I know that dreams come true…

by Ted on September 10, 2003

because the Pixies are getting back together.

In April, the legendary Pixies will reunite for the first time in over a decade. The notoriously quarrelsome quartet have buried the hatchet, clearing the way for all four original members to hop onstage together for a world tour, according to a spokesperson for the band.

If all goes as planned, the triumphant return of one of the most influential rock bands of the late ’80s might also be followed by a new studio album, the source said. The band has not yet gotten together to begin rehearsing for the tour, but, given their ugly breakup in 1993, the announcement is one of the most unlikely and anticipated reunions in the history of indie rock.

Best band ever. I couldn’t be more delighted.

(link via TMFTML)

Distributive-Justice.com offers various quizzes which aim to tell you what your political position is and how it maps onto the work of various recent political philosophers. Have a go, you know you want to.

I turned out to be both a Communist and a follower of Ronald Dworkin. I’m somewhat puzzled but, I have to admit, rather pleased by this result.

(Found via the ever-readable MaxSpeak.)

Evidently Distributive-Justice.com was not a domain name for which there was fierce competition during the tech boom. I wonder why that was?

Update: Blush. Micah has already posted on this, I now see. Oh, the perils of group blogging. Assume I’ve just written myself an appropriately harsh memo about the importance of checking for duplication before sharing my, er, thoughts with the world.

Department of obituaries

by Henry Farrell on September 10, 2003

According to the “NYT”:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/10/obituaries/10TELL.html?hp, Edward Teller has finally met his “antimatter twin”:http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/795.html.

Simply the worst

by Ted on September 10, 2003

Mark Kleiman has a timely reminder that Al Sharpton is a horrible person.

If you just manage to hang around for long enough in politics, you can achieve some kind of undeserved quasi-respectability. If Al Sharpton spent his time apologizing to his victims instead of demeaning the Presidential race, the world would be a better place.

History of the EU

by Chris Bertram on September 10, 2003

In today’s FT, Samuel Brittan reviews John Gillingham’s European Integration, 1950-2003 : Superstate or New Market Economy?. One interesting snippet, which I knew about but deserves wider publicity:

bq. Readers may be more surprised to find the name of Frederich Hayek given as the source of the alternative neoliberal interpretation. For most of today’s self-proclaimed Hayekians view everything to do with the EU with intense suspicion. Indeed I was sufficiently surprised myself to look up some of Hayek’s writings on the subject. Although he played no part in the post war institutional discussion, he had written at some length on the problems of federalism in the late 1930s. Hayek was among those who believed that some form of federalism, whether in Europe or on a wider basis, was an important step towards a more peaceful world. In a 1939 essay, remarkably anticipating the EU Single Market Act, he argued that a political union required some elements of a common economic policy, such as a common tariff, monetary and exchange rate policy, but also a ban on intervention to help particular producers.

The nature of the catastrophe

by Henry Farrell on September 10, 2003

Like “Jacob Levy”:http://volokh.com/2003_09_07_volokh_archive.html#106312814305620404 I’m waiting on the release of Neal Stephenson’s _Quicksilver_: and the early signs are good. Dave Langford, who’s part way through reading it for Amazon UK “pronounces”:http://www.ansible.demon.co.uk/cc/cc143.html it to be a “joy to read, with a genuinely fresh slant on 17th/18th century history (or ahistory).” And Jacob and I are not alone – I confidently predict that September 23 (the book’s release date) is going to see prolonged blog-silences from everyone from Glenn Reynolds to Atrios.

But I’m digressing … I wanted to post about another book that I’m nearly as excited about, which will be released at around the same time. JG Ballard’s new novel, “Millennium People”:http://associatesshop.filzhut.de/shop/product.php?ID=7e33e52a9f201e22872aa9c926e79e21&Mode=&CategoryID=&Asin=&ASIN=000225848X, is about to come out. Ballard isn’t as popular in the blogosphere as Stephenson – but he should be; he’s a writer of genius. Which isn’t to say that he’s without flaws. He’s notoriously obsessive; ever since he developed his own voice, he’s written the same novel over and over. His language is (deliberately) flat, and his imagery repetitive – abandoned swimming pools; empty wastes of sand; rusting launch platforms. But there’s something admirable about his singlemindedness; something important.

For my money, John Gray has the most concise “take”:http://www.newstatesman.co.uk/199905100041.htm on why Ballard’s important (indeed, I think that this short review-article is likely the best thing that Gray has ever written). Gray’s essay highlights the main theme of Ballard’s work – “life as it is lived when the fictions that sustain society have broken down.” If the Revolution was immanent in every moment for Walter Benjamin, the Catastrophe is immanent in every moment for Ballard. Polite society is always wobbling on the verge of savagery. Gray also mentions how funny Ballard is – something that a lot of people miss (his humour, like Beckett’s is black and so understated as to be very nearly obscured in the shadows).

Two of Ballard’s recent novels are of particular interest to social scientists. If I ever teach my dream course on muddy thinking in social science, _Cocaine Nights_ will be the first required reading in the section on social capital. It presents in satiric form the disturbing thesis that the vibrant civic activism prized by Putnam, Fukuyama, Etzioni and other neo-communitarians is best produced through systematic clandestine violence. For Ballard, it’s not only impossible to have Salem without the witchburning; it’s the witchburning that brings Salem together as a community. _Super-Cannes_ is of more interest to sociologists, geographers, and urban planners. It’s all about the return of the repressed in a very thinly disguised version of “Sophia-Antipolis”:http://www.sophia-antipolis.net/. The orderly planned community of Super-Cannes doesn’t so much break down into chaos, as it perpetuates it – again, community and violence reproduce each other.

At the end of “Science as a Vocation”:http://www2.pfeiffer.edu/~lridener/DSS/Weber/scivoc.html, Weber famously claims that the age of prophecy, when an inspiration might sweep ‘through the great communities like a firebrand’ is over; we live in an age of disenchantment. Ballard’s work is a direct riposte to Weber; it claims that the New Millennium is most likely to have its start amidst the bored and deracinated upper middle classes and suburbanites, the willing victims of Weber’s ‘rationalization.’ A rough beast is slouching towards Shepperton to be born …

First Class Mail

by Brian on September 10, 2003

Didn’t someone tell this guy that things can go badly wrong if you try mailing yourself across the country?


by Ted on September 10, 2003

I see that Christopher Walken nearly walked out of the remake of The Stepford Wives because he was unhappy with changes in the script.

When the star of The Country Bears, Kangaroo Jack, Gigli, Jungle Juice, Joe Dirt, The Prophecy 1,2, and 3, Blast From the Past, and Mouse Hunt nearly leaves your movie because of the script, that’s got to hurt your feelings a little bit.

Distributive Justice Game

by Micah on September 10, 2003

This is a “game”:http://www.distributive-justice.com/mainpage_frame-e-n.htm everyone should play. And, if you like, try it in German or Italian.

Of the people who’ve played the “Discover your Distributive Profile” game (almost 4000 of them), Dworkinians are out in front. Right-libertarians aren’t well represented. Two weeks floating around the blogosphere, and I bet the numbers would change a lot. Just a hunch.