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History and Retrospective
by Rebecca Blood


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1.24.2001
OpenFlows: Social and Organizational Network Analysis Open Source Intelligence for the Internet.
Looks promising.

Harper's Index for January 2001

Who Owns Death?by Brett Essler, Buffalo Beat:

How many stories -- of "foot long blue and orange flames shot from the right side of his bobbing head" or exonerated criminals or retarded prisoners saving their last meal for "after they get back" -- will the American people have to hear before they convince their elected officials that capital punishment serves no purpose other than revenge?
If recent polling data and a scan of the media are any indication, that day could be in the not-too-distant future.



1.23.2001
Stephen Jay Gould:
"I want to set out a blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution to an issue so laden with emotion and the burden of history that a clear path usually becomes overgrown by a tangle of contention and confusion. I speak of the supposed conflict between science and religion.
(...)
I propose that we encapsulate a central principle of respectful noninterference - accompanied by intense dialogue between the two distinct subjects - by enunciating the principle of Noma, or non-overlapping magisteria (from the Latin magister, or teacher).
(...)
The magisteria will not fuse; so each of us must integrate these distinct components into a coherent view of life. If we succeed, we gain something truly "more precious than rubies", and dignified by one of the most beautiful words in any language: wisdom."



Bush's hard men sweep away the Clinton legacy '
"This is still a dangerous world. It's a world of madmen and uncertainty, and potential mental losses.'

There is a generational oddity - even a Freudian dysfunction - in this presidential handover by the baby-boomer Clinton and his crowd. Now it is Bush's big moment, but he has invited all Daddy's friends to the party and sat them at high table: Vice-President Dick Cheney, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and more. Some served not only George Bush Senior but Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and even Richard Nixon. And between then and now they have put in long, lucrative stints behind those boardroom doors.
So the Bush babies have entered a time warp, born yesterday but flung back a decade to the Cold War, before the shooting stars of Clinton's shiny New Democrats, New Economy, New America and New World, of which these grey conservatives are the antithesis.
(...)
This is one of the most drastic alterations to the relationship between citizen and government - breaking an enduring connection - since the New Deal of the Thirties.




George W. Bush or Chimpanzee?: You decide.



Etruscans Emerge Slowly From Obscurity
The revival of interest in the Etruscans dates from the Renaissance, when the study of the Greeks and Romans stimulated curiosity in their forebears. Since then a mass of Etruscan archaeological material has come to light. Yet the record is extremely complex given the sometimes overwhelming artistic influences exerted upon them by the Greeks, who colonized large tracts of southern Italy, and later the Romans, not to mention the prodigious quantities of imported artifacts that flowed into an Etruria made rich by its mines, agriculture and trading activities
Great strides have been made in the last two or three decades in distinguishing more clearly what was indigenous to the region and in identifying their genuinely original contributions to the development of the peninsula in the context of the ancient world.
(...)
The last century of Etruscan independence was accompanied by the gloomy prognostications of the augurs - whose profession remained the preserve of the upper classes - that the nation's end was nigh. In the middle of the last century B.C., in a spectacular coup de théâtre, an eminent soothsayer interpreted the appearance of a comet as the signal of the final catastrophe, adding that the gods would surely strike him down for revealing this secret - and promptly demonstrated the unimpeachable reliability of his own prophecies by dropping dead on the spot.
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Hate is the new love: Malcolm Bull's review of The Fragile Absolute - or, why is the Christian legacy worth fighting for? by Slavoj Zizek.

The reinterpretation of agape that Zizek offers as a way of appropriating the Christian legacy takes the form of a second-order psychoanalytic paradox. Psychoanalysis traditionally inclines toward suspicion - what we take to be goods are actually the expression, or the repression, of their opposite - but Zizek takes it further: perhaps the worst is for the best. Zizek has long fuelled this argument by working the rich seam of black humour that developed under Communism, but in The Fragile Absolute he finds a new source in the New Testament. According to Zizek, hate is the new love. Jesus said: 'If anyone come to me and does not hate his father and his mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple.' Here, hatred does not imply an irrational antagonism, but a self-destructive act of renunciation.
(...)
In short, Zizek's utopianism obscures the psychoanalytic insight Lacan brings to the Neoplatonic myth. Where Plotinus values unity over multiplicity, and treats the mirror image of unity that precipitates the descent of souls as something quite different from the true unity to which they reascend, Lacan treats unity and multiplicity as complementary fantasies between which the subject oscillates. For Zizek, this poses two related difficulties. It becomes difficult to ascribe any meaningful primacy to the negative gesture. Just as negativity becomes positive, positivity becomes negative: it is only in coupling that you start to uncouple, through loving your family that you really learn to hate them. For the same reason, it is also impossible to ascribe any finality to a new positivity, any absoluteness to the Absolute.
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The ever less ellusive quark-gluon plasma:

