Noosphere Blues

[ Wednesday, June 02, 2004 ]

Sorry to hear William Manchester died. He was one of the greatest “Pop” that is non-academic biographer/historians of the past many decades. The N.Y. Times obit neglected what I still think is his best book, The Glory and the Dream, though the Washington Post didn’t. That book to me, by minimizing his hero-worshipping proclivities, is his quintessential one. And, one hopes, an inspiration for an as yet unwritten multi-dimensional poly-tonal narrative social history of America since 1972-73 when that book ends.

Phil [11:33 AM]

[ Friday, May 28, 2004 ]

It ain't often I feel a need to read every word of a print magazine and make that practically never with a webzine. But neo-files, like mondo 2000 many years ago, is now in that category. #7 here, maybe the best yet, has Clay Shirky, who I know is brilliant but whom i often find kinda convoluted in his own writing/speeches. In the interview he's not only gnomic as ever but concisely crystalline. And Zack Lynch whets my appetite for his forthcoming NeuroAge and for Nootropics as well.
Phil [12:32 PM]

[ Wednesday, May 05, 2004 ]

I'm surprised I'm not surprised that one of the most incisive analyses of the true magnitude and implications of the Iraq debacle comes from the paleo-con corner. Wish the so-called electoral opposition to Cheney-Bush could be as sharp.

I'm surprised The Nation, usually all predictable, suprises, coming up with a fiesty F*CKED By The FCC cover story.

Great new (to me anyway) phrase- Banana Republicans.
Phil [6:39 AM]

[ Monday, April 12, 2004 ]

Been listening closely to Air America, and happy to admit for the most part its exceeding my expectations.

My basic worries were:

1) That it would adopt the stuffed shirt tone of NPR at its worst.

So far I haven’t heard much of that. The Al Franken show (O’Franken Factor) with Katheriner Lanpher, formerly of Minnesota Public radio, has the most NPR-like feel in that it doesn’t veer too far from the centrist mainstream of the Democratic party and its humor/commentary is pretty dry and wry rather than edgy and biting. But I think Franken’s comic voice is coming across well on radio. I also like the Grateful Dead bumpers.

Nothing else I’ve heard has much of an echo of NPR. The tone and texture of each are very different.

Morning Sedition is trying hard to combine a harder-edged political satire with fast paced morning drive newsyness, but I think needs a while longer to hit its stride.

Randi Rhodes show in afternoon drive is hardcore, unapolegetically demotic talk radio, paced at high-speed, combining Rhodes’ sharp, clever, funny, unsettling monologues cut-in with lots of phone-calls.

Janeane Garafalo and Sam Seder’s Majority Report is genuinely funky free-form. Though the hosts are in their 30s it sounds like more like college radio. The opposite of tight and formatted. Though Garafolo’s a show biz celebrity the show’s not personality driven. In fact it seems to be guest driven and audience driven, audiences suggesting topics and guests, which are pursued open-endedly, some might say (and have) meanderingly. Often hard to tell where the radio show ends and the blog beginsvice versa. But the off the cuff amateurishness works. Also wonderfully plugged in to the liberal-left politico blogosphere via Atrios, Liberal Oasis etc.

2) Narrow Political Range

Though the styles are different the message of shows so far are pretty narrowly gauged. Everything from the center-leftward is unified around Anti-Bush. Something I’m all on with but that won’t be the basis for a really viable longer-term alternative radio. The good news is that most of the programs seem to leave room for eclecticism and heterodoxy and will hopefully soon enough overflow the bounds of democratic party politics as usual, expressing more populist, libertarian and underground currents against the democratic establishment on things like, e.g. the drug war. Unfiltered with Chuck D, Liz winstead and Rachel Maddow is particularly promising in this regard.

All in all I like the sound and spirit of what I’m hearing, remembering that this is commercial radio we’re talking about, where I’ve gotten used to expecting nothing much but the worst over the past 20 years.
I’m not sure how commercially sound this all is but it’s filling a big audio vacuum in the political-cultural space between NPR and Pacifica, both of which in different ways have been stuck in a rut for quite awhile.

Phil [12:44 PM]

[ Thursday, April 01, 2004 ]

More good (and unfashionable) reporting from Mr. Perlstein. A somberly realistic at how and why- outsourcing, the "proletariatization" of bigger and bigger chunks of white collar workers, and reality of jobless pseudo-recovery notwithsdtanding- mass popular opposition to neoliberal orthodoxy remains timid, scattered, dispirited and intellectually muted.
Phil [11:35 AM]

[ Friday, March 12, 2004 ]

If there are Kerry strategists half as media-savvy as J.Carville was for Clinton in 92 (something I'm not at all sure about) they are hopefully all over the weird but hopeful morphing of Howard Stern into anti-Bush rabble rouser that's been going on the past few weeks. Characteristically narcissistic, but expanding from his own heavy-handed treatment by the FCC to a panoply of issues involving authoritarian right-wing onslaughts on social policy from gay mariage to stem-cell research. I've never been a Stern fan at all but what's going on right now is quite surprising. A not invalid species of Left-libertarianism in the vernacular. Can it be a heretofore unexpected mookie vote brings Bush down in Ohio, and Pa. especially.
Phil [1:56 PM]

[ Wednesday, February 18, 2004 ]

Geeks and the dream of post-broadcast electoral insurgency after the Dean implosion. Micah Sifry lays out the questions nicely.
Phil [11:32 AM]

More rumblings of a novel, still somewhat inchoate but perhaps historic political constellation that may be moving from fancy to reality- constitutionalist conservatives and liberals against creeping nanny and police statism.
Phil [11:23 AM]

[ Friday, February 06, 2004 ]

For decades democrats have been searching for their own Kevin Phillips to lay out a positive macro-geographic demographic vision. Maybe they've now found one...Kevin Phillips.
Phil [1:07 PM]

[ Sunday, February 01, 2004 ]

Insightful somewhat somber re-assessment of the Dean near-revolution against old media (TV broadcast) politics-and the (inevitable?) counter-revolution, at Barlow Friendz.

Overall, I think the issue on the Dean campaign has been framed too much as an either/or. Either the campaign is a total success, permanently transfigures politics as usual or it’s an utter failure dooming the internet/distributed intelligence style as a flash in the pan hype.

My guess is history will show the campaign had two basic flaws. First, for all its innovativeness, it wasn’t truly media-literate, meaning knowing how to effectively craft its message in multiple media Second it never really adequately visualized a 2nd act for itself beyond brilliantly creating buzz around its insurgency meme.

What it has done, and this is something that still may alter the political landscape is make participatory peer to peer organized grass-roots networks/movements a force in electoral politics.

There’s testimony Democratic insider-centrists are taking this to heart- Robert Reich, for example.

Of course how/ whether horizontal networks (essentially organisms) can or should effectively co-exist with a disciplined coherent campaign (for which the machine metaphor still is more apt) remains an open question. One Julian Sanchez nicely delineates-

Phil [8:59 AM]

[ Friday, January 30, 2004 ]

David Corn rightly rips Howard D for retreating (futilely) into the cocoon of the old politics.

