Archive for September, 2010


I’m Just Sittin’ Here Watchin’ Those Wheels Go Round and Round

Sometimes, you just gotta sit back and laugh.

Something I consistently notice about those demanding “smaller government” and “less spending” is that they always seem to underestimate just how big a country the USA is. How could a “small government” possibly look after that many people? There is no-one else but the government to protect people, after all. Who would, if the government was cut back? No other institution is designed for such a purpose.

Kelly, Bakersfield, California



R.I.P. Eileen Nearne

Since we often celebrate dudes being extremely hardcore on this blog, I thought it high time to highlight a hardcore lady. From a New York Times obituary:

LONDON — After she died earlier this month, a frail 89-year-old alone in a flat in the British seaside town of Torquay, Eileen Nearne, her body undiscovered for several days, was listed by local officials as a candidate for what is known in Britain as a council burial, or what in the past was called a pauper’s grave.

But after the police looked through her possessions, including a Croix de Guerre medal awarded to her by the French government after World War II, the obscurity Ms. Nearne had cultivated for decades began to slip away.

Known to her neighbors as an insistently private woman who loved cats and revealed almost nothing about her past, she has emerged as a heroine in the tortured story of Nazi-occupied France, one of the secret agents who helped prepare the French resistance for the D-Day landings in June 1944.

On Tuesday, the anonymity that Ms. Nearne had cherished in life was denied her in death. A funeral service in Torquay featured a military bugler and piper and an array of uniformed mourners. A red cushion atop her coffin bore her wartime medals. Eulogies celebrated her as one of 39 British women who were parachuted into France as secret agents by the Special Operations Executive, a wartime agency known informally as “Churchill’s secret army,” which recruited more than 14,000 agents to conduct espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines.

She was 23 at the time. Read the whole thing.


Mao, Che and Hello Kitty

When your heroes are Mao, Che and Hello Kitty …

You’re probably a douchebag.

This car was parked outside of my office. It is for real.


Soul-Draining Quote of the Day

The more that ports resemble nodes moving people in a global network, that the status of ‘immigrant’ is officially conferred not upon but some time before or after the subject’s arrival in a new land, that transportation and communication systems overlay and deepen the transnational over the international, that international travel becomes an everyday experience and not a life-defining event, that airports resemble other melancholy ‘non-places’ distinguished at most by simulacral quotations of their regional hinterlands, the more all these things obtain, then the less the border appears as threshold or gateway into a nation/society so much as one among many sorting points, nodes within a wider, albeit thinner social space.

-William Walters, “Border/Control”


When “Hope” and “Change” Are “More of the Same”

It's all HIS fault! Don't blame US for all those things we've done!

Because when your Presidency is tanking, why not blame the guy who left two years ago?

Republican leadership, [Axelrod] ventured, has “put emphasis on throttling things down… hoping that the mess that they created… would be so difficult to clean up that they could then blame us for their problems.”


The remarks suggest a White House that is frustrated at the hand it’s been dealt, as well as increasingly concerned about the state of the electorate.


In a sense, we are a victim of our own success, of the expectations that the president aroused, and the fact that we have gotten so much done,” Axelrod said, in attempting to explain the enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters.


“The depth of the problem that was created, the irresponsible policies, is something we are going to live with for a long time,” Axelrod acknowledged. [emphasis added]

Maybe it’s just that voters are getting tired of hearing this Administration blame their litany of failures on the last President. Or maybe voters just don’t like getting trillions of dollars of debt shoveled down their throats. Nah, couldn’t be.

Also, when you’ve lost Krugman, maybe it’s time to stop whining about the Republicans…


Unnecessarily Obscure Quote of the Day

The monolithic image of Empire thus tries to condense and unify all those forms and relations into a single Sovereign Power, to which can only be opposed some force that is radically Other, gestured to in the name ‘multitude’: the multitude, then, in the contemporary incarnation of the regicide, who, in eliminating the sovereign, will inaugurate an epoch in which sovereign power is re-appropriated by subjects themselves. Despite its apparent radicalism, anti-capitalists would do well to be wary of the religious underpinnings of this fable of resistance as deliverance to a promised land.

-Paul Rabinow & Nikolas Rose, “Biopower Today”


So Far as His Dim Lights Allowed

I recently started reading The War in Outline by Liddell Hart, a history of WWI. (I don’t know why; I’m only a chapter deep and already thoroughly depressed). Anyway, as fan of concise writing, I was really impressed by Hart’s opening paragraphs, which are probably as deadpan and brief a description of the beginning of a war as you are likely to find:

On the morning of June 28th, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in the streets of obscure Serajevo by a young Slav nationalist. The assassination was the romantically emotional tool of a secret society of Serbian officers known as the “Black Hand.” The Archduke died at eleven o’clock.

So far as his dim lights allowed he was , and had dreamed of proving himself, the friend of the Slavs who had murdered him. His death was most welcome to the ruling body of Austrian officialdom. It gave them the opportunity of executing their own designs under the excuse of avenging the man whose accession to the throne they had feared. By crushing Serbia they hoped to cement the Austrian empire against the Slav movement within its borders, while establishing its ascendency in the Balkans. And in consolidating the empire each member of the ruling body had the hope of consolidating his own position.

At eleven o’clock on July 28th Austria declared was on Serbia, opening a war which engulfed all the great and most of the small peoples of the world.

P.S. Looking at Liddell’s Wikipedia page, I came across this gem:

During the planning for the Suez Crisis, Hart had been asked by Anthony Eden to submit plans for a campaign against Egypt. After his first four drafts were rejected for a combination of contradictory reasons, Hart was nettled and sent back the original when asked for a fifth version. Eden liked it this time; he called for Hart and patronizingly said; “Captain Liddell Hart, here I am at a critical moment in Britain’s history, arranging matters which might mean the life of the British Empire. And what happens? I ask you to do a simple military chore for me, and it takes you five attempts-plus my vigilance amid all my worries-before you get it right.” Hart replied, “But sir, it hasn’t taken five attempts. That version, which you now say is just what you wanted, is the original version.” According to Leonard Mosley, there was a nasty silence while the prime minister’s face reddened. Then he reached for an antique inkstand and, maddened, threw it at Hart. Hart sat still for a moment and then, with a tactician’s instinct for the devastating counterstrike, stood up, seized a wastepaper basket, and jammed it over Eden’s head.