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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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10/26/2002

The butcher's bill The deaths of hostages is always awful. The alternative is usually worse.

Putin is likely to let loose the Russian army in Chechnya and parts of Georgia. Which is likely to be brutal and not terrifically effective; but I cannot see what choice he has.

Fifty people did not suddenly materialize in Moscow. This operation had to have been planned, financed and co-ordinated. Just as the Americans and, now, tragically, the Australians, have had to deal with Muslim terror, so do the Russians. It is not likely to be surgical or acceptable - rather it will be war.

10/25/2002

ABCNEWS.com : Russian Forces Control Theater The Russians have done the only thing a nation can do when faced with terror. It seems they have managed to do it without losing many of the hostages. Good.

The Chronicle: Daily news: 10/25/2002 -- 10Arts and Letters Daily is Back Yipee! There are not a lot of websites which are critical to the thinking person's web, A&L is one of them.

More good story ideas and lovely, out of the way bits of information are to be found here than on virtually any other site. It is also, in its odd way a proto-blog.

Good for the chronicle of Education for pulling it out of financial purgatory.

10/24/2002

BookwireNumber of Canadian Books Published Now this is even more interesting: the preliminary numbers for Canadian fiction in 2001 are 6935 (can this be right??) compared to 15,867 fiction works in the US. About 40% of the production of fiction with 10% of the population.

This strikes me as masking a variable or two - I think it has to include Canadian editions of American books (but presumably the American number will include US editions of foreign books as well).

Bookwire is a very useful site.

Bookwire: Number of US Books Pulbished So if you ever wondered just how many books there are being published here are the numbers. Imagine how hard it is to get a fiction book reviewed with nearly 16,000 novels published in 2001.

Yikes!


Andrew Pyper Interesting lunch with Andrew Pyper - Lost Girls, The Trade Mission. Actually we very nearly missed lunch as we were deep in interview land. Whether The Trade Mission succeeds in all Pyper was trying to do with the book is an open question; but his ambition was well placed. Simply trying to create a character who embodied what he sees as the virtuality of internet mediated existence is pretty intriguing.

So is his choice of a female narrator who does and says things which are radically contrary to the various essentialist notions of women. A fact Andrew was acutely aware of. Critics have complained that his character, Crossman, is not even identified as a woman until the 20th page of the book. Pyper told me that, in one draft, her sex is not revealed until the very last page.

The Island was buzzing with all sorts of authors, publicists and media folk. I am only doing a couple of interviews at the Writer's Festival having one year done 15 in three days. Little mobs of school kids were being herded from venue to venue. I am not at all sure that seeing a real live author does much for kids reading. It makes it a more visual and interactive experience; but reading is not actually all that visual or tactile. It is just a book and a kid and a rainy day. But all credit to the folks who hope bringing authors to read to children will somehow cement the reading bond.

United Press International: Putin cancels trip over hostage crisis At some point the West - which includes Russia - will have had enough. bin Laden refers to Western Crusaders and, if Muslim militants continue to use terrorist tactics he may very well get his wish.


10/23/2002

Russia and France Still not Satisfied There comes a point, and I suspect it is coming rather quickly, when the Americans will simply say the Hell with the Security Council and its resolutions.

France and Russia are, at best, third rate powers. While they have nukes - and these days who doesn't - neither country is a serious military power in 21st century terms. So why bother courting them? While it would be mildly embarassing for the US to be vetoed at the Security Council it would not be the end of the world - but it might well be the end of the United Nations as anything more than a talking shop.

That is the risk the Russians and the French are running with their unwillingness to accept a strong, enforceable UN Resolution. They lack the power to stop the Americans so the only thing they are in danger of doing is making the UN even more of a joke than it already is.

The good news is that there maybe cracks appearing in Saddam's own regime. More on that below.

And where is Osama??

Holt Uncensored :: A Candid Look at Books and the Book Industry This is a great site run by a woman who knows books and publishing in the US as well as anyone I've read.

Pat Holt's look at the book store wars and the nature of the evolving book trade is interesting, accurate and more than a little worrying. The displacement of serious books by fluff - biographies of the stars, intimate discussions of diet, sex and self-esteem - has been proceeding for years. The difference now is that the loss of indy bookstores means there are fewer and fewer people who read books selling books. This means the fluff passes undiluted through the chains to consumers who may want to read better books but lack a knowledgable book seller to point the way.

10/22/2002

Moby Tour Diary UpdatesThe perverse effects of savvy Moby's take on the strange asymmetry between record sales and tech savvy.

There really is an article to be written about the grand divides which are beginning to emerge as tech intelligence, literacy and interest begin to divide the society in ways which have not been seen before.

On one hand, non-ironic hip-hop and mook culture, on the other Moby and a fast expanding publishing culture.

