02/23/2014 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Power of the Flea Market by Annieli

Flea markets, Free market: not so much a pun as a reality, that informal economies flourish with the inevitable rise and subsequent failure of so-called free-markets, first as deregulated, then as re-regulated as discussed by The Regulation School. Scale is signified here and the expansion of a gloablized economy is not so much the work of invisible or virtual hands (one thread of my research), but the aggregation of so many marginalized sectors of that economy into their own systems of exchange. Bitcoin is but one example on the capital side; bartered labor might be its polar opposite. Alternative and heterodox economies and their institutions have been recent topics of discussion here, so while the implementation and functioning of such economies is paramount, some history to fill some gaps might be useful this week.

What wanton grace, what saucy innocence! What heroic wrestling with aesthetic problems! This nonchalance and originality are worthy of a Heine!

We have deceived the reader. Herr Grün’s literary graces are not an embellishment of the science of true socialism, the science is merely the padding between these outbursts of literary gossip, and forms, so to speak, its “social background”….How right was Heine when he said about his imitators: “I have sown dragon’s teeth and harvested fleas.”(1)

This chapter was published by Marx separately as a review in the monthly publication Das Westphälische Dampfboot in August and September 1847. Before that, in April 1847, Marx had published a “Declaration against Karl Grün”. He stated in it that he intended to publish a review of Grün’s book Die soziale Bewegung in Frankreich und Belgien (see present edition, Vol. 6) in the Westphälische Dampfboot.

For those less familiar with Heine here’s a particularly modern example from 1827 close to the time of the invention of the latent image technology called photography, where the absence and presence of meaning/message of the transmitted information while interdependent are only interoperable by thinking beyond the margins.

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My earlier experience in economic history led me to study with a scholar of medieval economies but he also showed me how to look at the variables involved in plagues and this history of fleas seems hygienically anomalous with the development of things like “flea circuses” or “flea markets”

Importantly, plague was spread considerable distances by rat fleas on ships. Infected ship rats would die, but their fleas would often survive and find new rat hosts wherever they landed. Unlike human fleas, rat fleas are adapted to riding with their hosts; they readily also infest clothing of people entering affected houses and ride with them to other houses or localities.

The idealized image of the free market is the seasonal trade route with its bazaars or agoras with exchange regulated not only by coinage but also the space in which these transactions occur: formal and informal, official and illegal. The market for speech in public spaces, as we have seen is even more controversial whether OWS or Citizens United. Those who would claim that the web is a free market attempt to base it on both conventional and less conventional “flea market” exchange sites: eBay, gunauctions, etc. many transactions and their prices/costs are less formal and perhaps as invisible or virtual as during any point in recordable or documentable history. Entertainment also accompanied the historical market-route culture so a variety of actions and exchanges developed with the more fundamental trade of basic sustainence goods and services. The space and scale of such activity is by its very actions marginal and gold mining and gold farming are not so different, and economies have treated such insurgent activities at their peril. insurgencies are like fleas, ubiquitous and virtually invisible.

The first records of flea performances were from watchmakers who were demonstrating their metalworking skills. Mark Scaliot in 1578 produced a lock and chain which were attached to a flea. Flea performances were first advertised as early as 1833 in England, and were a major carnival attraction until 1930. Some flea circuses persisted in very small venues in the United States as late as the 1960s. The flea circus at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Manchester, England, was still operating in 1970. At least one genuine flea circus still performs (at the annual Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany) but most flea circuses are a sideline of magicians and clowns, and use electrical or mechanical effects instead of real fleas.

Replacing actual fleas by mechanical and electrical effects is a parody of industrialized labor’s technological substitutes and their spectacular globalization. More spectacles to flee are found below the fold as conflict concentrates in urban centers and their peripheries are defined by linear demolition and alienated margins. All of these arterial relations experience blockages or barricades.

