January 14, 2015

Interview with James Howard Kunstler

OK, Waferinos; let's take a break from Charlie Hebdo for a while, and check out JHK's latest podcast:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_263.mp3

197 Comments:

OpenID vwclown said...

Dr. Berman:
My two favorite guys in one spot! Nice to listen to you both; thanks.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

vw-

Yr welcome. u.r.a Woman of Fruit.

mb

1:52 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

MB: A great interview! Nicely done. JHK a surprisingly good interviewer and you of course a fine subject. Perspectives on Japan fascinating. Can;t wait for book to come out.

On a related note, surprised interview did not touch on your leaving U.S. and living in Mexico. On related note, will a book on our beloved Mexico be forthcoming...

As an aside, as a Mexican who has spent time in U.S. its astonishing the extent to which identity politics gets the brain of those "latinos" in poltics and so forth... its like they live in a memory whole they want to become some amophous thing called "latino" do not seem to know anything of the culture, history or literature of spanish speaking world. They claime "pride: on one hand and then insure all kids and others are truly deracinated and become this weird category. They also insist on calling everybody Latino though majoarity prefer to be called Honduran (Mex, or whatver)-American. The douchebaggery and lack of ideas of this identtity peddling bunch of fools is just amazing....I digress apologies.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Dr. Berman, thank you for sharing the JHK interview!

When listening to you talk about the unconscious urge for destruction so characteristic of 70s movies like Chainsaw Massacre, I could not help but think of Kubrick's The Shining as an ideal example of this. ie. "The Overlook Hotel" built on an ancient Indian burial ground etc... I've rarely seen a movie that depicts this "shadow" so frighteningly well. J. Nicholson is also at his very best. For those of you interested, a fascinating documentary was produced on the movie called Room 237:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHE5YUNkssQ

Kanye

8:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pizza-

It's no use, amigo; when a trollfoon such as yrself starts out their message w/that sorta poison and venom, I just hit delete after rdg 5 words. Why bother? (Because yr a trollfoon, I know.) But as Kunstler says, "It's all gd," because it's been a while since a trollfoon attack, and I was beginning to worry that I was losing my edge. Of course, I tell the 'foons that yr time might be better spent getting a real life for yrself rather than attacking me, and perhaps many have chosen to take that advice, I dunno. But the proof that I have a life, and you don't, is that I don't sit around sending hate mail to minor intellectual figures (or to anybody). Why not think abt growing up, muchacho? You only live once. Anyway, you can keep up the venom, if you want, but just keep in mind: I'm not rdg it; yr sick posts are a waste of yr time. Why not learn French, or take up tennis?

mb

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Kung Fu Idiot said...

Yep, one of Charlie Hebdo's founders making the point i was defending here

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11346641/Charlie-Hebdo-founder-says-slain-editor-dragged-team-to-their-deaths.html

listened to Kunstler's podcast, can't wait to get the japan book -- for the moment I have "Destiny" just in front of me (the graphic edition is awful i shd say);

intrigued in knowing the esoteric Berman, since i am puzzled by the difference between your public persona and yr consciousness trilogy;

there's a zany berman hidden somewhere, pastrami worship points that way ...

1:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kung-

Truly, I'm not that interesting. I say this in all seriousness. If someone made a movie of my life, no one in their rt mind wd pay to attend. A few trollfoons, maybe.

mb

3:44 PM  
Anonymous iamnotarobot said...

Ugh, James Kunstler is a putz in my book. He's a rabid zionist, and he viciously attacked Nader for running in 2000. He also seems to have a gigantic ego.

Berman, I've read articles and statements from The Economist to Bill Gates that robots and artificial intelligence are going to take over human jobs in the coming decade or so, but not a single article that addresses what will exactly happen to the people whose jobs are going to be replaced. Since we know that Americans are highly unlikely to approve of a guaranteed income, what will our misleadership do? What will happen to all those workers who are thrown into the streets.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Sonny Sumo said...

I enjoyed the interview...remembering when I was in Japan in the late sixties...boarding a bus...me a North American.. kind of look around...where do "I" feel like sitting today...ummm maybe a window seat at the back....the Japanese board the bus and take the seats as they come ..from front to back...they just peeled off and efficiently and quietly filled the bus.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

iamnot-

They'll be treated like dogs.

mb

6:09 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

Imagine if the robots and AI develop emotions somehow and realize the American people are screwed up including their creators.

I wonder what they would conclude. It would be funny if they tried to figure a solution to all of the buffoonery, realize that Waferism is the best, and decide to hit the road.

They decide to get a Pastrami on Rye while walking out on their creators and they all make a mass exodus to your house and say "You're right Dr. B, these people are dolts." Wouldn't it be ironic and what would be your reaction if the AIs and the robots decide to become wafers?

7:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Actually, I never thought of it. But if they agree to provide a free deli service, I wdn't be opposed.

mb

8:08 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

MB -

I'm sure your new book will be a best seller! You have some stiff competition though. Here are the current top 5 nytimes nonfiction:

1. YES PLEASE, by Amy Poehler

2. KILLING PATTON, by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

3. WHAT IF?, by Randall Munroe

4. BEING MORTAL, by Atul Gawande

5. 41, by George W. Bush

9:17 PM  
Blogger Val said...

MB, iamnot - they'll be treated like dogs with rabies. I wouldn't be surprised if getting disappeared became a commonplace for the bottom-most underclass.

Americans need artificial intelligence like some people need synthetic melatonin or viagra: to supply a natural deficiency.

Today I finally got my radio working again after many months, and immediately tuned in to my old standbys, Pacifica & NPR. What appalling drivel. Now that I'm fairly well versed in Waferian analysis, I can see with excruciating clarity the truth of MB's assertion that Americans are obsessed with identity politics to the exclusion of meaningful thought. On NPR all they could talk about was how great the Swiss franc is doing and the price of hotels in Davos and how pretty soon we'll all be driving smart cars. On Pacifica, MLK's birthday was occasion to dwell on black oppression and getting the homeys together in Oaktown to demand better conditions - probably leading, I suspect, to more political pressure for bigger federal handouts to various self-serving agencies operating in that city, which is how the Feds keep the blacks there quiet. At least in the latter case there was some recognition that economic injustice is a major problem, but formulated exclusively along racial lines - no deeper analysis at all.

Here's what there wasn't. To anyone who's paying attention to world events in terms of energy and economics, it's clear that the industrialized world is probably on the brink of very serious economic troubles, introducing the possibility of major wars, & that the USA in particular is headed straight to the bottom. In USA radio land there is apparently zero recognition of these harsh realities. I live among a clueless populace.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...not a single article that addresses what will exactly happen to the people whose jobs are going to be replaced."

We're not likely to see any such articles. They would run counter to the story we've been told: that we're exceptional people inhabiting an exceptional country. And that if you only work hard and apply yourself, the American dream can be yours.

This story is getting a bit threadbare and, mirabile dictu, some people are beginning to see through the fairy tale. But, bolstered by faith and reluctant to abandon a core belief, they've managed to suppress their feelings of fear and the gnawing feeling that somehow things have changed on a fundamental level and the future may not be better after all.

They are abetted in their delusion by the people they choose to lead them and by the people and organs whose job is supposedly to describe the world as it is and what things mean. The people whom Robert Crumb characterized in the NY Observer piece as public relations folks, whose job it is to sell the company line and to keep the citizens from pulling out the pitchforks and setting out down the street for the courthouse and the public square to confront the people who own the system.



9:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo-

Yeah, it might sell 500 copies, all in all. Yr data base reflects the intellectual version of Gresham's Law: the garbage floats to the top.

Val-

What if Americans actually had fried rice in their heads? What if this was not a metaphor?

Jas-

Spineless people don't confront; they roll over.

mb

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Kneel Jung said...

Greetings Wafers, MB,

Earlier tonight, rush hour center city Phila., an 18 yr. old woman fell to her death from an 8th fl. window while trying to take cell phone photos leaning over balcony...
She landed on a 44 yr. old woman on the sidewalk injuring her also... I was on a bus about 20 mins. prior to
on the st. where this occured...

Just another symtom of the ridiculous "accidental suicide by technology" that seems to becoming the norm for our epoch...

KJ

11:32 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Our leaders are trying very hard to defend the military and spying on citizens:

1. In a foiled plot to bomb the Capitol, John Boehner said at a press conference, “The first thing that strikes me is that we would have never known about this had it not been for the Fisa program and our ability to collect information on people who pose an imminent threat." The FBI however said they learned about the plot not through spying, but by messages posted to a public twitter account.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/15/john-boehner-capitol-shooting-plot-odds-with-fbi

2. Republicans recently held a closed door session attended by Tony Blair. Blair argued that we need a “global alliance to teach tolerance” as millions of people in the Muslim world are systematically being taught to be intolerant.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/15/tony-blair-speaks-republican-strategy-session-pennsylvania-radical-islam

Looks like we're in for more war and continued spying on everyone.

5:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

lack-

It not only makes for lots of jobs, but it makes for lots of 'purpose'. The Manichaeanism continues. Most Americans will not come close to understanding how we managed to do ourselves in.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Kunstler interview there were only two trollfoon attacks. I enjoy these, because they reveal the poison in the American soul. It doesn't matter how many times I say, "But how does this help *your* life?" The trollfoons actually have nothing better to do. What a country, what a people. Still, I was expecting a lot more viciousness; on the horizon, perhaps.

Have any of u seen Seasons 1 and 2 of "The Americans"? It's abt our last Manichaean insanity, the Cold War. Very well done; both sides come off looking like shit.

Meanwhile, 2015 is off to a great start with the 4 D's: degradation, depravity, delusion, and of course--decline. Hey, what r.u. gonna do?

mb

10:02 AM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear MB and Wafers,

Be sure to check out an essay titled "The Melancholy of Anatomy" by Wendell Berry in the February 2015 edition of Harper's magazine. The essay is a critique of reductionist approach inherent in analytic science and scientific-industrial idea of "progress". Below is an excerpt:

"Criticism of scientific-industrial "progress: need not be balked by the question of how we would like to do without anesthetics or immunizations or antibiotics. Of course there have been benefits. Of course there have been advantages - at least to the advantaged. But valid criticism does not deal in categorical approvals and condemnations. Valid criticism attempts a just description of our condition. It weighs advantages against disadvantages, gains against losses, using standards more general and reliable than corporate profit or economic growth. If criticism involves computation, then it aims at a full accounting and an honest net result, whether a net gain or a net loss. If we are to hope to live sensibly, correcting mistakes that need correcting, we need a valid general criticism."

With warm wishes,
Himanshu

11:52 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

I enjoyed the interview w/JHK; one of your best, I believe. The analysis you gave about the atomic bombings really blew me away. Needless to say, I can't wait to read your argument in detail. I was struck by the title of the book "in Praise of Shadows" by Tanizaki and how, in a way, it can be applied to an understanding of John Jay McCloy. In other words, talk about a guy operating in the shadows of the entire twentieth century... Most Americans have no idea who this individual was, nor do they care. Did you happen to read the bio on McCloy by Kai Bird in preparation for your Japan book? I recall at some point that you mentioned reading Bird's bio on Oppenheimer. Anyway, I can't wait to read your Japan book.

Miles

ps: What are the chances that Mittney will declare the US *over* once he wins in 2016?

12:02 PM  
Anonymous turnover said...

This one is right up there--

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/majority-of-us-public-school-students-are-in-poverty/2015/01/15/df7171d0-9ce9-11e4-a7ee-526210d665b4_story.html?hpid=z1

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

12:12 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Dr. Berman, WAFers:
Here we go; tired of being a misfit who reads, cares and does? Well, you too can be meaner:
http://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/games/get-out-your-burn-book-because-mean-girls-the-mobile-game-is-coming-to-ios/ar-AA8dLJL?ocid=HPCDHP

12:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fruit Woman-

One of my favorite movies. I adore Tina Fey. I sit by the fone, waiting for her to call and tell me she's madly in love w/me, but so far no luck.

Jeff-

Also check out the Oppy bio by Ray Monk. As for Mittney, we've been in touch. He says he will shut everything down, except for publishing houses, so that the Rudolph Murdoch Press can bring out my 5-vol. study, "Cornerstones of the Mittnaic Philosophy." I wuv him.

mb

12:50 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Over the last few hours I've been pondering how to increase sales of the works of Belman, and I've come up with a solution.

I've got two words for you: "sex tape."

Apparently Kim Kardashian's claim to fame is her having made such a cinematic masterpiece, which from what I understand, included an unusual volume of bodily fluids.

Imagine Belman in the floes of passion with, say, Sarah Palin (her career needs a boost, so why not?), and in the, er, climax, of the film our hero urinates on Ms. Palin's skidoo boots.

Because there needs to be a deli foods angle, somehow we have to work in, say, a kobasa or a Belski Orgorki. I don't know how the details would work, but dammit, I'm an ideas guy - I'm looking at the big picture.

O&D

1:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al/Greg-

I like the way yr mind works. Only thing I wd suggest is that this activity take place on an ice flow, among the meese, with Ed Meese present.

mb

ps: Just checked w/my doctor: he says that if I can indeed ejaculate and urinate at the same time, I will have made medical history. Which is also a gd way to increase bk sales, I suppose.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: sorry: floe

1:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

It began with Dragnet (Jim Friday). Then we evolved to ARPANET (the DoD). Do any of u think the world might be ready for Wafernet?

mb

5:21 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

A friend of mine sent me an interesting link, it goes for 3.5 hours. If it is true it provides an interesting perspective on the history of the past 100 years. Among other things it confirms that the Bush family are all pathological criminals _Jeb is apparently running for President.
I find the occasional reference to "satan" a bit galling.

