Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Friday, July 29, 2005

Chicago Resplendent

Chicago has been beautiful the last few days. We finally got a good rain and some cooler weather. It's a great city in the summer, and today I'm going to do a little exploration as I'm headed up north to buy a knife.

A few notes: First, I greatly admire Maggie Gyllenhaal. I saw her on the Daily Show, and she just sparkled. If Maggie were to ask me out on a date, I would say yes, even if she wanted to do Thai food and I wanted to do Indian. I would do Thai food in those circumstances.

Second, I just finished In Defense of Globalization, by Jagdish Bhagwati. His brother, incidentally, is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Anyway, the book is informative and quite amusing. His basic take on globalization is that empirically it has proven to be a positive thing, despite its potential shortcomings. He's no corporate shill, though, and I enjoyed his acerbic asides about the political process in America and abroad.

Finally, I'm just starting Liberalism and Empire, by U.S. Mehta. He taught me a class at Amherst. The book suffers from lack of clear organization so far, but I'm ready to forgive him because his prose is so captivating. Already he's mentioned three or four books that I just have to read. Because liberal political philosophy came from England, and because England's primary imperial experience was in India, many prominent liberal thinkers wrote on India. John Stuart Mill, for instance, worked for the East India Company for thirty-five years.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Law School the Sit-com

So Larry David and Judge Posner look a lot alike. If law school were a sit-com, Larry David would play Posner. I can't think of any others in particular, but leave a comment if you think of an actor to play a professor.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Religion and Ritual

My grandmother died last week. She was 90, and her decline was mercifully quick. As recently as a few years ago she was quite active, and only at the very end did she really begin to fade. My mother noticed it about a month ago, at her mother's 90th birthday. My grandmother loved playing bridge, but at the party when they played she bid every hand no matter what. She also lost track of the cards. Still, she loved every minute of it.

The funeral was quiet but lovely. It can be a little surprising how many people are touched by one life, and how many memories they have to share.

When I wrote the title of this post, I intended to write a little rant about the monopoly that religion enjoys over the important life rituals. I'm not sure I mind - Christianity at least has risen to the occasion quite well, with hymns and poetry and beautiful churches - but anyway now isn't the time for a rant. I can't really summon any strong opinions at all, I'm just absorbing the world around me for a bit.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bad Dreams

So I had a dream last night about President Bush. In the dream, he wanted to perform an appendectomy on me. I said no thank you, I don't need one.

Then a bunch of conservatives asked me if I thought it would be unjustified to get an appendectomy. I said no, of course not. They said the discussion was over then.

Dick Cheney went on TV and called me "soft on appendicitis."

I asked why I needed an appendectomy. Colin Powell gave a speech at the UN with pictures that he said conclusively proved I needed an appendectomy.

I decided it might not be such a bad idea. I asked Bush for his credentials.

He said my desire to have an MD perform the surgery was more liberal elitism. He said I should trust him, and if I didn't trust him, I should at least trust Tony Blair.

I said that Tony Blair thinks we should do something about global warming. Bush said I can't trust Tony Blair.

Michael Moore made a movie pointing out that anyone who gets an appendectomy is a stooge of the Saudi royal family.

The surgery was quick, but the recovery took a long time. An infection developed. The hospital ran out of anesthesia and antibiotics.

John Kerry said he had been in a hospital once.

I said I felt bad for the hospital staff, working in such awful conditions. The Republicans asked me why I hate hospital workers so much.

A copy of my medical records showed up on the internet. I said this was a violation of my privacy. Bush agreed and promoted everyone who was responsible.

When I woke up, I was glad it was just a dream.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Outsourcing to India

So today I had to activate my new credit card. I called the number and talked to an Indian woman. After the card was activated, she tried to sell me "credit protection." It's the kind of thing that I would never use but also never bother to cancel, so I was sure to say no. I spent the next 5 minutes saying no again and again. Finally it hit me: she reminded me of nothing so much as one of the "touts" selling souvenirs outside tourist destinations in India. Their strategy is basically to keep talking until you break down and buy whatever it is. Since she probably wasn't allowed to slash the price by 90%, which is typically what the touts do, she could only repeat cliches about how life's difficulties don't announce themselves by knocking. I felt a little bad, but a firm "no" is really all you can do.

Anyway, the point is, you can't just outsource call centers anywhere. India's culture of tireless salesmanship is crucial to the whole enterprise.