a new low in topical enlightenment

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Issue #136 (August 15, 2012)

East of the Peaks, Snowy Range, Wyoming

Photo by Joe Carducci

Drive (excerpt)
by David A. Fitschen

11/10/94 Silver Springs, MD

--First day out, first show tomorrow. Met the other two guys who will be on the road. Their from Texas. Austin, I believe. Rode down with them and Nathan to pick up the other van. Idle chatter, I didn’t say much. One asked, “Who smokes pot?” Great. I can’t wait. Pretty much kept my face buried in Jack Black’s autobiography “You Can’t Win.” Picked up the other van in Jersey. I drove it to Stuart’s house here in Silver Springs. Stuart feed me a bowl of mild curry, potato, squash, seeds something or other. It was very good. Staying here at Stuart’s house tonight. I’m sleeping in Jawbox’s drummer’s room. No heat, pretty cold in here. But nice. Better than New York. Five weeks. Can’t be much better. First show in Virginia tomorrow.

11/11/94 Fredericksburg, VA

--Up at 8. Everyone else was still sound asleep. Woke up frozen. Could see my breath. Went to Stuart’s kitchen for coffee and a bagel. Sat on the back porch for a while with my coffee watching the cardinal’s fly around. You don’t see that when you live in the ghetto. Time to load up the van and get the fuck out of Maryland. One night here has been good. Had lunch with Stuart at his parent’s house in DC. The Hill’s are nice people. Made it to the college in one piece. Made it through sound check with no problems. It’s now 6:45 in the early evening. Nothing to do on campus. The band goes on at 11. The opening band just came into the room. And there are two girls here asking questions. The opening band guys are trying to pick them up. Time for me to go.

--Here in the room. 3 a.m. Everything went fine. The show was no problem. Load in and load out. The opening bands were all right. Nothing exceptional. Every night for three weeks with these guys. Met Adam's girlfriend tonight after the show. She was a knockout. Only said hello when introduced. Don’t remember her name. One down.

11/12/94 Chapel Hill, NC

--Woke up dry as the desert. The hotel tried to kill me in my sleep. The few hours that I got. Today’s news from the road manager Jason, he lost all of last night’s dinner buyout. So that is $10 I won’t be seeing. Thanks asshole. Had breakfast with Stuart, Nathan and Craig. Denny’s. What a bummer. The food sucked. Can’t expect much. Found the van and took off. Cowboy tex slept, as I drove the van from Fredericksburg to here. Got in early. Took off by myself. Found a bookstore and a record store. Bought a 7-inch by Vertigo. Found my way back to the club and loaded in. The band did their check then we all went to dinner at this Mexican joint. Nothing like the days in Long Beach. Checked out the strip in Chapel Hill with Stuart. Found a few more 7 inches. Now, here at the club. First band is on and I am in the dressing room solo. Feeling lucky. It could end any second with someone coming in. Need to spend more time away from them and by myself. This afternoon was perfect. I’m thinking about not yet getting any of my per diems. That's $15 a day. I’m short $45 at this point plus the $10 from last night. That's $55. And it is a problem I think I will fix. I have to get out of this club. The noise is too much. To the van I go.

--Here in the room. The clock shows 3:30 a.m. I’m exhausted. Have to be up at 8 to drive to Atlanta. The crew the band hired is pathetic. The road manager loses the money and gets us lost on the way to the hotel. My thought is open your eyes and use your brain. It’s all on the map. This kind of shit makes me sick. Busted my ass all night to make the band pleased. Hope it went all right. The show went well. Packed the shit up and loaded the van solo. Have to do it yourself, or it won’t get done. It’s the second day and I make this tour happen. Leroy drank beer and talked to girls while I got it all out. No help. Lame. I am a one man machine. I am my own best friend and own worst enemy. No one else is. Leroy was doing some drinking and driving on the way to the hotel tonight. I closed my eyes and waited for some kind of impact. It never came. It’s now 4 in the morning and I am ready to get away from myself.

11/16/94 Houston, TX

--Out in the van. Haven’t showered in three days. I like the smell of my sweat. It tells me things. Found out earlier that Nathan and Adam’s shit was stolen out of the van in New Orleans when they were out to eat. I guess the van was parked right out front, but obviously that didn’t mean shit. You know what I say. Better them than me. Texas sucks. Leroy’s a joke. I should beat his face in. He annoys the shit out of me. I should drive the van solo for the rest of the tour. Me, the van, the road. That’s perfect. Dinner was lame. Pasta and salad. Just like last night. One week down, four to go. I like it out here. Just me. No apartment key, no phone calls, no intruders in my life, no front door, no mail, no nothing. This is about as far out of existence as one can get. Everyone else went out for dinner. I opted for here. Too much is too much. But most people don’t know that. I would check this place out, but I am not going to bother. Seems boring. I would never want to live in Texas. The shit here moves way to slow. Stayed in the van for hours reading. Went in the club and did my thing. Show went fine. Not much of a turn out. Loaded out and came here to the room. Hotel, shower and hope I can sleep.

11/17/94 Austin, TX

--Had some breakfast in Houston. Now heading to Austin for tonight’s show. Bunch of fat women at last night’s show. Beer, cigars, pick up trucks, bbq and fat women. Texas is weak. The drive went well. Seeing Leroy drove and I read. The club tonight is Emo’s. Reminds me of the club in Florida that I used to go see show’s at. Loaded in by myself. That’s what it has become and I accept it. Went to check out down town Austin. Practically everything was closed. Except bars and a bookstore. Picked up a copy of John Giorno’s new book. John knows what its all about. Sat in the van and read a few hours waiting for the show to start. Austin is just like Houston. Weak. I can’t wait to be out of Texas. If I never have to come back here, that would be fine. I have steadily been watching these three hookers from the van. They have been unsuccessful so far. Like a lot of people I know. I like it in the van. When I am the only one here. There's not enough shit I can say about Texas. From the people to the towns. Stuart invited me to dinner with the band, some friends and a label rep. I declined. Hope that Stuart wasn’t offended. I just don't do well with others. It’s kind of ironic that the stamps they put on our hands, which let us in and out of the club say, “This place sucks.”

--Here in the room. The show went fine. The guys in Sunny Day Real Estate are shit. They are slow and get in my way so I can’t get my shit together and going. And the chick who did monitors was the same. Her shit was a wreck. She left her shit right in my way after the show. I had to move all of her shit so I could load out. I had to move SDR’s shit, the house shit as well as mine tonight. Leroy tried to help load out. He asked what I wanted in the van first. I told him, “Man, we have been out a week and if you haven’t figured the shit out by now, you might as well stay in this town of yours and forget about it. Don’t worry, I’ll do it.” And I did. Stuart and I met these two drunk girls on the way out. I started talking shit in their drunk faces. Stu was charming them. Her Budweiser breath made me take a step back while she grabbed my hand. It was hilarious. She wanted to know my name. I gave her something like John. She said she saw me up there playing. I said that was right. She couldn’t shut her mouth. Then her boyfriend showed up. She didn’t know what to do. I laughed in her face and walked to the van. I think Stu thought he had a chance. Wake up Stu, they were beat. Here in the room ready to crash. This tour is taking it out of me. But I like it. Drunk people leave themselves wide open. Its way to easy to fuck their shit up. I hate drunk fuckers in my face. Save it for someone who cares.

Painting by Michael J. Safran

From the Desk of Joe Carducci...

Judy Shelton in WSJ, "The Soviet Banking System – And Ours".

“Our central bank, the Federal Reserve, uses its enormous influence over banking and financial institutions to channel funds back to government instead of directing them toward productive economic activity. For evaluating the damaging effects of this unhealthy symbiosis between banking and government, the more instructive model is the Soviet Union in its final years before economic collapse. We can draw lessons from the fact that the Soviet Union went bankrupt even as its fiscal budget statements affirmed that government revenues and expenditures were perfectly balanced. Under Soviet accounting practices, the true gap between concurrent revenues generated by the economy and the expenditures needed to sustain the nation was obscured by a phantom "plug" figure that ostensibly reflected the working capital furnished by the Soviet central bank, Gosbank. The problem for the Soviet government was that financing provided by the state-controlled bank was supporting an increasingly unproductive economy—bailing out unprofitable enterprises that had long since quit producing real economic gains that might have raised living standards.”


Robert Cookson in FT, "View from Hugh: Hendry says ‘bad things will happen’".

“I suspect that I am one of the few chief investment officers who does not maintain daily correspondence with investment bankers and their specialist hedge fund sales teams. Not one buddy, not one phone call, not one instant message. I am not seeking that kind of ‘edge’. Eclectica occupies an area outside the accepted belief system.” So what does Mr Hendry believe? At the Milken Institute conference in May, he told the audience that France was just a year away from nationalising its banks and that politicians had still not faced up to the scale of the global debt bubble that was now imploding. “We have reached a profound point in economic history where the truth is unpalatable to the political class – and that truth is that the scale and magnitude of the problem is larger than their ability to respond – and it terrifies them.”


Tyler Durden at Zerohedge.com, "Mystery Solved – The Fed Indicts And Absolves Itself".

“Mr. Thornton’s regression analysis demonstrates that despite a relatively tight monetary stance in the 1990’s and a relatively loose monetary stance in the 2000’s, there was little change in the overall behavior of either inflation or unemployment. It was as if monetary policy was invisible or ambivalent to the behavior of either variable: ‘Absent recessions and the financial crisis the stance of monetary policy appears to have had essentially no effect on output growth or the unemployment rate.’ But what sounds like an admission of ineffectiveness is really a sly transformation into absolution of culpability. One way to read this conclusion is that the scale of economic dislocation in 2008 could not possibly have been the Federal Reserve’s fault because the Fed’s monetary policy is inept in the real economy.”


