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September 09, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-09

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September 9, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com



. . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .


By Suhael Momin
Daily Arts Writer
In his 1999 book, "The Lexus and
the Olive Tree," New York Times
foreign-affairs columnist Thomas
Friedman introduced many to the
phenomenon of globalization. In his
most recent work,
"The World is
Flat," he blows The World
readers away IS Flat
with an account By Thomas L.
of just how far Friedman
globalization Farrar, Straus
has progressed. and Giroux
Writing with the
excitement and incredulity of an
explorer who can't believe what he
has found, Friedman takes his read-
ers around the planet with revealing
personal anecdotes about how tech-
nology has flattened the world by
connecting billions of people on an
unprecedented scale.
In many ways, "The World is Flat"
is an update of "The Lexus and the
Olive Tree," explaining what has
happened in the past six years. The
main argument of the book is that
globalization, driven by remarkable
advances in communications and
computing technology, has gone one
step further. In a world connected
by fiber optic cables, nations and
companies will have to adapt to the
phenomenon of truly global capital-
ism - or be left behind. An opinion
columnist by profession, Friedman
offers not only an explanation of
why the world is flat, but what he
feels countries and companies must
do to survive.
Unfortunately, he spends the first
200 pages of his book going into
great detail about what he sees as
the ten forces that flattened the
world. Too often, Friedman delves
into an overly complex analysis
of technical advances, such s the
evolution of computer networking
and communications. Instead of
just analyzing how the Netscape
browser made the Internet accessi-
ble to all or why it was crucial that
software designers adopted univer-
sal standards allowing computers
around the world to interact, Fried-
man showers his readers with tech-
nical acronyms. His otherwise great
analysis of the flattening forces is
lost in pages upon pages of techni-
cal history.
Friedman's irritating tactic of
inventing terminology ("geo-green-
ing," anyone?) is front and center
in this book. Some invented terms,
such as "the ten flatteners" and "the
Triple Convergence," are logically
derived and easily understood. But


others, such as "wholesale reform"
and "retail reform" have nothing to
do with what readers would expect
from their names. Instead, as Fried-
man explains, wholesale reforms
are top-down macroeconomic poli-
cy changes, while retail reforms are
smaller changes that limit corrup-
tion, cut through bureaucracy, etc.
After one hacks through the first
few hundred pages, Friedman's
book becomes gripping. His core
argument is so powerful that Gov.
Jennifer Granholm referred to it
when explaining plans to rescue the
state's economy. Quoting Arthur
Miller's "Death of a Salesman,"
Friedman explains that there is no
future in being ordinary. With hun-
dreds of millions of youth in India,
China and the developing world
working as hard as they can to build
a better world for themselves, Amer-
icans and Westerners can no longer
count on having reliable, well-paid
jobs - unless they devote them-
selves completely to learning the
skills needed to compete on the
global field. With fewer and fewer
American students choosing to
pursue advanced-engineering and
applied-science degrees, Friedman
suggests that America is ceding its
position as a technological leader
to India and China: "Scientists and
engineers don't grow on trees. They
have to be educated .... because,
ladies and gentleman, this really is
rocket science." If one should take
anything away from this book, it's
Friedman's cautionary wake-up
call: there is a "quiet crisis" brew-
ing in America today, and nobody's
doing anything about it.
Fans of Friedman's other books
and those interested in global poli-
tics, economics or development
should not hesitate to read "The
World is Flat." But, those who fre-
quently read his column or have
watched his Discovery Channel
documentary, "The Other Side of
Outsourcing," should be prepared
for a great deal of overlap. While
not identical to his column or tele-
vision program, the book clearly
draws from both.
Informative and persuasive, "The
World is Flat" is an intellectual book
that avoids the mundane tone and
numb character of an academic text.
While neither perfect nor entirely
original, the book is guaranteed to
keep its readers interested and, more
importantly, get them thinking.

Members of the Creative Arts Orchestra practice yesterday in a School of Music rehearsal
room before their Sunday performance to benefit those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

By Victoria Edwards
Fine Arts Editor

In response to the tragic aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina, the School of Music and the University

Musical Society will present
a benefit concert at the Power
Center this Sunday. No tickets
will be required for the con-
cert, which features University
students, instructors and alum-
ni performing 18 classical and
jazz pieces, some of which are
inspired by the music of the
stricken region. Donations
will be accepted and given to
the American Red Cross, the
National Humane Society and

