July 20, 2013


Greetings Wafers and Waferettes!

We seem to be filling up our allotted space of 200 comments with unusual speed these days. I blink, and it's time for another post. Let me take this opportunity to give you all an un-progress report regarding various books of mine (I'm guessing some of you could use a cure for insomnia; this will definitely do the trick).

1. Counting Blessings is back on the Amazon listing, but apparently they won't order from the publisher till the book is actually out of stock, and then they will only accept 2 or 3 copies at a time. Terrific way to handle things, eh? Last time this happened, the book was out of print for several weeks--an author's dream.

2. Spinning Straw Into Gold is endlessly on the verge of being published. Unfortunately, every time this occurs, there's another printer's error (last one: an entire page in a differently shaded font; take me now, O Lord), and so we have to do another round of proof copies, which takes a couple of weeks. Again, an author's dream. I'm beginning to wonder if the book will appear before Xmas.

3. Distributor for Coming to Our Senses is trying to get a re-release of the book posted on Amazon. This has been going on for several weeks now, with no end in sight.

4. No luck so far in getting Why America Failed published in a paperback edition. Replies usually say something along the lines of, "This doesn't fit into our current booklist," etc. Which could be true, although my guess is that it's code for "We can't make any money on this book." Thus proving the thesis of the book; a wonderful irony.

My mother told me to be a plumber, but did I listen? No! Anyway, maybe we'll have another buffoon attack on the blog, to keep things lively. As you know, I love those buffoons. Long may they rave, o'er the land of the free, etc. Buffoons rule!--don't doubt it for a minute. For every one of you, there are at least 100,000 of them.

O&D, amigos...mb


Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Hello Wafers,

Shane--you make an interesting point. The process of pulling head out of ass. It can be a process and I suppose for others its an event much like tragedy or disillusion is the beginning of wisdom. Though having been born and spent early years in Mexico City and Jewish (yes we exist), through living and going to college, grad school working in the U.S. I bough into many of the tropes and values hook line and sinker. Getting the big house, sports cars (o.k. still love them),status whoring, whoring, politics, technology all were part of my mental furniture. These of course generated the expected damage and pain to pscyhe. But I was lucky in that though falling for these things I had other things to fall back on--I was 70% absorbed and it was still hard to escape. Events and that 30% saved me if you will and now live a better happier life.

Maybe we can try this? Why not at some point with either MB or myself doing the honors put together a collection of "epiphanies" the event(s) or process which lead you out of the fog and into being an actual thinking individual whether a NMI or whatever.

Thanks Shane for triggering the thought.

Apologies MB for I may have provoked the baboon attack. Not my intent, just perhaps ham handed in pointing out the silliness of technology fixation. Though casual empricism, it seems to me that since the explosion of technology say in U.S, education, income distribution, food, customer service, health care, quality of life, obesity, drug abuse (legal and illegal), governance have all gotten much worse. I don;t suspect its coincidence.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Wafers & Waferettes,

This is the only blog I participate in, and I try to strictly limit my internet surfing. I spent years in the Middle East so I occasionally stop at Juan Cole’s blog, ‘Informed Comment.’

Juan recently posted, “Detroit’s Bankruptcy and America’s Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%”.


It begins thus:

“The big question is whether Detroit’s bankruptcy and likely further decline is a fluke or whether it tells us something about the dystopia that the United States is becoming. It seems to me that the city’s problems are the difficulties of the country as a whole… The mayor has called on families living in the largely depopulated west of the city to come in toward the center, so that they can be taken care of. It struck me as post-apocalyptic.”

Juan’s diagnosis of “deindustrialization, robotification, structural unemployment, the rise of the 1% in gated communities, and the racial divide”, while reasonable as far as it goes seems somewhat superficial. (Hey, it sure beats David Brooks’ displaced workers with bad attitudes.)

Alas, he thinks there are solutions – including such gems as: “…all robot labor should be nationalized and put in the public sector, and all citizens should receive a basic stipend from it.”

While the chances of this or anything else he suggests actually happening seem approximately zero, Juan should realize what a dystopia an already stupefied population living on ‘basic stipends’, bread, and circuses would be. Isn’t that what happened to people in ancient Rome when slaves made their work worthless? I witnessed it in Kuwait where low paid foreign workers largely ‘deproductivized’ Kuwaitis. (Fortunately, strong extended families did help compensate for it.)

Thankfully I was doing work that most Kuwaitis can’t do rather than what they won’t do.

