Ecocatastrophe of the "Prestige"

Demand responsibility for the ecocatastrophe of the "Prestige"
The Spanish text demands that the European Union, the government of Spain, and the authorities of Galicia assume their responsibilities for allowing the dilapidated oil tanker anywhere near their coasts, and for not doing enough to contain the catastrophe. The signers ask that you add their link to your website.

Prestige: exigimos

Ugly but maybe useful

Bookmark is yet another of these sites aimed at attracting people who want to get published. Why don't they just learn HTML and get weblogs?

Venezuela: Checking bias in reporting

Lou-Bette Herrick sends this article from the WP by Mark Weisbrot, which should change how you see the conflict in Venezuela. (You'll be asked for age, sex & zip code before you get to the article.) According to Weisbrot, hardly anybody outside of the oil workers is actually on strike, though a lot of workers are locked out by employers (including FedEx and McDonald's) that sympathize with the opposition. And the opposition is berserk, violent and utterly untrustworthy in their reporting of the news (and they own all the TV stations but one). Lou-Bette comments that Weisbrot's is "Perhaps a more balanced view." She adds:

Much of the NYTimes reporting has not been impartial. For alternatives to the usual 'opposition' media reports from Venezuela you may explore, in English: VHeadline.com as well as The Narconews Bulletin and, in Spanish Veneconomy Be prepared to sift everything for the truth (?), but you will find more than one perspective.

An insider's exposé of press bias

And this, also forwarded by Lou-Bette, "Francisco Toro's weblog message before he did the honorable and exceptional thing: disqualify himself and resign as a non-partisan NYTimes reporter in Venezuela." Whatever you think of Toro's reporting, he's created a very valuable site.
Oops!--I'm still learning HTML, and I'm really pleased with myself for figuring out that indent in the note just below. But just below that, there's a link that goes nowhere you'd want to go, and I don't know how to get rid of it. If you do, please tell me. Meanwhile, we just live with its irrelevancy.


For writers trying something new

For new writers or writers breaking into a new genre, Pat Gallant writes:

You might want to try Byline Magazine. They're a magazine for writers that sponsor monthly competitions in all genres. The good thing about them is if you win, they DON'T publish your work (you get credit and a cash award.), therefore leaving open the opportunity for first print pub. elsewhere. They're an excellent barometer of if a piece will sell. They're staffed by writers,editors, teachers, etc. and are sticklers for grammar, form, etc. which is a good thing. I found what I used to enter there, reflected editors' tastes. If Byline gave it a thumbs down, seems editors did , as well. What won was picked up by some great publications. Check out their website and good luck.

For writers--A colleague recommends No comments:

Old notes: where to find them

I haven't got my "archives" set up yet, so if you're looking for a note from a week or so ago, you can probably find it on my regular (permanent) website; just click "Home" (to the left). A lot of stuff is ephemeral anyway -- if you missed it, no loss. One thing that's dropped off that I kind of like is Vagina Dialogue, about Almodóvar's latest movie. Click on Film Notes.

Writers in power

Yesterday's news of the retirement of Czech playwright Vaclav Havel from the presidency of the Czech Republic brought to mind other creative writers who have held political power: novelists include Benjamin Disraeli, several times prime minister of Britain; Rómulo Gallegos, briefly (1947-48) president of Venezuela; Sergio Ramírez, vice president of Nicaragua during the Sandinista government (1979-89), and no doubt others. Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru) and Pablo Neruda (Chile, on the Communist Party ticket) both ran for president but lost, so they don't count.

All this reminds me also of the prophecy made by my 8th grade teachers, in a pre-graduation ceremony at Seventh Avenue Grade School in La Grange, IL: I was to become president of the USA. Now, you may think that unlikely, but I did make a start: last year I won national office, in the National Writers Union. Well, as I wrote when it was over, the job wasn't all fun, but it could have been a stepping stone. Anything could happen -- Gallegos and Ramírez weren't expecting the posts they got, and I'm not sure Havel was seeking it, either. So I'm wondering just what might be the chain of events that could thrust me into state power. Any suggestions?
Martin Luther King, Jr., wants to make you rich!-- I clicked on a link in an e-mail, promising me great wealth from a home business. And when I got to the part describing the company (it's still not clear to me what they sell, I mean the actual technology of it, but it's telecommunications) I was startled to see a clip of Martin Luther King, Jr. What's the connection? It seems that his face and gestures have become just another fungible icon for "freedom" of any sort, including the "freedom" of making money from home. Somehow, I don't think that's what he was talking about.


Following the news: Caracas--This interactive Lonely Planet site may help. Also, see updates on my Latin American Cities page.


But it really is false consciousness

Somehow I missed this essay by David Brooks when it came out--the clearest explanation I've read recently about why America keeps coddling the rich. Thanks to Eva Das for pointing it out.

Peace mongering

Today's NYT article on the anti-Iraq war movement would have been much more useful if it contained links to the sites mentioned: Move On; True Majority, and a coalition of church organizations (which the NYT calls "the most mainstream"), Win Without War, and the self-explanatory Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities.


