I finally ponied up and bought stoopidnoodle.com domain. Go here: StoopidNoodle
8 July, 2010
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I am fascinated by squirrels. There are times when walking through loring Park that squirrels will follow me. They will follow me longer than they do your average bear. So, this article at NYT caught my fancy.
Not shame, but shock. Shock that I find this interesting. Rather it’s only a preview of a coming series, but I’m hooked. The series will be a (week)daily post about an element. Not all the elements, because then why buy the book? Enough to get me hooked anyways. I am a trout.
I cannot stop laughing at Prince’s latest comments about the future of the internet. It’s a quick read, but the laughter will remain with you all day long. Or, as Lionel Richie sang, all night long.
I’m not too sure what to make of this. Very short hilarity. If you dare!
6 July, 2010
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Lots of paycheck earning labor to do to-day, so I’ve not aggregated much.
There was world cup action on to-day. A flash of World Cups past at the bottom (under the fold?).
An interesting essay by a sex worker in LA. Some of the commentators think this is about the human condition. I think they probably live in LA. This loneliness is total LA, and only LAites think it’s universal, so they can go on with their lonely selves. Not that the LA condition doesn’t infect some/most of us outside of LA. It’s a cultural capital after all, Paris’s Vichy.
5 July, 2010
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Below is a lengthy passage (the underlining is mine) about the relationship between the US and Iran. I’ll paraphrase to save your eyes the workout. Iran and the US have narratives about themselves and the other, and everything is interpreted through that narrative. The final part of the passage is the meat. Beeman explains one of the communicative differences between Iran and the US: a (non)European model of diplomacy. Given these differences of communicative style there are misunderstandings, which are then filtered through the already operating narratives. This article does a great job of falling into this pitfall. Imam details a misunderstanding and provides the Iranian explanation and then the article does the narrative filtration of ‘dem bad, we good’ to try and make a coherent argument.
Many of the conservatives (I do not mean Republicans as there are plenty of Democrats just as, possibly more so, hawkish) dismiss articles like Beeman’s as ivory tower ephemera. But those people are not reading the bottom portion of Beeman’s passage. There is a materiality and empiricism to what the (many within) the academy are saying. If the risks are precisely as catastrophic as conservatives claim, then shouldn’t they pay attention to all commentary? This myopia in the face of catastrophe either proves their incompetence or the insincerity of their supposed catastrophes.
Beeman, William. (2003). Iran and the United States: Postmodern culture conflict in action. Anthropological Quarterly, 76(4)
For Iran, Iraq, the Taliban of Afghanistan, and terrorist organizations such as Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda, the United States became the “Great Satan,” to borrow Iran’s epithet. The Middle Eastern oppositionists saw America as an external illegitimate force that continually strove to destroy the pure, internal core of the Islamic World. It was also seen as the inheritor of the mantle of colonialism carried out earlier in the 20th Century by Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. For the United States, the resistant forces of the Middle East took on a demonic form—that of the “crazy outlaw” nations and terrorist groups whose activities were illegal, unpredictable, and irrational. Every president from Ronald Regan to George W. Bush vilified these forces. In Nader’s terminology, they represented disharmony in an extreme form, because they threatened the international social and political order. Each side’s mythology of itself and its role in world affairs complimented this “mythology of the other.” All of the Middle Eastern forces counted their efforts against the United States as proof of modern success in confronting a formidable enemy. For Iran this was the Revolution of 1978-79 and the subsequent 444 day hostage crisis. For Iraq, it was the Gulf war. For Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, it was a series of aggressive attacks against the United States. These included bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001 on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington. These groups thus become not just revolutionary oppositionists; they become the guardians of justice and equity for the people of the world. For the United States, a more complex structure which I term below the “U.S. Foreign Policy Myth” held sway. As I will explain below, this myth sees the “normal world” as a body of nation-states arranged in a dichotomous structure—for or against the United States and its interests. The oppositional forces of the Middle East confound this model. The United States therefore places them in to a residual category, and tries to eliminate them—to purify the world, as it were. The United States therefore becomes not just the guardian of democracy or freedom, but of world order. These mythologies became ideological filters for transmission (or, more accurately, non-transmission) of messages between the two cultural worlds. Such filtering might be sufficient to create the kind of abortive understanding that took place between the two nations with such relentless regularity. However, the ideological problems were reinforced by a communicational structure that was equally conducive to reinforcing the mutual negative images both nations held of each other. A Problem of Discourse The communicational problems can be thought of as problems of mutual discourse which became more and more severe as time went on. The United States and all of the Middle Eastern opposition forces mentioned above have operated with different, often contradictory notions of how discourse on an international level should be managed. This often caused drastic misreadings of the content of communication between the two cultural worlds, and mutual accusations of deviousness, insincerity and bad faith. The formal study of discourse has seen considerable growth during the past two decades. Discourse analysts posit a set of implicit contextual agreements between parties which allow face-to-face conversation to take place in an unimpeded manner. Critical theorists such as Bourdieu, Derrida and Baudrillard have extended the term discourse to include the culturally contextualized rhetorical practices of governments, scholarly institutions and commercial business. The theoretical relevance of discourse studies for this problem will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapter, but I wish to underscore here the need to understand the contextual factors which underlie disturbed discourse as a key to explaining. The United States government is bureaucratically geared to speaking to foreign powers using a set of communicative routines and principles inherited from eighteenth and nineteenth century European diplomatic practice. The practices emphasize face-to-face communication between elite governmental officials at equivalent levels (head of state to head of state, secretary or minister of foreign affairs to secretary or minister of foreign affairs, etc.). Special protocol rules apply for communication between persons who are of non-equivalent hierarchical position. These principles thus imply a universal hierarchy of bureaucracy, and a universal set of understandings about management of discourse parameters within that hierarchy. The routines are widely used because they are implicitly accepted by the international community who learned them from colonial powers.