Tiptoeing closer to an understanding of the birth of our universe, almost 700 physicists from around the world met Saturday to wrap up the weeklong Quark Matter 2001 conference at the State University of New York at Stony Brook on Long Island.
At the conference, scientists from the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory announced that its new particle accelerator, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, had created the highest density of matter ever made in an experiment.
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Direct from Splinters re Borges

"Of the great Modernists, a good number have become well-loved even by those innocent of doubt. Woolf, Proust, Joyce, and perhaps even Kafka, have a Book Club friendliness about them. The Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) is also a popular favourite, and I love his stuff too. Penguin have been reissuing books of stories in Andrew Hurley’s new translations. Looking for something else, I found Harvard University’s website and its short, sweet and free MP3 extracts from lectures on poetry he gave at the university in the late Sixties. A book of the lectures called This Craft of Verse is also available. "

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The Digger Archives: an ongoing Web project to preserve and present the history of the anarchist guerilla street theater group that challenged the emerging Counterculture of the Sixties and whose actions and ideals inspired (and continue to inspire) a generation (of all ages) to create models of Free Association.



1.22.2001
George Jr. elucidates another problem:

"The California crunch really is the result of not enough power-generating plants and then not enough power to power the power of generating plants." -- George W. Bush, from an interview with the New York Times, January 14, 2001



The Super Bowl: American Metaphysics in Action
Football is a ripped-guts, smashmouth contest of modern gladiators orchestrated by Patton-esque coaches and their chess-master strategies, culled from playbooks thicker than a Don De Lillo novel. And that has its attractions. But beyond the balleticism of wide receivers, the violence of the front lines and the surgical precision of quarterbacks, lies a deeper appeal. Look closely and you'll see that football is America's metaphysics played out under stadium lights.



US Study Finds Depression Under Treated
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Most people being treated for major depression in the United States feel their illness is not under complete control, and many have stopped using prescribed drugs because of side effects, according to a survey released on Sunday. The survey was released by the Chicago-based National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, an educational group that said a significant communication gap exists between primary care doctors and patients when it comes to the disorder.


DON'T BE FOOLED!! Their True Nature revealed.... Cats Are From Mars

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Shed another tear for this "blue-green ball in black space".

QUIT0, Ecuador, Jan 21 (Reuters) - An oil spill in waters just half a mile (800 metres) off Ecuador's Galapagos Islands grew worse on Sunday, threatening some of the world's rarest land and sea animals and birds, officials said. "It is a disaster," Environmental Ministry spokesman Mauro Cerbino told Reuters. "It may be one of Galapagos' worst disasters."

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Jungian Analysis and Biology:

In a previous career I was an experimental scientist in molecular biology; now I am a Jungian analyst. As an analyst I sense that there are non-rational forces at work. I encounter numinous images and I find that the psyche has its own goals which are independent of mine. But as a biologist I seek rational explanations. My two points of view, that of a biologist and that of an analyst, are in conflict. The conflict has led to this paper.
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Placebos and human behavior :

abstract :
...we can generalize the placebo effect to virtually any event and object outside the medical sciences, thus recognizing that placebos influence many aspects of human behavior. If we look at human behavior in this way, we can analyze some of the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of non-medical placebos in the same way as has been done with medical placebos. Thus this generalization of the placebo concept represents a challenging approach which has important implications for understanding the interactions between the external world and our emotional experience.
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LASER: The Inventor, the Nobel Laureate and the Thirty-Year Patent War by Nick Taylor

Together with the transistor and microchip, the laser is one of the inventions that paved the way for the Information Age. In the 40 years since the laser first operated, it has become a commonplace of modern life. Lasers flash away at the hearts of CD players, photocopiers and supermarket bar-code readers. They are now indispensable in surgery, surveying, fiber-optic communications and many other applications. But the origins of the laser remain shrouded in the mists of the Cold War.
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A review of Angles Of Reflection Logic and a Mother's Love, by Joan L. Richards.

