Friday, 28 November 2008
"Employer of the year, grandmaster of fear / My blood flows satanical, mechanical, masonical and chemical / habitual ritual "
"I deal in the market, every man, woman and child is a target / A closet full of faceless, nameless pay more for less empitness /I’ll make you scrounge, in my executive lounge / you pay less tax, but I’ll gain more back"
Corporate Cannibal ~ Grace Jones
"Writing in 1930, Keynes was most interested in the process of deflation and in countering the dangerous advice of conventional finance. Orthodoxy put the pound back on gold at a punishingly high rate in 1925, torturing British industry and pushing up unemployment in the name of sound money. Central banks, Keynes feared, were being too timid about bringing down interest rates. Against orthodoxy’s austerity nostrums, Keynes celebrated booms in a manner that would do a Texas populist proud. Shakespeare, said Keynes, died rich, and his days were 'the palmy days of profit — one of the greatest "bull" movements ever known until modern days in the United States…. [B]y far the greater proportion of the world’s greatest writers and artists have flourished in the atmosphere of buoyancy, exhilaration and the freedom from economic cares felt by the governing class, which is engendered by profit inflations' (CW VI, p. 137). The Shakespeares of the era of junk finance have yet to be discovered, unless Bret Easton Ellis qualifies."
Wall Street (1997) by Doug Henwood
Monday, 24 November 2008
"Last month, the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) waged a guerilla-advertising war against what they call an illegal one in Iraq. Early on October 11, a seven-member brigade from its LA chapter formed Operation W.A.N.T. (We Are Not Toys) and set a dramatic stage for early-morning customers at a local gas station.
"In black t-shirts and ski masks, the group arranged 4,200 miniature toy soldiers on the pavement accompanying signs that read, "The Price of Gas: 4171 US Soldiers." (On its website, IVAW is quick to point out that since the action, that number has grown to 4,193.)"
From POST ADVERTISING*
10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military
Sunday, 23 November 2008
How is visuality — understood here as the mutual constitution of the visual and the social (W. J. T. Mitchell) — implicated in the mediated construction of instances of distant suffering in various parts of the world, and what are the effects of such implications? After a brief history of the visual representation of humanitarian crises by Euro-American civil society institutions, the presentation turns to a consideration of the perils and prospects of humanitarian visuality. In particular, I turn to an inescapable aporia of this visual economy, the simultaneous production and negation of the otherness of vulnerable subjects. Finally, the presentation discusses certain strategies for a critical visuality, notably a defence of the image’s interpretive ambiguity as well as practices of phenomenological reintensification and structuralist expansion of the image.A public lecture by Fuyuki Kurasawa
Neo-liberalism as exception is also a critique of juridical-legal interpretations of the connections between citizenship and government. Ong argues that this method is evident in Giorgio Agamben’s focus on the bifurcation of the population into two halves: zones of citizenship, consisting of political beings, and zones of bare life, consisting of those without citizenship protections (p. 22). Instead, Ong contends that a ‘temporal conceptualization of the politics of exception’ is a more appropriate means for recognizing the validity of other ethical regimes - such as the various world religions - that also ‘operate along the continuum of inclusion and exclusion, though without mapping onto the same division between citizens and bare life’ (p. 197). In contrast to Agamben, Ong argues that new modes of analysis are necessary for examining the ways in which those without territorialized citizenship might make claims, whether through local communities, NGOs or corporations (p. 24). While most of the book’s content consists of essays already published elsewhere, Ong also presents new contributions, and has reworked and reorganized the existing material to provide an ethnographic perspective critical to an understanding of the global economy and socio-political systems. By placing each article in a particular context that reveals new insights into neo-liberal transformations of citizenship and sovereignty, Ong brings theoretical potency and empirical energy to a growing field of scholarship.
Eliot Che's review, "Rethinking Neoliberalism", Originally published in: International Affairs 83(4), 2007.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
Below is an article by John Cassidy in which he critically examines the new behavioral economics theory of 'nudge' as propounded by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein. It seems that Barack Obama, who was a fellow teacher with Sunstein at the University of Chicago Law School, is a keen believer in its potential as a 'Third Way' of policy-making. Such a weak centrist position, which aims to preserve/encourage 'freedom of choice', would employ little in the way of govt. regulation in tackling the inequities of the market, rather it would merely aim to encourage people to seek alternative action. Not surprisingly, this agency-oriented model, which Thaler and Sunstein describe as a form of 'libertarian paternalism', has also captured the imagination of the British Conservative Party. As Cassidy maintains, this structural deficient approach seems hardly sufficient in addressing some of the fundamental problems facing, for example, the American health care system and the financial crisis. More, he concludes, will be needed than simply attempting to "'nudge' the country in a different direction."
Having at last read, on NHuthnance's recommendation, Houellebecq's 'Platform', I thought it was rather fitting when, quite by chance, I happened upon an article about the growing popularity of, and controversy surrounding, so-called 'Slum Tourism'.
