The Blog of Chloë and Pete  

Two characters (that would be Chloë and Pete) looking for love, safety, and Krispy Kremes. A book looking for readers and a publisher. An author (Jessica) looking for an agent, a life, and a region-free DVD player.

email: jessica_lynn -at- watchmail.com

About Me 23.07.02

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The WeatherPixie

The WeatherPixie


 

A few random, non-war-related, non-novel-related updates:

First, word has it (on the MHVF board, and hopefully the news-bringer will be rewarded well in the afterlife for the service) that Turner Classic Movies is planning a Bollywoodfest every Thursday night in June. Mark your calendars now: Thursday, June 12th, will feature Rangeela and Dil Chahta Hai back-to-back. For those of you not familiar with Hindi titles, that's "the movie where Aamir and Urmila play childhood best friends" and "the movie where Aamir wears a soul patch and reportedly took up with Preity Zinta offscreen, thus wrecking his marriage." (I don't believe it, personally. Given that Preity has been rumored to be involved with every. single. one. of her male co-stars, and given that Aamir has a history of being platonic friends with actresses -- Juhi Chalwa, for instance -- it's perfectly plausible that the two could be texting each other like mad and still not having an actual affair.) Six promised hours of Aamir fabulousness? I've already cleared my calendar.

On an only tangentially related note, if you haven't seen Spirited Away in the theaters, you have a second chance. Go. Go now. I liked it better than Princess Mononoke, even. (The English dub is certainly better than Mononoke's was.) It's probably on par with My Neighbor Totoro as to sheer imaginative enjoyment.

In blog news, My Secret Agent Lawyer Man has gotten a new URL and gone to Code Orange. I'm just happy I can finally load the page now. Also check out Baseball Musings, by a former ESPN researcher. He apparently doesn't have comments, or else I would have written in on his very good discussion of the Braves' broadcasting issues. Still looking for an American League alternative until my beloved Braves are released from the grasp of AOL Time Suckmyleftone. The case for the Red Sox is, admittedly, fairly compelling, but I'll have to give it some thought -- one can't make these commitments lightly.

I'd go for the Orioles, for some sort of strange pro-Baltimore sentiment I've had for a while, but I don't really like their style, and I don't like the idea of tossing their owner a bone, so . . .

(Not that I'm saying it's strange to be pro-Baltimore, mind you. It's just strange when you've never spent more than five minutes in Baltimore that wasn't on the Hopkins campus.)

And finally, the first part of The Ghosts of Albion, the new online-only, Cosgrove-Hall-animated, early-Victorian-set spooky drama by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden, is now up and running. And not half-bad, though it might work better as a radio play than as Flash animation. Check it out, and if you liked it, stop by Golden's site and tell him so; he's a pretty cool, down-to-earth guy, from what I can tell.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:01 |


31.3.03  

 

Noooooooo!

I was feeling ambivalent enough about America Online's Team as it was, what with Tom Glavine in a new uniform this spring and so on. If people can boycott teams because they dislike the team name, the way stadia are financed, the trading of a particularly well-liked player, or the rise in ticket prices, then I can boycott the Braves as a protest against what might go down as the dumbest takeover in American corporate history. (Not to mention those awful CDs.) Now they're breaking up the Skip Caray-Joe Simpson and Don Sutton-Pete Van Wieren teams that have worked so well for so long.

I'm not actually a big fan of Skip -- when he and Joe Simpson had the radio turn last summer I did a lot of eye-rolling and muttering, "Okay, Skip, whatever you say" -- but the two teams balanced each other. Caray had the firm presence; Simpson is a little more muted and bland. Van Wieren has a very distinctive voice; Sutton is more genial. So AOL Time Biteme, in all its wisdom, has put the two lesser-known, less distinctive guys on TV and consigned the two more distinctive voices to radio.

The plan is to change the TBS games to "MLB on TBS" and focus more on the opposing team, less exclusively on the Braves. This despite the fact that every single game TBS will show features the Braves. Despite the fact that TBS has been showing Braves games for three decades. Despite the fact that TBS has been so closely connected with the Braves that in the late 1970s it was joked that the Braves were the only team to lose 200 games in a season, since TBS showed every game twice.

This is the sort of foresight and audience awareness that has consistently characterized AOL Time Bitchslap's decisions. The results speak for themselves. I just hope this is true and not rumor.

