Saturday, March 08, 2008
Whether it’s true or not, it’s said and repeated de rigeur. James Harkin writing in the FT thinks otherwise:
If distinctively European thinkers such as Isaiah Berlin and émigrés from Europe to America such as Hannah Arendt had dominated the battleground of ideas during the age of ideology (defined, by the British historian Eric Hobsbawm, as the years between the first world war and the fall of the Berlin Wall), one of the oddities of this new landscape of ideas is that Americans seem to be much better at generating them. There are still some heavyweights around in Europe with novel things to say - Jürgen Habermas in Germany and Slavoj*Zizek in Slovenia, for example - but they are few and far between.This might seem like an exaggeration until you look at the figures that pop up in the yackity-yack-arati are small in number and recurring, regardless of the size of the population. It’s also not hard to picture Europe’s not so distant past it was characterized by a large, difficult, ungovernable population being made into a passive, insatiable, debilitated large population thorough the horrors inspired by a small intellectual elite.
When France's Jean Baudrillard died in March last year, at the age of 77, it seemed to signify the close of an intellectual era. In any case, Baudrillard was canny enough to know which way the intellectual wind blew. For all his criticism of American culture, he was enchanted by this place he called "the original version of modernity". France, he pointed out, was nothing more than "a copy with subtitles".Which brings us to WHY Baudrillard would have to put it in this way. The double standards are so pervasive and the habits are so deep as to even require an admired public intellectual figure to have to salve a statement with something that indulges the foregone conclusions accepted by the wider public.
However, America's dominance in the new global landscape of ideas is not only a matter of resources. Americans have also become expert packagers of ideas. American writers and thinkers seem to have acquired the knack of explaining complex ideas in accessible ways for popular audiences. The success of idea books such as The Tipping Point and Freakonomics and a rather depressing glut of books about happiness has signified to cultural commissars a thirst for good ideas clearly expressed. It helps that journalism in America is taken more seriously than it is in most other countries; its newspapers and magazines have been happy to whet the public appetite for interesting ideas, clearly articulated.Which is a foregone conclusion, unless the way you see the world and roles people play in it as fixed.
Assaulted by this battery of sometimes flaky new ideas, it would be easy for European thinkers to sit back and sniff. Some of it is mere gimmickry - zappy headline titles that seem to capture the essence of a complicated idea while intriguing the reader enough to read more.Which used to give rise to the tired saw du jour that Americans were obsessed with health and exercise and seemed to know the terminology inside out. The slag then moved on to computing and finance. But perhaps between the best-seller list and the dominant themes of the insults, we have a sort of contrarian way of seeing things as they really are.
Still we have partisans and defeatists climbing over themselves to define what it is we fight against and why it is important to leave before victory is achievedsays SSG David Bellavia, one of the lone ambassadors of America's Warrior Class.
In the name of partisan election cycle politics, television commercials and campaign talking points are now openly designed to sap the will of the American people. This is an effort to take from veterans the honorable and attainable victory our beloved friends gave their lives in exchange. Like the Islamist threat overseas, this dogma will be met head on. We cannot allow the selfish advancement of political agendas to transcend the blood sacrifices made in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Friday, March 07, 2008
"Ingrid m'a demandé ce que je faisais avec les trois Américains, puisque c'étaient les ennemis des FARC"
"El problema fue que los políticos se pusieron celosos porque a mí me gustaba sentarme a hablar mierda con los gringos y me daba la noche con la barriga adolorida de reírme de ellos. Íngrid me llamó y me hizo el reclamo. Me dijo que qué hacía yo con esos gringos, que si acaso ellos no eran los enemigos de nosotros (Farc)." — Martín Sombra aka Helí Mejía, former FARC jailerThrough the Colombian weekly Semana's interview with Ingrid Betancourt's former FARC jailer (now in his own jail cell), writes Marie Delcas in Le Monde, it would seem to transpire that a Frenchwoman's petty jealousy, smug anti-Americanism, snotty moralizing, and starry-eyed support for revolutionaries has hardly been tempered by her six years of imprisonment by said revolutionary group.
