a new low in topical enlightenment

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Issue #74 (December 1, 2010)

Dawn Over Sheep Mountain, Wyoming

Photo by Joe Carducci

Steve Beeho at the London Desk…

Raymond Pettibon interviewed at Viceland.com.

“When symbols are impotent of any real power and they’re symbolic and they’re playing with rebellion or whatever, then they are just empty logos. And even if a symbol does have real power behind it, it’s still just a badge of youthful revolt against baseball jerseys or button-downs or gray flannel suits or wingtips or bell-bottoms or whatever. At that point, it’s more than just a fashion statement, but fashion is nothing to be disdained either. I’ve never really thought of it in this way, but it is kind of cool to be the Gucci of my kind of work. I mean that in the way that Gucci and all those type of trademarks can be cheaply copied and reproduced like my comic books or flyers.”


Kronenbourg is currently running a TV ad which features Motörhead playing a haunting acoustic version of “Ace of Spades” which proves the adage that that any great rock song should also sound good on acoustic guitar. And as an added bonus there's also a documentary on the actual recording. I wonder if the acoustic Motörhead covers that Wino's been playing did anything to trigger this.… DISCLAIMER: both of these clips have been provided by The Man. Other brands of lager are also available.


The Daily Express is such an incredibly stodgy read that it's pretty mind-blowing that they would print an enthusiastic review of “Black Hole”, the terrific West Coast punk comp masterminded by Jon Savage. The Guardian also ran a tie-in piece which only really skims the surface, but how often do you see the issue of why the Screamers never released anything on Dangerhouse addressed in a national newspaper?!


Max Hastings on how political discourse in the UK has become babyish and debased.

“Seldom have those who govern us been so much inhibited in what they feel able to say or write, not by legislatively-imposed censorship, but by a smothering blanket of supposed propriety and oppressive liberal values.”

Francolinus Afer by James Fotopoulos

Joe Carducci at the Wyoming Desk…

Roctober #48 is out, featuring Jake Austen’s interview with Nancy Faust, last organist at old Comiskey, first organist at whatever they call the new place, and daughter of a featured player of the WLS Barn Dance. The debasement of the presentation of the game through her career is noted but blame not placed on Sox co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf and his Jordan-era Bulls presentation because that might let Disney’s Might Ducks off the hook, which might allow the Lakers off an earlier hook which could also let the Dallas Cowboys off that old hook which might in turn let Bill Veeck himself walk.


It seems this year the term “the Circus Trip” has become understood outside of Chicago sports now that the Blackhawks are defending Stanley Cup champs and the Bulls are drawing attention thanks to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. I actually made a point to go see that damn circus back before the old Stadium was torn down. It was interestingly seedy, especially the acts nearest one’s seats. You could see just how guesstimated all the running around the outside of the rotating wheels was and you got the empathetic sense that a person might be able to learn anything to get one’s ass out of Romania. Which thought brings to mind one of Robert Benchley’s less elaborate jokes; his simple authoritative pronouncement, “There is no such place as Bucharest.”

Anyway, the Blackhawks understandably seem to be swanning around the visiting rinks still sunning themselves in the glow of their Cup win. It won’t come again so easily because the salary cap lost them three key players, Byfuglien, Versteeg, and Niemi, as well as other contributors and now it’ll be an adventure as the new players gell or don’t behind Toews, Kane, Keith, Hossa, et. al. They have a mediocre record so far though they finished 4-2 on their Circus Trip, most notable for the loss to the San Jose Sharks they had swept in the play-offs and who were laying for them, now with Antti Niemi in goal.

The Bulls are likely to be the story this winter. Their free-agent strategy cost them Kirk Hinrich but they seem to have been able to find replacement shooters/defenders for their former “glue-guy” as teammates called him last year trying to semi-lobby GM John Paxson and owner Jerry Reinsdorf to keep him. Luckily perhaps they did not land LeBron James who is participating in the Miami Globetrotter-Plays-of-the-Day circus act as we write and read. Who the Bulls did get for that Hinrich money plus the combined monies of last years journeymen (Salmons, Miller, Murray, Warrick…) is/was/will be Carlos Boozer. A couple years ago he looked great with a quick, very un-Jerry Sloan-like Utah Jazz; since Sloan is still there it says much about his ability to work with his players after being wed for decades to the stolid John Stockton/Karl Malone approach. Also coming over from the Jazz is Kyle Korver, who should be more productive from outside when Boozer settles in next week. It shouldn’t take long for the Bulls to begin to concern the Celtics, the Magic, the Heat, and even the Lakers. Without Boozer they weren’t far from sweeping this Circus Trip, losing close games to the Spurs, the Nuggets, and the Lakers and finishing 4-3. And they no longer play so young as they did when they took the Garnett-less Celtics to eight games or so two years ago.