In the meantime, what am I going to do? To not root for the Braves . . . sacrilege. Maybe I can adopt an American league team this season. Let's see . . . not the Yankees, not the Angels, not the Orioles . . . anyone got any suggestions?



  posted by Jessica @ 11:58 |


27.3.03  

 

Confession: for years -- I'm not sure how long -- I've thought Howie Long was hot. Yes, that Howie Long, former Raider, Radio Shack commercial star, and and FOX pregame show aider and abetter. Something about the glasses, I think. I know it's a complete fallacy to think that glasses = more going on behind the eyes, but it's not exactly a fallacy I want to see fall away, if you know what I'm saying, and I think you do.

(I wear glasses very poorly, for what it's worth. One ear is slightly higher than the other, so my glasses, no matter what, always end up crooked.)

At any rate -- finding out that he recorded an introductory video on behalf of the Air Force Aid Society did nothing to change my mind.

I'm as guilty as anyone else of wanting to believe the best of my chosen celebrities. It may well be that Howie Long is a complete prick. If that's true -- don't tell me. I like my little fantasy world, in which Howie Long would not only be ideal company at a barebecue, to the point that somewhere around the second beer it would be okay to start saying, "Okay -- Radio Shack? Really, now." And Howie Long would just laugh.



  posted by Jessica @ 18:17 |


26.3.03  

 

Can someone more computer-familiar than myself explain this one?

I was at Lt Smash's new mirror site, and clicked on the comments for this entry about a fallen Navy man. Up comes a Java error: "Unterminated string constant. Do you wish to debug?" For some reason I get Java (or Javascript? I've gotten the two confused before) errors all the time -- they're the reason I can read the Pejpage in Netscape but not in IE -- so I clicked on "No" like I always do.

But instead of going to the comments, I got another message:
No war!
and then:
No WAR!
and finally:
You are going to die!!
and then it kicks me out without getting to read the comments.

I've checked on several other entries -- I can read the comments, no problem. It seems to be only that one entry.

Brooke? Anyone?

If it is a hacker -- that's the only explanation I can come up with -- that's a hell of a thing to do to a salute to a dead soldier, of all places.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:58 |



 

Pamie has turned her index page into a list of reported casualties on both sides. (If you go to her page via Damn Hell Ass Kings you won't see it.) She's gotten some evil troll mail since she made the change, so go email her and tell her she's doing a great and necessary job.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:57 |



 

Wooo!

I get to meet Greg today! Wooo!

And Brooke got profiled by the L. A. Times! Wooo!

And I'm almost -- as in, a few paragraphs, maybe a page or two, away from -- the scene at the Krispy Kreme, and once that gets done there will only be one big section left for the third draft. ('Cause, you know, how could I write a novel set in Atlanta and not have a scene at the Krispy Kreme? Admittedly, it's not particularly subtle, but has the charm of Krispy Kremes ever been in the subtlety?)

(By this logic I also need a scene at the Clairmont Lounge. Maybe in the sequel.)

(My boyfriend and I took a visiting friend of his to the Clairmont last fall. The poor boy, who was expecting something along the lines of the Gold Club or the Cheetah, refused to look up from his drink the entire time -- not even when Kathleen hectored him into giving money, not even when the stoned bikers started a fight. I tried to tip generously to make up for it, and Blondie called me "sweetie," which was the highlight of my night.)

(If Pejman ever comes to visit, I will totally take him to the Clairmont. Without my boyfriend.)

(Parentheses. Wooo!)



  posted by Jessica @ 10:11 |


25.3.03  

 

"Dude," Alastair just said to me (over IM), "opendemocracy.net so rad."

Which was sweet. He's been peace-protesting, he said. I spent eight hours last night playing board games, blithely ignoring everything outside: no basketball scores, no Oscars, no war, nothing except the company of friends and a whole bunch of little wooden and plastic tokens. (And for my blinkers played my worst game of Puerto Rico to date.)

Alastair referred me to the Ariel Dorfman poem, "Pablo Picasso Has Words for Colin Powell from the Other Side of Death."

I want to say a hundred thousand things about responsibility and war and whether being a voluntary citizen of the most powerful nation in the world is going to send me straight to hell -- and I write them and they never come out right.

Friends are good things.

Meet Grace, by the way. (Via Beta Reader Larry). She's an Atlanta resident who throws poetry parties and leaves graffiti messages, and she sounds like a really interesting, sweet person.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:08 |


24.3.03  

 

So, wait. The new Gwyneth Paltrow movie View from the Top is not actually set in the late 1960s? I had just assumed it was, from the trails on TV -- the flight attendants' outfits, the eyeshadow, et cetera. I figured Mike Myers's character was possibly a satire on early Herb Kelleher. But apparently it's set in the present day, and thus makes no sense.