It is titled Everything Is a Rich Man's Trick JFK to 9/11 - it is available on brasschecktv

I recently read the book The Family by Jeff Sharlett. Sharlett describes in great detail how the founder of the "family" and his successor were and are very instrumental in helping to maintain a very right-wing agenda in both the USA and its applied foreign policy.

It seems that there really is vast right-wing-conspiracy.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Frederick-

Be sure to check the sources. Too much conspiracy stuff is a paranoid connection of the dots, a failure to demonstrate real causality. One can make up anything; real evidence is something else (and does not consist of hint or innuendo).

mb

10:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Let me reproduce link from turnover, above:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/majority-of-us-public-school-students-are-in-poverty/2015/01/15/df7171d0-9ce9-11e4-a7ee-526210d665b4_story.html?hpid=z4

More degradation, more self-destruction!

mb

11:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hey no shit dept.:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/test-finds-many-students-ill-prepared-to-enter-work-force-1421432744?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

A subsequent study revealed that all 32,000 of them had large amts of dog excrement in their heads.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

A short essay on one of my heroes. I've seen a # of his plays performed. Truly sacred humanism!

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/jan/17/tom-stoppard-the-hard-problem-national-theatre-london

7:41 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Dr. Berman:
HA! Do you have any idea, well of course you do, how few opportunities I have in my everyday life to blurt out, I have read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead?!!!
What a great article; thanks!

9:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fruit Woman:

I've seen that performed, along w/Jumpers, Travesties, and The Invention of Love (my favorite). I regret not being able 2c Coast of Utopia (you hafta go for 3 consecutive nights). But here's a story 4u:

Yrs ago I had a colleague who, many yrs b4 that, was working for the Foreign Office in London. He had an upstairs neighbor who asked if he cd borrow David's typewriter, since David was away at work all day and never used it. So David said yes, and the guy pounded away on it day and night. A few mos. later he came downstairs, returned the typewriter, and said he wd be quitting the flat. 6 mos. later Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern appeared in the West End. The typist was Tom Stoppard. R&G was typed on David's typewriter.

"It cd have been me!", David wailed. "How do ya figure?" I said to him. David also graduated Cambridge in the same class as John Cleese, and also gave me the "I cd have been a great comedian" line as well. No, David, I said; you ain't funny. (He now works for the BBC.)

Americans, of course, don't know abt Tom Stoppard; but then they don't know abt anything.

mb

11:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Then there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuTOR7E0lYg

11:39 PM  
Anonymous cafe voltaire said...

Dr B,
I had thought that Charlie H was now on the verboten list for discussion, but your last link suggests otherwise, so.......

In the interests of understanding I will point out that there is a general ban on depicting the human figure in Islam. This is part of their culture; Islamic art is virtually devoid of figurative depictions and all religious art is completely devoid of them.
In speaking to various secular but still culturally Muslim friends, I am told that they find such depictions repugnant. Depictions of the prophet are viewed as personally insulting even to these secular types.

Why would anyone gratuitously piss off 2.08 billion of the world population and not expect some comeback?

Tariq Ramadan is good in the next section of that interview with Art Spiegelman, author of the brilliant graphic novel 'Maus', making the point that the Charlie mag was failing financially (30,000 circulation, not the 60,000 figure I posted before) and therefore upped the ante on muslim-baiting. Capitalism needs an 'other' to hate in order to survive; this time round it's muslims.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7X9gNQKTO4

5:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cafe-

I never said verboten, just that we shd probably move beyond it. Then I saw these interviews, thought they might be of interest--esp. since they make the pt of the imptc of the free speech side of the argument, wh/so many are eager to dismiss.

mb

6:53 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers-

Here's one of the better 'takes' on the CH massacre I've come across:

https://ricochet.media/en/292/lost-in-translation-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-and-the-unilingual-left

Cafe-

I hope you'll check out the essay above. I think it's necessary to: "make a distinction between blasphemy and racism. The two are not the same thing. No one has the right not to be offended. This is not an arcane point. After decades of legal abeyance, blasphemy and “religious insult” laws are making a comeback." (Leigh Phillips)

I don't think you are being clear enough on that blasphemy/racism distinction. Also, it seems to me, there are other distinctions you aren't taking into account. And therefore your 'outrage' is somewhat misplaced and it seems to me that, subsequently, your analysis falters along the way.

I'm not letting myself off the hook either. I myself have failed to think through these issues clearly. I'm not the most 'supple' thinker in the world, let me tell you. But the Phillips essay (again, linked to above) provides an important perspective and has given me an important signpost along the road to clarity. I hope you give it a close reading.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bubble-

Run yr suggestion again, but w/o the Attitude. Thanks.

mb

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Dr B: A penny for some of your thoughts on comments made in these Democracy Now interviews you posted?


Re: your interest in that Dada crowd; recommend you sit down w/ Jean-Yves Thibaudet's complete recordings of Erik Satie sometime, friend sent me the discs knowing I'm a huge Satie fan, he does a great job not playing those pieces so fast.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Michael-

Thanks for tip on Satie. I've just been rdg abt him in Roger Shattuck's bk, "The Banquet Years."

I'm still digesting the discussion w/Tariq Ramadan and Rick MacArthur. The problem I have with *total* free speech is that I don't really see it as feasible or desirable. In my view, it's not OK to be running stuff on a web site or in a magazine that says "Kill the niggers!", or anything in that genre. I also had problems with the Skokie march, yrs ago, in that it seemed like an incitement to hatred. The problem is that any kind of censorship is a slippery slope; if it is to work in a legal sense, then freedom of speech can't be applied selectively. This wd turn one into the French gov't, or Netanyahu, neither of which are finally abt democracy. Which is why I was saying that the issues raised by the Charlie massacre are very complex. Recall the 2 jokes I mentioned above, both of which are antisemitic, but only one of which goes beyond the pale (in my view). As I said earlier, there's the hubris of demanding that Muslims (e.g.) live according to our secular guidelines, and equal hubris in religious groups demanding that secular states or individuals tiptoe around their religious sensitivities. I don't know how this can be adjudicated, finally. I certainly had no truck with the fatwa visited on Salman Rushdie; my hypothetical response to the Ayatollah was something like, "Oh, get over yrself, for fuck's sake." As I've repeatedly said, the issues are blurry and entangled; cut-and-dried formulas don't work very well.

Again, I'm happy to keep debating all this, tho I'm not sure anyone is going to change his or her mind. But I've appreciated the intelligence of the responses, and the spectrum of opinion that has shown up here.

mb

10:48 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

mb:

What happens when the religious collides with the secular? How should a society respond when its legal or moral underpinnings, as accepted and honored by the society at large, come into conflict with the beliefs and practice of this or that group within the society? Are there limits to what should be tolerated in the name of tolerance?

Many questions, sadly few answers (from my side).

12:34 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

Re: Tariq Ramadan

I agree with you, I think the solution lies in shame, not in state censorship. Unfortunately, it's easy to surround yourself with people who will agree with anything you want to think (another downside to lifestyle enclaves?). Maybe I'm wrong here, as I saw millions of idiots with with the signs "I Am Charlie!"

On Bellah, he said religion was possibly our only hope for solidarity/community. It's sad to see all the atheists using any chance they get to bash religion as idiotic, dangerous, backwards, and absolutely worthless. Charb was one of these militant atheists, it seems such a childish and stupid stance to take as well. Maybe if he had been more mature these cartoons wouldn't have been made.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

Dr. Berman is correct that “the issues raised by the Charlie massacre are very complex.” In half a page you can scratch the surface. Firstly, do we even know who’s really responsible for the Paris attacks?

Check out the following article on false flag operations:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-11/first-question-ask-after-any-terror-attack-was-it-false-flag

Paul Craig Roberts plausibly suspects that the Charlie attack was a false flag at:
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/01/13/charlie-hebdo-paul-craig-roberts/

This whole thing stinks to high heaven and is actually working as a French ‘burning of the Reichstag’ or 9/11. If it wasn’t a false flag, it was done by three Muslims out of 1.6 billion.

Then, why this sudden interest by Europeans in ‘freedom of expression’? The French have responded by arresting over 50 people for saying the wrong things. The amount of hypocrisy in the way the attacks are being used is astounding. It makes me wonder if Europeans aren’t quickly catching up with Americans in sheep like stupidity.

Alexander Mercouris, writing in “Sputnik International” argues that the Paris attacks should be seen as terrorism and not censorship. See it at:
http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20150117/1017027798.html

Finally, I lived among Muslims in the Middle East for many years, and I know that almost everything Americans think about Islam is wrong. Perverted “Islamists” have been recruited and funded by the US and its Saudi allies for many decades, and Americans can’t even understand them.

Let me be clear; nothing justifies these murders! But I regard Charlie Hebdo as I did racists shouting the N-word at black school children entering newly integrated schools during the ‘civil rights’ years. Somebody should have asked Charlie, “Does your mother know how you make a living?”

David Rosen

5:31 PM  
Anonymous tristan t said...

Would highly recommend also reading Shattuck's "The Innocent Eye" a collection of essays with very good ones re: Surrealists.

This might interest those wanting to delve more deeply into Hebdo and its history:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plifR_jNCSg

Near Far, I assume then that you think whatever Western judiciaries determine to be civilized behavior is what other religions/peoples need to accept and abide by? By analogy, American satirists should have been free to portray blacks as monkeys swinging from the trees when they were hanging from the trees in the South? Are you defending the degrading cartoons portraying the Prophet of a people who are "hanging from the trees now"? Unlike the Southern Blacks they're fighting back. Unless one is to think that the US invasion of Iraq didn't begin this ever-widening cycle of madness? I think it important to look at the actual cartoons, without that it's theorizing in the fog. Today's Times reports that the assassins grew out their anger at Abu Ghraib torture photos.

Are you saying you defend this:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/16/rape-cartoons-are-a-riot-arent-they/

"Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked, on all fours, anus presented as target..."

5:35 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Irony dept. : Martin Luther King day celebrated tomorrow 1-19 is 198th birthday of Robt. E. Lee.

Anticipatory hilarity dept. :
The next day, Obama gives his annual SOTU address. That would be funny enough for WAFers, but just wait for the OFFICIAL Redumbnican response.
Newly elected poo-brain domestic terrorist Joni Ernst, senator of Iowa is delivering it, in classic GOP hubris and over-reach.
Ernst is but the latest mad scientist ( if the MS is a six year old that just got a chemistry set ) experiment from the clone-farm incubator of reactionary genetic engineering...a super-weapon of stupidity that combines Joe "You LIE" Wilson, Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachmann ( I cd go on here, u get the idea ).

Check out her creepy laugh during her senate 'victory' speech, it's on youtube.

Now, we know it will be scripted to make her look like a plastic Mrs. America, but...you just never know with these sociopathic lunatics. Nobel stabilized nitro by inventing dynamite, but every once in a while some sticks will explode spontaneously.

I've already drawn up some cartoons in future-spect.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

On French hypocrisy:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/14/days-hosting-massive-free-speech-march-france-arrests-comedian-facebook-comments/

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB & WAFers Worldwide,

The big popular film today is American Sniper which grossed over $90 million on its first weekend. It tells the story of Chris Kyle, America’s most lethal sniper in Iraq. Leave it to another Marine to set the record straight : "The fact that a man who participated in the 2nd siege of Fallujah — an operation that killed between 4,000 to 6,000 civilians, displaced 200,000, and may have created an epidemic of birth defects and cancers — can come home, be embraced as a hero, be celebrated for the number of people he has killed, write a bestselling book based on that experience, and have it made into a Hollywood film is something that we need to reflect on as a society.....This ideological framework is America’s war culture."
It's all here : http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/American-Sniper-20150110-0019.html

8:00 AM  
Anonymous cafe voltaire said...

Near Far,

Thank you for your concern for my ‘misplaced outrage' and my inability (as perceived by you) to distinguish between blasphemy and racism. Condescending, much?

Has it ever occurred to you that sometimes the law is an ass and that understanding the 'other' and getting along with one's neighbours requires rather more thought than a strict adherence to a stupid law?

There is more to the vaunted French national revolutionary motto than the 'liberté' currently under discussion here--- equality and fraternity get equally celebrated status in the ideal but sadly, in the 'réalité,' not so much.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Val said...

Once a week I drive my sister and our elderly mother to a dance class they attend about 40 minutes away. Last time en route I held forth on the economic situation of the United States, which (as I've mentioned here before) is likely to be heading south quite fast this year. After maybe ten minutes of this, my mother visibly slumped in her seat, looking as though she'd been beaten with wet towels. When I enquired why she seemed so depressed, she said she felt she'd been "assaulted" with "a barrage of negativity." It took her quite a while to recover.

I admit I was probably blowharding a bit on the topic; but not enough, I think, to create "a barrage of negativity" wherewith to cudgel someone into gloom & hopelessness. Apparently telling it like it is, with evidence to support your conclusions, is a form of psychological attack that makes people unable to cope. Fortunately the television is always handy with endless quantities of therapeutic happy talk to assuage our fragile sensibilities. On the next trip I'll be sure to dwell on subjects like cuddly puppies, ponies, & other cute warm fuzzy topics - or maybe even dance & the arts more generally. Our true economic & historical situation just isn't socially acceptable as a topic of conversation.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Arthur Silber on the Paris rally:

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-propaganda-war-horror-of-paris-rally.html?m=1

"I genuinely do not mean to be presumptuous in offering the following thought. It is impossible for someone who is not a member of a persecuted group to understand or feel fully what that persecution is like, although I do have some experience of this kind as a gay man (and as a gay man who is now 66 and was a teenager, with a growing awareness of his sexuality, during the 1960s, which was a terrifying experience in many ways). But if I were Muslim and I contemplated these recent events, and if I further considered the implications and possible ramifications of what has transpired, I would probably be very, very anxious.

