Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shakespeare, Shakespeare, rien que Shakespeare

Je visitais hier la librairie locale qui fait partie d'une chaîne de librairies nationale. Bien que c'est officiellement une librairie, une boutique de cadeaux est une meilleure description parce que la moitié du magasin est aujourd'hui rempli de cadeaux non-livres.

C'est sans doute la tendance dans toutes les librairies aujourd'hui, donc je ne devrais pas me plaindre. Des librairies sont essayer de survivre à cause de Amazon. Je comprends ça.

Aujourd'hui quand je feuillette des livres dans une librairie, un assistant vient généralement vers moi et demande: "Pouvez-vous trouver ce que vous cherchez?" Je ça n'aime pas du tout parce que j'aime à feuilleter tranquillement. Mais, ce que peux-je faire? Les temps ont changé. C'est tous.

Quoi qu'il en soit, hier quand j'étais dans la librairie locale, je allais à la section drame pour de voir si elle avait seulement Shakespeare. Eh bien, elle n'avait pas seulement Shakespeare, mais presque seulement Shakespeare - à environ 99% Shakespeare. Je n'étais pas vraiment étonné, parce que il etait toujours comme ça dans des librairies que j'ai visité.

Quelle est la raison pour cette situation étrange? L'impérialisme culturel, évidemment.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Impérialisme Culturel?

Today's posting continues where yesterday's left off. I had said, among other things, that baseball (which the other blogger called "the national pastime") had been exported successfully to other lands. I followed this up by saying in another comment:
Although le base-ball (le passe-temps national américain) has successfully been exported to other lands - Japan, Cuba, Dominican Republic - they aren't nearly as many as the lands that le cricket (le passe-temps national anglais) has been successfully exported to - India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, and pretty much all the other countries of the old Empire, on which the sun used never to set.

Il n'est pas surprenant que, after "futbol", le cricket is the most-followed game in the world.

Since the lands that le base-ball and le cricket were successfully exported to, are lands once occupied and ruled by the lands where le base-ball and le cricket first came from, can one conclude that le base-ball and le cricket are expressions of l'impérialisme culturel?
Au sujet de l'impérialisme culturel, did you know that Shakespeare's plays may be yet *another form of it?*

Friday, May 25, 2012

Le Football Américain

A blog I often read had a recent posting on the topic of *this short video* by John Cleese about football (American), in which he said, among other things, that it was particularly ideal for the sponsors of television commercials.

I left a comment to this posting, that said:
Cleese's is a trenchant and witty take on le football américain, to be sure.

Le football américain's suitability for advertising beer and cigarettes and Humvees on prime time television is no doubt a big factor in its popularity. But a bigger reason is that le football américain is simply an integral part of la vie américaine, as much as mother, home and apple pie.

The Battle of Guadalcanal was won on the football fields of Princeton, you might say.

Why has le football américain not been exported successfully to other lands, as has le base-ball? Perhaps, due to all that expensive padding and equipment, you have to be a man of means, or have a mother and father of means, to play it?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Rage To Live

I have this weakness for John O'Hara. It's not a weakness, though, that I admit to when with others, because his novels are maximalist and pull you slowly into their time and place, and so are not novels that you - if you're of the sort that likes to have regular colonic irrigations, and lunch regularly on pasta salad and white wine, and listen to Vivaldi - would enjoy, ie novels that have nothing unnecessary in them, that are cerebral, and cause you to think how clever the author is.

One of the main characters in "A Rage To Live" - the John O'Hara novel I'm in the middle of - is Grace Caldwell-Tate, a Pennsylvania society matron from Old Money, who is married to Sidney Tate (also from Old Money) with whom she has three children.

Despite being contentedly married, Grace, who is thirtyish and a good-looker, has a passionate affair with Roger Bannon, a rough and roguish building contractor who, before the affair began, she knew had recently beaten up a prostitute. Also, Grace, when Roger had begun showing an interest in her, told him he was the sort of man she hated and despised.

Nonetheless there was an occasion when she agreed to give him a lift in her motor car to somewhere-or-other in the vicinity because he had no other means of getting there. During the ride Roger told Grace how much he was crazy about her. Whereupon she drove the motor car to somewhere secluded, invited Roger into her arms, and before long they were Going At It in the back seat.

Not particularly outlandish for a married woman to do today, you'll be thinking. However, this was in 1917, which means that Grace and Roger were of the Victorian (or, if you insist, the Clevelandian or Harrisonian) generation, who were noted for being extremely prim and proper. Grace risked social and financial ruin should she be caught with Roger. Nonetheless she wanted to see him again after she and he had emerged from the back seat of her motor car.

So, Grace and Roger contrived to meet whenever and wherever they could, and to Go At It. They weren't caught overtly, but tongues began wagging. Roger, realising that the affair wouldn't last long, signed up to go off to war (this was the time of World War One), and the affair ended.

When Sidney Tate, Grace's husband, heard the rumours about her and Roger, he was none too pleased. So none too pleased was he that, as had Roger, he signed up to go off to war, and told Grace that after he came back, it wouldn't be to her. 

Grace told Sidney he was being silly because her thing with Roger had been purely physical, and that she and Roger would never Go At It again. It was over, finished. She loved Sidney, and only Sidney, and would always, she said. Why should he lose his home, and his children and all he held dear just on account of his hurt pride?

Sidney wasn't persuaded by Grace's entreaties, and the marriage effectively ended.

***

Had Sidney been a man of today instead of one of 1917, he likely would have stayed with Grace. However, in 1917 married men just weren't as forgiving of their wives Going At It with other men as they are today. No doubt this was because almost no married women of that time Went At It with other men. Maybe point zero zero zero of one percent did - next to nothing. So, Grace's Going At It  with Roger was an anomaly.

Even today, only fifteen percent of married women Go At It with other men while still married. So that eighty five percent Go At It only with the men they had solemnly vowed to Love, Honour and Obey.

***

As I said earlier, I'm only in the middle of "A Rage To Live", and so have much reading still to do, for it's a big novel. I'm enjoying it so much that I'm not looking forward to when I finish it.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

An e-Mail


Someone sent me today an e-mail with a link to *this article* about how robots are making human workers more and more unneeded.

My e-mail in reply said:
I don't see the exponentially increasing computerisation of our society as a negative, but as a positive. It will free people from boring and meaningless work.

There will be more need for people who can design and fix computers. Computers will also create a need for human workers in areas that haven't even been thought of.

Even so, less human workers will be needed overall in the private sector as time goes on. This can be seen already in America, for example, where the number of people working is the same today as it was in 2007.

There are no longer full-employment economies. If you take the percentage of the fully unemployed and add the partially unemployed (those who have only a part-time job) the effective rate of unemployment in most of the developed world is anything between 15% and 20% - which was the unemployment rate during the Great Depression.

You can see the effect of computer-generated automation in the stock market rise, which has comes out of companies having profit margins larger than ever because they can now do more with less (ie cut costs) thanks to computer-caused automation.

The stock market has also risen because the rich, who are the main players in the stock market, have more money to buy stocks because their tax rates are now less than they were fifty years ago.

In America, for instance, the top marginal tax rate in the 1950's was 91%. In the 1970's it was 70%. Today it's 35%. You'll see this trend in all of the other economies in the developed world.

What has all this to do with computer-caused unemployment?

Well, if the rich were taxed as they were taxed fifty years ago, or even thirty years ago, there would be lots of money to put the unemployed to work in the public sector, doing the sorts of meaningful jobs that would improve the quality of life.

There is absolutely no reason why everyone shouldn't have a full-time job if they want one.

It just needs a radical change in thinking.