Darn. I was actually looking forward to seeing it -- if only because I kind of miss Marc Blucas. Not Riley, mind you, just the actor who played him.



  posted by Jessica @ 16:49 |


21.3.03  

 

Paul is against the war. As is Tony Pierce (whose photo essay is really, really funny). So are Professor Jeff Cooper (I think) and Jason Rylander. So is Ampersand, so is Jim, so is Rabbit (at least, judging by her Salon pieces), the guy behind Long Story Short Pier, Greg Greene, and Jackie Collins (who's not a blogger, but will turn into one if she keeps up this posting schedule).

My point is that the idea of the blogosphere being pro-war is pretty much an outdated meme. The guys who shot to prominence in late 2001 and early 2002 may still be pro-war, but they're not representative of the whole. They're not even representative anymore of my little corner of the blogosphere, and considering I entered it under Brooke's auspices, that's saying something.



  posted by Jessica @ 15:59 |



 

Maybe I'm being naïve, or maybe it's because I was twelve when Gulf War I happened and don't remember the grand international coalition we had back then, but I'm not particularly inclined to view Bush's diplomatic failures in the run-up to the war as particularly long-lasting or permanent. It'll leave marks, yes, and it may have sealed Tony Blair's doom (though it should be noted that he still has the support of a majority of Britons polled). I don't even think US-French relations are permanently damaged. To a large part, I think, it'll depend on not Chirac but Nicolas Sarkozy. If his anti-crime tactics work and he gets a reputation as the (pre-September 11th) Rudy Giuliani of France, the French may stick it out with Chirac and his positioning. If crime, and stories about dangerous Beurs running wild around La Défence, grow, then the French attitude towards Chirac may sour a bit. As much as this has been playing out internationally, really it all comes back to the home front -- and I hope Bush and his advisors are smart enough to realize that.

I read some speculation earlier today that Bush had struck a bargain with South Korea: Roh Moo-hyun supports the war on Iraq (and in his country, that's not a particularly popular move, as best I understand) and Bush seeks a "diplomatic" solution to North Korea. That doesn't surprise me at all.

Wow, this attempt to not talk about the war is really working out. You want to know how much work I've gotten done in the last few days? At least Scott is feeling better, I think.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:13 |



 

Instapundit and I are apparently living in two different countries. He says the antiwar movement is dying out, and points to a small rally he saw. In Knoxville, Tennessee. Hotbed of liberal activism, that Knoxville, Tennessee. Meanwhile, that Boston protest I mentioned yesterday? Thousands.

If anything, the number of antiwar voices I've been hearing in the last week have only increased. Almost no one with whom I talk (or "talk") online supports this war. I could count on one hand the number of college friends who might support the war, possibly, maybe. With many casual acquaintances I'm afraid to even find out their position, for fear they'll declare, passionately and strongly, that this war is a grievous wrong and a mistake and they are sorry it's happening, and then I'll be, "Well . . . okay! How's the wife and kids?"

My cool ex-professor Tim Burke is having trouble sleeping because of the war. (Via Greg Greene. Now there's a meeting of the minds! And I'd like to take credit for it.) I don't blame him. Justin Raimondo (and for those of you who flinch merely at reading his name, hang in there) proposes a series of Lincoln-Douglas debates, make the pro-war people explain themselves. Those of y'all who've been reading know what a crappy job I've done explaining my own position (namely, that leaving Saddam Hussein in power is more dangerous and nastier, in the long run, than taking him out).

I'm here, safe at home, watching basketball, being a capitalist American. I wouldn't be able to handle being out there, and I know it. I wouldn't even be able to handle my boyfriend being out there, and he knows it.

I still think, in the long run, what with all the bungling and sniping and bitching and Kyoto-treaty-rejecting and PATRIOT-Act-abusing and other ham-handedness on the part of the Bush administration -- I still think the world will turn out for the better for America having made this move. I'm fairly sure I'm in the minority among people I know. And it's an easy thing for me to say, safe at home. I hope everyone concerned, with the exception of Saddam Hussein, is also safe at home very soon.