10/21/2002

Foreign Armies Seek Control of Congo's Wealth (washingtonpost.com) At some point Africa, with all of its trouble, will come back onto the radars of the Western states. Fifty years of independence have not been a sterling success. The question will become whether or not Western states are willing to intervene or whether, facing charges of neo-colonialism and worse, the West will simply shrug and allow the African thugs to get on with the age old task of looting their neighbours.

Oddly, the anti-interventionalist French seem more than willing to shoulder the white man's burden in the Ivory Coast. I wonder if the anti-American French press has much to say about this excusion in neo-colonialism.

www.AndrewSullivan.com - Latest Posts The Wages of Hate: Anti-semitism and the war My sweetie suggests my blog is awfully long on politics and short on books, authors and personal stuff. Part of the reason for that is that there is just so much good stuff to talk about.

Sullivan has been banging the anti-semite drum for some time. The asymmetry between the Left's criticism of Israel and its silence about the police states and feudalisms which surround her. The Sunday Times article sums up his position and should be read widely.

The War against the 13th century Islamofascists needs to be recognized as the clash of pre and post Enlightenment cultures. So long as we want any sort of civil society we have to support our own post Enlightment values and those countries in which the notion of dissent, loyal opposition and the supremacy of law co-exist and support each other. Israel qualifies - Iran, Iraq, Saudi, Libya, Syria and Egypt do not.

As Sullivan points out, we are free to critize Israel's conduct; but we should never be in the position where we equate Israel with South Africa, Zimbabwe, China or a host of other nations in which ethnicity is the paramount consideration. That was exactly what the Enlightenment notion, embodied in the United States Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal" sought to toss in the dustbin of history. Unfortunately no one told the mullahs.

Free Books: A Sneaky Success Now if someone could just come up with a screen/reader device which was a lot more like paper....

A friend of mine, with far younger eyes, downloaded a pirate copy of one of posted by jay at 3:51 PM |

Blogcritics I want to look at this site for a bit but it runs to the next step after the now defunct Arts and Letters Daily and the more static magazines on the web like posted by jay at 1:46 PM |

The US Did Bali Yeah, right. It is always fascinating to see how badly wrong a group of university professors and journalists can manage to get something. For the moment the precise who on Bali is an open question. But open questions do not automatically yield the answer "America" or "the Jews" or "the CIA" or any of the other convenient bugbears of the loony left.

One of the most bizarre aspects of 9/11 and Bali is the conspiracy theorist's capacity to hear hoofbeats and immediately suspect zebras: a bit of logic suggests looking to horses first.

Trimming II And at some point you just have to let the piece go and leave it to the editor. it is amazing what a second set of trained eyes will do. So now on to Amir Aczel. I have a draft review - 1200 words - which I will post on my website. The finished piece needs to be half that length.

Meanwhile this blog seems to vanish in Netscape - which is why I am gradually converting to Mozilla. Thank you Rod.


Trimming I am trying to work my piece on The Killers Within back to the 600 words The Vancouver Sun wants. I'm afraid Rebecca will have to settle for 700 or so as the book is far too rich to review in less.

The sad fact about reviewing is that it is a constant compromise between writing long and risking losing the audience or writing short and missing the key points in a book. The space considerations in the various papers I write for mean that the decision is out of my hands; but I would love an editor to actually encourage a bit of length and then trim to fit.

In any case the book is interesting and more than a little frightening. What I don't go into in the review are the emerging cases of multi-drug resistant TB. These cases are occuring in the community. For the moment they tend to be confined to the already compromised - AIDS sufferers, drug users - but, unlike AIDS, TB is realtively easy to catch without a lot of physical contact.

In many ways the effect of the growth of drug resistance in bacteria is to end the holiday from serious bacterially initiated infectious disease we have enjoyed for the last sixty years. It is a sobering thought that everything from the clap to TB has been largely absent from the Western world. We have grown used to the luxury of clearing up bacterial infections with a course of antibiotics - an option which is fading as the bacteria adapt.



10/20/2002

DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism Security Bin Laden Is Back in Saudi Arabia - Is Working Closely with Baghdad Debkafiles is a wonderful source of speculative intelligence. Right just a little more often than they are wrong but always provocative.

If bin Laden is in the Empty Quarter then I suspect either his days are numbered or the Saudi regime itself is going down. But it is a huge if. There is very little question that American/Israeli/Jordanian Special Forces can and do operate in Saudi with or without permission. It will be interesting to see how this report is handled.

Wonderful as it would be to take bin Laden the reality is that politically he is extremely difficult. A snatch and grab which left him alive would be fraught. While I am inclined to discount the so-called "Arab street", bin Laden has a loyal following in various Middle Eastern and Asian countries. A public trial a al Milosovec would not be the easiest thing in the world to do.

Nor, actually, would the snatch and grab. There are more than enough radical and fundamentalist elements in Saudi who would be inclined to see such a move as a violation of the sacred soverignty of the Muslim Holy Land.

A well placed bullet would solve any number of problems. The more silently the better from the Saudi prince's perspective.