Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The real issue is, who is feeding Wikipedia on this issue -- Wiki -- Wiki -- WikiLeaks on this issue? They're getting a lot of information which seems trivial, inconsequential, but some of it seems surprisingly pointed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what are you referring to?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, for example, there are references to a report by our officials that some Chinese leaders favor a reunified Korea under South Korea.

This is clearly designed to embarrass the Chinese and our relationship with them. The very pointed references to Arab leaders could have as their objective undermining their political credibility at home, because this kind of public identification of their hostility towards Iran could actually play against them at home.
Concern about US clients, kings and dictators, having to answer to their people.
The China leak is bad news (or maybe not) for everybody.

The intellectuals are above it all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Guardian UK. The headline on the front page reads:
"US embassy cables leak sparks global crisis"
[12/11. The arguments below and in related posts are included, in one form or another, in the paper linked on the right side of this page]

Academic neoliberalism: Bourdieu
“Shall we allow the social sciences to reduce literary experience –the most exalted thing we have, along with love- to surveys about leisure activities, when it concerns the very meaning of our life?” Such a question, lifted from one of the innumerable timeless defenses of reading and culture, would certainly have unleashed the furious mirth that the well-meaning commonplaces of his day inspired in Flaubert. [Preface]

"When for a certain time the human soul has been treated with that impartiality invested by the physical sciences in the study of matter, then an immense step will have been taken. It is the only way for humanity to rise a little above itself. It will then consider himself candidly and purely in the mirror of its works of art. It will be god-like, judging itself from on high. Well, I consider this feasible. It is perhaps, as for mathematics, just a matter of finding a method.” Gustave Flaubert. [p. 175]

The reading of Sentimental Education The Rules of Art is more than a simple preamble aiming to prepare the reader to enter into a sociological analysis of the social world in which it was produced and which it brings to light. It requires the interrogation of the particular social conditions which are the origin of Flaubert's Bourdieu's special lucidity, and also the limits of that lucidity. Only an analysis of the genesis of the literary field in which the Flaubertian Bourdieuian project was constituted can lead to a real understanding both of the generative formula at the core of the book and Flaubert's Bourdieu's craftsmanship in putting it to work [la mettre en oeuvre], objectifying in one fell swoop this generative structure and the social structure of which it is the product. [p. 47 (modified)]
I've done the same thing now three times in one month.

More stupidity from Bourdieu below. The empiricism of bureaucracy.

Jumping forward in time, see T.J. Clark. He does a better job than I do.
What strikes me as truly strange in Flaubert's case is not so much the project he outlined for himself... as the distance between the book he imagined and the one he actually wrote. No book has ever been fuller than Madame Bovary of the everything external which is the bourgeois world.
Bourdieu reads for intention and assumes others will read him in turn as he wants to be read. His friends may but strangers won't.
note taking posted elsewhere
From the blurb for Grosz' "Chaos, Territory, Art" linked above
Instead of treating art as a unique creation that requires reason and refined taste to appreciate, Elizabeth Grosz argues that art-especially architecture, music, and painting-is born from the disruptive forces of sexual selection. She approaches art as a form of erotic expression connecting sensory richness with primal desire, and in doing so, finds that the meaning of art comes from the intensities and sensations it inspires, not just its intention and aesthetic.
Find and Replace
Instead of treating scholarship as a unique creation that requires reason and refined taste to appreciate, Elizabeth Grosz argues that intellectual activity-especially theory, philosophy, and the humanities as such-is born from the disruptive forces of sexual selection. She approaches the humanities as a form of erotic expression connecting sensory richness with primal desire, and in doing so, finds that the meaning of works comes from the intensities and sensations they inspire, not just their intention.
I got two responses to that on the page, neither of which responded to the fact that the substitutions work. You can't remove politics from language. A note to Jack Balkin from 2003. Balkin, and Taruskin. I should probably refer to the two of them more often. I don't, mostly because I can't think of any time in my intellectual life when their supposedly surprising arguments were anything but a given. And I'm talking about listening in on dinner table conversations as a 10 year old.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bourdieu, from On Television
But journalistic forces and manipulation can also act more subtly. Like the Trojan Horse, they introduce heteronomous agents into autonomous worlds. Supported by external forces, these agents are accorded an authority they cannot get from their peers. These writers for nonwriters or philosophers for nonphilosophers and the like, have television value, a journalistic weight that is not commensurate with their particular weight in their particular world.

