September 08, 2003
So I'm looking for a blog about victorian literature or, in particularly, about the novels of Jane Austen. Does anybody know of the existence of such a blog or anything pretty close? My eternal gratitude and the like to anybody who can help. Drop me an email. Thanks.
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This New York Times Op-ed by John Mollenkopf attempts to support the closed-primary system in New York, where the Democratic primaries are often determinative of the whole election. He begins:
On the face of it, New York's Charter Revision Commission makes a good argument. The current system of party primaries, it says, prevents the three out of 10 voters who are not registered Democrats from participating in the primary that nominates the candidate who usually wins the general election. Opening primaries to all voters and candidates, it reasons, would lead to more participation, wider choice and more competition. Who could possibly object?
The answer, incidentally, is John Mollenkopf. He mounts three basic objections-- that open democratic primaries decrease voter turnout, that they increase sound-bytes, and that they will decrease minority representation. Here is the first argument:
First of all, opening the primary to all registered voters will allow the participation of those who are the least attached to a party. But these citizens are also the least likely to vote. Thus there is a strong chance that this change, although it may result in an increase in the sheer number of eligible voters, will lead to a decline in turnout rates, which are already low.
This is a profoundly silly argument. Mollenkopf suggests not letting a group of people vote in a particular election because the percentage of them who will vote in that election is lower than the percentage of people who already vote in that election. Hopefully this is ridiculous on its face, but if not, just think about how this exact argument could be used as a rationale for keeping minorities from voting, which I'm pretty sure Mollenkopf would strongly oppose. Then there is his second point:
... by taking parties out of the primary, the proposed changes would put more emphasis on raising money and devising direct-mail campaigns and less emphasis on a candidate's party history and personal connection to the voters. This will promote the kind of candidate-centered, sound-bite-oriented politics deplored by thoughtful critics.
This argument isn't silly so much as empty. So far as I know, there's not much of a claim that closed-primary states have more "thoughtful," less "candidate-centered" campaigns than states with open primaries.
And then there's Mollenkopf's third argument:
The biggest problem with the commission's proposed revision, however, is that it removes the only major advantage the system provides to minority voters — one they badly need to offset their many disadvantages. Although non-Hispanic whites account for 36 percent of the city's population, they accounted for 52 percent of votes cast in the last mayoral election. This is because they are more likely to be voting-age citizens, to have good educations and to own property.
But they are much less likely than other city residents to be Democrats. According to my research, 54 percent of non-Hispanic whites but 75 percent of Latinos and 85 percent of blacks are registered Democrats. So the voting public in Democratic primaries looks much more like the city as a whole than does the voting population of general elections. Ending party primaries would seriously erode the influence minority voters have in picking candidates.
Again, think carefully about what Mollenkopf is actually arguing: A number of people of a certain race have low voter turnout. Therefore, we should restrict membership in Democratic primaries (which, Mollenkopf concedes, are often the determinative election) to registered Democrats, because minorities are most likely to be Democrats.
I can only hope this is meant as a clever parody of affirmative action rhetoric. The entire article seems like it was written to prey on people's innumeracy. After all, the objections "this will decrease voter turnout" and "this will decrease minority representation" sound compelling on their face. But it's important to realize that while these things are true, Mollenkopf is misleading about the way they will happen. Voter Turnout and Minority Voting Power will decrease under this change because the change extends the ability to vote in meaningful elections to those who don't now have it. By extending the ability to vote, it will thus dilute the power of those who already have the ability, but why should that be a bad thing? The tyranny of the majority is bad enough. The tyranny of the minority is just as bad.
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Will highlights a discussion betwen the Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein and Tyler Cowen over the lack of price discrimination in movies, other than the common matinee v. evening prices. I can't shed any light on why we aren't seeing more layered price discrimination, but it already does exist. It's just only the Brits who are doing it.
From the same folks who brought you EasyJet, EasyCar, and all the rest, there's also Easy Cinema
easyCinema is about going to the pictures for as little as 20p. By re-engineering the business of showing films and removing the frills from going to the cinema we have made our business more efficient so that we can offer consumers lower prices. What we concentrate on is the core competence of showing good films in good cinemas at great prices.
