Sunday, February 24, 2002

Gans mit Ganef

Kosher goose is a rare and wonderful thing. Alright, it is a fatty, gamey, rich, mouthwatering, tasty treat when basted with honey and rotisseried for hours and hours. I want to sing a song to goose. Ich habe den gans ganz gegessen. Caper, caper, caper.

Capers are tasty too. But not as tasty as goose, good, rich, roasted goose. Thank you, Herr Bierig und Frau Schwartz!

Serious mien, for a moment. Essay on kosher foods, certifications, and the decline and fall of kosher butchery, coming up. It will be the last thing I post before I leave for China on Tuesday.


Thursday, February 21, 2002

Daniel Pearl is dead.

As reported on the Diane Rehm show, the scuttlebutt about the videotape of his murder is that his last words were, "I am a Jew, and my father was a Jew."

Daniel Pearl is a martyr, to modernity and to God.

May the merciful Father who dwells on high, in his infinite mercy, remember those saintly, upright and blameless souls, the holy communities who offered their lives for the sanctification of the divine name.
What fatuous rat-bastard arrogant mocking crap!

The thrice-god-damned BBC - of course.

First they cover the Intifada in Israel with the loosest fitting figleafs of objectivity - one can see the lust expressed - then they shut down the shortwave broadcasts of their decent cultural fare to North America, so that the only stuff I get to listen to is their redolent barnyard news and public affairs programming, over their sycophant PR repeaters.

And now, now this snide, sneering holier-than-thou piece describing displays of mindless American jingoistic nationalism (in Windows Media Format, in MP3 - 510kb, and Realaudio) at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Words cannot - oh, screw this - of course words can express my deep, deep contempt for this blatting sententious foolishness!

I believe my response to this is in the mode of Götz von Berlichingen, in Goethe's play of the same name:

Lech mich am arsch!
Voyagant en Chine... Cinq heures en queue pour un visa...

Well, I know that they don't speak French in the People's Republic, but French is the language of diplomacy. Traveling to China without a diplomatic passport means that one needs a visa, obtainable by mail or in person at a Chinese consulate or embassy. So I went to New York on Tuesday to get my visa.

Cheap Trip to China: an Anticipatory Travelogue In Parts, Odds and Ends

I got up at quarter to five to get on the road. I've a healthy respect for New York rush-hour traffic, and I had no intention of driving into town. The mass-transit system in the metro area is marvelous. PATH is very nearly a perfect people portageur. Well, you can't really park anywhere near a PATH station except in Newark. Which is a national auto-theft capital. So I parked in a gated garage two blocks from Newark-Penn station (a great Beaux-Arts/Art-Deco space) and rode the PATH into Gotham.

I should probably mention that the last time I did this was September 7, and, resulting from a comedy of errors, I took the NJ transit train from the Broad Street Station to Hoboken, where I took the PATH train into the 33rd Street station. This was five bucks more expensive than it should have been, so I walked down to the World Trade Center to take the PATH to Newark on the way out. Ironically, this was the first time I'd actually visited the World Trade Center complex in my life, and I recall, walking down Varick Street in the noon-light of the Seventh, looking up at those boxy great glass towers, and marveling at the space that was enclosed within, inside of great balloons of metal and concrete.

There was a tendency, for months, for people to tell stories about the WTC: to connect their personal experience and emotions to the gigantic disaster that unfolded four days after my visit. I was and am no different. My World Trade Center story is kinda short. I walked down there, visited the Borders, bought my then-girlfriend a gift at the Strand four blocks away, went back inside the WTC, peed in a boxy aluminum jake in a marble/granite bathroom, and took a PATH train out after waiting fifteen minutes on a tastefully-stained wooden bench, next to tracks 3 and 4. I'd never been up in the towers. I never saw the need to ride up to the observation deck. I'd been to the top of the Empire State, and, as far as I was concerned, that was my gesture to vestigial New York boosterism. My family spent a very short time in New York, at first in Washington Heights in preparation for the emigration from England in 1950, and Dad and Mom lived there married for a short six months in 1975. They left three months before I showed up on the scene. So, what I am is a notional New Yorker. I like New York. I like New York very, very much. But I haven't lived there, and I won't until this fall (which is what I said last fall).

