Kudos, p. 55: A Hamster

Whenever mice or hamsters enter a story — any story — self’s satisfaction quotient goes up 300%.

It happened in Dave Sedaris’s piece on how hard he had to try to kill a mouse (Self isn’t sure which collection contained the piece, she thinks it might have been Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim)

It happened in Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach. Self was on the fence about this novel until she got to the section where twins Ava and Zelda adopt a small clutch of baby mice. That’s when she realized the book was a gem.

It’s happening in Kudos. Oh JOY! The hamster page is 55:

The solid fact of the hamster made all the difference. She could describe them petting it and fawning over it while its imprisonment got increasingly on Linda’s nerves, and the way it solidified their bond so that Linda felt left out. What kind of love was this, that needed the love object domesticated and locked up? And if there was love being handed out, why wasn’t she getting any? It occurred to Linda that since their daughter had found a satisfactory companion in the hamster, her husband might have taken the opportunity to round that situation out by returning his attention to his wife, yet the opposite was the case: he could leave the child alone less than ever. Every time she went near the cage he would leap to his feet to join her, until Linda wondered whether he was actually jealous of the hamster and was only pretending to love it as a way of keeping hold of her.

The Economist really messed up by not mentioning the hamster passage in their review of Kudos.

Stay tuned.

Tech University, CA: Loaded

A month ago, Google made son an offer and moved him up from southern California.

Before Google, son worked six years for Blizzard, manufacturer of World of Warcraft. The Blizzard headquarters in Irvine is a sprawl of low buildings. Irvine even has a Blizzard way.

What young boy doesn’t play video games. Dream job! Son is the uber-nerd, going to San Diego Comi-con every year, reading science fiction exclusively, and attending Magic Card conventions.

Google put him up in fully furnished apartment in Palo Alto, biking distance from Google headquarters in Mountain View. Rent is free for three months. They sent him a real estate broker to assist in his hunt for a more permanent living arrangement. In the meantime, son signs up for free cooking classes held in his apartment complex.

Apple, Google, Facebook: the three big engines of Silicon Valley employment. During a brief stint living in the City, self shared a building with a bunch of Google engineers. Many of them had just moved to the Bay Area.

This past summer, her niece (19, studying in Michigan) got an internship for Facebook. They gave her an apartment in Palo Alto. AND she was driven to work each day by a Facebook car service. Her niece is still a teenager and she gets ferried to and from work in a Facebook car.

The Economist of 30 June 2018

“the headquarters of Western tech giants” as “typically horizontal affairs, in keeping with their supposedly flat hierarchies. Facebook’s Silicon Valley campus is a jumble of two-storey buildings connected by parks and bridges. Google is a collection of dozens of separate structures spread over an entire neighborhood in Mountain View. Employees commute between them on colourful bicycles.

So, yeah. Those tech giants are loaded.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Economist on Bourdain

GettyImages_97303115.0

  • Food made him happiest if he experienced it in a purely emotional way. It might be the company, the moment, or some memory it evoked: of his mother’s grilled-cheese sandwiches, or his mother-in-law’s meatloaf. A plate of piss-poor peasant food could become something sublime, like feijoada in Brazil.

The Economist Obituary, 16 June 2018

What Has Happened to Oleg Sentsov?

In two years, Trump has arranged two of the most bizarre summits in the world:

  • with Kim Jong Un, a brutal dictator, who he made seem, according to The Economist (10 June 2018) “warm, jovial, and eminently reasonable.” The Economist maintains Kim Jong Un “ought to be at The Hague.”
  • with Putin in Helsinki, a “one-on-one” which offered Putin “the chance to be seen as a global statesman, an equal with the President of the United States, the leader of a country whose participation was needed to solve just about every pressing world problem.” (Joshua Yaffa in The New Yorker, 16 July 2018)

In the meantime, what has happened to Oleg Sentsov, who was jailed as a “terrorist” for “protesting against Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the war Russia’s president unleashed in eastern Ukraine four years ago” (The Economist, 10 June 2018)? No one knows. Here’s the latest article self found about him; it was almost a month ago, in The Guardian.

Trump instead calls for Russia to be allowed back into the G7, which expelled it “for the seizure of Crimea.” According to Trump, that “happened a while ago.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Economist Obit, 14 April 2018: Louie Kamookak, Explorer and Researcher

His ramshackle house outside Gjoa Haven, with hot water drawn from a camping stove, also had the best internet connection in town. Here he read and read and read.

Quote of the Day: Madeleine Albright

“We want to be told where to march.”

— Madeleine Albright in Fascism: A Warning

Sentence of the Day: Sian Cain, The Guardian

As an antidote to the extremely respectful commentary The Economist has been according POTUS (which drives self crazy, she just might discontinue her subscription), here is The Guardian which really knows how to do satire:

The nicest thing anyone can say about US Vice President Mike Pence — a man who vigorously opposed marriage inequality and looks like an Action Man assembled from Play-Doh and cold cuts — is that he knows how to name a pet.

— from Vice-President Mike Pence disappears down the rabbit hole, by The Guardian’s Sian Cain, 20 March 2018

Sentence of the Day: Waterloo, May 1815

Currently reading: Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles, by Bernard Cornwell

It’s very fleet. Self’s barely begun (p. 28) and already Napoleon has escaped from Elba and mustered an army of 200,000 men.

Opposing him are the British, the Prussians, Russia, and Austria. In very short order, Napoleon finds himself confronting generals like the “mercurial and fearesome” Michel Ney and another named Marshal Forwards, who “had the habit of shouting his men forward. He was popular, much loved by his troops and, famously, prone to bouts of mental illness during which he believed himself pregnant with an elephant fathered by a French infantrymen.” With generals like these, how can these armies expect to defeat Napoleon?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books About Eleanor Roosevelt: Reviewed in The Economist, 29 October 2016

  • Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, 1939 – 1962, by Blanche Wiesen Cook (Viking)
  • Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady, by Susan Quinn (Penguin)

It is tempting to think that in a different era, Eleanor Roosevelt could have become president of the United States. Widely loved, the longest-serving First Lady was on the right side of history on virtually every subject including civil rights, acceptance of European refugees and the need to end Empires.


“She understood his needs, forgave his transgressions, buried her jealousies, and embarked on her own independent career . . .  FDR encouraged her independence and when he silenced her did so for reasons of state.”

Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, by Blanche Wiesen Cook

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

To the Last

Obama:  How do we make sure that we don’t change, even as we protect our people?”

— quoted in The Economist, 26 November 2016

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