New coach Tom Thibodeau is still figuring his players out I think. For the record I still wish Scott Skiles was coach; I’m not sure Reinsdorf will let Paxson fire another coach without losing his own job. Thibodeau seems to be overusing Taj Gibson and Noah, both of whom missed games last year with plantar fasciitis, not to mention Rose who had to sit out the one point Denver loss for neck pain. He’s also not using James Johnson much who will be great when he gets in there. And they will need him.

Charles Barkley is notoriously and to his credit impatient with teams that don’t play a team-game so as to maximize their advantages and his recent pick of the Bulls to reach the final is in part his underlining a critique of Miami’s big three, but for the record from Thanksgiving on TNT: "The best [Eastern Conference] team that I've seen this year, I think the Chicago Bulls are going to win the East. I love what they're doing in Chicago. I think the Magic have the deepest team in the East, the Celtics have the oldest team and the Heat are going to struggle, but they'll get it together. I think the Orlando Magic are going to have the best record, but the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference is the Chicago Bulls. Especially once they get Boozer back." Charles is not picking anyone to beat the Lakers, however, not yet.

I’d always wondered if Boozer was related to Bob Boozer who was the first option with the expansion Bulls in the late 1960s. Carlos isn’t related to him. One fun fact about Carlos is that my brother the radiologist tells me that the bone he broke in his hand is one you break punching someone or something, not a bone you can break catching yourself falling over a duffle bag. Hopefully things will mellow out in Boozer-land once he is being fed by Rose or kicking it out to Korver.


Rummana Hussain in the CST on musician-filmmaker and NV contributor Jack Hammond’s twins-of-destruction sentencing for un-defacing the Picasso on Daley Plaza and burning the Olympics banner in the handy nearby eternal flame.


Jackie Wullschlager in the FT, "The Business of Art".

“Our taste in Old Masters often tells us more about ourselves than fashions in contemporary art. El Greco was ignored until his exaggerations suddenly chimed with modernism in the 1900s. Caravaggio emerged from obscurity only when his streetwise dramas and androgynous sensibility echoed democratic, sexualized postwar culture. And now Lucas Cranach, little known beyond Germany even a few years ago, is becoming the Old Master for the early 21st century. Why? …The Renaissance factory artist par excellence, he was an innovator who, like Warhol or Koons, seized the commercial potential of working in series, and turned images into icons. Where El Greco and Caravaggio were isolated geniuses, Cranach was a society artist who did not separate art from business, or expressiveness from irony. His creations still please, but his most fascinating message today is how he has become one of us.”


Brian Clegg in the WSJ on Martin Bojowald’s book, Once Before Time: A Whole Story of the Universe.

“These two theories, string and loop quantum gravity, produce fundamentally different views of the universe's origins. The existing theory about the big bang (and about black holes) involves singularities—points of collapse where standard physical measures like density become infinite, causing the equations to break down. String theory offers mechanisms to get around the singularity problem of the big bang: Physicists Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok have proposed an ‘ekpyrotic’ model, where two universes floating in multidimensional space collide to produce a new beginning for the universe. But string theory can still produce unmanageable infinities.

The biggest benefit of loop quantum gravity is that it doesn't involve these singularities and infinities. It predicts a quantum effect where the gravitational force becomes repulsive in the conditions around the big bang, producing a ‘big bounce’ before a singularity can form. If this were the case, it would be possible in principle for some information to pass through this bounce from a previous incarnation of the universe. Loop quantum gravity offers the tantalizing possibility of a prehistory of everything.”


Christopher Caldwell in the FT, "Rome protects its views on love".