The signs in the PATH train denoting the routes had changed since September. No biggie - I was expecting that. (I've been to New York since the attacks - but each time I've driven in on weekends.) But it was like a thudding nail in my chest, to notice the change. And then, then there were the delays. The purpose of short, irregular stops on the tracks in Jersey and under the Hudson were obvious: delays to let traffic through the switches and the tunnels - the system is much more heavily loaded now that it is running at 200 per cent capacity.

The Chinese consulate in New York is in a big dirty building on 12th and 43rd. Obviously, I'd either walk it from the 33rd street station, or I'd take the A up the West side to the Port Authority, or something. So, naturally, I got off the train at Christopher Street, in the Village, and began walking south.

This is really natural. Highly, highly ordinary. The consulate opened at ten; there would be a long line and I needed to be there early to get the visa. In the middle of morning rush hour, I get off the train fifty blocks south of my destination and walk further south, the twenty blocks from Christopher Street, down Hudson Street, to the apron of inaccessibility that girds Ground Zero.

Why did I go?

I'd like to say that I went in order to say Kaddish. I did say Kaddish. I did not stand and gawk. I did say Kaddish, and great cold waves of nausea gripped me while I stared down Washington Street, across the great gray field, at the webbed and cloaked facades of 1 Liberty Plaza and the other buildings on the south line, and up at the great, enormous buildings of the World Financial Center, with scars and shrouds facing into the square. I looked for thirty or forty seconds, blasted through the Kaddish Yatom - for mourners - quickly the way I despise in outwardly more religious Jews - how can God hear a chattering mumble? - that Kaddish that is said by the mourner in the year after death.

I did not go to gawk. I went to cry. I went to Ground Zero so that I could see with my eyes the devastation there, and know that the images on screens, in magazines, and half-toned in newspapers were real. That I lived in the same universe as those by-now iconic events.

By way of comparison, I've never visited Dachau, though both of my grandfathers were imprisoned there after Kristallnacht.

So I shivered, and saw great destruction, and my spirit quailed, and I left, because I did not want to gawk. I did not want to be a tourist.

I'd intended to write an essay about the bedlam in the visa and passport office in the Chinese Consulate. I had a great fund of jokes about the residual Wolke-Kuckuckheim authoritarian propaganda plastered everywhere inside - entirely posters defaming Falun Gong is the most autistic, risible ways. I was going to write about the chaos in that visa office, and the long-vanished-and-now-rediscovered pleasure of mocking incompetent and inconsequential tyrants. I got to stand on line to get a ticket that would permit me to stand on a different line. Twice. Ha ha. So funny. So funny to laugh at the antics of the transplanted natives "who do not understand queuing". Why was the consulate in a shitty building on the Upper West Side? "We pass the savings on to you!" Ha. Ha.

New York was very quiet. Silent. I've never seen anything in my life like it. And never so many empty shops - except - and never so much trash - except - and never so many homeless men and women - except - no, I haven't seen those things, and had the seeing matched by a deadened silence. A silence that persisted for hours, in the weekday light of the greatest city on the planet.

That is what mourning is like. New York City is an onan, and I fear that the shloshim will last much, much longer than their statutory thirty days.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

I am sick of the palindrome.

The World produced by PRI and the BBC, just broadcast a story about palindromic time, making it the sixth piece I've heard today on the marvelous bit-O-time occurring about 8:02pm this evening.

To all of them, I say, social construction of reality and !booga-booga!

That's enough of that.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Query - who's checking my blog from Cornell? Just curious if it's an old friend.

Monday, February 11, 2002

There are many, many schools of historiography, and until recently – until the last fifteen years or so, none of them were concerned with relating the detailed life of individuals not at the center of great narratives. There’s been a raft of brilliant work in biography and analysis about the famous. But little or nothing about the humble, unless the story is didactic, and the subject an examplar.

This has to do with the major schools of historical philosophy and writing. When Thomas Carlyle wrote the history of the French Revolution, he wrote the biography of Napoleon – yet another nod to the triumphalist, personality-focused school. Robert Graves’ great uncle Leopold von Ranke, a teacher at the University of Berlin (today Humboldt University) for over sixty five years, from 1825 to 1886, is credited with establishing modern historical analytical method. As Gordon Craig relates:

In Ranke’s view of history – as in that of such historians of the first part of the century as Niebuhr, Dahlmann, and Droysen – power and the state played a major role. The unification movement strengthened this tendency, and research and teaching in the history of the modern period particularly was dominated by political historians.