…What I find it difficult to justify is the fact that the extension of the audience [made possible by television] is used to legitimate the lowering of the standards of entry into the field. People may object to this as elitism, a simple defense of the citadel of big science and high culture, or even an attempts to close out ordinary people (by trying to close off television to those who with their honoraria and their and showy lifestyles, claim to be representative of ordinary men and women, on the pretext that they can be understood by these people and will get high audience ratings). In fact, I am defending the conditions necessary for the production and diffusion of the highest human creations. To escape the twin traps of elitism and demagoguery we must work to maintain or even to raise the requirements for the right of entry –the entry fee- into the fields of production.
You can see why American academic liberals like him. He’s certainly not a radical democrat. He makes claims for aestheticism and high art that Anglo-American social scientists would never make [he’s French!] but he renders culture, or Culture, non-threatening. He's Modernist, a concerned technocrat. And that he claims to understand culture makes him more of a vulgarian, not less.
Josh Marshall lies:
The hard reality is that there's no lack of plans -- there's a lack of political formula on either side to get there. That, or outside pressure.
"On either side." Israeli expansion has never stopped. Israel doesn't want peace it wants victory.
Helena Cobban
A repost from three weeks ago: interview with Khaled Mashal, at Open Democracy
August last year: Neve Gordon

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Italian rules allowing candy makers to label their products as “pure chocolate” breach European Union law, the region’s highest court said.

Permitting chocolate made from pure cocoa butter to be called “cioccolato puro,” or “pure chocolate,” clashes with EU-wide measures which allow chocolate laced with vegetable fats to be marketed as chocolate, the tribunal in Luxembourg said.
Pride has no place in economic logic. Sometimes the results are interesting.
Lovely and voluptuous, the actress Ingrid Pitt was given a choice early in her film career: pornography or horror. Ms. Pitt, who had spent her childhood in a Nazi concentration camp, later scoured Europe in search of her vanished father and still later was forced to flee East Germany a step ahead of the police, chose horror. It was a genre she knew firsthand.

...Ms. Pitt was born in Poland on Nov. 21, 1937. Her precise given name has been lost to time; British news articles have often rendered it as Ingoushka Petrov. Her father was German, her mother a Polish Jew, and in 1942 the Nazis picked the family up. Separated from her father and older sister, she was sent with her mother to the Stutthof concentration camp.

They were held there for three years. In interviews Ms. Pitt spoke of having seen her mother’s best friend hanged and her own best friend, a little girl, raped and beaten to death by guards. She recalled lying in the straw, dreaming of being someone else.

After the war she and her mother trudged from one refugee camp to the next, searching for her father and sister. They eventually found them, but by then her father was a broken man. He lived only five years more.

As a young woman Ms. Pitt was determined to be an actress. In the 1950s she joined the Berliner Ensemble, directed by Helene Weigel, the second wife of Bertolt Brecht, and based in East Berlin. A vocal critic of the East German Communist government, Ms. Pitt was pursued by the police on the night of her debut performance, in Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children.”

Fleeing, she jumped into the River Spree with her costume on, only to be fished out by an American serviceman, Laud Roland Pitt Jr. In fitting dramatic style, she married him soon afterward. That marriage ended in divorce, as did her second, to George Pinches, a British film executive.

Ms. Pitt began her screen career with several minor films in Spain; that she spoke no Spanish was apparently no impediment. Her first significant picture in the United States was “Where Eagles Dare” (1968), starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.
This led to an audition for James Carreras, then the head of Hammer. As Ms. Pitt recounted in a 1997 interview with The Guardian of London, she prepared meticulously:

“I turned up at Jimmy’s office in a maxicoat, a mane of hair, lots of makeup and high leather boots,” she said. “I walked up to him, threw open my coat like a flasher. I was wearing the tiniest and lowest-cut minidress you can imagine.”
She added: “He took me, darling, but not in the way film moguls are said to.”