“The Catholic idea of sex as love’s servant, not its master, has an undeniable moral beauty. It is also more coherently reasoned than the ideas of those who attack it in the name of hedonism, population control or hygiene tend to realise. It does, however, have its share of paradoxes and logical traps, and condoms bring these to the fore.”


Rolf Potts & Kristin Van Tassel at Worldhum.com, Sons of ‘The Beach’.

“Contemporary sociological and anthropological tourist-behavior studies underscore how these backpacker protagonists are influenced less by their exotic surroundings than the social dynamics of home. In a 2002 study of independent travel communities for the journal Ethnography and Social Anthropology, tourist scholar Christina Anderskov identifies independence, frugality, and acceptance of the locals as central tenets of backpacker culture. But as novels like ‘The Beach’ illustrate, these values are largely a self-directed rhetoric within the insular confines of indie-travel social circles. As Anderskov acknowledges, backpackers seek each other out, and the travel communities themselves—not the host cultures—ultimately become the focus of travel. Instead of looking for nuances and complexities within the host culture, independent travelers frequently cling to signs of subcultural authenticity in each other. Researchers have noted, for example, that within backpacker enclaves there is a clear hierarchy based on shorthand status cues curiously similar to those of home.”


Jerusalem Post editorial: on Iran on South Korea.

“Both North Korea and its Mideastern associates are testing the limits of world tolerance, attempting to gauge how far they can go with impunity. It’s no stretch to suggest that Teheran and Damascus carefully monitor every nuance of Washington’s response to Pyongyang’s actions. They must have derived satisfaction following Pyongyang’s boasting about its expanded nuclear program, when US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth declared that ‘This is not a crisis.’”


Ali Allawi interview in the Middle East Forum.

“Given his all consuming paranoia and utter conviction that the Americans, among others, were out to get him, why didn't he simply let the inspectors into Iraq and let the whole world see that he had nothing to hide?

Allawi: There are a lot of inexplicable decisions on Saddam's part. I still cannot understand why he sent his air force to Iran during the 1991 Kuwait war, why he didn't withdraw from Kuwait when it became clear that the coalition was going to attack, or why he persisted in goading the Americans [in 2003] into an irreversible decision. These decisions could have been made by a paranoiac. But they could also have been made by a man who never understood the strategic or the geostrategic circumstances in which he operated, and there were not enough people around him who had the courage to explain to him otherwise. So, there was an element of paranoia but also an element of ignorance of how Western policymakers, especially in America, make decisions and stick to them. He saw things mainly in terms of the crude conclusions about human nature he derived from his upbringing and life experience. It's like a street fighter's version of how events play out on the international scale. He was basically a brute, a very intelligent brute.”


Garrett Theroff in the LAT, "Southland Catholics Honor Vietnamese Martyrs".

“The community event has taken place for more than 30 years and coincides with the martyrs' feast day, Nov. 24. Each year, it draws thousands of parishioners from throughout Southern California, but especially from the 14 Orange County parishes that commemorate the event. The daylong event required two months of planning and featured drums and gongs that traveled from Vietnam. Many of the women were dressed in the traditional ao dai, a long, flowing silk garment, and merchants sold banh mi sandwiches….

Catholicism was introduced to Vietnam in the late 1600s by French, Spanish and Portuguese missionaries. Those who had adopted the religion in traditionally Buddhist Vietnam were targeted and tortured after the Vietnamese monarchy issued anti-Catholic edicts in the late 1700s. The government directly attacked 37 parishes and seminaries, demolishing structures and killing parishioners.”


Matthew Flamm at Crainsnewyork.com, "Financial Times proves better read than dead".

“Total paid circulation, including FT.com and mobile applications, grew 3%, to 580,000, in September, versus numbers the company posted when it began tracking totals in May. The primary source of circulation growth, FT.com, had 189,000 subscribers in October, a 62% jump over a year earlier. FT.com's metered access system, which allows readers 10 free articles each month, has done such a good job of converting visitors to paying subscribers that The New York Times will borrow from the model when its website goes paid next year. Sophisticated data analysis has also allowed FT.com to hike subscription fees—by close to 20% for a standard package, which rose to $221 annually in July—and still gain subscribers.”


Paul Sonne in the WSJ, "Penguin Plans Arabic-Books Venture."

