PopMatters has launched a new feature this week called "Singles Going Steady" and I've decided to participate, dipping my toes back into music writing.
I've got blurbies on today's singles by
Duran Duran ft. Janelle Monae
and The Chills
"The saintly Alan recently gave a talk to newspaper editors in the US. He spoke passionately about the miracles of the market, the wonders bought by consumer choice and so on. He also gave some examples: the Internet, computers, information processing, lasers, satellites, transistors.28 It's an interesting list: these are textbook examples of creativity and production in the public sector. In the case of the Internet, for thirty years it was designed, developed, and funded primarily in the public sector, mostly the Pentagon, then the National Science Foundation, that's most of the hardware, the software, new ideas, technology and so on. In just the last couple of years it has been handed over to people like Bill Gates who, at least, you have to admire for his honesty: he attributes his success to his ability to 'embrace and extend' the ideas of others, commonly others in the public sector.29 In the case of the Internet, consumer choice was close to zero, and during the crucial development stages the same is true of computers, information processing, and all the rest, unless by 'consumer' you mean the government; that is, public subsidy.
"In fact, of all the examples that Greenspan gives, the only one that rises maybe to the level of a joke is transistors, and they are an interesting case. Transistors, in fact, were developed in a private laboratory - Bell Telephone Laboratories of AT&T - which also made major contributions to solar cells, radio astronomy, information theory, and lots of other important things. But what is the role of markets and consumer choice in that? Well again, it turns out, zero. AT&T was a government supported monopoly, so there was no consumer choice, and as a monopoly they could charge high prices: in effect, a tax on the public which they could use for institutions like Bell Laboratories where they could do all of this work. So again, it's publicly subsidised. As if to demonstrate the point, as soon as the industry was deregulated Bell Labs went out of existence, because the public wasn't paying for it any more: its successors work mostly on short-term applied projects. But that's only the beginning of the story. True, Bell Labs invented transistors, but they used wartime technology which, again, was publicly subsidised and state-initiated. Furthermore there was nobody to buy transistors at that time, because they were very expensive to produce.
"So, for ten years the government was the major procurer, particularly for high-performance transistors. In 1958 the Bell Telephone supplier, Western Electric, was producing hundreds of thousands of these, but solely for military applications. Government procurement provided entrepreneurial initiatives and guided the development of the technology, which could then be disseminated to industry. That's 'consumer choice' and the 'miracle of the market' in the one case that you can even look at without ridicule. And in fact that story generalises, even the most ignorant economist must know this. The dynamic sectors of the economy rely crucially on massive public subsidy, innovation and creativity; the examples that Greenspan gave are mostly some of the most dramatic cases of this. It's a revealing set of choices. A lot of this is masked as defence, but that's not all, the same is true in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and so on.Naturally, business is delighted with all of this: the public pays the costs, assumes the risks (a kind of 'socialism for the rich'); and profit and power are privatised -- that's really existing market theory. It goes back for centuries, but it is dramatically true now.
"Particular cases make it even more dramatic. Take the leader of the conservative revolution in Congress, Newt Gingrich. He is a fount of very impressive rhetoric about the work ethic, and getting off the cycle of dependency, how seven-year-old children have to learn responsibility and that sort of thing. But, year after year, he holds the championship in bringing home federal subsidies to his rich constituents, in a sector of Georgia where the economy is even more dependent on federal subsidies than in most places.30 His favourite cash-cow is Lockheed-Martin. There is a two-hundred-dollar annual Lockheed-Martin tax per capita in the US"
- Noam Chomsky, Power in the Global Area, 1998
"The DEA program collects data about vehicle movements, including time, direction and location, from high-tech cameras placed strategically on major highways. Many devices also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities, according to DEA documents and people familiar with the program.
The documents show that the DEA also uses license-plate readers operated by state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies to feed into its own network and create a far-reaching, constantly updating database of electronic eyes scanning traffic on the roads to steer police toward suspects.
The law-enforcement scanners are different from those used to collect tolls.
By 2011, the DEA had about 100 cameras feeding into the database, the documents show. On Interstate 95 in New Jersey, license-plate readers feed data to the DEA—giving law-enforcement personnel around the country the ability to search for a suspect vehicle on one of the country’s busiest highways. One undated internal document shows the program also gathers data from license-plate readers in Florida and Georgia.
“Any database that collects detailed location information about Americans not suspected of crimes raises very serious privacy questions,’’ said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the ACLU. “It’s unconscionable that technology with such far-reaching potential would be deployed in such secrecy. People might disagree about exactly how we should use such powerful surveillance technologies, but it should be democratically decided, it shouldn’t be done in secret.’’