I've long thought that the interesting thing (as well as real irony) of the Dean campaign was that a candidate so essentially conventional intellectually could engender such radical political innovation. He always struck me more as the Bill Haley rather than Elvis or Chuck Berry of the new political rock n roll. A revolutionary despite himself. Simon Rosenberg at New Democratic Network, a "centrist" new democrat group suggests promisingly that Dean's (and quite as crucially Trippi's) innovations will long outlast the campaign.
Phil [6:24 AM]

[ Thursday, January 22, 2004 ]

At Matt Bargainer revamps Allen Ginsberg's America fifty years later.
Phil [10:56 AM]

Good to see, contrary to rumors, that not all satirists have gone Dennis Miller. And that an earnestly liberal pub like the American Prospect has the wit about it to publish one. One of the best Tony Hendra -he of Spinal Tap, The National Lampoon and much else- who recants before the millenial right-wing inquisition.
Phil [6:35 AM]

[ Wednesday, January 21, 2004 ]

I know the whole idea of labor unions is obsolete-so 1930s, industrial and new deal. You know, now that we've entered a high-tech free market Friedmanite utopia and there's no more exploitation, structural inequality, poverty, eroded living standards, and oligarchy. But fortunately some people haven't been ideologically re-educated yet . Like the SEIU. , which now has a good blog.
Phil [7:04 AM]

Atrios rightly has two worries about Progress media, the best hope in some time for a lib-left alternative in commerical talk radio. One that it's going to front load their line-up with nationally known marquee names who've made their bones in other media be it print or comedy and don't know the radio medium from the ground up the way the right-wing mega-blowhard who defined the format did (by the way here's a clip of Blowhard as a pretty good early 70s jock in Pittsburg). Second is that straining for gentility, it will become basically another NPR, rather than a populist network. Radio junkie that I've been since first tuning into top 40 WABC circa late 60s, I'm looking for as many grass-roots net bred radio as I can, and hope to start linking to a bunch.
Phil [6:37 AM]

[ Monday, January 19, 2004 ]

With a willful (I'd have to say willful-he's too smart to be that ignorant) caricatured distortion of John Dewey's philsophy of education and swipe at the now undeservedly obscure Paul Goodman post-Deweyan ideas, City Journal's Michael Knox Beran tries to kidnap the spirit/work and legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson (patron saint of radical liberalism and "The Party of Hope" as he called it) for reactionary conservarism. Ballsy, i'll give him that. (thanks to Arts and Letters)
Phil [11:38 AM]

[ Friday, January 16, 2004 ]

Very well-done taxonomy-with double axis chart no less-of the evolving repertoire and current state of the art of net-based activist tools and methods. (thanks to Many to Many)

Phil [9:48 AM]

[ Wednesday, January 14, 2004 ]

Good news. One of America's great (dissident-idealist) communicators morphs his famed Friendz list into an exciting party of a participatory blog.
Phil [6:18 AM]

[ Wednesday, January 07, 2004 ]

It's been a long time since I've read anything much in Spin. But this piece is important, giving a good early inkling about how all the repressive legislation passed by security-mongers REALLY IS being used to chill free speech. (thanks to cursor)

Of course serious investigative muck-raking about the impact of the erosion of the standard of probable cause remains beyond the pale of most respectable journalism. But thank god one old-timer still got his cantankerous edge on.

And good to see one of the most powerful jeremiads yet against the caging of peaceful protest coming from the paleo-right.
Phil [7:55 AM]

[ Monday, January 05, 2004 ]

“Pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will” (quote from one old-school radical) is probably the best way to tread into 2004. A year that portends just to start on a down note a Rove-fest Wizard of Ozzian campaign spectacle of deadening reaction (a referendum on Saddam, sodomy, secularism and evil godless socialized medicine). But enough of that-for now.

Utopian speculations obviously shouldn’t be taken literally. But there are worse ways of kick-starting a more progressive intellectual-political climate.

From England home of the industrial revolution, romantic poets, Luddism, evolutionary biological theory, and notable macro-historical narratives from H.G. Wells to William Morris-among others- a nano-tarian manifesto. And a much-needed call to replace the work ethic with the Play Ethic.

Phil [12:26 PM]

[ Friday, December 26, 2003 ]

Neofiles 2 and now rapidly 3 prove R.U. Sirius's latest underground venue has staying power. A good year-end antidote to cultural gloominess, adding a little 4D technicolor to the drab official retro-present.
Phil [11:43 AM]

[ Wednesday, December 24, 2003 ]

One of the best takes yet on the Dean disruption of politics as usual, rightly taking his innovations seriously as a historical harbinger (if not quite giving adequate due to their roots in pre-internet politics from Goldwater 64 to McGovern 72 to Jimmy Carter 76 and even Jerry 1-800 Brown 92). Notable as the first informed prediction in a mainstream op-ed of a third-party presidential winner in the next two decades. One of the handful of op-ed page pieces I've read in the past year that actually seem made to stimulate new thinking rather than re-hash predictable postures. (Thanks to Arts and Letters)
Phil [12:59 PM]

[ Saturday, December 20, 2003 ]

A chance, perhaps, to prevent Ralph Nader from becoming a compulsive Stassen-ist in general, and a perversely reactionary spoiler in 2004,(as well as maybe creating a fighting chance to retire Bush)- courtesy of Rick Perlstein.

Narcissism isn't necessarily a literary virtue, but Michael Wolff usually makes it work. As here where based on his media exposures recently he ruminates that the real split in political journalism is less ideological( between conservative and liberal) than tonal (redskins and palefaces)- between the official mandarin pseudo-objectivity epitomized by PBS and the edgy passionate vulgate of the Fox right and the Michael Moore left.

A position Guy Reel (A Cahiers Du Cinema name if ever there was one) pursues more academically .
Phil [8:17 AM]

[ Monday, December 15, 2003 ]

Newly married Jesse Walker explores/and appreciates two subjects in Reason-Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Barr. That's eclecticism.
Phil [1:13 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 10, 2003 ]


Phil [12:51 PM]

Maybe he's no Dan Jenkins (my favorite sports writer), but I like Bill Kristol, sports pundit.
Phil [12:49 PM]

[ Thursday, December 04, 2003 ]

Conventional wisdom (a half-truth relentlessly reiterated) is that Republicans stand for the common people of the heartland and real american neighborhoods against the bi-coastal urban cosmopolitan "elites" (and their handful of satellite college towns scattered about middle america). The history of how that strange perversion of populism came to prominence is the stuff of a still mostly unwritten tragi-ironic historical epic. but there can be no doubt plutocratic populism is one of the most concertedly ingenious PR efforts in history.

Rick Perlstein peers at the more complex realities beneath the veneer of that narrative, in the process doing some of the best reporting of its kind the Village Voice (or pretty much anybody else) has printed since the articles the late Paul Cowan did in the 70s (collected in Tribes of America, long of print). Its good stuff, not entirely out of place in comparison with Edmund Wilson's American Earthquake reporting of the early 30s.

Phil [2:06 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 03, 2003 ]

Most journals of political opinion, whatever their ideological stripe, have one big thing in common-once you get a hang for their editorial-political code (which can take between 1 and 3 issues in most cases) they prove if not 100% far too close to 100% predictable. both in terms of subjects they'll cover (or more tellingly won't) and their stances toward them. Doug Puchowski in his introduction (unfortunately not online) to Richard Kostelanetz's Political Essays conveyed this unforgettably, noting how in one libertarian journal he subscribed to the name AYN RAND emblazoned on the cover came to serve a function not unlike that of the word SEX on teen magazines). Change the publication and you might substitute another icon.

Happily there are a few nice exceptions to that general rule. This week, for instance.some editorial curve balls worth a mention-

Who'd a thought the uber-wonkish Washington Monthly would look at how subway station musicians may be the true innovators of new business models and intellectual property regimes for 21st century music. Excellent piece by Nicholas Thompson. Or that that same publication would through the aegis of Jefferson Morley, have something fresh, interesting and potentially even useful to say about the JFK assasination on its 40th anniversary.

