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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

This is it for me, at least for this chapter.  I am off to join some people who don’t much appreciate voices singing out of key, and while they might be able to get over my public disdain for coaches who punt in opposing territory, it would be rather awkward to continue to point out the incompetence of the administration.  So for now, it’s probably best to hang it up.

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I’m a little surprised to see this:

Wal-Mart, the mightiest retail giant in history, may have met its own worthy adversary: Amazon.com.  In what is emerging as one of the main story lines of the 2009 post-recession shopping season, the two heavyweight retailers are waging an online price war that is spreading through product areas like books, movies, toys and electronics. (more…)

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Good Job Switzerland

Roman Polanski, after thirty years of thumbing his nose at justice, was arrested by the Swiss police while on his way to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. (more…)

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No, Mind If I Fart?

Marc Ambinder and Crooked Timber reflect on the oddest aspect of tobacco regulations: they work.

I would have predicted that the ban would never work in pubs. But it did – pretty well instantaneously as best as I could tell. If it hadn’t been for the Irish example, I would have bet even larger amounts that the ban would never have taken off in Italy (…where the general attitude to large swathes of civil and criminal law seems best characterized as a kind of amiable contempt). But again, it appears to have worked.

I suspect three forces are at work:

  • Smoking norms turned out to be incredibly complicated views of public and private space, and the bans fit nicely inside them;
  • Widespread acceptance of the harm of environmental tobacco smoke empowered nonsmokers;
  • The bans – and, indeed, the significant increases in tobacco taxes – were not complete, and gave smokers a feeling of agency.

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Edward Kennedy, dead at 77.

We will see plenty of reverential soft-focus pieces on the news over the next few days, stories about the “Lion of the Senate,” about his advocacy for the downtrodden, about the long-lost era when Democrats were not the party of Wall Street.  I’d like to see something a bit more like this:

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Insane Bolt

I don’t know what this guy is on, but he sure is fun to watch:

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Fiftieth State

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Hawaii’s accession to the Union.

It should be a much better place.

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More About Food

Michael Pollan has a very long piece in the New York Times Magazine that focuses on the seeming contradiction between the strong ratings for the Food Network and the declining amount of time and complexity that goes into a typical American household’s meal preparation:

Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia arrived on our television screens. It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or “The Next Food Network Star.” What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves — an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for.

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Merci

Wow.  Big thanks to James Kwak at Baseline, Mike Konczal at both The Atlantic and Rortybomb, Felix Salmon at Reuters,  Orangederange at Digg, and everyone who took the time to comment recently.  Only eight of my posts have even broken the hundred view mark; to have one just shy of ten thousand is rather surprising.  I suppose Malcom Gladwell was onto something when he wrote about Connectors.

Not to mention thanks to the casino executive who taught me the important lesson that in a world fixated on procedural justice, only losers load dice and mark decks.  Winners write the rules.

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James Kwak takes on Will Wilkinson, who has a critique of Paul Krugman‘s articles about income inequality.  I’m not sure I agree with any of them.

The third grade version of the debate so far:

Paul says that when he grew up in the 1950s, everything was perfect.  We lived in cookie-cutter suburbs, drove one of three similar cars, worked in similar jobs, and had 2.4 kids.  Unions were strong, single-earner families were the norm, and everyone gathered for backyard barbeques on the weekend.  Unless you were black, in which case you lived in a dog-run shack in the South and weren’t a part of our story, or a single/divorced/fallen woman, in which case you could expect something between benign neglect and borderline assault from society and also weren’t a part of our story.  Now, of course, a few financial engineers on Wall Street and a handful of other tycoons in the intellectual property industries (and big box retail) make an absurd amount of money and lord it over everyone else by reestablishing Gilded Age society – combining land parcels, building gated communities that do not host neighborhood barbeques, flying around in private jets while the rest of us take off our shoes at security.

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