...Though horror films made her famous, Ms. Pitt rarely watched them. “I don’t want to see horror,” she told The New Zealand Herald in 2006. “I think it’s very amazing that I do horror films when I had this awful childhood. But maybe that’s why I’m good at it.”
Ingrid Pitt 1937-2010
Pitt of Horror

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Compare and contrast
One key to Germany's miracle is the mittelstand, as the family-owned small and mid-size manufacturing firms that dominate the economy are known. Last week, I visited AWS Achslagerwerk, a factory of one such firm, in the farmlands of Saxony-Anhalt, about two hours west of Berlin. As in many such companies, this factory turns out specialized products: axle-box housings for Chinese and German high-speed trains, machine tools requiring climate-controlled precision measurement. With annual revenue of 24 million euros, the factory has won a significant share of the world market, though it employs only 175 production workers.
Until Greece can find a way to disentangle the private sector from the family and find another way to allocate resources — free from the intergenerational, class and gender inequities of the family unit — no amount of reform will make a difference.

The European Union and the I.M.F. should forget about dismantling Greece’s (already puny) welfare state and increasing labor flexibility in the (already flexible) private sector. The public sector does need restructuring, but the resulting unemployment will only strengthen the dominance of the family. A better solution would be to create a real public safety net that would help free young Greeks from the supportive yet suffocating grip of their families.
Economics is an aspect of culture.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Posted again: On Korea
and here

update 11/24.
It's a bouncer's job to suppress violence not escalate it. Bumping chests with an angry drunk gets you fired. Ask bouncer. Ask a bar owner.
North Korea is an irrational actor, threats are counterproductive. They're so fucking counterproductive it's just stupid. South Korean military exercises are a given. The US should not be joining them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"The American middle class is guilty of two great crimes against American cities. First they left. Then they came back."

The above forwarded by a friend. Originally attributed to Michael Sorkin, who says he can't take credit, but wishes he could.
"The history of modern intellectual life more even than the history of modernity needs to be written by a historian from Mars".

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I've said this before: every time someone talks about objectivity vs bias in the American press, ask if there are any respected news outlets that are not explicitly pro-US.

The danger of Republican intransigence is that their interests are less over policy than politics itself, and they seem more loyal to the party than the country. In the language of the previous post, they have more interest in winning than they do respect for the process.

Democracy is a form of game: if the police search your house without a warrant the rules say it doesn't matter what incriminating evidence they find. A foul is a foul. But there is no referee in politics, so the job is left to the players themselves who are obliged to show respect for each other and for the institutions of which they have shared membership. Fraternal obligations of this sort are as important as rules. Social groups are founded in systems of reinforcement, so that trust relations can be kept between parties even when obligations are not followed, or when your roles in the group are adversarial.

There are other games of governance with different rules, but these also are underlaid by trust. Others with no rules at all. Monarchism is a game, but fascism is a pseudo-game where the rules and obligations are a sham. That's why fascism is so dangerous. It's also unstable.

It's a mistake to refer to truth values in games. They're simply decision-making processes, and by definition the process matters more than the results in each case. The result that matters is longevity.

The logic of liberal technocratic idealism weakens the game-playing of culture (in our case the culture of democracy) either by a focus on claims of truth that acts to undermine the primacy of procedure or by building models based on rules, which by definition cannot contradict one another, and not on obligations which by definition are in conflict. A system of rules alone results in a society of children.

Case in point: objectivity which becomes neutrality, except when it doesn't.

The people are used as pawns in arguments among members of the elite. For those who think the debt is the most important issue, the fact that the majority think otherwise is irrelevant; the electorate are either correct or misguided depending on which side you're arguing. But you can't come out and attack the people for stupidity when you disagree with them without being accused of elitism.

Contradictions aren't the problem, the unwillingness to face them is the problem.
I'm more concerned with jobs than with the debt.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The impressions are great, but it's a technical skill. What's best is the timing and the interplay. And you can see the effort; they're both working very hard on the fly.

I think what makes me laugh is the timing of the mutual exasperation. In word and gesture it works rhythmically as a kind of duet. It's a mixture of overt theatricality and realism. "You'wre only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

Another kind of less convincing theatrical performance.

He waffles back and forth between arguing for "truth" and for subjective engagement. Sincerity is the protestation of honesty, it's an attitude not a function. That misunderstanding is behind what his audience reads as his mannered self-importance. He's not quite able just to defend honesty to his own educated opinions as in itself a valid methodology, so he acts and over-acts to convince us of more, going so far as to defend the moral integrity of corporations. He's an insecure suitor of public opinion. There's a lot of BS in his spiel but there's also real struggle. It's true [it is the case] that the ideal of objectivity devolves into neutrality, and that facts get in the way of maintaining the illusion. But it's also the case that interpretation is not only necessary but as subjectivity, inevitable: fact, value - value, fact. Honesty isn't the pretense at objectivity it's the awareness that others have their own opinions and a willingness to offer your own in good faith. Thinking of it in terms of sports, it's seeing your argument as part of a competition where you're more loyal to the game itself than victory. Which brings us back to the great and democratic tennis match in the first video.

