In other news...

And now, for our quasi-daily "In other news..." update:

I fell exhaustedly asleep after finishing The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at 2 a.m. this morning, so I haven't had a chance to begin my next book yet. It is Keri Hulme's The Bone People, which is not only my Book Awards Challenge choice for the month, but was also the July selection for the Book Awards Book Group on Yahoo (sorry, guys- I am a little late getting to this one). Meanwhile I am about sixty pages in to Black Swan Green, which is the first New York Times Notable Book Challenge work I have read in several months (sigh).

Yesterday I watched Crimen Ferpecto, about a department store salesman who somehow ends up with both a stalker and the corpse of his enemy, and the accomplishment filled me with a sense of Netflix virtue that was completely at odds with the rant I posted yesterday about the company. Meanwhile, Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped has been skulking suspiciously about my home in its little red envelope since last week, but I am dreading what the jacket description calls its "deceptively successful minimalist approach" so much that I keep putting it off. What does that even mean? That the minimalist approach at first seems to be successful, and then reveals itself as a total failure towards the end of the film?

Last but not least, I need to plug this project - Eco-Libris - which allows you to plant trees to off-set those used to produce the books you own, although my recommendation is tinged with skepticism (totally unrelated to anything this company has done) that this may just be a method for alleviating (from afar) the ubiquitous liberal guilt about rampant consumerism and resource consumption. Also, my innocence died a little when it was revealed that many of the plant-a-tree, off-set-your-carbon-footprint programs were largely ineffective or even harmful to the environment. The issue vis-a-vis carbon off-setting (rather than paper usage) is ably summarized at Ecotravel's "Why plant a tree?" page, and they ultimately come to the conclusion that many environmental groups have become more sophisticated and effective in executing these sorts of projects. But a lot of my skepticism (as well as the attendant feeling that at least some action is better than nothing) is well expressed in this paragraph from their page:
While some environmental organisations argue against the whole idea of carbon offsetting, suggesting that it is little more than “tokenism” and discourages people from dealing with the real problem, tree planting can be a positive start to addressing the carbon issue for ourselves. If nothing else, it shows a willingness to do something – and few gardens, however small, fail to benefit from a tree or two.
So, final analysis: Eco-Libris seems to provide an emphasis on transparency and an eye for detail which seeks to maximize the environmental and social effectiveness of their project. They encourage you not only to off-set the paper usage that goes into your library, but also to lobby publishers to engage in more environmentally sound printing practices. I appreciate their assertion that change can begin on the small-scale, and be affordable, even for those of us subsisting on meager graduate student stipends, or those of us under intense economic and social pressure to engage in slash-and-burn agricultural practices on our land.

We cannot let these small efforts appease our drive to change (allowing them to disintegrate into "tokenism"), but neither can we allow skepticism to paralyze us.