Martin Sombra a enseigné des rudiments d'espagnol aux trois Américains capturés en 2003. "Ils m'ont bien eu. Ils me disaient sanavebitch (son of a bitch, "fils de pute") et je croyais que cela voulait dire montagne. Après j'ai su", raconte le guérillero. Il riait tellement avec les "gringos" que les politiques ont fini par être jaloux. "Ingrid m'a demandé ce que je faisais avec eux, puisque c'étaient les ennemis des FARC", dit-il.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Les travaux d'agrandissement et de modernisation en cours dans près d'une demi-douzaine de bases militaires présentement occupées par les forces américaines pourraient leur permettre d'héberger "autour de 100 000 hommes", nous disait récemment, à Bagdad, un haut fonctionnaire irakien familier des négociationswrites Patrice Claude in Le Monde.
En d'autres termes, quelles que soient les ambitions iraniennes dans ce pays, et mis à part les échanges économiques, culturels et religieux qui se multiplient entre les deux peuples, majoritairement chiites, l'Iran islamique n'aura pas le champ complètement libre en Irak avant longtemps.
De fait, la victoire iranienne, qui serait née des erreurs de l'administration Bush dans la région, doit être sérieusement relativisée. Pour un politologue iranien en exil comme Kaveh L. Afrisiabi, auteur de nombreux ouvrages sur la République islamique, tout le trompe-l'oeil de "la prétendue avancée des intérêts iraniens dans la région" est là. "L'Iran est désormais encerclé de bases américaines", écrit-il, et, pour ses dirigeants, "c'est devenu une préoccupation permanente".
Selon cet expert, "malgré la chute des talibans et des baasistes irakiens, l'Iran, depuis le 11 septembre 2001, a perdu du terrain dans sa région d'influence".
Another Story Minimized, Underreported, or (Most Likely) Ignored in the French Media and Blogosphere
Alliot-Marie called for help to identify the shooters so they could be arrested, the British newspaper said.Also in the southern bidonvilles-like bedroom communities of Paris, the jew-hunting continues:
Police said when officers arrived at the complex, officers faced "around 30 people whose faces were masked and several of whom were armed.
Six youths were detained last week for having kidnapped and beaten a 19 year old man of Jewish origin, the court heard Wednesday. This act has aroused the indignation of many organizations opposed to racism and anti-Semitism and the mayor of Bagneux (Hauts-de-Seine), where it occured.Nothing to get worked up about... he was there voluntarily, y'see... being smacked around for only 9 hours by a bunch of twerps showing the only kind of individual justice the public can tolerate (if not idolize): imaginary class warfare against a symbol of their shallow sectarian view of human nature.
The victim had voluntarily followed youths he knew Feb. 22 in an apartment owned by one of them, "says one legal source. Once there, he was accused of stealing a mobile phone and a camcorder, accusations he denied. His attackers then began to beat him, providing him with kicks and punches.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Contrary voices are regulated, barred, banned when possible, mocked and marginalized when not; Progressive voices are encouraged, lionized, amplified
So long as some firms are willing to prostitute themselves to Uncle Sam, every business feels the pressure to become a whore.PS: I typed these notes 10 days ago in preparation for a post of this type and it should in no way be construed as a reaction to the Texas/Ohio vote nor as a suggestion to vote for Hillary or Obama nor as one to refrain from voting altogether.
…This is the hidden story of big business from the railroads of the nineteenth century, to the meatpacking industry under Teddy Roosevelt, to the outrageous cartel of "Big Tobacco" today: supposedly right-wing corporations work hand in glove with progressive politicians and bureaucrats in both parties to exclude small businesses, limit competition, ensure market share and prices, and generally work as government by proxy. Big business rallied behind LBJ, not the objectively free-enterprise Barry Goldwater. Free marketeers often decry Richard Nixon's wage and price controls, but what is usually forgotten is that big business cheered them
…There's no sector of the American economy more suffused with corporatism than agriculture. Indeed, both Democrats and Republicans are decidedly fascistic when it comes to the "family farmer," pretending that their policies are preserving some traditional völkisch lifestyle while in reality they're subsidizing enormous corporations.