Samuel Brittan in FT on Richard Duncan’s book, The New Depression – The Breakdown of the Paper Money Economy.

“He departs from the monetarists in ascribing blame to the supercharged but unsteady growth of credit. Credit, not money. I can still remember Milton Friedman chiding his students for confusing money and credit. I used to wonder what the fuss was about since they were both the opposite sides of the combined balance sheet of the banks, separated by a few accounting technicalities. Duncan points out that credit, in the form of ever weirder new securities, has taken on a life of its own. It is certainly striking how both the 1929 Wall Street crash and the 2007-08 financial crisis were preceded by a huge credit explosion. Credit market debt as proportion of US gross domestic product jumped from about 160 per cent in the mid-1920s to 260 per cent in 1929-30. It then fell sharply in the 1930s to its original position. Later it surged ahead in two upswings after 1980 to reach 350 per cent of GDP in 2008. Duncan attributes this credit growth to President Lyndon Johnson’s decision in 1968 to sever the last links between the dollar and gold. But this hypothesis hardly fits the 1920s flare-up when the dollar was on the Gold Standard.”


David Henderson at Mercatus.org, "The Economics and History of Cronyism".

“When I speak of the benefits of economic freedom and free markets, many people in my audiences do not think of those terms the way I think of them. In the question-and-answer sessions that follow my talks, it seems people often think they are taking issue with free markets when they are actually rejecting cronyism—a term that encompasses government favoritism, special privileges, and special interests. For example, people will object to the Wall Street bailouts carried out by the Bush and Obama administrations. As do I, because those bailouts violate free-market principles. They will object to government regulation that makes it difficult for small food producers to produce and sell food not inspected and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As do I. As we shall see, cronyism has been around for a long time and is a bipartisan problem that has thrived under Democratic and Republican presidents and congresses. Cronyism not only picks winners based on political connections rather than on the extent to which they serve consumers, but also is destructive of wealth, sometimes highly so.”


Malia Herman in USA Today, "Congress examines Amtrak’s food and beverage losses".

“The company's food and beverage cars have lost $833.8 million over the last decade, including $84.5 million in 2011, according to testimony at a congressional hearing Thursday. The reason: the difference between Amtrak's costs and what it charges passengers. For example, taking overhead into account, each cheeseburger costs Amtrak $16.15 and each can of soda costs $3.40. But Amtrak charges passengers only $9.50 and $2 for those items.”


WSJ: "Coming to a State Near You".

“New York created an Albany-guaranteed ‘local government assistance corporation’ to hide spending that would have run through the general fund. Illinois is borrowing short term for cash flow to make unpaid bills. California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York are even securitizing their future tax revenue—that is, not merely borrowing with bonds that must be serviced but selling their projected tax collections to investors. So to ‘balance’ their budgets today, they're making it far harder to correct them in the future and locking in higher tax rates. Even Greece doesn't do that. The message of the Ravitch-Volcker report is that some large portion of the states are replicating the dysfunctions of Washington—adding to entitlements that crowd out priorities like schools and bridges, and then concealing the real danger when they're not ignoring it.”


Elizabeth Stevens in Washington Monthly, "The Power Broker".

“The root of the problem is the city’s huge payroll and benefit costs. The city and county of San Francisco has about 23,000 employees, while nearby San Jose, a larger city by population, has just 4,000. San Francisco’s mayor is paid $272,000 a year, considerably more than the mayor of far-larger Los Angeles. Until recently, anyone who had worked for the city for just five years was entitled to lifelong retiree health benefits. Those ballooning employee costs were ominous enough that Lee acknowledged in the spring of 2011 that the city would be bankrupt in five to ten years if a way was not found to slash these costs by about $400 million a year. (Lee was given a new PR person shortly thereafter and spent the rest of the year denying the bankruptcy talk, even though he had been taped as he addressed a room full of reporters.)”


Steven Greenhut at Bloomberg.com, "San Francisco Needs a Free Market, Not Free Water".

“In 1913, Congress authorized the construction of the only major dam in a national park, with the aim of providing water and hydroelectric power for San Francisco, about 200 miles to the west. The vote reportedly broke the heart of John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, who argued that Hetch Hetchy’s beauty rivaled that of the Yosemite Valley. This was a battle with national implications -- the New York Times editorialized against it six times in 1913. You would think San Francisco’s environmentally friendly Democratic officials would want to undo this history. Yet the initiative’s qualification for the ballot is opposed by the mayor and all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, both California Democrats, are longtime foes of restoring the valley. ‘San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is right,’ the San Francisco Chronicle editorialized on July 9. ‘The proposed ballot measure to require the city to draft a plan for draining the Hetch Hetchy reservoir is ‘insane.’ It’s also dangerous, misleading and an absolute waste of money.’ The newspaper pointed to the dam’s production of ‘about 300 megawatts of carbon-free hydroelectric power for the Bay Area.’”


Steve Chawkins & Chris Megerian in LAT, "Discovery of California parks fund provokes backlash from donors".

“When cash-pinched state officials announced last year that they couldn't afford to keep 70 California parks open, residents jumped in to help. Neighbors held bake sales, cities dug into their reserves, and nonprofits rallied big donors. With the recent disclosures of a largely unknown $54-million pile sitting in state parks accounts, that can-do spirit has been replaced by a how-could-they indignation. Several local governments are demanding their money back, saying they were duped at a time when they could least afford it. In Ventura County, supervisors Tuesday sent a letter to state officials demanding the immediate return of $50,000 earmarked to repair a crucial sewer line at McGrath State Beach near Oxnard. Last year, the state said the popular beach would close because it lacked $500,000 for the fix.”


Dowell Myers in LAT, "California’s demographic challenge".

“What's crucial for the state's well-being is the ratio between the number of seniors (65 and older) and the number of prime working-age residents who will support them. That relation, known as the ‘senior ratio,’ is not good in California. After four decades of remaining nearly flat at about 20 seniors per 100 working-age residents, the ratio will climb to 28 in 2020, then to 36 a decade later. Because seniors consume public entitlements and pay less in taxes, that two-thirds increase in the senior ratio means stress on governments and taxpayers as never before. An elevated senior ratio also means a housing market top-heavy with sellers looking to downsize or move for retirement or health reasons.”


Ben Wattenberg in WSJ, "What’s Really Behind the Entitlement Crisis".

“Consider what a nation's population would have been if birth and fertility rates had not fallen so dramatically in recent decades. Let's call these missing people ‘never-born babies’ and ponder what they mean. Never-born babies are the root cause of the ‘social deficit’ that plagues nations across the world and threatens to break the bank in many. When a very large cohort of population (a ‘baby boom’) is followed by a very small cohort (a ‘birth dearth’), there will be relatively few working-age people to underwrite the benefits of the many seniors who have paid into national retirement systems, such as Social Security and Medicare. On the surface there are two unappetizing ways to deal with this: a sharp cut in benefits or massive deficits. But at the heart of the problem are birth rates (the number of births per 1,000 people per year) and total fertility rates (the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime) that have fallen sharply all over the world. The causes are many. Taken together, they add up to a modern lifestyle that may be individually attractive but collectively catastrophic.”


Jonathan Last in Weekly Standard on Mary Eberstadt’s book, Adam and Eve After the Pill.

“Part of the problem has to do with entrenched interests. The modern economy prefers the sexual revolution because it increases the labor supply and gooses consumption. (Before she became a progressive pin-up, Elizabeth Warren wrote wisely about this problem in The Two-Income Trap.) Many men prefer the sexual revolution because it increases their access to sex while decreasing their postsexual obligations. (That is, they prefer it up until the moment their daughter is born.) And feminists cling to the sexual revolution at all costs because, though it diminishes a latent good (happiness), it greatly increases an active good (freedom).”


Bret Stephens in WSJ, "The Entitlement State – and Zombies".

“But consider this: As of the first quarter of 2010, 48.5% of Americans lived in a household that received some form of government assistance. That's up from 44.4% when the financial crisis began in 2008, and up from around 30% just 30 years ago. In the meantime, 49.5% of Americans paid no federal income tax as of 2009, up from 34.1% when George W.Bush took office. Once ObamaCare kicks in, the percentage of takers will move north of 50% (if it hasn't already), and we will become a nation of modern zombies—or, if you prefer, democratic serfs. Don't console yourself with the hope that things can be turned around with a different president, or once the failures of the entitlement state become manifest. Incentives matter, but not as much as habits do. And a habit of dependency, as any addict knows, will sooner drive a man to degradation than to reform.”


Marlin Stutzman & Michael Needham in WSJ, "The ‘Farm’ Bill Is No Such Thing".

“From its name, you'd never know that 80% of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act goes toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps. But it does—and, like most programs rooted in the New Deal and Great Society, this one has grown exponentially. Thanks to misaligned incentives for the states and a consistent weakening of eligibility criteria, the cost of the food-stamps program doubled between 2001 and 2006. Then, thanks to President Obama's stimulus, it doubled again between 2008 and 2012. Taxpayers now spend $80 billion a year on food stamps, an amount the Senate ‘farm bill’ would essentially lock in for the next decade.”


William McGurn in WSJ, "Community Organizers Sue Obama".

