Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wall Street, on your health

NYCEve has a great diary at dkos.

In which world does Thomas Friedman live?

Six years later and only because the number of business visitors to the US is down ("Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world"), Thomas Friedman, NYT columnist and billionaire, finally gets some inkling -
What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

He should really say - "I was catastrophically wrong for most the last six years. I resign my job as pundit. The America I believe in does not condone persistent failure."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry

Sept 22 - an overcast, drizzly day, only by evening was there somewhat of a clearing up. Snapshot taken from the Staten Island Ferry, cropped and resized for the web.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Exposure: 0.167 sec (1/6)
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 24 mm (Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS)
ISO Speed: 3200

More as a memento of a pleasant day than anything else. Also to express some amazement at what the camera is capable of. The lens is as wide open as possible and the shutter speed is as slow as possible (on the deck of a boat). The ISO is cranked to the impressive maximum that the Canon 5D is capable of.


PS: As Rajan points out in the comments, the Image Stabilization (IS) built in the lens is crucial.

Two Impressive Rants

Arthur Silber: Excerpts:

Let it be noted that, if and when World War III destroys much of the world and the comfortable, ignorance-ridden lives of many Americans, neither the Democrats nor their defenders should look to any remotely civilized person for forgiveness. It will not be forthcoming......

........I note that murder, chaos, devastation and human suffering on an ungraspable scale are what the U.S. governing class wants. Is it what you want? For many Americans, the answer is: Yes. Yes, it is.

God damn all such people to hell.

You have to hand it to the Washington Democrats and those commentators and bloggers who continue to shill for them. The Democrats count on the American public and their lobotomized lapdogs not to remember significant events from one week to the next -- and the Democrats' enablers willingly render themselves deaf, dumb and blind. The Democrats first put on a phony show of aggressively questioning Petraeus and doubting his propagandistic claims, and very shortly thereafter they rely on Petraeus's lies to set the stage for World War III.

I almost admire the Democrats' defenders in a certain way. The Democrats stab them deep in the gut and, while the knife is disemboweling them, the Democrats continue to lie in their agony-ridden faces -- and the victims still tell these bastards they will continue to support them. This collection of subhumans give sado-masochists a bad name. The commitment to cruelty, self-abasement and self-humiliation is all but perfect. It's no wonder they can regard one genocide after another with equanimity. It appears none of these people has a conscience any longer to be troubled in the smallest degree.

Karen Kwiatkovski: Excerpt:
It’s over. The faithful and the hopeful may carry the corpse of the American republic, hoping that it can be brought back into normality, into life, and into power. I am afraid these nurturers will not survive the present reality of imperialism.

But some of us will look directly at the ugly, dangerous and very real empire. We will stare – with little hope but also with little fear – into the face of the FUBAR nation, and then roll up our sleeves and get started on the only life we may honestly live, as internal dissidents. We will no longer pledge allegiance, we will not obey old rules, we will make do and make it up as we go along. Our minds focused on surviving the empire, our talents and creativity unleashed against the state and its fantasist faithful, we will live as if we are free.

This simple prescription will not only make us survivors, but it will gradually cultivate a political landscape for a future of free republics where today we see nascent totalitarianism and bankrupt empire. This prescription was written for us in 1809 by revolutionary war general John Stark. He advised, "Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils."

We face a modern American state more overweening and dictatorial than even King George III could imagine, yet we have no declaration of independence, no privileged elite to demand it, no interested population to read and debate it. This time, our declaration will be made individually, every day, in calm desperate fearlessness, as we simply live free.

American Divorce Rates

The narrative of rising divorce is also completely at odds with counts of divorce certificates, which show the divorce rate as having peaked at 22.8 divorces per 1,000 married couples in 1979 and to have fallen by 2005 to 16.7.
- Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers in the NYT

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

American Narcissism

Arthur Silber:


He quotes Lew Rockwell.
"None Dare Call It Genocide".

The US has unleashed bloodshed in Iraq that is rarely known even in countries we think of as violent and torn by civil strife. It is amazing to think that this has occurred in what was only recently a liberal and civilized country by the region’s standards. This was a country that had a problem with immigration, particularly among the well-educated and talented classes. They went to Iraq because it was the closest Arab proxy to Western-style society that one could find in the area.

It was the US that turned this country into a killing field. Why won’t we face this? Why won't we take responsibility? The reason has to do with this mysterious thing called nationalism, which makes an ideological religion of the nation's wars. We are god-like liberators. They are devil-like terrorists. No amount of data or contrary information seems to make a dent in this irreligious faith. So it is in every country and in all times. Here is the intellectual blindness that war generates.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Birthday Celebration

A Birthday Celebration in Goa, India.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


It isn't only -- or even principally -- the "Blue Dogs" which make the "Democratic Congress" nothing but an enabling instrument of the Bush White House and its right-wing policies. Far worse are the establishment-defending, soul-less, belief-less, self-perpetuating "liberal Senators" like Feinstein who render the concept of "opposition party" nothing more than a deceitful illusion. Dianne Feinstein is the drained and Bush-enabling face of the 2007 Democratic Congress.