But corporatism is only part of the story. Just as corporations were enmeshed in the larger Nazi Gleichschaltung, supposedly right-wing big business is central to the progressive coordination of contemporary society. If big business is so right-wing, why do huge banks fund liberal and left-wing charities, activists, and advocacy groups, then brag about it in commercials and publicity campaigns? How to explain that there's virtually no major issue in the culture wars — from abortion to gay marriage to affirmative action — where big business has played a major role on the American right while there are dozens of examples of corporations supporting the liberal side?
Indeed, the myth of the right-wing corporation allows the media to tighten liberalism's grip on both corporations and the culture. John McCain perfectly symbolizes this catch-22 of modern liberalism. McCain despises the corrupting effect of "big money" in politics, but he is also a major advocate of increased government regulation of business. Apparently he cannot see that the more government regulates business, the more business is going to take an interest in "regulating" government. Instead, he has concluded that he should try to regulate political speech, which is like decrying the size of the garbage dump and deciding the best thing to do is regulate the flies.
These speech regulations in turn give an unfair advantage to some very big businesses — media conglomerates, movie studios, and such — to express their views in ways exempt from government censorship. It's no surprise that some of these outlets tend to celebrate McCain's genius and courage and use their megaphones to expand on the need for him to go even further and for other politicians to follow his lead. Of course, this dynamic is much larger than mere regulation. The New York Times is pro-choice and supports pro-choice candidates — openly on its editorial pages, more subtly in its news pages. Pro-life groups need to pay to get their views across, but such paid advertising is heavily regulated, thanks to McCain, at exactly the moment it might influence people — that is, near Election Day. One can replace abortion with gun control, gay marriage, environmentalism, affirmative action, immigration, and other issues, and the dynamic remains the same.
That is how the liberal Gleichschaltung works; contrary voices are regulated, barred, banned when possible, mocked and marginalized when not. Progressive voices are encouraged, lionized, amplified — in the name of "diversity," or "liberation," or "unity," and, most of all, "progress."
…In the brave new corporatism, we are all "partners" after all. Environmentalism in particular offers a number of eerie parallels to fascist practices, including as an overarching rationale for corporatist policies. According to generic fascism, an atmosphere of crisis must be maintained in order to circumvent conventional rules. Today, while Hollywood and the press relentlessly hype the threat of global warming, big business works assiduously to form alliances and partnerships with government as if the fight against global warming were the moral equivalent of war. Indeed, Al Gore — who makes much of such public-private partnerships — claims that global warming is equivalent to the Holocaust and anybody who denies it is the moral equivalent of a Holocaust denier.
Seen on Canada.com
It's as sad and transparent as the whole sad, torrid, distracting psychodrama of identity politics. Once it's all over, no-one on the left will be able to remember what a political platform is anyway, what with so much avoiding of one thing or another the winning democrat will still be around and "carefully re-engineering their image" in 5 or 9 years.
If it makes them feel any better, if they keep it up, the guy who's already been tortured by the power obsessed collectivists and their sympathists in the domestic press once before will win. That should still fit nicely into the leftist heirachy of symbol-triggered guilt that people have trained themselves into. The saving grace will be less entitlement politics, less concealed contempt for the traditions of the majority, and less suicidal economic nativism.
Somewhere trapped in between the now parochial hatefulness found to be nearly ubiquitous in Arab public life, and the now parochial social position of the over-the-top trannies and bobos of European public life there’s Wendy to shield you from this lunacy, who unlike our two friends is not into ritualistic abuse or dressing entirely in black in summer, and appears to corner the market in common sense.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Why don't you go and give a billionaire another tax cut, then enslave your citizens in debt in order to pay for killing foreign children with weapons that are contributing to the heat death of the planet? I know that's how I'm spending my Sunday.or
"The Israelis and Bush are really disgusting and evil. When I'm big, I will pound them on the head." The words are those of a 4-year old girl in a kindergarten in Nørrebro, Copenhagen.That is to say, the difference between the indoctrination of a comment poster on the Grauniad’s bileous “Comment is Free” site or a 4 year old trained to hate by their parents who only watch any number of the 400 Arabic language channels available in Europe by satellite.
