Archive for August, 2003

MEDIA AND IRAQ

Sunday, August 31st, 2003

Rami G. Khouri has an interesting op-ed piece in today’s LA times (link), regarding the Administration’s contention that the arab media are inciting violence in Iraq. I agree: personally, I find the reporting outside the US to be much more balanced (contrary to most of my co-workers, who think that CNN and Fox are the epitome of equity).

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GREAT NEWS ON LABOR DAY

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003

According to FairEconomy.org, “Median CEO pay skyrocketed 44 percent from 2001 to 2002 at the 50 companies with the most announced layoffs in 2001, while overall CEO pay rose only 6 percent.” Sheesh, that’s just disgraceful. What, do they get rewarded for pink-slipping?

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SO CLOSE YOU CAN TOUCH IT

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003
mars1.jpg
sort of what I saw in the eastern sky
I was out in the high desert last night and got a glimpse of the red planet. Very cool. I think when I move to Arizona I’ll buy a telescope… not much use for it here in LA with all the light pollution.
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TEACHING THE TEST

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003

It was interesting… I read about SAT math scores rising (link) and then on the same day there’s an article about people as young as 13 doing SAT preparation courses (another link). Being Canadian, I’ve always found the whole SAT thing fascinating as I never had to take one. I guess it’s not really surprising that scores go up, given that people are preparing for up to 4 years before the exam. Maybe I’m just a purist: isn’t the SAT supposed to test college readiness, not one’s ability to take an exam? Maybe we should focus on improving education in general, rather than prepping earlier and earlier…

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WRINKLES, WRINKLES EVERYWHERE

Monday, August 25th, 2003

OK, I’ll admit that maybe I’m not very sensitive to this topic because I’m not too wrinkled yet, but it still amazes me what people are willing to do in the (temporary) pursuit of youth. In today’s LA Times health section (link), there is an enumeration of the new “injectables” (spurred on by the success of botox) that are FDA approved or awaiting approval. Several of the technologies involve the use of microspheres, which are basically little plastic balls. One is made from acid from rooster combs. I wonder if the rooster donors get little toupees?

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RULING SEEMS BALANCED AND FAIR

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

It looks like Al Franken can keep the title on his new book: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right — on Friday a judge rejected Fox News’ claim that consumers would mistakenly think that Fox and/or Bill O’Reilly were endorsing the book. Franken’s statement was classic, including the line: “As far as the personal attacks go, when I read ‘intoxicated or deranged’ and ‘shrill and unstable’ in their complaint, I thought for a moment I was a Fox commentator.” Tee hee :) Story from the LA Times.

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WHAT THE HECK IS “egosurf”?

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

Those wacky British muggles are at it again! More words for the Oxford Dictionary of English! They say they add words that “well-known and have proven they can pass the test of time”. Don’t be a cyberslacker, surf on over here to see the story. It’s bootylicious.

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ATTACK OF THE ELFS

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

It looks like the Bush administration is ready to relax emission regulations for power plants (see story here). Maybe the energy problems in the northeast last week will give them the break they were looking for. Woo hoo! Energy companies get richer and air gets easier to see. Meanwhile, environmentalists everywhere are tarnished by the actions of the Earth Liberation Front, who caused millions of dollars in damage to some southern California dealerships and their inventory (see story in the LA Times).

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A couple of interesting books

Thursday, August 21st, 2003

Ok, maybe not literature (not even close, really) but I’m currently reading a couple of interesting books. Scott Ritter’s Frontier Justice in which he holds back no punches on the Bush administration’s approach to Iraq, and USC professor Barry Glassner’s The Culture of Fear, a look at the genesis of American violence. Both very interesting.

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trying to score the test

Saturday, August 16th, 2003

The results of California’s standardized tests are out (click here for a report on your local school) and I don’t know whether to be encouraged or outraged. Scores are up, but seem (to the untrained eye at least) to just track socio-economic status. Now 46 schools face federal sanctions because their students aren’t “proficient.” (The exact definition of that term is still ellusive.)

See the article in today’s LA Times.

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Hare-raising Story

Friday, August 15th, 2003

“Scientists in China have used cloning techniques to create hybrid embryos that contain a mix of DNA from humans and rabbits, according to a report in a scientific journal.” Whaaaaa? Apparently they’re looking for a cheap source of stem cells. Why rabbits? I guess they must have a lot of them in China. Plus, rabbits breed like, well, rabbits.

Click here for the story…

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Who’s got the power?

Friday, August 15th, 2003

Woo hoo! My first entry!

This east-coast blackout is affecting all of us. Last night’s Daily Show was cancelled and replaced with MS-TDS. It was entertaining to see Stephen Colbert do is Brian Williams/Stone Phillips/Tom Brokaw immitation…

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meet al

Thursday, August 14th, 2003

Al hails from Alberta. Right now he’s somewhere in the US, though his exact location can’t be confirmed. Sometimes he rides a motorbike. One of his cats is named Roux. He is well-informed and has a great sense of humor. I leave you in his capable hands. Be good.