The American Conservative shows it's possible-post-1980- for an old-fashioned non-neo'd conservative to argue cogently against Schumpeter's creative destruction and get published.
Phil [12:29 PM]

[ Wednesday, November 26, 2003 ]

Recalling the early days of the New York York Review of Books Jason Epstein once said something like (to paraphrase) "During the NY newspaper strike of 1962/63 we realized how little we were missing without the NY Times Book Review." The blog explosion has made me pretty much feel that way about the NY Times op-ed pages. Nonetheless Maureen Dowd can turn out unforgettable one line quips. Like the pithily anthemic "We have nothing to fear but fear-mongering itself." What better way to start-off the glorious campaign of 2004.

I can't even remember what made me realize how little i've been missing in the New York Review of Books of late, meaning maybe two decades. But Thomas Powers investigative historical narrative of the combination of idiocy and shameless dupicity behind the neo-colonization of Iraq is worth not missing.

Bill Clinton- nothing if not a mean inside baseball political gamesman/strategist- crunches his numbers (in a candidly wonky interview with Michael Tomasky) and figures Democrats have a 45% hard-core national base among the active electorate going into 2004, 5% higher than in the 70s and 80s and about exactly even with the Republican presidential base. Though this isn't the Daily Kos (where I'll often go for a political junky fix in 04 I'm sure) I think he's about right. Meaning Republican fantasies of 72 and 84 landslides redux are highly unlikely even with the most lavishly funded smoke and mirrors show Rove can cook up.

Nonetheless Doug Ireland's analysis is a useful reality-check when one's hopes of not having to deal with a second-term Bush get too high.
Phil [11:46 AM]

[ Tuesday, November 18, 2003 ]

Writing in The Manhattan Institute funded City Journal Brian Anderson surveys what he sees as the triumphant rise of conservative counter-media, declaring that the populist right is winning the culture war over the “left’s near monopoly over the institutions of opinion.”

I object to his premises. What he and the armies of the right call the “elite liberal media establishment” is really more accurately described as an elite centrist establishment (whose “ideologies” are more professionalism, academic credentialism and careerism than “liberalism”, much less any kind of leftism). An (always overrated) establishment whose (probably always overestimated) power I’m happy to see eroded. I even agree the profusion of rightist outlets he celebrates are, simplistic and wrong-headed though they may be- a kind of fresh air. Of course what he doesn’t say is how much this vaunted populist insurgency has been shaped and engineered from above by very well-funded ideological impresarios and think-tanks like, say, The Manhattan Institute.

Acknowledging Anderson’s points will conservative polemicists now finally shut-up and stop whining about their victimhood.

Not content with political counter-revolution Anderson also tries to make the case for hip “South Park” republicanism as a new counter-culture evidenced by the rise of new comedy dedicated to searing boomer sanctimony in the forms of new age therapy, eco-fundamentalism, sexual-political correctness, identity politics etc..

Unfortunately for his analysis there’s not much he cites that National Lampoon wasn’t doing in 1973. The hippie-bashing he mistakes as a new wave is pretty old hat stuff after all, a knee-jerk cynical ethos/sensibility that’s becoming as stultifying as any pseudo-radical chic ever was. Archie Bunker (The Falstaff of the Silent Majority, a liberal-lefty derived character who transcended his creators and their ostensible politics), was a fresh antio-liberal pov, as was the Bunker-ite Punk Magazine circa 1977. What Anderson talks about is semi-successful, not very interesting formula. Not that I care, (not being a conservative, neo or otherwise) but I doubt anti-liberalism is really the basis for a sustainable conservatism .

Ron Jacobs remembers the semi-forgotten 1970 film Joe as a prophetic portent.

More allusive than a Dennis Miller Rant (and way more astute than Miller’s been lately since he got reborn as Dubya’s court jester). This has to be an op-ed record for the most pop cultural allusions and analogies in a single page.

Phil [1:31 PM]

[ Monday, November 03, 2003 ]

My favorite new phrase of the 04 campaign pre-heats-from Ron Brownstein. (thanks to Donkey Rising) Also like( and as a confirmed beer man) am looking forward to RB's characterization of the democratic race as a battle of beer track vs. wine track.
Phil [1:13 PM]

I've long been ambivalent about Paglia, liking the polemical style alot but often as not bristling at her smugness in passing off pretty commonplace critiques of easy targets of the academic-bureaucratic left as audacious and oh-so risky. But gotta say this Salon interview 9thanks to Rainondo for the link)shows her in top form, riffing perceptively and trenchantly on Bush, Iraq, Rumsfeld, Democratic pols especially Dean and Clark, Rush, Madonna and Sean Hannitty. She misses the point on blogs though seeing them as an (inferior upstart) new genre of essay or opinion writing (whihc they are secondarily I think) rather than as a radical new social/intellectual experiment in reading and intellectual distribution.
Phil [1:11 PM]

[ Thursday, October 30, 2003 ]

While it's obviously not the last word on the almost non-reported story of civilian casualties in Iraq, this is well worth study. And filing away as a reality-check the next time high-tech surgical precision is touted in support of an elective invasion.
Phil [12:25 PM]

[ Tuesday, October 28, 2003 ]

A 60s era memoir I'm looking forward to.
Phil [3:22 PM]

[ Wednesday, October 22, 2003 ]

For those of us who've missed the free-ranging intellectual insouciance of the original Mondo 2000 (or those who never got a chance to catch it way back then in ancient pre-wired 1989), there's R.U. Sirius' newest deal, Neofiles... an anti-dote to neo-con, and perhaps the flagship pub of Mondo 2100, ribo-funk and nano-punk.
Phil [7:35 AM]

[ Monday, October 20, 2003 ]

From David Weinberger, word that Chris Locke (aka RageBoy, aka one of the great originals of 1st generation webdom- is broke and needs some help. The prospect of RageBoy without his laptop, and blogastan without Rageboy, is culturally unacceptable.

Lenni Brenner has, so it appears from his ongoing series of reminiscences in CounterPunch, led a fascinating life, meeting usually in memorably eccentric circumstances, many of the most remarkable radical mavericks of the late 20th century. ( From Charles Mingus at acidhaven Millbrook to Huey Newton). And, what’s much more, writing mighty well and irreverently about them.

Phil [8:14 AM]

[ Thursday, October 16, 2003 ]

Free trade for thee, protectionism for me. Toni Solo explores the hypocrisy of neo-liberal "globalists", in this case proprietary software firms attempting to thwart global competition from open source software.
Phil [11:33 AM]

[ Monday, October 13, 2003 ]

Just because something's been relentlessly (and superficially) hyped, doesn't mean it's not really of major importance. As witness a couple of informed perspectives on peer to peer and how and why we've only barely scraped the surface of its (mostly positive) ramifications, technologically, culturally and economically.
Phil [11:09 AM]

[ Friday, October 10, 2003 ]

Never was a huge Trotsky fan, having spent too much time in college dodging not the draft, but recruitment by neo-trot sects. Even so, of late I've almost gotten to feeling sorry for the guy's memory. It's gotta be a karmic kick in the ass (perhaps, if you're inclined to believe in some sort of cosmic justice, payback for the Kronstadt massacre) to have been rescued from semi-cult obscurity only to become at millenia's turn- one of the guiding ghosts of neo-condom.
Phil [9:57 AM]

[ Thursday, October 02, 2003 ]

Why Johnny Cash’s Live from San Quentin is the greatest punk recording of all time.