Several institutions describe similar cases, while other kindergartens haven't experienced such things.
A kindergarten teacher tells of a little boy who last week said: "The Danes are really dumb. They hate all the Arabs and will slay us. But then I'll shoot them first."
The children say in several cases that they had heard that on TV. Most Danish families of Arabic background can see over 400 Arab channels via satellite.
- Thx to Georges and Hervé
Monday, March 03, 2008
Globalstar has 50 mhz, and the Iridium low-earth, non-stationary orbiting satellite communications array is in possession of 25,5 mhz of bandwidth which can reach any stationary or moving object in virtually the entire planet without a directional antenna. Designed as system of global satellite telephony systems, they also provide low speed data tx/rx to remote and unconnected areas of the world such as at sea and at great distances away from the nearest fixed lines or cellular tower. They could also be used for much more
At the same time in many parts of the world the precious slice of the L- and S-bands that the Iridium, Inmarsat and Thuraya satellite are competing with regional efforts to implement mobile one-way media delivery systems in a cost effective manner after the fashion of Sirius and XM in North America, and to a similar degree to the Worldspace radio and data delivery system covering Africa, portions of Asia, Europe, and soon in South America.
This excellent and more modest proposal from Australia found a way to answer the question as to who something like Sirius or XM could be provided in Australia, but the same could clearly be done in other regions and the diameter of the drinking straw it’s delivered through could actually provide a good bit more on the global level.
In fact there is a lot of capacity, most of which goes unused over the world’s highly developed or moderately developed and populated land mass. Using what could be done with Iridium’s 25,5 mhz of capacity, a great deal is possible for all 4 of those providers which could reflect light into the areas of the world shaded from the information age, provide travelers and migrants worldwide with access to news, culture, music , and sports wherever they are, and solve a nettlesome frequency allotment problem that developed regions have been struggling with the UN hosted dinosaur-like ITU / IBU to resolve.
* A format in between Standard Definition (640 x 480) and Low Definition (320 x 240), say 480 X 360 pixels x a 25 (in lieu of 30) fps would requires only 47% of the (nominal) 3 mbits/sec capacity of a SD television channel, and could fit inside of 0,8 mhz of the delivery systems conduit using mpeg-4, AVC. Moreover, if the content is delivered at a compressed rate over the whole of the bandwidth allotted to visual content.
Since it’s designed to look for a terrestrial connection first, to a satellite which relays to the public switch, and to a satellite which communicated to another satellite in the array as a last resort, the telephony and wireless IP component can have its’ capacity easily improved by adding more ground stations. This allows for the relief of some of that capacity to construct “regional” XM or Sirius subscriber audio services bundled to serve regional languages and interests, as well as provide a global, multilingual radio and TV delivery mechanism that can be held in the hand, watched and heard in the air, at sea, or middle of the desert or jungle,...
... and not be fully controllable by aggressive governments that opposed the free flow of information,
... and support the profitability of the systems which will allow the satellite array to be completed and enlarged.
And that’s just what’s possible from one of the 4 portable global satellite telephony providers. At lease one of the others could create yet more competition and capacity that that. What’s needed is a range of devices which will take a subscriber SIM or smart card that will use this or any competitor’s delivery mechanism. They could take the form of a PDA that can access all the services except radio and television, shuttling radio only receivers for homes and automobiles, receivers for media distribution in ships and aircraft, a simple medium sized video display for use about a boat or vehicle, or a compact combined device for all the services that might resemble an oversized version of the iPhone or gPhone prototypes, along with all the other asset tracking devices that use GPS and are already in commercial use. In fact the presence of a two-way data system might even permit the customer to use the full service system on a pay-per-use basis.
So there it is, right off of the top of the head and probably in need of a slap to straighten me out. Your opinions please...
A new state broadcaster for the super-state is going to air, and heaven knows where it’s going from there. In a bid to engineer consent by pretending it isn’t propaganda, the new “Euranet” seems to have more of an air of Radio Mockba under Brezhnev.