Economic historians have traditionally drawn their inspiration from Marx and Engels, if not in in philosophic bent than certainly in analytical method. Thorsten Veblen, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, all of them inaugurated schools of analysis based on sociological rules-of-thumb. The history of ideas is marked by the staggering generalities which observers and critics impute to the cosmos wherein ideas qua ideas reside. All of these schools, and their modern descendents (because all historical writing derives from these antecedants), deal with human phenomena in the aggregate, in the mass. The sums of complexity are bound up in the reducible identities of nameable token objects: individuals at the forefront of identifiable forces working inside entities that might be systematically reduced according fixed criteria. When I speak of the German Revolution of 1918-1919, everyone in the know is instantly able to recognize mentions of Kurt Eisner, Ernst von Salomon, Philip Scheidemann, the MSPD, Hindenburg, Weimar, the Spartacists, et cetera, because these referents are significant symbologically. They have always been imputed with narrative power – they are the stars of stories. These stories have authority, because they have been derived in the proper manner through which all history is legitimated. I can talk about Kurt Eisner, the Bavarian Socialist Republic, and Eisner’s murder, the Count Arco Valley, and we see the stories of Socialism, Nationalism, Counterrevolution, and Romantic Revolutionism. It explains all so very much with no obvious base of explanation at all, when the democratic principles are applied to the problem. The reason why is simple: aside from the few individuals who have contact with those whom the historical lens has identified as personally significant, the stories of the great and powerful, the notorious, are reduced to nothing but morality plays. What does the biography of, say, Emile Zola have to do with the overwhelming majority of literate and illiterate Frenchmen, aside from the significant force (J’accuse!) he played in the trial of Alfred Dreyfus?

History (aside from the tired, and trivially incorrect (since the situation is vastly improving) canard that it is history, not herstory) doesn’t, or rather didn’t, talk about ordinary life, because it was trivial, uninteresting, or important only insofar as it played into one of the great synthetic themes of one or another particular school.

Enter alltägsgeschichte: the history of everyday life.

It's quite old, as a viewpoint, really. The Gies'es wrote their famous series on Life in a Medieval blank throughout the 'forties, 'fifties, and 'sixties. There is Fernand Braudel's excellent Structures of Everyday Life, published in the mid-to-late 'fifties.

What is alltägsgeschichte?

It is the attempt to understand the past's cultural, economic, political and social phenomena through the considered examination and reduction of personal experience - the better to understand the reified and nominalized 'greater concepts' of the older movements in the terms of the individual, according to class, ethnic background, gender, religion, and occupation. Instead of tracking the movements of sugar cargoes across the Atlantic in the beginning of the seventeenth century (as might be done when studying the trans-Atlantic slave trade or the commercial revolution of the seventeenth century), the historian of everyday life searches for the degree of ubiquity of sugar consumption in the importing societies of Europe. The tally books and tariffs-entry of the portmasters and the customs-houses of European entrepots state very well what the quantity and quality of the transshipped sugar-loaves might be, but they can not be contextualized into the social reality of individuals. How did individuals consume that sugar? What were the products made from it? How likely was an individual to consume sugar as part of their diet, and how did that relate to geographic location and economic status? What about illnesses connected with sugar consumption? What about changes in cuisine? Emphasis on different food commodities can rapidly change the nature of an everyday diet, and thus, the demands of a consuming public on agriculture. What did people think about the sugar they ate, and how did they describe the experience? The alltägsgeschichter looks for answers to these questions in personal history. Instead of tax tallies of provincial grain production, the alltägsgeschichter looks to memorialists of particular grain markets, catalogues food-riots, studies the forensic investigation of the exhumed bodies of contemporaries, and reads the accounts of peasant festivals in the rural hinterlands

The focus of the effort is, as Lüdtke says,

to get as close to our human subjects as we can through micro-historical, Geertzian thick description and active identification and involvement in order to reconstruct past lives in full recognition of personal and group idiosyncratic self-perception and self-definition.
Once the experience of hitherto ignored individuals can be delineated and understood, a much more nuanced and instructive approach can be made to answer the already asked Big Questions.
Alltagsgeschichte strives mightily to replace "History on a grand scale" with history on a trivial scale, these historians acknowledge the challenge of relating concrete personal situations to the "grand contours" of history.