Julian Sanchez excoriates The NY Sunday Times recent cliché-fest in the guise of a Man Bites Dog revelation about the rise of (yet another, as The NYT Sunday Mag seems to retread this lame meme about once every five years), insurgent new conservative generation, as well as a few other paens to same. This time they’re termed the “Hipublicans”, edgy rock n roll 20 year old reptile libertarian republicans out to shock the liberal establishment as represented by their 1960s baby boomer-generation professors etc. etc.

Much as Sanchez acknowledges he’d love to see such a genuine article emerge, he rightly rejects the hype. (As he puts its, “ In short it seems as though Millennials, the post Generation X cohort born after 1981, are leaning to the right with a strong libertarian streak. Alas, it’s not true.”

In so doing he does a nice and useful job in providing an encyclopedic early overview on the emerging, nay burgeoning, literature on “Millennials”, as the generation born between 1982 and the millennium has been tagged by authors and marketing consultants Neil Howe and William Strauss. Who, through books like Generations and Millennials Rising, have become the Marx and Engels of a generational model of history, which, though superficial in the manner of most one-dimensional models, I’ve often found fascinating and often quite insightful (as I bet have more than a few other pop culture history nerds).

As described (or perhaps better to say just predicted ) by them (and apparently seconded by Sanchez) the millennial style which the grade schoolers and high schoolers of today are on the verge of bringing to American culture over the next 5 to 10 years will be bound to e’pater baby boomer and Gen X expectations (liberal and conservative alike) of what a youth “zeitgeist” is supposed to be. With, the prediction goes,: libertarian instincts giving way to hyper-comunitarianism, individualism to collectivism, iconoclasm to conformism, the aesthetic exploration of dissonance to harmony, eclectic experimentalism to traditionalism, complexity to simplicity, rhythm to melody, sub-culturalism to nationalism, search for adventure to search for security, entrepreneurialism to big organizations.

One of the best things about history is that its one certainty is that all predictions will likely prove more wrong than not. Still, given that Generations, published in 1991, holds up surprisingly well, both for its sweeping narrative view of U.S. history as the cyclic interplay of four generational types, and for its good hunches about how the 90s would play out, it’s worth taking seriously.

What’s intriguing to me is how early images of the millennials are being shaped through the lens of our (boomer and X-er’s) increasingly misty memories of the World War 2 generation (born circa 1912-1926), now being enshrined via Brokaw as the “Greatest Generation”.

I’d love to see to some re-re visionist histories that show how much wilder, iconcoclastic, and yes, far more interesting the GI generation (that cohort of e.g. the Rat Pack, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, John Cage, Timothy Leary, Murray Rothbard, Lenny Bruce and Norman Mailer) was than their earnestly insipid nostalgia-mongering successors are allowing. Which, of course, is to infuse, a little more paradox into history, as I hope and trust the Millennnials will as well.

Phil [1:07 PM]

[ Friday, September 26, 2003 ]

I'm one left-libertarian type who's an occasional closet fan of The Weekly Standard. Not for its more political stuff, at best entertainingly caustic Machiavellian takes of realpolitick by Caldwell, (if he still writes there?) at (more frequent) worst just stodgily reactionary (and unlike some paleo-pubs uninterestingly so). No, but for some of its excellently quirky back of the book stuff, reviews and personal essays, like Larry Miller's. At the very least you'd have to call him the most literary of America's sit-com actors.
Phil [11:51 AM]

[ Monday, September 22, 2003 ]

As a big fan of his critical biography/history of the Barry Goldwater movement of 1960-1964, it’s good to see Rick Perlstein back in a regular venue and to have a reason to read the Voice regularly again. ( a paper that back in college and just after circa 1979-80-81-82 I sought out as avidly each Wednesday as I had the sports section of the Bergen Record each afternoon back in Bergenfield, NJ when I was 10 or 11) .

One of the pleasures of sitting up trying to calm my infant daughter Nora back to sleep at 3 or 4am is how it prompts the historical imagination of comparative generational experiences. Thinking about analogies showing how her cultural frame of reference might compare to that of a 40-something year old like mine.

The Kennedy Assassination to her will be like World War One to me.
The March on Washington in 1963, like the Seattle General Strike of 1919.
The Beatles like Louis Armstrong’s Hot Sevens
Eminem like Jerry Lee Lewis.
Watergate like the 1929 Stock Market Crash.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall like the end of World War Two.
Elvis like Al Jolson.
Ronald Reagan like FDR.
Bruce Springsteen like Frank Sinatra.
The Original Saturday Night Live Show like The Marx Brothers.
Jack Nicholson like Humphrey Bogart.
Jim Morrison like F.Scott Fitzgerald.
Kurt Cobain like Charlie Parker.
Janis Joplin like Isadora Duncan.
Owsley’s Acid like Absinthe.
Michael Jordan like Joe DiMaggio.

Phil [11:00 AM]

[ Tuesday, September 16, 2003 ]

The (somewhat) downside of the niche (commerical and non) publishing explosion is over-specialization, even (perhaps even more) in the alternative pub scene. So amidst balkanization it's good to see an e-zine so wide-angled and unfashionedly eccentric in its editorial eclecticism as frontwheeldrive.
Phil [3:24 PM]

[ Wednesday, September 03, 2003 ]

Open-Source is obviously too irrestible a meme to leave solely in the hands of software geeks, as Doug Rushkoff's deft adoption of the term for his social-theological speculations in Open-Source Judaism shows. Here's an attempt to more systematically extend and mine the possibilities of GPL. (thanks to Weblogsky)

A typology of philosophical attitudes technology and its relationship to social choice and power. (thanks to Kling)

If the California Recall debacle is good for nothing else (and it isn't), it's inspired one great groovy concept, THE GUNS AND DOPE PARTY, as outlined by its gubernatorial candidate Robert Anton Wilson. R.A.W. for president. (thanks to Jakeneck)
Phil [1:40 PM]

[ Thursday, August 28, 2003 ]

Odd, seeing a usually grizzled skeptic like democratic socialist Robert Kuttner go gaga over Wesley Clark and the prospect of an enlightented paternalistic progressive general as the Democratic Ike.
Phil [2:57 PM]

[ Monday, August 25, 2003 ]

Kathy Boudin's parole has unsurprisingly proven an occasion for the right to get a collective hard-on of self-righteous radical bashing. Energizing right-wing reaction always was something WUO was, unfortunately, expert at. Nonetheless, sifting through the recent effervesence of Weather history (and other histories of the febrile political moments of 1968-1971) including Ron Jacobs' The Way the Wind Blew, the surprise indy film phemom WUO, and the historical novel THe Company You Keep, one can find increasingly useful assimilations (including a good one here from Mark Rudd) of the whole weird experience, and how it might yet serve as a kind of useful anti-template of many of the pitfalls a transformative radical movement would want to avoid. Which won't be a bad thing to have, if, as seems all too likely, the 2000s make the 60s look like a sunday school picnic.
Phil [1:37 PM]

[ Thursday, August 21, 2003 ]

Neat photo-diary by Sue Fiedler (aki Sami) of Ghost of the Robots (Spike's group) world tour, shows the band from within the vortex of its far-flung international community of supporters. Some Favorites- The Cavern in Liverpool, and Pickwick Theatre.
Phil [11:28 AM]

[ Tuesday, August 19, 2003 ]

The well-wrought Rove-ian retro-narrative of American politics as rendered from 2002 through the May Day fighter plane rock video appears to be fragmenting into a more confusing, and more interesting hyper-text, suggests Michael Wolff.
Phil [3:18 PM]

[ Monday, August 11, 2003 ]

Though many think liberal bashing a specialty art-form of right-wing polemicists and agit-propsters, many if not most every good right-wing/or neo-con anti-liberal riff got its start in critiques coming from the left. The “new left” specifically, which aimed its best shots not at the reactionary right (those dinosaurs whom they wrongly assumed were becoming extinct), but at “managerial” or “corporate” liberalism, and its intellectual and political timidity, hypocrisy and cowardice.

