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July 2005

July 29, 2005

Great little article on the used book marke by Varian

Lovely, concise discussion by Hal Varian of the effect of the used book market on consumers and publishers. Conclusion: "All in all, it looks like the used book market creates a lot more value than it destroys."

A 167-word essay on one of today's most pressing problems. Letter perfect. Bravo, Mr. Felipe. See ten essays like this every Tuesday in the "Black List" at the indispensible Black Table.

MINUTE MAIDS ALL IN A ROW: We aren't any busier or harried than our parents or even Little House on the Prairie, for that matter. Our problem is the time it takes to wade through all of the choices we have. Send someone to the store for orange juice. Just orange juice. If you want to help them, specify Minute Maid. It will cut the search in half. But wait. Do you want pulp, some pulp, tons of pulp? Do you want extra calcium, light (from skinny oranges?), low acid, vitamin enriched, immunity enhancing (really!)? Do you want it from the grovestand or home style? Do you want orange juice for high mileage, extra shine and body or when the right moment comes? Remember when orange juice was just what you could squeeze out of an orange? To really mess with your shopper, tell them you want potato chips, too. They have an ENTIRE aisle all to themselves. Having too many choices? Beats having none, I suppose. A --

A lot of people have been coming here recently to learn more about the impending war between Denmark and Canada. I mentioned it briefly last year.

Here's a new link, with some interesting comments. ("That's the difference between Albertans and Canadians. Albertans prefer substance over image, while Canadians/Ontarians would kill each other for the image. It comes from Ontario having rich, easy, carefree lives.")

An assertion that blogs will draw more paying ads if they address niche, rather than broad, audiences.

July 28, 2005

A tidbit on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts that you probably won't read in the Washington Post or the New York Times.

And on the subject of Judge Roberts, here's James Lileks, doing what he does: "Let's Review What the Left Has on Judge Roberts".

Journalism seems like such an easy gig. News flash: sometimes freshman roomates don't get along. Double news flash:

Sometimes, the arrangement results in a lifelong friendship. Usually, it's somewhere between tolerable and rewarding.

And sometimes, it's a disaster than can drag down the entire freshman experience.

The Sci-Fi TV channel has posted a large collection of first-rate science fiction short stories, free for the clicking. Includes some classic stories by prominent authors. Such as Norman Spinrad's "Carcinoma Angels". I read it first when I was twelve; it took my breath away. And it indicated that I had no future as a fiction writer as long as I would have to compete with stories like this.

Thirty-six years later it holds up superbly.

To me, the key issue for a good short story is the ending. It's not all that hard to give the main character an interesting problem. But the trick is how the author resolves the problem. Every aspiring author should see how Spinrad did it here.

More about Higher Education:

I have heard that one of the rites of passage for undergraduates at Harvard University is to have sex in stacks of the vast, labyrinthine Widener Library. It's sort of an academic version of joining the "Mile-High Club."

. . .

What is the message of this new medium? What does it mean when the University of Texas at Austin removes nearly all of the books from its undergraduate library to make room for coffee bars, computer terminals, and lounge chairs? What are students in those "learning commons" being taught that is qualitatively better than what they learned in traditional libraries?

July 27, 2005

There are actual miracles in this life. (Link via my wife.)

What are the Wall Street Journal's economists pessimistic about inflation?

Goldman Sachs economist Avinash Kaza has an interest hypothesis about why the Wall Street Journal's panel of economists are pessimistic about inflation, despite recent good numbers.

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