Wednesday, March 31, 2010

El Lobby de Google

Es la hora de la práctica española, vaqueros estúpidos--

Google gastos U$S 6 millones en 2009 en lobby frente a agencias del gobierno de EEUU buscando promover: apertura de Internet, privacidad y derechos de autor.

De acuerdo a un informe de CNNMoney, Google está a todas máquina en la capital de EEUU, a cinco años de haber abierto su oficina en Washington. El gigante de la Web está teniendo un papel cada vez más poderoso en los debates de políticas públicas en materias que van desde reformas a las patentes hasta políticas extranjeras.

Según CNNMoney, Google ejerció lobby sobre 13 agencias gubernamentales el año pasado, gastando unos U$S 6 millones en ese esfuerzo. Eso posiciona a la compañía de búsquedas entre las empresas más influyentes en Washington, justo detrás de Microsoft, IBM y Oracle, agrega la nota

Google tiene 30 empleados en Washington, y se asesora con algunos de los más famosos lobbystas en Washington DC como Podesta Group, Dukto Worldwide y McBee Strategic Consulting.

de tus amigos de Contingencias

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hitchens watch

Some in Consumerland don't approve of Hitchens' recent ethics schtick:

""When Christopher Hitchens gets into his Devil's Advocate role, it is only natural for all right-thinking non-contrarians to leap at the chance to play Fedei Defensor. And so for the sake of all our souls, I'll give it quick go. With all the hullabaloo about the Pope covering up child molesting, the fact is that Benny has done far more to protect children from abuse than Hitchens ever has and contributed far less to allowing child abuse to be perpetrated than Hitch ever has.

Benny is against the culture of war that Hitch pimps for and which casually takes the lives, limbs, virginity and childhoods of countless children. Just compare the stances of the two dudes on, say, the Iraqi genocide or the impending attack on Iran.

More's to the point, Benny is genuinely against child sexual abuse under any circumstances. As for Hitch, what evidence is there that he's against it on principle, rather than only when he can use it as an issue to beat the Catholics or the Muslims with? Where does he stand on the Franklin scandal? What's his stance on mob-controlled child prostitution in the US?
..... ......

So, Hitchens is calling for the Pope to be arrested over the latest sex scandal. Fine. I hope it works out for him better than his previous calls for justice to befall Clinton and Kissinger. By the same token, the same principles of justice, one could quite reasonably call for Christopher to have his eyes put out, tongue cut out, ears deafened, arms and legs amputated, and then have the still living trunk dumped into a cesspit. That punishment, shown worldwide on prime time TV, might go some way to restoring a bit of justice on account of the evils Hitchens has enabled vis-a-vis the Iraq War. Not being a fan of barbaric punishment, I couldn't advocate it myself, but I can certainly see the merits of it as a deterrent for others who might want to vent their personal frustrations over errectile disfunction and/or pick up a few extra bucks by warmongering."""

Heh heh. Which is to say, once a pundit has touched the RealPolitik body (as Hitchens most assuredly has--i.e. supporting Bush in 2004), he doesn't then return to a quasi-Kantian do-gooder pose, and the pundit who does attempt that return becomes a bad joke (as Hitchens, sort of a cyber-age Iago quaffing gin and tonics, has become--).

Hitchens, it should be remembered is a journalist, not an academic of any sort. No shit you say--that would include about any and all loudmouths on TV, radio, or online belching out infantile rage, 24/7. For people who don't know the categorical imperative from their crack pipe, that doesn't matter. Dozens of poorly-educated but somewhat articulate pundits routinely pass themselves off as intellectuals. Dr. Oprah, Dr. Leno, Dr. Couric, Dr. Limbaugh, Dr. Beck, Dr. Hitchens etc. The media demands rhetoric, sophisticated or not, which appears to be something like argument or debate, but isn't. Actors and comedians, performers stand in for philosophers or scientists--anything but Reason. The corporate media does not want any dull Galbraith or Chomsky-like egghead ruining the par-tay.

The Pundit's a type of product--the Oprah product. Merely her appearance, and her voice will suffice as a type of authority; it doesn't matter what she says, or really what any of them says. Hitchens is an Oprah, just one who made it through the cliffsnotes to the british empiricists and Orwell.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Myths of the Old Testament

"""Following 70 years of intensive excavations in the Land of Israel, archaeologists have found out: The patriarchs' acts are legendary, the Israelites did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, they did not conquer the land. Neither is there any mention of the empire of David and Solomon, nor of the source of belief in the God of Israel. These facts have been known for years, but Israel is a stubborn people and nobody wants to hear about it.

