aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, December 24, 2007
Benjamin Barber on building walls
Benjamin Barber has a new book out:
Consumed, about how the global economy produces too many goods we don’t need, too few of those we do need, and, to keep the racket going, targets children as consumers in a market where shopping is a twenty-four hour business. Capitalism, he says, “seems quite literally to be consuming itself, leaving democracy in peril and the fate of citizens uncertain.”
That from Bill Moyers Journal. Here’s more:
BENJAMIN BARBER: I mean to say the instability, the weak state systems, the economic poverty that disables societies, create a climate within which terrorism and fundamentalism can grow. So we are ignoring an inequality that is going to come and haunt us. In fact, we are living, today, in a new world of walls. You know, what we think is that every time you see some inequality, build a wall. Gated community here in the US. A wall between us and Mexico. A wall between Israel and the Palestinians.
Isn’t it ironic, Bill, that, what is it? Seventeen years after the fall of the wall which was the emblem of totalitarianism in Berlin, and between east and west in Europe, we have now turned to the wall as our primary defense against even seeing the inequalities, let alone in dealing with the inequalities that our capitalism is creating.
Christmas Eve @ our house
The Economist: Linus Torvalds should be rightly proud
From the third of The Economist’s Technology in 2008 three fearless predictions:
Linux has swiftly become popular in small businesses and the home.
That’s largely the doing of Gutsy Gibbon, the code-name for the Ubuntu 7.10 from Canonical. Along with distributions such as Linspire, Mint, Xandros, OpenSUSE and gOS, Ubuntu (and its siblings Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu) has smoothed most of Linux’s geeky edges while polishing it for the desktop.
No question, Gutsy Gibbon is the sleekest, best integrated and most user-friendly Linux distribution yet. It’s now simpler to set up and configure than Windows. A great deal of work has gone into making the graphics, and especially the fonts, as intuitive and attractive as the Mac’s.
Like other Linux desktop editions, Ubuntu works perfectly well on lowly machines that couldn’t hope to run Windows XP, let alone Vista Home Edition or Apple’s OS-X.
Your correspondent has been happily using Gutsy Gibbon on a ten-year-old desktop with only 128 megabytes of RAM and a tiny 10 gigabyte hard-drive. When Michael Dell, the boss of Dell Computers, runs Ubuntu on one of his home systems, Linux is clearly doing many things right.
And because it is free, Linux become the operating system of choice for low-end PCs. It started with Nicholas Negroponte, the brains behind the One Laptop Per Child project that aims to deliver computerised education to children in the developing world. His clever XO laptop, costing less than $200, would never have seen the light of day without its clever Linux operating system.
But Mr Negroponte has done more than create one of the world’s most ingenious computers. With a potential market measured in the hundreds of millions, he has frightened a lot of big-time computer makers into seeing how good a laptop they can build for less than $500.
All start with a desktop version of Linux. Recent arrivals include the Asus Eee from Taiwan, which lists for $400. The company expects to sell close on four million Eees this financial year. Another Taiwanese maker, Everex, is selling its gPC desktop through Walmart for $199.
When firms are used to buying $1,000 office PCs running Vista Business Edition and loading each with a $200 copy of Microsoft Office, the attractions of a sub-$500 computer using a free operating system like Linux and a free productivity suite like OpenOffice suddenly become very compelling.
And that’s not counting the $20,000 or more needed for Microsoft’s Exchange and SharePoint server software. Again, Linux provides such server software for free.
Pundits agree: neither Microsoft nor Apple can compete at the new price points being plumbed by companies looking to cut costs. With open-source software maturing fast, Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox, MySQL, Evolution, Pidgin and some 23,000 other Linux applications available for free seem more than ready to fill that gap. By some reckonings, Linux fans will soon outnumber Macintosh addicts. Linus Torvalds should be rightly proud.
Andrew Sullivan’s sexist id
Queer misogyny doesn’t receive much attention these days but it’s alive and living in our community.