As in this vintage, eloquent though relatively tame stuff from Jack Newfield circa 1970 (you can read SDS by Kirk Sale, The Way The Wind Blew, or Years of Hope, Days of Rage to name a few sources to get more of the vitriolic quotes):

“Basically what happened in the 1950s was that some liberals who once called themselves socialists became conservatives, partly out of guilt for having once been Marxists .”

“During the 1950s liberalism lost its will to fight and accepted the basic economic and foreign policy assumptions of the right”.

“Something else happened to liberalism during the 50s was that the Democratic Party began to move away from the working masses and have become snobbish and elitist”.

Substitute the 1980s and 90s for the 1950s. Subtract and add a few nouns and adjectives you might have fun fooling around with. E.g. “Basically what happened in the 1980s and 90s is that some who once called themselves counter-culture radicals became politically moderate, NPR listening bobos, partly out of guilt for having once been acid-heads”), and Danny Goldberg’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit falls squarely in this lineage. Except that his is not the missive of an outsider. Nor an attempt at demolition, but a freak flag waving baby boomer revivalist’s exhortation (from a near inner circle Democratic insider) to resurrect the “McGovernick” spirit of 72’ as winners this time, in something like the same way Ronald Reagan vindicated Goldwaterism a generation later.

For Goldberg the crux of the problem with the “left” (which he often identifies rather too broadly and vaguely with every Democratic more liberal than, say, Joe Lieberman) is not a dearth of ideas. Unlike many Democratic party analysts, he does not believe the party is in need of much theoretical/ideological vacuum cleaning, more policy detail or more mainstream (read middle of the road) packaging. Indeed, when it comes to economic issues (more equalitarian tax policy, expanded government safety net), social issues (pro-civil liberties, pro-choice) and the environment a popular majoritarian base is far more liberal, he argues, with plenty of evidence to back him up, than the Democratic party leadership.

Yet when it comes to electoral politics this inchoate left-populist majority is left with a vacuum. Its natural venue, the Democratic Party remains in the hands of stuffed shirts who, though ostensibly of the “60s” generation, have made official liberalism as ennervated
as National Public Radio. Rather than speak from, for and to their base in the language and symbols of the most vital strands of pop culture, they remain insulated in the language of Beltway wonk-speak and realpolitick as defined by an equally insular class of pundits.

These are good points and no one (at least among the Democratic insider-hood) has made them as well. Yet, no matter how enthusiastically he articulates it, Goldberg’s analysis doesn’t go nearly deeply enough into the ambiguous, often paradoxical relationships between culture and politics.

Specifically Goldberg seems to expect that seamless consistency between social-cultural tastes and political identity is a norm. Just as likely a kind of willed schizophrenia better describes mainstream American politics. When it comes to technology and pop culture innovation, experiment and (when not stymied by entrenched monopolies) are expected and often welcomed by the public. In terms of politics what “wins” (again according to conventional wisdom, but it’s been a self-fulfilling prophecy) is comfort food.

If it’s true as Goldberg suggests (and I believe too) that Americans, however much they dig comfort food, would be receptive to a politics as creative and liberal as their pop culture and technology. In order to do so, however, in the interests of real reform, more than a more pop savvy elite will be require. What’s entailed is a fundamentally different, radically renegotiated relationship between the political base and its supposed leadership.

Phil [11:52 AM]

[ Wednesday, August 06, 2003 ]

Cheers to Jason for getting out issue 2 of New World Disorder, a very unique mix of funny, spacy, paranoid, bizarre, subtle and, yes, at more than a few points, you can pick your own, brilliant.
Phil [3:56 PM]

Stew Albert, one of the last living original organizers of Yippie!, prophesies that next summer's Republican convention in NYC will be the weirdest and most contentious (in the streets that is) since Chicago-1968. I suspect he might be right, though (also knowing something similar is Karl Rove's fondest wet dream) as much with foreboding as enthusiasm. Actually, Albert (a romantic, but no irrationalist) concedes as much too:

"Do they know that there will be enormous demonstrations against the Naked Emperor? Sure they do. They want them. And they want to crush them. The protesters will become substitutes for authentic uncaptured terrible terrorists. And the Republicans will show by their immense and limitless cruelty, that they not only take care of business on Wall Street.

They want us to come. And we must oblige. But in the time we have before the Republican Convention we must develop tactics that will leave them in the dust of their own mediocre confusion. We must resuscitate the great laughing spirit of Yippie."

Intense harsh but shockingly clever and hilarious protest against the Emperor Bush that will make America laugh at him and see him in an unprogrammed state of his actual evil. Attack us then, you humorless Elephants of the GOP. And America will see you and him, in the unforgiving light of harsh truth. New York needs a cosmic joke. So does America. So let's start asking just what trick the Yippies have up their sleeves."
In an only slightly different context Howard Rheingold discusses just such a neo-yippie technology, one I have no doubt Abbie Hoffman would have appreciated
(and rocked with).

Oh yeah, and if you always liked the idea of what Calvin Trillin was trying to do with his political doggerel in The Nation, but thought it never had quite enough bite, I recommend what Albert does with his topical poems more than once a week.

Phil [3:16 PM]

[ Sunday, July 27, 2003 ]

If you appreciate the rare combination of raw edged acerbic cynicism and unapologetic idealism in a writer you'll like (or at least want to read) Phil Freeman. His first book, NY is NOW, was an effort to reconnect contemporary jazz criticism with the radical lineage of free jazz by connecting, aurally and intellectually, with the mostly ignored radical jazz underground scene of the late 90s. An interesting project which (perhaps not so surprisingly) managed to simultaneously piss-off both the neo-classicist and academic "post-modernist" critical establishments alike. An animosity his post-book polemics against both have done little to smooth over. Now he's got a blog that'll keep you awake in a way most essays and novels might not. For many reasons, not least his running sound log, with comments, on music from all recorded eras he's listening to, which serves as an atonal sound-track to his literary life on 21st century Grub St. USA.
Phil [1:40 PM]

[ Wednesday, July 23, 2003 ]

Never stop being awed by how much great esoteric stuff I can find at wood s lot. Stuff i'd have otherwise missed. Like this 5 year old interview with DJ Spooky, the best opening I've seen into the mind of the most literary, intellectual and political of mix-sound artists. Sourced from the nettime discussion list.
Phil [3:12 PM]

[ Tuesday, July 22, 2003 ]

Lots of buzzing lately (at least among the blog-a- gentsia) about Howard Dean and his gig as guest blogger at Larry Lessig’s, and generally adept use of the Internet as a fundraising and organizing platform.

Many like David Weinberger are (appropriately) impressed. They rightly see Dean’s (or more accurately perhaps Joe Trippi, his manager’s) use of blogs and tools like Meetup as pioneering attempts to leverage the unique advantages of the web’s peer to peer architecture, rather than as a pseudo-broadcast medium. Just as importantly they see Dean’s youthful organizers as the first truly web-rooted media activists in mainstream politics.

Inevitably all the good vibe coverage has spawned its own media backlash, with skeptics pointing out the limitations of the Dean model. J.P. Gownder, a Yankee Group analyst writing in the Washington Post Op-ed section, argues that Dean’s campaign, despite the hype about electronic outreach, has failed to connect with poor, black and working-class citizens, remaining a movement of white, middle-class professional geeks, and other “knowledge workers” who already self-identify as liberals or progressives. He winds up warning that the Dean campaign may well wind up as the of politics.

