Saturday, March 31, 2007

An end of month miscellany

photo: US Naval Observatory/Amazing Science

1.from the Guardian: an RFK conspiracy

2.Jonathan Schwarz : the U.S. and Israeli governments face a difficult challenge: how can they continue pretending they want peace, while avoiding it at all costs?

3.Mark Kleiman:
"For every one that doeth evil hateth the light":
A special treat for all you Kafka fans: the recipient of a "National Security Letter" explains how a gag order works. If there's anything nastier than a warrantless search, it's a warrantless search the victim is legally forbidden to complain about.

4.Joe Bageant: "Neurological Biocaste Blues":

As most of the world has noticed by now, very few Americans are critical thinkers. Most suffer from a collective learning disability based on the complete commodification of our consciousness by consumerism and electronic media. In this case, learning disability is a nice way of saying that we have become collectively stupid, muchless capable of insight.

Insight is scary to Americans so conditioned to rote consumption and substituting entertainment and illusion for actual involvement. When they realize something, and I mean genuine higher understanding of what the sum of the parts mean, not simply what they appear to be, their consciousness is altered and they become different inside. Suddenly the world is no longer the solid consumer state sonambulation they are accustomed to. They have no tools to deal with it. Beyond that least half of us are so conditioned we are incapable of human insight at all...

but go read the whole thing. If you've never read anything by Joe Bageant before, this piece is an excellent introduction. Bageant is a kind of southern-fried Baudrillard, only with a decidedly non Baudrillardian impatience for the apolitically ironic distancing angrier.

5.Scott Ritter: "Calling out Idiot America:"

the title is a bit misleading, insofar as this piece mainly discusses US ignorance of Islamic history. I don't entirely agree with Ritter's premises, but that's an argument for another day-- suffice to say, it's a concise overview of the history of the Sunni/Shi'a rift, and a useful read for that reason.

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