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.: 2002 --> july
Is Your Bank Taking You to the Cleaners?. Probably. Don't even get me started on the insurance industry.
:: Globalization and its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz. Two reviews:
CSMonitor Robinhood in reverse
...in the 1980s a new breed of international bureaucrat emerged: the market fundamentalist. Under Reagan and Thatcher, the new creed of the IMF and World Bank became the sanctity of markets. That is, markets always work perfectly.
On these beliefs, they formed the 'Washington Consensus,' a three-pronged approach stating that austerity, privatization, and market liberalization were the path to development, or at least to stability. And from the holy grail of low inflation, all else would magically follow. Unfortunately, reality has not borne this out.
NYTimes Are You Better Off Now? [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
Stiglitz shared a Nobel Prize last year for his work analyzing the imperfections of markets. His main complaint against Rubin and Summers...is that they had too much faith that markets could transform poor countries overnight.
He labels these three men market fundamentalists, who fought to maintain financial stability with the same urgency that an earlier generation struggled to contain Communism. Worse, he suggests, they shilled for Wall Street, conflating the interests of the big banks with the financial health of the world.
[ 07/01/02 ]
Good News: Israel's defense chief says rogue settlements must go.
:: Photographer Nikki S. Lee has a new book out, Projects which looks to be just fascinating. I love this.
Like an anthropologist or a method actor, Lee 'identifies a particular group in society and infiltrates it over a period of weeks or months. She will drastically alter her hair, her weight, her clothes,' the intro continues.
'More subtly, she will take on the mannerisms, the gestures, the way of carrying oneself characteristic of the group she has chosen. After entering into her new identity, she will hand her point-and-shoot camera to someone and ask to have a snapshot taken of her in the chosen milieu.'
:: Does this seem wrong to you? I was rifling through my Amazon Gold Box, and when I got to item #5 (remember, you only get 5 items a day) it said : 'We're sorry, our offers are so good, sometimes it's hard to keep up! We just ran out of your gold box item.'
Later they offered me a rice cooker as a replacement #5. (Every day they offer me a rice cooker. Also a men's wet/dry razor.) What fabulous offer did I miss?
I have to admit it was sort of a struggle to pass up item #3, the Sonic Molechaser. No one likes the product, by the way. Take this guy: 'Does NOT work for my gopher. My gopher loves the sound. It seems its activity has increased ever since I placed this product. Find new holes in the very close vicinity of this product every morning. I am considering to use traps.'
I love his sense of ownership for his garden pests.
I'm home to spend the 4th of July with my family and to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday party. Look for an update next week. Meanwhile, to the portal, my friends!
There was a huge hoo-haw a few years ago when it came out that they were planning on connecting that anonymous information to your personal identity--and eventually they promised that they would not do that.
Even though DoubleClick phased out its ad profiling service at the end of 2001, it seems to me that they may have sold that information to L90 with their other advertising assets.
:: Fox TV is going to do a remake of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I was trying to imagine who could possibly match Tim Curry in that role. I'm coming up short. Johnny Depp could (if he can sing) but I can't imagine him doing a TV special at this point in his career. But the entire thing centers on the charisma of that one character.
Then it occurred to me that if Fox wanted to really mess some heads up, they would cast a black man as Frank-n-Furter. A black man seducing a white Brad and Janet...I don't think that's going to happen. (Interesting that black/white relations retain their taboo quality while homosexuality itself has become palatable television fare.)
Culturally, black men read, I think, as inherently dangerous. And because of that--because it fits the mold--my proposed scenario is almost a possibility. I do think there's something that would mess up white America more: a white Frank-n-Furter seducing a black Brad and Janet.
(Funny that Susan Sarandon is the only one of that bunch who really went anywhere....)
One more thing: wouldn't it be hilarious to cast David Duchovny in the role, and have him do Frank-n-Furter in that deadpan, sardonic Muldur monotone? (thanks, jjg!)
:: What a nice thing to come home to. Two more reviews: Instapundit and Steve Pilgrim's Radio Weblog. My Amazon page rank has jumped accordingly. At 9:47am pacific, I'm at 734!
Update: if someone just skims the book does it count as a review? 12:24pm pacific: 671!
First a Department of Homeland Security and now a Corporate Fraud Task Force (or the Committee for Corporate Feasance, as I like to call it).... And I thought that throwing more government at problems was the hallmark of a Democrat administration. Just saying.