Two blogs from the front: The Primary Main Objective . . . , by Kevin, and that of Lt Smash.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:12 |



 

I've already lost one reader over the last post. But really -- what more is there to say? Is there anyone happy that war has started? Relieved, maybe, that we finally got to this point after all the buildup, but happy? I'm just feeling grim and queasy, mostly.

Said reader is attending an antiwar rally today at 5 p.m. at the JFK Federal Building, if any of my other Boston-based readers care to join her.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:52 |


20.3.03  

 

A New York Times article about libertarian organizations and the Lawrence case. (Via Instapundit.) Go, sodomy, go!

Y'all don't mind if I just ignore the war, right? Let me say that I hope that Saddam gets toppled with as few shots and bombs as possible, and two months from now the news from Iraq is along the lines of "Shipment of X-Ray Machines, Other Equipment Signed For at Baghdad Hospital." And that's all I have to say, really.

Such is my luxury.

Listening to Kylie Minogue. On the way back from London I watched a documentary about Kylie -- twice. Partly because there was nothing. else. on. after watching Lilo and Stitch, and partly because -- well, Kylie. Do I really need to explain this? Kylie.

(Happily Married Vodkaman once called upon female bloggers to gush about their girlcrushes. Somehow since he missed the first twenty-six thousand times I mentioned the Amber-love, I don't think he'll notice . . . well, Kylie. Sigh. You try getting the attention of a happily married man.)

For what it's worth: Lilo and Stitch is far and away the best film Disney's done since Beauty and the Beast. Though this is the opinion of someone who has gone to great lengths to avoid seeing The Lion King.

Scattered thoughts continue: it seems that Scott is feeling a little -- well, churlish, would be the best word. What's with the knocking on Rabbit and using obscenities for Chrissie Hynde? Look, Scott -- you get to go to a rockin' film festival, you seem to be doing reasonably well in your chosen profession, you're getting married soon. Roll with it. Listen to Kylie. Kylie wants you to be happy.

Book stalled again. I think I may go to my favorite Starbucks tonight and try and start it up. Yeah, I know, Starbucks -- but Atlanta is not a haven for independent coffeeshops. If anyone wants to suggest a friendly independent coffeeshop or teahouse with a decent amount of parking, feel free.

And for those who wonder if this is a personal blog, an Asian film blog, a book blog: well, it ought to be a book blog. The problem is that I literally have spent an hour on the book in the last three weeks (two of which I was traveling). If I only blogged when I wrote, y'all would never hear from me.

Come to think it, that's not a bad motivating tactic.

So, cryptically: Pete's suicidal (maybe), Chloë's not in touch with her feelings (heh), Cecelia's the cutest rat in unpublished modern fiction, and that email I owe Pej is going to have to wait, since Kylie's telling me to get moving.



  posted by Jessica @ 18:42 |


19.3.03  

 

Hey, Emily! Over here!

A nice guy named Mike is maintaining a detailed (and spoilerrific) fan site for Battle Royale 2, written and directed by Fukasaku Kenta, the son of the late Fukasaku Kinji. The best news on the site is that Shugo Oshinari, best known as the lovable nerd-turned-bully Hoshino in All About Lily Chou-Chou, is in it. (Well, not lovable, maybe, but certainly memorable: I couldn't pick the leading kid out of a police lineup, but Hoshino -- and the actor who played him -- has stuck with me, and it's been seven months now since I saw All About Lily Chou-Chou.)

Sonny Chiba -- Sonny Chiba! -- is also listed as a cast member. Many of the most memorable actors and actresses of the original aren't in it, unsurprisingly -- no Ando Masanobu this time around -- but it looks quite promising.



  posted by Jessica @ 09:44 |



 

Supposed to be working. Clearly, not.

I just found out I was completely off in what I thought were the lyrics to my favorite Elvis Costello song. He's singing "the mums and dads" and I thought it was "the merchandise."

I don't know why "Clubland" is my favorite Elvis Costello song. In the week or so after I found out my grandfather had the cancer that eventually killed him I would drive to work, play "Clubland," and cry. I'm not sure why "Clubland" in that case, either.

A, I'm sorry I missed your birthday.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:33 |


18.3.03  

 

My site stats turned up a reference from this Swiss blog.

I'm not quite sure how, frankly. There doesn't seem to be any links from the blog. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any incentive to leave that blog. In fact, I suspect that once many of my male readers (and perhaps some of my female readers) click that link, they may never find their way back.

