Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Bleeding Edge of Culture

Plummeting Prestige - Greg Djerejian

I think Djerejian is right to point out that the U.S.'s hegemonic power is not completely gone, but I do have to agree that culturally, the U.S. has become something of a backwater. When I think of the tech world I look to Tokyo or London, likewise with street fashion. Culturally, we have lost out to culturally aligned places like England and Japan since the end of the last century. I don't think it necessarily has to do with our foreign policy actions however. It's possible that our global cultural centers have shifted, splintered and dispersed to reform in places where newness is championed, particularly in the realm of ideas and style. And once others have recognized this shift then it becomes self-generating. They travel to the cultural centers to add to the world of representation these centers exist in. Cultural centers move at a different speed than everywhere else, by their very nature they must. It's not so much about being six months ahead of the curve but being years ahead. But cultural centers also wan, as one can see in New York. Once people see a center slowing down then it becomes an exodus to other, newer places. U.S. culture is going to remain behind for quite some time, and it may even herald the end of U.S. dominance in the world. Still, it will take another decade for this to become apparent.

Tired of Stupidity

State Dept. Won't Say Why UK Music Scholar Is Barred From US - Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing

It's shit like this that make me ashamed to be an American sometimes. When I feel like I have to apologize for the stupid, brutish behavior of our government officials, then yeah, I would call that shame. It also pisses me off that I even have to apologize for such actions. That we have such thuggish people working for us while wearing badges of authority only makes me distrust anyone with a badge even more. Now I'm sleepy.

Nonsense Defense

Fearing for Israel - Ezra Klein

See, this must be one of those moments where my limited brain capacity fails me. If Israel has done everything it can militarily to defend itself and still faces an existential threat then it should act in a way that increases the likelihood of that threat materializing? I'm sorry, but that simply doesn't make much sense to me, or any sense at all in fact. Living in constant fear is not much of a life, in my opinion. So, taking that as a starting point what else can I do, once I've exhausted my self-defense options, to mitigate such fear? Oh, but wait, only weak-willed cowards try to talk to their neighbors while strong, hard men cower in the basement with their guns shouting, "come and get me!" Sorry, I forgot how the world works these days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Touch Me

iPod Touch - Apple

You know, this is just cruel of Apple. I don't need an iPhone but I would love the WiFi functionality. So the iPod Touch is just evil.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An Archeology of Language

Languages Die, but Not Their Last Words - NYT

I have mixed feelings when I read articles like this one. On the one hand, the loss of a form of communication comes as a blow to my academic sensibilities. The death of a language does not sit well with me. But on the other, any project that attempts to record dying languages seems at best a futile effort and at worst a form of intellectual masturbation. Without active speakers of a language then that language holds no meaning. Recording the sounds, while serving its own purpose as a historical record, does not allow for future generations to understand the language, let alone effectively speak it. If the intent is to preserve the language in a way that allows for future communication then a dictionary of that language is necessary for starters. Even so, I doubt that one could effectively save a language by writing it down, recording it or preserving it in any form other than active usage. Latin was able to maintain itself through its continual usage, if only among a select minority of people. But the meaning was preserved, which is what is important for a language. While I don't begrudge the scientist and academics of their desire to capture these languages before they fade completely, I do have problems with the intent of the project. One cannot bottle up a language as if it was a specimen.

God Lawyered Up

Nebraska Senator Sues God to Stop Terror Threats - Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing

Now that is a beautiful sight. I wonder if I can get a class action suit going against God?

Those Crafty Jews with their Jetfighters

'Israeli Warplanes Raid' Lebanon - BBC

First Syria and the shady Times articles, now this. What the hell is Israeli up to?

A Proper Electrocution

University of Florida Student Tasered at Political Rally - Slashdot

Now I just find it funny that the student was first chased by the cops, then allowed to speak, and then they tasered the fuck out of him. Warms the cockles of my heart, warms the shit out of them.

Writing on the Wrong Side of the Firewall

New York Times Ends Its Paid Subscription Service - Slashdot

Hooray! Now I can not read NYT Op-Ed pieces for free!

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's Not Healthy...

Edwards' Speech - Ezra Klein

I'd like to see a show of hands for who is interested in posts on health care policy? Anyone? That's what I thought. I mean, really, I'm about to drop Klein from my feed for all of the health care stuff. Yes yes, I'm looking at you Adrienne. Why don't you pipe up a little?

Lizard Brains and Cologne

Oh, if only we knew what these ads are trying to say - Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing

Now I'm not sure if I would ever buy a bottle of Tom Ford's cologne but the ads are certain eye-catching. What strikes me more about them though, is not the blatant sexual content, but that the blatant sexual content looks quite silly. Sure, we have an image of a naked woman with strategically placed bottle and nothing else. Yes, my lizard brain is going off on that. Still, it's all a bit absurd in how hard it pushes the sex. Far from shocking, I find it laughable. A good effort though.

AG Arggghhh

The Mind of Mukasey - Andrew Sullivan

You know, after the last two years of President Bush replacing the most heinous and ridiculous of his cabinet one would think people would hold a greater degree of skepticism. Those like Robert Gates might come with the right credentials but thus far he hasn't accomplished anything, let alone steer this administration back in the proper direction. So the idea that someone like Michael Mukasey would return the Justice department to its former glory and respect is, to say the least, laughable. It's not that I believe Mukasey is a stooge or someone unworthy of the job, but nothing in what has been said about the man makes me think that he will significantly improve things in his department.

Natalie Woods is My Movie Girlfriend

The Great Race

One of my favorite movies of all time. But the thing that gets me is how anyone was surprised that Tony Curtis was gay. I mean, come on, the man wears a white silk shirt in the movie...