Sunday, February 10, 2002

Some comments coming up on the practise of alltägsgeschichte: the history of everyday life, through the ages.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Nearly time for me to gay shlaufen - but I have a note from Robert Graves, regarding scoundrels of old, and their modern ersatz. A little late but no worse for wear:
Wigs and Beards

In the bad old days a bewigged country squire
Would never pay his debts, unless at cards;
Shot, angled, urged his pack through standing grain,
Horsewhipped his tenantry, snorted at the arts,
Toped himself under the table every night,
Blasphemed God with a cropful of God-damns,
Aired whorehouse French or lame Italian,
Set fashions of pluperfect slovenliness
And claimed seigneurial rights over all women
Who slept, imprudently, under the same roof.

Taxes and wars long ago ploughed them under-
'And serve the bastards right' the Beards agree,
Hurling their empties through the café window
And belching loud as they proceed downstairs.
Latter-day bastards of that famous stock,
They never rode a nag, nor gaffed a trout,
Nor winged a pheasant, nor went soldiering,
But remain true to the same hell-fire code
In all available particulars
And scorn to pay their debts even at cards.
Moreunder (which is to subtract, not add),
Their ancestors called themselves gentlemen
As they, in the same sense, call themselves artists.

-- Robert Graves (1966)

Friday, February 08, 2002

Hey, Gary. So, I ran a Nexis search on Kheimas Nimr and found nothing, and the only citations for "Palestinian & hanging & 1988" pulled up an April 3, 1988 AP story on a Palestinian electrocuting himself while hanging up a PLO flag from a utility pole. I think it's safe to say that no Kheimas Nimr was ever hanged by Israeli settlers.

I'll have further comments about the olive-branch-clad yidl-Arab minstrel show - another time, however.

Ah, there's nothing like the smell of post-Zionism in the morning!

Uh, who bought off the blogger banner ad? Inquiring correspondent wants to know.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

That Al-Qaeda training manual
They released it. Yeah, it's agitprop. Read it anyway.
Martyrs were killed, women were widowed, children were orphaned, men were handcuffed, chaste women's heads were shaved, harlots' heads were crowned, atrocities were inflicted on the innocent, gifts were given to the wicked, virgins were raped on the prostitution alter...

After the fall of our orthodox caliphates on March 3, 1924 and after expelling the colonialists, our Islamic nation was afflicted with apostate rulers who took over in the Moslem nation. These .rulers turned out to be more infidel and criminal than the colonialists themselves. Moslems have endured all kinds of harm, oppression, and torture at their hands.

Those apostate rulers threw thousands of the Haraka Al-Islamyia (IslamicMovement) youth in gloomy jails and detention centers that were equipped with the most modern torture devices and [manned with] experts in oppression and torture. Those youth had refused to move in the rulers' orbit, obscure matters to the youth, and oppose the idea of rebelling against the rulers. But they [the rulers] did not stop there; they started to fragment the essence of the Islamic nation by trying to eradicate its Moslem identity. Thus, they started spreading godless and atheistic views among the youth. We found some that claimed that socialism was from Islam, democracy was the [religious] council, and the prophet-God bless and keep him-propagandized communism.

Colonialism and its followers, the apostate rulers, then started to openly erect crusader centers, societies, and organizations like Masonic Lodges, Lions and Rotary clubs, and foreign schools. They aimed at producing a wasted generation that pursued everything that is western and produced rulers, ministers, leaders, physicians, engineers, businessmen, politicians, journalists, and information specialists. [Koranic verse:] "And Allah's enemies plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah."

They [the rulers] tried, using every means and [kind of] seduction, to produce a generation of young men that did not know [anything] except what they [the rulers] want, did not say except what they [the rulers] think about, did not live except according to their [the rulers') way, and did not dress except in their [the rulers'] clothes. However, majestic Allah turned their deception back on them, as a large group of those young men who were raised by them [the rulers] woke up from their sleep and returned to Allah, regretting and repenting.