“A list of titles—which includes famous European novels such as Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote, as well as some local Arabic classics—will start rolling out to bookstores across the Arab world in the first half of 2011.”


Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the NYT Book Review on Alan Riding’s book, And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris.

“Thirty years ago, while reporting on Latin America for The New York Times, Alan Riding began wondering how artists and writers responded to brutal dictatorships. He then went to live in Paris and realized that not so long before, the French intellectual and cultural elite had provided an answer, in often unlovely ways. ‘And the Show Went On’ describes this history in gripping and painful detail.”


Michael Slackman in the NYT, "Poland, Lacking External Enemies Is Turning on Itself".

“Perhaps surprisingly, Poles actually have sound reasons to celebrate: they have navigated the treacherous transition from Communism better than most of the post-Soviet satellite nations, and theirs is the only country in Europe to have avoided a recession during the financial crisis. Instead, they are feeling insecure, pessimistic and uncertain about the future, and they have turned on one another.

‘We have a beautiful face in tough times and during difficult moments, but in normal times, we are lost,’ said Jan Oldakowski, an opposition member of the Parliament who was one of several members of the opposition Law and Justice Party to recently quit the party to form a more centrist coalition. ‘With freedom, Poles do not know how to cooperate with each other.’ The political leadership is at war with itself. Personal attacks and insults are flying. Politicians have traded accusations of drug abuse, mental illness, collaborating with the Nazis and being agents of Moscow.”


Brendan Simms in the WSJ on Jeremy Popkin’s book, You Are All Free: The Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery.

“Nobody would argue that the fate of the blacks who were trafficked across the Atlantic and sold into slavery on the great cotton plantations of the American South was anything but grim. Yet slaves in the U.S. were, in a certain sense, the lucky ones. Those who ended up in the ‘sugar islands’ of the Caribbean suffered something close to genocide. Hundreds of thousands of Africans were deliberately worked to death there, in conditions far worse than anything known in the Old South. Yet there was another difference: While blacks in the antebellum U.S. were by no means passive agents, they owed their freedom to a bloody civil war fought primarily between whites. Some of the Caribbean slaves, by contrast, played a critical part in their own liberation. This is especially true of those of the French colony of Saint-Domingue who rebelled against their masters and eventually established the independent state of Haiti….

Mr. Popkin notes several reasons why Haiti's slave leaders did not look to revolutionary France for guidance in their own rebellion. They regarded themselves as African tribal chiefs rather than representatives of the people. Unlike the rationalist and often atheist revolutionaries, the Haitian slaves subscribed to voudou, a syncretic mix of Roman Catholic and pagan African rituals. Their leaders' skepticism toward the ideals of the French Revolution was trenchantly expressed by the most famous of them, Toussaint L'Ouverture: ‘You try to make us believe that Liberty is a benefit that we will enjoy if we submit ourselves to order,’ he told France's envoys to Saint-Domingue. ‘But as long as God gives us the force and the means, we will acquire another Liberty, different from that which you tyrants pretend to impose on us.’”


Henry Rollins in the L.A. Weekly, in South Sudan.

“Presently, I am in Kajo Keji, Sudan, a little north of the Sudanese/Ugandan border. We have been here for a few days. Our crossing into South Sudan was hassle free, even though we were late getting to the border, which actually closes at night. This region of Sudan still shows evidence of the wars that have raged in this country for over two decades. People are incredibly friendly but have a very challenging existence. No one seems to be doing all that well--just getting by is more like it. Here, most things are done manually. Water is drawn from wells or streams and carried back to the dwelling. Sometimes the distances are very long. I was at a market here yesterday and asked local vendors, via a man named Caesar who translated to the local Cucu dialect, how long their journeys were to the market. Women told me of carrying their wares eight miles each way and that it was how they had always done it. A man told me that when you have a family, you don't think of anything else and you do what you have to and that's the end of it. It is tough here for sure.”


Matt Ridley debates his book The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, in the WSJ, with Bill Gates whose critique is here.

“Mr. Gates dislikes my comments on climate change, which I think will be less damaging than official forecasts predict, while the policies designed to combat climate change will be more damaging than their supporters recognize. I argue that if we rush into low-carbon technologies too soon, because we think the problem is more urgent than it is, we risk doing real harm to ecosystems as well as human living standards—as the biofuel fiasco all too graphically illustrates. The rush to turn American corn into ethanol instead of food has contributed to spikes in world food prices and real hunger, while the rush to grow biodiesel for Europe has encouraged the destruction of orangutan habitat in Borneo.