In fact, I might be scared shitless."

This is the point I was trying to highlight that caused the earlier uproar. I meant no offense. I agree with Gore Vidals take on human sexuality, and I respect both Silber and Tarzie immensely.

MB,

Re japan, have you done any reading on bitcoin? The creator has never been confirmed, but the original handle of the software author was japanese and the standard theory is that bitcoin was the brainchild of a Japanese research team. Beyond the speculative explosion that has brought so many douchebags into the arena, the foundations/tech behind the protocol are very paradigmatically revolutionary.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

I think if there was more of the "golden rule" being applied as opposed to the "rule of gold" which is what the whole middle east and our role in it has amounted to - we wouldn't be where we are today. 'Do unto others as you would have done to you'.. but that is not how the American system works... This country will align itself with the most vile scum of the earth to get what it wants and when that snake bites back then they eliminate it... or at least render it impotent. It's Very convenient for the tabloid press and the ruling elite it serves... But that is what circulates in this culture. Rabid individualism, screw everyone else... Discussions don't ever go further than stereotyping and invective. This is the unspoken language that is used at our highest levels and what becomes more vocal at our lowest levels... just read pretty much any comments section of articles relating to either of these issues posted on the web... it is pretty typical..."blacks are good for nothing thugs, Muslims are terrorists", blah blah blah, end of discussion... the trouble is that with the opposition (the so-called "left" as it were), they are so busy falling over themselves to 'not offend' or rather 'play ghetto' for a day so to speak...I feel like I want to punch them in the face... with their self righteous hypocritical bullshit which can be just as nauseating as right-wing rags. But these are not very enlightening times we're in. The reality or desire to have everyone on earth aspiring to live the way we do with a carbon footprint to boot will not work, period... 'golden rule' or not!

just a thought

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Trout- I almost never go to the movies, except to see an occasional Metropolitan Opera Live in HD production. On Saturday, we were almost late in seeing "The Merry Widow," due to a crush of people waiting to buy tickets for "American Sniper." I had no clue that there was a sniper movie currently showing, or why it was so popular, so I did an Internet search afterward. I guess the most ironic thing about the sniper guy is that after returning to civilian life, he was shot and killed in 2013 by another veteran, at a Texas gun range.

6:30 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

cafe-

Let me see if I can find something to agree with you about. Your last statement about 'réalité' reminds me of something Simon Critchley said in his review of Alain Badiou's book "Polemics":

"France's political reality is located *not* in the endlessly invoked republican ideal of the Revolution, but in the reaction *against* it. France is the country of Adolphe Thiers’s massacre of the Communards, Pétain’s collaboration with the Nazis and De Gaulle’s colonial wars." (My emphasis)

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n18/simon-critchley/a-heroism-of-the-decision-a-politics-of-the-event
*
OK so *that* is France today, that is the real France, and (perhaps) has been the *real* France all along. Not liberté, égalité, fraternité. And you don't need to take my word for it (or Critchley's, or Badiou's). *You* can attest to that. And you have.

But yes, in this instance as well, your outrage is misplaced. Furthermore, here now you're expressing 'sadness' for a France that never really was. Why waste *your* time and *your* energy? Or are you lamenting something else?
*
As for the rest of what you said, and are saying (*and* how you are saying it) it seems to me there's not much else we can agree on.

8:15 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Happy Martin Luther King Day, America. (the failed experiment)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZWdDI_fkns

10:52 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Instead of Bibi, Hollande, et al. leading the sheep in the I Am Charlie march perhaps Julian Assange, Pvt. Manning and Edward Snowdon should have been at the front. Come to think of it, that would have made a good satirical cartoon---but it never will be drawn or published. It comes too close to the truth and is actual satire.

Who knows--maybe the reason Obama didn't show up for the march was the blatant hypocrisy was too much even for him?

7:07 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

2 things:
1. I don't post Anons; you need to pick a real handle.
2. Best to send messages to most recent post. No one reads the older stuff. Thanks.

Val-

Maybe u were a bit rough on the ol' gal, I dunno; but keep in mind that 99.9% of the American public has fruit compote in its head.

Re: all this discussion on the Paris massacre: I have the impression that many of us here (not all) are committed to a single narrative (whatever that may be), and not into a lot of give and take on the subject. I think this is too bad, because an event like this has multiple interpretations, and it's likely that more than one of them has a piece of the truth--like the proverbial story of the blind men examining an elephant and declaring what the animal is (A trunk! A tail! etc.). Anyway, I suspect that one of these possible strains is the clash-of-civs argument. In that regard, I found the following para from David Reynolds' bk, "The Quiet Therapies," instructive:

"[The Western] interest in the nonrational is symptomatic of a search for the syncretic, the novel, the strange, the non-Western. There is dissatisfaction with an overemphasis on reason and instrumental individual goals. There is also a sense that American society is anomic, that it produces alienation in its youth, that its individualistic emphasis has been at the expense of developing capacities for belonging and participation."

mb

12:40 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Temporarily embarrassed billionaires:

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/richest-one-per-cent-disappointed-possess-half-worlds-wealth?mbid=social_facebook

Don't quit now you sons a bitches...there's still another half of the economic pie to gobble up!

Miles

4:32 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

I have two requests:

1. Can we get the official Wafer response to the State of the Union address? I'm hoping this includes reaching for a Bud Light at some point.

2. I'm a bit late on this one, but do you have any recommendations for a good new New Year's detox?

9:35 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

tristan-

I just saw your remarks directed at me. You really threw alot my way and there's no way I can reply to all of it. And the thing of it is: you jumped into the middle of a conversation I was trying to have with 'cafe voltaire'. And to keep *that* in its proper context, alot hinges on a reading of this essay by Leigh Phillips that I linked to earlier:

https://ricochet.media/en/292/lost-in-translation-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-and-the-unilingual-left

Sorry to say, but you need to read the essay first. Otherwise, my remarks to 'cafe' don't make much sense, are taken out of context, and can easily be misconstrued. Did you read the essay? I can't blame you if you *tried* to read it but couldn't get through it. The essay's style obscures some of the content, and that's a shame really. Phillip's essay could be cut in half, and *still* say what needed to be said. The essay also suffers from some kind of 'preciosity' in its style. It has certain mannerisms & tics that (I'm guessing) are "in-house", or exclusive to a certain audience. So yes, it talks to the reader in some kind of 'academic-speak' (or jargon)... the implication being that if you crack the 'code', then you're given some kind of "insider" status. Who need it, right? That being said, the Phillips piece makes some important points re: the context of the CH cartoons within a certain historical framework that is post-1968. IMO its worth plodding through. If you can do that tristan (read it) and if, after that, you want to direct your remarks toward me, I have no problem.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous cafe voltaire said...


Dr B, Wafers,

I found this wide-ranging and informative essay, from Pankaj Mishra, which considers,from an alternative (ex-colonial)viewpoint, some of the 'clash of civilisations' arguments and multiple interpretations you mention.
Mishra doesn't have any startling remedies or glib conclusions but does very satisfyingly cover some of the nuance of the debate. He presents a rather odd argument, a bit of a stretch I thought, in favour of the veil which was not helped by his conflation of the hijab (headscarf) with the niquab (face mask) which for me struck the only bum note in an otherwise thoughtful and balanced piece.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/jan/20/-sp-after-paris-its-time-for-new-enlightenment

Some of the comments are very good too, I particularly appreciated the short but insightful discussion with commenter 'StevHep' on comment page 6---- but easier to locate in the scrum from this page-- discussions are in reverse order and read from the bottom up:

https://profile.theguardian.com/user/id/1765851

7:56 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Why bother trying to get to know one another? Computers already do it better:

http://op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/how-your-facebook-likes-could-cost-you-a-job/?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1409232722000&bicmet=1419773522000&_r=1

8:11 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

This interview touched upon the aspect of collapse that truly frightens me: Not the collapse itself, as bad as that will be, but rather the fact that we will be dealing with collapse in the context of a society of seven-year-olds. How many people in our lives are going to just plain delusionally snap or crack up in some other way so that their child-minds won't have to deal with the horrific reality unfolding all around them?

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Evan said...

How about that State of the Union, guys?

No mindedness...

12:32 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

I've got a good one for you Wafers!

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/wall-street-intern-quits-finance-to-become-porn-star-offers-quite-stunning-justification-9982475.html

2:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cafe-

2 problems with your 2nd post: rule is, only 1 post per 24 hrs. Also, it was filled with lots of ad hominem stuff vs. NearFar that seems to apply more 2u than him. He has been trying to widen yr horizons; yr reaction suggests there's no way that can happen. Not a lot of flexibility in the system, it seems to me; just anger and defensiveness. At least, that seems to be the way you've chosen to relate to him. But that's more yr business than mine, I suppose.

At any rate, I'll suggest once again that we might move on to other topics...if u guys want. The complete vacuum inside Obama's head, e.g.

mb

3:07 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

You might be pleased to know that future POTUS, Killary Hilton, is to give a speech in my burg tonight. Why she is campaigning in Canada is a mystery, but what do I know? Maybe there's a resource extraction/exploitation angle.

I'd go and throw shoes, but I probably can't afford the admittance fee.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

MB -

I'd say that the aforementioned hole in Mr. Obama's cranium is matched by his liberal establishment followers. As someone who has regrettably stuck it out in NYC, I have quite a few acquaintances in Obama's well-to-do oblivious support base, and not one of them has found it mildly strange that he only proposes "progressive" legislation when it has absolutely no chance of passing, such that he can retroactively blame the evil Republicans for obstructing his salubrious crumbs from the table.

Honestly, when the Hannity's of the world rant about the lib establishment being out of touch with reality, I can't help but concede that they have a point.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Here is an upcoming "mass media event" that you might actually find worthwhile, MB. Intelligence Squared stages classic Oxford style debates on a wide range of public policy issues. The next one on Feb 11th should be especially relevant to your interests.

Intelligence Squared: Declinists Be Damned: Bet on America

America owes $6 trillion to China, our sprawling military complex often appears helpless against disparate threats abroad, and the War on Terror has stripped us of the moral high ground. Washington is paralyzed by bitter partisanship, our children are falling behind their international peers, and our middle class is no longer the world’s most affluent. But we’ve been warned about America’s decline before. Remember Sputnik? Yes, times are tough, but America is recovering from the Great Recession faster than almost any other advanced country, an energy boom could add billions to the GDP, we’re still a leader in technological innovation, and our military strength and geopolitical advantages remain unrivaled. Are our best days behind us, or should the world still bet on America?

7:30 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

WAFers and Dr. Berman:
Here's one opinion I found regarding the SOTU from a favorite newsletter. Glen Ford has been trying to tell Americans what to expect from this president for years. *sigh*

8:59 PM  
Blogger Val said...

MB - here's your big chance to co-star with Tina Fey! I just got this link from an actor's email service I subscribe to. Just be in Albuquerque on Feb 3:

http://www.projectcasting.com/news/taliban-shuffle-starring-tina-fey-party-scene-casting-call/

If I were local to Albuquerque, I'd probly go.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

This article is interesting in light of the frequent discussion of America as anomic, atomized, alienating and all. (annoyingly alliterative also)
It says drug addiction is a product of lack of connection. Maybe it applies to the need for high use of pharmaceuticals as well?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

10:40 PM  
Blogger David Bolas said...

Underlying message from Obama's SOTU:

"You're living in a Golden Era and you didn't know it."

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all Wafers,

Earlier this week, we were subjected to the State of the Union address and now we have several spot on analyses. The first is from Glenn Ford, "....logic does not apply in late capitalist America, where both parties cater to the needs of the moneyed classes; one, shamelessly, without inhibition, the other through deployment of talented liars like Obama.....For Blacks, wages relative to whites have regressed to 1980 levels, and Black household wealth has collapsed so completely there is no statistical possibility of ever reaching parity with whites under the existing economic system – period.....What is over – kaput! – is the U.S.’s ability to compete in a world that is breaking the chains of Euro-American imperial bondage. Washington can muster no response, except war. Neither can it maintain living standards for the vast majority of its own people, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the financial ruling class to whom the Democrats and Republicans answer."
Go here : http://www.blackagendareport.com/node/14635

Then peel over to here where the title sums it up : http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/28649-twenty-pounds-of-bs-in-a-ten-pound-bag

8:53 AM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

It's hold your nose and march for free speech---at least, that's what it boils down to for me at this point. A lot of good pieces have been written but now it's mainly repeating those points.

There's a good article on Counterpunch web site about the movie American Sniper directed by everyone's favorite neocon, Clint Eastwood. He ends the article with this:

"Considering a long, bloody history of Manifest Destiny noted for the slaughter of “savages” and the lawless, violent spirit of places like Deadwood, South Dakota, during the gold rush, D.H Lawrence characterized “the essential white America” this way: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.” In 1973, Richard Slotkin wrote a now-famous book on the mythology of the American frontier called Regeneration Through Violence.

“The first colonists,” he wrote, “saw in America an opportunity to regenerate their fortunes, their spirits, and the power of their church and nation; but the means to that regeneration ultimately became the means of violence, and the myth of regeneration through violence became the structuring metaphor of the American experience.”

At a time US decline is in the wind, that spirit of regeneration through violence proudly roars in American Sniper."

Two movies I've recently seen and recommend are "Pride" and "Calvary". The first is a true story of Welsh miners and gay activists in the 80s and the second, a widower becomes a priest in small Irish town and confronts the problem of faith, religion and limits of revenge.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

This just in from CNN:

Wolf Blitzer: Well, that was some SOTU speech, Mr. President... Anything else that you would like to say to the American people?

President Obama: Well, yes. When all else fails...lie yer freakin' ass off!

CNN producer: Cut! Cue the new Pfizer antidepressant add!

