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Archive for August 2007

socialism… recycled

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 11, 2007 at 1:21 am

Posted in ads, americas, socialism

“but you’re still fuckin’ peasants as far as I can see…”

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Just came across another candidate for my collection of incredibly strange American politico-cultural amalgamations, hybrids, and halfrights: Green Day’s recent cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.”

Did they actually listen to the song before they decided on this Darfur x-over thing? High-Period Lennon Political Ambivalence (see also: “When you talk about destruction, doncha know that you can count me out… in…) meets Teary Liberal Piety about those Poor, Poor People Elsewhere at the crossroads of unmetabolized reflexivity. How about this part, as the noble faces of the Darfurians bubble across the screen, and Billie Joe Armstrong sings:

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free,
But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

Yeouch. Just to make it worse, here’s a bit from wikipedia that quotes the band’s press release about the song:

When asked why they chose the song, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, “We wanted to do ‘Working Class Hero’ because its themes of alienation, class, and social status really resonated with us. It’s such a raw, aggressive song — just that line: ‘you’re still fucking
peasants as far as I can see’ — we felt we could really sink our teeth into it. I hope we’ve done him justice.”

You could write a dissertation, not an acceptable one, but whatever, on the topic: “Who does Billie Joe think the ‘you’ of that toothsome line refers to?”

Secondary mystification, or simply vapid distraction, “what the fuck, yeah, the Africans, cool…”? Benettonism gone libidinal? Inadvertent self-disclosure, a profoundly unconscious honesty that leaves Lennon’s navel-gazing in the dust?

(UPDATE: If you’re confused about what I’m saying here – my fault not yours – you can watch me circle back and explain myself over in the comments at Long Sunday, where I x-posted this…)

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 9, 2007 at 11:10 am

Posted in distraction

fear the centrifuge

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Sven Birkerts against literary blogging in the Boston Globe:

The blogosphere, I would argue, works in the opposite direction. There are arbiters aplenty — some of the smartest print writers are active on blogs as well — but the very nature of the blogosphere is proliferation and dispersal; it is centrifugal and represents a fundamental reversal of the norms of print culture.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 9, 2007 at 1:15 am

Posted in criticism

“have you been to the edge?”: photo caption contest

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Need more interactivity, hereabouts. Donc a photo for you to caption:

The NYT explains what the image is here.

What are you waiting for? Get captioning, or I’ll make you watch the Gorbi Pizza Hut ad too.

To hell with it, I’ll make you watch it anyway:

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 9, 2007 at 12:43 am

“unlike the sociology of the past, [this] is informed by modern economic theory”

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You don’t say… Any guesses on the unmodern economic theory that informed said sociology of the past?

Sisphyus just pointed out this NYT review/article of Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms in the comments to a previous post.

Here’s where it really gets frightening:

Dr. Clark says the middle-class values needed for productivity could
have been transmitted either culturally or genetically. But in some
passages, he seems to lean toward evolution as the explanation.
“Through the long agrarian passage leading up to the Industrial
Revolution, man was becoming biologically more adapted to the modern
economic world,” he writes. And, “The triumph of capitalism in the
modern world thus may lie as much in our genes as in ideology or

Boy is that ever a heavily thudding "our" in the last sentence. You have to love it, really, and the way that it echoes the hard science cum totally asswild speculation stuff that cropped up everywhere toward the end of the nineteenth century. Thermodynamics and entropy, therefore heat death (well sure, a long, long way off), therefore a universe and its maker that agree on one point: economic equality leads to dissolute catastrophe. At least via this article, and of course we should wait for the book, it doesn’t sound like there’s going to be much to back up the genetic turn aside from a hunch and some handwaving in the genome-decoded direction.

A genetic predisposition to low interest rates, huh? Then again, maybe he’s on to something.

So yuck, yes. But I’m actually more upset at the Times than Clark himself, for an ideosyncractic reason. They have, their information design department anyway, taken Neurath’s Isotype in vain.

You can click through to see a big version of the infographic, but do you see those little guys in the middle, the second graph? Not cool – this is exactly the opposite sort of argument than the one they were, ahem, born to serve.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 9, 2007 at 12:01 am

and you thought our side was bad

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Look, I get in over my head sometimes with the economics, even right out here in front of you guys, no doubt, but what follows is a remarkably shallow pool to drown in. Mark Steyn at The Corner on National Review Online, instructs his readers why using less gas won’t “hurt the Saudis”:

Well, you can say it all you want but people will just laugh at you. Americans will never accept that the way to make the world better is to drive smaller, less comfortable cars. And, besides, the premise is completely false: If you trade in the Expedition for a Honda Civic, that oil you save won’t stay in the ground and thus impoverish the Saudis; it will merely be sold to the Chinese and Indians and other fast developing nations who will replace America and Europe as buyers of the cheapest and most easily extractable oil in the world. So the sheikhs will be as rich as ever and funding as many Islamist nutters. But we’ll be driving worse cars and feeling virtuous.

Aren’t these guys all about market pricing as the One True Way, the answer to every ill? What do they think they mean when they talk about it?

(via Yglesias, who reads it so we don’t have to…)

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 8, 2007 at 9:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

think they meant “ouroboros capital management”

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Cerberus Capital Management, whose largest institutional investors include the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and TIAA-CREF (the latter handles my meager retirement accounts), purchases Chrysler, and immediately installs an anti-labor goon as CEO… Robert Nardelli, referred to in this USA Today article as "the poster child of poor workforce relations," is the goon in question. In other words, money managed on behalf of (mostly) union members has, via the wonderful ethical laundry program of capital management lp type stuff, come around to set other union members up for a royal ass-kicking and general despoilation, mostly of, yes, their retirement benefits. Following so far?

We’re not very far away from a scenario in which, say, a car company’s employee-managed retirement fund, via a capital management company, purchases the very car company in question, and in a frantic grasp for capital, robs the very workers who hold the fund of retirement benefits before breaking the company into parts and putting everyone out of work. So everyone ends up with no job, no health benefits, and slightly higher retirement account balances. Except, of course, for the new CEO and the managers in the CM firm, who walk away with tons of cash.

Ha! That would be hilarious! Almost as funny as California school teachers ("inadvertently") fucking the guys who make the Chryslers. (which is not as funny, because it is not as uncanny… plus there’s a rather obvious white-collar, blue-collar thing going on, though I’ll bet the blues on average earned more than the whites do now…)

At any rate, there is of course a message in all of this, a blindingly clear one about complicity and the impossibility of clean hands (like I said, TIAA-CREF manages my money too!), and what the "end of the proletariat" means when it results in the birth of a class of fractional capitalists who unconsciously read their quarterly-statements unaffected by the scenes of cannibalistic creative destruction playing out between the lines of figures.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 8, 2007 at 12:32 am