Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cloud Atlas

This is a good movie. Some reviews suggest that it's messy and unfocused, and that it hits you over the head with a message that's maybe a little too trite.  I think the reviews got it wrong on both counts. Cloud Atlas isn't any harder to follow than the last Woody Allen movie. As for the message, that we're all connected in one way or another: That's only the surface theme. There's an underlying theme of deception and abuse of those with less power by those with more.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jeff Faux and the Servant Economy

Jeff Faux, an economist who spoke on Book TV last week, wonders why we don't amend the constitution of the United States to deny personhood and citizenship status to any and all corporate entities, and to keep money from being classified as speech. I know it's negative, but if money can be defined as speech, why can't violence? Faux thinks that amending is a good way to stop businessmen from buying politicians and to keep the middle class from becoming a servant class. I signed. Here's the link: Move to Amend.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Years of Red Dust by Qiu Xiaolong

In The New York Times review of this book Jess Row says that the stories are treated "sketchily, as illustrations rather than fully formed narratives." I wonder if he would say the same about the characters. Many are a bit Dickensian, humorous caricatures with nicknames like Old Root, Big Bowl and Bamboo Chopsticks, all caught up in social upheavals on the magnitude survivors of the industrial revolution would surely appreciate.

For this and other reasons Row finds Years of Red Dust interesting more "as a historical text" than as "a work of fiction." But the historical significance is itself compelling. With free market capitalism in full sway on a global scale it's no wonder conservatives and Republicans in the US are impatient to deregulate, end taxes and watch that economy grow.

Which is fine if you don't mind squalor, pollution and war --sure to be the byproducts of unbridled competition. During the Reagan years I worked for a big corporation that tried to convince its employees that cooperation and collaboration were more productive than competition.

It would be nice to be around when that idea comes back in style.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Mutual Friend

Veneeerings, Podsnaps and Podsnappery, the Golden Dustman, the one legged Weg, Headstones, Riderhoods and Lightwoods, the Cherub --the Cherub's wife begging pardon to shut people up, the Cherub's daughter who wants so desperately to marry money, his other daughter: younger, sharp tongued, and her boyfriend George who'd better keep his mouth shut. Eugene Rayburn (there was a Gene Rayburn who was a game show host --was it The Match Game?) --the Golden Dustman's wife seeing ghosts and wanting to adopt a little boy, the scheming Lamelles (I listened to it in my car so I'm not sure of the spelling), Lizzie Hexam,  Jenny Wren the doll's dressmaker --one of the weirdest characters I've met in recent memory, Sloppy overseeing the removal of the mounds, the antisemitic debt buyer and the Jewish employee who fronts for him, taking all his insults without giving up his dignity. The river and the locks, the mills and the ministers, the schools and schoolteachers. The pupil who lives with her teacher and raises her hand whenever she has anything to say. . .

I'm doing this from memory --I know there are Dickens scholars and I've checked out some of the websites, but I don't want to go there now. I want to test my memory. I listened to this novel while driving back and forth to work last year --28 CDs in all, and I loved it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Tho other day I was watching a show called Castle, and there was a plotline about someone identifying an event or a person who could start WWIII, a war America couldn't win, at the end of which we'd surrender.  The linchpin turned out to be the daughter of a Chinese businessman.  I won't go into details, but the story's so plausible it's a little scary.  And it makes me wonder about the kinds of changes set in motion by Facebook and Twitter: spheres of influence that supercede boundaries.