Lobster Tales

Lobster Tales

There are a lot of lobsters in the sea. You could even call it a glut. Over the past few years, the massive lobster harvests have resulted in a significant reduction in what buyers are paying for a lobster off the boat. So why aren’t we seeing major price drops at our local restaurants? Here’s part of the reason: A luxury good is considered a luxury good in part because it’s priced like one. Cheap lobster could throw the rest of your menu into chaos. “Studies have shown that people prefer inexpensive wines in blind taste tests, but that they actually get more pleasure from drinking wine they are told is expensive. If lobster were priced like chicken, we might enjoy it less.” In The New Yorker, James Surowiecki cracks open the surprising complexity of lobster prices.


Location, Location, Location

According to some, San Francisco is being so overrun by high-paid tech workers that there isn’t enough reasonably-priced housing for everyone else. Just across the Bay Bridge, it’s a very different story. Consider this: “Over the past 10 years, the number of African American men killed on the streets of Oakland nearly matched the number who graduated from its high schools ready to attend a state university.” From the SF Chronicle, Jill Tucker on two teens facing the odds in Oakland.


Dickens of Detroit

He “is a literary genius who writes re-readable thrillers. [He] possesses gifts — of ear and eye, of timing and phrasing — that even the most indolent and snobbish masters of the mainstream must vigorously covet.” That’s what Martin Amis once wrote about Detroit’s Elmore Leonard who died on Tuesday at the age of 87.

+ From Get Shorty to the FX series Justified, twenty-six of Elmore’s novels and stories have been adapted for the screen.

+ “Never open a book with weather.” Here’s a look back at Elmore’s ten tips for writers, from how not to start to leaving out the parts that readers tend to skip.

+ Elmore wrote daily in 8-hour shifts. “Well, you’ve got to put in the time if you want to write a book.”


Gas X-Post Facto

Let’s say we figured out a way to completely cease all greenhouse gas emissions. Would we be able to reverse the course of climate change? According to a leaked draft of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the answer is pretty disturbing. From MoJo’s list of 5 terrifying statements in the leaked climate report: “Even if we were to completely cease all greenhouse gas emissions, the draft report adds, warming would continue for ‘many centuries.'” The NYT has more on the report that cites near certainty on warming. By all accounts, this is only a draft of the report. Let’s hope they find a really good editor…


The Working Life

Americans work a lot. That’s especially true when you compare them to employees in France, or even Germany. But the picture looks a whole lot different once you add in countries like Singapore where most people are too busy to even look at these charts.

+ “For more than two years, he has come to a small room, taken a seat and then passed the time reading newspapers, browsing the Web and poring over engineering textbooks from his college days. He files a report on his activities at the end of each day.” Shusaku Tani is employed by Sony, but he doesn’t actually do any work for the company. He refused an early retirement package and Sony can’t fire him. Welcome to the increasingly weird world of lifetime employment. (Sitting at a desk and browsing the web during work hours. Who would do such a thing?)

+ Are the rich getting too much of the economic pie? The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson tries to answer that question using an actual pie.


Turn Your Head and Scoff

Slate’s Brian Palmer makes a case against the annual checkup. “There are two kinds of arguments against the adult annual health checkup. The first has to do with the health care system overall, and the second has to do with you personally.” Ultimately, the value of a yearly checkup probably depends on the quality of your doctor.

+ If you’re looking for a quick appointment with a doctor, I’d suggest chugging several cans of Bud. A third of all injury-related E.R. visits are alcohol related, and five beer brands in particular are implicated: Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light. Somewhere, there’s a group of advertising copywriters looking to turn these stats into a selling point. Colt 45, great taste and quicker access to health care.


The New Browser War

It often seems like the more stories we hear about privacy violations, the more people tend to voluntarily share personal information. But with the heavy coverage of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA (and the increasingly intense media focus on the topic), we may have reached a tipping point. A recent study found that more people are concerned about privacy issues and that there’s been a huge spike in the number of Internet users who have adjusted the privacy settings on their browsers. The settings might not stop the government from tracking you. But you can bet advertisers are concerned about the trend.


I Wanna Live Forever

“Death makes me very angry. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?” That’s what Larry Ellison wants to know. (Leave it to Larry to piss off death.) And he’s not the only one putting some of his billions behind efforts to defeat death. Here’s The Daily Beast on The Immortality Financiers.

+ Want to live to be 120 years-old? Most Americans say no. (It will take me at least that long to get through all my open browser tabs.)

+ Why everyone thinks they’re safer than average.


The Phone You Own

Rumors are swirling that Apple is set to release a less expensive iPhone. In the United States, cheaper hardware might not seem like much of a selling point because our phones are usually subsidized by carriers that then spend the next couple of years making us pay through the nose (and thumbs). But in Europe and elsewhere, people buy their own phones and then shop around for the best voice and data deals. TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet explains why Apple needs a phone for the rest of the world.


The Bottom of the News

One doesn’t usually hear about criminals whose take is measured in pounds. But James Bagarozzo, a parking meter mechanic from Buffalo, was just sentenced to 30 months in prison for stealing (and rolling) more than 10,000 pounds of quarters.

+ Photos: Capturing the human dramas at county fairs.

+ Mental Floss: Fifteen companies that originally sold something else.

+ Double Stuff Oreos don’t really contain double the stuff. It’s almost simpler now that we have absolutely nothing left that we can believe in.

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