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart: Romancing the Drone

Jon Stewart: Romancing the Drone

The Obama administration explores the legal ramifications of aerial citizen reduction programs.

Romancing the Drone – The Last Rulebender

Senator Carl Levin stages an intervention for American drone policy, but the Obama administration refuses to admit it has a problem

On This Day In History February 23

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 23 is the 54th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 311 days remaining until the end of the year (312 in leap years).

On this day in 1954, a group of children from Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, receive the first injections of the new polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.

Though not as devastating as the plague or influenza, poliomyelitis was a highly contagious disease that emerged in terrifying outbreaks and seemed impossible to stop. Attacking the nerve cells and sometimes the central nervous system, polio caused muscle deterioration, paralysis and even death. Even as medicine vastly improved in the first half of the 20th century in the Western world, polio still struck, affecting mostly children but sometimes adults as well. The most famous victim of a 1921 outbreak in America was future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then a young politician. The disease spread quickly, leaving his legs permanently paralyzed.

Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an acute viral infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route The term derives from the Greek polios, meaning “grey”, myelos, referring to the “spinal cord”, and the suffix -itis, which denotes inflammation.

Although around 90% of polio infections cause no symptoms at all, affected individuals can exhibit a range of symptoms if the virus enters the blood stream. In about 1% of cases the virus enters the central nervous system, preferentially infecting and destroying motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis. Different types of paralysis may occur, depending on the nerves involved. Spinal polio is the most common form, characterized by asymmetric paralysis that most often involves the legs. Bulbar polio leads to weakness of muscles innervated by cranial nerves. Bulbospinal polio is a combination of bulbar and spinal paralysis.

Poliomyelitis was first recognized as a distinct condition by Jakob Heine in 1840. Its causative agent, poliovirus, was identified in 1908 by Karl Landsteiner. Although major polio epidemics were unknown before the late 19th century, polio was one of the most dreaded childhood diseases of the 20th century. Polio epidemics have crippled thousands of people, mostly young children; the disease has caused paralysis and death for much of human history. Polio had existed for thousands of years quietly as an endemic pathogen until the 1880s, when major epidemics began to occur in Europe; soon after, widespread epidemics appeared in the United States.

By 1910, much of the world experienced a dramatic increase in polio cases and frequent epidemics became regular events, primarily in cities during the summer months. These epidemics-which left thousands of children and adults paralyzed-provided the impetus for a “Great Race” towards the development of a vaccine. Developed in the 1950s, polio vaccines are credited with reducing the global number of polio cases per year from many hundreds of thousands to around a thousand. Enhanced vaccination efforts led by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Rotary International could result in global eradication of the disease.


While now rare in the Western world, polio is still endemic to South Asia and Nigeria. Following the widespread use of poliovirus vaccine in the mid-1950s, the incidence of poliomyelitis declined dramatically in many industrialized countries. A global effort to eradicate polio began in 1988, led by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and The Rotary Foundation. These efforts have reduced the number of annual diagnosed cases by 99%; from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to a low of 483 cases in 2001, after which it has remained at a level of about 1,000 cases per year (1,606 in 2009). Polio is one of only two diseases currently the subject of a global eradication program, the other being Guinea worm disease. If the global Polio Eradication initiative is successful before that for Guinea worm or any other disease, it would be only the third time humankind has ever completely eradicated a disease, after smallpox in 1979 and rinderpest in 2010. A number of eradication milestones have already been reached, and several regions of the world have been certified polio-free. The Americas were declared polio-free in 1994. In 2000 polio was officially eliminated in 36 Western Pacific countries, including China and Australia. Europe was declared polio-free in 2002. As of 2006, polio remains endemic in only four countries: Nigeria, India (specifically Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), Pakistan, and Afghanistan, although it continues to cause epidemics in other nearby countries born of hidden or reestablished transmission.

The Daytona 500?!

I missed Speed Week for the Olympics and a bunch of Norwegians in fancy pants?!  I must be a cheese eating, wine swilling, Ivory Tower, coast dwelling in-tee-lectual.  I’m probably homoqueeracle too.

