01 December 2008

Post-Thanksgiving Sausages

These sausage links come from many different sources. I've inspected them to minimize sawdust content, but that's the absolute limit on Monday morning.

  • And here I thought academic support at college was for college students, not "professional" athletes.
  • A fascinating European perspective on Obama's potential cabinet appointments:

    Er muss die Wirtschaftskrise in den USA bewältigen, die Anschläge in Bombay haben gezeigt, wie lebendig der internationale Terrorismus ist, und er muss das Ansehen seines Landes wieder stärken. Strategisch wie ein Schachspieler geht er an die Arbeit.

    He must master the American financial [sic] crisis; he will have seen the battle in Mumbai as an event of international terrorism; and he must establish priorities to return his nation to its former strength. Chessplayer-like strategic planning will precede the actual work. [trans. CEP]

    This is interesting because it focuses on matching Obama's circle of immediate advisors — perhaps some parliamentary-system neglect of the distinction between "advisors" and "Cabinet officers" has worked its way in here — with the particular challenges that he can anticipate now. This is quite distinct from the American view — consistent, in particular, with the last three decades of right-wing and center-right hegemony in the executive branch — of Cabinet positions as power bases in themselves, perhaps best epitomized by Rumsfeld's disastrous tenure at the Pentagon... of which the profile says not one word. It is also quite interesting because there is no mention of the Department of Justice at all, despite the European preoccupation with GITMO as the exemplar of everything that is wrong with the current Administration.

  • The NYT, in one of its occasional sub rosa admissions that American culture exists west of the Hudson, notes that local TV anchors are getting fired for being too expensive. The article says nothing about either of the corresponding problems, though: the vast increase in management compensation at local TV stations — particularly here in flyover country... or the age-discrimination lawsuit monster hiding behind all of this.
  • Here's an example of metacommentary not understanding that it's metacommentary: Consider this review of Elvin Lim's book The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush by the notoriously self-centered John McWhorter.

    Lim considers anti-intellectualism in presidential speeches an especially dire problem, constituting a threat to democracy because it infects public discourse with demagoguery. Would we really be better off if Lim could have it his way? "Presidential rhetoric should articulate programs to citizens in a manner that solicits their support only if its wisdom passes muster," he declares. That sounds wonderful, and Lim considers the general public’s interest in grappling with political issues underestimated. Yet, of late, Hillary Clinton focused her speeches on policy — which is to say, on something like logos, just as Lim would prefer. And she has lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, who first electrified the electorate with touching autobiography and comfort-food proclamations about hope and unity — that is, with ethos and pathos.

    Leaving aside that laughably inept (and counterfactual) last sentence, notice that McWhorter has, himself, adopted precisely the kind of diction that Lim's book discusses... and neglects the post-relevancy fallout of the modern rubber-chicken circuit.

  • From the Department of Inconceivability: More Sex, Please, We're British b/w sex under the ayotollahs.
  • And last, a comment on the purported "acquisition freeze" at Houghton-Mifflin. This resembles the usual publicity-flack clusterfuck more than it does anything else. Leaving aside that this is routine at virtually every publisher — in any given two-year period, virtually every publisher will have a month-long-or-longer acquisition slowdown or stoppage — it simply doesn't make much of a difference. H-M, even after acquiring Harcourt (a publisher with a looooooooong history of having excess inventory, resulting in publisher-driven — not author-driven — delays in publication dates), simply is not a major player in competitive trade acquisitions. Instead, the H-M acquisition model has long relied upon preexisting personal relationships among editors, authors, and agents to acquire new books. And, as it turns out, the alleged "freeze" isn't exactly company-wide anyway. In short, there's nothing to see here, citizens; move along. And get back to your fountain pens, typewriters, and keyboards!