The Simpsons

by Kieran Healy on March 4, 2006

The opening sequence of _The Simpsons_, only “with real people”: (English people, apparently.) Clever. Is it an amateur effort, or some marketing thing? Pretty damn impressive, if the former. A third, highly likely option is that it’s something that’s been floating around for a year or five which I only now have discovered.

The Men Who Knew Too Little

by John Holbo on March 4, 2006

Kevin Drum mocks Hugh Hewitt for his ‘it was in a PDF file that we were only able to read after downloading a new version of Adobe’ defense. But the proper pop cult reference is not Perry Mason. Allow me. Look to the man’s own site: "Hugh Hewitt is the Jack Bauer of talk radio and the blogosphere." This is actually a good idea for a show. ‘In the next 24 hours, terrorists will make a major strike against an American city. The only thing between all of us, and just a few of them … is a complacent, partisan hack.’ In 90 minutes or less you could play it strictly for Man Who Knew Too Little laughs. Subtler and ultimately more satisfying would be a genuine, 24-karat gold-plated imitation 24. In the first episode, "Download PDF For Murder", terrorists have encrypted their plans in an email attachment that can only be read using the latest version of Adobe Reader. Sweaty ‘which wire do I cut?’ tension as the heroes race against time to crack the main Adobe site. ‘This mouse has TWO buttons!’ ‘Just PICK one!’ [Adobe Acrobat Reader starts dowloading, to the "Hackers"-inspired strains of The Prodigy’s "Firestarter".] But then it all goes crazy. In the end they confront a nail-biting moral dilemma. Should they torture the Adobe executive, kidnapped in a daring, extra-judicial raid. He’s screaming "Just DOUBLE-click!" The agents scream back: “You’re lying[click to continue…]

Marx and economic nationalism

by Henry Farrell on March 4, 2006

An entertaining “howler”: at the _Economist_ this week; one of its leaders has the grand title:


From Karl Marx’s copybook: Efforts to block foreign takeovers rest on a deceit about ownership and interests

and continues:

bq. PATRIOTISM, said Samuel Johnson, is the last refuge of a scoundrel. That may be unfair to the proper sort of patriot, but it would be an entirely valid comment about politicians today who make a fuss about foreign takeovers in their countries, in the name of “national interests”. The truth is that they are not defending their nations’ interests at all. They are defending their own interests and (often) those of their cronies.

Rather unfortunately for the leader writer, who seems never to have read Marx, there’s no support in Marx’s writings for economic patriotism or for defending national interests. Indeed, if you care to consult the man’s works, Marx was enthusiastically in favour of the bourgeoisie’s penchant for ripping down barriers to international exchange. From the “Communist Manifesto”:

bq. The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

Now, of course, “Karl Marx’s copybook” stands in the leader-writer’s vocabulary for “vaguely left-sounding ideas that I don’t like and want to discredit by association.” But Karl Marx’s actual copybook would suggest that if anyone’s ideas are to be discredited by association with the work of disreputable lefties here, it’s those of the _Economist_ (not that I personally consider Marx to be a disreputable leftie, of course, but I do enjoy seeing a lazy attempted smear boomerang right back into the face of the smearer).