The station was officially launched in Brussels by Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission and in charge of the EU's communication strategy. The EC felt there was a need for fair and balanced information on EU affairs, she said. One aim of Euranet, in response to a demand felt by the Brussels leadership, is to get closer to the citizens, particularly the young. Ms Wallström stressed that a charter will guarantee the station's editorial independence.How this independence will be shown is still quite unclear to me:
The sixteen broadcasters are targeting a young section of the population: the 20 to 45-year- olds. They are commonly seen as a difficult target group that is perceiving the European Union as a boring and complicated phenomenon.I wonder why this is even necessary? Why isn’t a popular interest in integration allowed to grow in a substantive, meaningful, and natural way without being structured by a body somewhere? Are they that untrusting of a population to go on the past twenty years of advertising?
Speaking of a sell job, my favorite fake blogger and Frau Commissar of the Commissariat Margot Wallström is being employed as a sort of token living smiley for this peacetime propaganda operation. In fact it’s rather hard to tell if she’s been airbrushed for this one or had “a little work done”, but either way, her use here as a poster child really gives away the fact that a century of state operation of cultural management (with banal, implausible, “it’s a small world afterall”-like results) has taught them nothing, as has centuries of wars and violence in Europe which stemmed from the strange and pervasive cult of state power that has been it’s hallmark.
Anyway, her “blogging career” has been so illustrious by the standards of the überstate’s mandate to tell their public faces to “get out and blog” like it’s going to make people love them, that just one measly comment on it yielded this dopey email: a request from a grad student to respond to canned-sounding survey questions about a canned-reading blog.
Hello,And a sample of the sort of questions that come up when considering the grand and glorious Instapundit and Boing-Boing killing nature of the blog:
I am a student in communication at the University of Paris-Est, France, and I'm making a memoir (= a small thesis) about several blogs and their roles in the European communication and debate.
To that purpose, I need your contribution, as a commentator of Margot Wallström's blog. I would really appreciate it if you could spend a few minutes to answer my questions (les francophones peuvent répondre en français bien sûr!).
Your activity on M. Wallström’s blog ?A good question I guess, but that was the title. Remember, graaaad student!
- Which types of comments do you usually make (reaction to a post of M. Wallström, to another comment, offer or request of a complement of information) ?The warning sign here is that if you have to “nation-build” at home and bypass the voting public’s referenda with a treaty passed with perfunctory preceduralism to a disinterested “legislature”, you’re off to a hell of a start.
- What incites you to intervene ?
- When you make a comment, do you expect an answer ?
- Which other information technologies do you use to get information or to debate on European questions ?
- Do you only go to English-speaking websites, or do you also go to websites in other languages ?
- Have you ever established relations with other commentators (email exchanges, instant messaging, “real” meetings…) ?
- How did you come to know this blog ?
- How long have you visited this blog, and how often do you go there ?
- To which factors do you attribute the high participation to this blog ?
- Do you go to other blogs partially or totally dedicated to European questions, and which ones? Do you also make comments on them ?
- Have you created your own blog, and if you have, does it deal, partly or wholly, with European questions ?
Could you tell me more about you ?
- Where do you live, where do you come from, how old are you, what is your gender, which diploma have you got ?
- What is your job, and is it related to European questions ?
Thank you very much !
Sunday, March 02, 2008
One thing I wouldn't do differently is leave Saddam Hussein in poweras he met with Denmark's Prime Minister on the Crawford ranch.
It was the right decision then; it's the right decision today; and it will be viewed as the right decision when history is finally written.As for Anders Fogh Rasmussen, he said:
freedom, democracy and human rights are the core values that unite us. Freedom and dignity of the individual are universal values. It is values that people living under oppression and brutal regimes strive for. We have an obligation to stand by these people in their struggle for liberty and democracy. This is our common challenge. And you, Mr. President, and the United States, have, above anyone else, advanced this vision of liberty and democracy around the world. Allow me to pay tribute to you for this. …
And it is no easy task. There are obstacles and opponents. But I do share your vision: Freedom is universal. And in the struggle between democracy and dictatorship, no one can be neutral. It is as simple as that.
That is why we are in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. That is why we removed a brutal dictator in Iraq. That is why your leadership in the Middle East is crucial. …