Sólo llora Johnnie Walker

Favorite headline of the day--On the death of Leopoldo Galtieri, the last (so far) dictator of Argentina, a notorious alcoholic who sent thousands of Argentine youths to their deaths in an uncoordinated and mismanaged invasion of the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) in 1982: Sólo llora Johnnie Walker ("Only Johnnie Walker is weeping"). From Argentina's most impertinent newspaper, Página 12.


Understanding Iraq

Literature is most direct way I know to experience another life. Before we bomb the country to smithereens, I'd like to understand some things about Iraq, but I haven't found much to help me. From a one-page website on Iraq Arts and Culture: "Dhu al-Nun (b. 1918) is considered a pioneer of modern Iraqi fiction. His novel Al-Duktur Ibrahim is an Iraqi classic. Other well-known writers are poets Muhammad Mehdi El Jawahiri, Wafaa' Abdul Razak and Lamia Abbas Amara." That's good to know, but are these works available anywhere in English? So far the only Iraqi fiction I've located is an anthology, Nancy E. Berg (ed.),�1996, Exile from Exile: Israeli Writers from Iraq. Recommendations welcome--please hit the "Contact" link to the left.

World fiction, cont.

Here's another site I just discovered, World Literature. This is entirely different from Lale's Read Literature site: instead of commentary, you get complete on-line texts. Selections on all countries are pretty skimpy (for Israel, only the Dead Sea Scrolls), and Argentina has nothing but Borges (one poem in English translation), and so on. The only things on Iraq, unfortunately, are the Code of Hammurabi and the Epic of Gilgamesh -- the first is kind of tedious read, the second is very exciting but a bit of challenge to connect to present problems.

Links to world fiction

Lale Eskicioglu is the hostess of a terrific site, Read Literature, with many reviews by her or by guest authors (including several by yours truly). Besides all the US literary offerings, the site is especially strong in Turkish, Canadian and French fiction and poetry (Lale is a Turkish-origin Canadian who lives in Paris, which may explain the emphases).

Keeping up with new fiction

One good way is to go to The New York Times website and sign up for alerts for "NYT Literature." Once you're registered on the site, just go here. They'll send you links to NYT book reviews and articles. If you have any other good tips, please pass them on.

Imagining World War I

This morning when I read today's The NYT's "Writers on Writing" essay by Richard Price (which is very good), I at first confused him with another author whose work I've admired, Richard Powers. I remembered liking a Powers' 1985 novel enormously, so I looked up my old (1987) note where I reflected on the book and why it felt so important. It fits perfectly my concept of "Literature & Politics" for this weblog. To demonstrate why, I've posted a much-abbreviated version of my notebook entry on Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, from the Fiction Readings section of my website.


Gatsby, Ralph, and rescuing the rich

Finally, something about literature AND politics. I don't usually read the "Styles" section in The NYT, but today I found a real treasure: a hilarious and highly literate story by Cathy Horyn on a Prince of Superficiality: Chasing the Threads in the Life of Ralph Lauren. Horyn was amused to find that our hero likes to compare himself to the title character of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. (Correction to an earlier note: Ralph designed the clothes for the male leads in the 1974 movie; thanks to Kate Coe for pointing out my error; due to too-hasty reading, I thought he'd merely seen the movie.) Horyn comments that the two may have much more in common than Lauren imagines. "I think it's more useful to look at Mr. Lauren," she writes, "and the source of our fascination with him, in a literary way. And the obvious parallel is Fitzgerald's bootlegger, Gatsby. Both came from nowhere; both prize the trappings of old money but have made theirs in new ways,..." etc. But read the article, and think back on Fitzgerald's (not Hollywood's) Gatsby as you ponder the Bush administration's new tax plans for the rich.

Iraq: The coming non-war against a non-enemy

Just so you don't think this blog is all Venezuela all the time, we are also aware of the criminal stupidity the White House is directing toward Iraq. Thanks to journalist and media savant Daniel del Solar for forwarding this wonderfully clear and irrefutable argument, Happy Imbeciles At War, by Mark Morford. Daniel writes, "happy, mindless cretins move towards war, waste scarce planetary resources and threaten to poison a significant portion of the earth in the course of a "war" to test new war toys and annex East Texas (aka Iraq) happy new year (dont forget to march on January 18th)."
Venezuela opposition goes over the top--Now they're calling for assassination! A friend who knows and loves Venezuela well forwarded this web page. She writes: "This is outrageous and disgusting. A genuine opposition exists, and in large numbers, to the leadership of Hugo Chávez, mostly because he cannot or will not function in the confines of democratic accountability to further much needed changes in Venezuelan society. However, reactionary elements, apparently controlling opposition policy for their own agendas, have 'outclassed' President Chavez with their own arrogant ways. This is too bad. There can be no meeting of the minds with mindless behaviour rampant all 'round, i.e. mindless of the greater good. It looks like nothing more than spoiled brats squaring off, each with the attitude of 'if it can't be mine, there's going to be nothing left for you'. God help us."