Is Slavoj Zizek more than the pair of carats in his surname?


I’m going to go with probably not.  In a post entitled “Slavoj Zizek wants to See a Bloodbath,” Justin E.H. Smith suggests:

Žižek’s shtick works for a number of reasons among readers who are not ordinarily receptive to calls to the barricades. One is that he is a clown, that he cuts his Leninism with enough sweet stuff about Jennifer Lopez and whatever other trash passes across his hotel TV screens that readers can easily assume to be a put-on every bit that they are not inclined to accept. Another reason, obviously, is the way he plays on his foreignness. He’s been through it, Western readers will tell themselves, and has surely earned the right to hold forth on these matters. But anyone who would joke that the only position he would accept in the Slovenian government is that of chief of secret police evidently has not been through it quite enough. Slovenia was the freest republic of the freest federal state in the socialist bloc: the Switzerland of Yugoslavia, as Slobodan Milošević once scoffed. This does not mean it was always easy to be a Lacanian intellectual in Ljubljana during the Tito era, but the sort of inconvenience Žižek faced is categorically different than, say, the Stalinist show trials in the Soviet Union of the 1930s (made possible, of course, by the secret police).

Žižek, I mean, is not speaking from any particular position of experience when he suggests that there is something to be salvaged from the legacy of the Bolshevik revolution. When he suggests that what is to be salvaged is the very most brutal part of that legacy, moreover, he is just being flippant, and Western readers should not let him get away with it simply on the grounds that he has funny accent marks in his last name.

Most things are ignored, actually.


A silly story from CNN: “Survey: 71 percent of tweets are ignored:”

Ever feel like you’re talking to a brick wall on Twitter? That might be because 71 percent of tweets get absolutely no response from the world. Toronto-based social media analytics company Sysomos scanned 1.2 billion messages that were sent in August and September 2009 to try and get some idea of the kind of conversations that are going on.

They discovered that more than seven in every 10 tweets sink without any kind of reaction from the world. Of the remainder, just 6 percent get retweeted, and 92 percent of those retweets occur within the first hour. Multiplying those probabilities together means that fewer than one in 200 messages get retweeted after an hour’s gone by. Essentially, once that hour’s up, your message is ancient history. That leaves 23 percent of messages that get an @reply. Drilling down, Sysomos found that 85 percent of replied-to messages get just one reply, 10.7 percent get two, and just 1.53 percent get three replies. Similarly to retweets, 96.9 percent of @replies are posted within an hour of the original tweet.

It’s not clear how the company treated messages that were both replied-to and retweeted. The company also commissioned an animated visualization of the data. In this video, the spiral represents time, with the size of the blue dot representing the number of retweets and replies to that tweet. Following one dot over time, you should see it slowly grow as it gets replied-to and retweeted. Continue reading

Mario Vargas Llosa


Mario Vargas Llosa has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize For Literature.  I think it’s a good choice, but I especially liked this bit from the BBC:

The author once had a great friendship with Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, about whom he wrote his doctoral thesis in 1971. But their relationship turned into one of literature’s greatest feuds after Vargas Llosa punched Garcia Marquez at a theatre in Mexico City in 1976, leaving him with a black eye. The pair have never disclosed the reason for their dispute, although witnesses have suggested they fell out over a conversation between Garcia Marquez and Vargas Llosa’s wife. In the intervening years, the authors fell out politically, too, with the Peruvian publicly criticising Garcia Marquez’s friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Relations appeared to thaw in 2007, however, when Vargas Llosa provided the foreword to the 40th anniversary edition of Garcia Marquez’s classic work, A Hundred Years of Solitude. After the Nobel announcement on Thursday, Garcia Marquez – himself a Nobel laureate – tweeted: “Cuentas iguales” (“Now we’re even”).

By the way, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tweets are here: http://twitter.com/elgabo.

Now Glenn Beck hates FIFA…


Hertzberg’s column in this week’s New Yorker caught my attention, if only for the idiotic ramblings of Glenn Beck and company:

Today’s conservative soccer scolds are not so good-natured. Their complaints are variations on the theme of un-Americanness. “I hate it so much, probably because the rest of the world likes it so much,” Glenn Beck, the Fox News star, proclaimed. (Also, “Barack Obama’s policies are the World Cup.”) What really bugs “silly leftist critics,” the Washington Times editorialized, is that “the most popular sports in America—football, baseball, and basketball—originated here in the Land of the Free.” At the Web site of the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, formerly a speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote, “Soccer is a socialist sport.” Also, “Soccer is collectivist.” Also, “Perhaps in the age of President Obama, soccer will finally catch on in America. But I suspect that socializing Americans’ taste in sports may be a tougher task than socializing our healthcare system.” And then there’s G. Gordon Liddy. Soccer, Liddy informed his radio listeners, comes from Latin America, and first we have to get into this term, the Hispanics. That would indicate Spanish language, and yes, these people in Latin America speak Spanish. That is because conquistadores who came over from Spain—you know, tall Caucasians, not very many of them—conquered the Indians, and the Indians adopted the language of their conquerors. But what we call Hispanics now really are South American Indians. And this game, I think, originated with the South American Indians, and instead of a ball they used to use the head, the decapitated head, of an enemy warrior. Liddy’s guest, a conservative “media critic” named Dan Gainor, responded cautiously (“soccer is such a basic game, you can probably trace its origins back a couple of different ways”), while allowing that “the whole Hispanic issue” is among the reasons “the left” is “pushing it in schools around the country.”

Read the whole article  here