Must -read Glenn Greenwald

Hunter is good!

Hunter is very good!

Desi's (Diane Sweet) Greatscat! ( is probably the blog I visit most frequently. One of my private nightmares is that Desi decides to stop blogging one day. What is her power?

Thoughts and intuitions crystallize around words. The Ira Chernus essay that I quoted here led to such a precipitation for me about miaculpa.

Chernus brings up two things - the debate about the war in Iraq avoids the question of whether it is a moral war; and the "support the troops" as used in the discourse is not about supporting real people. Two excerpts to those points follow:

And we can expect both parties, and the media who keep the show going, to abide by an unspoken agreement that one kind of question will never be asked, because the tension it raises might be unbearable: Is it moral for our troops to occupy another country for years, bomb its cities and villages, and kill untold numbers of people halfway across the planet?

"Supporting our troops" is not about helping individual soldiers to live better lives or, for that matter, making their lives safer. It's about supporting a morality play in which the lead actor, "our troops," represents all the virtues that so many believe—or wish they could believe—America possesses, giving us the privilege (and obligation) of directing all that happens on the world stage.

I hope Ira Chernus discovers Desi's blog. Desi hasn't sipped any of the Kool-Aid - miaculpa is a relentless blitz on the right side of precisely these two issues. (If I have a criticism of the blog it is that it moves too fast to have an extended conversation.) Desi posts on the damage the war is wreaking on individuals, Iraqis and Americans alike, pictured and named when possible. The anti-war focus of the blog is rooted in this. "Support the troops" and "the war is wrong" come from the concern for persons, real persons not abstract ones.

I don't know where Desi finds the energy to do this day in and out, but I hope it never flags.

Desi is a voice in a million. Just sayin'.

The Show Must Go On

The great debate about Iraq is not, and never really was, about what we should do in Iraq. No matter how many Iraqis have died or become refugees thanks to the Bush intervention, they remain largely ignored bit players in our central drama, which is, and always was, about what we will make of America. Now, the outcome of that debate is coming more clearly into view and it's not a pretty picture. The compromise the two parties are hammering out on Iraq policy reflects a deeper compromise the public seems to be groping toward on national identity—between who we are in reality (pragmatic, if sidelined, civilians who know a war is badly lost and want to end it) and who we are in our imaginations (heroic soldiers proving our character in the theater of war).

All theater, all storytelling, rests on the power of illusion and the willing suspension of disbelief. Bush and the Republicans have repeatedly given millions of doubters a chance to suspend their post-Vietnam disbelief in traditional tales of American character; the Democrats have given millions of doubters a chance to suspend their disbelief that the will of the people can make any difference whatsoever. The two parties join together to give the whole nation a chance to believe that a fierce debate still rages about whether or not to end the war. That political show we can expect to go on at least until Election Day 2008.

And we can expect both parties, and the media who keep the show going, to abide by an unspoken agreement that one kind of question will never be asked, because the tension it raises might be unbearable: Is it moral for our troops to occupy another country for years, bomb its cities and villages, and kill untold numbers of people halfway across the planet? If the script ever makes room for that question, we'll be able to watch—and participate in—a far more profound debate about the war.

Ira Chernus

Bee's Imaginary Part

I can't put my finger on why I find Bee's Imaginary Part so hilarious!

Friday, September 21, 2007


Some 25 million Iraqis - 1 million killed, 2 million refugees - have their fate placed in the hands of about six hundred people in Washington - the President, his Cabinet, the Senate and the Congress.

What principle of accountability? Locality? Democracy? What process of law? sanctions this abomination?

We fool ourselves with our illusions of being civilized.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


To grasp the Petraeus moment, you really have to re-imagine official Washington as a set of drunks behind the wheels of so many SUVs tearing down a well-populated city avenue -- and all of them are on their cell phones. They hardly notice the bodies bouncing off the fenders. For them, the world is Washington-centered; all interests that matter are American ones. Nothing else exists, not really. Think of this as a form of imperial autism and the Petraeus moment as the way in which the White House and official Washington have, for a brief time, blotted out the world.
From Tom Engelhardt

Monday, September 10, 2007

An Analysis of Bin Laden's Latest

Decoding bin Laden's Latest: An Odd Congruence, a diary is worth a read.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Where are the young concert pianists?

Looking for some classical music recordings to gift to a young relative, I was struck by the fact that most of what is available on the shelves at Borders and Barnes&Noble is old stuff, sometimes way older than the intended recipient.

What was there was Schnabel, Horowitz, Brendel, Kempf, Ashkenazy, Gould, from the 50s, 60s, 70s - you get the picture. My guess is that the big labels are not issuing new recordings rather than there is no exciting young talent, or that classical music is dying.

Presumably there are small labels issuing good CDs - but where to find them?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Appeal from an American Exiled Gandhian

Please read it through.