If the videos are lost:
Scene from The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, dueling impersonations of Michael Caine.
Olbermann on Countdown, "False promise of objectivity proves  'truth' superior to 'fact'"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You may recognize the face.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The sooner we widen the popular understanding of everyday normalcy, the sooner we widen the definition of its opposite. I don't like the rich for being rich, though I like some of them in spite of it. I don't like billionaires at all. The culture of greed is monoculture/antidemocratic; diversity is a good.

If the Video's gone: Anti-Bullying, NOH8 Campaign. Gene Simmons
Marc Lynch and Robert Fisk on Lebanon. Annotations by FLC.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Open Democracy interview with Mashal

Sunday, November 07, 2010

[If the video is inaccessible search here]

Lawrence Lessig
In 1955 , a man got an idea (yes, that is ambiguous) for a new kind of social network. Here’s the important point: He built it. He had a bunch of extremely clever clues for opening up a social space that every kid (anyone younger than I am) would love. He architected that social space around the social life of the kids he knew. And he worked ferociously hard to make sure the system was stable and functioning at all times. The man then spread it to other places, then other communities, and now to anyone. Today, with more than 500,000,000 people served, it is one of the biggest networks in the history of man.
Lawrence Lessig is a fucking idiot. [now archive.org]
I love the melancholy poetry of reactionary homosexual Fordist anti-humanism, even as I understand that it's founded in pain and self-hatred. But I don't give a shit if Lessig believes he's "recovered" from his childhood experiences. "Saint" Genet argued against prison reform because prisons made him what he was. Lessig should be so honest.

Poetry is observation not creation. "Creativity" is no more than inventiveness, and inventiveness is the intelligence of precocious preadolescence, of the mind before experience. To refuse as an adult to face the impact of experience is not to refute it but to deny it. "The Social Network is wonderful entertainment". The Social Network is a half-way decent work of popular art, constituted first, as all art is, in the asking of questions: "Who are we?" "What do we value?" I don't give a damn about his sexuality, but everything I've read by Lessig beyond his basic arguments is founded in ridiculous assumption; the inner logic is rigid and perverse. He claims to be interested in culture but doesn't know what it is. I'll say it again: the people behind The Social Network are more interesting than the people behind Facebook. "That undergraduate is now a billionaire, multiple times over. He is the youngest billionaire in the world." And we're supposed to be impressed by this, and by the socialism of bees.

Zadie Smith on Geeks.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Car bombs
IDF spokeswoman completely denies hinting Israel coordinated Gaza hit with Washington

I did not, in any way, say that," said the spokesman. DPA told Haaretz that they spoke with the IDF spokeswoman and had agreed to publish an additional story in which she was given an opportunity to clarify her remarks.
Asked whether Israel had coordinated the hit on Mohammed Nimnim, a commander in the Army of Islam group, with its American ally, the spokesman did not respond.
She did, however, refer to the tight relationship between the army and the U.S.
"Without getting specifically into more details, I can tell you there is very good cooperation between us and the Americans," she said.
"We have an ongoing relationship with the Americans, as well as with other forces, and from time to time we pass on information as with other sources," she said.
Nimnim, 37, was killed instantaneously when his car exploded outside a police station in Gaza City. Witness suggested the car was hit by a missile, while some media reports attributed the explosion to a planted bomb.
Palestinian security officials said later that they believed the explosion was caused by a bomb concealed under the drivers' seat.
Israel initially refused to comment on the attack but the IDF later confirmed it had carried out a joint operation with the Shin Bet security service.
Aside from the general weakness of democrats when it comes to politics,  Obama is a black man who's lived his life in a white man's world. [I said this before] He's a Prep School Negro; he's succeeded by coyness. He doesn't want to be seen as angry. And now he's being lectured by a white southerner, a bitter, reactionary, closeted homosexual.

Another sign of the problem (if you've followed the first link): the film's being shown mostly on the prep school circuit.