- Devlin Barrett, U.S. Spies on Millions of Drivers, Wall Street Journal
"So my overall sense is that the Contemplative Cinema Canon doesn’t even give us a very good sense of what’s most interesting and most powerful in contemporary international art cinema today. But I think there’s more. Great works of art can be created in profoundly retrograde styles, and almost completely detached from contemporary concerns. And I think the best works of the Contemplative Cinema Canon may in fact be described in such a way. But I still think that, even at its best, Slow-Cinema-As-Default-International-Style is profoundly nostalgic and regressive — and I think that this is a bad thing. It’s a way of simulating older cinematic styles, and giving them a new appearance of Â life (or more precisely, a new zombified life-in-death), as a way of flattering classicist cinephiles, and of simply ignoring everything that has happened, socially, politically, and technologically, in the last 30 years. It’s a way of saying No to mainstream Hollywood’s current fast-edit, post-continuity, highly digital style, simply by pretending that it doesn’t even exist. And I agree with Nick James that this simply isn’t enough."- Steven Shaviro, Slow Cinema vs Fast Cinema
"Unlike nuclear weapons, [autonomous weapons] require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce," states the letter. "It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group."
“I refused to legitimize police violence against people by telling them that if they behave differently, maybe they won’t die,” Hill insisted. “Harry said maybe you won’t end up on the ground. Yes, there are strategies we can use to survive. But the fact that we live in a world where we have to deploy strategies not to be murdered or killed or assaulted by police unlawfully is absurd.”
“What Harry is calling arrogance, I’m calling dignity,” Hill declared. “Black people have a right to assert their dignity in public. And just because it doesn’t cohere with what police want doesn’t mean they are being arrogant or dismissive.”
"How long must we be open public targets while quiet loners and cops target us? How many must be dragged out of their vehicles to sacrifice to the culture of death? Who will be the last to die seated in a quiet theater so that insecure white men can continue to feel the comforting potential to murder at any instant?"- The electorate
"All men must die"- The elected
“There’s a saying- the devil’s at his strongest while we’re looking the other way. Like a program running in the background, silently- while we’re busing doing other shit. Daemons, they call them. They perform action without human interaction. Monitoring, logging, notifications- primal urges, repressed memories, unconscious habits- they’re always there, always active...We can try to be right. We can try to be good. We can try to make a difference. But it’s all bullshit. Because intentions are irrelevant. They don’t drive us. Daemons do.”
"Let’s imagine all of our reforms are enacted. Even with guaranteed paid leave, universal and high-quality childcare, and other reforms that improve the workplace for women, even if all women who were willing and able flooded into the labor force, could we say that we had truly liberated women under the capitalist system?
Capitalism, after all, does not ascribe value for the work that gets done inside the home. In pre-capitalist societies, women were certainly subjugated and oppressed, but because all work was done to sustain the lives of the people who did it, plowing a field or baking a loaf of bread were equally essential. Under capitalism, work done outside the home can be sold for wages to capital; work done inside the home can’t create more capital for the capitalists."
- Bryce Covert, Is There Room for Women Workers Under Capitalism? , The Nation
"The videographic afterimage of a real event is always peculiar. When the event is a homicide, it can cross over into the uncanny: the sudden, unjust and irrevocable end of the long story of what one person was, whom he loved, all she hoped, all he achieved, all she didn’t, becomes available for viewing and reviewing. A month after I went to North Charleston, back in Brooklyn and writing about the shooting, I find a direct approach difficult.
I write about Holbein’s “Pictures of Death,” and about Robert Capa’s photograph and Eddie Adams’s. I write about “The Two Drovers,” about Robin tramping through the borderlands intent on murder. I write about my morning in North Charleston, the gloomy drive there and back and the wilted flowers on the chain-link fence on Craig Road. If you set enough tangents around a circle, you begin to recreate the shape of the circle itself. Finally, I start to watch footage of Scott’s last moments. It’s the third time, and it makes me uneasy and unhappy. The video begins with the man holding the camera racing toward the fence. A few seconds later, Walter Scott breaks away from Michael Slager. Slager plants his feet and raises his gun. There is still time. He shoots once, then thrice in quick succession. Scott continues to run. There is still time. "
- Teju Cole, Death in the Browser Tab, New York Times
I cannot deny biology! I am still a person! I still sweat! Still bleed! I sweat and bleed for revolution, but I sweat and bleed no less!
Sheldon, frustrated, twists the iron into Leonard's forearm, but Leonard doesn't scream. Sheldon's eyes widen.
"What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt. The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice."
"...The first lesson that we can take from the history of government debt is that we are not facing a brand new problem. There have been many ways to repay debts, and not just one, which is what Berlin and Paris would have the Greeks believe."
"Think about the London Debt Agreement of 1953, where 60% of German foreign debt was cancelled and its internal debts were restructured.
"ZEIT: That happened because people recognized that the high reparations demanded of Germany after World War I were one of the causes of the Second World War. People wanted to forgive Germany’s sins this time!
"Piketty: Nonsense! This had nothing to do with moral clarity; it was a rational political and economic decision. They correctly recognized that, after large crises that created huge debt loads, at some point people need to look toward the future. We cannot demand that new generations must pay for decades for the mistakes of their parents. The Greeks have, without a doubt, made big mistakes. Until 2009, the government in Athens forged its books. But despite this, the younger generation of Greeks carries no more responsibility for the mistakes of its elders than the younger generation of Germans did in the 1950s and 1960s. We need to look ahead. Europe was founded on debt forgiveness and investment in the future. Not on the idea of endless penance. We need to remember this.
