Pattern of the week
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Sunday cat pix
Animal-machine pretending to think.
LG, 22 Mar 2009
Wednesday garden pix
A vivid sign of spring.
4 Apr 2009
Sunday cat pix
Note the eyes in back.
Josie, 17 Mar 2009
Susan Boyle is not the first middle-aged woman whose voice has made her famous overnight. People of a certain age will remember another middle-aged woman who had an unexpected career as a singer: Mrs. Miller.
Mrs. Miller’s fame owed something to the same Camp æsthetic that helped promote Tiny Tim and the TV series Batman: from whatever sophisticated beginnings (see Sontag’s “Notes on Camp”), it became largely a matter of “so bad it’s good”. Mrs. Miller, unlike Susan Boyle, had what you might call an unusual voice, with so much vibrato as to moot the question of her being on pitch. Her rhythm was also uncertain. Nevertheless her recording of “Downtown” (Petula Clark’s big hit) was a success, and her first album, Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits sold 250,000 copies in 1966. Eighteen months after her career began, she ended it after her husband passed away. In 1997 she too passed away at ninety after having survived the collapse of her apartment building during the Northridge Earthquake.
You can see her singing “Inka Dinka Doo” with Jimmy Durante on the Hollywood Palace. He certainly knew how to deliver a line: what timing! That stop-and-go delivery was part of his act, just like the nose and hat.
The so-called “torture memos” released this week show that not only were prisoners in the hands of the CIA tortured again and again, but that their treatment and the issue of its legality was carefully thought through. No-one was acting out of anger or in haste—no “ticking bombs” here—; everyone made sure their acts were authorized.
Obama and his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have reassured those CIA personnel, including doctors and psychologists, who “carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice” that they “will not be subject to prosecution”—even though the US government seems to be obliged by treaty to prosecute violations of the Geneva Conventions and of the Convention against Torture whenever they occur, and whoever commits them.
This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.
This is misleading and base. Misleading because the punishment of wrongdoing isn’t just “laying blame”. It’s doing justice, it’s an attempt to make public the crimes performed by the state and to expose the criminals who performed them, with the hope that no-one will be tempted to perform them again. It’s about the future: Never again should these things happen.
It’s base because Obama is turning an issue of justice into an issue of unity, and including those who urge the prosecution of war criminals among the “forces that divide us”. Instead we are supposed to unite around “core values” (whenever anyone talks about “core values”, look for the lie). Until now I would have thought that those values preclude torture and that they oblige us to punish those who perform or order others to perform it. The confidence Obama asks for is a confidence based on lies. We’ve been there before.
In addition to the sites linked to above, see Emptywheel, Talk Left, and Glenn Greenwald for more on torture and the legal issues raised by the acts of the Bush and now the Obama administrations.
I wrote about the legal memos in 2004. It was obvious then that the memos were not about whether or not torture is illegal under US and international law; they were about making it as difficult as possible for anyone to be prosecuted for whatever acts they performed. People who claim to be shocked only now were either not paying attention or deliberately ignoring the warning signs.
The Idea meets Twitter
The last MLA, as always far in advance of the leading wave, had a panel on Twitter. Novelties included Tweets from the audience.
Tweets have a 140-character limit. So twittering counts as “writing under constraint”. As constraints go, it’s on the vanilla side.
I’m bemused by the attention given to Twitter and “twittering”. Twitter is just an enormous chat room in which you can chatter just to yourself if you like.
Revolutions are not made of this.
Script: Safari to Twitter
A script for sending info about the page you’re currently reading in Safari to Twitter via Twitterific. Put it in the Scripts folder in the Library folder (which is in your user or “home” folder).