Thursday, January 31, 2008

This Will Not Come to Pass

3 February update: This is a link to Green Greenwald's article in The American Conservative.
Giuliani is also a hothead, as this "oral history of Giuliani's temper," published in the February issue of GQ, makes abundantly clear.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Print Not Yet Dead

I'll post soon about a lecture I attended Friday about the challenge of preserving digital information.

Hilary for President!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Defining the Early, Mid, and Late Segments of a Decade

Early: Years ending in 0 through 4

Mid: Years ending in 5 and 6

Late: Years ending in 7 through 9
How would I define the early, mid and late segments of a century or even a millennium?

Early: years ending in 0 and/or 1 through 49 (so, early Nineteenth Century: 1800/1801 through 1849)
Mid: 50 through 69
Late: 70 through 99

Early: years 0 and/or 1 through 499
Mid: years 500 through 699
Late: 700 through 999
In any case, we are ensconced in the late aughts. More later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Preparing to Downscale

I've added a few links to and bolded key points of this excerpt from Kunstler's latest column.

January 14, 2008

The dark tunnel that the US economy has entered began to look more and more like a black hole last week, sucking in lives, fortunes, and prospects behind a Potemkin facade of orderly retreat put up by anyone in authority with a story to tell or an interest to protect -- Fed chairman Bernanke, CNBC, The New York Times, the Bank of America.... Events are now moving ahead of anything that personalities can do to control them.

The "housing bubble" implosion is broadly misunderstood. It's not just the collapse of a market for a particular kind of commodity, it's the end of the suburban pattern itself, the way of life it represents, and the entire economy connected with it. It's the crack up of the system that America has invested most of its wealth in since 1950. It's perhaps most tragic that the mis-investments only accelerated as the system reached its end, but it seems to be nature's way that waves crest just before they break.

This wave is breaking into a sea-wall of disbelief. Nobody gets it. The psychological investment in what we think of as American reality is too great. The mainstream media doesn't get it, and they can't report it coherently. None of the candidates for president has begun to articulate an understanding of what we face: the suburban living arrangement is an experiment that has entered failure mode. ...

A reader sent me a passle of recent clippings last week from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It contained one story after another about the perceived need to build more highways in order to maintain "economic growth" (and incidentally about the "foolishness" of public transit). I understood that to mean the need to keep the suburban development system going, since that has been the real main source of the Sunbelt's prosperity the past 60-odd years. They cannot imagine an economy that is based on anything besides new subdivisions, freeway extensions, new car sales, and Nascar spectacles. The Sunbelt, therefore, will be ground-zero for all the disappointment emanating from this cultural disaster, and probably also ground-zero for the political mischief that will ensue from lost fortunes and crushed hopes. From time-to-time, I feel it's necessary to remind readers what we can actually do in the face of this long emergency. Voters and candidates in the primary season have been hollering about "change" but I'm afraid the dirty secret of this campaign is that the American public doesn't want to change its behavior at all. What it really wants is someone to promise them they can keep on doing what they're used to doing: buying more stuff they can't afford, eating more shitty food that will kill them, and driving more miles than circumstances will allow. Here's what we better start doing. Stop all highway-building altogether. Instead, direct public money into repairing railroad rights-of-way. Put together public-private partnerships for running passenger rail between American cities and towns in between. If Amtrak is unacceptable, get rid of it and set up a new management system. At the same time, begin planning comprehensive regional light-rail and streetcar operations. End subsidies to agribusiness and instead direct dollar support to small-scale farmers, using the existing regional networks of organic farming associations to target the aid. (This includes ending subsidies for the ethanol program.) Begin planning and construction of waterfront and harbor facilities for commerce: piers, warehouses, ship-and-boatyards, and accommodations for sailors. This is especially important along the Ohio-Mississippi system and the Great Lakes. In cities and towns, change regulations that mandate the accommodation of cars. Direct all new development to the finest grain, scaled to walkability. This essentially means making the individual building lot the basic increment of redevelopment, not multi-acre "projects." Get rid of any parking requirements for property development. Institute "locational taxation" based on proximity to the center of town and not on the size, character, or putative value of the building itself. Put in effect a ban on buildings in excess of seven stories. Begin planning for district or neighborhood heating installations and solar, wind, and hydro-electric generation wherever possible on a small-scale network basis.