The Center for Public Integrity reports that according to SEC reports, Bush violated security laws four times and the SEC chose to look the other way. Say it ain't so! (thanks, lizard!)
:: Five accused priests appealing dismissals. Meanwhile, they just refuse to step down.
One of the accused priests--the Rev. John Calicott--admits to a sexual incident in 1976 with two teen-age boys. He and four others have appealed their dismissals to the Vatican.
Well, hello. Because surely the Pope will agree that this is nothing more than a minor misjudgement. If I were the Pope, I'd dismiss them for sexual abuse then boot them out of the church altogether for stupidity.
Wow. Eatonweb has been good lately.
:: Two more reviews: Bag and Baggage likes chapter one, and Anil takes a very thoughtful look at the book.
In yesterday's feeding frenzy my Amazon sales rank topped out at 305 and Amazon sold out of the book! When I meet him someday, I totally owe Glenn a beer or three....
:: In Nepal, a little money goes a long way. For $100, for example, you can save a young girl from a life of indentured servitude.
In the Dang District in western Nepal, many indigenous families from the Tharu ethnic group subsist as farm laborers. Unable to make ends meet, they have been forced into a desperate trade--selling their daughters to work in faraway cities as bonded servants in private homes or as dishwashers in tea houses. Some of these children are only seven or eight years old.
Their living conditions are entirely at the discretion of their employers. The girls seldom attend school and have no prospects for a decent future. Some are ultimately forced into prostitution.
Working closely with local communities, Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation's newest program provides a creative, humane alternative for these families, helping them keep their daughters at home and putting the girls in school. Read on for our unconventional but effective approach....
[ 07/11/02 ]
:: Brooke wonders if making corporations pay their share in taxes might not be an incentive for them to honestly report their earnings.
After all, wouldn't a fair corporate tax actually discourage companies from fraudulently inflating their profits, as WorldCom did? What company would want to pay tax on money it really hadn't earned?
[ 07/11/02 ]
:: Do you enjoy beautiful writing about the profound and the mundane? I do. Sainteros.
Upon reading my review of books on Benedictine spirituality, Kurt recommended two additional books: Preferring Christ : a Devotional Commentary and Workbook on the Rule of St. Benedict by Norvene Vest and
Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal.
:: Why don't we listen anymore?
A top European business leader and former EU commissioner who has long been counted among America's best friends said, 'After World War II, America was all-powerful and created a new world by defining its national interest broadly in a way that made it attractive for other countries to define their interests in terms of embracing America's.' In particular, the United States backed the creation of global institutions, due process and the rule of law.
'Now,' he said, 'you are again all-powerful and the world is again in a period of restructuring but, without talking to anyone, you appear to be turning your back on things you have championed for half a century and defining your interest narrowly in terms of your own immediate military security.'
(via ummm... blogdex or daypop)
:: Hmmm. Clio's Favorites: Leading historians of the United States, 1945-2000, Edited by Robert Allen Rutland.
Historians who study their own nation--especially when it is as large and self-absorbed as the United States--tend to be parochial. Such solipsism is unfortunate since the ability to compare the United States to other societies facilitates efforts to zero in on questions of underlying causation in American history.
Many of the scholars described in these essays have been leading practitioners of cross-national comparison, which has provided useful perspective on their own areas of specialization.
Consider C. Vann Woodward's grasp of Southern history, Howard Lamar's revision of myths about the Western frontier, Gerda Lerner's examination of American women, and Bernard Bailyn's insights into the origins of the American Revolution: all benefited greatly from a willingness to look for answers beyond the United States.
Maybe I just want to see a list of historians profiled, and their areas of specialization. For some time now I've been planning to read A People's History of the United States, and on my last flight, the man sitting next to me was reading Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, which--over his shoulder--looked very interesting.
But both of these books have a pretty strong point of view. I'd like to read them in conjunction with a really good traditional history of the United States. There's no way to evaluate a radical reframing without examining it side by side with the existing frame.
Another milestone crossed: two customer reviews on Amazon, one from Phil Wolff of a klog apart and the other from instapundit. My sales rank (which had sunk into the 9000's) has accordingly risen. I can't say how much I appreciate this support from the community.
Library Book Sales
LibraryBookSales.org matches you with rare, collectible and quality books that have been donated to public libraries. The money you spend goes directly to the library that sells you the book. You benefit because you can find quality books at great prices.