The efficiency of easyCinema starts at the box office which we have quite simply removed. Seats are booked online or by phone (soon to be available on a premium rate line), and the earlier you book the less you pay. There are computers in the cinema itself so that customers can book online while they are there. Something else which we have removed is popcorn which we think is a rip-off. If you want to eat and drink at easyCinema, bring your own - you'll probably find it much cheaper than the prices charged by cinemas for food and drink. All we ask is that you don't leave any litter behind.
easyCinema, like all easyGroup businesses, is high volume, low margin. What this means is that we want to get many more people to go to the cinema so that we can charge each one less. On average across the whole cinema industry and across all showings the average occupancy of cinemas is currently only 20%. Four fifths of cinema seats are going empty and yet cinemas continue to charge high prices. What we are doing at easyCinema is lowering the price in order to get more customers. We will make money as a business and more members of the public will get to see more films more often.
I remember reading a Slate article, way back, about easyCinema's opening. Apparently the theater was having trouble getting firstrun blockbusters, but otherwise was looking fairly successful.
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My governor, Frank O'Bannon, is in the hospital undergoing surgery for the cerebral hemmorage he suffered this morning. More news as I learn it.
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Another Rice Grad complains that people who attempt to kill smut mogul Larry Flynt are called "assassins." He says:
Since when is a pornographer someone who is assassinated? I think the correct term for the attack of Flynt is "attempted murder."
The Oxford English Dictionary (subscription required; if you're at one, your university probably has one) first identifies an assassin as:
Certain Moslem fanatics in the time of the Crusades who were sent forth by their sheikh "The Old Man of the Mountains" to murder the Christian leaders.
Of course this definition applies neither to murderers of Larry Flynt nor those of John F Kennedy. Thus the OED offers this as the second definition:
One who undertakes to put another to death by treacherous violence. The term retains so much of its original application as to be used chiefly of the murderer of a public personage, who is generally hired or devoted to the deed, and aims purely at the death of his victim.
Now, it's my unconfirmed suspicion that people who attempt to kill Larry Flynt probably do so for ideological reasons, or reasons connected to his public persona. Those who attempt to kill him for personal reasons are clearly not assassins, but nor would be those who attempted to kill President Bush because of an old greivance from the Yale days. Though I suspect that Flynt's alleged assassins aren't hired by anybody, they probably are (if my hypothesis is correct) "devoted" in much the same sense that John Wilkes Booth was devoted to killing Abraham Lincoln, and so on.
So this leaves the second prong of the test. I suspect that Another Rice Grad thinks assassination should be reserved for some other class of people, a class that does not include "pornographers" but does include presidents(JFK) and religious leaders(MLK). Of course, such a class couldn't be as broad as "politicians" because Flynt is clearly a politician within the broadest definition of the word. Thus, I think the OED's requirement, that the target be of "public personage" makes the most sense, and I also think it's clearly the case that Flynt fits. When devoted people attempt to kill a public figure for reasons related to his public persona, I think it's fair to call that assassination. Thus, whatever one thinks of Larry Flynt, I think the unnamed "they" that Rice Grad refers to are not using the word unfairly, and those who wish to express disapproval of the broad class of pornographers should find some other way.
UPDATE. Another Rice Grad writes back:
I believe the word has evolved to the point where assassinations can only occur to religious or political leaders. Certainly, we never talk about the killings of famous people as being "assassinations."
But wait. What about John Lennon? A Lexis search for the phrase "John Lennon Assassinated" in major U.S. Newspapers turns up 62 hits, most of them usages like the following:
We are ever-changing and always the same. Like the Kennedy brothers, John Lennon was assassinated, and George Harrison succumbed to the very cigarettes the surgeon general warned us about in 1964.
9 John Lennon assassinated, December 8 1980, 2%
There was a long, long silence. Broken by my mate Noel Gallagher, bless him. "I was in my front room in Manchester listening to a football match and they interrupted it to say that John Lennon had been assassinated," he said. "It was like, 'Fuck'; it was just silence really. I didn't know what it meant until I dissected the White Album. And then I thought: 'Fuck, this guy is not even around any more.'"
to name just a few. If Rice Grad's complaint is the prescriptivist one, that "assassination" shouldn't be used to merely refer to famous figures who have been killed because of their fame, he'll have to find authorities to contradict the OED. If he means to make the descriptivist complaint, that people don't refer to these killings of famous figures as assassinations, he'll have to find evidence that the killings of people like John Lennon aren't referred to as assassinations.
