12.09.2004

Where You Stay At?


In my last comment section, Adam of LifeofAdam.com asked me which character from The Brothers K was my favorite. It was a whimsical question but it put me to serious thought. Which character was my favorite? Then I started thinking about my favorite character of all time, in any book I've ever read, ever, through ever the whole time. Then the question became was it my favorite character because I wanted to be like him/her or was it my favorite character because I thought I was like him/her. I don't think I've decided.

In the mean time, (mean is the average, median constitutes the middle value of an ordered set of values, mode is the number which appears the most times) I was wondering which character is your favorite? Rather which character is most like you? This question does not have to be limited to characters that appear only in novels, in novels only, in only novels. It can be a character from a well known television show if need be. Perhaps Sam Malone. Some answers may require little or no explanation. For instance, an answer of Jesus would need little to no explanation while an answer of Humbert Humbert may need a small amount of clarification. If no one replies I will be forced to make up answers for people who do not exist, that have never come to Coney Island. This would be slightly less revealing but no less fun.

The jury's still out...Am I Batman or Ignatius J. Reilly?

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12.06.2004

How I Feel About Painting Tonight, Through Duncan's The Brother's K (But Galeano Gets The Last Word)


"Justified or not, to sleep and read ones way through a foriegn country in a private, air conditioned cubicle is to be in no foreign country at all. That he might genuinely fear, at least physically, the very land whose literature and spiritual traditions he'd adored since childhood, that such a fear might imply a never to be assimilated core of foreignness-these kinds of thoughts did not yet occur to him. By reading and working ceaselessly, by emaciating himself physically and by increasing his theoretical knowledge of India even as he decreased his first hand experience, he was able to continue feeling that he belonged where he was. But the strain had begun to show: 'I am trying to live as a contemplative,' he wrote in his journal the last night he ever debated the sleeper compartment Issue, 'and a contemplative's work is to renounce worlds, not immerse himself in them."
-Duncan

There is hope...

"Hermenehildo Bustos, Indian of this town of Purisima del Rincon, I was born on 13 April 1832 and I painted my portrait to see if I could on 19 June 1891."
-Galeano
(written on the back of the painting)

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Energy Incompetence


I am not exactly a big fan of Tom Friedman, but here is a thought-provoking column in today's Times. He is proposing a nicely counterintuitive, though not completely new alternative to the Bush administration's approach to foreign policy:

If President Bush is looking for a legacy, I have just the one for him - a
national science project that would be our generation's moon shot: a crash
science initiative for alternative energy and conservation to make America
energy-independent in 10 years.

The idea, in a nutshell, is this:

You give me an America that is energy-independent and I will give you sharply
reduced oil revenues for the worst governments in the world. I will give you
political reform from Moscow to Riyadh to Tehran. Yes, deprive these regimes of
the huge oil windfalls on which they depend and you will force them to reform by
having to tap their people instead of oil wells. These regimes won't change when
we tell them they should. They will change only when they tell themselves they
must.

What strikes me about this notion is its similarity to Bush's current plan for remaking the Middle East. Both rely on market forces to reform corrupt governments. Both suggest that regimes can only be changed from the inside out. And both can only be judged a success or failure after about 30 years.

Ah, yes. There is one significant difference: Bush's plan requires killing thousands of people and alienating the majority of the world. Friedman's plan (it's not really his, but we'll call it that) might actually make us some friends and probably won't kill anyone. It's a "win-win-win-win-win," according to Michael Mandelbaum.

No one in their right mind would choose the former if the latter were truly a viable option. But is it? That's the rub, I suppose. Maybe we're comparing apples and oranges here, but it would be nice to give this a decent shot. Instead, we are cutting the budget for the National Science Foundation--hardly a step in the right direction.

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TAKE ME TO CONEY ISLAND