The young men returning to Allah realized that Islam is not just performing rituals but a complete system: Religion and government, worship and Jihad [holy war], ethics and dealing with people, and the Koran and sword. The bitter situation that the nation has reached is a result of its divergence from Allah's course and his righteous law for all places and times. That [bitter situation] came about as a result of its children's love for the world, their loathing of death, and their abandonment of Jihad [holy war].

Unbelief is still the same. It pushed Abou Jahl-may Allah curse him-and Kureish's valiant infidels to battle the prophet -God bless and keep him -and to torture his companions -may Allah's grace be on them. It is the same unbelief that drove Sadat, Hosni Mubarak, Gadhafi, Hafez Assad, Saleh, Fahed -Allah's curse be upon the non-believing leaders -and all the apostate Arab rulers to torture, kill, imprison, and torment Moslems.

These young men realized that an Islamic government would never be established except by the bomb and rifle. Islam does not coincide or make a truce with unbelief, but rather confronts it. The confrontation that Islam calls for with these godless and apostate regimes, does not know Socratic debates, Platonic ideals nor Aristotelian diplomacy. But it knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing, and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine-gun.

The young came to prepare themselves for Jihad [holy war], commanded by the majestic Allah's order in the holy Koran.

[Koranic verse:] "Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies, and others besides whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know."

Ah, yes. Thank you, Gary. I still beat you to the subject by four hours. No ZOG conspiracy to mock Wernie-Bernie Heisenbergalicious, nosireebob.

Yeah, I'm up late. I'm in pain. Pain Pain Pain. There's gotta be some way to cut off my body below the belly button so I can get some sleep. I hate back problems. Hate Hate Hate. And the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that doesn't beat the poop out of the stomach wall lining that was supposed to work isn't doing it yet. AHHHH! I also hate the BBC being simulcast on WHYY-Philadelphia. I hate the color green, and I hate puppies. Kick the puppies. That oughta get some traffic, maybe a bit of hate-mail. Kick the puppies!

I really, really need to go to sleep.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

My instant outrage button gets very reliably pushed whenever the subject of Nazis come up. In the interest of full disclosure, why, yes, I am a Jew, a yekke in fact. My family fled from Hitler in '35, '39, and '40; both of my grandfathers were interned at Dachau for months after Reichskristallnacht. But that's not what gets me roused right this second - it's always a fresh source of bilirubin when absolutely nothing else will do.

What really jerks my chain is historical revisionism. Okay, all analysis is revisionist to some degree or another. Leaving aside po-mo assertions of the social construction of reality, for the moment, it's when people confabulate to hide guilt that sends me screaming off into Outrage Gulch, six-guns shootin', a sheriff in m'sights.

As an amateur (uncertificated - yet wannabe) historian, I get double and triple word score pissed off when it comes to Nazi revisionism.

So now we come to the crux of the matter.

Werner 'bunnypants' Heisenberg
Avuncular, ain't he?
Yeah, the guy responsible for the Heisenberg compensators under the bridge of the does-not-meet-code-wired Enterprise. Fzap! Him. Uncertainty principle, one of the Young Physics Turks who changed the world in 1927, where he matched Niels Bohr's complementarity principle and raised him one of the critical insights of quantum mechanics, the one where you can't arbitrarily determine both simultaneous vector and position of a particle. He was also, hrm a loyal German. He pimped for Hitler. There's been an award-winning Broadway play based on the famous collision of Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen in 1941, where Heisenberg tried to pump Bohr for the state of fission knowledge in the non-Nazi-controlled scientific community. It depicts an ambivalent Heisenberg. There's a book, 'Heisenberg's War' (no, I won't link to it because I think it's a worthless piece of apologetic crap, only useful for toilet paper and historiographical forensics.) which lays out a thesis about how Heisenberg was this reluctant warrior who sabotaged the German nuclear program because he had the attacks of guilt. scree... scree.... The sound you hear is the world's smallest out-of-tune violin playing my sympathy for Wernie's shade.