We'd better begin a public debate about whether it is feasible or desirable to construct any new nuclear power plants. If there are good reasons to go forward with nuclear, and a consensus about the risks and benefits, we need to establish it quickly. There may be no other way to keep the lights on in America after 2020. We need to prepare for the end of the global economic relations that have characterized the final blow-off of the cheap energy era. The world is about to become wider again as nations get desperate over energy resources. This desperation is certain to generate conflict. We'll have to make things in this country again, or we won't have the most rudimentary household products. We'd better prepare psychologically to downscale all institutions, including government, schools and colleges, corporations, and hospitals. All the centralizing tendencies and gigantification of the past half-century will have to be reversed. Government will be starved for revenue and impotent at the higher scale. The centralized high schools all over the nation will prove to be our most frustrating mis-investment. We will probably have to replace them with some form of home-schooling that is allowed to aggregate into neighborhood units. A lot of colleges, public and private, will fail as higher ed ceases to be a "consumer" activity. Corporations scaled to operate globally are not going to make it. This includes probably all national chain "big box" operations. It will have to be replaced by small local and regional business. We'll have to reopen many of the small town hospitals that were shuttered in recent years, and open many new local clinic-style health-care operations as part of the greater reform of American medicine.

Take a time-out from legal immigration and get serious about enforcing the laws about illegal immigration. Stop lying to ourselves and stop using semantic ruses like calling illegal immigrants "undocumented." Prepare psychologically for the destruction of a lot of fictitious "wealth" -- and allow instruments and institutions based on fictitious wealth to fail, instead of attempting to keep them propped up on credit life-support. Like any other thing in our national life, finance has to return to a scale that is consistent with our circumstances -- i.e., what reality will allow. That process is underway, anyway, whether the public is prepared for it or not. We will soon hear the sound of banks crashing all over the place. Get out of their way, if you can. Prepare psychologically for a sociopolitical climate of anger, grievance, and resentment. A lot of individual citizens will find themselves short of resources in the years ahead. They will be very ticked off and seek to scapegoat and punish others. ...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Press Blog

Craig Smith covers Santa Barbara the way Hunter Bishop covers Puna.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A New Name for The New Republic

At this point the publishers of The New Republic should retitle their magazine The Neo Republic because it's the flagship of neo-conservatives and neo-liberals.

Southern Style: A Continuing Project

At this point I'm just collecting links and posting excerpts from articles, but I plan to tie all these into a cohesive narrative of Southern fashion, both modern and traditional.

Historical Southern Fashion

General Links


From the Wikipedia article on seersucker:

Seersucker was first used in the United States by the working class but was later adopted by the upper classes. The material was considered a mainstay of the summer wardrobe of Southern gentlemen, who favored the light fabric in the high heat and humidity of the American South.
Seersucker is still widely worn in the South between Easter weekend and Labor Day, where it is often accompanied by a bow tie. It is widely considered a fashion faux pas to wear seersucker at the wrong time of the year, although in warmer climates this rule is often ignored.

(A Wikipedia update: Seersucker is still widely worn in the South between Easter weekend and Labor Day, where it is often accompanied by a bow tie. Easter can come too early to wear seersucker since Confederate Memorial Day (The 4th Monday in April) is considered the actual appropriate time for this style of dress. It is widely considered a fashion faux pas to wear seersucker at the wrong time of the year.
Article on a Mississippi senator's re-introduction of seersucker. Washington is part of the South, and seersucker was common until the widespread use of air conditioning.

An article from the U.S. Senate website on Seersucker Thursday.

17 June 2009 update: I just received the 8 June issue of New York magazine, which features an article about and photo (by Tabitha Soren!) of Michael Lewis in a blue-and-white seersucker suit, yellow tie, white bucks, and white socks. Naturally, he's from New Orleans, one of a few Southern preppy men who've gone North and found success in the media elite. Jon Meacham is another, and also C. Shelby Coffee III, former editor of The Los Angeles Times.

31 December 2009 update: I found this by chance a few days ago:
Note: "Southern preps in particular love bright colors, whereas their northern counterparts tend to stick to navy."

Southern Designers and Labels

Billy Reid

Dixie Outfitters


Patrick Kelly

Ruff Hewn (co-founded in 1981 by Ernest Lee Marchman with his son Dennis)

The South is Sexy

Southern Preppies

Books and Films Which Address Southern Style, In Whole or In Part

Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena, by Julia Reed

A review from the 9 May 2004 issue of The New York Times.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Iowa Aftermath: Biden, Dodd, Gravel Out


In response to weak finishes, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel all ended their White House campaigns on Thursday evening. With the contest moving to New Hampshire and South Carolina -- states Obama is now likely to win -- Clinton will make her real stand against Obama in Florida and the 22-state national primary on February 5. Also look for the Clinton campaign to quickly go negative on Obama.

Update: I found this blog by chance just now. Penned by an Iowan, it has a local perspective on the recent Iowa caucuses.