But hey -- enjoy the Swiss cheesecake.



  posted by Jessica @ 15:14 |


17.3.03  

 

I almost forgot:

Globalization, n. A recent phenomenon, best demonstrated by a college student from Cairo hitting on a nice Jewish American girl (of Hungarian and Latvian origins) at a bus stop at five in the morning. In London.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:19 |



 

Well, one criticism that came out of the poll was that I don't post enough. Hi, Megan! (I know several Megans, so apologies if I ought to be saying more than just, "Hi, Megan!") I should note that in the past posting more often has not produced a viable uptick in my hit count. And, y'know, Anna Beth has updated twice in 2003 and people still love her like she's the cutest, funniest, Aveda-est journal writer they ever did see. Of course, she probably is the cutest, funniest, Aveda-est . . . darn.

So, updating. Back in the States. As of yet I do not have the Killer Flying Flu. And apparently I slept with AirTran on the first date, because now AirTran is taking my love for granted and suspending its fabulous buy-three-coach-roundtrips-get-one-coach-roundtrip-free Amex deal and going with this crappy points system on their own Visa. Note to AirTran: this is not the way to keep me from running into the arms of JetBlue.

My current obsession is the song "Everything Needs Love," by Mondo Grosso featuring BoA -- the latter being neither the film that brought Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan together nor a type of snake, but a Korean pop star. (Warning: that first link isn't likely to stay stable.) There's something about J-pop, or Asian pop in general, that just gets into your brain and sets itself to "repeat". I swear, some group of scientists at Waseda University got together, isolated that little part of the brain, named it the Dance Dance Revolution cortex, and got busy calling Coco Lee and BoA and whoever's behind the theme song for Revolutionary Girl Utena and charting the path to world domination via slightly accented English and house beats. I suspect that if Naoki Maeda (the guy behind many of the Dance Dance Revolution songs) and Shinichi Osawa (the man behind Mondo Grosso) got together with Kylie Minogue, within weeks they would command six billion helpless, pop-addled, dancing zombies.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:16 |



 

I'll look like I'll hit about 10,000 page views in a few days. Not visits. Views. Over six months.

One could reasonably conclude that this blog is not accomplishing its supposed objective, which was to be popular, and make me more popular, and thus make my eventually published (in theory) book more popular. I supsect part of it is the no-last-name policy, part of it was that there already quite a few established Hot Bloggin' Babes by the time I started last May, and part of it is . . . hmm. I'm not sure. Too few pictures of Sexy Khans? The war waffling? A breach of shoutout etiquette?

Let's try a poll:

This blog is not terribly popular because:
(a) Dude, there are only so many blogs in a given day.
(b) I'm afraid Pejman will rip my eyes out of my head if I flirt with you.
(c) Look, bitch, take a position on the war and stick with it. Christ. I haven't seen so much equivocating since ninth grade Lincoln-Douglas practice.
(d) Is it a book blog? A personal blog? An Asian film blog? I'm confused!
(e) Not enough sexy pictures of Asian actors and actresses.
(f) Not enough sexy pictures, period.
(g) Worrying about getting fired is so 2002; a real blogger would post her last name.
(h) You are the best-kept secret in the blogosphere, and we hoard you to ourselves like a gold vein in 1849 California.
(i) I gave you a permalink, you ingrate! And you didn't link me back!
(j) Everyone's busy with the prewar nookie.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:02 |


14.3.03  

 

Matthew Stinson is harsher to the Beastie Boys than I was. He doesn't bring up the question of violent movements in Tibet, though.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:26 |


13.3.03  

 

I'm far too jealous. Ian Michael Hamet, the man behind Banana Oil, has seen Space Travelers. I haven't yet, because of my pesky Playstation 2 refusing to play R3 DVDs. (Except for Sonatine, apparently R0 masquerading as R3.) But check out Banana Oil; it looks to be an interesting, thoughtful blog.

Meanwhile, another benefit of UK TV: turn it on and there's Rani Mukharjee onscreen, looking decidedly nonplussed at the idea of having an affair with Vivek Oberoi. (She's not, she said, fairly convincingly. I'm with her: I don't get the Vivek thing yet either. It's exhausting enough keeping up with the Sexy Khans.) All the more reason to block out three hours for Nayak once I get home.