“Saul Alinsky may have dedicated his ‘Rules for Radicals’ to Lucifer. Even so, the father of community organizing knew that his efforts would have gone nowhere in his hometown of Chicago without the help of an institution that had been serving the city's poorest communities long before he arrived: the Catholic Church. In 1939, Alinsky famously worked with the church to organize the ‘Back of the Yards’ slum on the edge of the Chicago stockyards. Nearly 50 years later, a young Columbia graduate named Barack Obama followed in his footsteps. From an office in the rectory of Holy Rosary Church on the city’s South Side, the future president began his career as a community organizer. Now the one-time allies are at loggerheads.”


Henry Juszkiewicz in WSJ, "Gibson’s Fight Against Criminalizing Capitalism".

“The fingerboards of our guitars are made with wood that is imported from India. The wood seized during the Aug. 24 raid, however, was from a Forest Stewardship Council-certified supplier, meaning the wood complies with FSC’s rules requiring that it be harvested legally and in compliance with traditional and civil rights, among other protections. Indian authorities have provided sworn statements approving the shipment, and U.S. customs allowed the shipment to pass through America’s border to our factories. Nonetheless, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to enforce its own interpretation of Indian law, arguing that because the fingerboards weren’t finished in India, they were illegal exports. In effect, the agency is arguing that to be in compliance with the law, Gibson must outsource the jobs of finishing craftsmen in Tennessee.”


Scott Gottlieb & Coleen Klasmeier in WSJ, "The FDA Wants to Regulate Your Cells".

“The FDA has repeatedly sought to blur the line between manufacturing medical products and practicing medicine whenever new techniques emerge. But the standard for regulation isn’t whether the agency feels a technique is novel but whether it meets the definition of being a medical product.”


Gordon Crovitz in WSJ, "Who Really Invented the Internet? ".

“Robert Taylor, who ran the ARPA program in the 1960s, sent an email to fellow technologists in 2004 setting the record straight: ‘The creation of the Arpanet was not motivated by considerations of war. The Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks.’ If the government didn't invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet's backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks. But full credit goes to the company where Mr. Taylor worked after leaving ARPA: Xerox. It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks. Researchers there also developed the first personal computer (the Xerox Alto) and the graphical user interface that still drives computer usage today. According to a book about Xerox PARC, ‘Dealers of Lightning’ (by Michael Hiltzik), its top researchers realized they couldn't wait for the government to connect different networks, so would have to do it themselves. ‘We have a more immediate problem than they do,’ Robert Metcalfe told his colleague John Shoch in 1973. ‘We have more networks than they do.’ Mr. Shoch later recalled that ARPA staffers ‘were working under government funding and university contracts. They had contract administrators . . . and all that slow, lugubrious behavior to contend with.’ So having created the Internet, why didn't Xerox become the biggest company in the world? The answer explains the disconnect between a government-led view of business and how innovation actually happens.”


Gordon Crovitz in WSJ, "WeHelpedBuildThat.com".

“A handbook on computing at MIT written in 1982 warned students: ‘It is considered illegal to use the ARPAnet for anything which is not in direct support of government business.... Sending electronic mail over the ARPAnet for commercial profit or political purposes is both anti-social and illegal. By sending such messages, you can offend many people, and it is possible to get MIT in serious trouble with the government agencies which manage the ARPAnet.’”


Virginia Postrel at Bloomberg.com on Deirdre McCloskey’s book, Bourgeois Dignity.

“There had always been enough capital. What was different, she maintains, is how people thought about new ideas. Creative destruction became not only accepted but also encouraged, as did individual enterprise. ‘What made us rich,’ she writes, ‘was a new rhetoric that was favorable to unbounded innovation, imagination, alertness, persuasion, originality, with individual rewards often paid in a coin of honor or thankfulness -- not individual accumulation restlessly stirring, or mere duty to a calling, which are ancient and routine and uncreative.’ This is a radical claim…. The idea will sound particularly strange if you learned your economic history, as many political intellectuals do, in a diluted version of Marx and Polanyi (on the left) or Weber (on the right) and thus assume that economic growth depends, first and foremost, on some accumulated store of wealth. You might be inclined, therefore, to sneer at innovation -- or even, as Daniel Bell did, to write a book condemning it as a ‘cultural contradiction’ of capitalism -- and at bourgeois virtue. If you think that capital, not insight or innovation, is the critical ingredient, it’s also a short hop to the belief that the entrepreneur doesn’t deserve praise for building the business.”


Meghan Clyne in National Affairs, "Frontier Lessons in Liberty".

“Thomas Jefferson understood that the morals and character of citizens matter enormously to the success of self-government: ‘It is the manners and spirit of a people,’ he wrote, ‘which preserve a republic in vigour. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.’ Particularly degenerate, Jefferson argued, were those citizens who proved themselves to be insufficiently self-reliant. ‘Dependance,’ he wrote, ‘begets subservience and veniality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.’
To Jefferson, the most self-reliant citizen — the one who best exhibited the virtues on which the republic's success would rely — was the farmer. He deeply admired the ‘husbandman's’ ability to provide for his own subsistence, and believed that this ability gave farmers unique moral fortitude. ‘Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phaenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example,’ he wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia. Jefferson further understood that, in order to preserve these virtues, the new nation would have to provide its people with access to the vast frontier, and encourage them to conquer it. ‘I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries,’ he wrote to James Madison in 1787, ‘as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.’”


Patrick Deneen in First Things, "Unsustainable Liberalism".

“Liberalism began with the explicit assertion, and has continued to claim, that it merely describes our political, social, and private decision-making. Yet implicitly it was constituted as a constructive or normative project: What it presented as a description of human voluntarism in fact had to displace a very different form of human self-understanding and long-standing experience. In effect, liberal theory sought to educate people to think differently about themselves and their relationships. Liberalism often claims neutrality about the choices people make in liberal society; it is the defender of ‘Right,’ not of any particular conception of the ‘Good.’ Yet it is not neutral about the basis on which people make their decisions. In the same way that courses in economics claiming merely to describe human beings as utility-maximizing individual actors in fact influence students to act more selfishly, so liberalism teaches a people to hedge commitments and adopt flexible relationships and bonds.”


Jim Carlton in WSJ, "A Big-Sky Battle Over Bison".

“Agency managers believe letting the tribes care for the bison would strengthen their cultural identities, as called for by the Tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994 that gave tribes the right to take over supervision of some programs related to their lands previously handled by U.S. agencies.... Opposing the plan is the group comprising employees of numerous state and federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service and land managers in states including California, Florida and New Jersey. The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says the plan would remove experienced park managers. The group declined to say how many members it had.”


Holman Jenkins in WSJ, "Our Big Fat Greek Habits".

“The U.S. isn’t Greece but... In the University of California system, the number of senior administrators has grown four times faster than the number of teachers since 1993 – to the point where the ratio is now one-to-one. Remember the Ross Perot joke about the USDA employee weeping at his desk because ‘his farmer died’? The U.S. isn’t Greece but... What information revolution? In 1980, it took one Medicaid administrator to oversee five Medicaid cases. Today the same administrator oversees only half as many. The U.S. isn’t Greece but... Federal prosecutors just extended their deadline for immunity to Long Island Rail Road retirees who use phony disability claims to boost their pensions.”


Daniel Henninger in WSJ, "America’s Two Economies".

“Democratic politicians drew closer to a rising public-sector union movement and its campaign financing, while the private unions declined. This meant the party itself was slowly disconnecting from the machinery of the private economy and becoming part of a rising parallel economy, the public economy of government. There was one other big event that convinced Democrats that their public economy was equal to or better than the private economy. It has to do with the Democratic Party's moral identity. After JFK's assassination, Lyndon Johnson passed the building blocks of the Great Society, notably Medicare and Medicaid. But most importantly came the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The legislative events of that period (no matter that they passed with bipartisan votes) convinced the Democratic Party once and for all of government's moral efficacy. Public spending, conclusively, was now a public good. Today the private and public economies are in head-to-head competition for the nation's wealth—with the private economy calling that wealth capital or income, and the public economy calling it tax revenue and making moral claims for spending tax revenue. Until recently and except for the Reagan years, the Republican Party has largely been a confused onlooker, uncertain how to embrace the private economy. In the 1990s, the party embraced the private sector mainly as a source of contributions via K Street lobbyists. In short, crony capitalism.”


Nick Gillespie & Veronique DeRugy in Reason, "Generational Warfare".

“It is hard to know which is more depressing: the punishing and sure-to-rise price that younger Americans are forced to pay for a system that steals from the relatively poor to give to the relatively rich, or the smugness with which champions of this patently unfair system insist on its righteousness. In his March speech in Florida, Vice President Biden told stories of building a new house that included living quarters for his parents, who refused to move in. Biden explained that his parents and other seniors value their ‘independence’ and ‘dignity’ more than anything. His mother, he said, was representative of seniors in that she wanted to be able to pay her own way at check ups with her doctor. ‘She didn’t want to ask her kids.’ In Biden’s strange moral universe, his mom should be admired for wanting to get medical care on the dime of strangers rather than from her own family. The vice president was trying to defend old-age entitlements, but his example is the quintessence of what is wrong with the current system: It gives to those who already have much by taking from those who have little.”


: "Taxing the Rich and the Rest".

