Thursday, November 25, 2010


The New York Times Book Review has its 100 notable books list up. A quick and probably inaccurate survey says that the good folks at Random House (Knopf -12 books, Random House - 8 books, Pantheon - 3 books and other books in miscellaneous lines), Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (13 books) and Simon & Shuster (Scribner - 8 books, Simon & Shuster - 5 books) are the happiest with the list. There was exactly 1 book from a university press. The NYTBR doesn't see that its mandate is to review university press books, so this isn't surprising. But, still...

Everyone will carp about omissions, so let me get in early with 2 books I've read and recommend. Where the hell is "The Big Short"? If the New York Times is telling me that there are 100 better, more timely books than Michael Lewis's book, I don't believe them. And what about Patti Smith's "Just Kids"? It only won the National Book Award. If you can find room for Keith Richards and 3 baseball biographies, why not Patti Smith?

Friday, November 12, 2010

No One Calls Me Mr. Hurst

In my ongoing role as a cranky old guy, I'm astonished that total strangers start their emails with "Chris" or "Hi Chris" when they want to sell me something or do them a big favor. I know "Chris" is my name, half of my blog address etc. etc. ... but I was brought up to address strangers as Mr. Smith or Ms. Jones or Dr. Johnson. Has the web and the modern world really wiped all that out? And if it has, have we gained something? I don't know. It could be that I just too comfortable with formality.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


In yesterday's Globe and Mail Report on Business, there's a story on the Federal Reserve Board's stimulus plan on pages one and two and a review on the XBox Kinect Control System on page two. If I measure, I find that the hard news story takes just a little bit more space and does, after all, start on page one. Still, if the Globe and Mail thinks that surviving in the newspaper business means running reviews about toys, even toys used by rich men, in the business section, then may be survival is all you achieve.

On the other hand, I only buy the weekend Globe and Mail, and if there wasn't a cryptic crossword by Fraser Simpson, I wouldn't buy it at all. So who cares what I think?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

French Business Spam

Two to three times a week, I get mail that starts something like this:

Vos projets sont plus nombreux et plus complexes que par le passé !

Yes, it's French business spam, which evades the spam filters because its written in French. I get it because my regular email has a .ca extension which means I could be from Quebec and I have received email from friends in Quebec. It's selling some conference somewhere in Quebec. I try unsubscribing and adding the addresses to my spam filters, but the messages keep showing up, two to three a week. What else do I expect? They're spam. What I don't understand: do these messages work? Are there Quebec businessmen who show up at these conferences because of these messages? There has to be some point where the cost of sending outweighs the benefit, doesn't there? In the meantime, I guess I should be grateful it isn't worse.