Aug 14, 2012
|Crisis: "U.S. pretty darned fucked" + more Gore Vidal + notes by me|
1. Introductory remarks
2. "U.S. pretty darned fucked"
3. A long 2000 interview with Gore Vidal
4. A few more notes on Gore Vidal on politics
1. Introductory remarks
This Nederlog continues the last one with links to another long interview with Vidal, this time from 2000, with some remarks by me following it.
My reasons to put it in Nederlog are the same as before, so I avoid repeating these here mostly, though I do have some comments on why - I think - not many of my readers will use my links, and also on why I provide them neverheless.
There also is a section with some more notes by me, that are a follow up to earlier notes I wrote in the Nederlogs of the last days, that were - and still are - influenced by my having sore eyes, that very probably will continue to limit my activities with my compiter the rest of this month, at the very least.
Finally, the first section that follows is a TYT (The Young Turks) (<- Wikipedia) item, that reports on - I think - quite accurate statements of two (former) U.S. officials about the state of the U.S. economy.
2. "U.S. pretty darned fucked"
I like TYT (The Young Turks) (<- Wikipedia) and have been following them ever since discovering them in 2009, as a direct result of getting fast internet then, which changed my use of the computer rather a lot: There is a huge difference between, on the one hand, surfing the net with phone-modem working at 28 Kb per second (maximally, on the very rare days the KPN-takeover "xs4all" allowed this, while "xs4all" is the name of an excellent provider until it was taken over by Dutch Telecom KPN in 2002, and since then it is a sorry mess, though indeed possibly not worse than the sorry competition they have) and, on the other hand, surfing the net with ADSL or better, and one such huge differences is that Youtube-videos, including those of the TYT, become accessinble.
Anyway - to the topic at hand, that I give with title and comment as they appear on the TYT site:
"Neil Barofsky, the former Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, can sum up the state of the nation in two words: "Pretty fucked." The concise assessment came Tuesday during a question and answer session on Gawker...Barofsky insisted that President Obama's administration, of which Geithner is a part, isn't doing enough to address issues inside the financial industry, saying that Dodd-Frank financial reform doesn't adequately address questions surrounding too-big-to-fail banks...".
Here are two quotes as they appear in the TYT-item, in which Mr Barofsky explains why he thinks as he does:
If you are in doubt - as well you may, and as is often sensible - consider the following two items on the plans of Mitt Romney's candidate for vice-presidency Paul Ryan, also from TYT:
3. A long 2000 interview with Gore Vidal
The above is probably not conducive to your pursuit or your feelings of happiness, but then that's not my fault, and Gore Vidal explained rather a lot about it in earlier videos I found and listed here
So here is more Gore Vidal, because I think he is - and I do know he died July 31 last, but will keep the present tense - sensible, speaks well, and is informed, interesting, and witty, while I also don't know of any other public intellectual with such opinions, except perhaps Noam Chomsky, whom I respect but tend to find boring, and while I agree that conceivably that may be just me, I think I could make a fair case that Vidal's prose and talk is better. (*)
The following list is a series of links to a long interview and question+answer session Vidal did in October of 2000. Altogether it is 3 hours of interview and talk in all - and very good talk it is - that was made and put on line by an organization called BookTV that is on something called C-span2 (I provided Wikipedia links), that in fact I was wholly ignorant about, mostly because I am Dutch through no choice of my own, while I also am someone who never owned a TV, of which I indeed saw very little of since 1970, through choices of my own, which I do not regret at all, but which did make me a lot less learned about TV than almost all of my contemporaries. In any case, it's nice to learn of the existence of these organizations and of the fact that they put this excellent interview on line, and of being now capable of enjoying this through the internet.
First the list, then some brief comments:
The series is called Gore Vidal on In Depth, and consists of about half an hour of interview and two and a half hours of - mostly good - questions by viewers with fine answers by Vidal, all as it happened and was recorded on October 1, 2000. It is in 12 parts, and lasts 3 hours in all. All parts are a little over 15 minutes, while the 7th part includes some 5 minutes of ads for/about Book-TV. (I listened to these as well, as I did listen to the rest because my eyes get sore rapidly when I wantch a screen, and I found them - let's say - sociologically interesting, and not irritating, but that's an aside.)
Here is the lot, with title, and also with some - partial, incomplete - indication of subjects and number of views of the items, the last a topic I briefly consider below.