“What an extraordinary admission comes toward the end of today's New York Times editorial:
higher taxes for top earners is necessary for the nation to begin to raise the revenue it needs. And until the rich pay more, there will never be a national consensus for tax increases on middle-income Americans, which will eventually be needed to further curb long-term deficits. If you can get past the subject-verb agreement problem — it should be higher taxes for top earners are necessary, because the word taxes is plural — this is really something. For years Democratic politicians like President Obama and Senator Kerry have been promising voters that they just want to raise taxes on the ‘rich,’ not the middle class. If they offer reasons, they relate to deficit reduction or fairness. Now the Times, the flagship of left-of-center opinion, is basically acknowledging that that promise is a phony one, and that, as Republicans have often charged, those who say they want to increase taxes on just some people are really going to wind up increasing them on everyone. And the reason the Times gives for raising taxes on the rich is to make additional, broader tax increases politically possible.”


David Brooks in NYT, "Why Our Elites Stink".

“The corruption that has now crept into the world of finance and the other professions is not endemic to meritocracy but to the specific culture of our meritocracy. The problem is that today’s meritocratic elites cannot admit to themselves that they are elites. Everybody thinks they are countercultural rebels, insurgents against the true establishment, which is always somewhere else. This attitude prevails in the Ivy League, in the corporate boardrooms and even at television studios where hosts from Harvard, Stanford and Brown rail against the establishment. As a result, today’s elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess. If you went to Groton a century ago, you knew you were privileged. You were taught how morally precarious privilege was and how much responsibility it entailed. You were housed in a spartan 6-foot-by-9-foot cubicle to prepare you for the rigors of leadership. The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations.”


Paul Berman in New Republic, "Where Have All Our Racist Aristocrats Gone? A Requiem For Gore Vidal".

“Vidal was surely serious, in his manner, about the white race and its Asiatic and Jewish enemies, as revealed by his subsequent enthusiasm for Timothy McVeigh and 9/11 conspiracy theories. But his purpose in writing these things was ultimately to bring about public demonstrations of his own aristocratic status. And this he achieved. The grandest of his triumphs naturally came at the expense of the editor of The Nation, whom he reduced to obsequious servility. But the red-faced hollering by the editor of Commentary, the fist-banging by the admirers of Commentary in other publications, the earnest distinctions offered by some of us on the democratic left in one publication or another, even the letters to the editor at The Nation—these, too, represented triumphs, from a standpoint like Vidal’s. For there was not a doubt in the world, once everything had been said and done, that all the other parties in the affair, in their servility or table-thumping fury or earnest indignation, hailed from humble regions of ordinary American life, and he alone dwelled in fabulous-land, where one is indifferent to the little niceties. This sort of attitude was, to be sure, the cause of the French Revolution.”


Jenna Joselit in New Republic on Mary Antin’s book, The Promised Land.

“At the time The Promised Land was published, as now, doubts about the assimilability of immigrants ran high, prompting the federal government to institute a formal study of the ins and outs of the ‘immigrant question.’ Training its sights on where ‘aliens’ lived, how they earned their keep, their racial make-up, bodily forms, and political beliefs, the Dillingham Commission—as it was popularly called—amassed forty-one volumes of ‘data,’ all with an eye toward formulating a policy of ‘intelligent action’ rooted in the notion of ‘racial desirability.’

Antin turned that on its head, giving short shrift to nativism. In two brisk sentences, she momentarily assuaged the anxieties of those who fretted lest the ‘invasion’ of immigrants from abroad dilute and weaken the body politic. And in the process, Mary (née Mashka) Antin, the daughter of Yisroel Pinhas and Esther Hannah Haye, became a household name.”


Simon Romero in NYT, "Brazil Gains Business and Influence as It Offers Aid and Loans in Africa".

“Brazil, closely linked for centuries to Africa through shipping routes and the slave trade, is thought to have imported 10 times as many slaves as the United States did before slavery was abolished here in 1888. For a stretch in the 19th century, Brazil was the seat of the Portuguese empire, making the capital then, Rio de Janeiro, a nerve center for trade with Africa. Those ties withered until civilian leaders sought to establish relations with newly independent governments in Africa in the early 1960s. That process cooled after Brazil’s military rulers seized power in a 1964 coup supported by the United States. Then economic necessity and a quest to build autonomy from the United States laid the foundations in the 1970s for today’s diplomatic buildup in Africa. Seeking to offset spending on oil imports, including cargoes from Nigeria, military rulers set about opening new markets in Africa for Brazilian companies.”


Nick Cohen in Spectator, "The racism of the respectable".

“Britain made female genital mutilation a criminal offence in the 1980s. Later we said it was illegal for parents to take their children abroad for the ‘procedure’. Yet although thousands of British girls are the victims of wounding with intent, the CPS has not instigated one prosecution, let alone secured a conviction. Sue Lloyd Roberts illustrated official indifference when she interviewed Somalis in Glasgow. She came up with sensible proposals to prevent child abuse. When doctors saw a mother whose genitals had been mutilated they could insist that medics monitored her daughters. Or when families from an — how to put this in PC language? — ‘at risk’ group left the country, female doctors could examine the daughters on return. She tried to put these ideas to the representatives of Glasgow’s liberal professions — teachers, health and social workers. Not one would go on air.”


Dina Kyriakidou at Reuters.com, "In Greek crisis, lessons in a shrimp farm’s travails".

“A trained biologist and economist, he did his research before deciding to invest in fresh shrimp – a product in high demand but limited supply in Europe. Armed with money from a private investor, he arrived in Greece expecting to be farming within a year or so. It wasn't to be. A process that would take just two or three months to complete in Australia got stuck in a maze of official opinions and permits across several ministries. Greek politicians assured him that the paperwork would be done in 18 months, but that date came and went with no progress. A year into the battle to obtain both an environmental permit and zoning permission for a three-hectare farm in the western coastal town of Igoumenitsa, Tsanis's project was sued by a group including Pavlos Alexiou, an engineer with the local Thesprotia district administration which is responsible for granting licenses in the region. ‘He was of a communist ideology and objected to most investment projects,’ said Tsanis, who had, tongue-in-cheek, named his company Albatross Investments. Contacted by Reuters, Alexiou said his objections were environmental: the area is a protected habitat and ‘shrimp is not an endemic species.’ He and about a dozen others took the project to the high court that deals with administrative and civil disputes. Alexiou said the group could not pursue the case financially and in 2009, seven years after it was filed, the court dropped it. By then, though, another law change that sought to keep aquaculture projects small meant Tsanis had to break up his farm into sections to go ahead.”


Hugh Carnegy in FT, "France debates decline of industrial might".

“To the frustration of many in the business community, the first steps taken by the administration of President François Hollande have been to raise taxes, mainly on the wealthy and big companies, soften pension reforms put in place by the previous centre-right administration, and boost the minimum wage. The question now, however, is whether the government, confronted by an alarming slide in corporate profitability and mounting unemployment, is nonetheless prepared to contemplate the reforms demanded by industry.”


Pascal Salin in WSJ, "There Is No ‘Euro Crisis’".

“The public-debt problem becomes a euro problem only insofar as governments arbitrarily decide that there must be some ‘European solidarity’ inside the euro zone. But how does mutual participation in the same currency logically imply that spendthrift governments should get help from the others? When a state in the U.S. has a debt problem, one never hears that there is a ‘dollar crisis.’ There is simply a problem of budget management in that state. Because European politicians have decided to create an artificial link between national budget problems and the functioning of the euro system, they have now effectively created a ‘euro crisis.’”


Michael Mackenzie in FT, "The Short View".

“When investors in Europe are prepared to park their money for two years at a negative yield, it is a clear signal of fear that the eurozone is in imminent danger of breaking apart. Preservation of capital, not return on capital, is driving bond markets in the so-called core eurozone and beyond. As of Thursday, the ranks of countries with negative two-year yields included Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands, while Austria was just above zero. Yields in France and the UK were loitering around a meagre 0.10 per cent.”


FT: "A German union of dogma and pragmatism – Berthold Huber".

“Sitting at the conference table in his 15th-floor office in Frankfurt – which overlooks the Main river and out across to the high-rise building site that will become the European Central Bank’s new home – he seems a mix of industry executive and stern guardian of workers’ rights. Of Opel, GM’s European unit whose fate he is eyeing closely, Mr Huber says: ‘We need to have good products, productive factories, and work out what steps we have to take to get there.’ But a few minutes later he speaks of his union’s goal to ‘overcome the founding contradictions of capital and labour’ – an echo of Karl Marx’s lament that so much is owned by so few, thanks to the work of so many. This reflects Germany’s Mitbestimmung – a system of joint decision-making between employer, worker and staff works councils – which gives labour representatives just under half of the votes on the supervisory boards of big companies. ‘If you give people rights, they take on responsibility – that’s what Mitbestimmung has taught us,’ he says.”


Sophie Duvernoy in CSM, "450-year-old debt. Trillions owed. But will German village get repaid? ".

“A certificate of debt, found in a regional archive, attests that Mittenwalde lent Berlin 400 guilders on May 28 1562, to be repaid with six percent interest per year. According to Radio Berlin Brandenburg (RBB), the debt would amount to 11,200 guilders today, which is roughly equivalent to 112 million euros ($136.79 million). Adjusting for compound interest and inflation, the total debt now lies in the trillions, by RBB's estimates. Town historian Vera Schmidt found the centuries-old debt slip in the archive, where it had been filed in 1963. Though the seal is missing from the document, Schmidt told Reuters that she was certain the slip was still valid. ‘In 1893 there was a debate in which the document was examined and the writing was determined to be authentic,’ Schmidt said. Schmidt and Mittenwalde's Mayor Uwe Pfeiffer have tried to ask Berlin for their money back. Such requests have been made every 50 years or so since 1820 but always to no avail. Reclaiming the debt would bring significant riches to Mittenwalde, a seat of power in the middle ages, which now has a population of just 8,800.”