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After a summer of quiet, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments again. Stay tuned to the blogosphere's election law expert, Rick Hasen, for semi-live commentary from the oral arguments in McConnell v. FEC, discussing the constitutionality of BCRA, McCain-Feingold's Campaign Finance Reform bill. He reports no surprises thus far. Justices Souter, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer seem generally supportive of the legislation while Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas seem generally hostile to it. O'Connor and Rehnquist are the tough votes.
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When a business has such great demand and limited supply the obvious solution (until more supply can be brought in, at least) is to raise prices. So, why don't theaters price discriminate between weekend nights and weeknights, the way they do between matinees and other shows?
Tyler Cowen, also on the Volokh Conspiracy, suggests 6 reasons. All of his reasons are farily interesting but none offers a particularly good explanation for why charging higher prices on Saturdays is more unfair, buzz-destroying, etc. than charging higher prices at night which almost all theaters already do. (And to no avail; the matinee I attended yesterday afternoon had six audience members, and my father and sister and I were three of them).
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Professor Tyler Cowen, economist and provocative blogger has agreed to answer 20 questions about group-blogs, economics, and ethnic food. Tyler blogs both at the Volokh Conspiracy, and at Marginal Revolution. Read and enjoy:
1: Why did you start blogging?
Eugene Volokh asked me to blog, I hadn't thought about blogging before. And it took me months to get started, I was marrying and moving house and wanted to have that behind me.
Eugene is a force of nature. His brother Sasha is very impressive as well, and I knew and thought highly of the other contributors. So I was very flattered to be asked. I didn't think it through much, I simply figured that being affiliated with Eugene had to be a good idea.
Going back earlier, the first blog I ever read was Andrewsullivan.com. He does a remarkable job of bringing readers into his life, and into his thoughts. At the same time, he offers only smidgens of detail about his life, but it doesn't matter, readers follow him like a soap opera. Reading him, which I find gripping, made me realize the power of blogs.
I think blogs, or something like blogs, are the wave of the future in academia. Right now the lower-tier journals and presses don't perform much of a certifying function, the material in them simply doesn't get read. At the same time the best journals and presses are worth more than ever.
I envision a world where people compete intensely for some "home runs" in the top scholarly outlets. That provides their initial certification. They then use their names to present ideas in a variety of forms, including blogs. Eugene Volokh and Brad DeLong already operate this way, they are ahead of the curve. Academic name and academic celebrity will become increasingly important. Academic "home runs" will matter more and more. Why should anyone pay $75 for a book that will sell only 600 copies? Why should anyone publish in a lower-tier journal for a handful of readers? Internet publishing, in one form or another, will sweep this earlier world away. Research home runs, followed up by blogs, will become increasingly important.
2: You currently blog as part of The Volokh Conspiracy. Are there any disadvantages to group-blogging and have you ever thought about breaking off to form your own independent blog?
Group-blogging is the wave of the future. You need fresh, timely content on a regular basis and no one person, except perhaps for Glenn Reynolds, can keep it up without assistance. Single-bloggers also tend to get stuck on topics. I agree with Andrew Sullivan about gay marriage, but I am tired of reading about it.
That being said, bloggers will always have different styles, so a group needs a strong central personality or personalities. Eugene serves this role. My background, from economics, gives me a very different style from the legal bloggers. Legal scholarship places a premium on precedent, common sense intuition, and a certain kind of conservatism (I don't mean that word in the political sense). Economic reasoning, in contrast, looks for the counterintuitive conclusion and seeks to provoke. So some of the volokh.com readers may feel like I am coming from left field. I think Eugene is right to keep law at the center of the blog, but offer some diversity at the fringes.
Alex Tabarrok and I have just started our own blog, MarginalRevolution at http:\\marginalrevolution.blogs.com, available under the easier to remember www.marginalrevolution.com as well. It will have more of an economics focus than does Volokh conspiracy. Over time it will become a group blog, Alex and I will start off to set the overall tone and then invite some more economists to join us, maybe a demographer and sociologist also. I will continue blogging at Volokh.
3: George Mason University, especially in its economics and law departments, has a reputation for being pretty biased in a pro-Libertarian way. Do you think there is any truth to this?
What does "biased" mean? A recent study by David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture could not find a single registered Republican at MIT. For every Republican on the Brown faculty, there are twenty registered Democrats. The study found only three Republican administrators in the whole Ivy League. My department probably has more libertarians than Republicans but in any case we are bringing diversity and balance to academic life.