If you read any other weblog, you've probably seen this: the truth about chicken nuggets. It's a story of globalization, illegal chemicals and unsanctioned antibiotics, and bovine additives. If you find this unappetizing, allow me to introduce you to the vegetarian 'chicken nuggets' that you find in the freezer section of your store. They're processed, it's true, but they are delicious.
Andrew has a review over at rhetorica.net--and he plans to use the book as a primary text in an upcoming rhetoric class!
I'm back from my travels. Look for a regular update Wednesday.
In response to a recent New Scientist article (Eccentric people more extreme as they age), Jeff has listed some of his eccentricities, excuse me, conceptual hobbies. I must admit, after reading his list, I'm almost inspired to cultivate a few eccentricities myself.
The iconography of security: MSNBC and the US Patent and Trademark Office. (first via lizard, second via boingboing)
Quelle horreur! With just a few better choices, Tim Curry could have had a Johnny Depp-like career. I don't buy this business about his looks holding him back. He just needed a better agent. Also, Auntie Kay is my new hero. (thanks, richard!)
:: Is the Internet creating vacuous, uncommitted information grazers or, with guidance, will it create post-Net thinkers who are able to combine traditional, contemplative thought with broad knowledge and pattern-matching skills?
On the good side, Net thinkers are said to generate work quickly and make connections easily. 'They are more in control of facts than we were 40 years ago,' says Bernard Cooperman, a history professor at the University of Maryland.
But they also value information-gathering over deliberation, breadth over depth, and other people's arguments over their own.
...Says Jamie McKenzie, a former school superintendent and library director who now publishes an e-zine on educational technology. '...The quality of information [on the Internet] is below what you find in print, and the Internet has fostered a thinner, less substantial thinking.'
I wonder how much of this is due to the Internet per se and how much is just a reaction to information overload in general.
Our own Marylaine is quoted as saying that only 15% of all information is on the Internet. Bonus pull quote:
'College students are quite aware that they can't trust what they read,' says Meikle at Texas. 'They're drawn to sites that are ironic or sarcastic, poking fun at perceived truths.'
Combatting malnutrition with nutritional sprinkles. (via fmh)
In response to my query about a good, traditional US history, Lynette suggests Paul Johnson's History of the American People, based on a recommendation from her book discussion list and her own quick perusal. In that thread, Kevin suggests The Story of American Freedom as a less hyperbolic alternative to Zinn. They're on my list.
I just got back from a fun interview with c|net radio's Desmond Crisis. Tomorrow at 1-2pm (central time) I'll be on The Glenn Mitchell Show on KERA Radio in Dallas. If you're in the area, tune in; if you're a blogger in the area, be sure to call in to join the conversation and give yourself a plug.
:: Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. - Oscar Wilde
I'm finding this to be equally true of reviewers and their reviews.
Here's a truly fascinating one by software developer and hypertext pioneer Mark Bernstein. I'm quite sure my approach falls into the category of 'comedy'--but still find this review to be thought-provoking.
TV Tokyo paid 350,000 yen for information about an upcoming burglary, alerted the police, and then filmed the break-in and subsequent arrest.
:: This made the rounds while I was away, but in case you missed it: Earth will expire by 2050.
I'm skeptical, if only because this claim has been made before. It's just a matter of time before things reach a crisis point, I'm just not sure we can pinpoint the date this precisely. It also seems to me that 50 years before our resources run out, the situation will become obvious to the untrained observer: shortages, rising prices, and the like. Maybe I just live in the wrong place to see.
But this is shocking:
The report, based on scientific data from across the world, reveals that more than a third of the natural world has been destroyed by humans over the past three decades.
Whether we have 50 years or 500 years, each of us needs to reduce our ecological footprint as far as we can. Start with The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices for concrete principles and guidelines that will help you make responsible choices--most of which will not reduce your quality of life. Americans, I'm looking at you.
Surfing at one gigabit per second. (Thanks, Lizard!)
:: And the genie is out of the bottle: 'The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has announced the first confirmed case of vancomycin-resistant staph aureus--known in the medical world as VRSA--found last month in a Michigan man.' (via fmh)
For years I've wondered if history would look back on my lifetime as a Golden Age--when a few tablets could kill infections. What fools we are to have squandered it on factory farming and fear of household germs. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
According to the Humane Society, 'more than 70% of the antibiotics used in the United States is given to farm animals, largely to fatten them and to make them grow.'
Now tell me: in the light of this, doesn't it seem like a matter of public health to outlaw the routine use of antibiotics in factory farming? If the farmers need to revamp their entire operations, so be it. They're going to be selling less meat one way or another.