Philip Boyes in FT, "Ostpolitik will keep Europe on the rails".

“Germany and Poland, historic enemies, now uneasy friends, are being drawn to each other.
They are recognising the primacy of geography – Berlin is a mere 70km from the Polish border – and the growing inevitability of a German-Polish axis that might soon rival the Franco-German alliance. As France’s political clout fades Poland is becoming more dynamic, demonstrating strong growth and emerging as Germany’s natural ally. But to make this happen Germany needs to wake up and more actively engage a uniquely sympathetic government in Warsaw. The prospect of something more than a rapprochement – a real, working alliance that takes the initiative on recasting the European Union, is taking both Poles and Germans by surprise.”


MercoPress: "Russia investing heavily in beef production".

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has an ambitious plan to cut his country's 3 billion dollars annual import bill for beef. He even aspires to return Russia's beef industry to its pre-revolutionary stature. To get there, however, he's depending on an unlikely saviour: Anthony Stidham, a 48-year-old, third-generation rancher from Oklahoma. At Russia's largest beef farm, about 400 kilometres southwest of Moscow, Stidham is among a tiny group of foreign cattlemen hired to school locals in livestock rearing – everything from branding cows to easing a stuck calf through the birth canal.”


EUobserver.com: "Putinism under Siege – on the nationalist-democratic alliance".

“Over the last few years, the traditional expansionist nationalism has been losing ground to a newer breed of isolationist, insular, and defensive nationalism that is primarily xenophobic and hostile to immigrants. This strain of nationalism is focused more on maintaining Russia’s ‘Russianness’ than on territorial expansion. The key source of defensive nationalism is the toxic mix of high immigration into Russia coupled with a demographic crisis among native-born ethnic Russians. Home to more than twelve-million non-Russians, Russia is the world’s second leading destination for immigrants (after the United States). From the nationalists’ perspective, Russia’s demographic crisis is twofold: Its population is shrinking and at the same time is becoming less ethnically Russian.”


Andrew Kramer in NYT, "Ex-K.G.B. Banker and Putin Critic Plans to Sell Assets".

“Harassment of his businesses is not new. His bank has repeatedly been targeted in a type of ritual police raid on a business — known as a masky show, for the masks worn by the police — something the debonair financier had joked about in the past. On Friday, he said the police had been telling him that they had ‘some order from above’ to investigate his businesses and encourage him to leave the country, while asking him about his political views. ‘They worked on my personal life, my business partners and my political convictions,’ he said. ‘I’ll admit: they won. It’s impossible to conduct business, as they are everywhere.’ Mr. Lebedev is the owner, together with the former Soviet president Mikhail S. Gorbachev, of the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, where the investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya worked until her murder in 2006. More recently, in February, he nominated the anticorruption activist and blogger Aleksei Navalny to the board of Aeroflot, the national airline, in which Mr. Lebedev has a stake. The move was a clear thumbing of his nose at government efforts to sideline Mr. Navalny. Mr. Lebedev served as a lieutenant colonel in the K.G.B. and was posted in Britain when the Soviet Union fell, a background seemingly at odds with financing a dissident newspaper and his jesterlike role in Moscow.”


John Thornhill & Geoff Dyer in FT, "Death of a lawyer".

“Browder’s career as an investor in Russia had been wrecked, but worse was to follow. Sergei Magnitsky, a dogged lawyer who worked for the law firm that represented Hermitage, later discovered that the Russian authorities had perpetrated a tax refund fraud, using forged Hermitage documents to transfer $230m of state money to a criminal gang. Rather than congratulating Magnitsky for his assistance, the authorities accused him of orchestrating the fraud himself and arrested him in November 2008. After almost a year’s detention, during which time he was repeatedly denied medical treatment, he was beaten to death in his jail cell. Browder remembers receiving the phone call at his London home at 7am informing him of Magnitsky’s fate. ‘When I learnt of his death it was like a knife going right into my heart. And I can’t say that I’ve even begun to recover from the shock, trauma and outrage that I felt on that day,’ he says. ‘The only thing that gives me any comfort is spending my days single-mindedly pursuing his killers.’”


Martin Fackler in NYT, "Strong Yen Is Dividing Generations in Japan".

“By speeding the flood of cheaper imported products into Japan, the strong yen is contributing to deflation, a broader drop in the prices of goods and services that has helped retirees stretch their pensions and savings. The resulting inaction on the yen, according to a growing number of economists and politicians, reflects a new political reality, with already indecisive leaders loath to upset retirees from the baby boom who make up more than a quarter of the population and tend to vote in high numbers. ‘Japan’s tolerance of the strong yen and deflation is rooted in a clash of generations,’ said Yutaka Harada, a professor of political science and economics at Waseda University in Tokyo. ‘And for now, the seniors are winning.’ That victory comes at a high price, however, hastening the hollowing out of Japan’s industrial base as companies continue to move abroad, exacerbating the nation’s two-decade-long economic stagnation.”


Holman Jenkins in WSJ, "What to Do About Huawei? ".

“Of all the cybercrime originating in China, how much is committed for state reasons, how much for business reasons, and who captures the gains? These are good questions. But think of Huawei as a battlefield, not a weapon, and one on which the U.S. can advance its interests. Claude Barfield, the eminent trade economist at the American Enterprise Institute, has the right idea. In return for greater access to the U.S. market, Huawei should be expected to list its shares on a U.S. stock exchange, forcing the company into greater compliance with Western standardds of transparency and accountability. Yes, some are weary of the effort, but coaxing China into greater inter-dependence with the capitalist world is still a sound, long-run policy of the U.S.”


Harsh Pant at YaleGlobal, "South China Sea: New Arena of Sino-Indian Rivalry".

“By accepting the Vietnamese invitation to explore oil and gas in Blocks 127 and 128, India’s state-owned oil company ONGC Videsh Ltd, or OVL, not only expressed New Delhi’s desire to deepen its friendship with Vietnam, but ignore China’s warning to stay away. After asking countries ‘outside the region’ to stay away from the South China Sea, China issued a demarche to India in November 2011, underlining that Beijing’s permission should be sought for exploration in Blocks 127 and 128 and, without it, OVL’s activities would be considered illegal. Vietnam, meanwhile had underlined the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to claim its sovereign rights over the two blocks being explored. India decided to go by the Vietnam’s claims and ignore China’s objections.”


Kaushik Barua at Opendemocracy.net, "Time to fix the Indian male".

“I watched the video of the Guwahati molestation. I saw the teenager looking for help, and finding none. It happened in the centre of the town I still call home. Statistics and research have consistently identified India as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, among the major economies. This assault has finally convinced us all. Much of the discussion, especially following incidents of rape and molestation, have veered around how social norms are changing and whether women need to respect social constraints and new tensions. But the relevant question is actually entirely different: what is wrong with the Indian male?”


Gardiner Harris in NYT, "As Tensions in India Turn Deadly, Some Say Officials Ignored Warning Signs".

“The Bodo tribe in the finger of land between Bangladesh and Bhutan has long been feeling squeezed by Muslim Bengalis immigrating from Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries on the planet. In addition to having less communal ideas about land ownership than the Bodos, the Bengalis, whose numbers are growing, increasingly threaten the Bodos’ dream of having an independent state. The Bodos, many of whom have been converted to Christianity, now represent just 10 percent of Assam’s population of 31 million, but have ancestral claims to roughly half of its land. Four years ago, Bodos and Bengalis, who speak different languages, clashed in Assam, leaving 70 people dead.”


Phyllis Chesler & Nathan Bloom at meforum.org, "Hindu vs. Muslim Honor Killings".

“Apologists for Muslim culture and civilization rushed to herald the upsurge in Hindu (and Sikh) honor killings as evidence that the practice is ‘a universal problem, not an Islamic issue.’ While India is indeed a striking exception to Islam's near monopoly on contemporary honor killings, the following preliminary statistical survey shows Hindu honor killings in India to be different in form and commission from those of Muslims in neighboring Pakistan. Though no less gruesome, the Hindu honor killings seem largely confined to the north of India and are perpetuated by sociocultural factors largely specific to India. The millions of Indian Hindus who have immigrated to the West do not bring the practice along with them.”


Sanchita Bhattacharya at Satp.org, "A Peep into Pandora’s Box".

“At a time when Islamabad is planning to close the cases against the perpetrators of the November 26, 2008, (26/11) Mumbai terrorist attacks, and to set them free, the deportation of one of the principal handlers of the 26/11 operation, Lashkar-e-Toiba operative Syed Zaibuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal from Saudi Arabia and his subsequent arrest by the Delhi Police on June 21, 2012, has given Indian authorities another opportunity to turn the screws on Pakistan, and to demonstrate Pakistani involvement in the attacks. On June 29, 2012, then Indian Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had noted, ‘many missing pieces of the 26/11 conspiracy are now known to us through interrogation of Abu Jundal. He was a key operative; he was assigned the key responsibility to putting the 10 terrorists in intensive training and the customs followed by Mumbaikars.’ Jundal, who has confirmed that the voice in ‘terror tapes’ – conversations between the terrorists in Mumbai and their handlers in Karachi (Pakistan) during the 26/11 operation – was his, has disclosed to his interrogators that he was continuously in touch with the Pakistani terrorists over the phone and ‘guided’ them throughout the 26/11 operations. More importantly, he has given ample evidence of the involvement of Pakistani state and non-state actors in the 26/11 attacks. According to Jundal, a waaris (heir or pointsman) of the "forces", a likely reference to Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) handler, had overseen the entire 26/11 operation.”