O&D, Wafers!

Miles

4:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Apparently 'progressives' are all excited by the SOTU. There is simply no upper limit to American naivete and stupidity.

al-

Urine in a plastic bag might be a tad more effective.

mb

5:39 PM  
Blogger Val said...

MB, I should have added that you ought to send Tina some naked pix. That'll be the clincher to get you in. And let's face it, she's bound to a *whole* lot smarter than Sarah; no need to be messing around on ice floes either.

About the SOTU - to my mind, it demonstrates amazing obtuseness that anyone can persuade themselves that there exists a meaningful difference between the Dems & Repubs, aka the Brothers Tweedle. How can "progressives" imagine there's anything to get excited about in the rostrum-thumping bloviation most lately delivered by President Placeholder?

In the first Muppet Movie, Kermit the Frog is threatened with exposure to a device that turns your brains to guacamole. As I recall, it looks like a suped-up vintage hair dryer. Perhaps such a device has now been introduced into most American homes..? Maybe it's the television.

For signs of intelligence, I've found some in Norman Pollack's larest article in Counterpunch, "MLK, American Subversive." He says, for example:

"...it did not take Dr. King long to realize, from his religious faith, that civil rights was a special case of HUMAN RIGHTS, the latter effectuated by a wider structural transformation."

Whoa! Scary stuff for addicts of identity politics and hagiographic sanitizers of civil rights history on NPR & PBS. I bet talking much about "wider structural transformation" would be very bad for one's job prospects with those organizations.

8:57 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Mo Rinich Mo Money Mo Problems,

thanks for sharing that article! I half-intuited that article's theory on the origin of addiction a few years ago. A very close relative of mine had been struggling with addiction for years, and the effects were getting only worse and worse. Other than sending my love his way and never letting up for years, I knew I was powerless to do much about it. Ultimately it's up to the addict to stop using. I shared my growing concerns with a few others, and it's my understanding they reached out to him as well. He's now sober, and I still find it hard to believe he was able to do it. It felt like a miracle, really. The point of me mentioning all this being: if someone close to you is an addict, read this article. It's hard to know for sure what all led to my relative's recovery, but it certainly seemed to help that I let him know how much he meant to me, how concerned I was, and how sad I was over his deteriorating health.

I've enjoyed the debate over the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, and agree that this problem is too multi-faceted and complicated to presume to have an answer to it. mb and Tariq Ramadan said it really well. I agree with kilo_mega_giga that shame seems to be the only rational thing we can do about it. While I find the cartoons to be tasteless and humorless, I think they definitely ought to be covered under free speech. On the other hand, I think the general public could be very influential by shaming those who publish garbage like that. If Muslims are that sensitive about it, I think any decent person would respect their wishes. It would be ridiculous to try and codify it into law, but if average folk showed their disgust and spoke out against such insensitivity (like we do to neo-Nazis and the KKK), then it might do some good. And perhaps then radical Muslims would be less inclined to see attacks on their religion as a clash of civilizations.

12:59 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

In one of those delightful moments that make opening the computer to scan the overnight haul from the internets so rewarding, we find the article below. It contains many of the ingredients essential to any American story: cupidity; criminality; and Starbucks.

Two mooks steal an iPad and some dosh, take selfies (selbstverständlich), and are hoist on their own petard:

http://newser.me/1uosxw1

9:43 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Sorry all, I didn't watch nor hear the SOTU, so I cannot comment. That is so, like, last Tuesday anyway.

If any WAF-ers are bored this weekend, here are a few articles and book reviews on my pet subject of questioning tech:

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2015/01/reign-robots-how-live-machine-age

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/

10:51 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

CBC Radio news played an excerpt from Mrs. Clinton's speech the other day. Apparently we live in great danger because of the threats of Islamic extremism and "Putinism." I'm not sure how well that went over with the paying audience, but it sounded rather hollow to me. While we may have our unfair share of right-wing xenophobes, we don't have the fear of terr'ists that I suspect gringos enjoy.

As for Putinism, in French Vlad's name is spelled "Poutine," which, coincidentally, is our national food, and a dangerous source of cholesterol and clogged arteries. We have little fear of either poutine

Mr. Kunstler said something interesting in that interview:

"I do believe that the American public is going to come to reject science….reject the Enlightenment view of the world, its baggage…and the Cartesian wheels that it travels on…and result in a spooky move towards a superstitious world view, that could get the human race, or whatever remains of the American public…into some kind of trouble…"

Did anyone else notice this? He isn't the first Yanqui to equate humanity with the USA. I read and hear this sort of thing fairly often, sometimes manifested in such ways as "The Pope is a great American," or "I thought Jesus was an American," but most often in the straightforward way Kunstler put it.

O&D

10:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Val-

I thought of that, but finally decided on a close-up of my nose, which is really my best feature. What I'm trying to decide is whether I shd trim my nose hairs 1st, or just take the foto as is. Wafers are invited to weigh in on this topic; my love life may depend on it.

Am also seeking Wafer advice on Cuba. Is it now OK for Americans to go there? Pls advise.

mb

1:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps:

Number of registered Wafers just went from 148 to 149. Am very excited. To calculate Wafer to non-Wafer ratio in the US, divide 149 by 318 million. This number gives the exact odds of the US not going down the toilet.

Whee!

mb

1:34 PM  
Anonymous el jefe said...

Latest on travelling to Cuba:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/21/travel/the-latest-on-travel-to-cuba.html?_r=0

http://www.ryot.org/cuba-united-states-travel-ban-ends/916037

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,

I enjoyed your interview with JHK. Thanks! I've been following him for years, ever since reading The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere. I've also been following his segue from sprawl to energy matters. It was through JHK and the New Urbanists that I found out about Christopher Alexander. BTW, did you have a chance to visit his Eishen campus while in Japan?

Here's some Alexander links that Wafers might appreciate...

http://www.natureoforder.com/
https://www.patternlanguage.com/
http://www.livingneighborhoods.org/ht-0/bln-exp.htm

-------------------
@JWO…

I'm reading Nicholas Carr's book right now. I'll post some observations as soon as I get the chance.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

Al - I've heard "Putinism" before, and I always find it curious. If anything, he strikes me as one of the few world leaders with less ideological content than Obama or Bush. I am not saying this to demonize him or even deny that he's an intelligent or nuanced thinker, but he doesn't seem to have much ideology other than a cold interest in the advancement of the objectives of the state. One can hardly blame him after the chaos of the Yeltsin era, when the imposition of basic order and a strong central government would have been desirable to almost anyone.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and all respected members of the Wafer cognoscenti,

MB-

Wafers always hafta look their best for the ladies; I say trim the relentless nostril follicles.

Miles

1:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jefe-

Many thanks; I'll check it out.

Jeff-

But I cd also let nose hair grow out, until it formed a moustache all its own, sitting on top of my primary moustache. There's a certain type of woman that might be aroused by this, I dunno. Think Pancho Villa.

mb

10:28 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Dear MB, Wafers

I just finished reading WG sitting at a table in a London Starbucks with the latest idiotic tech innovation: wireless smartphone chargers carved into tables.
http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/feature/2391378/starbucks-kicks-off-uk-public-wireless-charging-with-powermat-deal

God Wafers, I wish you could see the douchebags coming and going at my table. The FIRST thing they do is take out their phones and charge them on those things, even though I am sure most of them don't need charging. They're like 5-year-olds unwrapping a candy bar.

Forgive me the easy pun Dr.B, but WG was a wonderful read. This is the first book I read from this trilogy (in true paradox fashion haha) but will proceed to buying CTOS on amazon shortly.

I am curious to know what your thoughts are about the Coen Brothers' Big Lebowski as a modern-day incarnation of a life lived in reverence to paradox?

Kanye

10:56 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

MB, you may yet get your wish to cavort among the ice floes and the meese in sight of Siberia. Giddyap!
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/01/24/palin-say-shes-seriously-interested-in-2016-campaign/

4:52 PM  
Blogger Jay Meltesen said...

i originally thought it was we are fucked whatever works for me
Kunstler is a bit adverse to the overfed tattooed behemoths that pose as contractors as they mine the decrepitude of late mid-century suburbia. Live in city, everything is in your face

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

I've got mixed feelings about the Cuban travel ban. The changes aren't that big, but may signal the overall sunset of a very dumb foreign policy. On the other hand, it seems likely that interaction with the American economy could go very poorly for the small island nation. Soon American collectors will head over, grabbing all those beautiful vintage cars for pennies. Multinational franchises might move in, displacing cuban businesses. The culture will become touristified, like Puerto Rico. I'm all for a less boneheaded approach to Cuba, but this could end very poorly for Cubans.

Things with American Sniper are heating up. I'll rent the movie later, but for now I'm holding back. I've tried starting conversations about the film with Americans who have seen it, but their reactions are... well, a bit odd. People get pretty animated on the subject, let me put it that way. And apparently I'm not allowed to criticize the film until I've sat through its entire two and a half hour run time, as well as a four year combat tour of Iraq. I don't know which of those two would be more harrowing!

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone and Dana Stevens at Slate have both written great pieces on it:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/american-sniper-is-almost-too-dumb-to-criticize-20150121

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2015/01/american_sniper_and_the_political_battle_over_chris_kyle.html

Never mind the fact that the film is inspiring plenty of anti-arab speech and violence, has anyone else noticed Americans getting violent at the idea that the movie just might not be all that good? Someone this morning told me I deserve to be punched for "spouting off" just because I said ("politics aside") that I heard the acting, writing, dialogue, and plot were all pretty atrocious.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

American Sniper tickets are still selling like hotcakes in my hometown. I rarely set foot in a movie theater, except for 3-4 MET Opera live broadcasts per season, but we couldn't miss a rare live broadcast from the Bolshoi Ballet today, which meant going to the cinema two weeks in a row. Once again, we were almost late, due to a large number of people buying Sniper tickets. Leaving the ballet movie, I couldn't help but notice two families in a row headed into the Sniper movie, both with 14-15 year old sons in tow, munching on popcorn. I have not seen the Sniper movie (and have no plans to ever watch it) but I assume it contains numerous scenes of bloody violence, which certainly won't be beneficial to those young boys. There were less than 20 people to see Swan Lake; what would it take for US citizens to flock to Tchaikovsky instead of Eastwood?

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Langlorn Lean said...

Zeke,

Did you read the majority of the comments under the Rolling Stone article? It's as if the worst of the trollfoons who visit this blog all converged on that article to assail it's author and defend that stupid movie with their disgusting, retarded "logic". What a bunch of pathetic, sick imbeciles Americans are

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Zeke & all Wafers,

Matt Taibbi’s description of “American Sniper” as “a movie too dumb to review” caused me to look up Renata Adler’s 1968 NY Times review of John Wayne’s “The Green Berets.” Here is the first paragraph:

“‘THE GREEN BERETS’ is a film so unspeakable, so stupid, so rotten and false in every detail that it passes through being fun, through being funny, through being camp, through everything and becomes an invitation to grieve, not for our soldiers or for Vietnam (the film could not be more false or do a greater disservice to either of them) but for what has happened to the fantasy-making apparatus in this country. Simplicities of the right, simplicities of the left, but this one is beyond the possible. It is vile and insane. On top of that, it is dull.”

So, the adjectives Adler applied to the movie (stupid, rotten and false, vile and insane, and dull) can now be applied to the vast majority of the American people. I’m not surprised; after all, junk food and movies like this are the equivalent of declining Rome’s ‘bread and circuses’. My only regret is that as this evil empire goes down, it will wreak so much death and destruction on so many other people around the world.

David Rosen

9:25 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Working through WG. CTOS is fing incredible. Hoping to offer a class with it as the main text.

DTE

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

@ Zeke:

"has anyone else noticed Americans getting violent at the idea that the movie just might not be all that good?"

It is very common, there were many articles written about this. Journalists Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek got many death threats after criticizing the movie.

This violent response to criticism of the film is actually quite predictable, if you think about it. Most Americans have come to see their soldiers as "heroes" fighting for their freedumbs. So if you attack a film like American Sniper you're attacking the "hero" Christopher Kyle, so you're against freedom and support the terrorists, and deserve to be killed.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

Linh Dinh has a new article out I know you'll enjoy. "Escape From America" where he talks to ex-patriots about their experiences living abroad.

http://linhdinhphotos.blogspot.com/2015/01/escape-from-america.html

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all WAfers Worldwide:

Today, I nominate Linh Dinh who authors the site : http://linhdinhphotos.blogspot.com as an honorary WAfer.

In his most recent post, he ponders about "Escape from America". He's an obvious genius, consider this line :
"Chewing on Kim Kardashian’s pumped up derriere and Tom Brady’s deflated balls, most Americans ignore all alarming signs of their nation’s descent into madness, though some have already made the decision to jump ship. Recently, I posed some basic questions to a handful of Americans living overseas, and their candid answers have been eye opening." or this "In this permanent war, all-seeing, robo cop state, hundreds of thousands of citizens are already internal refugees shivering in tents, under bridges and on sidewalks. Millions more have emigrated, with more to come in the turbulent years ahead. As for the rest of us, we’ll have to endure the worst of this rogue government in situ. We will die in this dying nation."

5:55 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Pilgrim (and Wafers)-

Alexander's "A Pattern Language" is one of the indispensable texts in Permaculture design ('atearinrain', one of our fellow Wafer/Permaculture gurus, can probably vouch for this). And Alexander's work, especially APL, was crucial right from the start (in the 1970s via the writings of Bill Mollison & Dave Holmgren). And APL continues to be "a starting point and source of inspiration for many of the problem's faced by permaculture designers." ("Practical Permaculture." Bloom/Boehnlein, 2015). And since MB mentioned William Ophuls in the JHK interview, here's what Ophuls writes in his latest book "Sane Polity: A Pattern Language" (CreateSpace, 2012):

"I was inspired to do political philosophy in a different mode by Christopher Alexander et al.'s 'A Pattern Language'. Dissatisfied with the results of an architecture based on mechanical principles, Alexander and his collegues devised a pattern language --that is, a set of design criteria-- for constructing human settlements and dwellings organically. In other words, for practicing architecture as if people mattered. I have tried to do the same for politics, to establish a pattern language of sane polity by supplying design criteria for a politics as if people mattered."