You know, I hardly ever talk politics with the people in my department, or in the Law School. I don't doubt that many of them have libertarian leanings, but problem solving and debate come first, which is how it should be.
4: John Bates Clark medal-winner Steven Levitt (recently profiled in the New York Times) likes to focus on solving and analyzing problems creatively using "economic thinking" rather than complex econometric work or formal theory. What advice do you have for economics students who want to pursue this sort of economic study (which seems quite a bit like much of your work) rather than follow the paths of formal theory or econometrics?
My advice is simple: go study with Steve Levitt. Or with Andrei Shleifer at Harvard. This kind of economics is the wave of the future. We promote this same approach in the economics Ph.d. program at George Mason. No one wants abstract game theory any more, it has to be relevant to the real world.
5: To what extent would you guess college students choose their major for economic reasons? What about economics majors in particular?
We don't understand very well why people go to college. How much of it is just certification? How much is the value-added of learning? Making personal connections? The simple pleasure of being in school and having better access to parties? All of these matter, but I've never seen a convincing treatment of their relative importance. Not surprisingly, we also don't understand how people choose their majors.
6: In recent years there has been a growing amount of "Economic imperialism" as economists bring economic analysis to bear in non-monetary markets. This includes the economic analysis of law, and public choice theory but also things like the economic analysis of literature or justice. In some ways it seems as if economists are taking over most of the serious statistical work that used to be done by sociologists and others. Do you think there are any downsides to the growth of the discipline?
Sociology is the current frontier for economics, as evidenced by the work of Levitt, which you mentioned above. An economist today might study how social networks operate, or how criminal gangs finance themselves. Psychology and experimental economics are also very important. We have moved away from the simple rational actor model in favor of richer models of choice. The rational model remains very powerful, but many of its implications already have been played out, so people look to new frontiers. In the longer run, I wonder if there won't be a single degree in social science, with an emphasis on inference and statistics. People will then immerse themselves in particular fields of study, and learn the details of their topic as they do the work.
Much of the current "economic imperialism" is going in the other direction. Right now economics is importing more ideas from other disciplines than it is exporting, unlike say fifteen years ago, when the Becker approach was ascending everywhere. Economics is becoming more of a behavioral science, more context-dependent, and less a priori. Even Gary Becker is looking into what determines preferences, rather than taking them as fixed and constant. Ultimately these changes are for the better. But it is also less exciting. When everyone is doing something different, and context-dependent, it is harder for a single new idea to sweep the world. I already miss this, we are a less unified discipline than before. The years of 1960-1985 were amazing for high theory, in everything from law and economics to macro to game theory. Now that time is over, which I find sad. It is what I grew up with. More people are doing good work than ever before, but there are fewer revolutions in thought, fewer seminal articles.
7: Last month I was at dinner with a bunch of Washington D.C. interns arguing about whether there is anything left to the study of literature or art that cannot be covered by economic analysis. Everybody at dinner said that there was not-- that the economic analysis of literature and art answered all "important" questions. Obviously this statement depends on what you think is "important," but do you think this is true? Do economic analysis and artistic analysis proceed in parallel or overlap?
Don't centuries of Western intellectual and cultural history show they are wrong? Reading a good critic is amazing, whether it is early Harold Bloom or the music people who write for Fanfare magazine today. And these critics either don't know any economics, or if they do they don't show it.
Economic models are one good way of generating and evaluating new ideas. The economic way of thinking says the following: "If you have a new idea, try specifying your idea in terms of explicit preferences and explicit constraints. Then look at some data." Now this is extremely powerful and useful. But can it really be the end-all and be-all of human thought? No way. And you can't be a good economist if all you know is economics.
8: You were the first to start a serious online flak about the telemarketing do-not-call list. Having thrown some of your original thoughts out there, what do you think now? Is it a good idea? If not, what modifications would make it a better idea?
If I had my finger on the button, I would not undo the list. But I think it is a dangerous precedent for the federal government to be so closely involved in defining appropriate solicitation standards. I would not be surprised if we ended up regretting this. I asked my readers how they would feel about a Federal "do not sell me french fries" list, for those people trying to diet.
Recently my stepdaughter installed a telezapper on our phone, which is supposed to weed out automated telemarketing calls. We will see how it works, overall I would prefer technological solutions to the problem.
9: Is there a place for serious economic theory in political discourse, or is it generally too hard to "sell" most rigorous economic thinking?