Borzou Daragahi in FT, "Algeria’s youth dealt a poor hand by ruling clique of old war heroes".

“The gap between the elites in the regime and the country’s youth grows day by day. The population is 75 per cent young, but it is being led by clique of old war heroes aged over 70. ‘There are no perspectives for the future, either economically or socially,’ Mr Saheb said. ‘There are no doors open.’ The problems run deep, most of them rooted in the failings of a state that lost many of its elites after the end of French colonialism and suffered huge setbacks during its 1990s civil war against Islamists. The troubles begin with an education system that emphasises rote learning, political ideology and religion over practical skill or even socialisation skills. University degrees tend to feed graduates into a system where they will do little more than serve as bureaucratic functionaries. Outside work, there are few distractions, with no youth sports programmes and little by way of entertainment. ‘Algeria is a laboratory of the future,’ said Samir Tumi, the chief of a corporate headhunting firm. ‘It’s an example of a total rupture between a government and its young people. The people who are 20 years old are disillusioned by Islam. They are turned off by politics. The only thing for them to do is to go inside themselves and live day to day. They don’t believe.’”


Steven Rosen & Daniel Pipes in Jerusalem Post, "Lessening UNRWA’s damage".

“UNRWA does not work to settle refugees; instead, by registering each day ever more grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have never been displaced from their homes or employment, artificially adding them to the tally of ‘refugees,’ it adds to number of refugees aggrieved against Israel. By now, these descendants comprise over 90 percent of UNRWA refugees. Further, UNRWA violates the Refugee Convention by insisting that nearly two million people who have been given citizenship in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon (and who constitute 40% of UNRWA’s beneficiaries) are still refugees. As a result of such practices, instead of going down through resettlement and natural attrition, the number of UNRWA refugees has steadily grown since 1949, from 750,000 to almost 5 million. At this rate, UNRWA refugees will exceed 8 million by 2030 and 20 million by 2060, its camps and schools endlessly promoting the futile dream that these millions of descendants someday will ‘return’ to their ancestors’ homes in Israel.”


Benjamin Jensen in FT, "An Alawite split from Syria would be disastrous for the region".

“Tremesh, Rastan and Houla, each of which have experienced the mass killing of civilians, all lie on the edges of the Alawite corridor, a strip of land running from Lebanon to Turkey through Syria containing large numbers of Alawites and Arab Christians. To understand the logic of the violence, you have to look at Alawite separatism in Syria dating from the French Mandate. Following the first world war, the French organised Syria into ethnic and sectarian territories including an ‘Alawi state’ comprising predominantly rural members of the Shia sect along the Mediterranean. For many years, this Alawi state was administratively separate from Syria. Only a small number of Alawites participated in the Great Revolt from 1925 to 1927, choosing instead to serve in special French military units. In 1936 the French gave in to Arab nationalists and incorporated Alawite lands into Syria. Yet, like other minorities, the Alawites remained suspicious of the Sunni majority and continued to flock to the security services. After independence, the Alawites used their disproportionate representation in the military to seize power in a 1963 coup led by Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father.”


Melik Kaylan in WSJ, "Radical Islamists Wage Muslim Civil War in Africa".

“Such incidents have now become a global phenomenon. In effect, primitive iconoclastic strains of tribal Islam have burst out of their historical isolation on the margins of civilization and coalesced globally to attack the more cosmopolitan, syncretistic and culturally advanced centers of their faith. To Western minds, Mali denotes the most marginal of places in the African desert. But it is home to African Islam. The city of Timbuktu, located on a timeless crossroads of trade, developed as a marketplace of ideas for centuries, open to learning from afar and reverential to saintly scholars who came on pilgrimage and stayed. Their manuscripts are housed in Timbuktu’s ancient celebrated desert libraries. Their mosques and shrines are what the al Qaeda-related militia Ansar al Dine are busy trying to destroy.”


Raymond Ibrahim at meforum.org, "Huffington Post, MSM Facilitate Destruction of Egypt’s Pyramids".

“Some questions: If, as DNE suggests, this was a hoax to scare people over the rising influence of Egypt's Islamists, why did the hoax perpetrators choose a cleric from Bahrain, a small, foreign nation—why not parody an Egyptian cleric, which obviously would've made for a much more effective ‘hoax’? More importantly, why does DNE not address the other sources I had cited—including Egypt's very own Salafi party, which is on record calling for the elimination of Egypt's pyramids? Even Elaph, ‘one of the most influential websites in the Arab world,’ documents that both the Bahraini cleric and Egypt's Salafis are calling for the Pyramids' destruction. Needless to say, DNE's hoax charge was quickly disseminated by others, who added their own ‘logic.’ For example, after quoting DNE as evidence, one Kate Durham, writing in Egypt Today, focuses on portraying me as having an ‘agenda’ (which, of course, I do: safeguarding the Pyramids).”


Stefan Buchen at Qantara.de, "Alliance between the PKK and the Assad Regime".

“While the Syrian regime braces itself against its downfall in Damascus and Aleppo, a remarkable chapter of the war is unfolding in the Kurdish areas of Syria, far away from eyes of the world. There, the local branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, is acting as henchman of the Assad regime and playing the part of both police and public administration. No official declaration on this astounding development has been forthcoming from either the Assad regime or the PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, who is currently imprisoned in Turkey, nor from the military leaders of the Kurdish political sect, which operates in secret mainly in the Qandil Mountains in north-eastern Iraq.”


Mu Chunshan in The Diplomat, "Chinese Muslims and The ‘Arab Spring’".

“For many years, China has been investing heavily in infrastructure, education, and other areas to boost productivity in the western regions where many ethnic and religious minorities reside. No one can deny that a lot has been accomplished. Despite these successes, an election thousands of miles away in Egypt can quickly negate Chinese patriotism that the government has been instilling for decade. Why? Last February the Muslim Brotherhood was among the fiercest critics of China and Russia’s decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to government-sanctioned violence in Syria. Branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and Syria, for instance, branded China and Russia as ‘accomplices of [Assad’s] massacre,’ and even claimed Beijing and Moscow bore full responsibility for the violence in Syria. This rare criticism coming from the Muslim world, which has usually been on friendly terms with China, is not something that can be easily dismissed. If this is any indication, China’s ‘tightrope walking’ foreign policy may find it hard to navigate a Middle East with newly empowered publics.”


Fred Weir in CSM, "Attacks target voices of moderate Islam in central Russia".

“The violence threatens to shatter more than just the peace in the oil-rich central Russian region whose majority population constitutes one of the biggest single concentrations of Sunni Muslims in Europe. The two victims are leading proponents of the officially sponsored brand of Euro-Islam, which preaches tolerance, democracy and acceptance of modern secular life. The republic's chief mufti, Ildus Faizov, who was hurled from his car by a powerful blast, had been leading efforts to expunge Saudi-trained clerics and extreme Salafist textbooks from local mosques and religious schools. Deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov, gunned down on the porch of his home, was an Islamic scholar who was widely regarded as the main strategist in the fight against religious extremism.”


Ayad Jamaluddin in WSJ, "Political Islam and the Battle for Najaf".

“Khomeini wanted to use religion as a weapon for achieving his political ambitions. The other Shiite scholars had no interest in politics. They saw themselves responsible solely for studying the religious sciences and teaching what they learned to the Shiite community. Kohmeini achieved his first major political ambition with the overthrow of the Shah in Iran. Soon after, he took control of the religious academy in Qom, seeking to banish scholars who opposed his political exploitation of religion. He did so over the course of the 1980s, under the thick cover of the Iran-Iraq war, replacing the old establishment with a new one that would further his political ambitions. Yet there remained an obstacle in Kohmeini’s path: the Najaf Hawza, the leading religious academy of the Shiite world, remained free of his rule.”


Ben Cohen & Keith Roderick in WSJ, "The Religious Silence on Christian Persecution".

“Christian leaders in Muslim countries are concerned with surviving from one day to the next. We can help them not by engaging in bland dialogues but by compelling those who rule them to respect their right to worship, as well as their desire to stem the flood of Christians fleeing oppression for safer havens elsewhere. The church also needs to press the reset button on its priorities. It is a bitter irony that Israel, the one country in the Middle East where Christians live in freedom, is the main focus of church opprobrium.”


Jon Anderson in New Yorker, "A History of Violence".

“After dinner, Jogot and his generals sat in the courtyard, swapping stories and talking on their Thurayas – satellite phones that they used to oversee the war. It was a risky habit – Thurayas contain G.P.S. units, which can be tracked with the right technology – but the phones are the only means of communication in the bush. A TV was set up with a portable, solar-powered satellite receiver, and some children, a few of Jogot’s bodyguards, and a handful of officers gathered to watch. One officer wielded a remote control next to the set, serving as channel-flipper. We watched various Sudanese news channels, Al Jazeera, and then, to everyone’s delight, an American wrestling show, ‘WWE Smackdown.’ The soldiers laughed and shouted as the wrestlers tossed their rivals into the crowd or stomped on their heads. The Nubans are renowned for wrestling, a tradition in which young men test their strength and stamina to establish their status within the tribe, and Idris looked astounded when I told him that the fighting was fake.”


Andrew Jacobs in NYT, "Spreading the Faith Where Faith Itself Is Suspect".

