Monthly Archives: January 2009

Nuclear Factoid of the Day

I taught Beowulf today, and I think it’s worth noting that the Geatish martial spirit was, contrary to all visible evidence, apparently being preserved in Sweden in the late 60s. This CIA memo mentions that Sweden, along with India, was one of the countries that might conceivably develop nuclear weapons in the next few years.

I found the memo on this National Security Archive exhibit on the Nuclear Emergency Search Team. Someone from Wilmington tried some low-enriched uranium extortion in the 70s, for example. (I worked in the Southport nuclear plant for a few months and was always imagining, in my administrative building, that something like that was going on at any given moment.)

On Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life

Or, at least, on the specific copy of it I got from Verso as a gift for subscribing (finally) to NLR. The copy they sent me has about a twenty page interpolation of some type of organizational theory text, different typography and everything, almost in the middle. I don’t know if I received the book because they knew it was defective, or if the entire print run is like this; but I have to admit that I’ve thought about what it would be like to assign this edition in a class and then pretend as if the organizational theory text is in fact a Borgesian creation of Lefebvre’s. I could imagine spending hours puzzling out the implications of this bold move in seminar.

Another Outrage from the TLS

In a review of Stacey Abbott’s Celluloid Vampires (U of Texas P, 2007), Kapka Kassabova writes:

This promising motto (“A little less ritual and a little more fun”) comes to courtesy of Spike, the peroxide-blond punk rock vampire in the 1990s American television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike symbolizes the New-Age vampire in modern cinema: young, American, anti-establishment, ironic, and allergic to boredom.

American, eh?

Sorority Cipher Device

There are a number of interesting details in this NYT article on Bruce Ivins, but I couldn’t help but notice that one of the items Ivins apparently stole from a sorority house was a “cipher device.” I’ve read David Kahn’s The Codebreakers, among several other histories of cryptology, and I can’t say that I can remember anything about cipher devices being used by Greek-letter organizations. Nor can I easily imagine what a cipher device would be useful for. Perhaps it was an ornamental abacus.