who is the prettiest “intellectual”

I don’t really know who qualifies as an intellectual. Although the current climate in America seems deeply anti-intellectual, i cannot divorce myself of pop culture enough to embrace a rigorous intellectual life. Sorry.

However, i did vote in that deeply flawed Prospect poll for the Top 100 Intellectuals of the moment. I had never heard of quite a few of these people, and many of the ones that i’m most familiar with i’m baffled by their inclusion. (I too call bullshit on Christopher Hitchens with no hesitation.) My votes are for the most part little more than who i like, not people who i know are the most worthy. My picks are:

  • Freeman Dyson. That was easy. His name was the first one i picked. How can any ex-sci-fi gimp not pick him? I tried to read a couple of collections of essays once upon a time, and have no idea whether any of them are retained deep in the recesses of my brain. Well, except astrochicken. I love the astrochickens.
  • E.O. Wilson. I never understood the racism accusations, as that was obviously a lot of nonsense. A better profile is here.
  • Umberto Eco. Obviously i’m just beginning to play favorites at this point. I’ve read more of Umberto Eco than anyone else on that list. He ought to be my first choice, but it irks me that more scientists were not included in this beauty contest.
  • Orhan Pamuk. Ahem. I’ve still only read My Name Is Red and half of Istanbul, but he’s relatively young, and probably will play a great role in the discussion of the future of Turkey. In deciding who is an important intellectual of this moment in history, his inclusion is necessary. Turkey’s inclusion in the EU would have been a greater opportunity for a bridge between East and West than wrongheaded regime change and nation-building in Iraq. Reconciling Turkey with its past and redefining a national identity is of utmost importance. Pamuk seems to be playing a role in that.
  • Abdolkarim Soroush. This is where i take a stab in the dark. I don’t truly know who this guy is. However, Iran is on the threshold of revolution or war. Reading his work on this site (there are downloads of lectures too, but the sound quality is dodgy,) it’s obvious that he’s a staunch proponent of tolerance, education, and democracy. We need more people like him.
  • So screw that silly twit Tom Friedman and drunk Chris Hitchens. I know that there are plenty of other worhies on that list, and far more that were excluded. While i deny that i have any kind of pantheon of heroes, this list has me reassess that reaction.

    (Oh, i missed Martin Rees earlier, although i still woudl have voted the same….)

    As for who the prettiest intellectual is, i don’t care much. It will be amusing to see who the internet populace votes for though.


    Laghonia “Bahia” Yup. It’s a Sixties Peruvian band, kinda psych, but not quite. Most of their stuff seems too derivative of English and American bands, even to my uncritical ears. It’s solid, but they were influenced by bands that were not my top tier faves in the first place. Unterberger picks this as the most original, most standout track, and i am compelled to agree, most enthusiastically. It’s not surprising that it’s also one of the two most Latin songs off of their album Glue. If Laghonia had followed this muse, they would be a lot better known than the band that eventually became We All Together. It still kinda sounds like a cross between Santana and Cream, bands that i don’t care for on their own, but here sounds great.

    Laghonia “Billy Morsa” This one comes in a close second. Apparently they were trying to merge Lennon style guitar chords to a Latin beat. It’s peculiar how exact that hybrid turns out to be. Dark little murder ballad.

    when Scooter wrote Judy

    Some of the speculation about the letter from Scooter Libby to Judith Miller is beginning to tickle my funnny bone. I’ve been holding my breath, hoping that Fitzgerald can nail most of the senior members of the Bush administration with the cover-up of the Plame leak, but that letter is turning out in droves the tinfoil hat folks that i love so dearly. I love a good conspiracy!

    The Plame leak is real, too real. There is certainly some coded message being passed in the Libby letter to Miller. However, so far i’ve seen so awesomely paranoid musings that give me giggle fits:

  • The reference to the turning color of the leaves of aspen trees has something to do with who is turning evidence to Fitzgerald. This actually makes sense to me, although i doubt whether it would be necessary to put this in a letter that Libby would know would be leaked.
  • Aspen is a reference to Les Aspin, who Judith Miller supposedly once dated. Oh, it gets better. Aspin died of a stroke in his fifities. One person asserted that it might have been a secret assassination. Making a reference to Aspin is an implied threat! Woo boy!
  • Aspen is the one tree that refused to acknowledge Christ’s divinity, and he was crucified on a cross made of aspen wood. (This smells of the Baldur myth.) There was recently a conference in Aspen in which neo-cons rejected Bush’s policies, and of course… Bush is Jesus. We have a winner!
  • So If Baldur/Jesus is Bush, who is Hod/Judas? Bring on Ragnarok!

    Seriously, the illegality of Plame leak is very real. I just enjoy the loopy shit that paranoids and professional disinformation operatives spread too much to ignore it.

    Harriet Miers is pure cronyism

    Ideologically, Miers might even be considered a moderate, but more dangerous than any kind radical is someone whose primary loyalty is to Bush, not this country. Reading this summary of her career, i don’t see many qualifications aside from her undivided loyalty to Bush. This is not a right or left issue.

    She’ll be confirmed, of course… I’m just grousing that she’ll be a political hack that is incapable of making a decision without considering the interests of her longtime patron first. If by some magical longshot impeachment hearings do emerge, i’ll lay good odds that she won’t bother to recuse herself.

    There are rumblings that compare her nomination to the kind of decision that awarded Michael Brown the post of head of FEMA. That’s a little bit of a stretch, as Miers actually is a lawyer (and it doesn’t matter that she has not been a judge,) but her longtime, close ties to Bush magnify the problem. Bush is not serious about an independent judiciary.

    In a sick way, i’m relieved. I hope that conservatives realize that this entire administration has not been about remaking the country in their image, but in consolidating power for a select few, whose only ideology is self-preservation.