Blog posts tagged "globalization"

Bi-Lingual Weddings

June 12th, 2006

The last 4 weddings I’ve attended have all been bi-lingual, and they’ve all featured a different language (with English being a common thread in all of them).

The modern condition I guess.

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Visualizing a global parliament

April 27th, 2005

Rob, playing with the ideas of George Monbiot, put together a nice visualization of a district map for a “global parliament”, a proportional representation body to balance the 1 country, 1 vote UN model, a House of Reps, to the Senate as it were. I think the model is problematic, but its a good tool for exploring what a global democracy might look like.

(disclosure: I totally failed to help Rob come up with a clever algorithm for doing data smoothing over a set of 20 million cells. What can I say, I was a Comp. Lit major)

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Icons of the 20th Century

April 2nd, 2005

Ken MacLeod, A canticle for Wojtyla, on the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, and Fidel Castro:

…four old men with their roots in the Cold War, of which they are the last men standing… inchoate figureheads of a global humanism. It’s a measure of the strangeness of the New World Order that they all, in very contradictory ways, have become icons of its discontents.

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PSP in Boston (kind of)

March 28th, 2005

It wasn’t until I read this New York Times article which is really a thinly disguised Sony ad for the “Mobile PlayStation Portable” and its much hyped (apparently) launch this weekend, its scarcity, its desirability, etc, etc, that I realized that PSP aren’t readily available. All of which gets me wondering what those things that I’ve been seeing on the Orange line for the last few weeks emblazoned with “PSP” are? Some days you really have to admire the efficiency of alternative markets.

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Special Treatment

July 10th, 2004

I’ve gotten used to the extra screening I get selected for when I fly (they’ve had the good grace to stop calling it “random” selection which was offending my CompSci soul). It’s a mixed bag really. There is nothing quite as much fun as being reminded that you’re living in a police state, especially first thing in the morning. On the flip side it is kind of fun to jump the queue. I play a game of monitoring the progress of the person behind me in line. About half the time I make it through security first.

But this morning was different. This morning I forgot my photo ID. (I don’t drive, so it isn’t like I’m actually required to carry it, and frankly I’ve been flying so much lately I must have left it in the pants I was wearing Monday) Ick. I not only got the four red Ss stamped on my boarding pass, but a special red squiggle. Which meant instead of just being sent to the special queue, I got to go to the special room. Interestingly procedures were exactly the same, there was just a door, which I guess meant they thought we were flight risks (no pun intended). Anyway the real novelty was being the only white person in the room.

Still I got to sit there and have an interseting chat with a man from Sri Lanka (who works in “human resources for the garmet industry”, meaning he oversees one of Sara Lee’s sweatshops manufacturing lingerie for Victoria Secrets). We chatted a while about how the number of people living on the streets in Seattle had really shocked him. Nothing quite like having someone from the Global South whose country that has had 30 years of civil war telling you you’ve got a poverty problem.

update: well I made it home proving that it is still possible to fly in this country without a photo id. but I can’t say I would recommend the experience.

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Foutain and Robert Newman

March 29th, 2004

Robert Newman was in town last night on his book tour for Fountain at the Center of the World. He left today for a week long run through Canada (Vancouver, tomorrow, Monday March 29th, Toronto March 30th, arriving in Montreal March 31st for the Literary Festival)

I’ve been enjoying Fountain, I bought it on the basis of a recommendation and Soft Skull’s good name, and forgot about it until Rabble reminded me.

Its been labeled as a “political novel”, an awkward and problematic concepts. Ignore it. And ignore the cover blurbs.(it is nothing like Catch 22, thankfully) Its a novel of modern life that doesn’t try to be great literature, but doesn’t relegate itself to trash heap of chick/dick lit which seems to be the accepted modern form. Newman has spun a wonderfully clear eyed fable of clashing worlds, that steers clear of easy answers (those of the dominant culture, or otherwise), and has deep sympathy for its cast especially its core, the brothers Chano, the Mexican brother, the dispirited activist, disillusioned, sometimes fugitive, and Evan, the English brother, a PR consultant, Cayce Pollard with the fairy dust blown off, powerful, angry, and losing control. The prose can switch from dream time, to hectic, before settling into the comfortable rhythm of old friends talking, all allisions, and short hand, and comfortable pauses, but the world is turned upside down, and we’re off to again.

In person he is very different. You can tell his other gig is stand up comedy, and yet even there he steered clear of the easy jokes ( (though his story involving a time traveling DeLorean, the Office of Global Communication, and religious fundamentalist take over of America spear headed by the unelected son of an oil baron was a great take on a classic), mixing in meditation on history, and the novel (how many comics involve Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Kundera in their patter?). As the time came to actually read from the novel he got more nervous, visibly agitated, I wonder how often Newman the comic, and Newman the author meet? Or it could be that he was back in Seattle, the scene of the novels climax (November 1999). Anyway my advice is read it, it goes fast, and is interesting and enjoyable, and go see Robert talk, he is funny and a fellow traveller. But if he starts reading the riot porn from the back of the book ask for some of the scenes from Mexico, which are often brilliant, and fresh.

We actually spent a while chatting over coffee after the reading, finding all the people we knew in common, and he told me about his trip across the country (“my empirically gather evidence suggests that 80% of American are anarchists who run their own infoshops”). He is definitely worth looking up.