“Many religious leaders both in China and abroad say the effort to turn Catholics away from the pope have largely failed. The Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, editor in chief of AsiaNews, an official Vatican news service, said the government’s recent ordinations had angered many ordinary Catholics. ‘I would say there’s a kind of resistance against these bishops, with the faithful refusing to attend religious ceremonies when they are present,’ he said. The conflict is reflected in Father Liu’s church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which dates back to 1605, when Wanli, the Ming dynasty Emperor, permitted the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci to build a residence and small chapel near the site of the current church. More commonly known by its Chinese name, Nantang, or South Cathedral, it has a storied but turbulent past. Repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes and fires, it was burned down during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 and closed for much of the Cultural Revolution. In 1971, the soaring, gray-brick Baroque cathedral was quietly reopened for foreign diplomats, and less than a decade later, to Chinese. Home to Beijing’s bishop, the church ministers to a fast-growing congregation, much of it increasingly young, college-educated and hungry for a moral antidote to China’s rampant materialism and corruption.”


Diarmaid MacCulloch in Times Literary Supplement on R.I. Moore’s book, The War on Heresy – Faith and power in medieval Europe.

“It was a dualist view of creation and the cosmos, in which material things were evil, so spiritual purity demanded an effort to transcend the physical. Such a belief ultimately related to the dualist religions of the ancient world: gnostic Christianities, Zoroastrianism, or the syncretistic faith constructed by the great third-century Iranian religious leader Mani, who suffered a horrible death at the hands of the Zoroastrian Sassanian dynasty. Manichaeism flourished for a thousand years in Asia, and the last dualists of Iraq, the Mandaeans, have only just been forced from their homes in Iraq to a chilly but secure refuge in Sweden. It was very plausible, therefore, to propose a migration of dualism westwards, first into various groups in the Byzantine Empire, latterly the Bogomils in the Balkans. It was possible to posit that dualism then went still further west, travelling on the same returning Crusader ships as the apricot. Certainly, Western European contemporaries made the connection with the East: the English word ‘bugger’ is derived from ‘Bulgarian’, and reflects the common canard of mainstream Christians against dissidents that heresy by its unnatural character inevitably leads to deviant sexuality. When such dualists arrived from the East (so the story ran), their evangelization for the cause of purity produced the Cathars. The Catholic Church then put up a fight against Cathar condemnations of the physical, not merely in a selfish desire to preserve the power of the Catholic clerical hierarchy, with its all too physical lands and wealth, but from a more admirable concern to defend basic Christian beliefs: the fleshliness of Jesus Christ, born of a woman, and the divine presence within the bread and wine of the Eucharist, the central act of worship for all Christians.”


Robert Marquand in CSM, "In a France suspicious of religion, evangelicalism’s message strikes a chord".

“This working-class area is one of France’s official ‘urban sensitive zones.’ The Charisma Church, as it is called, abuts the back of a trucking center. But the mood is welcoming. People actually smile. Many worshipers travel an hour or more to get here, and press into dozens of church buses that ramble between local tram and train stations. It is a ‘megachurch’ in a country where faith is officially relegated to the private sphere and unofficially frowned upon. But the church is growing. Sunday services top 6,000 attendees on a regular basis. In fact, French scholars say, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about Europe’s most secular nation. The reasons are manifold: growing minority populations in France from Africa and Asia are less strictly secular and more religious. Evangelicals offer a ‘friendlier’ and less hierarchical model of worship, with more community warmth and room for emotive expression.”


Jonathan Ree in New Humanist on Bruno Latour’s book, On the Modern Cult of Factish Gods.

“In Latour’s sense, however, the original ‘believers in belief’ are not gullible theists but mainstream atheists who consider themselves to be blessed with critical knowledge based on solid facts, while other people, blinded by superstition, cling to beliefs that have no support outside the misty realms of make-believe. But who in this great brawl is really believing naively? Not the religious believers, according to Latour, but the modern atheists, afflicted as they are by the ‘naïve belief … that ignorant people believe naively’. Indeed the much-loved contrast between the so-called ‘facts’ that provide a foundation for enlightened knowledge and the ‘fetishes’ that animate the beliefs of fools is itself a superstition – a delusion which Latour proposes to commemorate with his new hybrid word ‘factish’ (or faitiche in French, where his wordplay works better). A factish, in short, is what happens when our own ‘facts’ turn out to be fetishes, and the ‘fetishes’ of others turn out to be facts. Moving on to the logic of iconoclasm, Latour stumbles on another double-bind. Iconoclasts, as everyone knows, are truth-loving people who wish to banish error from the world by destroying false gods, or rather by destroying the images that, as they see it, are worshipped by others as if they were divine. But who is the image-worshipper at this table? Not the believers, surely, because however much they treasure their icons, they know very well (most of the time at least) that they are human artefacts. If superstition is at work here, it seems to be on the side of the idol-smashers, however modern they may be and proud of their dispassionate rationality; otherwise how could they get excited about destroying something that is after all no more than an image? Icons are thus the idols of the iconoclasts, making a cult of their anti-cultism.”


George Johnson in NYT on Steven Gimbel’s book, Einstein’s Jewish Science – Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion.

“By casting Einstein as a philosophical anarchist, the Nazis missed the heart of his idea. Length contracts and time slows as an object speeds through space. But they have to in order to preserve what is truly absolute: the speed of light. Suppose Martians are watching us. Because light travels at a fixed velocity, what they are seeing from their perspective took place here about four minutes ago. If they could outrun the light beams bringing them the news, they could arrive before an event occurred — prevent the invasion of Poland, the attack on Pearl Harbor or the dropping of the atomic bomb. The theory Einstein discovered ensures that the world isn’t even crazier than it is.”


Emma Symons in Australian Financial Review on Pascal Bruckner’s book, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse.

“When a celebrated French philosopher from the centre left assails the ‘despotic’ politics of environmental fear he should expect a dressing down from his climate change-conscious comrades. But Pascal Bruckner has incited such fury with a diatribe against green prophesiers of imminent planetary ruin, the reaction has surprised even this veteran of the trans-Atlantic culture wars. ‘The planet is sick. Man is guilty of having destroyed it. He must pay,’ is how Bruckner caustically portrays the received wisdom on environmental ‘sin’ and damnation in his latest book Le fanatisme de l’Apocalypse (The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse). ‘Consider . . . the famous carbon footprint that we all leave behind us,’ he writes in his introduction. ‘What is it, after all, if not the gaseous equivalent of original sin, of the stain that we inflict on our Mother Gaia by the simple fact of being present and breathing?’”


Andrew Ferguson in Weekly Standard, "Revenge of the Sociologists".

“For starters, it’s widely known that children of divorce are more likely to show negative results on a number of ‘outcomes’ in later life, such as depression, drug use, alcoholism, and so on. It’s also known that a high percentage of children being brought up by lesbians and gays are simultaneously the children of divorce. Logic suggests that some negative outcomes would show up in a study of those children too, placing them at a disadvantage next to children raised by heterosexuals in intact families. Regnerus went through the literature—that often-cited ‘relatively small but conclusive body of research.’ If a social scientist hopes to produce a statistical finding that applies to the larger population, probability theory requires that he study a relatively large number of people who are chosen at random. Most of the researchers in the literature on same-sex parenting used samples that were too small to produce generalizable results. All but a handful of them drew ‘convenience samples’ from gay activist organizations or by word of mouth. These methods came up with samples of lesbian and gay parents who were whiter, richer, and more likely to be city dwellers than the national population.”


Matthew Hutson in NYT, "Still Puritan After All These Years".

“In one study, they investigated whether the work habits of today’s Americans reflected the so-called Protestant work ethic. Martin Luther and John Calvin argued that work was a calling from God. They also believed in predestination and viewed success as a sign of salvation. This led to belief in success as a path to salvation: hard work and good deeds would bring rewards, in life and after. In the study, American and Canadian college students were asked to solve word puzzles involving anagrams. But first, some were subtly exposed to (or ‘primed’ with) salvation-related words like ‘heaven’ and ‘redeem,’ while others were exposed to neutral words. The researchers found that the Americans — but not the Canadians — solved more anagrams with salvation on the mind. They worked harder. Professor Uhlmann and his colleagues also conducted an experiment to see if Americans shared the prudishness of the Puritans. They found that American students judged promiscuous women more harshly than British students did.”


Barbara King in Times Literary Supplement on Robin Dunbar’s book, The Science of Love and Betrayal.

“The ‘why’ of pair-bonding emerged in our evolutionary history, Dunbar suggests, from a woman’s need to be protected. Our female ancestors were highly vulnerable to male harassment, indeed to outright aggression such as infanticide. Sticking close to a male afforded a female the support she needed. What goes unaddressed in this scenario is why a group of related or allied females couldn’t work just as well for anti-thug protection – as it does among bonobos, one of our two closest living relatives. As for biology and sociality, biology wins hands down. Dunbar is fairly besotted with the superpowers of genes, and of hormones acting on the body and brain, in determining human behaviour. Major histo-compatibility complex (MHC) genes, for example, determine our immune responses and play a major role in mate choice. We tend, Dunbar reports, to prefer people with different MHC genes, with the apparent goal of affording our future offspring an immune boost. In one study of forty-eight couples, women rated their sexual interest in their partner much higher when they shared fewer MHC alleles.”


Dwight Garner in NYT on David Halperin’s book, How to Be Gay.