Imagine the depths of my surprise this evening when I see the following headline on the NYT website:

New Twist on Physicist's Role in Nazi Bomb
The leader of Hitler's atomic bomb program, Werner Heisenberg, portrayed himself after World War II as a kind of scientific resistance hero who sabotaged Hitler's efforts to build a nuclear weapon.

But in a series of letters and other documents made public yesterday, his friend and onetime mentor, the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, said that is not so.

Bohr, who died 40 years ago, said that under his beloved protégé, "everything was being done in Germany to develop atomic weapons."

In particular, the documents describe a meeting that Heisenberg initiated between the two men in occupied Denmark in September 1941.

After the war, Heisenberg said he traveled to Copenhagen to share his qualms about nuclear weapons. But the papers, released by the Bohr family and posted on the Niels Bohr Web site,, which is maintained by the Niels Bohr Archive, tell a different story.

Heisenberg did not travel to Copenhagen for the 1941 meeting to express moral qualms about building an atomic weapon in wartime or to suggest that physicists on both sides of the conflict should refuse to do so, according to a passage in a letter Bohr wrote to Heisenberg, but never sent.

He was moved to write his letter, the authenticity of which seems beyond doubt, in 1957 when he read "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns," a history of the atomic bomb, in which Heisenberg is quoted offering his defense of his wartime role.

"You said that there was no need to talk about details," Bohr said, "since you were completely familiar with them and had spent the past two years working more or less exclusively on such preparations."

Astounding. Amazing. Imagine: Heisenberg was full of soup.

The letters the article mentions are linked - here, at the Niels Bohr Archive . They are in Danish. I was hoping they were in German, so I could check the translation - but they're in Danish. I am struck by one of these letters - Bohr was a courtly man:

However, what I am thinking of in particular is the conversation we had in my office at the Institute, during which, because of the subject you raised, I carefully fixed in my mind every word that was uttered. It had to make a very strong impression on me that at the very outset you stated that you felt certain that the war, if it lasted sufficiently long, would be decided with atomic weapons. I had at that time no knowledge at all of the preparations that were under way in England and America. You added, when I perhaps looked doubtful, that I had to understand that in recent years you had occupied yourself almost exclusively with this question and did not doubt that it could be done. It is therefore quite incomprehensible to me that you should think that you hinted to me that the German physicists would do all they could to prevent such an application of atomic science. During the conversation, which was only very brief, I was naturally very cautious but nevertheless thought a lot about its content, and my alarm was not lessened by hearing from the others at the Institute that Weizsäcker had stated how fortunate it would be for the position of science in Germany after the victory that you could help so significantly towards this end.
Bohr recognized that Heisenberg was lying. He never sent the letters. Well, I think it's great that Heisenberg's early greed and later cowardice are now irrefutably obvious.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

We, the righteous of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, declare war to the knife on Glenn Reynolds: this odious, smarmy, bare-faced turd is the cause:
READER DOUG LEVENE has this Enron-related observation:
Forgive me for venting, but here it is: Leftists claim that they are for "people before profits." For Ford to save $10.00/car at the cost of one life/million cars/year is an unacceptable tradeoff. There is no acceptable tradeoff of lives, of personal safety, against mere money, in the Naderite/Anarchist/Socialist weltanschauung. That's OK, I guess, but why then do leftists get so exercised at white collar crimes, such as apparently took place at Enron, which threaten no lives, no one's personal safety, while weeping copious tears for the muggers and other violent offenders who fill our prisons? Logically, if you believe in "people before profits" shouldn't you be more upset at the mugger who steals $5.00 at gunpoint than at the corporate executive who pumps and dumps and walks away with millions?

Beats me. But I'm sure that Nader has a well-thought-out answer that he's eager to share.
Yo - Glenn - us effete leftoidical schnobs (well, me) do not get the vapors over the potential endangerment of life or limb. Nice straw man. And, for that matter, screw Nader too. His belly is stuffed with grass. The deeper principle is that of corruption of power. The laws permit corporations; they are chartered in the public interest. In return for the legal recognition of various fictions of personhood - which I will not argue with - I understand that they are essential to capitalism - corporations operate under certain, essential restrictions of law. Because they can possess great civil power, through the wielding of great economic power, they must be so restricted. Unconstrained, the officers of Enron used their private but law-cloaked power to commit great thefts and frauds. They stole tens of billions of dollars from millions of people. I want to know why Reynolds'chen tolerates and trivializes this fraud and theft because it is private, commercial, unlinked to the demos, when the same fraud and theft in government is cause for lynching.


