Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I got the new Hardboiled (5.5) today. They have a lot (more than two full pages and the cover) about the Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts that featured Asian stereotypes and the ensuing boycott. Although I was skeptical at first since the clothing company quickly removed the t-shirts and apologized, but the article does a god job deconstructing the marketing practices of A&F. Go pick it up.
Really cool new hubble telescope photos of the universe here. Due to high traffic, you might want to wait a few days to look at them.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Ralph Nader is speaking on campus today (Friday, 4/26). I probably won't go, but I recommend it for anyone who hasn't seen him speak live before. His speeches meander, but he's still the best example for progressive politics that I can think of.

I went to the Christopher Hitchens lecture today at Boalt. He was introduced as a "public intellectual of an exemplary sort". His speech was pretty brief and straightforward.
Let me paraphrase: Globalization exists economically and to oppose or deny it is to stick your head in the sand. But a global society does not yet exist, and we must strive to create one in the image of the United States. He said that the European Union should evolve in that direction and become a United States of Europe. He noted that some of those who oppose this the most are conservative: Heider, Le Pen, the Greek Orthodox Church. He also argued that Islam has been in an internal "civil war" for some time (at least since 1989) over whether Islamic law should apply to Muslims or everyone. Those who want Islamic law to apply to everyone use attacks against the west to win both their internal Muslim struggles and their more general goal. He used the fatwa against Salman Rushdie as an example. Rushdie was neither Muslim, nor a citizen of the country from which the fatwa was issued (Iran?), but the religious leader who issued the death warrant wanted to make the point that only he had license to define and enforce Islam. Some examples Hitchens gave as to where this "civil war" is going on now : Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan. He cited Algeria and Iran as counter-examples. He recommended Jihad vs. McWorld, which I guess goes into this in more depth.

A note about Le Pen: If France had instant run-off voting, that election would look a lot different.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

A couple people have already emailed me regarding the Budweiser email I posted. I really should have been more clear. I could tell immediately it was a fake story, but I thought it was really funny that someone would write this and send it and people would forward it. Anyway, thanks for looking out.
Some things I've been meaning to put up:
Trivium is a website with potential. Academic articles and essays.

Here's an email I got from Jim Fung of the Campus Greens, re: my remarks on the ASUC (Wed. April 17):
Hi Michael, I've been reading your blog. I disagree with you and Paul Thornton. The ASUC stakes are only small if people let it become so. Peter Camejo was expelled by the university so that the anti-war slate could not take over the ASUC Senate; clearly the university feared the ASUC, then, and the ASUC is still the same ASUC as far as I know ... but with less activist involvement.

and my response:
I agree that the ASUC used to be more important. The ASUC has started a lot of stuff that grew and was then taken over by the university (such as the Cal athletics program). But there is no Vietnam war today or any social movement like the anti-war movement. What gives the ASUC any potential for importance is its money. The ASUC cannot create such a movement, it can only be a tool of that movement. The only activist-based parties are Cal-SERVE and DAAP. These parties get their strength from race-based platforms, which will also prevent them from growing. Most activists think the ASUC is a waste of time. The only way to take over the ASUC for activists would be to convince a large number of them early (like September or October) that this is worth their time and effort, have them follow the ASUC and work inside it, create a new party or join with CalSERVE, and mount a full campaign. Even Chuck McNally couldn't get elected last year (although he came really close), because there was no real campaign among progressives. Even then, its debatable whether you would gain more than a couple extra seats.

For those who think the war in Afghanistan wasn't enough, here's a funny/sad email somebody forwarded to my girlfriend:
> > > >>" Budweiser incident (not a joke)! How Budweiser handled those who
> > > >>laughed at those who died on the 11th of September, 2001...
> >
> >
> > > >>Thought you might like to know what happened in a little town north
> > > >>Bakersfield, California. After you finish reading this, please
> > > >>this story on to others so that our nation and people around the
> > > >>will
> > > >>know about those who laughed when they found out about the tragic
> > > >>events in
> > > >>New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon.
> > > >>On September 11th, a Budweiser employee was making a delivery to a
> > > >>convenience store in a California town named McFarland. He knew of
> > > >>tragedy that had occurred in New York when he entered the business
> > > >>find the two Arabs, who owned the business, whooping and hollering
> > > >>show
> > > >>their approval and support of this treacherous attack. The Budweiser