I think his analysis of the limitations of the Dean campaign is pretty accurate, but that those limitations stem fundamentally from Dean’s own limitations as a political leader and campaigner. Dean, after all, for all his moderate liberalism on many issues, is no populist, by style, temperament or inclination. Indeed his style is most reminiscent of such past mandarin mavericks as Eugene McCarthy, or, going even further back, Adlai Stevenson. His is not a style, or a program, made to resonate in any medium with the populist base Gownder talks about.

The problem with the Dean campaign (and one should hasten to add it’s been a brilliant campaign overall, making a contender out of someone who six months ago was given no chance of being one) is precisely that the candidate’s intellectual premises and political message are not nearly so inventively radical as his media vision.

Chris Suellentrop in Slate (cleverly dubbing Dean’s campaign the “Napster of Politics”) worries that by “encouraging so much spontaneous organization” the campaign risks losing “message discipline” by having unofficial groups “hijack” his campaign, “dilute his message” and “create strange arguments” about what Dean really stands for.

The fact is the dangers of such a “dilution” are directly proportional to the extent said company fails to articulate its raison d’etre in a handful (ideally 3 or at most 4) of simple, forceful, unequivocal positions from which dialogs may derive secondarily. Lenin was an authoritarian creep but the early Bolshevik program of Land, Peace and Bread was a political message of utterly compelling clarity, perfect for “viral” transmission among and between disparate groups. As was that of Ronald Reagan- Cut Taxes, Cut Government spending and beat the Russkies.

It’s low-proof campaigns built on overly complicated wonkish (infinitely parseable) minutiae on issues that will be subject to dilution (and corruption) via decentralized networks.

Phil [8:39 AM]

[ Friday, July 18, 2003 ]

Sorry to hear Sander Hick's no longer in the NYC area, which means one less entrepreneurial radical rabble-rouser in a place where (despite the myth of boho NY) there are far too few already. And sorry we never did get together for the beers we talked about a few months back. But NY's loss is appparently the SW's gain.So good luck.
Phil [3:29 PM]

Went last week to the invigoratingly eclectic Super-Nova conference in Washington, D.C. (actually Crystal City, Va.). (haven’t had a chance to write about it yet because I’m operating less on Internet time at the moment than on bringing up a 7 week old infant time)

I haven’t been to too many conferences, new technology/media or otherwise, but I’ve been to enough to know that, (whatever their stated agenda ) usually they congeal around:

1) An elite of stars and their followers, or as Art Kleiner calls it “Core Group”, with the implication not only of insiders/outsiders but of a well-developed pecking order.
2) Privileged disciplines, intellectual styles, discourses, whether derived from e.g. civil liberties law, free-market (or neo-Marxist) economics, social theory, engineering, punk rock or venture capitalism.
3) A fairly well-defined (or at least known and shared) sense of shared ambition and market opportunity. A palpable sense of collective resume-building.

To its credit Super-Nova (whether by design, fortuitously creative accident, or most likely a combination of both) managed to transcend its tech-conference genre.

Though organized (and, yes, centrally so, despite its decentralist philosophical theme ) by a titular, formal leader and chairman, Kevin Werbach, cults of leadership personality and/or bureaucratic coercion have (at least for the moment) not “emerged”. Rather the art of leadership as Werbach has so far practiced it is one of the impresario. It involves drawing-out affinities among those of disparate but complementary interests and enthusiasms, remaining directive enough to set and structure the scene, and receptive enough to the power of indeterminacy to stand out of the way.

Rather than professional association corporate, industry or even entrepreneurial ties, the proceedings and participants were “loosely joined” around around two simple notions:
Social creativity is best nurtured and sustained through “bottom-up” networks rather than top-down hierarchies. New cheap mobile personal technologies make the formation of such networks practical on an unprecedented scale.

There was a “star-system” of sorts, with status conferred by position on the formal panels or speaking gigs on the formal agenda, previous reputation of writings, (pop bloggers like Joi Ito, David Weinberger, mass media imprimatur (JC Herz, James Surowiecki) ) or corporate/government positions held or formerly held (Reed Hundt and upper level managers at Microsoft and Intel ). What was striking to me, though, was how “weak” (in a good way) that star system was. In a future where, as David Weinberger memorably quipped “everyone will be famous to fifteen people” the relationship between elites and followers, star figures and their audience was subject to continual shifting. Thought-leaders and celebrities were in the eyes of the beholder, and who they were depended as much as anything else on who you were and which blogs you liked to read.

This blurring of conventional conference-style boundaries was amplified by the simultaneous co-existence (encouraged, rather than merely tolerated) of multiple channels (group weblogs, wikis, IRC) that alternately supplemented, competed with, and even replaced what was going on on the official agenda of speeches and panels. (By the way nixing most panels altogether, as suggested here, might not be a bad idea) You could say, probably rightly, that this sort of formal-informal contrapuntalism goes on at all conferences. But at SuperNova it seemed (for the first time in my experience) intrinsic to the process. A party at Casablanca’s in Alexandria the night before the conference (an open invite to all including those not able to afford the conference, or have a company pay for them to get in) also served to differentiate the conference from other affairs.

It was good to meet Jeff Gates there (who reminded me that blogs can/should be a forum for learning about other bloggers via personal narrative, as well as getting information, intellectual style, attitude, politics, and perhaps insight. Something i'd like to take him up on, though right now I'm lucky just to have the time/energy to read much and post. And Halley, whose perceptions on blogculture will be written up she says in HBR this Fall- a good reason, if not necessarily the only one, to grab it.

SuperNova was full to over-full of different professional communities (academics, economists, venture capitalists, industry analysts, cyber-lawyers, D.C. policy wonks), but it wasn’t a venue where turf-definers or turf-warriors were readily rewarded (possibly because the precise zoning and value of “real-estate”, and whether and what the “pay-off” will be is still unknown). And because no one could be sure whether indeed showing would in fact enhance one’s resume, which meant (unlike many another conference) no one there really cared about that. Another good sign.

Rather the structure of topics not only encouraged but necessitated boundary-spanning.

Ironically the factors that seem, in conventional conference terms, the biggest deficiencies- the lack of established stars and scenes, the lack of a cohesive industry and market, and codified intellectual discipline, have (for the moment at least) become advantages.

At its best SuperNova showed that much of the flavor of openness rightly celebrated about blog-wiki culture can infuse and inform the offline world as well, to the benefit of both worlds.

Phil [9:11 AM]

[ Friday, July 11, 2003 ]

Just when I was ready (for the millionth time) to write off American tube news (except for jon Stewart) just about completely, CBS shows some guts. And, in Nixonian manner, Rove&Co. move to try to intimidate the mainstream press from follow-ups. Which they'll likely do unless emboldened. The big question now is whether the blog-o-sphere can keep the story from being dropped by big media once the heat is on from the White House.
Phil [2:24 PM]

Students of radio history-recalling the battle waged between ASCAP and BMI in the 30s over broadcast of music for "free" over the airwaves have likely been avidly following (with a sense of deja vu) the contortions of the RIAA hiding as it is behind the letter of IP law to attempt (ultimately futilely) to avoid adapting to the evolution of market competition, culture and technology. Here's some encouraging news. , coupled with this earlier item. And some interesting long view perspective on this human tragi-comedy, in the form of an entertaining book review.
Phil [1:54 PM]

[ Friday, July 04, 2003 ]

Thanks to Clay Shirky ( whose regular e-letter list is regularly rich in astute and provocative observations on the social functions (and dysfunctions) of technology) for turning me on to this MIT Biz school paper by Eric Von Hippel on "Horizontal User Innovation" networks. A little arcane, of course, given its source. But amidst the academic jargon looks like some some pretty original assaying of a radical theory of open-source economics.