This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, Jehovah, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai.Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people - and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story - now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people's emergence are radically different from what that story tells.""""

What, the Angel of Death...a legend? Holy Marcionite heresy, batman. Ah then we're cool with the high Fructose Coke...and maybe buttered Dungeness crab. ..>Serio, that may irritate Billy Bob Baptists and Evangelicals, Inc. at least as much as it does orthodox jews.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Meg and Mitt show

William Bradley/HuffPo

""""Billionaire Meg Whitman, introduced by her mentor, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, laid out a program of big business conservatism at last weekend's California Republican Party convention banquet in Santa Clara.

As a character, Meg Whitman lacks evident psychological credibility. Why is someone with no engagement in public affairs before her sudden leadership role in the 2008 Republican presidential campaigns -- someone who couldn't even be bothered to vote, and can't say how long she's lived in California -- suddenly running for governor of the state?

Conservative Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Whitman's business mentor, provides the answer. It was his idea that Whitman run for governor, and he convinced her to do it. Whitman served as a national finance co-chair for Romney, who hired her at Bain & Co., before serving as national co-chair of the McCain-Palin campaign. """"

In the immortal words of HS Thompson, Fuck those people (And the DINOs who are cozying up to Megzilla and MoroniCo as well).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


He Is Risen!


"""--If I have insufficient evidence to believe miracles like resurrections happen today, and if I do not have better evidence for miracles in the past than I have for their absence in the present, then I have insufficient evidence to believe miracles like resurrections happened in the past.

--I have insufficient evidence to believe miracles like resurrections happen today and I do not have better evidence for miracles in the past than I have for their absence in the present.

--Therefore, I have insufficient evidence to believe miracles like resurrections happened in the past.

This argument is valid and sound, and its conclusion would logically encompass all particular cases like Jesus (and would encompass all alleged miracles of the Old and New Testaments, and Koran, Richie)."""

A dissenting view

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Thrill of Trickery-- the Agony of Retreat

Una visión de la reforma de la sanidad de la izquierda...

""The public option grew weaker and weaker as the health care bill evolved. The left Democrats pinned all their hopes on it; they ignored the rest of the health care bill, which slashed Medicare and taxed the “Cadillac” health care plans of union workers, all in the hopes that a miniscule public option would give the lefts some political cover.

It wasn’t meant to be. The final health care vision is the brainchild of the monopoly corporations who dominate health care in America. Their power will remain untouched. Indeed, it will only grow.

Dennis Kucinich, the most “radical” of the progressive Democrats, waited until the last round before he threw in the towel to the health care industry. His capitulation is especially symbolic, as many progressive activists around the country remained in the Democratic Party solely because he was there. His inglorious surrender signals what many progressives already knew: the Democrats are a corporate dominated party, where liberal ideas are tolerated so long as they have no actual effect on policy.""

With added treat--Marx vs Bakunin

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health-care homies

No deal? Deal (Mogulescu/HuffPo)

""""For months I've been reporting in The Huffington Post that President Obama made a backroom deal last summer with the for-profit hospital lobby that he would make sure there would be no national public option in the final health reform legislation. (See here, here and here). I've been increasingly frustrated that except for an initial story last August in the New York Times, no major media outlet has picked up this important story and investigated further.

Hopefully, that's changing. On Monday, Ed Shultz interviewed New York Times Washington reporter David Kirkpatrick on his MSNBC TV show, and Kirkpatrick confirmed the existence of the deal. Shultz quoted Chip Kahn, chief lobbyist for the for-profit hospital industry on Kahn's confidence that the White House would honor the no public option deal, and Kirkpatrick responded:

"That's a lobbyist for the hospital industry and he's talking about the hospital industry's specific deal with the White House and the Senate Finance Committee and, yeah, I think the hospital industry's got a deal here. There really were only two deals, meaning quid pro quo handshake deals on both sides, one with the hospitals and the other with the drug industry. And I think what you're interested in is that in the background of these deals was the presumption, shared on behalf of the lobbyists on the one side and the White House on the other, that the public option was not going to be in the final product."

Kirkpatrick also acknowledged that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina had confirmed the existence of the deal.