I have Reynold's number now, and all the numbers of all the people who emphatically underline the republicanism of our form of government - legality without the legitimation of democracy, in the service of aristocracy.

Kenneth Lay is pulling a Judge Crater. Good historical comparison time, via Google, Lexis-Nexis, and Proquest: The tale of Equity Funding as described in this 1999 TheStreet article.
There's fraud, and then there's the Equity Funding scandal. The fraud at Equity Funding Corp. of America ranks as a landmark event in the history of cooking the books. In 1972, the seller of mutual funds and insurance was a Wall Street wonder, ranked by Fortune as the fastest-growing financial conglomerate in America. A year later, the company had virtually collapsed amid the revelation that earnings were completely fabricated, the soundness of its business a sham.
Just as Enronians created phony SPE's to hide debt, the Maple Drive Gang made up the Equity Funding books:
But what really made the fraud memorable was its final stage, reached after the company had cut deals to have other companies reinsure the life insurance policies it sold. Equity Funding wasn't selling enough policies to meet the demand that other companies had for policies to reinsure. So Equity Funding made them up. The Maple Drive Gang As the fraud progressed, more and more employees got recruited to help, and people started to get really creative. The problem with phony policies was that the company's auditors would randomly select some every now and then and ask to see the real-world files behind them. There were no files, of course, since there was no insurance. So to prop up the scam, conspirators threw late-night "fraud parties" to create phony files. When that solution proved inadequate, conspirators set up a secret office devoted exclusively to fabricating medical records and application forms on demand. The employees at the office, known as the Maple Drive Gang, spent most of their days killing time with knitting, champagne and Quaaludes, according to The Impossible Dream -- except when the clueless auditors at the main office would ask to see files for phantom policies. That's when the Maple Drive Gang would spend a frenzied few days creating dozens of policy files -- then return to their endless round of office parties. Meanwhile, a computer programmer had created software especially for concocting policies out of thin air. And at the time the fraud collapsed, the company was developing additional software that would easily "kill off" a certain number of phantom policyholders without arousing the suspicions of the reinsurers. By the time the company collapsed, more than half of the insurance policies on the company's books were fake.
Also, look at this article in the January 16, 2002 Christian Science Monitor, subsciption or payment required, entitled "Lessons of Enron: How could no one have seen it?" Corporate fraud - how could we laugh without it?

Monday, February 04, 2002

I want to do an Enron dance - something with kicks and twirls, long gobs of blurted poesy and girlish chatter. The Washington Post tells us that Special Report Reveals Secrets of Chewco - a nice little article describing how two water-carriers lifted for Andrew Fastow for almost four years, parlaying a $130,000 investment into $10.5 million, compleat with $2 mil in operating fees.

Saturday, February 02, 2002

Um. Enron. No - I'm waiting for my better thing to do on a Saturday night - why do you ask? The New York Times offers an Enron triplet: 1) Influence Lost, Ex-Enron Chief Faces Congress 2) Enron Panel Finds Inflated Profits and Few Controls 3) Panel Finds Rush to Hide Losses and Enrich a Few

How to put this?

The senior management of Enron embiggened themselves on delicious, greasy bezzle. A grand tradition: Crédit Mobilier, Svenska Tändsticks Aktiebolaget, et cetera... These are some companies that did as Enron has recently done. We have even seen the start of the suicides. Nice certificates, tho'.

