RE/Search

I’ve been browsing around the Internet while sitting in this meeting that doesn’t require my attention, and became curious about whether RE/Search is still around. Looks like it is. There’s even a Twitter account.

Even more astonishing is that the copy I had on J. G. Ballard was last selling for $70. I didn’t much care for it, and discarded it while emptying the Too Big House for sale in 2014. I wonder if I still have my copy of #11: Pranks! around here….

RE/Search #8/9: J. G. Ballard

Revisions Needed

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Anonymous

I came across, by way of a footnote on Jason Kottke’s piece on clam gardens, an interesting review of Sam Arbesman‘s work on the half-life of facts, which apparently can be described mathematically. How long will it be before the conventional wisdom is neither conventional nor wisdom?

Mr. Kottke notes,

I’m guessing most people reading this learned in school that the Americas were sparsely populated and almost pristine before Columbus showed up, but subsequent research over the past 20 years has shown that this is very much not the case.

I should ask my kids what the kids are learning these days. I’m sure Pearson has had little incentive to update the standard texts, even though William Cronon’s Changes in the Land was published 36 years ago, in 1983. Though evidence certainly abounded before then, it was news to me when I read Changes in the Land in 1990 or so.

Update: JSTOR Daily, in “Yes, Americans Owned Land Before Columbus,” notes that our understanding of the indigenous understanding of property has changed over time, and points out Allen Greer’s “Commons and Enclosure in the Colonization of North America.” The American Historical Review, vol. 117, no. 2, 2012, pp. 365–386.

The Consumer Wins?

BBC Business Daily discusses 21st Century Monopolies with the Jonathan Tepper, author of The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition, and some others. Tepper talks about the need to deal with regulatory capture and the perks of revolving doors. Sounds familiar.

Alex Moazed, one of the other guests, says that the Internet monopolies are different, non-traditional monopolies, because the consumer wins–because pricing power is not exerted over the consumer, but the producer.

Which makes me wonder, when did we start thinking of the consumer and the producer as two separate and distinct people, and not aspects of a person? Or, how can I buy if I don’t sell?

Risky

For the first time since I was a teenager, I’ve submitted poems for someone else’s official approval or condemnation. It’s exhilarating–and terrifying. Not unlike a roller coaster.

I hate this.

I much prefer to have a known set of guidelines, of rules, of answers. I much prefer to follow the published steps to inevitable success, know the material and get an an A+ on the test. It’s easy and predictable. Anything else seems like a popularity contest. Or cheating.

So much about life is distressing, particularly surrendering control to someone else’s whim. I’ve avoided such vulnerable exposure.

Until now.

Statistically Speaking

When I was born, I was one of
 three billion,
 seven hundred seventy-five million,
 seven hundred ninety thousand,
 nine hundred twenty-three

or thereabouts.

Today, I am one of
 seven billion,
 seven hundred fourteen million,
 five hundred seventy-six thousand,
 nine hundred twenty-three

or thereabouts.

At this rate, it would need a plague
or some great calamity,
a climatic holocaust perhaps,
for me to be
twice the man I was

or thereabouts.

Somehow I doubt the cliché
had statistics in mind when age
would strip my capacity
to less than half
the man I used to be

or thereabouts.