> > > >>employee
> > > >>went to his truck, called his boss and told him of the very
> > > >>event! He didn't feel he could be in that store with those horrible
> > > >>people.
> > > >>His boss asked him, "Do you think you could go i n there long enough
> > > >>pull
> > > >>every Budweiser product and item our beverage company sells there?
> > > >>We'll never deliver to them again."
> > > >>The employee walked in, proceeded to pull every single product his
> > > >>beverage company provided and left with an incredible grin on his
> > > >>He told
> > > >>them never to bother to call for a delivery again. Budweiser happens

> > > >>be
> > > >>the beer of choice for that community. Just letting you know how
> > > >>County handled this situation!!
> > > >>And now the rest of the story: It seems that the Bud driver and the
> > > >>Pepsi man are neighbors. Bud called Pepsi and told him. Pepsi called

> > > >>his boss
> > > >>who told him to pull all Pepsi products as well!! That would include

> > > >>Frito Lay, etc. Furthermore, word spread and all vendors followed
> > > >>At last report, the store was closed indefinitely. Good old American

> > > >>Passive-Aggressive Ass Whooping'! Pass this along. America needs to
> > > >>know that we're all working together.
> > >
> >
> >

And I got tickets to Homebody/Kabul for next Tuesday. I'll put up a minireview after I see it, but in the meantime you can listen to playwrite Tony Kushner on Forum.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

The new issue of Satellite is online. Check it out. [correction (4/22): Rahul Kamath did the redesign].

Friday, April 19, 2002

Berkeley businesses keep coming and going. Wall Berlin and Fabuloso closed. Cest Cafe is slowly turning into Subway. Now they're opening a new Top Dog on Center next to the Bongo Burger. That makes four including the Doggie High on Milvia, which seems to have very limited hours. Also, the Fine Arts Cinema is going to close soon, making three less theaters in Berkeley. By the way, does anyone know what the big building at Durant and Oxford is going to become? email me.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

I liked the editorial by Paul Thornton in today's Daily Cal. He says that the mediocrity and partisanship of the ASUC result because the stakes are so small, and the people involved are most interested in their future careers. It said a lot of the things I wanted to say in my editorial, but probably better. But I don't like the part about selfishness: "Even what seem like the most selfless acts, such as giving a homeless person some money, are based on selfishness. Aren't you trying to make yourself feel better and appease feelings of guilt when undertaking such an act? Ultimately, all actions come down to how they serve oneself." I don't like this argument because it is impossible to argue against. Its logic is circular: It has the built-in assumption that all acts are motivated by selfishness. If I give a homeless person money I'm trying to make them feel better. Maybe I also feel better, but that doesn't mean selfishness is necessarily the motivation, unless you already believe the assumption that I am (everyone is) selfish.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

I’ve been at home, recovering from surgery.
Even a minor surgery like mine makes your life flash before your eyes. I didn’t see the life I’ve already lived, but a future old age when my health deteriorates. I think of my grandparents or Iris Murdoch in Iris (I’m terrified of Alzheimer’s). I’m hobbling around the house like a sick septuagenarian. I suppose at 22 it’s called self-pity. But if we’re lucky we grow old, and that’s a little bit depressing.
The surgery itself was painless—I was put under general anesthesia. It was different from the movies: the operating room didn’t fade away. It was more like sleep usually is: you’re awake and then you aren’t, except since there weren’t any dreams I was awake and then next thing I woke up in the recovery room.
In bed I’m reading The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood. My dad recommended it. The narrator is an old woman, and the book deals with old age and the nostalgia that comes with it. Interspersed is a novel written by the narrator’s sister that also includes another novel within it. I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet, but so far it’s very well written. Atwood has a way of creating subtle metaphors, and then bringing them into focus with a pithy sentence at the end of the paragraph.
My grandfather always nags me to write down my experiences, both, I think, to practice writing, and to have something to look back on when I’m old. As Lorraine Adams noted recently in the Washington Monthly, this kind of nobody memoir has become one of the most popular genres. (link via ALD). Last week my literature professor brought up the same desire; it turns out memory and nostalgia are two of the main themes in the work of Russia’s most popular young writer, Tatyana Tolstaya. My professor said she wished she had written down names on all her photographs. But every time I start a journal, I quit. My best bet is to combine my journalism, saved emails, and something like this blog.
Okay, it's back to school and work today.