BTW, frequent handwashing with ordinary soap is an extraordinary advance in medicine and everyday life. Do it. Often.
This is one of the (sometimes contradictory) futures I want to have. I was just visiting Goosecreek when I spotted this lovely picture. I've always been a city girl, but that garden and that barn speak to a place deep inside me. Maybe a place just outside the city would do?
:: You Go Grrl News: A group of Nigerian women took over a ChevronTexaco facility and held 700 employees hostage and demanded that the corporation hire their sons and develop the poor villages that surround the facility. Their threat? That they would remove their clothes, a powerful shaming gesture in Nigerian culture.
Eventually the group left the facility after being assured that the corporation would build modern towns for the locals. Now other groups in the region are doing the same thing. (via AllAboutGeorge and metafilter)
:: Maybe we should undress: It would appear that the New Yorker rarely publishes work by women. The magazine has composed a form letter to respond to queries about the odd imbalance.
It seems unlikely that women are not submitting work to the New Yorker, or that female freelancers are worse writers than their male colleagues. I suppose the only way to test for intent would be to submit a story under a woman's name, and then (if it was rejected) to re-submit it as a man. Over and over again until you could establish that there was a pattern. (thanks, ed!)
:: County Roscommon's Gaelic Athletic Association has sacked an entire football team for playing pool in the nude and other reported misbehavior.
It was also claimed that one player roamed around the Northern Irish hotel in a pair of frilly lace knickers.
Are you sure they weren't agitating for equal rights?
:: If you're tired of waiting for Harry Potter Book 5, you may wish to pick up the delightful Chinese novel, Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon.
A 198-page book...has been selling like rice cakes in China, opening with the irresistable lines: 'Harry is wondering in his bath how long it will take to wash away the creamy cake from his face. To a grown-up, handsome young man, it is disgusting to have filthy dirt on his body. Lying in a luxurious bathtub and rubbing his face with his hands, he thinks about Dudley's face, which is as fat as Aunt Petunia's bottom.'
(thanks, ian!) [ 07/22/02 ]
In response to my search for a good traditional history of the US, Jill writes to tell me she doesn't care for Zinn except as a counterweight to classical historians. She suggests The Oxford History of the American People: 1869 Through the Death of John F. Kennedy, 1963 by Samuel Eliot Morison.
Oooh, shiny! Go look at le Blogeur. Stay there for a few minutes. Read the sidebar, read over all the links. \Or don't bother reading, just keep looking at the page....
:: The Slashdot review of Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food is just hilarious:
His new book isnít so much a cookbook, in the current sense of a book that contains a heck of a lot of recipes. (It does, in fact, contain recipes, but it really isnít what the book is about.) See the Perl cookbook, for a translation of this idea to programming. It is a book about cooking that covers science and technique first; Recipes are only example code.
Noticing Monday's link to Goosecreek, Mike offers a glimpse of his own barn and garden.
:: The More Things Change: In reading Fast Food Nation, Janet Mcfarland finds a prediction that Corporate America would be brought to task for its abuses of low-end workers, consumers, and the environment. Instead, she sees a very different set of circumstances leading to change, and concludes that the power elite must support reforms in order even to survive.
What he did not foresee was that the backlash would instead come from the people who were always considered a central part of the system. The corporate world made its most fatal mistake when it started to eat its own young.
The profound anger today is coming largely from investors, both large and small. These are rarely people from the fringes of society. These are people who generally make decent wages, own homes, follow investment trends, vote in elections and, frankly, have the power to compel change.
:: The More They Stay the Same: Jeff Fischer, reading The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s, finds that the current search for a scapegoat on which to blame the stock market's fall mirrors the reaction following the crash that led to the Great Depression. (beware: link spawns a pop-up) He regards all of it as part of a normal cycle, pointing out that had proposed reforms been put in place 10 years ago, the market would have crashed anyway.
In the growing choir of anger focused on mendacious scandal, we can't forget that scandal is not to blame for the market's fall, or even the fall of the Enrons and WorldComs.
The market was falling long before Enron and WorldCom were uncovered, and Enron and WorldCom reverted to scandal in the face of prior bad business decisions. American business must take responsibility for its mistakes if we all hope to learn from them, rather than just blame crooks. Likewise with investors and their mistakes.
:: In the rush to cash in on the success of the Osbournes, every single has-been celebrity is rushing to sign for a reality show.
