The world is flat, or at least becoming flatter very quickly, Thomas
L. Friedman says in his exciting and very readable account of
globalization. In this flat new world, there is a level (or at least
more level) playing field in which countries like India and China, long
marginalized in the global economy, are able to compete. And while Mr.
Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times,
celebrates the new vistas opening up for these countries, he describes
forcefully the challenges globalization presents for the older
industrialized nations - especially the United States.
leaving aside the snooze of the premise of the book itself, let me give mr. stiglitz some tips on writing reviews. the point of a review is not to paraphrase a book's title, then pause and paraphrase it again and, what the hell, again, finishing by the time you're done with a paraphrase of the title that's 763 times as long as the title itself but has less content. "exciting," "readable," "forcefully," and the like are the empty bubbles emitted by someone who only reads blurbs, not books. "the world is at least becoming flatter very quickly," as if someone had napalmed its entire surface, as if god's wife was rolling it out like a wet dough, as if it were road-kill skunk getting thunked again and again by eighteen-wheelers, as if someone surgically removed those parts of your mind that give you access to reality and replaced them with cliches, as if.... and note to the nytimes: maybe you should have done something more than simply rehearse at the speed of plod the greatness of your boy.
Mr. Friedman is right that there are forces flattening the world,
but there are other forces making it less flat. At issue is the balance
between them. So is the world really much flatter than before?
ah! there's the key question. maybe it is! or maybe not! hmmm. maybe there's a nobel for whomever can figure out whether the flatterer it becomes the less flatter it remains.
this social security shit puts me to sleep. only it's hard to quibble with the idea that if there's a problem you cut benefits to the top tiers of income. surely it'd be idiotic for a democrat to quibble with that. wouldn't it be?
thomas friedman, never the flashiest lad, has become deeply, deeply, boring. it's all cliches now, all the time. here of course, the argmt is that's what good for microsoft is good for the nation. that's some radical shit you got there, bubba.
here are two typical itar-tass stories. all they do is quote pro-russian authorities (in ukraine and belarus) in a way that strongly implies they're making sense. the statements themselves are oracular a la politburo, and there is no attempt to get any comment on them by anyone or even to accompany them by any facts. the press in russia is, in short, a mere congeries of propaganda.
this , from ace of spades, is so incredibly wrong-headed. why the hell would anyone be pissed off at wikipedia ? i use it all the time, though no doubt some sabotage or mistakes can slip through. when i read an entry on something i know about it is invariably accurate. if ace doesn't know "really what the hell it's supposed to be," i'll tell him: it's the future of reference: a cooperative enterprise of thousands of people, most composing or correcting material on which they are experts. it makes brittanica or whatever look primitive: the way it is made (as a wiki) is a way to approximate the state of human knowledge as a whole. the only way, in fact. and a way only made possible by open access to the encyclopedia. i think too, that if these spades punk wikipedia, they will learn how resilient it is, though why anyone would take a hostile attitude toward it is beyond me: for heaven's sake at least explore and think about it first.
my dad was a very serious bird watcher. in fact i still have his old roger tory peterson field guide with his killer life list in the back. anyway, i can remember being fascinated as a child by the question of whether the ivory-billed woodpecker (amazing cousin to the pileated) was extinct. dad always said you'd be shocked what lives in these swamps and that he still believed there might be a population stashed away somewhere, despite the fact that the last confirmed sighting was in the 20s. turned out he was right . what an excellent thing.
it takes a lot of damn gall: they're celebrating victory day in the "great patriotic war" (wwii) in chechnya again, only they're keeping the time and place secret, as well they might. last year on victory day, the chechen resistance blew up the puppet president & co. now you might ask: well, what in the world is wrong with celebrating victory over the nazis? consider this :
Stalin, who accused Chechens of helping Germans during World War II,
sent the entire nation into exile, killing about one-third of them on
the trek to Kazakhstan.
they came back, they never stopped thinking of separatism, but it was
impossible during Soviet times,” says Gasan Gusejnov, an expert on
ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union who has taught Chechen
history and politics at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.
you wouldn't have to be a chechen nazi to believe that stalin was as much a genocidal maniac as was hitler. much of the chechen resistance was born in exile. the killing of kadyrov on may 9 was rich in the symbolism of justice. note: reading itar-tass or ria novosti etc is every day more like reading pravda circa 1973. there is hardly even the pretense of factuality. i'll document this a bit as time goes on, but it is, as clearly as anything, proof or autocracy.
offhand i would support this , particularly if courses on other religions or comparative religions could be offered. of course, i'm not naive enough not to understand the motives of some of those involved. but religion is central to many disciplines besides theology or any sort of actual religious training: philosophy, history, art history, music, and all the social sciences, and the bible is central to many of those disciplines anywhere where jerusalem-style monotheism (judaism/christianity/islam) has been widely practiced.