In ''Angles of Reflection,'' you walk by the side of this very smart woman years later, as she is forced to work out her own secular theodicy for the failure of her logical, scholarly cocoon to keep her safe....

Leibniz argued against Newton's absolute space. ''I hold space to be something merely relative, as time is; . . . For space denotes, in terms of possibility, an order to things which exist at the same time, considered as existing together.'' ''Angles of Reflection'' has a matter-of-fact straightforwardness as gripping as a whodunit, but it is fundamentally a philosophical essay on mathematics. Mathematics comes to seem to Richards like grabbing at the truth and trying to purify it, separating out the absolutely true from the contingent and relative. In her immersion in Ned's problems she became the relative and contingent: the nonknowledgeable, the personal, the mother. And that was fine. Richards not only sides with Leibniz against Newton, but she also comes to reject Leibniz's need for a theodicy. This is not a world you escape, or one in which there is hope of redemption through coherence. It just is. The best you can do is understand its contingencies.




1.21.2001
Impressions of the Sun and Moon : Photography enthusiasts interested in this early art form will delight in the enlightening exhibition, Himmelsphotographien 1850 bis 2000 (Photographing the Heavens: 1850 to 2000), now being shown in Stuttgart's Staatsgalerie until March 11.
Through Daguerre's discovery, a new pact with visibility seemed to have been sealed. Nature itself, and all the perceivable works of human civilization pressed forward to be portrayed. The result would be an all-encompassing inventory, the kind that during Napoleon's Egyptian expedition only an unparalleled contingent of painters and draftsmen could master....
This paradox of perceptibility -- if we continue to see more and more, then at a certain point, we will be unable to see anything at all -- registers the decline of expectations with which photography originally turned to the heavens. It had tried to bring images of the heavens down to earth, as though they belonged in the same gallery as any other picture.



1.20.2001
Kenneth Tindall, The Beat Hotel

"It may be that in New York every Lower East Side apartment has a bathtub with two chickens and cheap electric power, but on the Left Bank in Paris the streets are plangent with philosophy."



Librarians Sue U.S. Over Internet Censorship

The American Library Association (ALA ) announced its intention Thursday to sue the U.S. over the validity of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
The Act, signed into law on December 21st, 2000 infringes on First Amendment free-speech rights, says the library association. Under CIPA, libraries and schools are required to install content filters on computers with Internet access as a condition for receiving U.S. government funding.



1.19.2001
thm_corso_01Gregory Corso, a Candid-Voiced Beat Poet, Dies at 70

Sample some of his work at beatpage



Web Sites Begin to Self Organize:
The Vines is an example of an emerging class of what are called self-organizing Web sites. Such sites are demonstrating that with a dab or two of well-written code and a bit of careful planning, a site can take a random collection of links or posts and turn them into a sophisticated, adaptive system.
(...) "The Web in 1996 didn't need to organize itself," said Joey Anuff, who is editor in chief of a new self-organizing site called Plastic.com. "But we have a Web now that's measured in billions of pages and millions of users, so any kind of mechanism that automatically imposes order becomes more useful and important."
(...) Web sites with mechanisms for self-filtering, self-ranking and self-organization are very likely to continue to grow in number. "This is a fundamental shift in the Web's evolution," said Mr. Johnson, at Automatic Media. "The first generation of the Web was individual interactivity. And now, after a period of distraction, it's getting back to the roots of the idea of interactivity." But this time, he added, the interactivity is collective.
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A good essay on cyberfreedom from The Economist :

It seems likely that 2000 will be remembered as the year when governments started to regulate cyberspace in earnest; and forgot, in the process, that the reason the worldwide network became such an innovative force at all was a healthy mix of self-regulation and no regulation. In Britain, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act now gives the police broad access to e-mail and other online communications. South Korea has outlawed access to gambling websites. The United States has passed a law requiring schools and libraries that receive federal funds for Internet connections to install software on their computers to block material harmful to the young.
(...)The holy grail for e-commerce, however, would be a system in which users had permanent digital certificates on their computers containing details of age, citizenship, sex, professional credentials, and so on. Such technology would not only allow websites to aim their services at individuals, but would let governments reclaim their authority. These solutions to Internet regulation are far off, if they fly at all. But Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Stanford University, warns that e-commerce firms will push for such certificates and that governments may one day require them.
(...)On the Internet, the struggle between freedom and state control will rage for some time. But if recent trends in online regulation prove anything, it is that technology is being used by both sides in this battle and that freedom is by no means certain to win. The Internet could indeed become the most liberating technology since the printing press - but only if governments let it.
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David Chess ruminates on the social construction of reality and offers up some usefull links :

I'm sure there are postmodern texts out there that claim that all of reality is socially constructed, and Searle may be doing Yeoman's Work by defending Realism against them. But I'm more interested in thinking about the parts of reality that are socially constructed.
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11 key questions about the universe: A panel of US physicists and astronomers has identified a list of eleven fundamental questions about the nature of the universe that will require the combined skills of particle physicists and astrophysicists to answer. The questions are in "From quarks to the cosmos", the first report from the committee on the physics of the universe set up by the National Academy of Sciences.





Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'

"We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two," Bush said. "Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there's much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."
"The insanity is over," Bush said. "After a long, dark night of peace and stability, the sun is finally rising again over America. We look forward to a bright new dawn not seen since the glory days of my dad."



1.18.2001
The Rebels Of the Right (washingtonpost.com)
"The moral relativism of conservatives who defend the Confederacy is the great irony," says Rutgers University historian Jackson Lears, whose Southern father named him after Stonewall Jackson. "This is a situation where to be a Confederate apologist demands historical relativism." Conservative moralists talk of how liberals too easily tolerate aberrant behavior, and so define deviancy downward. The question now is whether some conservative politicians would do the same to American history.


Krishnamurti - the Invention of a Messiah
The story of how an apparently simple-minded Indian boy came to be heralded as the new Messiah might stand as a parable for the romantic Western idea that spiritual deliverance is to be found in the East - and the crushing disappointments that can result.
(...) At a Theosophical gathering in Holland, in front of thousands of expectant followers, he withdrew from the Society, pronouncing that "Truth is a pathless land" which individuals must find for themselves, discarding any religious belief, practice or dogma. For the next 57 years, until his death in 1986, he travelled the world delivering this message, living out the paradox of being an anti-guru with a devoted following hanging on his every word.
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Gucci's New Voice: John Lennon Milan: A flat cap, a long coat, a couple strolling in Central Park: John and Yoko. Gucci's autumn-winter menswear show was, in John Lennon's words, a "Double Fantasy."
You could believe, just for a moment, that these were simple clothes instead of luxurious leather, fur and velvet. And imagine a time frame of the early 1980s, when there was a pre yuppie whiff of hippie innocence.

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Unnatural selection Some scientists argue that we are in the middle of a mass, human-induced extinction. What implications does this have for the future of evolution? Sanjida O'Connell reports:

Since Darwin figured out how natural selection works, how a species changes through time and may eventually develop into another species, evolution has been ticking along nicely. Or has it? Is it putting on the brakes or going into fast-forward? Some scientists argue that we are in the middle of a great extinction. Evidence from the fossil record suggests that there have been five major mass extinctions; this, the sixth, is human-induced. This time around, they say, more species will be lost than in any of the previous extinctions; it could take at least five million years before animals and plants recover in numbers and variety.
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Why history will be kind to Wild Bill
This is the last week of the presidency of Bill Clinton, an eight-year span which has certainly been the most successful American presidency since the Eisenhower Administration of the 1950s and has arguably been the most successful eight-year period in the history of any nation. America today is unquestionably the world’s most prosperous, powerful and self-confident nation. ...
...in contrast to the majority of American citizens, who seem grateful for Mr Clinton’s achievements and sometimes even admit to a sneaking fondness for his reckless adolescent streak, the panjandrums of the political and media establishment are almost unanimous in their contempt for his tenure.

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How your brain recognizes yourself Right hemisphere plays a leading role in self-awareness, researchers say.
"One of the astonishing findings in psychology is that humans and apes are the only species that recognize their own faces in mirrors," Keenan said in a statement. "It has been thought that this ability is a hallmark of consciousness. To know that our own face is ours inevitably requires a knowledge of the self. Without self-knowledge, it would be seemingly impossible to recognize who we are," he added. The findings could eventually be put to use in treating patients who experience problems with self-awareness as a result of such maladies as schizophrenia, autism or Alzheimer’s disease, he said....
"If we can somehow increase or change the activity in the right hemisphere, can we possibly help alleviate some of these symptoms associated with self-awareness deficits?" he asked.





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