Sonatine, for what it's worth, was one of those movies where my reaction was, "What? . . . Okay, what's going on? . . . Why'd she do that? . . . The who in the what, now? . . . I need to see it again." It's not that incomprehensible; it's laid out relatively clearly on screen what's going on. It's just disorienting, which I think may have been deliberate on Takeshi Kitano's part. The pace of the film will be slow, slow, slow and then suddenly the action kicks in, then back (sometimes immediately) to slow, slow, slow. It reminded me of Fukasaku Kinji's* Graveyard of Honor, in that both movies start by showing what an amoral sadist the hero can be, then slowly set up the viewer's sympathy. It also requires the audience to fill in the blanks as how the characters feel about each other, which is more easily done with the quieter Sonatine than the jerky Graveyard of Honor (which I nearly walked out of).

Some movies grow in stature after I've seen them, some shrink. I'd put Sonatine alongside Mar's Villa and maybe Pistol Opera in the former category, with Storyteller, Gosford Park and The Isle in the latter.

* = A while ago I said that Sonatine was the movie Takeshi Kitano took over directing duties for after Fukasaku Kinji left. I was wrong: that was the earlier Violent Cop.



  posted by Jessica @ 06:03 |



 

The Beastie Boys have released, free online, a new anti-war song. The chorus goes:

In a world gone mad it's hard to think right
So much violence hate and spite
Murder going on all day and night
Due time we fight the non-violent fight

My question is: what do they think of the violent element in the Free Tibet forces?

No, I'm not being sarcastic. The Beastie Boys have been at the forefront of the non-violent fight to free Tibet for over a decade now -- heck, Adam Yauch met his wife through Students for a Free Tibet -- and it has gotten them and the rest of the free-Tibet movement very little, as best I can tell: the occasional corporate pullout, but China's still there, still repressive, still flooding the region with ethnic Chinese so that they can legitimately claim a "majority" of the people want to be part of China.

So at this point you couldn't blame the free-Tibet movement, and the Beastie Boys, for feeling a little frustrated. But have they -- by which I mean the Beastie Boys, not the entire free-Tibet movement or the Tibetans themselves -- completely rejected violence as a solution? If so, on what grounds? Do the Beastie Boys have any concerns that supporting the anti-war movement will strengthen China, who seems to be in the French camp and who has sold weapons to Iran and Pakistan (and possibly Iraq as well) in the recent past?

Because I cannot believe that Adam Yauch wouldn't have sat down and figured out how his free-Tibet views square with his anti-war-on-Iraq views. And I like the Beastie Boys. So I want to know.



  posted by Jessica @ 07:01 |


12.3.03  

 

Now this I was not expecting:

Nader
Green - You believe that small economic units
should control the goods, and that the
government should be permissive of
"victimless crimes," respectful of
civil liberties and very strict towards big
business. You also believe in either a
socialist tax structure or more power to local
communities. You think that environmental
policies should be written into law. Your
historical role model is Ralph Nader.



Which political stereotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I really did think I was going to get libertarian on that one.

(Found on &'s blog. Thanks for the link, &!)




  posted by Jessica @ 06:11 |



 

In London, for work -- got to see Tony Blair take on a group of anti-war British women on ITV last night. I did my fair bit of arguing with the screen -- more with the women than with Blair himself, though I thought he didn't do as good a job of presenting his case as he could have. He kept saying over and over, "I know I'm not going to convince you, but . . . " He seemed frustrated. I kept thinking there was no way in hell Bush would subject himself to such an ordeal on prime time.

The women varied in their questions. There was an Iraqi exile who made one of the best arguments, that Saddam would rather bomb his own people than lose power; there was a woman who had lost her son at the World Trade Center, who was melodramatic to the point that I wished Blair had asked her why her grief had any more claim on him than a woman who might have lost her son to a car wreck or cancer; there was a young possibly-ex-Labour-Party-volunteer -- that was my guess, but she seemed more angry that Blair had led Labour into this situation than anything else; there was a woman who volunteered the information that her husband is in Iraq as a human shield, and at one point was reduced to yelling, "They're poor! They can't have any bombs, they're too poor!" They were ruder to Blair than he was to them -- another reason Bush would never do such a program; he'd be snapping back nastily within three minutes.

At the end the presenter said, "But if you don't get that second resolution, you're finished, aren't you?" and Blair smiled the most brittle smile I've yet seen on a politician's face. He's probably finished regardless; even if he were to get the second resolution and the war were to go smoothly, I can't see the Labour faithful forgiving him for taking them down this path. He probably knows he's finished, which makes these public forays out into hostile crowds all the more impressive.