"Economic violence is the critical issue of our day. When plants close on workers without notice, and leave them without jobs or training for new jobs -- that's economic violence. When three to five million Americans are on the streets and homeless -- that's economic violence. When merger maniacs make windfall profits and top management is given excessive bonuses, golden parachutes to aid a soft landing, while workers are asked to take a wage cut, a benefit cut and a job loss, a crash landing -- that's economic violence. When our children are victimized with poor health care, poor education, poor housing, poor diets and more -- that's economic violence against our children."- Jesse Jackson, announcing his presidential campaign in 1987
"Let me pause here once again to be clear about what the point of this extended historical comparison is and is not. Comparisons to slavery are generally considered rhetorically out of bounds, and for good reason. We are walking on treacherous terrain. The point here is not to associate modern fossil fuel companies with the moral bankruptcy of the slaveholders of yore, or the politicians who defended slavery with those who defend fossil fuels today.In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it's all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today's climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they're asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise."
- Chris Hayes, The New Abolitionism
"Half the time, people can’t even seem to figure out how to define rape, let alone portray it in responsible ways. Indeed, one of the most baffling things about so many rape scenes in popular culture is that the people who scripted them felt qualified to do so, despite seemingly knowing nothing about rape except that it exists and it is bad. In short, anyone write a rape scene—but should they? Chances are, the answer is no."- Laura Hudson, Rape Scenes Aren't Just Awful, They're Lazy Writing
"The figure of the consuming subject who wants the wrong things, a student who is found wanting, is hard at work. She is how an idea of universal knowledge or universal culture can be so thinly disguised as a critique of neoliberalism and managerialism. She is how an academic world can be idealised in being mourned as a lost object; a world where dons get to decide things; a world imagined as democracy, as untroubled by the whims and wishes of generations to come.We have an understanding of how, when students are being critical of what we are doing, when they contest what is being taught, they can be treated and dismissed as acting like consumers. In other words it is when students are not satisfied that they are understood as treating our delivery as a product. Critique as such can be “swept away” by the charge of consumerism. Students become the problem when what they want is not in accordance with what academics want or what academics want them to want. Students become willful when what they will is not what academics will or not what academics will them to will. What seems to be in place here is what Paulo Freire called the “bank model” of education, in which teachers deposit knowledge into the bodies of students like money into a machine. Rather ironically, students are more likely to be judged as acting like consumers when they refuse to be banks.
...Another figure comes up, rather quickly, at this point, often lurking behind the censoring student. This is the over-sensitive student: the one who responds to events or potential events with hurt feelings. She also comes up as someone who stops things from happening. I could refer here to a number of recent pieces that I read as a moral panic about moral panics. Many of these pieces refer to US college campuses specifically and are concerned with the introduction of safe spaces and trigger warnings.The figure of the over-sensitive student is invested with power. The story goes: because students have become too sensitive, we cannot even talk about difficult issues in the classroom; because of their feelings we (critical academics) cannot address questions of power and violence, and so on. A typical example of this kind of rhetoric: “No one can rebut feelings, and so the only thing left to do is shut down the things that cause distress — no argument, no discussion, just hit the mute button and pretend eliminating discomfort is the same as effecting actual change.” Or another: “While keeping college-level discussions ‘safe’ may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision.” Here safety is about feeling good, or not feeling bad. We sense what is being feared: students will become warm with dull edges, not sharp enough in wit or wisdom.The moral panic around trigger warnings is a very good pedagogic tool: we learn from it. Trigger warnings are assumed to be about being safe or warm or cuddled. I would describe trigger warnings as a partial and necessarily inadequate measure to enable some people to stay in the room so that “difficult issues” can be discussed. The assumption that trigger warnings are themselves about safe spaces is a working assumption (by this I mean: it is achieving something). The assumption that safe spaces are themselves about deflecting attention from difficult issues is another working assumption. Safe spaces are another technique for dealing with the consequences of histories that are not over (a response to a history that is not over is necessarily inadequate because that history is not over). The real purpose of these mechanisms is to enable conversations about difficult issues to happen. So often those conversations do not happen because the difficulties people wish to talk about end up being re-enacted within discussion spaces, which is how they are not talked about. For example, conversations about racism are very hard to have when white people become defensive about racism. Those conversations end up being about those defences rather than about racism. We have safe spaces so we can talk about racism, not so we can avoid talking about racism!The very techniques introduced to enable the opening up of conversations can be used as evidence of interlopers closing down conversations. Anyone with a background in Women’s Studies will be familiar with this; we come up against stereotypes of feminists spaces as soft, cozy, easy, which are the exact same sexist stereotypes that make Women’s Studies necessary as a feminist space. The very perception of some spaces as being too soft might even be related to the harshness of the worlds we are organizing to challenge."