MB-

Many years ago you (somewhere in the archives c. 2006/07) you mentioned in the comments section of one of your posts that your editor at Norton (for DAA) persuaded you to remove a section of Ch. 7 that discussed Alexander at length. Of course right now you're swamped w/ other work, but any chance you might someday publish the excised material as a stand-alone essay?

12:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Near-

It was a chapter on the history of architecture (which included Alexander) that my editor felt was too academic or technical for DAA. I figured I might submit it to an archit. journal, but other things got in the way...now I have no idea where it is, and I probably deleted it at some pt. Not gd, I know.

Mike-

When will someone make a film called "American Douche Bag"? Long overdue, imo.

Dio-

Re: CTOS: slowly running out of copies, am thinking abt doing a 4th edn. sometime later this yr. In the meantime, if you order copies for class and it proves 2b out of print, feel free to xerox what u need.

DR-

You may know that Andy Warhol once did a film called "Mondo Buttock," which consisted of 30-sec. slide exposures of naked rumps, for 8 hrs. We now need an animated film showing Americans with heads up ass, rolling across something like the lunar surface, for 8 hrs. Imagine watching it stoned!

Birney-

Well, u put yr finger on it. I remember just b4 he died Kurt Vonnegut was interviewed by Ted Koppel (jesus, what a haircut), and he said that in the US we no longer have a civilization. Rather, a sea of garbage with tiny islands of civ in it. Talk abt reversing ratios: 149 registered Wafers, 318 million pathetic buffoons; 318 million douche bags thinking Reagan was fabulous, and that Jimmy was a failure--etc. When 'progressives' talk abt 'liberating' the country, whom do they think they are liberating, exactly? People who hate bks and would string those 'liberals' up if they had the chance. And if u think the situation is baroque now, just wait 10 yrs...

mb

2:33 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

MB, WAFers: If you care to, ck out Michael Moore's intelligent response to the trollfooniks over on Democratic Underground.

My Dad was in Europe from Normandy on. First, he was a tank driver. After seeing what happened to tank crews ( both German and Allied )...incinerated alive, he decided to transfer to a Cavalry Recon unit ( rated MORE risk ). They were patrols in open jeeps. Whenever they came upon an enemy sniper, there was no surrender or offer to. As MM said, snipers were considered cowards and the lowest of soldiers.

Then, my Dad's outfit was one of the first to discover the massacre at Malmedy. After that, no Nazi's, especially Waffen SS were 'captured'. You won't read that in the history books.
Now, my Dad wasn't all gung-ho, but he couldn't stop it; not after the horrors and atrocities of the Nazi's became well known.
It even took awhile after WWII was over before the cinematic depictions of jingoistic war fantasies and clichéd hero-worship dramas were the only plots considered. . Same with Vietnam.

What can we expect from 318 mil that look at everything the same as professional wrestling, and believe it ?

6:17 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Another day...another murder-suicide:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/25/us/home-depot-new-york-shooting/index.html

Not too much news to report from the front, except that everyday brings us ever closer to headlong collapse. Anyway, here's some Bolivar Blues from Thelonious Monk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTijrDIU-m4

Miles

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Humble Living said...

Morris, you a fan of David Foster Wallace? Have you ever considered looking into his work?

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Jerome said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Speaking of the hatred of books, I have heard some in the administration at the college where I teach speak approvingly of a scheme to "replace books with iPads." For the faculty, that is. We should no longer teach using physical books. The idea, apparently, is to start with the humanities (because we need books least of all, I suppose). We are also contending with the mindless push to put everything that we teach online, with no real attempt to reflect on the consequences of that for teaching things like literature and philosophy. No, we are told, the only real difference between teaching online and in a classroom is the "delivery system." I would love to ask them to read your works before forging ahead, but I am sure it would be pointless. Onward and downward, I suppose.

Jerome

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

This looks like a book worth reading:

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/killing-americas-creative-class?akid=12719.241474.S3U6HT&rd=1&src=newsletter1030855&t=9

The review is interesting for two reasons.

1 - it makes me want to read the book itself.

2 - the reviewer is part of the problem in that he must qualify his praise by ticking off the appropriate number of official progressive talking points that the author failed to show obeisance to. Credentials over substance, in other words.

The really worthwhile material is in the comments section, which is filled with Waferish material.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

@Dr. Berman...
>> CTOS: slowly running out of copies... <<
Yikes! Yesterday I went up to Amazon and ordered a copy; today they tell me it's in the mail. Haven't yet read your first trilogy.

-------------
@Dovidel...
>> ...1968 NY Times review of John Wayne’s “The Green Berets.” <<
Great idea. Thanks. Very interesting. I can't help but feel that this American Sniper incident is one of those concentrated, crystalized nuggets of insight into the cultural climate here in the US of A.

-------------
@NearFar...
Concerning Christopher Alexander, I really want to read his latest book: The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems. But it's $$$. I also want to read his Nature of Order series as well.

Here's an interview with Alexander, where he says...

"I do think that architects were in a very, very strange psychotic state for a large part of the twentieth century. ... It was a fabricated psychosis. ... It's very unusual for an entire profession to go bonkers."

"The weirdest thing is that America, the birthplace of modern democracy, is also the birthplace of modern capitalism, and people think that they're connected!"

1:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pil et al:

Just received this email from a Wafer, thought u all wd enjoy it:

"Read anecdote from guy who went to see the film 'Selma' in suburban Virginia last Saturday, he said the lobby was packed with people excitedly waiting to see 'American Sniper'. Said there were just 5 people seeing 'Selma'. On MLK Day weekend.

"To me this settles the debate between yourself and Chomsky in favor of your insistence that Americans in fact have the government they deserve. It hasn't been forced on these cretins."

Keep in mind that Americans are not only stupid; they are also bad people.

Humble:

Read half of one novel, contemplated killing myself. Instead, let me recommend "Night Train to Lisbon," by Pascal Mercier.

mb

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,

Re: Great American Art as eight hours of naked butts.

Oswald Spengler didn’t win any popularity contests when he said that Western culture (as opposed to technology) had reached its zenith in the 19th Century. I recall that many, many New Yorkers back in the 60’s considered Andy Warhol to be our generation’s Rembrandt. I guess we can mark “Mondo Buttock” and a Campbell’s soup can as ‘Exhibit A’ of our evidence that Spengler was right. That Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Friedman, and David Brooks are public intellectuals, however, is the clincher – surely we can rest our case with that.

Spengler’s ideas were controversial in his time, but today all this *should* be obvious to a learning disabled salamander.

David Rosen

3:30 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Chris Hedges strikes again... He systematically decimates "American Sniper' film. Jesus, a guy who is *this* intelligent should not be in the US. It's all here:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/killing_ragheads_for_jesus_20150125

ps: Wafer New Year's Wish: Hedges will join MB in Mexico.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

Just read this article and thought it was Wafer-worthy:

Is This Country Crazy? Inquiring Minds Elsewhere Want to Know
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/01/11/country-crazy-inquiring-minds-elsewhere-want-know

Interesting and confirming that it is not only Wafers who recognize the US as awful but also many in other countries too.

In contrast, however, my younger son recently told me two stories of people he met during his travels across the US and in the Balkan countries. In the first one, he met a truck driver from India who said that back home, the system did not allow any personal betterment, and at least in the US he could have more freedom to make a living. In the second case, a guy from Kosovo or Bosnia thanked him for being an American because this guy perceived the American military intervention there to be a great thing. So, there are these points of light about the US I suppose, but maybe this is more the exception rather than the rule?

3:55 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

WAF-ers, not much happening up here in the great flyover state of MN, except what Deli just pointed out. All of a sudden there have been a spate of suicides and people going crazy with their guns. This usually only happens after the 3rd month of cabin fever hits, but it was 45 degrees yesterday!

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/289934681.html
http://www.startribune.com/local/south/289824021.html
http://www.startribune.com/local/east/289873481.html
http://www.startribune.com/local/east/289805121.html

I don't want to rag on anyone who has lost a son or father or whatever, but shit's gettin' crazy!

4:14 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

NearFar,

I haven't read "A Pattern Language", but I think I shall, as well as the other books you recommended. What are your thoughts on biodynamics? Holmgren wrote favorably about it in "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability," and I've been hearing enough about it lately that my interest is piqued. I'm about thirty pages into "Culture and Horticulture" and so far so very good. Apparently Rudolf Steiner thought Western civilization needs to move forward not by abandoning the scientific paradigm for the pre-Enlightenment one, but by retrieving those aspects of the non-empirical worldview that reductionism threw out with the bathwater; which strikes me as very Bermanesque. Conceptually biodynamics makes a lot of sense, but the techniques are just so strange that I'm still unsure of what to think about it. My former so-called permaculture mentor here in Minneapolis, who I was wholly unimpressed with, said most biodynamics is 'voodoo.' And whenever some douche knocks something I know little about, my first reaction is to pursue it further.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

I'm not sure if you've dealt with the concept of accidental WAFERism, but I recently saw "The Good Shepherd", a movie about the founding of the CIA. What was intended as a spy thriller ends up being a horrid indictment of the WASP establishment - it paints a portrait, to my mind largely accurate, of the people who founded this country and to a large extent still run it. They are shown as horrifically repressed, pathologically dishonest, psychotically bigoted, nostalgic for the worst elements of British Imperialism, and completely incapable of deriving any happiness from their wealth and power, which results in a toxic stew of misery that they pass down from one generation to the next. The movie of course, mounts a tepid defense that basically boils down to "But they love their country!" while implicitly ignoring the question of what kind of country these people would create.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Film review: Nightcrawler

Is this guy the ultimate American Hustler?!

11:06 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

A story that offers several elements essential to the American narrative: alcohol; sex; sports; and consumer electronics.

Yesterday's verdict in the case of two former football players at Vanderbilt University who were convicted of raping a female student in a dorm room in June 2013.

One of the assailants, reflecting that endemic compulsion among American youth to capture every waking moment of their lives for both instant and future gratification, thoughtfully sent cellphone photos of the acts for the amusement of absent chums.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2015/01/27/vanderbilt-rape-case-verdicts/22419381/

9:01 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

This was on the youtube homepage today. "Kim Kardashian, Famous Person". What a job title!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTwzsV3I3OQ

6:52 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Apparently, if you are a black 70-year old man, you can be arrested in Seattle for walking down the street and using a golf club as a cane. Watch this transpire pon video:
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2015/01/28/seattle-police-jailed-elderly-man-for-walking-in-seattle-while-black

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Can anyone recommend a good deli or two in the Washington DC area? I'm heading that way next week.

Also, here's a TruthOut link discussing American Sniper. I like it because 1) it approaches Kyle not as an individual, but as the product of the culture, and 2) it supports the view that for many, the military is a source of community and family that they find missing from the culture at large.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

"Real virtue should know how to guard itself without compulsion and has no need of gendarmes. A society is only strong when it throws the light of day upon the truth."

--Emile Zola

11:44 AM  
Anonymous DJ said...

WAFer friends-

Group of New Orleans friends are known to tease me about how all the kinds of documentation of the 'anomic society at large' that tends to go on here blots out apparent cultural refugia, like, they say, New Orleans, conveniently...

I mean; I've been there, some friendly people, tons of musics and it's very garishly colored, but a lot of crime and ugly people, too, no?

Re: american sniper talk, some of my more conservative friends are sharing this, thoughts on all of the above and below guys, MB?:

http://dailysurge.com/2015/01/snipers-response-michael-moore-going-insanely-viral/

3:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DJ-

Keep in mind that for every Moore, or every Wafer, there are hundreds of thousands of Bryan Sikes, or Americans who agree with him.

mb

7:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps:

http://www.avclub.com/article/seth-rogen-and-michael-moore-banned-steakhouse-ove-214464

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Humble Living said...

If you don't mind me asking, which David Foster Wallace novel did you read? Was it Infinite Jest? And I will keep that Pascal Mercier recommendation in mind.

3:13 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

This thing around American Sniper is incredibly sad. You really can't criticize the military in any way around a lot of the population. People get extremely angry when you suggest people in the military are anything less than heroes and that we should thank soldiers for everything we have. Someone once heard me in public say that our military budget is too high, and the guy came over to the table where I was having lunch and threatened to hit me. Needless to say, I haven't opened my mouth in public for years.

More than once I've heard people wish we'd have killed everyone in Iraq and Vietnam.

This seems to come up regularly. I remember this same issue with Chris Hayes:

> "It is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the word hero. Why do I feel so uncomfortable about the word hero?" he said. "I feel uncomfortable with the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. And I obviously don't want to desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that has fallen. Obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is tremendous heroism. You know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers, things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that's problematic, but maybe I'm wrong about that."

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/in-defense-of-chris-hayes/257744/

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Regarding American Sniper, yet again, David Masciotra nails it.

"At some point, American culture lost its balance, and its mind, and reverted back into an action movie, video game conception of masculinity."

10:52 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Mittney has broken my heart once again:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/mitt-romney-2016-presidential-election.html?_r=0

(Sigh) The way I look at the world will never, ever be the same...

Will Mittney's departure create an opening for the Godfather of Pizza, Herman Cain?

DJ-

Time for U to find a new set of friends.

