A picture is worth how many ideas?


Because it’s easier this way ….

On Friday, Glenn Greenwald noted:

So revealing: here's what Time Magazine thinks of its American readership

And just to save you the spare click, this is what he was referring to:

Cover images for Time magazine, Dec 2011

To be fair, maybe it’s not simply about Time holding Americans in contempt as emotionally immature consumerist dolts. It could be something about market dynamics. Maybe Americans just aren’t that into revolutionary politics. I mean, it’s nice to cheer for the underdogs, sure, but what with those weirdos occupying New York and other cities, it is entirely possible that people really are so unsettled that we need to be pepper spraying eighty-four year-old women.

And, you know, maybe the international cover for Time (v.178, n.22) just makes Americans unnecessarily anxious. So, you know, they run a much more appropriate cover explaining why anxiety is good for people. Rather than working to make life more satisfactory, we ought to just learn how to find greater satisfaction in the things that worry us. That way, well … you know … maybe revolutionary ideas won’t occur to Americans as possible solutions for anxiety. Or something.

Even more than raw politics, this could be about marketplace politics. Sure, this might be what Time thinks of Americans, but Greenwald overlooks the question of whether or not there is a reason for that.

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Juxtapositions


David Horsey - August 24, 2011Juxtapositions are often fun. Dramatic sarcasm, all sorts of punch lines. It does help, though, if the pairings are not arbitrary.

So let’s give it a try.

David Horsey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for SeattlePI.com, considered yesterday the domestic politics of the American role in Libya. And while the article actually is quite interesting, part of his advice for liberals struck me as odd:

… the vision of neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz was not as wrongheaded as many on the left contend. In the 1990s, Wolfowitz and others in conservative think tanks developed their own domino theory: a move toward democracy in one Arab country would lead to a toppling of dictators in many Arab countries. Yes, trumped up excuses were used to justify the Iraq War in an attempt to start the dominoes falling, but that does not change the reality that the theory has proven to be correct.

The idea of a domino effect is not in itself absurd, that much is true. But Wolfowitz, PNAC, and other neoconservative hawks pushed for a belligerent imperium; the idea that the United States could foment this change through belligerent agitation of the Muslim world is a bit less clear. Indeed, the proposition at least equally risked increasing anti-American sentiments not only in those nations, but also at home and around the world.

We might, then, juxtapose Horsey’s proposition against a certain other notion—that the Arab Spring came about in large part because of economics. In April, the Financial Times opined:

The fundamental dysfunction of Arab countries is that of the rentier state. In oil- and gas-rich countries, natural resources return far more than it costs to extract them. Capturing and controlling this surplus – economic rent – is the chief source of enrichment, hence both the means and the end of power. Meanwhile the tragedy of resource-poor Arab countries is that they create rent artificially when nature has given them none. Monopolies, regulation and bullying all serve to limit access to productive activity, which generates fantastic rewards for a favoured few at the cost of holding back whole nations.

Whatever the source of the rent, the rentier economy is a vicious cycle in which the concentration of economic opportunity and that of political power fuel one another. This is why dignity and livelihood are inseparable in the demands of the excluded Arab majorities that have finally raised their voice. It is also why the political revolutions across the region will succeed only if matched by economic transformations. Even as Egypt and Tunisia grope for political transitions, the economic challenge is urgent.

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Just skip this one


File under “Duh“.

Jeremy Caplan reports for Time:

Apple may be golden because of the iPhone, but the soon-to-be-updated device is also increasingly the source of forbidden fruit. Steve Jobs’ company is keeping a civil, if embarrassed, silence on one of the potentially most lucrative and controversial uses of its handheld jewel: porn.

The technological feats of the 3G iPhone are key to the coming pornucopia. To date, mobile porn has consisted largely of still images, racy text services and “moan tones,” which are sultry-sounding ringtones. In Europe there is an active market for video chatting; customers pay on average $50 a month to exchange dirty messages with actresses. But now, thanks in large part to the iPhone’s video dexterity, short clips are becoming a staple of the mobile porn business ….

…. Leading porn purveyors see the iPhone as a dream come true. Its relatively ample screen size, speedy Web access and ease of use are just part of it. The device’s miniaturized version of Apple’s Safari software simplifies mobile access and streamlines the process of tailoring dirty sites for optimal viewing on the go. “It’s by far the porn-friendliest phone,” says Devan Cypher, representative for San Francisco–based Sin City Entertainment. As evidence of the gadget’s rocketing popularity in California’s porn capital, the San Fernando Valley, numerous iPhone-specific porn sites have been launched in recent months. “There are a few hundred iPhone porn sites now in use,” says Farley Cahen, vice president of business development for AVN Media Network, the adult industry’s trade body ….

Add to that the usual trappings for a story like this. Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock (seriously) says of course the company doesn’t condone porn distribution, and will take measures to restrict adult content. The development community does nonetheless have certain potential. The porn industry sees a huge new market. And, of course, the children: won’t somebody please think about the children?
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