This should be big news. Even while President Obama was saying that he thought a public option was a good idea and encouraging supporters to believe his healthcare plan would include one, he had promised for-profit hospital lobbyists that there would be no public option in the final bill.

The media should be digging deeper into this story. Washington reporters should be asking Robert Gibbs if President Obama is still honoring this deal. They should be calling Jim Messina and hospital lobbyist Chip Kahn to confirm the specifics of the deal. They should be asking Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leaders Dick Durbin and Harry Reid the extent of their knowledge of this deal. They should be asking Pelosi if the reason she's refusing to include a public option in the House reconciliation bill to be sent to the Senate is that there are at least 51 Senate Democrats who would vote for it and she needs to insure that a final bill with a public option does not end up on President Obama's desk where he would then have to break his deal with the hospital lobbyists and sign it, or veto it to honor his deal...."""

There may be a few positives to the "historical" health care reform (such as allowing for pre-existing conditions, and expanded Medicaid, and slightly lower costs for the po'), but they are more than likely outweighed by the negatives (the Law is about 2400 pages long, and demopublicans barking away most likely have read summaries of less than ten pages of those 2400). A public option does not figure in the plan at all, for one (the main "talking point" from, what, 2007-2008, sacrificed with barely a whimper from d-crats). When it goes into effect, the plan will require mandatory coverage as well--ergo, freelancers of whatever sort will be required to purchase health-insurance, as they do vehicle-liability insurance, and those who choose not to will pay a penalty. That's not a democratic plan: that's a corporate plan, a sweetheart deal for the insurance execs.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Your annual Wm James update

from the Dilemma Of Determinism

""""But for the deterministic philosophy the murder, the sentence, and the prisoner's optimism were all necessary from eternity; and nothing else for a moment had a ghost of a chance of being put in their place. To admit such a chance, the determinists tell us, would be to make a suicide of reason; so we must steel our hearts against the thought. And here our plot thickens, for we see the first of those difficult implications of determinism and monism, which it is my purpose to make you feel. If this Brockton murder was called for by the rest of the universe, if it had to come at its preappointed hour, and if nothing else would have been consistent with the sense of the whole, what are we to think of the universe? Are we stubbornly to stick to our judgment of regret, and say, though it couldn't be, yet it would have been a better universe with something different from this Brockton murder in it? That, of course, seems the natural and spontaneous thing for us to do; and yet it is nothing short of deliberately espousing a kind of pessimism. The judgment of regret calls the murder bad. Calling a thing bad means, if it means anything at all, that the thing ought not to be, that something else ought to be in its stead. Determinism, in denying that anything else can be in its stead, virtually defines the universe as a place in which what ought to be is impossible,--in other words, as an organism whose constitution is afflicted with an incurable taint, an irremediable flaw. The pessimism of a Schopenhauer says no more than this,--that the murder is a symptom; and that it is a vicious symptom because it belongs to a vicious whole, which can express its nature no otherwise than by bringing forth just such a symptom as that at this particular spot. Regret for the murder must transform itself, if we are determinists and wise, into a larger regret. It is absurd to regret the murder alone. Other things being what they are, it could not be different. What we should regret is that whole frame of things of which the murder is one member. I see no escape whatever from this pessimistic conclusion if, being determinists, our judgment of regret is to be allowed to stand at all.

The only deterministic escape from pessimism is everywhere to abandon the judgment of regret. That this can be done, history shows to be not impossible. The devil, quoad existentiam, may be good. That is, although he be a principle of evil, yet the universe, with such a principle in it, may practically be a better universe than it could have been without. On every hand, in a small way, we find that a certain amount of evil is a condition by which a higher form of good is brought. There is nothing to prevent anybody from generalizing this view, and trusting that if we could but see things in the largest of all ways, even such matters as this Brockton murder would appear to be paid for by the uses that follow in their train. An optimism quand même, a systematic and infatuated optimism like that ridiculed by Voltaire in his Candide, is one of the possible ideal ways in which a man may train himself to look on life. Bereft of dogmatic hardness and lit up with the expression of a tender and pathetic hope, such an optimism has been the grace of some of the most religious characters that ever lived.""""