I don't know how much good it does him, though. All he got for his troubles in the show last night was slow handclapping. The mood here in London seems resolutely anti-war. The boy last week bought a book of Spider Robinson stories, originally published in the mid-1970s; in one of them the narrator (Robinson's stand-in) wonders out loud how a supposedly democratic country could be dragged into a devastating war the public didn't want (Vietnam, in this case). The answer lies with a race of aliens who cannot kill themselves but need to eat -- so instead they convince, through persuasion and the granting of technology, the humans to kill themselves en masse.

I liked every story in the book but that one. It struck me as a cheap way out: the aliens made us do it! But I was reminded of it last night. "There is no right and wrong in this situation," Tony Blair pleaded, and the women stared at him as if he was the alien.



  posted by Jessica @ 07:30 |


11.3.03  

 

Y'know, I don't think Neal Pollack was trying to satirize Brooke when he wrote this.

But reading one right after the other is really funny.

Hell, Neal Pollack in general is really funny. He is apparently trying to pick a wife. He supports fanfic, distrusts Jonathan Safran Foer, and thinks Bookslut is nifty, which gives us three things in common. Many happy marriages have thrived on less. Pick me, Neal! Pick me! I can say, "AirTran is punk!" and you can say, "Fuck no, bitch!" and then the passionate anger will give way to equally passionate sex. Plus, when your friends come over, you can point to me scrubbing the floor and say that I got an email from Paul Berman once.

But if AirTran becomes punk then it will be hip, and then it will be over. How about: Southwest: formerly punk. JetBlue: bourgeois punk. AirTran: just cheap.

Oh, Neal, I would sing "Pardesi, Pardesi" to you, but BollyWHAT? is down.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:37 |


6.3.03  

 

Yay! Apparently aware of my hopes to visit Pejman and my father-in-law, my favorite cheap-ass airline, AirTran, will start flying between Atlanta and Los Angeles in June. They're also going to Vegas, so we can fly AirTran to the boyfriend's best friend's wedding in October. Go, AirTran!

I'm completely serious. If AirTran hadn't offered flights between New York and Atlanta for $180 a pop I don't know how I'd still be in a relationship now. The planes and the gate agents are nicer than they were three years ago. They have the easiest frequent-flyer program I know of (buy three roundtrips on an American Express card, get the next roundtrip free). They allow you to buy one-way and to stand by for an earlier flight if you get to the airport early enough, neither of which is easy on Delta. Or as Michael Palin might have put it:

AirTran, AirTran, AirTran,
The only cheap airline for me,
I can't stand fucking Delta,
So hello Concourse C!



  posted by Jessica @ 11:59 |


5.3.03  

 

Now, this is interesting: a new book titled Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists -- written by two finance professors at the University of Chicago. I'll have to keep my eyes open for it.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:57 |


4.3.03  

 

A brief look at the New York Times today:

  • Is Art Spiegelman's praising Jules Feiffer as having "reinvented comics" a subtle swipe at Scott McCloud? I'll wait to see what Franklin Harris, who holds McCloud in much lower esteem than I do, has to say.

  • What do you do when you want to write on t.A.T.u. and can't get access to the girls themselves? You write this, including what has to be one of the dumbest comparisons in history: Bob Guccione, Jr., saying the t.A.T.u. controversy is "like getting worked up over kabuki." Yes, kabuki. Somewhere, Donald Keene is planning to squash Bob Guccione, Jr., like a bug.

  • Jim Harrick, UGA's basketball coach, is under investigation. Approximately three people are surprised, and one of them is the new guy in UGA's public relations office.

    Actually, now that I think of it, in the very long run, Donald Keene probably squashes Bob Guccione, Jr., like a bug anyway.



      posted by Jessica @ 16:07 |



  •  

    Finally have gotten around to reading, or at least reading part of, No Logo, after months of being curious. (It was for work. It's a long story.) It's been very interesting -- and more than a little frustrating.

    There's a sequence late in the book where Naomi Klein is discussing Nike. It comes after chapters and chapters on sweatshop labor and brand saturation, so the case against Nike and Phil Knight is fairly well established at this point. So, Klein writes, after years of pressure, Nike raises wages. But activists aren't satisfied. So it implements a corporate code of ethics. But the activists (and Klein) think corporate codes are mostly self-serving bullshit. So Nike raises wages again. And again the activists come out with long lists of what else Nike is doing wrong.