Wafers, MB-

I'm convinced that the majority of Americans, in a very *real* sense, are simply brain damaged. Their frontal lobes have not been fully developed like normal human beings, due to screen addiction and other disorders. As a result, they are incapable of empathy and insight; unable to genuinely feel *anything* of importance or identify w/the pain that someone else is feeling. This is why an individual like Chris Kyle, the American Sniper, is held up as a model citizen, a hero of sorts. Americans, by and large, have lost the ability to feel and have no interest in serious reflection at all.

Miles

12:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Humble-

Too long ago; I can't remember.

lack, pilgrim-

Can u imagine trying to explain to someone like Bryan Sikes, concepts such as colonialism, Manichaeanism, the deep psychic need for an enemy, the history of our meddling in the Middle East (and our role in creating enemies), and the fact that the American military is taking us to an early grave rather than protecting us? 62% of Americans approve of drone strikes that kill women and children; more than 50% approve of torture and believe it has made us safer; and I'm guessing most of them celebrate our military "heroes," and think snipers of the Chris Kyle variety are great human beings who deserve our thanks. The tiniest fraction (.00001%) read Hedges or Chomsky (or me, .000000001%), and even less could understand the arguments of an alternative narrative. Indeed, I doubt 200,000 Americans know what a "narrative" is. Bryan Sikes' "brain" is basically a stone, and he is hardly alone.

Take a look at the face of the policewoman in this article:

http://rt.com/usa/227567-seattle-pepper-spray-teacher/

If you don't think that that is the face of America, yr living on Jupiter.

Of course, in terms of the continuing collapse of the empire, all this is *good* news. In that sense, we owe a great debt to Bryan Sikes, Chris Kyle, and the rest of the country that is bitter, violence-prone, and has shit for brains.

mb

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers,

John McCain is a dangerous lunatic -- and one of the most representative ‘leaders’ that the American people have. He volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam because he thought it would advance his military career, and when the Vietnamese shot him down and made him stop dumping napalm on their people he complains that they weren’t nice to him. These were people on the other side of the world who had never harmed him or his country in any way. What a gross, bizarre caricature of a poor excuse for a decent human being!

Now, in honor of John McCain, a psychopathic sniper, and the US military, please open you hymnals and join me in singing “Onward Christian Soldiers”.

@lack,

Re: “You really can't criticize the military in any way around a lot of the population.”

This massive undeserved glorification of the US military reminds me of an attitude that was common in France during the criminal war to keep their Algerian colony. Any criticism of French military war crimes in parliament was shouted down with the cry, “You’re insulting the Army!” I see this as a reaction to the French military’s abysmal lack of success over the previous century. Even in WW I, the French and British together were on the verge of losing to the Germans when the US intervened by sending enough cannon fodder to tip the balance.

It’s similar with the US which has only defeated much weaker enemies, and has frequently failed to defeat or outright lost to them. This (plus a healthy dose of racism) is a major factor in Americans’ willful ignorance of history and their need for mythmaking instead.

David Rosen

1:51 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

The next time a foreigner asks for an explanation of politics, remember this. Tell them to watch American Sniper and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Sniper encapsulates the worldview of red voters. John Q American is always up to the task of securing "freedom" through personal sacrifice. Dawn encapsulates the worldview of blue voters. Stupidity is the problem; eliminate the tards so that those capable of proper, comfortable "work" can zone n drone with their ipads. Both depend, a priori, on the iron fist of an authoritarian rule. Both feel that the problem is the other half of the species, which is unsaveable and starving for their blood and property.

May the fire burn high and bright.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

Good piece on the colossal failure of Obama's vision-less foreign policy (and general douchebaggery):

https://www.guernicamag.com/daily/andrew-bacevich-save-us-from-washingtons-visionaries/

The US narrative of "Russia in Ukraine" continues to collapse in on itself:

http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150129/1017514425.html


7:20 PM  
Blogger Val said...

MB, that police officer is America incarnate. She should be the subject of a heroic, maximally aggrandizing biopic like Chris Kyle's. My one slight reservation is that she hasn't pulled out her high-guage automatic weapon for the purpose of blowing away the criminal commie terrorist talking with his mom on the cell phone. But not to worry, a little script doctoring can fix that. In our movie he'll be talking to ISIS or Al Qaeda, ready to detonate a bomb with his phone when our heroine saves the day by splattering his blood all over the sidewalk. Yay America!*

@ Dovidel - Re "John McCain is a dangerous lunatic --" - I couldn't agree more. He scares me, and the thought that he has enough supporters to keep him in office is even scarier.

Coupla days ago at the mall some leafleters were annoying passersby, trying to engage all & sundry in unwanted conversations about the subject of their literature - something to do with justice and poverty - and, I suppose, probably hitting them up for donations. One woman, a young & attractive blonde, got in a big argument with them; she seemed irate, even infuriated, at the idea she should do something to help out the poor, at any rate on the terms suggested. I bet by this time next year such confrontations will wind up with gunfire exchanged pretty regularly. Funny how these things seem to consistently happen at the mall, the type of environment aptly described by J.H. Kunstler as "entropy made visible."

* Yes, I know how "Yea!" should be spelled, but remember this is an American movie.

1:57 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"John McCain is a dangerous lunatic."

We saw something of McCain's true nature on Thursday (29 January) at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee to take testimony from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger--and former Secretaries George Shultz and Madaleine Albright--on "global challenges to national security."

Protesters from Code Pink who were present unfurled a banner calling Kissinger a war criminal and shouted for his arrest. Unable to continue over the shouting, McCain called for the Capitol Police to remove the protesters, and told them "Get out of here, you low-life scum."

Though no account I read made any mention of him, the senior senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, was also present as a committee member. As you may have read, the same day as this hearing Graham formed a political organization to explore a run for president for 2016.

Good times ahead, boys and girls.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

The French government says that if you quit eating baguettes, you might be a jihadist. Other signs of potential terror are stopping swimming and working out, or quit watching television, or spending too much time online with social networks, or a half-dozen other signs of radicalism.

I’m not making this up. Here is a poster now being circulated in France. If you don’t read French, the images will give a sense of the government message.

http://static1.stop-djihadisme.gouv.fr/

It’s not likely, but in case you want to know more about France’s anti-jihadist campaign, here’s the website:

http://www.stop-djihadisme.gouv.fr

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

Keith Jarrett's Koln concert has been mentioned here before; Here's a new link discussing it's 40th anniversary. And here's a link to one of my favorite (subtitled) Italian movies, Caro Diario, which - at 20:23 - features one of the Koln pieces, as well as several other good selections of music.

Also, Rod Dreher at The American Conservative site mentions what sounds like a very interesting documentary, Bitter Lake. Here's the trailer, and here's a Guardian link discussing the film maker Adam Curtis. Dreher claims that you can watch the film with the BBC's iPlayer, but I haven't found this to be the case, since it seems to me the BBC won't allow access to anyone outside the British Isles. However, it looks as though someone has uploaded the film to YouTube in two parts (part1 and part2). There's well over two hours of video. I haven't yet had a chance to watch these clips myself.

"The world was reinvented as a struggle between good and evil", Bitter Lake

12:24 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

This was in a recent Q&A with Bill Gates:

Q: "In your opinion, has technology made the masses less intelligent?"

Gates: "Technology is not making people less intelligent. If you just look at the complexity people like in Entertainment you can see a big change over my lifetime. Technology is letting people get their questions answered better so they stay more curious. It makes it easier to know a lot of topics which turns out to be pretty important to contribute to solving complex problems."

100% denial. Of course he's the richest person in the world and is one of the biggest supporters of technology.

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2tzjp7/hi_reddit_im_bill_gates_and_im_back_for_my_third/co3q3id

2:00 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

It's funny, 6 months ago I was looking for work, and people called me stupid for not going into the oil business.

Now the oil business is having layoffs, so I'm glad I didn't listen to that advice. Soon people will be blaming these people laid off from the oil business for not finding jobs elsewhere. I'm just waiting for the people saying "yeah I know you just moved to N Dakota and got laid off, now move across the world if you have to! It's your fault if you remain unemployed!"

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Oil-prices-drop-oil-jobs-take-the-fall-6051547.php

I like to think of the economy as musical chairs, where we tell the people left out that it's their fault for not making it.

The job market changes so quickly, it's amazing how people turn to blaming individuals immediately for this. People never question the system. On top of it, everyone wonders why people are depressed and unhappy. That's just more personal blame on top of everything else.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

American Sniper?

http://hnn.us/sites/default/files/153981-image-spysguideoswaldassassincostume.jpg

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Hola, Waferinos. Just thought I'd check in.
MB- cher maitre, thanks for the lively, intelligent and informative discussion. It's a great example of what comes from my habit of hanging around people a whole lot smarter than I. If It were dropped into an NPR hour , many undernourished listeners would be asking for more ear-pastrami like that. What then? re.DFWallace, I read short pieces and really liked them and him. Picked up Infinite Jest, strained my back , couldn't get interested, put it back down. He was a math major in college like a certain other fine writer.
- iamnotarobot, I hope u listened. Kunstler seems multi-faceted and complicated. there's good stuff there. Don't throw the Bibi out with the bathwater. Thenkyew- rim shot, please.
- Pilgrim, I remember well the first time I heard Koln concert. Kris Welch opened her morning show on KPFA with it sometime in '75. I had my alarm set for 0700 and it was the first thing that I heard that day. Listened to the whole thing without moving and went into work late but very happy. Blowback was that too many piano players in parlors everywhere took to imitating improv. Fortunately, the trend died down
Dawgzy

3:39 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

1. Kicking ass and taking names:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/01/us/new-mexico-toddler-shoots-parents/index.html

2. A conked out teleprompter, crack high, deliberate/strategic incoherence, a deep and mysterious sexual dry spell, or what, Wafers?:

http://www.c-span.org/video/?323834-14/sarah-palin-iowa-freedom-summit

*If you can stand it, be sure to watch the entire speech...

Miles

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Pilgrim said...

I finished watching Adam Curtis' documentary Bitter Lake, which is posted up on YouTube (part1 and part2). A very interesting documentary about our involvement in Afghanistan, how the Saudis have helped spread violent Wahhibism throughout the region, petroleum politics, the staggering growth of the power of the banking industry, and - most of all - the fallout from our simplistic, Manichean attitude towards the region.

Curtis draws analogies to the Russian movie Solaris, where by the end of the film the mysterious planet has caused the Russian astronauts to seriously question their grasp of reality. He claims something similar happened to the thousands of professionals the Soviets sent into Afghanistan to create the ideal society. The extensive corruption and chaos that they encountered seriously undermined their beliefs in their own society. He cautioned that the same may happen to the British and Americans...

"Tens of thousands of Americans and Europeans would pass through the country over the next ten years. Soldiers, diplomats, experts, political advisors and journalists, all of them trying to build this new society. But few of them stopped to think whether what had happened to the Russians twenty years before might also happen to them. But in a strange way Afghanistan has revealed to us the emptiness and hypocrisy of many of our beliefs, and that we may be returning from there also haunted by Mujahedin ghosts, knowing that underneath we believe in nothing."

12:20 PM  
Blogger Val said...

@ kilo - The peculiar mental blindness about shrinking job opportunities that you describe is indeed highly prevalent. Basically it's a form of stupidity. But the succinct way that you describe it causes me to think the following. From the viewpoint of the ruling class, perhaps widespread public stupidity, as practiced on the scale that it is in the United States, is a kind of capital asset to be maintained at public cost, rather like a large piece of national infrastructure, but for the benefit of the few not the many. Resources that go into maintaining it must of course be taken away from things that might contribute to the public welfare.

I imagine that MB may argue that Americans need no help in staying stupid - he's made that case very cogently. Yet keeping us dumb as well as ignorant does seem to be among the core functions of our current news media and broadcast industries. Making us pay for our stupidification is just one of the Mephistophelian delights of American-style corporate socialism.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Val-

I'm not sure how deliberate the moronization of the American public is, because the news media folks are pretty dumb as well: I have the feeling they actually believe the garbage they put out. In which case, it's the entire country that's mired in colossal ignorance--which probably includes most of the ruling class.

Meanwhile, we are now up to 150 registered Wafers. And they laughed, 9 yrs ago, when I started this blog! I guess we showed *them*!

mb

12:56 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Nice one from Dmitry:
http://cluborlov.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/quite-few-of-those-currently-inhabiting.html

5:51 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B, you said "I have the feeling they actually believe the garbage they put out. In which case, it's the entire country that's mired in colossal ignorance--which probably includes most of the ruling class."

You got that right. How much Acid are these people dropping?

Another Moron.

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/02/laura_ingrahams_astonishing_ignorance_i_just_dont_think_measles_is_that_big_of_a_deal/

8:58 PM  
Blogger fyreflye said...

Now 151.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

How do you become "registered"? I see nothing on the pages about registering. I am probably not registered -- I have only submitted posts. Or does submitting posts automatically "register" you? I want to be counted!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Morris - In case you were wondering, John Boehner is arguably not intelligent enough to realize that you cannot turn an aircraft carrier around in a bathtub.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Never happen in 'Murica dept, Taiwan is trying to curb child ipad usage

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/03/intl_opinion/taiwan-ipads-kids/index.html

This is why we can't have nice things dept, don't bother slogging through the replies without a strong base of contentment. At least the Steinbeck quote made an appearance.

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1850884

11:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David-

I have no idea. Maybe fyreflye can help.

cube-

I doubt whether in all of human history there's been a country that has been regarded as a joke by most of the other countries on the planet. Meanwhile, the "joke" country actually regards itself as superior! Whatta world, eh?

mb

11:59 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Cube, Val et al.-
While we're on the subject of moronization of the American public and its ruling class, consider this recent example:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/03/freedom-not-washing-your-hands-us-senator-picks-bad-day-health-joke

3:57 PM  
Blogger fyreflye said...