And not once did the celebrated Dr. James mention..."causally sufficient conditions."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gov. Megzanegger

Meg Whitman-- in the hallowed tradition of...Schwarzenegger, and Pete Wilson

"""[Wilson is Whitman's campaign chair-person], and he brings along some of his close associates, as he did with Schwarzenegger. After winning a narrow election victory and seeing his popularity decline, Wilson sponsored an anti-welfare initiative. He then rode the anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 to re-election in 1994. A year later, while Wilson tried to run for president, it emerged that he had employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper. Not long after, he sponsored the disastrous electric power deregulation scheme that led to widespread market manipulation, blackouts, and the enrichment of Enron and other corporate wrongdoers. Whitman calls him California's greatest governor."""

Bienvenida, la gran Puta

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Dean

Dr. Jodie Dean, that izz, with a sexayhot article (via the WSWS homies) on how swine grow fatter.

""The world’s billionaires saw their wealth grow by 50 percent last year, and their ranks swell to 1,011, from 793, according to the latest Forbes list of billionaires.

The combined net worth of these 1,011 individuals increased to $3.6 trillion, up $1.2 trillion from the year before. On average, each billionaire had his or her wealth increase by $500 million.

Four hundred and three billionaires reside in the United States. They constitute just 0.00014 percent of the country’s total population, but control 8 percent of the national wealth. Each of these individuals holds over 300 million times more wealth than the average US resident."""

Imprison a billionaire today for Jee-zuss, and drop his shekels from hot-air balloons across EL MUNDO

Monday, March 15, 2010


Yum Yum. Hot mormon mamacitas....pK4

Sir Tom Clark

An American abroad...

"...and then there came the shock of encountering Ezra Pound, like walking out one morning and stumbling into in a deep canyon where a broad river gave issue to streams and rillets that led off and back and around and fanned out alluvially to flow toward everything in creation... and one's previous narrow path had been forgotten. Then read world literature as well as all world poetries intensely, acquiring at least at neophyte level such languages as were necessary for the journeying. Did an honors thesis on The Cantos that was published in the East/West Review, Kyoto.

By 1962-63 was writing quite a lot of poetry, won a university prize, had begun to publish. Went over to Cambridge in '63 and during my first year there found myself publishing poems in Poetry (Chicago), New Statesman, Spectator, Listener, TLS, Encounter, etc. That year also, Fall of '63, I took up poetry editorship of The Paris Review."""

more on Pound/Cantos

To reiterate: "...a deep canyon where a broad river gave issue to streams and rillets that led off and back and around and fanned out alluvially to flow toward everything in creation..." Ah, more sublimity than a Johnny Depp will produce in his entire life....

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Poets ranked by Beard weight:

10 Very very weak
18 Very weak
26 Fairly weak
34 Somewhat heavy
42 Heavy
50 Very heavy
58 Very very heavy

A Contender:

William Cullen Bryant (1794 – 1878)
Beard type: Van Winkle
Typical opus: To a Waterfowl
Gravity (UPI rating): 43

From Thanatopsis

"...To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air--
Comes a still voice--Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image...."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Los Zopilotes

Black vultures are rare in most of CA, but may be seen occasionally in the high desert in fall and early spring --they migrate up and down from northern mexico, and the Sonora. They are big birds--larger and a bit hawk-like, compared to the usual turkey buzzards. The black vulture wings, up to 1.5 meters, show some white markings--another reason some mistake them for hawks--also noted in the spanish word "buitre" for vulture, like buteo (anglo-cized as "buzzard"). Buteo is latin for a species of hawk, but the early taxonomists errored in considering many American hawks, like red-tails, as vultures--the small hawks (goshawks, sparrowhawks) were correctly identified as Occipiters. The New world vultures are often called buzzards, but American buzzards (ie vultures) are not Buteo--to complicate matters further, the latin species name for the zopilotes, coragyps, means "crow-like", presumably for the blackness.

Coragyps don't lack for an ominous quality, somewhat similar to crows or ravens, however. Indigenous Americans had myths for most birds, including vultures. In aztec tradition, the vultures are not quite carrion-birds or death omens. The vulture-deity, Cozcacuauhtli "signifies long life, wisdom, good counsel and mental equilibrium" (--though I suspect that's a bit exaggerated). Zopilotes, like turkey buzzards and condors, belong to the New World vultures family Cathartidae, unlike old world vultures, which are counted among Falconiforme, along with birds of prey--eagles, hawks, gyrefalcons. However old world Vulture classification among the true raptors has been questioned. Occipiters such as red tail hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) may have a superficial resemblance to vultures, but are an entirely different bird--far more muscular, with large talons, short, sharp beaks for ripping, and great hunters. Vultures are not birds of prey but scavengers (tho' Zopilotes reportedly will attack small calves and deer at times); they're built to glide, like their cousins, condors.