    This is not to say that Nike is blameless, or that Klein is shortsighted -- to her credit, a few pages later she brings up the possibility that the intense scrutiny of Nike has allowed Reebok and Adidas to act worse, with fewer consequences. But the way it read, I could all too easily imagine Phil Knight throwing up his hands and saying, "No matter what I do, I'm the bad guy. So fine. I'll be the bad guy. Less to worry about."

    Klein isn't simply a critic of corporations -- she's "anti-corporate," which is another thing altogether. As her 2002 afterword to No Logo and this excerpt from her website make clear, she doesn't even really have much faith in the free market:

      For example, if you own a manufacturing company in a market system that puts you in competition with other manufacturers, one way you maximize profit is by trying to produce things at lower cost than other companies. If that means reducing the wages of your employees-so be it. And if people in one country won't work for less than you're paying them, you can move the factory to a locale where farmers displaced from their land by the construction of trade corridors or other industrial investment plans will work for slave-wages . . .

      But capitalism, and the colonialism and imperialism that found it, can only be challenged if we understand ourselves as people and as political agents struggling against a web of interconnected systems of domination—not merely as consumers trying to make the least evil choice.

    To her example I would rebut that in many industries, lowering wages is a bad, bad idea, even in non-unionized firms. You run the risk of the worker leaving, which means spending money on hiring the new worker, training, and so on. Granted, there are many industries for which this doesn't hold true and high turnover is built into the system, but it's a stupid manager who thinks he/she can lower wages in a vacuum.

    But Klein probably wouldn't be satisfied with my rebuttal, just as she isn't satisfied with Nike's corporate codes or Starbucks's free-trade offerings or Shell's efforts to clean up its act in Nigeria. The very existence of such large corporations seems to offend her. And that's what frustrates me the most -- her critiques are often good and valid, not to mention necessary, but she's like the doctor who says to the patient, "I hope you die. Oh, and you should take this medicine." Why should the patient listen? What incentive does Nike, Starbucks, or Shell have to reform their business practices, if such reform only shows the power of their implacable opponents?

    What frustrates me is the seeming lack of critics who can simultaneously acknowledge the value in Klein's argument and the value of free markets. There are places in business today where people are discussing how to deal with such questions, but they're relatively few and far between. Take the Body Shop, for example. The pro-capitalists are content to hold it up as a shining light of social responsibility (Klein, again to her credit, isn't) and the anti-capitalists either swallow that whole ("Look! It says 'fair trade' on the label!") or lump it in with the rest of the Big Mean Evil Corporations. The Body Shop is, to my mind, worse than many of the supposedly less socially-friendly companies, because its hypocrises cast doubt on the whole possibility of socially responsible capitalism at that size. (And it's probably hypocritical on my part to rail against the Body Shop, since I used to shop there before switching to Lush, whose hands are not entirely clean.) There doesn't seem to be a constructive way yet to criticize companies such as the Body Shop, or Coca-Cola, or Nike, while favoring the system that produced said companies. Without that loyal opposition, it seems to me, less will get done.

    I've been trying to think of a way for companies to turn a profit on socially responsible -- if momentarily costly -- actions, such as raising wages well above the mean; Henry Ford was able to do it, but (a) he needed skill, (b) he had first-mover advantage, and (c) he's not the best paragon to hold up. It seems to me branding is one of the few ways it can get done -- creating an image of a socially responsible company, à la Ben and Jerry's or the Body Shop -- but that kind of branding is particularly vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy or "selling out." Then there is the problem of the company's long-term interests versus the manager's short-term interests: the need to turn a profit this quarter versus the need to be around twenty years from now. That, I think, is the real obstacle to corporate social responsibility: the short-term self-interests of its managers and executives, who can make the decisions that lead to worker exploitation, environmental destruction, or similarly damaging circumstances without fear of adverse consequences (or, depending on the company structure, much knowledge of the consequences). But somebody has to be willing to turn the question around and look at the situation from that manager's point of view. Klein isn't.

    She is also, apparently, pro-Chavez, which Francisco of Caracas Chronicles has already noticed. I have to say it's the first time I've ever read something in the Nation arguing that press censorship is actually a good thing.

    I have to say -- I know people (not bloggers) who have responded to Klein and No Logo pretty virulently, and I don't want to attack her like that. I've found that I don't feel particularly comfortable in attack mode, and it doesn't seem to win me more readers, so -- I'll stay wishy-washy. What she's doing is valuable. But I do think that her anti-market, anti-corporate outlook will keep it from being valuable enough.



      posted by Jessica @ 13:04 |


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