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Showing posts from July 22, 2001
Today's article to get upset about - and what else is the newspaper for? has to be this one: Panel Tones Down Report on Fuel Economy Increases Apparently, in the current Bushsphere, panels have to be supersensitive to corporate need and greed. When the Times leaked the story that the Panel on Energy efficiency in Automobiles might actually recommend measures to bring about better fuel economy in the next 4 to 6 years, the panel was "contacted" by concerned automakers. You know how concerned those automakers can get. And hey presto - the measures now have a different time window - just a little nudge. Just 6 to 10 years. Sounds like what happened in the early nineties with the California Air Resources Board, which battled the big three about emissions and lost - but the auto companies are acutely aware that they can't simply crush an emission standard, since that would not look good. Instead, you move the time frame up - it is sort of like Zeno's paradox of
Ah, since I started the day with a book review, let's go on to the topic of criticism in general, shall we? I went to get my usual dose of media news at Poynter org and was pointed to this article, by a Sean Glennon. Valley Advocate | Arts . Now, Mr. Glennon is not a heavyweight, but his article does reveal a very American response to the word critic. Critics seem to open some obscure anti-intellectual toxin in the American body. The idea that one's whole job is criticizing - with the implication that one can do better, and the evident disdain for really doing so - goes against both the native pragmatism and that boosterism which is a thread running all the way back to colonial times. Mr. Glennon has structured his article on a series of denials - by which I mean denials in the psychoanalytic sense. A denial is embedding an assertion in a grammatical negation - a "not... but." As in, "Not that I am saying you are a liar, but you do have a problem with th
From the "Where does Richard Bernstein come from?" department. Bernstein and Janet Maslin have always puzzled me. Why are they reviewing books for the Times? And why do they chose the books they chose to review for the Times? Bernstein writes as if he had somehow got lost in a wool sweater on some small New England campus in 1958. In today's book review is a pretty typical example: Bernstein discovers - ta da! the police procedural. Let's see, this genre has been around how long? Since the sixties? Here's the quote: Bringing the Real Police to a Police Procedural Procedural � it sounds like something that might happen to you in your dentist's office rather than in your book club, but never mind
Genoa's over. Some of my friends might wonder why I have spent so much time on the jockeying of the Tories in these posts. One reason is because - I wonder if I've said this before? - the remaining left in the Anglo world (the US and the UK) has almost completely died out. Being a leftist in Britain, now, is like being a monarchist in Paris in 1840. It gives you a unique point of view (witness Balzac), but it is a point of view sharpened by the impossibility of the political success of one's views. In the UK, right now, there is only one real ideology - Thatcherism. As Hegel once said, or perhaps didn't, the first time around in history is tragedy, the second time is farce. Tony Blair is the farcical Thatcher - Thatcherism absorbed in a cup of cocoa to make it go down better. But it is still a rabid ideology. Here's what Mr. Blair said about the police in Genoa: 'To criticise the Italian police and the Italian authorities for working to make sure the security
The New Yorker site, which used to be a big joke, is now a really nice place to steal a read - although I still have to go to the library to see the cartoons. Speaking of which, I liked the profile of the zine cartoonist, Clowes, in the current issue: .
Enough and more than enough about Trollope. For at least the time being. Sometimes the NYT makes me despair for the souls of its editors - for instance, the coverage of the G8 conference. Did you notice that the Times was the only major paper in the world to put the number of protestors at 50,000? Even the Italian police estimated 100,000 - Le Monde put the number at 150 - 200 thou. Washington Post settled for the 100. The Times, however, has always been protective of globalization, and the editors must have decided that 100 thousand people, not to mention 200 thou, was unseemly. So they downed the number. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't take off another zero - what the hell, why not have 5,000 people, mostly anarchists, making whoopee in the streets of Columbus' home town. On the other hand - I always read the Times. Today, the article of note is on coal, in the Magazine. How Coal Got Its Glow Back . The article should make us send letters to our congressmen -
Yesterday�s post about Trollope�s The Prime Minister ended just as I was about to get into the first chapter � the marvelous first chapter. Anyone who doubts Trollope�s artistry should read the first chapter of this novel, which has the clean unswerving course and direction of a well aimed pistol shot. He begins the chapter with one of those authorial interventions that fascinate my friend Sarah, the woman I mentioned in yesterday�s post. Her dissertation, in fact, is an attempt to get at these moments in the classic 19th century novel and look at what they really do. The authorial intervention, according to Sarah, who I hope won�t be mad if I borrow one broad feature from her upcoming diss, finds itself most at home in the generalization. At least in Trollope, this is certainly true. He love these authorial asides. It is no use ignoring them, because they are a very real part of the text's structure. But we should ask - how can we talk about them? First, let's recognize th