At times I am reminded that I do indeed live in a strange foreign land:
But from over here, it seems like life in America got substantially weirder in the past week. A lot of things are happening that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.
Reading assignment of the week: Jo Freeman’s “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”, a timeless classic that’s once again been on my mind in light of recent Occupy Wall Street related craziness.
Besides being appalling, the decision of Oakland authorities to call in the riot squad is initially a bit puzzling: like the skits on a rap album, it’s hard to understand how anyone convinced themselves that this was a good idea. But Mayor Jean Quan probably just failed to grasp the new dynamic in which protesters actually win standoffs with the police. At any point in the recent past, Quan could have reasonably assumed that massive police repression of peaceful demonstrations would result in a few days of bad press, followed by the whole problem going away. But now she’s finding that times have changed, and she has only managed to escalate the situation and give the movement its first martyr; as an additional bonus, Mayor Quan has temporarily sidelined the “what are our demands” argument by providing Occupy Oakland with the demand that’s worked so well in other places: ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam.
Speaking of Boots, this is an appropriate occupation soundtrack:
Mainstream media is failing harder than usual this past week or so. NPR conducted a purge in response to the threat of biased opera coverage, and we discovered that they also fired the holder of a famous protest sign. Then the New York Times ditched a reporter after my own Jacobin magazine’s recent event got sucked into the meat grinder of Limbaugh and Beck. Meanwhile, it is of course no problem at all that the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief is promoting a war against Iran in his spare time, alongside noted lunatics John Bolton and Richard Perle. And to top it all off, ABC and CBS politely turned off their cameras so the cops could gas peaceful protesters, and the Washington Post illustrated a story about the police riot with a picture of a cop petting a kitten.
Hooray, I get to be part of my very own micro-generation! Take that, Reagan babies.
Corey Robin on political repression in the private sector. Or to put it another way: “He, who before was the money-owner, now strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but a hiding.”
I have a visceral disgust for superstitious “alternative” medical quackery, but this is why people don’t trust mainstream capitalist medicine.
Cool interview with Vint Cerf, who co-designed the TCP/IP protocol that makes the Internet go. “I wish I had realized we’d need more than 32 bits of address space! At the time, I thought this was still an experiment and that, if successful, we would develop a production version. I guess IPv6 is the production version!”
Cosma Shalizi, quantitative Marxian economics, and stochastic models of society? Yes, please.
Finally, more relevant information from the Ice Cube library: