I love to pass my fingers,
As tide through weeds of the sea
And wind the tall fern-fronds
Through the strands of your hair
Dark as night that screens the naked moon:
I am jealous and passionate
Like Jehovah, God of the Jews,
And I would that you realize
No greater love had woman
From man than the one I have for you!
But what wakeful eyes of man,
Made of the mud of this earth,
Can stare at the touch of sleep
The sable vehicle of dream
Which indeed is the look in your eyes?
So drunken, like ancient walls
We crumble in heaps at your feet;
And as the good maid of the sea,
Full of rich bounties for men,
You lift us all beggars to your breast.
* Amazon natives vs. Oil Companies Earlier this year, Peru gave a bunch of massive resource concessions to some international oil companies. Native tribes in the Amazon were not pleased, and fought back with wooden weapons and blockades in a situation that almost amounted to civil war. Johann Hari has the surprising story of what happened next.
Wall Street’s largest trade group has started a campaign to counter the “populist” backlash against bankers, enlisting two former aides to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to spearhead the effort.
In memos of confidential meetings with top financial executives, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association said it began this month the “execution phase” of the operation, which pledges to “embrace change” and accountability. The plan targets policy makers and the media in New York, London, Washington and Brussels and calls for a “city-by-city, grass roots” approach.
The securities industry “must be perceived as part of the solution, which will allow it to better defend against populist overreaction,” the documents, prepared for a June 17 meeting of SIFMA’s board, said.
The board meeting minutes and staff-written papers, obtained by Bloomberg News, outline the program crafted by polling, lobbying and public relations companies paid at least $85,000 a month. The memos provide a glimpse, in often candid language, into how Wall Street is grappling with its pariah status.
“It is imperative that in this historic period of reform, the industry be recognized as playing a positive role in seeking change and providing solutions to the problems we face,” one of the documents said. “There is currently widespread skepticism about the industry’s commitment to this needed change.”
Gee, I wonder why that might be. I've pointed to this mentality before, but it's worth repeating. Wall Street and the financial companies were deeply involved in separating the financial system from reasonable, small-risk investments and actual economic value. The same bloc pushed for the loosening of regulations that made this possible, and they enjoyed the ridiculous level of profits only possible in a financial bubble.
Now it's blown up in their faces and the industry dubs it a "populist overreaction" and wonders what slick ad might get them out of the hole. In more prosperous times, that might work. Now, however, I doubt the recently unemployed or homeless will give two shits.
The anger won't go away until the underlying causes do. The larger question is where it will be directed, who will take advantage of it and what the results will be.
For what it's worth, I think Matt Taibbi's Howard Beale-style rant in Rolling Stone is a lot closer to the public pulse than anything a highly paid lobbying firm could produce. There's a certain obliviousness fostered by the increasingly isolated upper classes that will result in a lot of these appeals having all the cluelessness of "let them eat cake."
We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges.
-From The Shadow of the Torturer
Severian is a hero, cast with objects of great power (including a badass sword, natch) upon a path that will take him to great heights and strange places. He may even save his world. Cue swelling music.
But wait; Severian is a torturer. His world is Urth to its inhabitants. The moon is green, the sun old and dying. There are rumors that the great citadels of his ancient city once moved between the stars. What, then, are the angels and holy relics that fill the land?
Such is the setup of Gene Wolfe’s masterpiece The Book of the New Sun, a genre-bending four book epic equal parts philosophical treatise, rich allegory and Romantic odyssey.
Wolfe was one of the leading lights of sci-fi’s Deviant Age; that blazing era from 1965 to 1985 when no concept seemed out of bounds. As with Tanith Lee, he did so much brilliant work throughout that time (and after) that any number would be excellent topics for their own column.
The Book of the New Sun comes at the end of that period, and in it Wolfe melds the shocking innovation of his earlier career with a deep undrerstanding the power of old tales well-told.
With multi-volume works, I usually prefer to pick out the strongest entry. Here, I’ll make an exception. The entirety of Wolfe’s opus is so damn good that I found myself unable to choose a single part. It is, like the best epics, one tale.
Ann Arbor? Home to the huge University of Michigan, birthplace and headquarters of the Borders book chain and a pocket of relative prosperity with only light collateral damage from the auto industry, a literate place, population around 100,000, one might expect to be appreciative of what print newspapers offer.
But some of those apparent strengths seem instead to have proven drawbacks -- a curious state of affairs that may provide an unexpected window into what kinds of newspapers are most vulnerable in the brutal business climate of 2009.
Tony Dearing, who is joining AnnArbor.com as content director, expanded on the point in an interview with blogger Jim Carty: "What people don't understand is that, yes, Ann Arbor is a dynamic, vital market... But there are a lot of things about Ann Arbor that make it harder to succeed as a print daily paper. Print papers do a little better with an older audience, and Ann Arbor is a little younger. We do better where there is a high level of home ownership, and there's a lower level of home ownership. We do a little better where there is a higher level of longtime residents. Ann Arbor is much more transitory."
I don't think it is a stretch to extrapolate the Ann Arbor problem to metro markets in the worst trouble -- San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Jose. Youngish, upscale, hip, high-tech , a big artistic community -- those may all be economic engines for the city but a business negative for the one-size-fits-all traditional newspaper.
Conversely, rankings of newspaper household penetration are always led by such relatively traditional and stable cities as Rochester, Richmond and Milwaukee.
I'll be taking a break from blogging here for the weekend, and possibly through Monday or Tuesday.