I also argue, however, that it is highly unlikely, given the rate at which human technology changes, that we will fail to solve the problem of man-made climate change even if it does prove more severe than I expect. For example, the world is on a surprisingly steady trajectory toward decarbonization. The number of carbon atoms we burn per unit of energy we generate is falling as we gradually switch from carbon-rich fuels like wood and coal to hydrogen-rich fuels like oil and especially gas. At current rates, we would be burning almost no carbon by about 2070, though I suspect that point will never actually be reached.”


Kurt Hauser in the WSJ, "There’s No Escaping Hauser’s Law."

“Over the past six decades, tax revenues as a percentage of GDP have averaged just under 19% regardless of the top marginal personal income tax rate. The top marginal rate has been as high as 92% (1952-53) and as low as 28% (1988-90). This observation was first reported in an op-ed I wrote for this newspaper in March 1993. A wit later dubbed this ‘Hauser's Law.’ Over this period there have been more than 30 major changes in the tax code including personal income tax rates, corporate tax rates, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, investment tax credits, depreciation schedules, Social Security taxes, and the number of tax brackets among others. Yet during this period, federal government tax collections as a share of GDP have moved within a narrow band of just under 19% of GDP.”


Takis Pappas at opendemocracy.net, "The causes of the Greek crisis are in Greek politics."

“For a country like Greece, where politics has always been marked by personalities, it is only fitting that the political arrangement of the period which began in excitement after the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974 and has just ended by near fiscal default originates in the clash between two political leaders with radically different ideas about how to constitute the new post-authoritarian polity. Constantine Karamanlis, first, founder of the conservative New Democracy (ND) party and prime minister between 1974 and 1980, pursued a pragmatic policy of gradual change and political moderation to bolster democracy and promote Greece’s chances for accession to the European Community (now EU)…. Opposite to Karamanlis stood Andreas Papandreou, a brilliant public speaker and political charmer, who, already by 1974, had founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), a radical party openly opposed to mainstream European social democracy….

What has most clearly, and very painfully, emerged from Greece’s fiscal crisis is the realization that the old contract made between Andreas Papandreou and the Greek society, which, after him, was respected by his political successors of both PASOK and ND, is not any longer sustainable. As if in a classical tragedy, it is newly elected George Papandreou, Andreas’ son, who is faced today with the task of undoing his father’s political legacy.”


Marcus Walker in the WSJ, "Three Deaths Shifted Course of Greek Crisis."

“For decades, Greece had tolerated unruly, sometimes violent protests against the state. Athens's radical anarchist fringe, of which police believe the arsonists were members, even enjoyed moral legitimacy in the eyes of many Greeks. The attitude reflected society's deep mistrust of its rulers and, more recently, anger at a debt crisis that nearly tipped the country into bankruptcy. May 5 changed all that.

The deaths of three innocent employees shocked Greece, shifting the national mood and the course of this year's crisis. Instead of rising social unrest as many had feared, Greece has seen only fragmented opposition to the euro zone's most drastic austerity measures. An expected backlash against the ruling Socialist government failed to materialize in recent local elections. And last week, when the government announced fresh budget cuts, the streets were mostly quiet. Some Greeks say it took a tragedy to burst the romantic idea of rebellion rooted in their history of resistance to the state, forcing a sobered society to face the need for radical economic overhaul. It wasn't lost on Greek commentators that the three who died went to work that day instead of protesting.”


Robert Wright in the FT, "Europe’s railways: Points of change".

“It would also be a blow to France’s very idea of itself, according to a Frenchman involved, if its Train Grande Vitesse technology came to be widely seen as lagging behind Germany’s system. ‘The TGV‘s success has become part of a myth about what France can produce that‘s fantastic,’ he says. ‘It’s tough for people to see it challenged.”


The December issue of First Things is good one but no links to these:

•Mara Altman’s "Whit Stillman Is Running Late".