Next up: Liza Minnelli (warning: yet another damned pop-up). Isn't Liza one of those old-fashioned stars who is always 'on' for the public? Now, when will she ever be able to relax? Surely even extroverts need some down time.
Of course, I adore her. I'd probably watch this if I had cable.
Digital Web reviews the Handbook and proposes a slight name change.
Caffeinated soap. (via fimoculous)
:: 'The killings of four military wives in the past six weeks--allegedly by their husbands who are based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina--have led commanders to take a new look at whether combat deployments may be causing undue stress.'
Ahem. Is there really any way to prevent combat from being stressful? Perhaps the Army needs to institute more effective de-briefing measures, or work to create a more female-respectful culture? Or just stop recruiting wackos?
I don't know, but if you're going to have combat, and you're going to organize a separate group of people specifically to go fight and kill people whenever you tell them to, you're either going to have to keep them away from everyone else all the rest of the time, or figure out how to ensure that they are properly socialized while not in combat.
I mean, has this historically been a problem with our armed forces? I'm all about root causes--refusing to entertain the notion they may exist is sheer stupidity--and no one gets a free pass for murder. (thanks, loren!)
Sharpeworld is a web publication with one leg in the design world and the other firmly in the tradition of the wunderkammer.
:: Here we come... Meg, Matt, and PB have written the next book on the subject, We Blog. I'm looking forward to it. Chapter 8, Using Blogs in Business is now online, and it's as smart as they are.
Am I in competition with these folks? Not a bit. Not only do I like and respect them, I want you to have the tool that works for you. From talking to the authors, I believe that for some people The Weblog Handbook and We Blog will be complementary to one another. And there are two more books on the way. Look at them as they come out, then buy the one(s) that most clearly address your questions.
And remember, if you can't afford to buy your weblog book of choice--or if you'd just like to support a group of first-time authors--your local library will be happy to order all of them for you.
With reference to le Blogeur's fancy fancy background, Relton sez: 'It's by Eric Costello and is now a blogspot template. Amazing stuff, eh? That man is a wizard.' Indeed.
For the rest of us:
:: Is the emergence and growing popularity of organic foods good news, or is it...unsustainable?
Theoretically, [Gould is] a standard bearer for a new, more sustainable form of global food production, in which local communities produce food that is consumed locally, without the input of expensive and possibly unhealthy pesticides or genetically modified organisms.
But organic farming in the 21st century is turning out to be a little more complicated than its advocates originally expected.
If you missed it when I linked it last year, compare and contast with Michael Pollan's Behind the Organic-Industrial Complex. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
Organic is better for the land, all things being equal. But fresh rather than processed, and local rather than imported food whenever possible are part of the equation, too. If regulations are designed to leave the small, best-practices farmer out of the picture, it may be more difficult to find the kind of food you want, but it doesn't have to be a full-time job.
Look to local Community Supported Agriculture programs to provide you with fresh organic food, grown by a local farmer. These programs exist all across the United States. I'm still subscribed to Terra Firma Farms and I still love it.
Remember that local food economies are important in more ways than one.
:: Related to issues of sustainability and local economies, this quote is from David Tice, who predicts the stock market has much further to fall before it is done.
We have a dysfunctional global currency and economic system, in which the whole world is set up to sell to the American consumer. Essentially, the rest of the world is working for the U.S. consumer, who is spending far more than they earn, sending paper to the rest of the world for their goods.
This might be a good time to set up a budget to pay off all your credit cards and live strictly within your means. (from this post on metafilter--lots more related links.)
Your tax dollars.... (via metafilter)
Experimental: NZ Bear has written a sci-fi story in the form of a weblog. And Oliver Willis is so there, with his 'comic blog novel', Sex 'N Crime.
:: Cher is doing a Farewell Tour.
Am I just totally out of the loop?
Cher has been doing tours this whole time, and I never knew about it? Because that's certainly what the title implies. Surely my no-BS Cher would never participate in some sort of cheap marketing ploy designed to get us in the stadium to see a singer who's never come around before. But when the radio announcer says 'last time to see her onstage' he doesn't really mean she's never working Vegas again, does he? Or Broadway?
(BTW, if you visit cher.com using opera, as I just did, you will find a white page with the extremely rude message 'Get Netscape or Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher'. Cher.com: get a clue.)
Following up my post about combat stress, Joshua suggests two books: On Killing by Dave Grossman and Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character by Jonathan Shay.