David Rosen

8:16 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

MB said in The In Praise of Shadows talk:

“The problem with the philosophy of More is that More, as already noted, doesn’t have any intrinsic meaning. After all, once you have it, you then want—More! That’s the American Dream. As far as serious social change is concerned...that can only happen when history presents us with a no-win situation. The bald fact is that we cannot maintain the American Dream—now foolishly being pursued by the Chinese—because we are running out of resources, oil in particular. The American Dream cannot survive without energy, and lots of it. Our conversion to a different mental outlook will thus come in the form of a crunch, in which the subdued lights and the quiet shadows—I mean this in Tanizaki’s sense, i.e. a kind of austerity, or Zen restraint—will get praised because we can no longer afford to have the bright lights burning 24/7.”

Obviously history doesn’t present the world with a no-win situation very often, and such a resource crunch world affect the entire world’s path dependency, which has been industrial capitalism with its ever increasing energy use fueling ever increasing population growth. This would be an epochal change that would force entire world to change its outlook. The inertia in the system tells me we will burn through as much energy as we can get our hands on, and even increase the number of nuke plants to keep things going. Unless there are some miraculous technological breakthroughs, at some point things must slow and there is no doubt that the gratuitous energy waste that most American indulge in will have to end. But regarding “the philosophy of More”, I’d say that China has taken the lead in intrinsic meaninglessness. Someone needs to translate “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot” into Chinese.


It would take a global dictatorship to dramatically reverse or even restrain energy use. China is the closest thing to it on a national scale and they have chosen to do the opposite. China and many countries still burn a lot of coal, which is not in short supply, which leads me to believe that the only thing that derails this energy train would be a catastrophic ecosystem collapse, such as climate change producing unheard of droughts that make large scale agriculture impossible. This still looks many years away, but we’ll know when in it is beginning when first the such drought occurs.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I don't know if anyone has posted this yet, but the following essay/speech has been floating around for a month or so (I just found it today, it was in Harpers too but you need a subscription to read it, here is the free one):


It takes a little time to read, but I liked this paragraph:

"The very same fallacies of false necessity afflict the empathy argument. Reading Sense and Sensibility may give you a better appreciation of the joys and sorrows of love, but it need not. And even if it does, that appreciation may track only very unevenly or partially into your own dealings with others. You don’t have to be a sociopath to find that prolonged exposure to the minds of fictional others, in the form of the modern novel, leaves you with just about the same level of regard as before."

8:24 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Here’s a very interesting article essentially confirming Dr. B’s observations, i.e. American neoliberal culture destroys our natural inclination to empathy basically by a cultural rewiring of the brain. Which is to say that the culture of the greatest nation ever is designed to turns it participants into selfish consumerist dolts. And this neoliberal imprinting has been picking up speed in the last several decades.

“There is sufficient evidence that our potential for empathic engagement is being subverted by the dominant economic system and its ideology.”


As ever, the question to ask is not “How did this happen?”, but rather “Cui bono?” Hint: It’s not the 99% who are the ones subverted.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

MB- Re: "Just ordered Water Thief" - You must be a fast reader, to be able to lightly throw books on the queue like that... I never manage to carve out as much time per day for actual books as I'd like to.

Jeff T- true dat on the sainthood status of RR- I have family members who view him like that, he's a religious icon. (Incidentally, the hardcore libertarian/conservative types I know (here in the blue-tinged part of deep red Alabama: Birmingham) are indeed looking frazzled and miserable these days. And they are, as MB's books predict, doubling down on "free market" ideology, certain that US travails are because we have not adhered closely *enough* to the RR/Limbaugh gospel. They view the world first through this ideological filter: ignoring all contradictory evidence as spurious lies concocted by Progressives; and all supporting evidence as obviously factual and reliable...)

Please though, I urge you to reconsider Russ Baker! My goodness, as "conspiracy theorists" go, he's really alarmingly respectable. It was only Gore Vidal, that batguano crazy nutjob, who called his book _Family of Secrets_ "one of the most important books of the past 10 years." For that matter (perhaps less to Baker's credit...) Dan Rather gave it a blurb too! Are you telling me that you find Dan Rather a mite bit too edgy for your tastes? bwa ha ha

But more seriously, the book is heavily documented and footnoted; if you can find some chinks in its armor, I'd be delighted to hear about them; because as it stands I'm not aware of any major faults with it. (Not to mention, on the level of sheer enjoyment, it's a page-turner.)

JS Rank- "YOU IDIOTS!": I like that. Kind of has a koan-like mystique about it: I laughed, wondered a bit, then laughed some more.

I find your anecdotal account of OWS very interesting. I can see it as a skeletal outline of a light novel, or a movie comedy.. If you have writing inclinations or ability, maybe you should try turning it into a screenplay. I'd like to do it myself, but (even if I had the writing talent) it would be lacking without your (or another OWSian's) on-the-ground experience to provide stranger-than-fiction raw material.

9:15 PM  
Blogger system failure due to insufficient evolution? said...

Maggie's ghost: what is haunting Europe


2:38 PM  

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