oddly the washington post op-ed page features a press release today, this one even more obviously cobbled-together-by-the-staff than usual, if that's possible. does bob ehrlich not have any other outlets for a campaign speech? is he an opinion journalist or, for that matter, a writer? is this useful or enlightening or surprising? yo fred hiatt: this is obviously a waste of time and space and incompatibe with any decent conception of what a commentary page is for.
these people are deeply screwed. here deroy murdoch argues that libraries ought to be centers of state surveillance. it's hard to see how this is going to help anything, even with all the little cases he adduces. i guess maybe accompanied by racial profiling and a policy of extra-legal detention you could do something about some arab who goes to the stewartstown library and googles "how to build an atomic bomb," or something. but does murdoch actually believe, for example, that these guys couldn't have gotten web access except at a library? or that it will actually help homeland security to know that abu likes tom clancy novels? meanwhile we will keep handing over any last vestige of autonomy as the u.s. heads on its asymptotic course toward totalitarianism. every step on that road is justified because it saves american lives. only ask yourself: overall, does totalitarianism save lives?
i call this profoundly encouraging. i say that putin is amongst the world's worst and certainly most dangerous autocrats. i say he is guilty of crimes against humanity (scroll down below the catholic entry on top). i would like to see his empire crumble from the outside in. i predict it's going to be a hell of a job trying to keep it together. of course, if anyone has the lack of scruples to do what it takes, it's putin. but of course, it's his hatred of democracy and autonomy, his contempt for his own minorities, and his brutality that are going to end his nation.
i'm messing around with john bolton for my column this week. here is an excellent source of info. who'dathunk that, like negroponte, he has roots firmly planted in iran/contra/crack?
When he worked as an assistant attorney general under Edwin Meese, Bolton thwarted the Kerry Commission’s efforts to obtain documentation, including Bolton’s personal notes, about the Iran-Contra affair and alleged Contra drug smuggling. Working with congressional Republicans, Bolton also stonewalled congressional demands to interview deputies of then-Attorney General Edwin Meese regarding their role in the affair.
the stuff that's coming out about john bolton sheds more light on the iraq invasion and the nature of neo-conservatism than do any of these reports on "intelligence failings" etc. bolton drove the exaggeration or the sheer fictionalization of every threat: iraq, cuba, syria, and, one thinks, more. surely that represented the concerted strategy of the straussian cabal: wolfowitz, perle, and friends. now let me give you, in ultra-simplified form, the political philosophy of the lovely leo strauss. the world must be run by an elite of superior intellectuals, inheritors of the grand tradition of western intellection. a la plato's republic, they care for lesser chumps through deception and manipulation. they are charged with responsibility for the world, and because most people are stupid and deceived anyway, there's no reason not to use their stupidity and gullibility for their own good. i would think the republican straussians have done about as thorough a job of this as is possible, starting perhaps, with their use of george bush as their folksy manipulative instrument. now there a few drawbacks to this approach: (1) it is almost nothing but a pure form of self-congratulation and repulsive egomania. (2) it is profoundly, entirely, incompatible with freedom and democracy in any form. (3) as one uses falsehood to wield power one becomes not only a liar butr unaccountable to anyone for the policies one then goes on to formulate on the basis of the lies one tells. in other words, abuse of power is built into the intellectual structure at its foundaqtion.
well now. any idiot could see that expanding the op-ed operation makes sense. look at the "most frequently e-mailed articles" section of the nyt website now and then and realize what people actually read and talk about. the only exception, ever, is articles about my really actual friend, or at least profound acquaintance, mireille guiliano . the washington times of course has had 3 op-ed pages for decades, presumably under the directive of the amazing reverend sun myung moon, whose name, one assumes, is a nom de cash of the proud halliburton corporation. but anyway, any fuckhead could see you've got to double your op-ed page tomorrow and carry my amazing column . cause like there's righthand fucks and lefthand fucks. but now it's time to think . anyway: equal time for anarchists, i say. it's an fcc thing. you wouldn't understand.
yow! talk about destroying the separation of powers.
"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise
a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them
or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit
doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."
it's not hard to see that the catholic church is one of the least responsive and accountable institutions in the history of the world. this has something to do with its size, its bureaucratic structure, and the idea that the church is accountable only to god, or perhaps that its actions are invariably authorized by god, even when they are brutal crimes. at any rate there was an extraordinarily disturbing story on npr this morning about the trials of priests who allegedly participated in the rwandan genocide, including one who apparently had his own church bulldozed with 2000 living tutsis inside. before being apprehended, he was quietly living and giving masses under an assumed name in, um, rome. despite the fact that several priests have actually been found guilty of crimes against humanity in the rwandan genocide, the country's archbishop is quoted as simply flatly denying that any priest participated in any way. evil idiocy. of course this makes you think of the church's decades-long refusal to come to grips with its history of extreme anti-semitism. or the decades-long concealment of child abusers in the priesthood, etc. look. no group as big as the catholic hierarchy is entirely good, and for example in rwanda many priests were killed, often for helping tutsis. but the inyourface lying and coverups profoundly discredit the church as a moral authority on anything. among other things, they betray almost psychotic self-righteousness and deep cowardice.