@ David G. re: Following this blog.

1. Supposedly you are reading this on "Blogger."
2. Go to the top of this page and click on "Blogger" at the upper left.
3. A page should appear inviting you to sign in to Google, which owns "Blogger" and much else. If you're not now a member of Google sign up.
4. A new page should appear with various options. One of the options is "Add." Click "Add."
5. A new page should appear with an option to follow one of "Blogger's" blogs by entering the url of that blog..
6. Copy the url of MB's "Blogger" home page into the box provided.
7. If you've done everything right a page should appear called Reading List and containing titles and snips of recent posts that have been posted on the blog.
8. You're done.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

See, this is my pt: if the House and Senate are filled with horses' asses, how did they get there? Who was in the voting booth?

mb

6:04 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Jack-

Jesus, would it be too much to ask for a Thom Tillis/Jenny McCarthy ticket for 2016?

A political ad from their future campaign could go something like this:

Hi, my name is Thom Tillis and I'm very concerned about your vagina's freedom...

&

Hi, I'm Jenny and I usta have Double D's, but now I have a PhD.

Bound to attract many American voters, yes?

O&D,

Miles

7:40 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

JWO,

I finally got around to reading the Atlantic article you linked to, which I enjoyed since I've never been a mechanically-minded person. Chachra makes a lot of wonderful points, and I think the last paragraph is especially insightful. It would be great to see more people, as Gloria Steinem suggests, "have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” There is simply no chance of the United States' machismo culture undergoing such a metamorphosis. And it doesn't help that American feminists focus on crap like walking in "slut" parades and dyeing their oh-so-radical armpit hair.

Coincidentally, I've been reading the Ivan Illich book Dovidel recommended, "Deschooling Society." It's really good, and has challenged me to question a lot of my assumptions. He touches on a wide range of subjects, including that of Chachra's article. He writes:

"I believe that a desirable future depends on our deliberately choosing a life of action over a life of consumption, on our engendering a life style which will enable us to be spontaneous, independent, yet related to each other, rather than maintaining a life style which only allows us to make and unmake, produce and consume." And several pages later, "Man must choose whether to be rich in things or in the freedom to use them.... Aristotle had already discovered that 'making and acting' are different, so different, in fact, that one never includes the other."

And Chachra's line, "Or, worse, if you say that I 'make' other people, you are diminishing their agency and role in sense-making, as if their learning is something I do to them." is extremely reminiscent of "Deschooling Society".

9:36 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...how did they get there?"

I'm fairly certain I've drawn the WAFerati's attention to this before, but hope you'll indulge my highlighting it again.

George says, "Fuck hope." Why he didn't vote and where our politicians come from:

http://youtu.be/5kS8cLd8KYg

9:52 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

fyreflye: Thanks for the instructions. I went through the procedure, and it looks like it worked.

Dr. Berman: You should see the number of registered Wafers go up by one now!

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Claiborne said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3fhKRJNNTA

Re: Chomsky...2 parallel lines, 4" apart. Ie, infinite in one direction, very limited in the other.

Sam Harris had posted this, Chomsky flounders over questions asking him to explain basic concepts of freedom of will.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Hola, vatos y vatas. So last night went to see Inherent Vice by the great Paul Thomas Anderson. I loved every minute- Los Angeles in 1970. No one in Hollywood does a better job of examining American life and its emptiness. Hustling, ambition and money for their own sake are themes all the way through his body of work. This film was fun and funny to boot. Obscure and cluttered as it might seem, it's clear in saying overtly 2 or 3 times that American life is something that people are fleeing and finding themselves smack back in the middle of it after all. (pun intended.) Golden Fang is a metaphor, a monolith and a vertically integrated heroin importation and distribution concern- with a new-agey rehab center in Ojai.
IV is a very long and shaggy thing. A lot of folks will walk out in the middle muttering. Loved it and will see again.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Will Rogers is reported to have said that being a comic wasn't hard at all because he had an entire government working for him.

In that vein, a report out of Vermont:

An 8th grader studying Latin thought her state should have a Latin motto (current motto: Freedom and Unity). She proposed "Stella quarta decima fulgeat" ("May the 14th star shine bright"). [Vermont was the 14th state,to join the Union.]

Her suggestion was embraced by a Republican state senator, who introduced a bill in the legislature to adopt this motto.

Citizens who learned about this heard or read "Latin," thought "LATINO," and went apeshit in social media.

Read about,it here:

http://wonkette.com/575109/vermont-proposes-official-latin-motto-wingnuts-tell-vermont-to-go-back-to-mexico

5:46 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

If I ever write my memoirs and devote a section of it to this past week, I'm not sure what title I would give this particular chapter. Right now, I have 2 titles in mind: "Adventures of the dialectic," or maybe "All gall is divided." Which one is better? *Both* would fit the situation. My mom was rushed to the hospital due to low blood pressure. She was stabilized, had a series of tests, then given a room & a bed. She's ok. *Finally* released. But not until the hospital just let her languish in bed for 4 days with little or no feedback for us (her family) abt her situation. Hello? Can we get some answers in here *please*? A bunch of "specialists" running around doing tests, but nobody really taking charge of the situation. They call it "managed care" but who's managing what (?) & are any of these folks coordinating their efforts? Doesn't seem like it. Let's call it "the mirage of efficiency," with a hospital administration (seemingly) running things the way Obama runs his foreign policy: ad hoc (as MB once stated). I mean you can proudly display a copy of "Patient's Rights" in each room like it's the "Declaration of Independence," or talk about patient advocacy until you're (quite literally!) blue in the face. But it's an illusion, or mostly "island-speak" and a kind of lip service. You know what finally got the ball rolling? My sister's tears of frustration, or devotion, or love, or helplessness (all gall is divided). So if you want answers, but don't have 'access', remember folks: the next time a loved one is in the hospital it finally comes down to 'the squeaky wheel gets the grease.' Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt to throw a little authentic emotion into the equation.

atearinrain-

So that was the 'gall' part of my story. There was also the 'adventure' part to my week that your question kind of got me thinking abt. At a 1/2 page limit here, so I'll get back to that in another day or so.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jesus, who gives a shit? They're douche bags, end of story:

http://us.cnn.com/2015/02/04/opinion/costello-american-identity/index.html

8:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Forgot to mention: we are now up to 153 registered Wafers. I got so excited I lost control of all my bodily functions. The day we take over the world is clearly not far away.

mb

8:24 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Liu said, "America makes Chinese Americans.... And that places us at a great advantage." Now there's some profound thinking! Jesus, the silliness is now at *epic* proportions. How do these two douche bags even get a spot on TV. Kim's ass is more penetrating and insightful than Liu and Costello's analysis of American identity. Here's a thought:

How many in our "who is us" society are ready to take on Putin's naked aggression and gangster state? It sure seems like there's a war going on in Ukraine; latest count is over 5,000 killed. Is this a Suez Moment for the US? A Suez Moment for the European Union? I know you're up to your eyeballs in work, but any thoughts you have about it would be appreciated.

Miles

9:07 PM  
Blogger katharine said...

Dr.B- I believe I am now an official wafer. Would like to recommend James Carroll's book HOUSE OF WAR to fellow wafers. Thanks

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers:

Now up to 154. I may need to be heavily sedated. Meanwhile, I really love this:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/04/entertainment/conrad-hilton-assaulting-intimidating-flight-attendants-charge/index.html

mb

7:21 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

Miles Deli,

good points for the most part.

I am curious about this naked aggression of Mr Putins. What? Last I checked, the US violated treaties and went about encircling Russia with missile bases. The fact that a U.S. assistant sec of state admitted putting in 5 billion to undermine the Ukrainian govt to hand pick one to U.S specifications seems a bit over the top no? Ukraine part of Russia for 500 years or so and Kiev was once Russias capital. Do recally Georgia, US trained troops attempted to overthrow the govt and then the Russians expelled them (after 5 hours) and then the Russians left and Georgia remains an independent country. Who has Putin droned or bombed or invaded lately? Do splain, other than in the U.s. papers and government nobody thinks Putin is responsible. If he were nakedly aggressive as you assert , Russian tanks would have been in Kiev months ago.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous McFly said...

Berman,

Remember the movie 'Back to the Future?' Remember Biff? Biff is the United States of America. He is the mascot, the ideal American, the spokesman, the emblem.... see what I'm trying to say here? I know you can think of better words to describe what Biff is to America. I want you to write about Biff and America. An article at least, but hopefully a book. Thanks.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

The comments following that Latin-in-Vermont story are hilarious, James Allen.

They kinda 'splain how Dan Quayle could rise to his position. After all, he didn't come from outer space...like his fellow astronauts.

O&D

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

Pretty sure this story wasn't mentioned, but it's definitely worthy of this blog and anyone interested in the ideas of "robopathy." http://www.polygon.com/2015/2/1/7960307/fourth-grader-suspended-lord-of-the-rings

Fourth-Grader Says He Has JRR Tolkien’s ‘The One Ring’; School Suspends Him For Making ‘Terrorist Threat’

A fourth-grader in west Texas has been suspended, his father says, because he pretended to have a ring like the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings canon, and said it could make a classmate disappear. Dad Jason Steward said he was told his son’s claim amounted to making a terrorist threat.

This isn't his son’s first scrape with authority; the boy has been suspended three times already, once for calling a black classmate black, the other for bringing a book to school that had a drawing of a pregnant woman.


3:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sean-

I guess the best thing is just to take the kid out and shoot him. We can't have that kind of shameless rebellion in our schls.

McFly-

I am in fact working on a 6-vol. history of Biff. In the meantime, it's Mr. Berman, por favor, altho some prefer Utmost Excellency or Exalted One, or Great Visionary of Western Hemisphere (GVWH). But Mr. will do well enuf, thanks.

mb

3:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

We now have 156 registered Wafers. I write from the psych ward of the local hospital (maximum security). They had to put me on a Haldol IV drip to calm me down.

RIDE THE WAFERWAVE!

(Sorry, lost control there for a moment.)

mb

5:47 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

Do you see any similarity between the 60s and now? Psychedelics, politics, internet, bitcoin etc. I picked up a young 20 something hitchhiker a few months ago. He turns on his phone once a week to check in with family. Hitching is a considered lifestyle choice for him. I let him out at a randomly stopped freight train that he said looked like it was headed to kansas, oklahoma being his inyended destination. Id picked him up cause if listened to a podcast with another such traveler a week before. I was amazed to find this seemingly growing subculture right in front of me. I only mention this as another example of the kind of counter culture movements im asking about. My main concern is that ive often heard people talk about how the energy of the 60s fizzled out. Do you think this 'millenial' hype is another 60s style fizzy soda or do you think this one will be a more drawn out parallel to the collapse of capitalism? The Singularity dweebs are really nagging at me lately.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Not sure, really. 60s 'dropouts' were middle-class, on parental support, most of them. Today's dropouts may be poor--i.e., this cd be a lifestyle due to lack of choice.

Meanwhile, can anyone name another country where events like this take place almost every day (or, at all)?:

http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/06/news/companies/comcast-customer-super-bitch/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/06/us/new-mexico-toddler-shoots-parents/index.html

6:26 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

COS-

My reference about Putin's naked aggression and gangster state is what Kerry is surely going to say, at some point, in Kiev w/Merkel and Hollande.

Personally, tho, I don't think it's too difficult to make a case against Putin as the aggressor in the Ukrainian situation or a war criminal, for that matter. Sure, you can criticize NATO's expansion Eastward, as you did, as being counterproductive and going against the interests of Russia, but those things are not mutually exclusive when taken w/the fact that Putin continues to lie about the situation in Ukraine. it's clear that Russian forces along with Russian equipment is orchestrating this whole thing in Eastern Ukraine. And what about the fact that attacking a neighboring country in defiance of international law, the UN Charter, and various agreements signed by Russia and Ukraine is illegal? As MB likes to say, a tad oppressive, no? What about the poisoning/murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006? The international community knows full well that the Putin regime was behind this assassination yet they chose to do nothing about it. What about the Tatars in the annexation of the crimea? Who's gonna speak for them? What about the flattening of Ukrainian towns by Russian separatists forces in this current war. You do know that Ukrainian prisoners of war are being paraded around, beaten in the streets, even summarily executed? You can see videos of all this on youtube, BTW. Are these not war crimes? Putin is worth over 70 billion and, quite frankly, Russia is essentially owned by 120 billionaires; many of whom are Putin's close friends. Jesus, it's a long list...and it frustrates me that people seem to still give Putin a pass.

Anyway, an honest assessment of Russia/Putin hasta look at all of this and more. I think it wise to question Putin's intentions beyond Eastern Ukraine and further perhaps. Check out the book by Karen Dawisha, "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia"; solid sources and data by my lights.

MIles

6:28 PM  
Anonymous door said...

Miles:In 1998 Tom Friedman from the NY Times did an interview with George Kennan about the expansion of NATO into East Germany and Poland.Mr.Kennan said that the expansion was a blunder of potentially epic proportions.The reasons he gave were that Russian people were not the enemy it was communist government that no longer existed.That future leaders of Russia could not ignore the expansion due to their history and would have no choice but to react.Mr.Kennan ended the interview saying he was sad to see his life work get so screwed up.My own observation looking at a map is the expansion is west to east not the other way around and that is provoking the situation.Thanks

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Manolo said...

Miles Deli,

Seems you have a view not supported by facts or the reality of history and human nature. Screeds on the order of Hillary Clintons "Putin is Hilter" are balderdash. If any place is a gangster state with concentration of wealth and war crimes (recent torture report, Abu Gahrib, war zones in 7 or 8 countries, children killed by drones etc) it aint Russia--its USA.