Andrew Sullivan should know better. He comes dangerously close to slipping down that slippery misogynistic slope aimed at Hillary.
On The Chris Matthews Show yesterday:
Mr. SULLIVAN: Then go to the end of the year, where I think the real one-liner happened when it was brought up in that debate with Obama and Clinton about his foreign policy advice and whether he was relying on Clinton’s advisers and how then could he have a new change. And she laughed this devilish cackle that she’s now become known for, which in itself might be the--one of the one-liners of the year. `I’d like to see how he’d answer that,’ she said.
MATTHEWS: I love that--devilish cackle. Where’d you come up with that?
Mr. SULLIVAN: Somewhere in my id.
A Newsweek Periscope piece labeled “Race” say the Revs. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young and Al Sharpton are lost in the Obama era:
At times they can seem like jealous, cranky old men, as in December when Young suggested Bill Clinton was “every bit as black as Barack.” Or when Jackson said Obama was “acting white’’ by skipping a giant rally for the Jena Six.
But it’s not just jealousy. They are also frustrated by mainstream voters’ eager embrace of an African-American raised without a traditional African-American experience-who’s not, in other words, an “angry black man.” Reared in Hawaii by white grandparents, Obama didn’t have a family history of segregation and Jim Crow laws. And sources close to all three reverends say the men are hurt that Obama hasn’t sought their advice, even privately. (Still, Jackson has endorsed Obama.) The leaders appreciate Obama’s dilemma. They know he’d lose many white voters if he reached out to leaders known primarily for advocating black issues. Obama’s refrain is that there is just one America. It may be what America wants to hear-but the three lions of the old school couldn’t disagree more.
It seems to me that those old lions are right. I’ll be happy as can be if Obama’s elected, but what is the likelihood of him doing something substantive about race relations or racial inequality in America?
If “Obama’s dilemma” means that because he’s a black man he can only be elected if he minimizes race and acts every bit as much the centrist status quo as Hillary or Edwards, why should those who value racial equality embrace him?
Dr. Ronald Walters, the director of the African American Leadership Center at the University of Maryland, worked for both of Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns. He said this on Bill Moyers Journal about the Oprah tour:
I looked at this spectacle the other day of Michelle and Oprah and Barack-- three black people in front of this sea of white faces in Iowa. I said, “That’s amazing.” But when you look at who they are they don’t, for example, take very strong issues having to do with race. They have made part of the professional and their political life dealing with the problems of whites. They are trusted in those communities. And, therefore, they have a right to be there. That’s historically important.
And Salim Muwakkil wrote this about The Post Civil Rights Fallacy for In These Times:
[T]he media has been awash in assessments of a new cohort of black leadership. These neophytes are generally described as well-educated (often Ivy Leaguers), non-ideological coalition builders-in that they were not nurtured in the race-tinged battleground of the civil rights movement.
The star players in this coterie are Obama, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, Alabama Rep. Artur Davis, Philadelphia mayoral candidate Michael Nutter and a few others.
These attractive newcomers are being cast as the harbingers of a new America, a nation untroubled by the ogre of rank racism. Race-focused leadership, like that expressed by the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jackson, are to be relegated to another era, a 20th century paradigm.
These ideas are part of a hardening notion that the protest mode is an ineffective way to redress the racial problems of the 21st century. Increasing numbers of commentators are stressing the need for African Americans to place more focus on internal social and moral reform than on external protests for civil rights. This is hardly a new debate. In fact, it was the core disagreement between W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington at the beginning of the 20th century. [...]
Obama is a black politician seeking national consensus. If he responded to every expression of racial bias, he would alienate his supporters who believe we live in post-civil rights America. However, some African Americans are uncomfortable that Obama’s prospects for success are enhanced by a state of racial denial.
I’m all for the new leaders. But they’ve got some big old problems to solve. If the only way they can get elected is to deny those problems, I’m just not sure there’s much progress is being made.