I doubt the girl who says "they wanted to touch my hair" went to the school the director and I went to. The son of the first black graduate was in my class and the editor of the school paper. He was a lifer; I started there at 6th grade. His mother taught there and for 12 more years after we left. His parents and mine had both been active in the movement in Philadelphia in the 60's.

The head of admissions was from the old light-skinned black aristocracy, married to a white man who was the founding director of the Philadelphia ACLU. My mother worked with him for 20 years (my father was on the board of the state branch ). A. Leon Higginbotham sent at least one of his kids to the school, and the family lived up the block from us. I remember a speech to the students where he said we were going to be the intellectual and moral leaders of the country. I remember mostly my disgust. One of the newer teachers, black and very much not from the background of the Higgenbothams and the others, had done work in prisons and wore a dashiki. At 13 I tried awkwardly to ingratiate myself by giving him a book of poems by Etheridge Knight, who had just been in town and stayed with friends of my parents. The gesture was absurd. It's safe to assume he had the book already and may well have known Knight better than the white college professors he'd stayed with. Maybe, maybe not. We both enjoyed our outsider status but they weren't equivalent. Though looking for him now he acclimated more than I did, and spent a career at a place I regret going to.

I was an outsider in my neighborhood when I was young, but I was the object of nothing worse than bemusement. When I was laughed at I was almost always given the opportunity to be in on the joke. I had much more difficulty elsewhere. We moved in 20 years after white flight. Our next door neighbors had been the blockbusters. There was tension at first, with the suspicion that we were blockbusters in reverse, buying to flip. When we stayed the worries went away. The neighborhood didn't change.

My brother's experience was different. My parents kept me out of public school, though they were never happy about it. Both were products of public education, but my brother had gone to one of the toughest high schools in the city and and they chose to blame everything on the environment outside the home. But their problem was with the teachers not the students. One night three kids rang the doorbell late asking to talk to my brother; my parents were relieved to hear they were offering back-up in a fight. That ended the issue for them: he wasn't alone. My sister had made it into an elect city school but they didn't want to take a risk with the younger son. A few years before she died I mentioned to my mother that I'd remembered again how I'd always felt a constant low-level anxiety around the white working class. She scoffed at my rediscovery. "When David was bused out [briefly to a school in white working class neighborhood] he was terrified."

I told the editor I wanted to submit a piece on the change I felt after years at the school in my relations with old friends in my neighborhood. He thought my idea was too much to publish. Around the same time he wrote a piece about having Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden as babysitters. He's now at Ann Arbor, and he's written a book on black power in Philadelphia. His mother's on the lecture circuit. [archive.org]

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Ai Weiwei
However Ai suspects that the order may be linked to two high-profile campaigns that have embarrassed and angered the Shanghai government in recent years. In 2008, Ai was instrumental in turning the case of Yang Jia, a man who stabbed six policeman to death after being arrested and beaten for riding an unlicensed bicycle, into an internet cause-celebre. This year Ai made a documentary to highlight the plight of a Shanghai-based activist-lawyer called Feng Zhenghu, who spent more than 100 days marooned at Tokyo's Narita airport after being refused entry to China eight times by Shanghai officials.

Last year Ai underwent cranial surgery after being beaten by police in Sichuan province when he went to give evidence in support of another activist, Tan Zuoren, who was jailed for investigating the collapse of thousands of schools in the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008.

Ai, who is a relentless user of the microblog Twitter, is best known for co designing Beijing's Olympic stadium, the Birds Nest, which some hoped would herald a more open China. Ai has since renounced that work as a "fake smile".

"I think the intention is not have Mr Ai back in Shanghai after my involvement in those two cases," Ai added, "this is not about money. They have agreed to pay me back the money. It's about China after the Olympics, after the [Shanghai] Expo. These officials have no basic sense of truth. No morals." [Hey! They're paying you back!] To mark the demolition of the studio, Ai has issued an open invitation, via Twitter, to a party this Sunday at which he will serve 10,000 river crabs, a local delicacy but also an extravagant jibe at local officialdom.

In Chinese the word for river crab, "hexie", sounds very similar to that for "harmony", the ideological buzzword of the current regime which is frequently used ironically by Chinese internet users – as in "my new art studio has just been 'harmonised'."
Buyer beware. Ai is an "architect" who once showed a client a set of drawings then built something different and cheaper, splitting the cash with the contractor. The other building his contractor built on the site was designed by a boutique American firm, and if anything that was a bigger disaster, though the worst that could be said of the contractor in that case was that he did what he was told and laughed all the way to the bank. I'm sure Ai got a cut of that too.  At this point I'm willing to bet Ai signed on to the stadium project -as "artistic consultant"- always planning to attack it once it got built and he got paid, mixing politics, showmanship and greed. A brilliant way to play the game. All of this reflects on the work but not on the question of whether it's any good or not.

