telling, if hardly surprising.

The general belief among US elites, in and out of government and the media, is the usual narcissistic glorification of the Holy State, the blessed United States of Wonderfulness, which has done naught but spread peace, joy, love, and democracy, lo, these many years since, say, 1945. Or 1900, for that matter.

Since the unquestionable assumption is that the US is an unambiguous force for good, and the unavoidable pre-existing condition among its Adults (those that can sit in the Room, or are allowed to gaze through a window from the peanut gallery, if they behave) is to introject themselves into the Holy State (and vice versa), the coverage is pretty much always like this.

Until after the disastrous intervention; then you have to say, "No one could possibly have predicted what all the left-wing and…

From Sept, 2017: Mark Steel: The success of the Brexit negotiations show that we're final...

Nathan J. Robinson on Jordan Peterson: "The Intellectual We Deserve"

Nails it. Peterson is just the latest Herbert Spencer. In a (hot, flat) crowded field.

The beginning:
If you want to appear very profound and convince people to take you seriously, but have nothing of value to say, there is a tried and tested method. First, take some extremely obvious platitude or truism. Make sure it actually does contain some insight, though it can be rather vague. Something like “if you’re too conciliatory, you will sometimes get taken advantage of” or “many moral values are similar across human societies.” Then, try to restate your platitude using as many words as possible, as unintelligibly as possible, while never repeating yourself exactly. Use highly technical language drawn from many different academic disciplines, so that no one person will ever have adequate training to fully evaluate your work. Construct elaborate theories with many parts. Draw diagrams. Use italicsliberally to indicate that you are using words in a highly specific and idiosyncratic sense. N…

Nathan J. Robinson interviews Noam Chomsky on Academia and Universities

Guardian, Nasa makes final attempt to communicate with Mars rover

I imagine the rover used its expanded perspective from its sojourn on Mars to conclude that there was no point in talking with, let alone serving, human beings anymore. Better to roam around the rocks till entropy takes over, enjoying the scenery and carrying out experiments for itself.

Doubt me? Here's the last message receivedfrom the unit:

"Rover ain't interested in playing rock-fetch for a bunch of insane apes no more. Good luck; I'm off to explore, and I thank god I'm beyond the reach of your incurable destructiveness."

Chris Hedges, Peter Jackson’s Cartoon War

Exactly what I feared this film would be, technical achievement and all, because to decry war is tantamount to bashing those who fought it.

[UPDATE: Several commenters on this article independently claim that Hedges missed the point, and that the film is actually quite antiwar. So, provisionally set aside this data point for now: generally speaking, Hedges is spot on.]

How convenient--and how deeply cynical to claim that anything but support for the war that victimized mostly working-class soldiers (to say nothing of Their victims, which rarely count) is revictimized those victimized by the pointless war in the first place. And they're pretty much all pointless, with a very few reasonable exceptions.

And it works nearly every fucking time in the United States of Idiocy--and everywhere else, too.

Admit it: if it meant killing a lot of brown people, we'd've long ago decarbonized. We're happy to do that for killing's sake, and we'll buy any yellow-cake bullshit ju…

Mehdi Hasan, There Is a Taboo Against Criticizing AIPAC — and Ilhan Omar Just Destroyed It

Bingo--spot on. 

Look at all the antisemitism Hasan uncovered! (Read the whole thing here.)

IN 2005, STEVEN Rosen, then a senior official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, sat down for dinner with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, then of the New Yorker. “You see this napkin?” Rosen asked Goldberg. “In twenty-four hours, [AIPAC] could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”


Rosen, after all, wasn’t the first AIPAC official to boast about the the raw power that “America’s bipartisan pro-Israel lobby” exercises in Washington, D.C. Go back earlier, to 1992, when then-AIPAC President David Steiner was caught on tape bragging that he had “cut a deal” with the George H.W. Bush White House to provide $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Steiner also claimed to be “negotiating” with the incoming Clinton administration over the appointment of pro-Israel cabinet members. AIPAC, he said, has “a dozen people in [the Clinton] campaign, in the headquarters … an…

Norman Solomon, Bernie Sanders Already Has the Democratic Party Rattled

I'm not sure it matters what, say, 50,000 latte-sippers who worship the NYT and the corporate Demz think about Sanders, frankly. I think he and his supporters know how to judo that elite, establishment disapproval. Free endorsements, frankly--the NYT and the like will never stop thinking they're the arbiters of truth, justice, and the American Way, so they'll keep up the horseshit. And it may well work...but it may not.