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 1/12: (2508 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 2/12: (Eugene Luther Gore Vidal) (1313 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 3/12: (places Vidal lived) (1662 view)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 4/12: (Major General Smedley Butler) (1627 views_
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 5/12: (Hearst: Rise of modern media)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 6/12: (Lincoln)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 7/12: (includes ads for/about Book-TV) (889 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 8/12: (924 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 9/12: (Hume, identity papers, media, opinion, "driptorture of misinformation", messengers, being blocked) ) (910 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 10/12: (view of human race: genetic engineering. Herbert
Hoover quote) (757 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 11/12: (how the elite works; closed corporation) (779 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth, 12/12: (Roosevelt & Pearl Harbor, police-state, 1989 turning
Now for some brief comments, centering on the questions why I link it and why I like it:
I link it and I like it because it is excellent, civilized, interesting, witty, spoken English, much of which I agree with (more than not, depending), and a considerable part of which can be seen as a very good lecture on U.S. history, by a man very well placed, for various reasons, to know and understand much about that subject.
Indeed - having read some about it in the 1960ies and early 1970ies, but not much since - Vidal states the first credible theory (not his: he merely mentions it) on the murders of John and Robert Kennedy that I have heard or read: They were killed by the mafia, because of failed deals relating to Castro and to Robert Kennedy's attempts, as Attorney General, to tame the mafia.
Also, the ideas and values that Vidal has seem to me to be both sensible and to be quite helpful for understanding the present time and problems, while the language used in the above series is very good, which makes it a pleasure to listen to (which I did, rather than also facing a screen, because of the ongoing problems with my eyes).
Also, I am well aware that most of my readers will not be interested, or not enough to listen to all or most of the above - as indeed also can be inferred from the numbers of viewers, which is after the first two parts around 800, on average. As to that number: I've found that the things on internet that really interest me tend to be things that have few viewers or visitors, also if it is material by persons who have great names in their fields.
This is a fairly interesting fact, of which first another illustration:
I was originally rather amazed that Johh McCarthy - the inventor of Lisp, a very important programming language, and a leading theoretician in the field of artificial intelligence and computer science - who has (he died in 2011, but his site is still maintained) a site with many of his - interesting, fine, well written - papers, to which were attached counters for the numbers of visitors. Well, many of these had a hundred or a few hundred visitors over a period of some 10 years. The same turned out to be the case with Raymond Smullyan: A great mathematical logician, with a considerable and very justified fame as author of logic puzzle books, with a fine site, indeed without many of his papers, but in any case with relatively few visitors, given his great standing as a mathematical logician, and his being better known than almost any other logician with the general public, and again I found the same to be the case with series of - fine, mathematics or physics - lectures that Stanford University put on line: Far fewer were interested than I had assumed or expected.
Since then, I saw this is the case with most things I am really interested in - and the explanation must be that there simply are very few persons who are interested in fairly difficult things, or are interested in things written in or with formal languages, or are interested in thinking outside the box of their own specialisms. I think that is the only tenable rational explanation, and it is a pity that it is true.
And I admit that I am again somewhat amazed in the case of the above linked series - only 737?! in a country of hundreds of millions?! for material of this quality?! - and indeed also in case of other interviews with Vidal, again especially amazing because he was a rather well known author and public figure, and because he is a good talker with interesting opinions and great erudition, and also because - unlike mathematics or programming - his subjects do not require any special knowledge.
But then - alas - this is the amount of interest in his person, prose and opinions, and indeed is the level of interest in almost anyone else eminent for intelliigence, lucidity, scholarship and wit: Such a one may intrigue, amuse or interest several hundreds or, sometimes, several thousands, but the millions - the hoi polloi - much rather follow sensational nonsense, in part because they can't do any better, but also in part because many have not been educated properly at all.
It's a great pity, but then real intelligence is a rare quality, while it is very pleasant to see that there are in the USA - still - programs like BookTV and boradcasters like C-span2: Perhaps as long as such programs and institutions, and related ones, continue to exist, it may be true thaty not all hope for Western civilization is lost.
4. A few more notes on Gore Vidal on politics
I provided a set of notes in the previous Nederlog, that are here continued, mostly because I forgot to mention some things then. Here they are, all kept brief:
What I forgot to mention, also in the list of points:
Also, these notes, and the ones I put in the Nederlog of August 12, are sketches only - fingers pointing at the moon, without much context, evidence, or textual references. But they are informed, in my case as in Vidal's, by a lifetime of reading and much experience, so having said that let me do a little more fingerpointing:
The four points I added are all about the fact that the countervailing powers of the state in society have all gone, but in name: In reality, they have either disappeared or become incorporated in some corporate machine (that these days may be a city government or a province, like Amsterdam and its province Northholland now are corrupt corporate institutions rather than independent small government that functions as local government and as checks and balances of the state once did, one or two generations ago).
