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Best of 2002: Movies, Books, Music.
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Where I Talk About Trade Tariffs
Still sick as a dog. Every illness has its weird presenting problem, and for me this hideous cold/flu has been the TV-free sickness. For some reason I just can't bring myself to watch TV, and the prospect of vegging out in front of a DVD is equally unappealing. R—a non-drinker and a non-TV-watcher—usually judges how sick I am by my attitude to alcohol. She knows I must be ill right now because I haven't had a drink in about a week, but I think the lack of televisual stimulation has her quite worried.

Apart from coughing and moaning theatrically (though not professionally, if you know what I mean) all I've done is stare at print. I'm still not really sure that I'm actually reading, but I've fair ploughed (or "plowed" as we say over here) through some of the magazines that have been piling up next to my bed for months (much of our apartment consists of narrow, mazelike passageways with the "walls" of the maze consisting of piles of books and mags). My movin'-kinda-slow brain cells actually stayed still long enough to read Foreign Affairs, which I subscribe to but rarely actually read. One of the pieces in the latest issue on the unlikely topic of trade tarrifs (as opposed to taxation of trade routes) was astonishingly fascinating. Did you realize that "Young single mothers buying cheap clothes and shoes now pay tariff rates five to ten times higher than middle-class or rich families pay in elite stores. Very poor countries such as Cambodia or Bangladesh face tariffs 15 times those applied to wealthy nations and oil exporters"? You didn't, did you? OK, now you, dear reader, are probably as worried as R is about the state of my health.

I have one thrill to report. Yesterday I received a magazine that had something I'd written in it. The November issue of Tennis includes a (short) profile of Anastasia Myskina (the one seen naked on the back of a horse in a recent GQ) that I wrote back in early July. I'm so used to instant publishing that I'd almost forgotten about this piece (not entirely because I'd answered fact-checking questions semi-recently and deposited my check!), but it certainly feels like a very long time since I was interviewing her at Eastbourne. Next week I'm off to Los Angeles for the tour championships to work on a piece about Daniela Hantuchova. I suppose I should be reading about backhands instead of trade policy.