So no doubt NPR and John Kerry agree (and probably created and shaped) with your narrative. Russia invaded? Russian Separatists? What? These are loaded terms and not accurate...COS seemed to have provided facts that the world media and thinking people outside the U.S. are well aware of and the best you can do is worry about John Kerry? You ignore the Osetia invasion orchestrated by the U.S., troops in Estonia (very close to st. petersburg) I guess the U.S. would be cool with the Chinese/Russians meddling in Mexio and Canada huh?

But when Chomsky and Kissinger agree that the U.S. is to blame on something you really have to sit up and take notice.

http://www.mintpressnews.com/chomsky-kissinger-agree-avoid-historic-tragedy-ukraine/201839/

10:00 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Miles,

Well, your view does not seem to be supported by leading thinkers on the matter. Well worth a read though you seem to have made up your mind, though facts are as they say stubborn

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141769/john-j-mearsheimer/why-the-ukraine-crisis-is-the-wests-fault

10:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Miles et al.-

Gd discussion! Let's keep it going.

-mb

10:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check out this kid's letter to Gov. Cuomo. He calls him a failure; wish he had also said douche bag.

http://poeticjusticect.com/2015/01/31/dear-mr-cuomo-a-fourth-grader-speaks-out/

2:50 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Miles Deli always seemed to make sense, “get it,” and then makes comments about Putin and the Ukraine that regurgitate the government and MSM propaganda. What’s going on here? Miles, where do you get your news?

5:30 AM  
Blogger David Bolas said...

My folks and I are making a much needed jail break this Spring. We'll be returning to Russia (both the far east and west) as well as Japan, the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere- all the places the US says Americans are not supposed to go or even have an interest in.

I've been to Russia/USSR several times since 1983.Went to Ukraine after the Orange Revolution of 2004 to try to figure out that place and even dated a girl in my home town when I returned who was from Crimea. When I asked her where she was from, she said Russia. She spoke and identified with everything Russian.The latest poll of Crimeans reveals that one year later, 82 % are happy with Russian reunification, with only 4 % opposed. Our fellow Americans (even the school girls in the State Department) have no idea that much of Russian history originated from the Kievan Rus Empire,(Ukraine) founded in 882. Though the west especially speaks a more Polish/Lithuanian type of language, the country as a whole has had deep connections with Russia for centuries.

This is clearly another US regime change operation targeted at Putin and the western media are atrocious as usual.The US REALLY doesn't do rivals or competition well. They like monopolies.Nice to see an accurate summary of the US led coup last February as well as the US installed government.

antiwar.com- Chomsky and kissinger Agree: Avoid the Historic Tragedy of Ukraine

6:29 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hello MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

First of all, thank you all for the information and the arguments that you have provided about the Ukrainian conflict. At this point, however, this appears to be about *more* than just the annexation of Crimea, no? Perhaps I have had a momentary lapse of my critical faculties and judgement as some seem to suggest, but I can't get around the fact that Russia is fomenting the violence with arms and fighters, to the tune of 9,000, to the pro-Russia separatists and have conquered *more* Ukrainian territory in recent weeks. Furthermore, Putin will not honor the Minsk peace agreement which called for the removal of Russian weapons and forces from eastern Ukraine. This is *not* my view, nor the view of MSM so-called propaganda; it's coming straight from Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president. Also, I certainly can't help the fact, aside from Putin's wishes and goals, that a pro-Europe government and parliament now rule Ukraine that wants greater integration w/Europe and the west. If they want to be associated w/the west that is their right, isn't it? Why would Poroshenko be asking the west/US for weapons and aid if they didn't rightly see Putin as a serious threat? Again, perhaps I'm wrong, but given Putin's record, it's hard not to conclude that his aim is to destroy Ukraine's independence.

Miles

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

There's no doubt that the crisis in the Ukraine is entirely down to US/NATO meddling. Russia is an unambitious, peaceful country that has never sought to intimidate its neighbours - unlike the USA!

The US has a long, long history of meddling on Russia's borders and causing unnecessary strife. We only have to look at the Soviet Union's peaceful invasion of Finland in 1940 which was the result of a plot by the CIA, prior to its own existence, devised by John Kerry's grandfather, John Kerry Snr.

And let us not forget Russia's defence of its territorial rights in its invasion of Poland in 1919, also the result of a US false flag operation devised by the CIA prior to anyone even conceiving of the concept of the CIA.

And let us not forget either Russia's 200 year southern expansion from the mid-17th Century, which brought it to the borders of Turkey. This was, it goes without saying, also the result of US meddling, by seven generations of the Kerry family, all of them called John.

I mean, let's keep things simplistic, in a binary kind of way, and assume the US is the only nation in the world with ambitions for power, and that anyone who opposes it is a victim. Even a country like Russia, that spent six centuries accidentally getting bigger and bigger, and adding more and more to its territory, due to unnecessary provocations from outsiders with expensive bouffant hairstyles.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous cafe voltaire said...

Miles,

The Ukraine situation is primarily geopolitical--about energy resources--of which Russia has enough to supply a dependent Europe. The US does not want Europe allying with Russia (a natural ally and neighbour) over its dependence on Russia's gas. Such naturally close market ties between Russia and Europe would seriously undermine the US position as the world's top dog since an amicable European/Russian bloc would be like China---so big as to dwarf the US and able to ignore its demands.
The US has made no secret that it wants regime change in Russia and has been working towards that, in various underhand ways, since the end of the cold war.

Read up on some Russian history, particularly on what happened in the USSR during the Great Patriotic War (WW2) when 27 million Soviet citizens died defending the Motherland. I would hazard a guess that they won't be surrendering quietly this time either--and why on earth should they?

2:35 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

William R. Catton Jr. died early last month, just short of his 89th birthday

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2015/02/as-night-closes-in.html

2:57 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Iraq and ISIS/ISIL. Syria and Assad. Putin and Ukraine.

What to do, what to do.

We know what John Graham and Lindsey McCain would do. (HINT: The military is coming and it's bringing a kinetic solution.)

Cause that's worked so well for us up to now.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous CO said...

Miles,

Why is Poroshenko asking for weapons (or accpeting them from U.S.) you ask--to hold on to the power he gained illigitmitaly is why.

Putins Record? Recored of what? Being the most popular leader of Russia since 1880? What is it about Putin demonizers? In fact you would never know this from U.S. media but Putin never wanted (why would he) the Ukraine. The situation was foisted upon him. Again--what is it about his record--what record is this? Has Russia invaded or droned or destabilized any countries in last two decades? Do tell. For the 50th time--if Putin was as devlish and evil as you say, there would have been Russians in Kiev months and months ago. Hell they could be there in two days without much effort. They have not--and have shown amazing restraint over the course of this U.S. led provokation.

Yes, yes a fellow was poisoned in 2006 and supposedly he has billions and runs a gangster state, but what does that have to do with the price of eggs--i.e. even if true that does not make him the aggressor.

Yes, the U.S. and EU destabilized Ukraine and yes now to save ethnic russians from further death and harm they are recieviing aid. What is wrong with that?

Do you grasp that a.) Ukraine has only been an independent country for 20 years and for most of that time teetering. The current government is illigitamate and set up by the U.S. and yes its a lot of neo nazis. b.) Ukraine is on border with Russia, and c.) Everybody who knows anything agrees the U.S. caused this whole mess. Minsk agreement-0oh yes sign away the lives of people in Eastern Ukraine and keep people comming in as refugees to burden a strained russia and then have the Ukies set up a U.s. EU base next door.

d.) The view of Poroshenko? Who elected him? Not the eastern Ukrainians who he and his cronies seemed to like killing until the tables turned. Poroshenko is a U.S. stooge and part of the problem not independent.

e.) given your last two comments I know its pointless to try to get through but what the hell...What would you have him Russia do--trust and listen to Obama, Kerry and let a U.S. army base set up? Yeesh.

f.) As orlov said, Putin like the moon or the tides does not exist for your approval. He is fighting for the survival of russia and freedom form U.S. influence. As others have pointed out, this horror and needless deaths are brought to you by the same kind statesmen who brought your Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria and on and on. I would say the problem aint Putins record as you note (what record) but the record of the U.S.

Please somebody else help me here....The basic facts as laid out by Kissinger, Chomsky, the senior expert at the Council of Foreign Relations and every paper outside of the U.S. are not enough to penetrate Miles views....I give up.....

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Fred R said...

Appropos of topic and post, Kunstler treats with Ukraine very succinctly

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/apocalypse-now-and-forever/

4:09 PM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

MB -

I've been thinking about your book on Japan - hope it's out soon!

I'm not sure if you've commented on American artisans/DIY culture. You've said Japan supports many artisans, and I'd wonder if you could comment on America. I think Philip Slater wrote about this in "Pursuit", and he was critical of our DIY culture.

Why is it that America loves the DIY culture, and isn't supportive of artisans generally? It seems that your average person has 0 appreciation for craft, and will be proud for doing something themselves, even if it turns out like shit (DIY home remodeling comes to mind)

7:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

kilo-

This goddamn bk is taking forever. Currently having probs w/the printer. Maybe 1 mo., if I'm lucky. I'm ready to commit harakiri.

I do discuss the US/J comparison with respect to craft at some length (be sure to read the ftnotes). Very different traditions, economies, and mindsets, as it turns out. If u aren't rdg abt it in a month, you can probably read the posthumous publication. I ask only that u place a slender bamboo reed on my grave. Anyway, thanks for asking.

mb

9:47 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hello MB and Wafers,

COS-

I hafta say your arguments about the Ukrainian conflict and Putin would be taken more seriously if Ukrainian civilians were not dodging Russian bullets, or rocket attacks; one of which killed 30 civilians in Mariupol not long ago. Putin, of course, blamed Ukraine for this terrible *escalation* of violence. Consider this:

-Over 5,000 Ukrainian civilians have died in this conflict
-Over 1.2 million have been displaced
-Ukraine hasn't invaded a whole chunk of Russia
-It hasn't killed thousands of people

What more evidence do you need that this is one-sided aggression? And please don't give me an excuse about how Ukraine is run by fascists and Putin must save it. My understanding of fascism is that it's a fusion of state power and corporate power, which is exactly what you've got under Putin and the oligarchs. A bit more to do than jus' the cost of eggs...

The reason, as you say, Putin cares so much about Ukraine *now* has more to do w/the incredible crooked former leader of Ukraine, Yanukovych. Viktor, of course, was a major kleptocrat who embezzled millions of dollars in public funds, was ousted by the people, and fled to Russia. Interpol is looking for him, BTW.

As for Putin's record, you need to open your eyes a bit wider, my friend. I could cite chapter and verse of the criminality of his regime. I won't since I get the feeling you don't care. The short end of it is:
I think he's an aggressive thug in charge of a mafia state who likes running around w/out a shirt with bigger tits than our beloved Kim. Who's with me on this one, Wafers? Nobody, okay...

Lastly, I think you said it best, Ukraine has been independent for a shaky 20 years. Truth be told, I don't care if it was 20 days... Independence means just that. In a perfect world, Ukraine shouldn't have to submit to Russian pressure even though, as you and others correctly point out, that Ukraine is in the Russian sphere of influence. It's not a country that NATO is treaty-bound to protect and I agree that the US jumping into Ukraine would probably start a proxy war w/Russia that could lead to a full-fledged war. Not good! This would probably provide a pretext for Putin for more open involvement.

Miles

12:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I listened to your interview and found it fascinating. BTW, I am an Indian living on the outskirts of a relatively small town called Allahabad. I discovered you (as an author) quite by chance on one of my trips to the US about 4-5 years ago when my attention got stuck to the title `Dark Ages America'. I read that went on to read `Why America Failed'. Anyway, what fascinated me about your interview on Japan is your thoughts and ideas on the tradition of crafts. It worthwhile to note that the three major Asian civilizations, Japan, China and India, stand at three different stages of industrialization. Japan. became industrial long ago. China over the past few decades, and India have not even started the process very seriously. Anyway, the point is, since India has not become an industrial society, it still retains many of the crafts tradition. They are dying out, but have not become extinct. I cannot elaborate much more in a comment.

My point of writing this is to ask if your interests in cultural history have taken you to India? I have a feeling that you will find it absolutely fascinating, a country where many centuries live together, where horse-drawn carriages and BMW's jostle for road-space. As an Indian, and your admirer, would love to have your insights, on the course that India is, socially, historically and politically. If you ever think of making a trip to India, do count on my help.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Unknown-

In terms of blog protocol, two things:

1. You need a real handle; 'Unknown' won't do it. Pick something like Rasmalai, or Keema Naan.

2. Send yr messages to the most recent post. No one reads the older stuff.

Now then: thank you for writing, and for your interest in my work; I really appreciate it. Also for your offer of help in India. Very generous of you, and I may need it. I've thought a lot about visiting, and perhaps doing a book on India, since I've long been fascinated by the ideological split between Nehru and Gandhi, the two paths they represent. I'm a big fan of John Ruskin's, whom Gandhi translated into Gujarat, and who was a big influence on his life. I would certainly like to learn about the Indian craft tradition 'on the ground,' as it were.

Google map: looks like you are pretty accessible, 10 hours from Delhi by train and a few hours from Kathmandu, in Uttar Pradesh.

Here's my e-mail address, so that we can stay in touch:

mauricio@morrisberman.com

Thanks again--it was very kind of you to reach out.

-mb

10:26 AM  
Blogger Steve Stelzer said...

As an avid Kunstler reader and podcast fan, I was very pleased with your interview. I then listened to the Audible version of Why America Failed. Wow! I really appreciate your insight! I'm a native of Rochester as well and living in Houston since college. H-Town for Hustle, that is. Keep up the great work!

11:50 PM  

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