Friday, November 29, 2002

Violet though of what the bald man had said, about wrecking her face, and nodded. The two of them looked at the pot of bubbling sauce, which had seemed so cozy while they were making it and now looked like a vat of blood. Then, leaving Sunny behind in the kitchen, they walked into the dining room, Klaus carrying the a bowl of interestingly shaped noodles and Violet carrying the pot of puttanesca sauce and a large ladle with which to serve it. The theater troupe was talking and cackling, drinking again and again from their wine cups and paying no attention to the Baudelaire orphans as they circled the table serving everyone dinner. Violet’s right hand ached from holding the heavy ladle. She thought of switching to her left hand, but because she was right-handed she was afraid she might spill the sauce with her left hand, which would enrage Count Olaf again. She stared miserably at Olaf’s plate of food and found herself wishing she had bought poison at the market and put it in the puttanesca sauce. Finally, they were through serving, and Klaus and Violet slipped back into the kitchen. They listened to the wild, rough laughter of Count Olaf and his theater troupe, and they picked at their own portions of food, too miserable to eat. Before long, Olaf’s friends were pounding on the table in strict rhythm again, and the orphans went out to the dining room to clear the table, and then again to serve the chocolate pudding. By now it was obvious that Count Olaf and his associates had drunk a great deal of wine, and they slouched at the table and spoke much less. Finally, they roused themselves, and trooped back through the kitchen, scarcely glancing at the children on their way out of the house. Count Olaf looked around the room, which was filled with dirty dishes.

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning (50-52)

But more than this, new resources have to be created to empower people to gain access to better lives. And these resources can only be raised by new forms of taxation, global indirect taxes, raised by a new global tax authority, which are then redistributed. At the same time, these taxes must be used to protect our environment and our resources, so they would be taxes on the use of energy and resources, and on pollution.

Noreena Hertz, “Globalization for the Good of All,” in Everything You Know is Wrong, edited by Russ Kick (36)

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Count Olaf rubbed his hands together as if he had been holding something revolting instead of an infant. “Well, enough talk,” he said. “I suppose we will eat their dinner, even though it is all wrong. Everyone, follow me to the dining room and I will pour us some wine. Perhaps by the time these brats serve us, we will be too drunk to care if it is roast beef or not.”

Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning (49)

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Isn’t it time we stopped ignoring the elephant in the living room and let go of our fair-minded fantasy that all religions are basically the same and that other cultures that suppress human rights aren’t inferior, they’re just different? Excuse me, but primitive is primitive. The Sudan and Ethiopia and many other countries still practice the genital mutilation of women. The Hmong tribe in Laos observe “marriage by capture,” which is really a nice way of saying rape. Remember that Vietnam movie with Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox where American soldiers abduct the pretty teenage girl “for a little R&R?” It’s kind of like that, except there’s no Michael J. Fox around the decry that people know about it and “they don’t care!”

Bill Maher, When You Ride ALONE You Ride with bin Laden (77)

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Surely, if a manufacturer's good name is defamed by trickery of men who call themselves "Modern Discount Merchants," than the housewife cheated may become "poor indeed." A handful of these trade tricksters may soon perfect their punishing Monopoly of America's retail business. Thereby they may soon control most American manufacturers and producers, unless we persuade Congress to enact legislation permitting a manufacturer of an honored trademarked product to stop - by law - and without manpower from, or expense to, any administrative agency of government, an abuse of his trademark.

John W. Anderson, Trade Trickery - Tool of Monopoly! (14)

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Lewis did not plant or harvest with his own hands. No member of the Virginia gentry did. When Jefferson or Lewis or any other slaveowner said he had planted such-and-so, or that he had built this fence or that building, he did not mean to imply that he had done it with his own hands. His slaves did the work. “It is the poor negroes who alone work hard,” one traveler commented, “and I am sorry to say, fare hard. Incredible is the fatigue which the poor wretches undergo, and it is wonderful that nature should be able to support it.”

Stephen Ambrose, Undaunted Courage (32)

“In the sense that a frog is no longer a tadpole, you might be right. And it may never come to pass, or have to. We might just learn enough tolerance, and jettison enough fear and ego, to compensate. The neutral angels could prevail: neutral victory being a particularly intriguing oxymoron. In the meantime, though, Sister – if I may still call you that – can’t you hear them buzzing? Listen to the swarm that Be-lief and Be-longing have Be-got. B-boundaries. B-borderlines. B-blood B-bonds. B-blood B-brothers. B-bloodlust. B-bloodbath. B-bloody B-bloody. B-bang B-bang. B-boom B-boom. B-blast. B-bludgeon. B-batter. B-blow up. B-bomb. B-butcher. B-break. B-blindside. B-bushwack. B-behead. B-blackball. Be-tray. B-bullets. B-blades. B-booby traps. B-bazookas. B-bayonets. B-brute force. B-barbarism. B-babylon. B-babel. Be-elzebub. Be-etlejuice. B-bureaucracy. B-bagpipes. B-beanie B-babies.”

Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (245)

The death of her child had turned her into a wild animal, not caring anymore for her own life. She had attacked him repeatedly, despite his generous overtures to her. In the end, although Erasmus had been tempted to kill her outright, he had not been able to bring himself to do it. Most interesting. He had finally settled for drugging her into a stupor. Now Serena was in one of his laboratories, sedated to the point of catatonia, since Erasmus had found no other way of suppressing her efforts to fight him each time she rose toward consciousness. Alas, he had to time to salvage her now.

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Dune: The Butlerian Jihad (526)