The mexican term for the black vulture, Zopilote, comes from náhuatl: el nombre común zopilote viene del náhuatl tzopilotl donde "tzotl" significa inmundicia y "pilotl" colgar, haciendo referencia a que al volar llevan colgando de sus garras la carroña. Google-ando. The nahuatl glyph means something like filthy-carrion-carrier. The black vulture and the colorful king vulture both make regular appearances in the aztec and mayan calendars--even at times appearing to copulate with human women. Muy hermosa. Flocks of black vultures above the, Chupacabras? Muy malo.


The Best of...DAFOTRE.

"The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful." Chapter 2

"But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world to those evidences which were presented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, daemons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world." Chapter 15

"The philosopher, who with calm suspicion examines the dreams and omens, the miracles and prodigies, of profane or even of ecclesiastical history, will probably conclude that, if the eyes of the spectators have sometimes been deceived by fraud, the understanding of the readers has much more frequently been insulted by fiction. Every event, or appearance, or accident, which seems to deviate from the ordinary course of nature has been rashly ascribed to the immediate action of the Deity and the astonished fancy of the multitude has sometimes given shape and colour, language and motion, to the fleeting but uncommon meteors of the air." Chapter 20

More on the utility of religion may be found here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Belief, Polkinghorne-style

John Polkinghorne:

"If even the omnipotent God cannot act to change the past, it does not seem any more conceivable that the omniscient God can know with certainty the unformed future. He may well be able to make highly informed conjectures about its possible shape, he may have prepared his plans for any eventuality, but in his actual experience and knowledge he must be open to the consequences of the exercise of human free will and...the evolution of cosmic free process." (Science and Providence p.90)

Dr.Polkinghorne's attempt to update theology and religious tradition via modern science and the "Open Theism" project may deserve some respect, yet we should keep in mind the slightly subversive implications of Polkinghorne's G*d modifications. Traditional theologians generally have insisted upon G*d's omnipotence and omniscience--and that holds both for orthodox and catholic thinkers, going back before Calvin to St. Augustine, if not scripture. To deny either of those attributes was considered heresy (Pelagianism, which insisted believers could earn their way into Heaven by good works, was one type of heresy--the orthodox (in those days papists) wanted to make sure that Deus always had an override right via grace---otherwise, isn't G*d limited by human concepts of morality?? Thus the dogmatist generally affirms the second part of the Euthyphro dilemma (google), which is to say, the King-G*d's not limited by our conceptions of the Good, or Just--really, that becomes a type of occasionalism...which works for christian, muslim, or jewish zealots).

Contemporary believers such as Polkinghorne ("P.") and the "open theists" now routinely modify the definition of G*d, however. P. does make mention of the theological chestnuts--including Leibniz's grand assertion of the Principle of Sufficient reason (why..somethin', rather than nada)--yet goes on to question G*d's supposed omniscience. For an agnostic, or ..atheist, that seems allowable. The bright-boy agnostic might wonder, however, whether he should grant the believer's theological modifications. Various sects now have decided define G*d as they wish, and yet still call themselves Christians (or jew, muslim, etc).

By denying the supposed G*d His omnipotence, hasn't Polkinghorne denied....His existence? Wouldn't a G*d know what will happen tomorrow, if not a year, or 20 centuries from now? And He would know by definition what His creations, humanity (and all of nature) will do, like, forever (one rather fantastic implication of omniscience), as a sinister hacker knows what his viruses will do (a believer probably doesn't care to claim G*d's a script kitty, with no understanding of the code he spits out...). P. says G*d has some idea of the future, but is not able to really know, or alter future events substantially (to what degree, Dr. P??), anymore than He can change the past. In effect those who deny foreknowledge deny his Godliness, if not grant some possible manichean, or polydeistic alternative (does some other ...Deity have some knowledge, power or part to play in reality as well??) as well. Of course, divine foreknowledge, like any species of determinism, is problematic, even absurd, as many skeptics have pointed out (tho' it may not be as problematic as...indeterminism). Bertrand Russell for one never tired of satirizing the bizarre implications of predestination, whether read as Calvinist or catholic, and the fundies never relented in their attacks on Russell. Yet Polkinghorne more or less concedes the game, and really has NO grounds to define himself as a theist.>