It seems that despite the tour operator's claims regarding the (limited) benefits such tours offer the poor, it, again, ultimately proves that capitalism will commodify anything, not least the very victims of its own structural inequalities...
Friday, 21 November 2008
Perhaps the Harvard economist Martin Feldstein is right when he called for the Big Three automakers to enter bankruptcy to rewrite excessive union contracts. One Lawmaker has said to the CEOs that flying jet to the bailout hearing is like going to "soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo."
Rep. Brad Sherman has asked CEOs whether they would fly back commercial. The company representatives pointed out to safety, travel policies as reasons for flying jets.
Oh come on!
"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York,
told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of
the House Financial Services Committee.
He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something
to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."
The Pentagon's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program recently sent out a call for contractors to design a pack of robots whose main purpose would be to track down what the SBIR ominously referred to as "noncooperative human subject[s]."
How does the robot pack decide which human is cooperative and which is not? Welcome to the wonderful, dystopian world of defense pork.
The call immediately raised red flags, as well as philosophical and moral chills, from one end of humankind to the other. Not surprisingly, it was quickly removed from the public Web site before its cyborg spark evolved into a full-fledged paranoia over machine armies and murderous artificial intelligence, the likes of which were previously known only in seminal science-fiction exercises as old-school as Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Philip K. Dick's stories, "Minority Report" and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and as new-school as the Star Wars, Terminator and Matrix franchises.
According to the SBIR offer, the "Multi-Robot Pursuit System" would need "a software and sensor package to enable a team of robots to search for and detect human presence in an indoor environment." The robots would be led by a human commander using "semiautonomous map-based control." For good measure, the offer added that there "has also been significant research in the game-theory community involving pursuit/evasion scenarios." According to the offer, the robots should weight a little over 200 pounds apiece, and there should be three to five of them assigned to their human overlord.
Read the full story here:http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/107580/
Friday, 14 November 2008
Science fiction is all about the future, but what does the future hold for science fiction?
These days, science can be stranger than science fiction, and mainstream literature is increasingly futuristic and speculative. So are the genre's days numbered? We asked six leading writers for their thoughts on the future of science fiction, including Margaret Atwood, William Gibson and Kim Stanley Robinson.
The future of sci-fi
Is science fiction dying, asks Marcus Chown
What does the future hold for the genre of science fiction? We asked six leading writers:
Anathem by Neal Stephenson - including an exclusive video interview with Stephenson
Plus: The best of the rest - including an exclusive video interview with Brian Greene
Your favourite sci-fi
Find out New Scientist's favourite sci-fi:
The editorial and accompanying articles are also definitely not to be missed.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
This dystopic reading is certainly necessary, although it is equally striking how its antidote can be found in unexpected places. For example, reading last night about the making and cultural legacy of Night of the Living Dead, I discovered that the black lead actor, Duane Jones, had insisted that his character be killed, as he thought this would meet the expectations of black audiences. This was confirmed shortly thereafter when Martin Luther King was assassinated. But here I was reading this on the night that Obama was confirmed as the 44th president! I felt his speech was long on agency, and short on structural references, as might be expected given the strength of his liberal convictions and the highest voter turnout in decades. Indeed, it was this characteristic that I found made for a stark comparison with the Republican side, who more closely resembled the kind of machinic pathologies in Michael Powell's version of The Tales of Hoffmann, which had originally inspired Romero to make his film (right down to its scenes of graphic dismemberment). Hence I see Powell's film as a morality tale warning of the appearance on the historical stage of a new era of machine politics, which drives the development of weapons such as Zeus: John McCain as Spalanzani, with Sarah Palin his automaton, Olympia. Of course, the electorate are allegorically represented by Hoffmann. The beauty of the representation of violence in this context though, as described by Romero himself, is that "the most important thing about horror and sci fi is to not restore order...We don't want things the way they are or we wouldn't be trying to shock you into an alternative place." Hence the violence is really about being held accountable for one's actions. By extension, Night is not a conservative representation of the failure of revolution, with the repressed past rising up to eat the future before a progressive alternative has time to take hold; it is clearly not that.
However, some clarification is seemingly required in regard to where the traditional reading may be more suitably applied. If not to Romero's film, then where? For example, is it possible that the dystopic machine politics of the Republican party are not alone? Perhaps also in proximity to the "silent majority" reading of revolution (albeit unintentionally in many instances) would be the tendencies of the Continental philosophy blogosphere (already critiqued on this blog), at least to the extent it equates to an almost zombie like paralysis of will? Therefore I am eagerly awaiting Derridata's deconstruction of Badiou's reading of "capital"...
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
"I don't know who you are!" Gore Vidal versus David Dimbleby
No Country for Old Men
The Henry Rollins Show - The Corruption of Election 2008