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5/11/2009

Finally, I read a book

But before I get into "The World is Flat", let me quickly warn you about Wolverine.

Tom Cruise to MI:2 (For the record, MI:3 never happened) is Daniel Craig to 007 is Hugh Jackman to Wolverine. What was wrong with those movies? Well, it focused on the actor rather than the character and the story/other characters. What made the MI series so much fun was that the whole team worked together. MI:2 made it seem that only Tom could do anything. Ditto with 007 and his team of experts (Bring Q and the gadgets back please). Yet the new 007 movies have made it into a 007-does-it-all himself movie.

And so that's where Wolverine fails miserably. It's not about mutants using their respective powers to defeat a common enemy. It's about Hugh Jackman and his muscles and, uh, emotions (Laugh!). Sorry, I have no interest. Not recommended.

To the book "The World is Flat" by Thomas Freidman. By the way, last time I read a book and reviewed it was 2007-6-13. Two years ago! HOLY SHIT! I'm reading that same book, Touching the Void, again. (Also, two years since that A-hole took my camera, sun glasses, and passport - in that order of importance - in Peru)

Overall, I'm okay with the book. The idea was probably novel at the time it was written and Friedman goes to great lengths to prove his point. My main critique is that it is overly generalized and struggles a bit when it overstretches its arguments. For example, I could argue that R&D is the main driver of economies and attribute economic developments to R&D. Is that 100% of developments? 90%? 80%? Friedman really tries to do 100%...

Nonetheless, it's an interesting book. I remember when I first saw dot-com businesses pop up left and right, I thought that the "perfectly competitive" world in classic economics would finally appear and no business would profit anymore (yeah, I was naive and young at the time, please give me a break). Friedman took it much further.

With that, couple of thoughts (with the benefit of hindsight):
  • Friedman argues that music and other liberal art subjects is essential in gaining an upper hand in the flat world due to the nature of the subjects focusing on collaboration - just wha the flat world needs. Yet, at the same time, he blasts the US education system (parenting too) for not putting enough time in engineering subjects and focusing too much on sports and music and teams
  • He mentions that the openness of the capital markets is the basis of "trust" and a great differentiator of the US economy. Hm... still think that trust exists?
  • He also mentions in the same section that the great consumer demand in the US is a differentiator... now we know it, along with China, is a major contributor to the current crisis
  • Friedman says education, healthcare, and retirement security are three very large expenses... yes, indeed... if we can only get everybody to realize that and do things for their own good rather than waiting for the govt to do something
  • Is some of China's advantage (over India, in particular) the lack of democracy? Friedman makes a weak attempt to defer to difference in leadership... just say it: a dictator that does the right thing has an advantage over a democracy in making policies happen.
  • There's reference that the next party who adopts the newest technology to reach voters will win the next election. Let's just say Barack read the book. (Or... me thinks... Bush fucked up in his presidency... oh, but what do I know...)
  • What causes the inflammation of terrorism? Poverty or humiliation? Friedman votes for humiliation. I vote for poverty, which fuels the humiliation. Look, if everybody was middle class, where would terrorism get its grass root support?
I wish I read the book immediately when it came out. A little late, perhaps, but still relevant now (albeit a bit obvious). Recommended.

And let me end with one of my favorite lines in the book:

"Ultimately, September 11 is about them - the bad guys - not about us" - Thomas Friedman

2 comments:

Laughing Man said...

Didn't 007 ALWAYS do it all by himself? When did he ever have help, aside from some hot chic or Felix Leiter? As far as I can remember, Bond has always been on his own. Whatever minor sidekicks he has (i.e. Sharkey), usually die 30 minutes into the story.

First of all, I'm sure you know the Q character is dead in real life. I don't see why a replacement is necessary. The gadgets were cool before, but they slowly evolved into becoming ridiculous and absurd. I actually prefer Bond's more modern realistic "gadgets", like M's glass wall display or the Quantum earpieces.

I still like the old Bond movies a lot, but they sure started getting old and repetitive. The new Bond is a well needed breath of fresh air.

birchie said...

"Sorry, I have no interest. Not recommended." Does that mean you saw it or you have no interest in seeing it? How can you make a recommendation if you haven't seen something. I think you didn't see it because your decription is way off. It's not suppose to be about "mutants using their respective powers to defeat a common enemy", it's about how Wolverine got to be Wolverine. Everyone I know who saw it thinks it's terrific including the creators of the characters. Here's what they had to say about the movie: http://www.newsarama.com/film/090508-claremont-lein-wolverine.html