Non serviam.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Temporarily Continued

"Viva enim mortuorum in memoria vivorum est posita"


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tillykke med fødselsdagen! Bent Larsen, 75

Chess legend Bent Larsen turns 75

03.03.2010 – """An all-time great of chess, Bent Larsen, was born on March 4th, 1935. He is the greatest chess player of Denmark, and the strongest ever Scandinavian (before Magnus Carlsen). As a world top ten GM he beat many legendary world champions and was greatly feared by the Soviet chess hegemony. Today Bent turns 75. We have some remarkable contemporary and historical pictures."""

Anand/Larsen (0-1, sicilian)

Friday, March 05, 2010

More on UC, Inc.

Who Runs the University of California? Mr. DiFi, aka Richard Blum, that's who. (from Counterpunch)

"........ Blum's five-decade career as a finance capitalist has been distinguished by the levels of skill and panache he has applied to the time-honored task of siphoning off public money into one's own corporate coffers, as well as those of one's financial and political allies. Blum, who is married to US Senator Dianne Feinstein, is one of the leading power-brokers in the Democratic Party within both California and the United States.

Notably, it was Blum who virtually hand-picked President Yudof for UC President, having chaired the selection committee that oversaw Yudof's appointment. At a March 2008 press conference heralding the Yudof hiring, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that Blum seemed “visibly ecstatic.” In April, the Chronicle quoted Blum again, saying of Yudof, "we disagree on almost nothing. If I were giving Mark a grade, I would give him an A-plus.”


Current Regents Chairman Russell Gould is another financier and California Republican Party heavy. In addition to his role at Wachovia Bank, he served as California Director of Finance in the Pete Wilson administration in the 1990s. After that, he served a stint as assets managers of the $5.5 billion J. Paul Getty Trust Fund, a charitable organization founded with money from the Getty oil fortune. The Gettys are neighbors of one Richard Blum and Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco's uber-bourgeoise Pacific Heights neighborhood, where Mr. and Mrs. DiFi purchased a $16.5 million palatial estate in 2005.


One of the primary enterprises Richard Blum has presided over in recent years is the real estate corporation CB Richard Ellis. With projects in nearly 100 countries, CBRE is the largest brokerage firm on the planet. In a notable example of how Blum's own particular business interests have become increasingly enmeshed with those of the university, during the course of his tenure as a Regent, CBRE has contracted with at least eight of the UC's 10 campuses over the past decade. Most often, the company has consulted with these campuses to produce glossy reports highlighting the beneficial economic impacts on the immediate regions that host them, as well as that of California in general. The UC's San Francisco, Davis, Berkeley, San Diego, and Riverside campuses have all paid CBRE to produce precisely these kinds of economic development treatises.


The implicit conclusion is that the university's complete subordination to capital is the primary reason for its existence, and that anything the UC could do for biotech, aerospace, real estate, and finance capital, it should do. In this way, the shift to privatization of the university's finances, including student fees that are redirected to pay for campus construction projects, goes hand-in-hand with the efforts of state and business elites to render the university a wholesale servant of California's neo-liberal economic machinery. Under this model, State funding is seen as akin to "local matching funds," sweetening the overall pot for the real investors, the main purpose being not to make the university affordable for students, but rather to expand the university's physical footprint and build fancy new research centers that will create all manner of techno-gadgetry to inflate the next bubble.

The UC Regents, in other words, have come to conceive of UC campuses almost entirely as incubators for a constellation of mini-Silicon Valleys: alliances of venture capitalists, real estate speculators, and high-tech entrepreneurs writ large upon large and overlapping swaths of California. It stands to reason that the UC's leadership would be enamored of the region of the United States that is home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country, but which has also seen one of the sharpest declines in real wages among its working class. Silicon Valley also leads the way with the most temporary workers per capita, the highest level of economic inequity between genders, and the greatest concentration of toxic Superfund sites in the United States. Neo-liberalism in a nutshell.""""