Saturday, April 13, 2002

As Salon puts it, Al Gore is "baaaaack". But is that back as in Poltergeist or those advertisements for the new Cinderella movie? I didn't read the article since I'm not a member. There's a story in the NY Times here. I, for one, hope he doesn't run, unless that means Lieberman gets to be the nominee. But I'm not a democrat, so I guess my vote doesn't count.

Friday, April 12, 2002

Some people liked the fruit, but I think it was getting old quick.

There goes the pulitzer: the front page correction to yesterday’s story about the “god bless you” man reminds us that we shouldn’t automatically believe what we read online, or in the Daily Cal.

More thoughts about the new Hardboiled: CalStuff has a pretty good analysis of the issue. Hardboiled seems to have lost the sense of humor it had a couple years ago, when I started reading it. Even the Beau Sia interview mostly talks about his race. And just for the record, Satellite had a similar article about the internment of Japanese-Peruvians a year ago.

I've been reading the best-of issue of Granta, "21". The magazine was born the same year I was. One of the stories is "The Men's Club," which is actually the first chapter of a novel of the same name by Leonard Michaels. It's a fabulous, if somewhat distasteful look at men the way they might really be. It takes place in Berkeley, all in the course of one night at the inagural meeting of a men's club. I wonder if it's ever been produced as a play. It would work, because it's mostly dialogue.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Now that I know more people read this, I'll try to update it. Problem is, blogger keeps erasing everything when I try to post. By the way, I'm impressed with Angry Clam's scoop of the Daily Cal.
The new Satellite issue is out. The theme is simulation. I'm going to distribute it right now. I also put issues in Wheeler (near English dept.), Heller, and Moffitt (near computer lab). Problem is, most of the issues are still in Max's car.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Satellite is coming along well. It looks good. New issue should be out in a few days.

Hardboiled came out today. I noticed it's on better paper. Only 12 pages though, and no full page ad. I like the cover. It's reminicint of Satellite's first cover. I only read the first one and a half articles so far. It seems they're taking the Hindu/Muslim divide of India and Pakistan to America. For some reason I thought there were better relations among South Asians in America. We have a guest coming this weekend who spent some time in Gujarat last year before the violence broke out. I'll ask her what she thinks.

I guess no bowling tonight. Got to make up for the lack of sleep last night.

Oh, and I was looking through the Johan van der Keuken website below, and it turns out that unlike a certain other filmmaker, he really did die sometime last year. It's a shame.

Monday, April 08, 2002

I've been reading several Berkeley blogs since I saw a post on the Satellite message board. I can't sleep so I thought I'd create my own. The ASUC stuff the other blogs are obsessed with entertains me, but I can't get emotionally involved. It just doesn't really matter. I probably won't even vote this year. Of course I'm graduating so why should I? See my column in the upcoming issue of Satellite for more on this topic.

The other popular issue is Israel/Palestine. Seems to me, both sides (in the Middle East, not Berkeley) are totally passive-aggressive. Suicide bombing is the ultimate passive-aggressive act: "look what you're making me do!" And building settlements is another form of passive-aggression: They pretend they are just creating a place to live, but they are really trying to prevent any land for peace deal, and actually hoping to incite violence. It's like running in front of a charging basketball player. Sure, they might call a charge, but you can't say you aren't iniciating the contact. The idea of revoking Arafat's peace prize is interesting to me. It's a compelling idea.

But I'm just as interested in non-political questions. Art, music, film, books. I just read Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I was disapointed. And I just saw Y Tu Mama Tambien. I really enjoyed it. The voice over, and the way the camera kept leaving the scene like a kid with ADD and a liberal consience reminded me of a movie I saw at the PFA about India called Eye Above the Well. I forget who the director was, though. (OK, I checked on google: Johan van der Keuken). He would move the camera, but with less purpose, just to remind you that there was something outside of the frame. There were no subtitles, so it was like a silent movie, or better--actually being in a foreign country. Eye Above the Well was so beautiful, I wish I could see it again.