Blogs > Cliopatria > Noted Here and There ...

Sep 17, 2004 10:56 pm

Noted Here and There ...

You didn't know that Hans Holbein did the portrait of"Dead Kerry," did you? Well, you'll find it over at Adam Kotsko's The Weblog. Where else? And, when polls show a Bush lead in New Jersey, f g s, it looks about right. On the other hand, there is the hope of the resurrection, baby! Jimmy Breslin has column which calls all current polling into serious question. There are, he claims, 169,000,000 cell phones in the United States. People who use them are never represented in the polls. Do you know people who have a cell phone, but no land line phone? They don't get polled, but at least some of them will vote. Keep that in mind.

Brandon Watson at Siris has a fascinating philosopher's take on the Killian Memos discussions as an instance of"Cooperative Distributed Argumentation." The whole experience of it was something like watching a half dozen concurrent doubles tennis matches all playing out on courts overlapping each other.

Look. Scott McLemee works wonders for us at the Chronicle of Higher Education. It's a great gig. Still, the man ought to do a book. He writes; he resides; he could be your writer-in-residence.

I forgot to link to Terry Eagleton's review for the New Statesman of Frank Furedi's new book, Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone? Excellent reading. Thanks to Patrick Belton at Oxblog for the reminder.

Finally, if things have been slow at Cliopatria, it's for two reasons: First, it's the Jewish New Year. Happy New Year to all! As for moi, I've been celebrating Ivan's passover. Atlanta was nowhere near the eye of the storm, but no matter. We were without electricity for a two hour stretch and, then, a twelve hour stretch. Down the street, water and wind crumbled a concrete block retaining wall. There are trees down all over the area. Our damage is nothing compared to what happened in the Florida panhandle and along the Alabama coast, of course; but it was awesome, nonetheless.

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Jonathan Dresner - 9/19/2004

A great many of my students seem to use cell phones as their primary phones, at least.

Ralph E. Luker - 9/19/2004

Yes. The only reason I know about this phenomenon is that my daughter has a cell phone, but no land line. The other group mentioned as not ordinarily being included are Americans living abroad. According to some reports, there are as many as 5,000,000 of them.

Derek Charles Catsam - 9/18/2004

Ralph --
Just the other day a colleague and I were talking about cell phones. It has been the grand fantasy of watchers of politics, like the Open Door in Asia, that someday 18-25 year-olds might decide to have a voice, and my colleague and i agreed that this is a group most likely to be missed by the polling firms -- they have cells, if they have land lines they may well not be in their own names, and at least college students may live in polling-firm inaccessible-dorms. I am interested to see what happens on that front.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/18/2004


Which is to say, I think he is using the term deliberately to obscure the way in which privatization is collapsing public space and communal enterprise, and the way in which stratification is becoming as prominent within US society as between the US and other societies.

And I am using it deliberately to re-emphasize the degree to which I believe these processes are moving us back into a hollowed-out society, without a dominant middle-class (which everyone seems to agree is the linchpin of stable capitalist democracy). In other words, the fascism analogy is going to live a little longer.....

Ralph E. Luker - 9/18/2004

Very interesting that you use the phrase "ownership society." Have you noticed that Bush has been using it in his public rhetoric?

Jonathan Dresner - 9/18/2004

You have to love Mann for saying

"No laws are possible in sociology," he wrote in the first volume of his magnum opus, "… for the number of cases is far smaller than the number of variables effecting the outcome."

So true in history as well.

Mann's analysis of fascism as the result of immature democracy in a context of highly stratified ownership societies is interesting, and certainly fits the examples I know well. (It also reminds me, intriguingly, of the old Barrington Moore thesis....) It bolsters, to some extent, the Tinkler/Bainbridge rejection of fascism analogies, except where the analogy is pointing to decreasingly functional democratic institutions and/or hyper-stratification of ownership and influence. Both of which processes seem to me to be at work in the US today, so the discussion needs to turn on whether those factors really are at play and whether they are as determinative for the future as well as the past.

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