What you hear Obama aides talking about is that the system is "not on the level." That's a phrase commonly used around the West Wing -- "it's not on the level." By that, they mean the Republicans, the news media, the lobbyists, the whole Washington culture is not serious about solving problems. The challenge, as they see it, is how to rise above a town that can obsess for a week on whether an obscure Agriculture Department official in Georgia should have been fired.
As Brands, the historian, put it, "It'll be really interesting to see if a president who is thinking long term can have an impact on a political system that is almost irredeemably short term in its perspective."
They're just living, mortal human beings, the kind of geeky, quirky, cyberculture loons that I run into every day. And man, are they ever going to pay.
The politics of personal destruction hasn't made the Americans into a frank and erotically cheerful people. On the contrary, the US today is like some creepy house of incest divided against itself in a civil cold war.
It is a godawful mess. This is gonna get worse before it gets better, and it's gonna get worse for a long time.
What happens when an industry concerned with the production of culture is beholden to a company with the sole goal of underselling competitors?
Most customers aren't aware that the personalized book recommendations they receive are a result of paid promotions, not just purchase-derived data.
Most people are principally aware of one culture, one setting, one home; exiles are aware of at least two, and this plurality of vision gives rise to an awareness of simultaneous dimensions, an awareness that - to borrow a phrase from music - is contrapuntal. For an exile, habits of life, expression or activity in the new environment inevitably occur against the memory of these things in another environment.
That giant sucking sound you hear is a billion putatively shared documents being slurped back into their silos, and even now, somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon, there is doubtless a Powerpoint deck being crafted whose title is "Need to Know 2.0".
Attention to detail, like most facets of truly good design, can't be (and never is) added later. It's an entire development philosophy, methodology, and culture.
Great products, far more often than not, are great since day one.
In this astonishing -- and in contemporary Arab literature, perhaps unprecedented -- mingling of old and new totalitarianisms, this skillfully drawn analogy between Islamic fascism and Nazi fascism, The German Mujahid is a genuinely brave book. It goes against the grain of the writer's own culture, and tears down its taboos.