Thanks to Eric Hananoki of The Hamster not just for the link but for keeping up an indispensable portal of diverse liberal opinion and bloggery.
Phil [12:21 PM]

[ Wednesday, July 02, 2003 ]

Two books by baby boomer (or slightly older) liberals (both of which I'm hoping to review soon) get dissed and dismissed at Counterpunch by young radicals-one Letters to a Young Activist (by Todd Gitlin) pretty justifiably, the other a more hopeful and helpful one subtitled How the Left Lost Teen Spirit (from Danny Goldberg) less so.
Phil [3:54 PM]

How many neo-conservative political schisms and factions can dance on the head of a pin. Michael Lind and Alan Wald debate at HNN (History News Networks). For hard-core nerds only.
Phil [3:33 PM]

[ Friday, June 27, 2003 ]

Joho (David Weinberger) blogs Wolfram lecture and conference.
Phil [4:02 PM]

Sarah Lee Strickland makes a thoughtful case in her great Corante blog Connections that Wednesday's two IP-related rulings represent a major inflection point in the culture war debates.
Phil [3:38 PM]

[ Tuesday, June 24, 2003 ]

Don Hazen takes's promising notion of a web-inspired grass-roots people's PAC a step further. (thanks to cursor)
Phil [3:22 PM]

[ Friday, June 20, 2003 ]

In search of short essays that ring true in distilling the emerging tone of the decade's techno-cultural zeitgeist, post-dotcom crash-here are two good finds- assaying a post-PC centrifugal era.

A post-punk appreciation of the abidingly vital influence of free jazz. (thanks to wood s lot)

Thurston Moore's favorite free jazz recordings.

Glad to see Trio celebrating rebel comedy, uncensored.
Gladder to hear of a new underground venue in the lineage of Second City or the Hungry i.
Phil [8:50 AM]

[ Sunday, June 15, 2003 ]

A little catching-up after having been away from the Net awhile (picking up our adopted daughter Nora, born May 30).

Interesting to see the tonal change among the intellectually respectable toward the Iraqi adventure (and by implication a slight momentary loosening of the Emperor's New Clothes/ Being There (pick your favorite parable) media stragiht-jacket). A process well-described by Lew Rockwell. Of course any semblance of common sense will probably evaporate quickly with the next war mobilization.

A few timely expressions of a potential insurgency of the dormant respectable center-

Moyers' feisty speech at TakBack America.
Soros and Glickenhaus, ultra-rich anti-Bush mavericks showing enlightened self-interest lives. seeks to bridge the gap between multi-issue activism and political player-hood launching a grass-roots PAC dedicated to make the web-amplified folk-rocking anti-politics as usual it's been so good at catalyzing a force to reckon with in the electoral arena.

In a moment when moderate liberals seem to be finding a voice, radical Mobius One rightly disses would-be self-profilers in liberal courage (like Howard Dean) for bull-shit sophistry on the issue of ending the drug war. (unfortunately can't find the exact link)

Neal rock n roll literary animal Pollack rants on the re-vamped stealth Rave Act.

Reason's Jacob Sullum published an excellent book attacking upper-middle class upper-middle aged baby boomer pusillanimity and hypocracy on drug war and peace, along with a sane, long overdue moderationsist's philosophical defense of catching buzzes.

Some other good stuff-

Is the Bush administration really the Fourth International in Red, White and Blue drag?
DiRogatis updates and revamps his website.
A blogo-zine devoted to electronic textual revolution.
Richard Kostelanetz publishes a particiant-observer's history of the Soho arts district from the 60s to the 90s. A look at real boho before it became bobo.
Phil [8:50 AM]

[ Wednesday, May 28, 2003 ]

Joe Lieberman has always struck me as a sanctimonious bore, and I'm not nearly ready to change my mind on that. But somehow some not entirely soporific, indeed vaguely interesting, and promising, futuristic ideas seem have snuck onto his web site, which otherwise, as David Weinberger writes, "has all the excitment of a Claritin ad." Weinberger, by the way, rates current politico-web sites in his excellent piece on "The Internet Constituency". (thanks to Donna Wentworth)
Phil [3:43 PM]

[ Tuesday, May 27, 2003 ]

For some weird reason I find this account of how Chris Hedges (author of the anti-war war reporter's memoir War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning) got hounded off the stage by right-wing blowhards at Rockford College perversely encouraging. I think it spells the beginning of the end of the (spurious) notion that conservatives are champions of free speech victimized by a supposedly dominant left-liberal political intellectual culture. That kind of whining opportunistic and cynical victimology awaits and well deserves the kind of satirical skewering once accorded "radical chic" way back in a day when there arguably was such a thing.
Phil [3:43 PM]

[ Friday, May 23, 2003 ]

If you want to try to help R.U. Sirius put the finishing touches on his forthcoming epic history of counter-cultures through the millenia(tentatively titled, I believe, From Abraham to Acid-House) head over to Jakeneck.
Phil [11:17 AM]

[ Wednesday, May 21, 2003 ]

Thanks to Mike Gerber, former SNL News update writer, all around fine humor writer and blogger, for rescuing this month or so old Susan Douglas appreciation of the bit of media fresh air that is The Daily Show. Even though the show's now finally getting respect from arbiters of intellectual fashionability like Frank Rich it really still can't be praised enough for its singular intelligence amidst the right-wing inanity of daily cable talk.
Phil [3:19 PM]

[ Monday, May 19, 2003 ]

He was a pretty prickly, kind of obnoxious character personally, at least in my very brief run-ins with him at poetry readings in downtown NY circa early 80s. But a character nonetheless. And an important free jazzy literary underground figure, author of some enjoyable bop surrealistic poetry, and coiner of the phrase/meme "Bird Lives'. So glad to see, just weeks after his death, there's a good tribute site dedicated to Ted Joans.
Phil [3:23 PM]

[ Friday, May 16, 2003 ]

Hail Michael Finley, All-American.
Phil [11:02 AM]

in the process of trashing a lame-ass, watered down white-bread collection (supposedly) devoted to the spirit of Waylon Jennings, Ronnie D. Lankford Jr. celebrates Jennings' music and the ethos of rebel redneck fundamentalism the right way.
Phil [10:30 AM]

By no means whatsoever a supporter of the Bush tax plan (or to the extent that it's a coherent philosophy at all, Bush0nomics), I'm feeling slightly more optimistic about economic recovery. If for no other reason than the appearance of apocalyptic predictions of total depression by neo-Marxists tend to be a key leading indicator the worst is over.