“He recalls: ‘I remember being very young, and there were greasers, people who were very Elvis Presley-ish and rock-’n’-roll juvenile delinquents, and these were people who I assumed would just disappear, and they were something that was really unappealing and not constructive and kind of awful. But then, rather than going away, they became completely dominant and then metamorphosed into something even worse. It gives me a lot of energy and a point of view, and I have a lot of material to work with. I think sometimes it‘s the things you don’t like that give you inspiration.”

•David Samuels’ "Ahmadinejad at the UN: The Perfect Human".

“‘Nine years ago, the destruction of the World Trade Center signaled a threat that respected no boundary of dignity or decency,’ the American president declaims, his voice echoing through the vaulted, gilded chamber of the General Assembly, which looks like a space-age African hut as realized by the finest hotel architects in Nairobi. That even in the worst days of the twenty-first century it is still impossible to shake off the deeply rooted Western fantasy of world government suggests the strength of the religious impulse behind the rationalist blueprint for the human future--the key religious term in the equation being the future.”


Daniel Pipes in the Washington Times, Islamist Turkey vs. secular Iran.

“Early in the 16th century, as the Ottoman and Safavid empires fought for control of the Middle East, Selim the Grim, ruling from Istanbul, indulged his artistic side by composing distinguished poetry in Persian, then the Middle East's language of high culture. Simultaneously, Ismail I, ruling from Esfahan, wrote poetry in Turkish, his ancestral language…. This juxtaposition comes to mind as the populations of Turkey and Iran engage in another exchange. As the secular Turkey founded by Ataturk threatens to disappear under a wave of Islamism, the Islamist Iranian state founded by Ruhollah Khomeini apparently teeters on the brink of secularism. Ironically, Turks wish to live like Iranians and Iranians like Turks.”


Bangladesh: Politics of Hate, in the Economist.

“More than two years after the army aborted a dismal interregnum and released from jail the leaders of the country’s two rival political dynasties, the politics of hate and attrition grind away in Bangladesh. The thanks go mainly to the personal vendetta of the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, one of the two leaders, against the other, Khaleda Zia. On November 13th Mrs Zia was evicted from her home of nearly 30 years in Dhaka’s cantonment area. The move triggered a hartal, a protest strike called by Mrs Zia’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Violence broke out between her supporters and those of Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL). The country’s third political force, the army, has backed the High Court’s eviction order. Shrewdly, Sheikh Hasina has allocated the vast plot surrounding Mrs Zia’s home for housing for the families of 57 military officers killed in a mutiny early last year, soon after the AL swept to power.”


The Economist’s special section this week is on Japan:

Japan: Into the unknown.

“When the coal mines were working 40 years ago, 120,000 people lived there. But the mines have long since closed, and now there are only 11,000 people left, almost half of them over 65. The town hall is like a morgue, with few lights on. In the past four years the number of civil servants has been cut in half, their salaries have shrunk by a third and they now have to mop their own floors, they complain. The town has embarked on an 18-year austerity drive to repay its debts. The public library has already closed down. This autumn six primary schools merged into one….

Japan is already full of Yubaris. Between 2000 and 2005 the number of people living in small towns and villages across Japan fell by 10m. Only shimmering cities like Tokyo continue to swell, but even they will start to look old within a few decades.”

Japan: Insiders and outsiders.

“The island mentality affects the products Japanese firms make. The Nomura Research Institute (NRI), a consultancy, coined the term ‘the Galapagos effect’ to describe how mobile-phone companies such as Sharp developed brilliant 3G technologies that are ubiquitous in Japan but had no impact overseas, where the mobile ecosystem is different. With an almost comic lack of irony, Sharp this year is introducing an e-reader exclusively for the Japanese market which it has called Galapagos.”


Edward Wong in the NYT, "Chinese Export Regions Face Labor Shortages".

“The shortfall is especially severe in the service and manufacturing industries. The regions most affected, both of them coastal, are the Pearl River Delta, in the southern province of Guangdong, and the Yangtze River Delta, near Shanghai. The Pearl River Delta could be short by as many as 900,000 workers, China Daily reported, citing a recent survey by the human resources department of Guangdong. The article cited experts who said that a combination of rising living costs along the coast and low wages had led to an increasing number of workers deciding to stay in the interior of China, where living costs are much lower.”