5 July, 2010
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Not many distractions. 1. It’s the weekend and good content needs to be searched out, instead of being pushed onto me as it is during the week. 2. A holiday or somesuch, so that also dries up the output. 3. The paying gig has kept me bizay to-day. Really, that’s the only distraction.
But…there was a short story by Palahniuk that I read this morning. If you don’t know Palahniuk, then I suggest you acquaint yourself. He wrote Fight Club and other books that I like more. His sensibilities are in the right place. Sadly, he, like I do, tends to repeat the themes and messages in his ouvre. So, this short story is “Loser” and it’s sweet. Below is the money shot, which probably helps explain what is going on. You should read the story though because the action the protagonist takes is BRILLIANT.
It’s like, if you live a boring-enough life, knowing the price of Rice-A-Roni and hot dog weiners, your big reward is you get to live for a week in some hotel in London? You get to ride on some airplane to Rome. Rome, like, in Italy. You fill your head full of enough ordinary junk, and your pay-off is giant supermodels giving you a snowmobile?
If this game show wants to see how smart you really are, they need to ask you how many calories in a regular onion-cheddar cheese bagel. Go ahead, ask the price of your cell phone minutes any hour of the day. Ask you about the cost of a ticket for going thirty miles over the speed limit. Ask the round-trip fare to Cabo for spring break. Down to the penny, you can tell them the price of decent seats for the Panic at the Disco reunion tour. (198-9)
Palahniuk, Chuck. (2010). Loser. In Neal Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (2010). Stories: All-new tales (194-201). NY: William Morrow.
4 July, 2010
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Al Sarrantonio’s “The Cult of the Nose” has been following me around all day. Appropriate, since the story is about a secret cult that shows up at massively traumatic events. People in catastrophic photos are wearing fake noses. The protagonist tracks them down. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s obvious how it has to end. The story makes me think of two things. First, structure. Massumi calls structure that place where nothing happens. The Cult of the Nose is structure, and the story comports to that theory of how structure works. Second, why Nose? Is it because the nose is a hindrance? It shadows our eyes, it is a permanent blot that we somehow learn to deal with. It’s obtrusive, and a cult that wears a fake nose which is larger than actual noses must be especially competent or powerful to embrace such a handicap. That’s the Nose on the field of vision. But there is something else, dealing with smell and its primacy and/or subsequent downplaying. Not sure. yet.
Germany and Argentina played to-day. The intersections of these two is rife for more conspiracy theories. Watched for Noses. As well as Martin Borrman.
Even though I read a lot of Zizek, I am not intolerant of multiculturalism. I do see proof of the argument that it’s counterproductive, but rarely. And it does make us feel better about ourselves; there is value to that. However. The emphasis FIFA puts on ending racism seems overly cynical to me. Racism is a problem among futballers and their fans. It makes sense to reach out and try to prevent these racist outbursts, but these measures are too demonstrative. I wonder if they are so demonstrative precisely because those in charge are either racist or see the problem as too big to overcome and so they do it as a distancing move. I may be cynical, but this distancing move of the over-the-top protest is a more insidious cynicism.
Sarrantonio, Al. (2010). The cult of the nose. In Gaiman, Neal and Al Sarrantonio, eds. (2010). Stories: All-new tales (304-312.) NY: William Morrow.