Study in Perspective: The White House, Tiananmen Square, Eiffel Tower, 
3 from a series of 7 Gelatin silver prints, each: 15 5/16" x 23 1/4", 1995-2003
Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, B/W prints each: 47 5/8" x 58 1/4"), 1995
As he said later, the 3 photographs are now more valuable than the 2000 year old pot he destroyed.
Lebanon: Gynecology Honor and the STL

Guantanamo: The Bell Curve for Muslims
The emotional testimony ended what had been a raucous day of cross examination of the prosecution’s forensic psychiatrist, who had called Khadr “Al Qaeda royalty” and assessed him as danger to Canada.

Michael Welner interviewed Khadr for about eight hours over two days this summer, but told the court he had spent 500-600 hours on the case.

Part of his assessment relied on the research of Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels, who has claimed that “massive inbreeding within the Muslim culture during the last 1,400 years may have done catastrophic damage to their gene pool.”

The author of Among Criminal Muslims, also has called the Qur’an “a criminal book that forces people to do criminal things.”

Welner appeared to become increasingly agitated as Khadr’s lawyer, Air Force Maj. Mathew Schwartz, challenged his credibility, saying Welner had delivered “hours and hours of hearsay-filled testimony.”

Welner defended his work as “cutting edge.”
Olmert: "Terror's origin is Islam."

Avnery: For years, the occupation authorities favored the Islamic movement in the occupied territories. All other political activities were rigorously suppressed, but their activities in the mosques were permitted. The calculation was simple and naive: at the time, the PLO was considered the main enemy, Yasser Arafat was the current Satan. The Islamic movement was preaching against the PLO and Arafat, and was therefore viewed as an ally.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Jan van Eyck (and Assistant), The Crucifixion; The Last Judgment, ca. 1430 Oil on canvas,
transferred from wood, The Metropolitan Museum, NY

Monday, November 01, 2010

Oligarchs and Absinthe Shots
Mr. Prokhorov, standing a head above everyone else in the room, surveyed the crowd. Rumors circulated that this was Nicole Kidman’s apartment, adding a bit of sex appeal that grew stronger as it was translated from Russian to English and back again. Someone claimed that Mick Jagger lived downstairs. People smiled and stopped the waiter with the caviar for one more bite.

Vladimir Yakovlev, the co-founder and editor of the magazine, briefly thanked the crowd before handing the microphone to his deputy, Masha Gessen, who read her speech from her iPad. Copies of the magazine were fanned across coffee tables — the cover carried an unflattering photo of Mikhail Gorbachev — but people paid more attention to the waiters carrying trays of absinthe shots.

...As plates of scallops and beef stroganoff floated around the room, a woman with a microphone climbed the staircase and tried to silence the “the snobs and ultra-snobs,” as she described the crowd. Moments later, Cassandra Wilson, the Grammy-winning chanteuse, emerged and, eyes closed, began to sing. The Russian conversations carried on, and the party livened up as a brass band took over and the dance floor filled with rowdy moves that included a couple that broke out in push-ups. For dessert, a waiter offered a fancy wine push-up pop. “It’s like a jello shot,” he said.

Because people are already totally in love with the Russian gazillionaire who is going to help ruin Downtown Brooklyn, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s magazine, Snob, is establishing a new home on New York newsstands this Wednesday, according to The Observer. "Russians living abroad have been rediscovering Russia," deputy editor in chief of Snob, Masha Gessen, told the Wall Street Journal. The lifestyle magazine hopes to promote this rediscovery and cater to the country’s elite class.
Jan van Eyck
I'm less bothered by the new barbarism than by the self-conscious intellectual culture that's unable to come to terms with it, that's unable to reconcile claims to liberalism, earnest idealism, and good intention, with a taste for high-living in service to the powerful. It's easier to have respect for honest bastards than their passive apologists. The people responsible for The Social Network may be more interesting than the people responsible for Facebook, but where does that leave Masha Gessen or her brother and the other editors of N+1?

Look at the smile. That's the face of a great bastard. You can't help but like him.