Assorted links

by on May 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Evan Soltas on India.

2. Palindrome summarizing the plot of Star Wars.

3. Paul Krugman on science fiction and fiction.

4. Hamilton responds to Sumner and DeLong.

5. A history of first class airline passes for life, interesting throughout.

Baphomet May 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I thought a palindrome was a sports arena in Alaska.

RR May 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

That would be a Palin-drone.

BAM May 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

You mean “Palin-dome”.

Bender Bending Rodriguez May 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Two pit-bulls enter, one pit-bull leaves (probably wearing lipstick).

Ted Craig May 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm

3. Best line: The problem with digital books is that you can always find what you are looking for but you need to go to a bookstore to find what you weren’t looking for.

Urso May 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I came here to list this under Very Good Sentences.

I realize amazon et al are trying their hardest to rectify this, but their algorithms will inevitably end up suggesting books that are pretty much like everything you’ve read before.

Sam May 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm

The algorithm that works is embedded in the layout that makes Krugman’s point about bookstores true. Namely, Amazon just has to let more counterbalanced randomness into the recommendations.

Dave May 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm

I wasn’t so impressed the last time I browsed the “social science” section of a Barnes and Noble. I’m usually much more impressed with the options I see on Amazon.

TallDave May 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm

It’s not like you can’t browse Amazon. Plus the selection is bigger, and you don’t have to leave your home.

The Other Jim May 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm

3: It is very unsurprising that the Former Enron Adviser prefers watching Youtube to reading books.

hanmeng May 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Oh, he does read some books. What’s really creepy is the way he singles out Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy” as formative.

JWatts May 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm

“What’s really creepy is the way he singles out Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy” as formative.”

Not just the Foundation Trilogy, but specifically psychohistorians and the original Dune. I always thought the psychohistorians and the Bene Gesserit from Dune were cast from the same mold.

TGGP May 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Do you a point to make about what Krugman actually did in his capacity as an Enron adviser, or did you merely want to tar him by association?

For what it’s worth, I think Krugman jumped the shark during the Bush presidency, possibly related to allowing Robin Wells to angry up his commentary.

KLO May 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm

5. This shows the difference between first and third party payment. When American first thought up the unlimited travel scheme, it imagined that employers would buy the passes for employees. Because the employees would not have paid for the passes themselves, American probably felt that the passes would not be heavily used. Instead, what happened was that a bunch of individuals realized what a good deal American was offering and bought passes themselves in spite of their high cost. Having paid for the passes themselves, the individual travelers were intent on getting their money’s worth, and then some.

Adrian Ratnapala May 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I like old-fashioned space opera less. There isn’t much current stuff I really like.

Eck? Is he saying that current stuff involves much more old-fashioned spaceo opera? Or is he just saying that he is an old fashioned crumedgeon who doesn’t like anything? I can empathise with the latter.

The authors I do [like] seem to be mostly Scots or Brits, such as Iain Banks, Charlie Stross, and MacLeod.

Ok, so I had to Google for Charlie Stross and (Ken) MacLeod. Wikipedia makes Stross sound interesting. Banks is not. Any other suggestons for the Brit-list? I nominate Al Reynolds.

Ok, so who are Charlie Stro
I find that odd. I suspect that modern SF, both good and bad, is probably less space operatic than the old.

Bender Bending Rodriguez May 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Everyone talks about how great Stross is, so I read his book Accelerando. And by “read”, I mean “struggled through two-thirds of it, trying to find something worth reading”. I’ve read Cory Doctorow books, so you can’t accuse me of only reading the good stuff, but Stross…? Meh. I’d rather read the international ingredients list on a box of generic corn flakes trying to figure out which Dutch word is “high fructose corn syrup”.

TallDave May 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I thought Accelerando was very good, bold and imaginative.

OTOH, nothing since then has been very good. His Merchant Princes series fell apart (devolved is too kind) into a plot by leading Republicans to nuke the United States. For oil. I wish I were making this up. But one can see the appeal to Krugman in that.

careless May 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

OTOOH, he named a book “rule 34″, so he’s got that going for him

Bender Bending Rodriguez May 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Is it about books having sex with other books?

Zach May 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Krugman seems like an interesting guy when he’s not foaming at the mouth. I wish this side came out more.

MacLeod is very good. I’ve never cared for Stross or Banks.

Sum Yung Gai May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

SInce American is now in bankruptcy, can’t it unilaterally cancel all these passes? It might even undertake to refund the purchase price to soften the blow. Either step would be cheaper than this ill-conceived, moronic program.

TallDave May 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm

3. Heh, that explains a lot. Foundation is in some sense a central planners’ fantasy, a place where Knowledge isn’t just Pretence.

cthulhu May 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Indeed. I enjoyed most of Asimov’s stuff, but he’s very definitely a big-government guy. But I didn’t exactly expect Krugman to sing the praises of, say, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” or “The Puppet Masters”…

Scrutineer May 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm

This New Yorker piece goes into a little more detail about Foundation’s influence on Krugman’s choice of career:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/03/01/100301fa_fact_macfarquhar?currentPage=all

Scoop May 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

5. Question that some frequent flyers might be able to help me with:

It would seem American would only lose real money on this ticket is when a lifetime ticket holder booked a seat on a flight where first class was full, and full with people who had actually paid for first class seats rather than just getting upgraded. Does that really happen frequently? Or ever?

My impression, as someone who flies swine class, is that most of the people sitting in first were people who bought coach but had a decent frequent flyer account and got to the airport early (and thus would pay exactly the same whether they sat in first or coach). Is this not true?

Rahul May 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

Doesn’t a PAX have some incremental variable cost? Especially on a 1st class seat.

John Schilling May 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

Regardless of the breakdown of first-class vs economy passengers, the airline can sell only a finite number of tickets – capacity of the aircraft, plus a few percent for expected no-shows. And it is increasingly the case that they do sell out. So they are very likely out the price of an economy-class ticket, and at the margin probably one of the more expensive last-minute economy-class tickets.

Jeff May 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Based on the article, the airlines still have to pay the airport taxes/fees (several hundred dollars per international flight) related to the seat, as well as reward miles (100 miles = ~$1).

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