Bada bing, bada boom. Put DiFi, Blum, and the UC mutha-f-ers on trial.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

El Cuatro de Marzo

Defend public education

Defend California public ed. and at the same time, improve it, retrofit it, humanize it, make it more efficient, less violent, less bureaucratic. Few citizens would doubt the need for the Three R's (reading, writing, Riemann sums). We might, however, question funding basket weaving or for that matter, badminton or the basketball team. With some reasonable apportioning, classes in essential subjects could be easily saved, as could teachers' jobs, though some extras might have to go, like sports, and some arts programs (though some humans might prefer having kids playing Bach than basketball).

Public schools have in many areas of California, unfortunately, become blackboard jungles and gangster training academies. One proximate cause for the gangster-ification? The athletic departments, says Contingencies. Athletic bureaucrats (athletic directors, coaches, asst. coaches, so forth down the food chain) generally control the local campuses (from high schools to colleges and universities), and the trustees and administrators generally follow orders from the jocks. Who cares about reading the history of World War I and II; the rasslin' team's on a roll (or ball of whatever sort). Many students, male or female, don't learn how to calculate.
They now learn how to kick a**.

Opposing the jockocracy should not be mistaken for elitism or crypto-racism. Be assured a Thomas Sowell or Barack Obama, for that matter, spent more time with books and home work than on the football fields. Unfortunately, some brainy kids in urban areas often are targeted by thugs and jocks (of whatever race)--that's an outrage. In effect, the public school often conditions students, even smart ones, to be opposed to education and scholarship, whether mathematics, or modern history (or auto mechanics for that matter). When Las Huelguistas start burning effigies of Ahhnuld (the real culprit), or UC alpha regents, or local bureaucrats and trustees, they ought to include some local athletic mafiosi.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Byron's grave

"""""""This main street terminates at the wall of the graveyard in which stands the little gray church wherein Byron was buried. There is an iron gate in the center of the wall, and in order to reach this it was necessary to thread the mazes of the market-place, and to push aside the canvas flaps of a pedler's stall which had been placed close against it. Next to the churchyard wall is a little cottage, with a bit of garden, devoted, at that time, to potatoes; and there, while waiting for the sexton, I talked with an aged man, who said that he re-membered, as an eye-witness, the funeral of Byron. He stated his age and said that his name was William Callandyne. Pointing to the church, he indicated the place of the Byron vault. "I was the last man," he said, "that went down into it before he was buried there. I was a young fellow then, and curious to see what was going on. The place was full of skulls and bones. I wish you could see my son; he's a clever lad, only he ought to have more of the suaviter in mode." Thus, with the garrulity of wandering age, he prattled on, but his mind was clear and his memory tenacious and positive. There is a good prospect from the region of Hucknall-Torkard Church, and pointing into the distance, when his mind had been brought back to the subject of Byron, my aged interlocutor described, with minute specification of road and lane,-seeming to assume that the names and the turnings were familiar to me, the course of the funeral train from Nottingham to the church. "There were eleven carriages," he said. "They didn't go to. the Abbey" (meaning Newstead), "but came directly here. There were many people to look at them. I remember all about it, and I'm an old man—eighty-two. You're an Italian, I should say," he added. By this time the sexton had come and unlocked the gate, and parting from Mr. Callandyne we presently made our way into the Church of St. James, locking the churchyard gate to exclude rough and possibly mischievous followers. A strange and sad contrast, I thought, between this coarse, turbulent place, by a malign destiny ordained for the grave of Byron, and that peaceful, lovely, majestic church and precinct at Stratford-upon-Avon which enshrine the dust of Shakespeare....."""""

++++++++++++ ++++++++++++

Much could be said about romanticism as precursor to totalitarianism (links oder rechts)--and Napoleon's sons, Byron/Shelley et al as precursors to Hollywood heroes, for that matter--, and much has. Check out Russell's comments in his History Of West.Phil. for starters (glib perhaps but rather superb to postmod obscurantists, or usual theological chitchat).

""The romantic form is to be seen in Byron in an unphilosophical dress, but in Schopenhauer and Nietzsche it has learnt the language of philosophy. ..." {Russell}.