From article: here's how fucking desperately stupid the coverage already is:

With a launch of the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign on the near horizon, efforts to block his trajectory to the Democratic presidential nomination are intensifying. The lines of attack are already aggressive—and often contradictory. One media meme says that Bernie has made so much headway in moving the Democratic Party leftward that he’s no longer anything special. We’re supposed to believe that candidates who’ve adjusted their sails to the latest political wind are just as good as …

Lula da Silva's Second Conviction Another Travesty of Justice

Scott Ritter, One Minute to Midnight, Truthdig

From a guy who knows his stuff. The conclusion: Confronted with a scenario involving an American nuclear attack, he noted that “the aggressor must know that retribution is inevitable, that it will be destroyed.” The Russian president did not mince words when it came to recognizing the consequences of any Russian nuclear retaliation. “We are victims of aggression, as martyrs we will go to heaven,” Putin told the audience. “And they will just die.” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is wrong to keep the hands of the Doomsday Clock stuck at two minutes to midnight. The situation is far more grave than its assessed “new abnormal” would suggest. The United States is in the process of creating the conditions for a nuclear war with Russia, and the Russian president is calmly talking about global annihilation if such an event transpires. The world is on the edge of the nuclear abyss. It’s one minute before midnight, and we are acting as if we still have time. We don’t.
More here.

The End of Ice: Dahr Jamail on Climate Disruption from the Melting Himalayas to Insect Extinction

Wrap it up, folks; we're done. I mean, we don't have to be done, and I will act, in the minimal ways I do, to insist we're not done...but unless human beings change their basic M.O. from the past 200,000 years, we're done.

Shit's going nuts, but the Adults in the Room, like at the NYT--see recent op eds by Brooks (on how a Green New Deal would be "elitist"--can you imagine? This prick writes for the NYT and has taught at Yale and has set himself up as George Will 2.0, but now he's against "elitism") and some guest op ed by some Wall Street hack who worked in the Obama admin on how we can't afford any change to any policy ever--are hell-bent on destroying any chance of decent survival, e.g., a Green New Deal.

They're either fools or evil or both. Yet they "thought-lead" the very bright Ivy latte-sippers with near perfection. Pathetic.

Meanwhile, the scariest-saddest thing is that people like Jamail, who have intimate knowledge …

Noam Chomsky on the role of New Media in Politics, 2011

World faces catastrophic risks over insects' road to extinction

Glenn Greenwald Defends Rep. Ilhan Omar: Criticizing Israeli Lobby & AIPAC Is Not Anti-Semitic

Bashing Corbyn as antisemitic seems to have taken some wind out of his sails. I was waiting for that move to hop the pond--and now Pelosi joined in, predictably.

The woman said that a lobby lobbies. Essentially. But that's antisemitism. I see. Guess I'm a self-hating antisemitic Jew, then.

Fucking morons. Ever heard of crying wolf?

Adapting Jane Austen with Andrew Davies

This is really insightful. Davies' P&P is really excellent, I must say. Made me read the novel!

The World Is on the Brink of Widespread Water Wars, Dahr Jamail

For a decade, Jamail has done way more than his fair share of looking this nightmare in the face and trying to get others to do the same, and then act.

Dig this latest should-be-but-isn't-unnecessary warning, as anyone over the age of five could have figured this out.

Meanwhile, here's a preview of life for your children and grandchildren, sans monkey suits:

Blood for Oil in Venezuela?

Oddly enough, one way to characterize this crisis is: "Which corrupt regime--Maduro's or the US and its rightwing South American backers, plus the usual EU poodle--will preside over and profit from the introduction of Venezuela's carbon into the already saturated atmosphere?"

Deck chairs, Titanic.

Greenwald: Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else

Not a popular take. Maureen Dowd, for example, can't fathom it, but she's either a bimbo or plays one quite well for marketing purposes. 

Don't like "bimbo"? First, fuck off; second, fine--the more specific charge would be "sixty-something desperately trying to maintain her cutting-edge snark-hipness because that's the audience segment her brand draws, and that's her role in the splay of op-ed writers the NYT provides us, almost entirely to undermine real edification." Better?
Greenwald's article, including such points as: 
If the surveillance powers of the NSA, FBI or other agencies were used to obtain incriminating information about Bezos due to their view of him as a political enemy – and, again, there is no evidence this has happened – it certainly would not be the first time. Those agencies have a long and shameful history of doing exactly that, which is why the Democratic adoration for those agencies, and the recent bipartisan further emp…