Zu viel mehr yidlaches! This really pisses me off. Here's the situation: you're a Sephard, a Litvak, or a richtig echte yidl, (un)happily living under the customary boot of goyische oppression in European or Near Eastern golus. Bang! Pogroms, the Holocaust, the great expulsion of Middle Eastern Jewry from their homes - all of youse folks not killed or diverted to America go to Medinat Yisroel, the Third Jewish Commonwealth, the Zionist Paradise, the Land that is safe for the Jews - owned, operated, and maintained for the benefit of Am Yisroel. You get subsidized housing. If you're really religious, you get out of serving in the conscript Army. There are social benefits - for children, health, education - decreed by the founding and following governments in order to buttress the Zionist project. You've recreated the residential isolation of your Muscat-Czestoschowa-Wilno roots - only this time, it's the less religious and secular Jews who are the putative goyim, and your neighborhood is right on the border of the State, linked to Jerusalem and the rest of Israel by a single highway, which has been the target of a couple of attacks. There's been a murder in the past three years, and the Palestinians living less than a baseball throw away are building like mad. Their homes and streets are creeping close to yours. There haven't been shots yet. But, above all, you worship the God of "Don't Make Waves!":

Ramat Shlomo residents fear that a fence or wall will impair the landscape and undermine their relations with the neighbors. Practically speaking, there are no relations or contacts between Ramat Shlomo residents and their Palestinian neighbors. However, the open ground separating Ramat Shlomo from the two Palestinian neighborhoods has given its Jewish residents the feeling that they are on good terms with their neighbors. Despite the neighborhood's calm, the intifada has levied a heavy price. Last year two Israelis were killed on Highway 9, Ramat Shlomo's only road link with the rest of Jerusalem. Palestinian terrorists passed the Israelis traveling on that highway late at night and shot them from close range. Three years ago, the body of Ramat Shlomo resident David Katorza was found close to his home.

"We feel we're sitting on the front lines," the neighborhood administrative council's director, Shlomo Amoyal, said last week and got a surprised reaction from the other council members. Last year, the council members, backed by local rabbis, decided unanimously to lower the neighborhood's media profile to avoid creating the impression that it was a dangerous place in which to live. "David's murder - may he rest in peace - was an isolated incident," council member Baruch David Gottlieb interjected, trying to soften the combat image conveyed by Amoyal's remark. The other members nodded their heads in agreement with Gottlieb's attempt to cool down the situation.

"Look," Gottlieb continued, "the feeling of the residents here is no different from that of all Israelis - namely that the entire country and the entire world have become battlefields. We all know that Esau will always hate Jacob and that the only one we can rely on is God."

The council members learned this week from the newspapers about the grandiose plans for "enveloping Jerusalem," which include roadblocks, fences, walls, etc. If these plans are implemented, Ramat Shlomo residents might discover that their neighborhood has changed character. The very thought of such a possibility worries them greatly. Even without these plans, last year was a very bad one for the neighborhood. Ramat Shlomo has become less attractive for potential residents. Relatives and friends of Ramat Shlomo inhabitants are staying away for fear of becoming targets of terrorism. Now talk has started over fortifications and is giving the neighborhood the image of a besieged community.

Had anyone asked them, the residents of Ramat Shlomo would have certainly said that they need no additional means of fortification. They can get by with the Civil Guard they established last year. "Our residents closely watch the movements of any Palestinians walking about in the neighborhood," Amoyal points out. "The Palestinians come here to work; however, the residents would like to see a situation that would ensure less break-ins. Cars and apartments are broken into and the residents come to us, demanding a fence to prevent Arabs from entering the neighborhood." Apparently, the residents are far more worried about burglars than about terrorists.

So what's the point? The Point is all the gottverdammt yiddische vacillation. A kind of selfish, yet gutless, moral cowardice that refuses to hold to moral decisions that cost anything. The Palestinians work cheap in Ramat Schlomo, and they can be sneered at over the width of the undeveloped field. Things are quiet. So why build a wall? It'll piss the Arabs off. It'll make us feel like we're living in a beseiged city. They''ll just drop rockets on our heads anyway. What the fuck!? Why live on the seam line at all? Why not live in B'nei Brak or another of the religious suburbs of the coastal plain? Oh, yeah - you want to live in Yerushalayim - L'shana haba'ah bi'yerushalayim - to be in a higher moral plane: only, for shame - it's too expensive to live in Israeli west Jerusalem. The Old City is right out. Ergo the cheap subsidized seam-line, Jerusalem-proximate neighborhoods. They want to live there, but they don't want to take up the moral responsibility that living there entails. If Eisav is always at war with Ya'akov - if the Palestinians truly don't want peace - that vacillating inaction is contemptible. Build the wall to keep the children safe. It won't always be thieves and burglars creeping the trails outside the neighborhood.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden is alive!