Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

World News: Firing of charismatic mayor shows limits of Chinese leadership’s patience – thestar.com

World News: Firing of charismatic mayor shows limits of Chinese leadership’s patience – thestar.com.

The Star is a small paper for a big town and its world section usually taken from the wires. But for that very reason, the article cited gives a fascinating peek into the logic of democracy and its tension with demagoguery (i.e., charismatic leadership leading to political unaccountability) and its balance against bureaucratic consensus (is this the same as the old Soviet Politburo, as was once the case?).

Put it this way: Supposedly democratic states resist the volatility of mob rule by rule of institutions that are by and large accountable to those giving them the power to govern, though this is not actually a necessity. But the effect is social predictability and also, not incidentally, economic stability and, given a diverse commercial environment, growth. But not all regimes articulating social and economic stability are the same, just as not all accounts of “the people” are identical. One, say, can be thought of as the grouping of individuals, rational or not, and grouped as a representable community, the threat of losing individual identity within the community is always present. (From schooling to voting, from birth to death, the individual is made as the natural figure of value, and reminded of that by the incessant claims and lures of commodity culture.)

But an other mechanism of identity can be said to start from the other direction, from the idea of community, with the individual as the sign of that community’s dissolution, and not its embodied atom of value.

Right-wing political extremism in the Great Depression | vox – Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists

Right-wing political extremism in the Great Depression | vox – Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists.

Nations are turning to far-right demagogues and magical solutions. This exceeds the trend seen during the Reagan/Thatcher period, and the turns are dramatic. The article cited above is insightful.

 

Scientists tout \’open source\’ drug discovery – university of sydney, open source – Open Source – Techworld

Scientists tout \’open source\’ drug discovery – university of sydney, open source – Open Source – Techworld.

 

Few efforts as fraught with intellectual property issues as laboratory discovery; exceeds software, probably, if only for the amount of money involved. I can well believe that the only effective way to promote an open source process would be to favour it via governmental policy. Else, I’d guess that the vastly powerful multinationals would overwhelm any local effort.

Information Obesity

Just as with food: too much made for too few, too much consumed. Information obesity is about the glut of stuff that passes as information, that masquerades as good-for-you info, and that isn’t; that ends up bloating your day with distended periods of nothing doing but consuming the Tweets by twits, the blogs by bores, the stuff not that dreams are made of but killed by.

Once, poetry was the speech of the refined and adhered to strict rhetorical principle Qunitillian or Cicero would have recognized. The Wordsworth and Coleridge and the very greatest of then all, Blake, and the other Romantics rewrote the book of poetry out of the language of the common man. A crime, to the hidebound, this endeavour, for it graced the commons’ dross with nobles’ gold, giving the value of graceful form to gutter content: worse than a mismatch, a kind of counterfeit.

Do I think that the information obesity that elevates the most banal to the level demanding attention the same? That it should stay hidden under the rock of private discourse and not shown the public light of day? Neither information anorexia nor bulimia is the answer; starvation makes you not just weak but stupid. Perhaps a simpler answer, to address information obesity. Be selective.

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