Concert for
the Victims
of Hurricane
Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005
donations accepted
At the Power Center
America's Second

a public servant. When I sing, I am doing that
- singing is not for myself but for the greater
good," Hall said.
Hall said that this deep sense of public responsi-
bility comes from the gratitude that he feels from
having his family survive the tragedy intact. "My
aunt and mom had to take care of my bed-ridden
grandmother. Her health is dependant on electric-
ity. She is fed through a tube," Hall said.
"They had to get my grandmother out. She
couldn't breathe - my aunt somehow held on to
her car, and had it on high land." Hall's aunt was
able to drive to Houston, where his grandmother
could receive emergency medical attention. "I was
so relieved. (Before), I didn't sleep. I couldn't eat.
I was very concerned; then I began to hear from
other family members," Hall said.
Hall recognizes that the old New Orleans is in
some ways only a thing of the past, but he's opti-
mistic about the rebuilding process. "I know it's
going to come back bigger than ever," he said.
This is the message of hope that Hall believes
is central to the spiritual Give Me Jesus, which
he will perform with the accompaniment of
Music Prof. Louis Nagel. The piece, arranged by
Moses Hogan, a New Orleans jazz musician, is
one that Hall feels will resonate in the souls' of
the audience.
"It's beautiful music, it's complete in and of

itself. The music speaks for itself," Hall said.
Sunday's event will be Music Prof. Caroline
Helton's first benefit concert. As a singer, she was
able to choose texts that had themes most closely
associated with the tragedy.
"The music (for "I Too") is by Margaret
Barnes and the poet is Langston Hughes," Helton
explained. "The issue that struck me was how dis-
proportionately it affected the African American
part of the population, and how much work there
is left to be done in the country on (the issue of)
racial equality."
The other text is "Kaddisch" - a kaddish is
a Jewish prayer - from Maurice Ravel's.Deux
Malodies Hibraiques. Helton chose it because she
is Jewish, and it is something close to her that she
can use to reach out to those affected by the hur-
ricane. "Since I'm Jewish, it is something I want to
offer to those killed by the disaster," Helton said.
Music graduate student Daniel Piccolo, who
will be playing in both the Jazz Ensemble and the
Creative Arts Orchestra on Sunday, emphasized
the good that musicians can do to generate aid for
the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"One of my roommates is a contractor. He left
to go to Mississippi to build roofs," Piccolo said.
It is important that everyone do what they can. I
can't build roofs, but I'm doing what I can to raise

Harvest to aid hurricane victims.
While everyone performing in Sunday's concert
can sympathize with those displaced by the disas-
ter, soloist and University alum Dorian Hall has a
special connection to New Orleans: He was born
and raised there, and the hurricane came frighten-
ingly close to taking his grandmother's life.
"This benefit concert is near and dear to my
heart," Hall said. "I have an obligation to be

Van Sant imagines
Cobai0n's 'Last Days'

By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Film Editor
Gus Van Sant has embarked on
a strange and enthralling journey
as a filmmaker
from which he .
may well never Last Days
return. In the past At the.Michigan
three years, he Theater
has written and Picturehouse
directed a trilogy
films ("Gerry,"
"Elephant" and now "Last Days")
about loosely defined characters who
inexplicably lead themselves into
untimely death. The movies do not

stick around to ask why; to them, that
is beside the point. Love them or hate
them, these films are an escape, the
sort of experience where it's expected
that some viewers will be transported
and others will want to gouge their
eyes out, but no one will respond
It's not as if Van Sant has ever
really made easy movies; his sig-
nature work, "My Own Private
Idaho," starred River Phoenix and
Keanu Reeves as sometime gay hus-
tlers from Portland with a knack for
Shakespearean dialogue. But after
such decidedly mainstream fare as
"Good Will Hunting" and "Finding
Forester," no one knew quite how to
take it when he made "Gerry," the

Courtesy of Picturehouse

"Kurt who?"

a s S

barebones tale of two friends with
the same name who travel into a
desert where they get confused and
never return. And then there was
"Elephant," the jarring story of a
Columbine-like atrocity that won
the Palme D'Or at Cannes but was
so controversial that it led Variety's
Todd McCarthy to brand it "pointless
at best and irresponsible at worst."
Now we have "Last Days," Van
Sant's latest meditative mind trip and
his least accessible movie since "My
Own Private Idaho." It follows the
hazed, utterly detached dying days
of Blake (Michael Pitt, "The Dream-
ers"), a drug-addicted rock star. It's
an overdose that eventually does him

the movie "is a work of fiction and
the characters and events portrayed in
the film are also fictional." Whatever.
For a good portion of its audience,
the thematic parallels of the two tales
will make this very much Cobain's
story, and it's hard to imagine that
Van Sant expected much less.
Whether he has the authority to
make such a movie is a good ques-
tion, but perhaps the more important
one is whether or not he had honor-
able intentions in his use of the story.
It seems he did. He is careful not to
romanticize the addiction, only giv-
ing Blake a true moment of peace in
his final ascent from his body at the
end of the film.

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