Russell understands the essential fatalistic message from Schopenhauer's writings, unlike many hacks: it's not Spinoza's perfect pantheism, but close to an immanent, determinist viewpoint, really one might say a type of philosophical entropy, opposed to the dialectical victory march of Hegel (or his bastard son Marx). One could read Schopenhauer (not to say Nietzsche) as a type of precursor to postmodernism as well, and Russell while he doesn't dismiss Schopenhauerian pessimism, does not exactly approve of it. One hesitates to call Schopenhauer's system anti-rationalist, but anti-progressive in a sense, even stoical (retrograde probably to the comrades (and to monotheists), as is buddhism for that matter--though stupas large and small survived stalinist and maoist purges, as they survived centuries of onslaughts from mongols, muslims, and christian invaders).

There are a few mystical hints to Schopenhauer's thinking--nothing like the great supernatural visions of, say, Easter, or the book of Revelation (judeo-christians, and muslims for that matter, often criticize mysticism, yet both the Bible and Koran feature many supposed supernatural events. There's no eastern text I can think of which matches the Book of Revelation for utter supernatural weirdness).

Schopenhauer never sentimentalizes nature, or humanity for that matter (nor does he separate them); once the veil of Maya has been torn from phenomena, the sage perceives something like a...diabolical creation,of which he is part (in that sense, Schopenhauer seems faintly manichean--and also recall modern physics and relativity have called into question our "normal" perception of space and time, and objects, motion. Some of the ancient greeks, such as Zeno were aware of the problems of motion. Schopenhauerian/buddhist maya seems somewhat similar to the eleatics who denied that motion actually existed--in any discrete instant, an object may be at rest, even when apparently in motion.... ). The sage's task then consists of....negating that amoral creation, usually a futile exercise, though Schopenhauer believes that eastern thought offers some self-help tactics to deal with suffering, old age, death.

Verstehen Zee, Cowboy? goot

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tristan, Isolde, and Gautama

Wagner and buddhism:

"""""""From 1849 until 1858 Wagner spent almost ten of his most creative years in Zürich, Switzerland, as a German political refugee. It was there in 1854 that he encountered Buddhism, via the work of German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer was the first mainstream European philosopher to take Hindu and Buddhist ideas seriously. His The World as Will and Idea had initially appeared nearly four decades earlier, in 1818, but had been all but ignored. According to Schopenhauer’s Buddhist inspired ideas, behind the world of phenomena is one vast, timeless will. All else, the world of perception and plurality, of space and time, objects and actions, is an illusion, the result of a process of individuation. Schopenhauer even used the Buddhist term, “Maya” to describe this illusion. What is real is will, not phenomenal representations or Maya. Most people live their lives within the veiled illusion of what is temporal and never discover reality. A blind attachment to temporal phenomena keeps the subject locked within the veil of illusion. To break free from this is possible, according to Schopenhauer, by means of detaching oneself from desire through the act of renunciation""""".......
Holy Golden Stupa of Becomingness, Batman

Monday, March 01, 2010

Imperialism, Fog-city style

DiFi and Blum: a Marriage Marinated in Money


""On April 17, 2009, with the edifice of the global economy rotting under an architecture of monumental greed, war deficits, and official hubris, the University of California, Berkeley conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for its Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies. Before a throng of students, faculty, staff, and PR specialists affiliated with the Center’s new multi-UC campus “Global Poverty & Practice” program, the Blum Center's namesake was joined on stage by one of the many political heavyweights he counts among his business partners, Al Gore. The former Vice President praised Blum as a long-time friend and cited the new institute as a key to solving the interlocking problems of global poverty and global climate change, two of the many vexing boogeymen threatening to destabilize the profit-making order.

To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, who published a book on the general subject in 1923, some of the greatest sociopaths in this country's history have affixed their names to university buildings in an effort to burnish their reputations.

Richard Blum is a San Francisco-based finance capitalist presiding over a business empire that is, to say the least, expansive. Hedge funds? Blum owns one outright and wields a significant share of various others. Real estate? His primary investment vehicle, the $7.8 billion Blum Capital Partners, owns the largest real estate brokerage firm on the planet, CB Richard Ellis, of which Blum is chairman of the board. Construction? Until public scandal prompted him to sell off his holdings, Blum was a majority partner in a construction and engineering company that did billions in business with the US military, among other government clients. Education? Try being the resident Alpha Regent of the largest public university system in the world, the University of California, while also being a primary owner of the world's second-largest for-profit education firm, Career Education Corporation.""""
Then for a Darwinist, who cares about a few billion shekels in war-profits, or public unis run by financiers, such as Blum, CB Richard Ellis, and DiDi? The usury meme, perhaps. Maezulltufggies
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