Simon Tisdall in The Guardian, Wikileaks cables reveal China 'ready to abandon North Korea'

“The leaked North Korea dispatches detail how:

• South Korea's vice-foreign minister said he was told by two named senior Chinese officials that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul's control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
• China's vice-foreign minister told US officials that Pyongyang was behaving like a ‘spoiled child’ to get Washington's attention in April 2009 by carrying out missile tests.
• A Chinese ambassador warned that North Korean nuclear activity was ‘a threat to the whole world's security’.
• Chinese officials assessed that it could cope with an influx of 300,000 North Koreans in the event of serious instability, according to a representative of an international agency, but might need to use the military to seal the border.”


Paul Farhi in the Washington Post on Wikileaks inside baseball.

“WikiLeaks had worked with the Times this summer in releasing about 90,000 documents prepared by U.S. military sources about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the group pointedly snubbed the Times this time around, offering the State Department cables to two other American news outlets, CNN and the Wall Street Journal. Both turned WikiLeaks down, deciding that its terms - including a demand for financial compensation under certain circumstances - were unacceptable.

Bill Keller, the Times' editor, wasn't certain why WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, chose not to work with his newspaper on the latest leaks. But he suggested it might be related to a hard-hitting profile of Assange that the Times published in October. The story, which described Assange as ‘a hunted man,’ said that ‘some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior.’

The Times was also tough on Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who is suspected of stealing the classified military and State Department documents and passing them to WikiLeaks. In August, the newspaper reported Manning's relationship with ‘a self-described drag queen’ and said that as a teenager ‘classmates made fun of him for being a geek . . . [and] for being gay.’”


Bill Steigerwald’s "Travels Without Charley".

“It's been three weeks since I finished my crazy 11,276-mile act of extreme drive-by newspaper journalism -- chasing the 50-year-old ghost of John Steinbeck and exposing the fact that his iconic 1962 nonfiction best-seller Travels With Charley is a piece of fiction that would never pass the Oprah True Test today. I essentially fact-checked the 1960 road trip John Steinbeck's made and turned into ‘Travels With Charley’ -- and he failed….

The original newspaper and magazine critics who reviewed Steinbeck's book -- reportedly his best-selling ever -- in 1962 were naive and didn't question ‘Charley's’ glaring fictions; since then no one -- not even the scholars of the West Coast Steinbeck Studies Industrial Complex -- has done what I have done for 6 months -- do basic journalism (reporting, drive-by and library research) and compare what Steinbeck really did with what he said he did in the book.

Every aging or ex-journalist should have the chance to have as much fun as I just had seeing the country and meeting my fellow Americans -- alone, loaded with digital gear, and with only my official Reporter's Notebook to protect me. The journalism community (there's a term) should know what I did on my own dime (mostly) and own time, too. Despite my usual self-promotional efforts and a dozen unrequited pitch letters to journalism people and places that once returned my emails, details of what I did and what I have learned are still as much of a national secret as the TSA's pat-down guidelines.”


David Barron in the Houston Chronicle interviews Lee Abrams, inventor of the anchor-less newscast, “Newsfix” he calls it, and also… destroyer of rock and roll radio.


Steve Blush interviewed by Jonah Flicker at blurt-online.com on the new edition of his book, American Hardcore. He’s out doing book events too:


•1 The Bishop, Bloomington Indiana
•2 Rushmor Records, Milwaukee Wisconsin
•3 Quimby’s, Chicago Illinois
•14 WFMU “Thunk Tank”
•15 The Strand Books, New York


The new issue of Perfect Sound Forever is out with features on Creation, Charley Patton, and this one of Dave Travis talking to Abe Gibson about his DVD release "A History Lesson", which features Meat Puppets, Minutemen, Redd Kross, and Twisted Roots, and about SST and L.A. punk generally.


From Nancy Taft’s Centennial E-Post:

“Next . . . be on the lookout for a young black cow wandering around. She belongs to the Clay Ranch. The last she was seen was on Hwy. 130 at Sand Lake Road. They have a feeling she may have wandered toward the North Fork neighborhood. (I did see a cow out here, wandering between Rainbow Valley and North Fork, but she headed uphill when we tried to approach.) If you see her, please contact the Clays.”

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1 comment:

  1. Just got Bayou Underground by Dave Thompson from my local lending library--it sucks, don't bother reading it.