The quality of economic discourse in the public arena is low. But many intelligent policymakers are thirsty for new ideas. Where would New Zealand be today if Roger Douglass, who led their reforms, had not read Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek? Friedman and Hayek were influential in the Czech Republic as well. The Chicago School of Economics has had a big influence in Latin America. Jeffrey Sachs helped with the Bolivian reforms, and so on.
10: You are the director of the Mercatus Center, which aims to "to bridge academic learning and real world practice." Whatsort of real world effects does Mercatus have?
One of our best programs is called Capitol Hill Campus. We put on economic seminars and talks for Capitol Hill staff, bringing in top professors from around the country, usually economists though not exclusively so. Most of the Hill offices send people to these talks, and many Chiefs of Staff, from both sides of the aisle, attend our events. We view ourselves as contributing to the education of Washington policymakers. I am convinced that ideas and education make a huge difference in this world. Our particular contribution, of course, is harder to sort out.
We also helped bring Vernon Smith, last year's Nobel Laureate in economics, to George Mason. Vernon is the father of experimental economics and also an expert in electricity economics. He finds George Mason, which is right outside of Washington, to be a better locale for promoting his ideas (he came from Tucson). Vernon, like Eugene, is a force of nature.
11: What ended the Great Depression?
I once wrote an article ("Why Keynesianism Triumphed, Or Could So Many Keynesians Have Been Wrong?" Critical Review, Summer\Fall 1989, no link available) arguing it is a puzzle why the Great Depression lasted as long as it did. True, governments did many stupid things at the time, but this is hardly unusual. The overall level of intervention, or wage and price stickiness, pales in comparison to today. For whatever reasons, coordinating forces were very weak in the 1930s. It also seems that much of humanity entered into a kind of collective insanity for a while, the attractions of communism, fascism, and all that. We had these new technologies of warfare, and of communication, and somehow they combined in deadly fashion, Western civilization didn't have the norms and social capital to handle it. I don't feel we understand this period very well. Brad DeLong, one of my favorite economists (and of course a famous blogger) is writing a book that covers this question.
12: Why do you think there are so many more lawyers than economists in the blogosphere?
Blogs are well suited to legal methods of reasoning, you can cite cases, precedents and the like. Economic reasoning is starker, less tied to individual facts, and more speculative and provocative. In many ways it is more vulnerable.
Legal blogs also make for better stories. argmax.com is a high quality economics blog, it covers macroeconomic developments, but it is not so entertaining. It is hard to tell a good story about the behavior of fourth quarter inventories, not the stuff of either legend or soap operas.
Not surprisingly, there are many more good legal blogs than economics blogs. Every spring I teach a class in Law and Literature, to law students, it would be much harder to teach a class in Economics and Literature. Melville, Kafka, Sophocles, Shakespeare and others have much to say about the law, however implicitly. Not to mention the Torah. Dickens covers economic themes but is not very insightful and much of it is simply wrong. But his Bleak House has amazing insight about the law. There is something anti-literary about traditional forms of economic reasoning, and I think this is related to why it is hard to blog economics. I am writing a paper on whether we can find connections between economic and literary ways of reasoning, the topic has long fascinated me.
13: Which presidential candidate seems to you to have the least disastrous economic policies?
Bush has been a big disappointment on fiscal policy, as domestic spending has gone through the roof. I don't know of any major candidate who has promised to cut domestic spending. Iraqi reconstruction is arguably the most important economic issue at hand, but do we know what any of the Democrats really favor in that arena, as opposed to what they say to make Bush look bad? I think it is very hard to tell who will be a good President.
14: Has Alan Greenspan lost his touch?
I don't blame him for the slow recovery in the job market. Much of the business cycle is luck in the first place. You can't blame Greenspan for the dot.com bubble, 9/11, or the war in Iraq, all factors behind our recent economic malaise. But if I were he, I would have quit while I was ahead, a few years ago.
15: Should the government use any sort of policy-- monetary or fiscal-- to attempt to "smooth out" business cycles and create economic stability?
The question is hard to answer as phrased. The very course of the business cycle changes monetary and fiscal variables. Yes, a government can "sit tight" on some variables, but others will move, so the default position of "doing nothing" is hard to define. Economists, including Keynesians, have become more skeptical about fiscal policy over time. Opinion is split over the effectiveness of monetary policy. I am skeptical, but I could be wrong, and in the meantime I don't see anything wrong with monetary loosening during a downturn, provided it is kept within reason. If the government/central bank literally "does nothing" the money supply will contract in pro-cyclical fashion, which is hardly desirable.