Well, it’s like the first robin of Spring I guess.  I couldn’t care less but it kicks off at 1:30 pm so grab your Buds (and no, I don’t mean your friends most of whom I hope have the good sense to miss this mash of alcohol, testosterone, and gasoline) and join in the spectacle that is Turn Left Bumper Cars.

Make sure you note the flaming chunks of twisted metal below.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: This guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: former President George W. Bush; and Marine Corps veteran and Team Rubicon co-founder Jacob Wood.

The roundtable debate guests are: Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman; and Weekly Standard editor and ABC News contributor William Kristol.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Margaret Brennan, CBS News’ State Department Correspondent; Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA).

Joining him for a panel discussion are Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for The New York Times; Dan Balz, chief correspondent for The Washington Post; Amy Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report;, and our CBS News political director John Dickerson.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Guests on MTP are: National Security Adviser Susan Rice; Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

Guests at the roundtable are New York Times columnist David Brooks; New York Times White House Correspondent Helene Cooper; Co-Anchor and Managing Editor of the PBS NewsHour Judy Woodruff; and Host of MSNBC’s “HardballChris Matthews.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are Govs. Mike Pence (R-IN), Dan Malloy (D-CT), Rick Perry (R-TX), and Jay Nixon (D-MO).

Her panel guests are Robert Costa of the Washington Post; Democratic Strategist Penny Lee; and the National Review‘s Ramesh Ponnuru.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Freed Tymoshenko addresses Ukraine protesters

 Former prime minister tells crowds in Kiev to stay in central square as parliament impeaches President Yanukovich.

 Last updated: 23 Feb 2014 07:48

Hours after her release from prison, former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has appeared before protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square, praising the demonstrators killed in violence this week and urging the crowds to keep occupying the square

Tymoshenko’s speech to about 50,000 people, made from a wheelchair because of the severe back problems she suffered in two and a half years of imprisonment, was the latest development in the country’s fast-moving political crisis, the AP news agency reported.

Tymoshenko, who appeared close to exhaustion, said: “You are heroes, you are the best thing in Ukraine!

“In no case do you have the right to leave the Maidan [Independence Square] until you have concluded everything that you planned to do.”

Earlier on Saturday, parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich from office, hours after he abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup.

Sunday’s Headlines:

The French Intifada: how the Arab banlieues are fighting the French state

‘No one cares’: The tragic truth of Syria’s 500,000 refugee children

Thousands of kids lost parents in South Sudan fighting

The legend of ‘El Chapo’: Cartel chief cultivated Robin Hood image

Girl killed, dozens hurt in attack on Thai protest

What We Learned This Week

Steve Kornacki’s guests share the things they learned this week.

XXII Day 15

    Time     Network Event
6 pm Vs. Hockey, men’s bronze medal game: USA vs. Finland.
8 pm NBC Alpine skiing: men’s slalom gold medal final; bobsled: four-man competition; figure skating: gala; snowboarding: men’s parallel slalom gold medal final; speed skating: men’s and women’s team pursuit gold medal finals.
midnight NBC Figure skating: gala.
1 am NBC Alpine skiing: men’s slalom gold medal final; bobsled: four-man competition; figure skating: gala; snowboarding: men’s parallel slalom gold medal final; speed skating: men’s and women’s team pursuit gold medal finals. (repeat)
4 am Vs. Bobsled: four-man gold medal final runs.
6:30 am NBC Hockey: men’s gold medal final pregame.
7 am NBC Hockey, men’s gold medal final: Sweden vs. Canada.
2 pm NBC Cross-country skiing: men’s 50km freestyle gold medal final; bobsled: four-man gold medal final runs.
5 pm Vs. Hockey, men’s gold medal final: Sweden vs. Canada. (repeat)

Today’s medal results are below the fold ~TMC~