The media, as independent powers, whether daily papers or TV, have disappeared between 1980 and 2010, when they turned more and more commercial at first, and then became purveyors of propaganda + amusement + contentless "news" about "celebs": Maxwell, Murdoch, Fox News. And besides, the internet destroyed the financial basis for daily papers, and also for the old media corporations, whereas the general dumbing down of education made certain only a very small minority with any interest in independent, real news written in a good style remained - and meanwhile all real intellectuals with a good university education are 60 or older (and the vast majority of these have been thoroughly corrupted).
Intermediate governance, as independent small powers based on some locality (a town, a city, a district, a province) or some local function (a trade union, civic interest), have also disappeared or incorporated in some corporate machine. This happened also between 1980-2010: It all went corporate from 1989/1990 onwards, and must have been based on a deliberate process on the side of the leaders of political parties and the leaders of corporations. (In Holland, main players were Wim Kok; the social democrats aka Dutch Labour; and what the Dutch call "the purple cabinet".) This happened mostly in secret, as it was never publicly discussed. One important reason it could happen was: More money for the bureaucrats and small powers that led themselves be corrupted: Salaries and perks became a lot higher, again without public discussion.
The middle class, as independent holders of some power or authority, disappeared with the disappearance/dissolution/transformation of intermediate governance, and the same is true of the political parties, which still exist in name, but only as tools for the leaders at the top, and as pools from which to select the next generation of eagerly corrupt willing servants of the big corporations or Our Leader In Office.
For the new elite, see again, for Holland, "De illusie van democratie": The things I mentioned can, in Holland, be illustrated very well with careers from the leading members of the Dutch "Left" and "Centrist" parties. For Dutchies: PvdA, GroenLinks, CDA, VVD: Wim Kok, Labour Leader, now a rich commissioner in many corporations; Lodewijk de Waal, former communist, Labour Leader, Trade Union Leader, now commissioner in large banks; Ritzen, Melkert, Dittrich, Ina Brouwer, Femke Halsema - all arrived careerists, all liars and posturers for decades. Also, there is a related list of top bureaucrats (who are less in the limelight but at least as powerful as those who are). For English folks: Consider the histories and propaganda of Blair and New Labour, of Gordon Brown and of the total corruption of Parliament, which are quite similar if not the same as what happened in Holland in the same periods, while for England these also have been documented fairly well, satirically, by John Mortimer ("Titmuss Regained") and Spitting Image (that at least appraised personalities and motives well).
Thus far my notes, originally handwritten, in view of the condition of my eyes. Fort those who like Vidal, here are two more items, both lasting around an hour, both also on BookTV:
This is an interview plus questions from the audience, with Jay Parine, when Vidal was 82 and in a wheelchair, but remarkably clear. If you have seen or heard more from him, as I have, meanwhile, you will meet several of his talking points and formulations again, but I find that quite natural, and indeed what one would expect from a real person, of his age. I liked the interview, as I liked the following, from rather a lot earlier:
Again an interview with questions from the audience, this time with Vidal at my present age - 62 - looking well but also looking a lot older than I look now (a fact I remark upon because it is true and puzzling), and again with a return of Vidal main's points, which are the evil nature of the military-industrial complex; the unfairness of the U.S. system, which is and has been almost geared to serving the interests of its power elite, rather than the people in whose names this happened; and the great unwisdom - that started ca. 1900 - that led to the U.S. becoming an imperialist nation, in in total contradiction with what the Founding Fathers had envisaged for the U.S.
(*) I do not have a high opinion of most journalists, and these days, where journalists let themselves be muzzled or play the parts of media-whores with gusto, I certainly don't feel better about the species than I did before, so let me just say that I do not have, and never had, a high opinion of men like Christopher Hitchens, Bernard-Henri LÚvy and similar "public intellectuals": Purveyors of bullshit, even if they meant well (which I tend to disbelieve: I have seen many careerists of their type in the University of Amsterdam, who all were the devious, dishonest liars and deceivers, who were out for three things: Status, power, money: Max van Wezel, Meindert Feddema, Elsbeth Etty and their likes are the Dutch counterparts to Stalin's editors of the Pravda, and indeed all made very remunerative careers in very easy very well-paid functions.)
As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
Short descriptions of the above:
1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
7. A space- and
computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.
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