“‘Gayness,’ Mr. Halperin declares, ‘is not a state or condition. It’s a mode of perception, an attitude, an ethos: in short, it is a practice.’ The great value of traditional gay male culture, he further posits, perhaps even more challengingly, ‘resides in some of its most despised and repudiated features: gay male femininity, diva worship, aestheticism, snobbery, drama, adoration of glamour, caricature of women and obsession with the figure of the mother.’ These declarations run counter to much of the prevailing gay pride ethos, which argues that gay men are, to borrow the title of Andrew Sullivan’s 1995 book, ‘virtually normal.’ Pretty much like straight people, that is, except for what they do with their dangly bits. To this ethos Mr. Halperin, like the figure on the Heisman Trophy, raises his hand in rebuff: ‘For all its undeniable benefits, gay pride is now preventing us from knowing ourselves.’”


Jed Perl in Baffler, "Cash-And-Carry Aesthetics".

“Of course, when the poet Randall Jarrell, half a century ago, published an essay titled ‘The Age of Criticism,’ he was not happy about what he saw, either. His complaint, focused on literary matters, was that there was too much discussion of the arts that fed on other discussions of the arts, and too little emphasis on direct experience and on criticism as a record of that experience. Of the better literary journals of his day, such as Partisan Review, he commented that ‘each of these contains several poems and a piece of fiction – sometimes two pieces; the rest is criticism.’ Jarrell was not against criticism. How could he have been, considering that he was as devoted to his own criticism as to his own poetry? What he wanted to emphasize was an essential distinction between the visceral experience of art and the analytical experience of criticism. And he was opposed to any form of critical writing so absorbed in its own analytical operations that it drew attention away from the immediate experience of art. There is surely still too much self-aggrandizing criticism. But in the art world the sad fact is that hardly anybody is any longer willing to criticize anything.”


Donal Foreman in Filmmaker, "The Shooting Parties".

“Fotopoulos attributes the discipline of his approach to his origins shooting on 16mm. ‘When you shot on film, mistakes were so risky and so expensive, so you conditioned yourself to be very disciplined. Later on, I just extended that approach into video.’ ...He sees a project like this as a kind of ‘laboratory of filmmaking’ that then feeds into his other work. However, it’s the genre-based narrative projects, working with a skeleton crew... that he considers his main focus, and he is always working on these kinds of projects in parallel. Most recently he shot ‘Dignity,’ a $50,000 sci-fi movie, with the Zellner brother at Troublemaker Studios in Austin. While he is wary of people seeing a film like ‘Nautilis’ and thinking, ‘this is either all you can do or all you want to do,’ ultimately he defends the eclectic approach: ‘If I can do these types of films as part of a body of work and do the drawings and do narrative films, I don’t see why not.’”


Nicholas Vroman on Japanese Cinema at PageofMadness.


Archie Patterson’s new posts at Eurock.com, and Rocksbackpages:

Stomu Yamash’ta.

“Stomu Yamash’ta performed his first concert ‘Percussion Concerto’ with the Kyoto Philharmonic Orchestra in 1963 at the age of 16. By age 17 he had transplanted to NYC and entered Julliard. During the 1970’s he became internationally renowned, releasing a series of albums adapting his more adventurous style to the creation of a new fusion of experimental jazz, symphonic and rock music. He released 3 albums entitled Go, featuring a cast of international superstar musicians. In the 80s, he reached a spiritual impasse, returning to Kyoto where he took up Buddhist studies. Yamash’ta returned to music when in the 1990s he discovered the musical powers of Sanukit stones which generate sound over an 8000 Hertz spectrum, creating an 88-tone range. Using these stones, he created an entire line of new instruments and began exploring a new sound concept, ‘sacred music of the stones’.”

Van Der Graf Generator.

• Mikhail Chekalin.


Chosun Ilbo: "A History of Korean Girl Bands 1930s to 2000s".


Better shore up your SST Book Shelf:

Too High to Die, Greg Prato
We Got Power! – We Survived the Pit, ed. by Jordan Schwartz and Dave Markey
Mike Watt – On and Off Bass, Mike Watt
Life Against Dementia – Essays, Reviews, Interviews 1975-2011, Joe Carducci
C’est la Guerre, Byron Coley
Husker Du – The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock, Andrew Earles
See a Little Light – The Trail of Rage and Melody, Bob Mould and Michael Azerrad
Spray Paint the Walls – The Story of Black Flag, Stevie Chick
Babylon’s Burning – From Punk to Grunge, Clinton Heylin
Blight at the End of the Funnel, Edward Colver
Enter Naomi – SST, L.A. and All That…, Joe Carducci
The Minutemen – “Double Nickels on the Dime”, Michael Fournier
Rip It Up and Start Again – Postpunk 1978-1984, Simon Reynolds
Spiels of a Minuteman, Mike Watt, T. Moore, R. Meltzer, J. Carducci
Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azerrad
American Hardcore – A Tribal History, Steven Blush
Turned On – A Biography of Henry Rollins, James Parker
Fuck You Heroes, Glen Friedman
Fuck You Too, Glen Friedman
Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-1998
Fucked Up + Photocopied, Bryan Turcotte and Christopher Miller
Get In the Van – On the Road with Black Flag, Henry Rollins
We Got the Neutron Bomb – The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, Brendan Mullen
Make the Music Go Bang!, Don Snowden and Gary Leonard
Rock and the Pop Narcotic – Testament for the Electric Church, Joe Carducci
Hardcore California, Peter Belsito and Bob Davis

• Coming:

SST Records – The Blasting Concept, Abe Gibson
A Wailing of a Town – The Ignored History of Early San Pedro Punk 1978-1985, Craig Ibarra
Keith Morris untitled
Spot untitled photography book
Spot untitled memoir

• Films:

Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart
Such Hawks, Such Hounds
American Hardcore
We Jam Econo
Love Dolls
Slog Movie
The Decline of Western Civilization

It’s interesting to see Abe tick through the names of his interviewees. He posts a thank you at his book’s facebook page. He’s doing the work for some kind of SST history:

The Blasting Concept.


Craig Hubert at LAreviewofbooks.org on the book, Mike Watt – On and Off Bass.

“Watt’s range of subject matter is limited, but he has a keen eye for capturing unexpected disruptions within seemingly normal, even mundane situations. Many of the photographs combine the serenity of water, typically framed with the expansive sky hanging overhead, with some sort of intrusion of commerce. I don’t read any kind of explicit political commentary within these images, but Watt seems to be drawn to the commingling of the ships, colorful but faded, with the deep blues of the water and sky — a harmony between work and the natural elements that seems intrinsic to the fabric of his hometown. The critique, if there is one, emerges naturally, as part of the landscape.. Animals, especially birds, are present in many images, hovering freely on the edges of the frame. Others capture organic disruptions — heavy waves crashing down on the pier, or the heavy sky, the color of burnt embers, dramatically dominating the frame.”


David Chandler & The Valmonts – “Nervous Breakdown”.


We Got Power book launch.


Tony Rettman at Vice.com, "We Talked to the Authors of Wired Up! ".

“To me, a band like Jook can be considered pre-punk but their timing was sorta off. If they stuck it out for a year or so, I think they could have been sort of like The Jam on the punk scene. What are your thoughts?

JT: This is all speculative on my part, I'm 33 years old, obviously I wasn't there or anything but the Jook is a perfect example because they were guys from John's Children who went on to form Jook, which turned into Jet and when punk hit turned into Radio Stars. From what I can tell, it seemed like these guys were just trying to make hit records and trying to keep up with the times.”


Corey Kilgannon in NYT, "Face of Marlboro Prefers to Be Alone".

“‘Once, when Ty Cobb was being honored at Yankee Stadium, he introduced Jim as the world’s greatest athlete,’ Mr. Thourlby said. ‘You could hear the roar 10 states away. Meanwhile, Jim was sleeping on a couch and wearing his only suit every day. And you know something? It didn’t bother him a bit. He was a stoic Indian.’ Their story is all there in a pile of double-spaced pages next to his bed. The manuscript is good reading — ‘Dad’ kicking a football over a Midtown building for $100; ‘Dad’ knocking out three men who attacked Mr. Thourlby — and Mr. Thourlby has been sitting on it for years. After Thorpe’s death in 1953, Mr. Thourlby’s agent sent him on a casting call for Marlboro cigarettes. He posed bare-chested with a cowboy hat for a shoot that lasted several hours and was paid a one-time fee of $300, Mr. Thourlby said.

He then got a role with Mansfield and Walter Matthau in the Broadway play ‘Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?’ ‘One day I’m walking out of rehearsals and I see a truck go by with my face on it — I couldn’t believe it,’ he said.”


Michael Miner in Chicago Reader, "The Marlboro Man as Lost Male Role Model".

“What happened in 1971? The Federal Communications Commission banned cigarette advertising from TV and radio. And what happened in 1999? The Marlboro Man disappeared altogether from American advertising. You may despise cigarettes, but give the manufacturers their due: they knew how to make boys want to be men. No symbol of manhood was more compelling than the Marlboro Man, and he resembled in no way whatsoever the perpetual adolescents who plague us now: the Seth Rogans bumbling through our movies and their idiot dude cousins who party hearty during commercial breaks on behalf of America's leading breweries. The breweries pitch the joys of unending childhood to young men who can't escape it; the cigarette companies hooked children by telling them it was time to grow up.”


Thanks to Steve Beeho, Jay Babcock, Jordan Schwartz, Mike Carducci, Futureofcapitalism.com, ALDaily.com.

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• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne (1942 - 2010), Michael J. Safran
• Copyright retained by the writer, artist, or photographer