16: You published a very interesting five-part sequence on Macroeconomics on the Volokh Conspiracy, which received some very harsh criticism at the anti-Volokh Conspiracy, Crooked Timber. (I'm thinking of the posts by Daniel Davies here and here.) As somebody who likes to post fairly provocatively, how do you decide when to respond to criticisms in the blogosphere and when to simply let them stand?
I don't know Daniel Davies but from the little I have read I think he is a smart guy. I do feel he misunderstood my post. He published a later post when he wrote: "…it seems clear to me what the problem is. Basically, Tyler’s got a view of the macroeconomy not too dissimilar from my own." Brad DeLong, the best and best-known economics blogger, covered this whole episode, with links, he wrote of Daniel Davies portraying the two of us as "long-lost brothers." Davies did keep the complaint that I had not gone into nearly enough detail, and failed to offer a thousand word explanation of why I reject monetary theories of the trade cycle. I did not feel that would have been appropriate for The Volokh Conspiracy, and as I read Davies he concurred. Many of my Volokh readers wrote and said they liked getting a condensed guide to what one economist thinks, which is what I tried to provide.
More generally, I do not know of most of the reactions to my posts in the blogosphere. I was very pleased to see instapundit.com pick up some of my electricity posts. In any case I think readers of The Volokh Conspiracy want fresh and timely material rather than hearing academics bicker over the details of who misunderstood whom.
17: You have an amazingly complete D.C.-area Ethnic Dining Guide (which I only wish I had discovered while I was still in D.C.!) How do you figure out which ethnic restaurants to try? Do you work by word of mouth recommendations, do you simply go to any ethnic restaurant you haven't visited before, or do you have some other system?
I used to try all of them but now there are too many. Reader recommendations help, but if you have a good eye you can usually spot a good one just by looking at it. Look at the clientele and the menu and you will know.
18: You seem to have a deep interest in Amate painting. What exactly is Amate painting and where does your interest in it come from?
Amate painting is done on bark paper. Several Mexican villages, very rural and remote, specialize in this art form (the above link offers more details). I go every year, at least once, I have friends there plus I love the food and the locale, it is very high up in the mountains and has amazing cacti. The village has only 1500 people and there is nothing around for many hours, a real change of pace from my usual travels, which tend to be urban.
I believe I have the largest amate collection in the world, and a few years ago I helped the Smithsonian get some amates for their forthcoming American Indian Museum, soon to open on the Mall in DC. My house is full of art, including amate art, I can't imagine it any other way. This is a big part of my life. I have two "Mexican families" (not in the literal sense), I help them find customers in the United States, call them every week, and help them with expenses. See the link for photos of their works. I have a book on amate coming out from University of Michigan Press, called Amate for Sale: Indigenous Mexican Painters in Global Art Markets, it is a story of how globalization can support cultural diversity.
19: Do you read fiction, and what kind of fiction do you read?
I love to read fiction, most of all classics, which at this point means rereading. I'd like to read Norman Rush's Mortals soon. I'll be reading Njal's Saga a few more times, the Icelandic work, I'll be teaching it this coming spring in Law and Literature. Two novels from the last year stand out. Siri Hustved's What I Loved is written in a very moving and personal voice, very sad and tragic. Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White is a wonderful faux Victorian novel about a prostitute and her self-deceiving patron, both deep and a page-turner at the same time. My best reread was Moby Dick, soon will come Nabokov's Pale Fire.
20: What is the best Mexican or Latin-American restaurant you have been to north of the border?
Some of the taquerias in Houston and Chicago are very good, Los Angeles as well, though they are harder to find there because the city is so spread out. Frankly I prefer my own Mexican cooking. I've been to Mexico many times, and eaten the food of many grandmothers, and learned how to copy it to some extent. Plus I love to eat in the food stalls. Mexican regional cuisine, as sold in the "comedores populares" [popular eating places, or stalls], is my idea of food heaven. You can have amazing meals in a great setting for only a few dollars.
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Two recent New York Times articles have been getting lots of interesting responses from the blogosphere.
Bloggers certainly seem to enjoy whining about the New York Times, but they might do well to consider that it's solid, debate-provoking pieces such as these, not the slant of the front-page stories, that make it the must-read paper for the educated elite.
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