But even in ITT's wrong (as I think and hope) in its economic predictions, it's right-on in providing a regular forum for Kurt Vonnegut (or own era's Mark Twain), especially this piece on Twain himself.
Phil [10:00 AM]

[ Wednesday, May 14, 2003 ]

Enjoying (more for the documentary value than sound quality) a Doors bootleg tape from a concert at Danbury High School on either October 11 or 17, 1967 I bought at the WFMU annual fair a few months back, I came across a better than usual Morrison tribute site.
Phil [3:40 PM]

[ Monday, May 12, 2003 ]

Some all too rare (for U.S. journalism not for him) good sense from John Horgan, one of America's most readable,( he's both thoughtful and provocatively witty) science writers, and in his groovy book The Undiscovered Mind, debunkers of the current fad of neuro-determinism. This piece, which I'm happy to see Slate run is at the very least an antidote to War on Drugs hysteria. (thanks to Jakeneck)
Phil [3:43 PM]

[ Friday, May 09, 2003 ]

Thank goodness Raed is back, from Baghdad. Glad Saddam's out, and ambivalent as hell about his "liberators", but (unlike at least a few thousand innocent Iraqi civilians) alive.
Phil [5:52 AM]

[ Tuesday, May 06, 2003 ]

Thomas Pynchon doesn't write many literary essays.But this one on Orwell (ostensibly an intro to a re-issue of 1984) is not only very good, but well-timed and aimed, taking Orwell out of the clutches of the Sullivan-ites who'd define him as simply a contrarian critic of the authoritarian left. He was that, yes, but not, as Sullivan would have it, in the name of an embryonic neo-conservatism. Rather (as Pynchon tells us pretty well) Orwell's anti-Stalinism was neither bleakly dystopian nor a rationale for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush but looked forward (more in optimism than not) to a radically post-totalitarian future, beyond (statist) socialism and capitalism. (thanks to Altercation)
Phil [2:26 PM]

Thanks to Arnold Kling for linking to a new journal (new to me anyway) called The New Atlantis. If Transhumanists represent extreme techno-topianism, and Wired and Reason techno-libertarian optimism, New Atlantis posits a rationalist techno-skepticism. Quite a bit too conservative for my tastes it does seem nonetheless intellectually serious (more interested in examining ideas than hawking ideology) and well-informed about the philsophical questions and social policy issues opened up by 21 st century science and technology.
Phil [2:16 PM]

[ Monday, May 05, 2003 ]

Most, or at least many, right-wing-ish libertarians who were all over the idiocies of political correctness on the academic left and the dangers it posed to free speech, have been quite silent about the far more pernicious shit going down in the name of patriotic correctness. Luckily John Leo isn't one of them.
Phil [2:09 PM]

[ Thursday, May 01, 2003 ]

Arnold Kling scolds (unfairly, I think) the evangelists of social software for (so far) advancing a solution without a clear view of what the problem it's solving really is, rather than a clear analysis-based response to a problem. I'm not so sure that's true, but his criticism might apply more readily to The Patriot Act and its sequel. Autocratic solutions to a real, but ever more vaguely defined problem, anti-American terrorism, which cannot be analyzed because a true inquiry into its causes is apparently taboo.
Phil [2:36 PM]

Arnold Kling scolds (unfairly, I think) the evangelists of social software for (so far) being a solution advanced without a clear view of what the problem it's solving really is, rather than a clear analysis-based response to a problem. I'm not so sure that's true, but his criticism might apply more readily to The Patriot Act and its sequel. Autocratic solutions to a real, but ever more vaguely defined problem, anti-American terrorism, which cannot be analyzed because a true inquiry into its causes is apparently taboo.
Phil [2:36 PM]

[ Tuesday, April 29, 2003 ]

Another object lesson on how the supposedly liberal punditry have made this the Chauncey Gardner presidency, in which the job of the official intelligentsia is to celebrate a simpleton. Friedman flip-flops on WMD, saying they don't really matter after all. (thanks to Cursor)
Phil [3:50 PM]

The Prince may have had his Machiavelli, and JFK his Neustadt, but this is Karl Rove's campaign 2004 theme song for GW. (thanks to wood s lot)
Phil [2:56 PM]

[ Monday, April 28, 2003 ]

Looking forward to the book Art Kleiner's working on, to be called The Core Group. It's posed as a sociology of how organizations, including but not limited to corporations, unconsciously (or at best half-consciously) formulate their purpose and goals through the tacitly shared visions, desires, relationships and values of an inner core group. Interesting in that it promises to demystify/deconstruct contemporary discussions of the elitism vs. populism dichotomy. It seems to show that no matter how philosophically anti-elitist, all groups are the product of some kind of elite. But also arguing that elitism doesn't necessarily imply a rigid hierarchical order, or a closed exclusive caste or class system, or even a power-monopolizing coterie. Which seems to suggest that the key to sustaining and growing organizations is to expand and include identification with and participation in the "core group".
Phil [2:38 PM]

[ Friday, April 25, 2003 ]

Somewhere between simple good old e-mail and the more complex, official (read corporate-bureaucratic IT) forms of group communications technolgy lies a rich, largely untapped interzone for new, simple, cheap technologies that help more informal, ad-hoc spontaneous creative collaborations gain traction without the need for centralized direction. So at least is the premise of the "social software" movement, an interesting, growing network of developers, theoreticians, dreamers and activists that now has its own group blog. Of course the movement is not without its high-profile skeptical debunkers.
Phil [3:29 PM]

[ Thursday, April 24, 2003 ] has started up an "Elect Peace" PAC (e-mail pasted below) designed to catalyze grass-roots efforts to throw the bums
(you know who they are) out in 2004.

"The war in Iraq is over; the U.S. occupation of Iraq has now begun. In an unnecessary war, victory is never sweet: American soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and Iraqi soldiers lost their lives in a conflict that never should have happened. That's not victory, that's tragedy.

The hawks in the Bush Administration see this as a vindication of their belligerent world view. Never mind that we haven't found any weapons of mass destruction; never mind that Iraqi democracy (or even security) is nowhere in sight. The hotter heads have prevailed: pre-emptive unilateralism is now the official policy of the U.S.. Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle are now thinking even bigger about the "projection of American power." In the chilling words of a senior official close to the Bush administration, "Anyone can go to Baghdad. Real men go to Tehran."

Folks, we just have to stop this madness, and there's really only one way to do that: We need to throw these bums out. The good news is that over the last few months, we've built a base that just may be large enough to succeed. MoveOn's total membership is now over 1.3 million. We've taken out ads, written letters, delivered mountains of petition signatures, and taken action in hundreds of cities. And now we need to turn our attention toward one goal: regime change in the USA, the best way to repudiate Bush's policy of war.

We'll throw out Bush and the Republicans using every means available: by registering a wave of new voters, by organizing to make sure they get to the polls on election day, by raising enough money to compete with the President's mountain of special interest money, and by volunteering for political campaigns. We'll make it easy for you to play a part.

President Bush believes he doesn't have to listen to the American public -- which, even during war, has overwhelmingly been skeptical or strongly resistant to the idea of an American empire. He has decided that his faith in the military takes precedence over his faith in democracy. The election in 2004 is our chance to take our democracy back.

Polls show overwhelmingly that Americans do not trust President Bush to revive the failing economy. They're just as concerned with the Administration's assault on civil rights, civil liberties and the environment. Last week in New Orleans, Presidential Advisor Karl Rove said that this will be a "close, competitive" race. If all of us get involved, it won't just be tight. We'll win.

Let's elect a new President in 2004, and put an end to the politics of unnecessary war."

I agree, though not sure I'm so confident. But pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will, as someone once said.

Phil [2:05 PM]

[ Wednesday, April 23, 2003 ]

A textbook illustration of the stupidity and increasing irrelevance of much of old corporate media, especially of the Hartford, Conn Courant (sic).

Oh, yeah, and ditto for old Commie dicatorships. And theocracies.
Phil [2:57 PM]

[ Tuesday, April 22, 2003 ]

Psychedelic Republican trading cards. (thanks to Jakeneck)
Phil [3:16 PM]

An overdue appreciation of the journalistic inventiveness of one of the truly underrated American publications, TV Guide by Heath Row.
Phil [2:59 PM]