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guest bloggers needed

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

There will be sporadic blogging over the next two weeks. Somehow, my life is getting in the way of the blog. Wait, I meant it the other way around. I’m staying with my folks in Northern Cal. Besides trying to remain sane, I plan to read, write new material, watch a few movies, and figure out who I’m going to vote for in the three-ring circus known as the recall election. Email me if you want to guest.

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global woman

Tuesday, August 12th, 2003

Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) is in Edinburgh promoting her new book, Global Woman, in which she argues that those “who hire cleaners and nannies so women are free to go out to work are contributing towards a new exploitative ‘servant economy’ which is destroying families in the developing world.” The main blame, she says, lies with men who fail to share the burdens of the home. The article is too short to allow her to make a convincing argument, I think.

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so who’s the fox?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2003

Doris Lessing calls Tony Blair a “rabbit” and reminisces about a meeting with Henry Kissinger during which he talked about a “kitten bomb.”

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harper’s weekly review

Tuesday, August 12th, 2003

is here. Sample item: “General Richard Sanchez said that he was scaling back aggressive roundups of Iraqis in the search for Saddam Hussein and Baath Party loyalists because he was afraid that “maybe our iron-fisted approach to the conduct of ops was beginning to alienate Iraqis. I started to get those sensings from multiple sources.” Someone give this man a prize.

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recall annoyances

Monday, August 11th, 2003

I could rant on and on about this, but then Tarek pretty much says it all.

Elsewhere, this Reuters headline keeps popping up on my homepage: Schwarzenegger Upbeat, Avoids Outlining Policies. And why should he? He’s got a 10-point lead by speaking in bumper stickers and flashing his plastic-surgery enhanced smile. And the recall is only 6 weeks away.

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a storm is brewing

Monday, August 11th, 2003

The Washington Post has a very thorough article by Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus that charges there is “a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates — in public and behind the scenes — made allegations depicting Iraq’s nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support.” In addition, they say, “On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied.”

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orhan pamuk on istanbul

Monday, August 11th, 2003

Orhan Pamuk writes about Istanbul for the BBC’s Sense of the City series.

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election tees

Monday, August 11th, 2003

Essential recall campaign gear for Californians.
Link via Turbanhead.

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2003 O. Henry awards

Saturday, August 9th, 2003

I just found out that my friend Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has made the 2003 O. Henry awards for her story “The American Embassy,” which appeared in the Canadian journal Prism International. You can read an excerpt of the story here.

Here are a few places where you can read the writing of the lovely and amazing Ngozi Adichie: “Half of a Yellow Sun” in the current issue of Zoetrope All-Story (it originally appeared in Lit Pot.) “Heart Is Where the Home Was,” a non-fiction piece for Topic Magazine. And of course the novel Purple Hibiscus, which comes out in October.

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ubu roi becomes king baabu

Saturday, August 9th, 2003

Wole Soyinka describes adapting and setting up the satirical play “Ubu Roi” by Alfred Jarry, and its relevance for a Zimbabwe ruled by Robert Mugabe (and, indeed, for the Uganda of Idi-Amin or the Zaire of Mobutu or, or, or…)

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oops department

Saturday, August 9th, 2003

Looks like Esquire reversed its decision to have Jayson Blair do a review of “Shattered Glass.”

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steve martin’s take on WMD

Saturday, August 9th, 2003

“So if you’re asking me did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction, I’m saying, well, it all depends on what you mean by ‘have’.” Read on.

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order up

Friday, August 8th, 2003

My pal Maryanne Stahl’s new book, The Opposite Shore, is now available, so order your copy now. Oh, and here’s an excerpt.

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beat author’s book on film

Friday, August 8th, 2003

The Guardian has a profile of Alexander Trocchi, the beat author whose novel Young Adam was made into a movie that caused quite a stir at Cannes this year. I really shouldn’t use two relative clauses back to back like that.

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it’s official

Friday, August 8th, 2003

California is the laughing stock of the nation, what with Gary Coleman’s gubernatorial run sponsored by a Bay Area weekly newspaper and the 99 cent stores trying to put a 99-year-old (get it? get it?) man on the ballot. I tell you, the only thing that can restore some dignity to all this madness and put the Democrats back in the race again is if Sean Penn announces he’ll run. Arnold vs. Sean. Now that’s something I’d like to see.

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immunity for big oil

Friday, August 8th, 2003

“[A] two-page executive order [signed by President Bush two months ago] seemed to completely shield [U.S.] oil companies from liability even if it could be proved that they had committed human rights violations, bribed officials or caused great environmental damage in the course of their Iraqi-related business.” Read on.
There’s not much you can say after something like this.

Update: The executive order is available here.

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for your reading lists

Thursday, August 7th, 2003

Tim Pears picks ten “revolutionary” novels in this Guardian piece. He picked political novels, he says, beause “a novel can’t change the world. But a great novel opens the mind like nothing else. And when the mind opens, so too does the future”
What should/shouldn’t have made the list? Discuss.

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