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I write this morning on my still-dying Macintosh, the life of which I have hopefully prolonged through disuse. Seven years its silicon and circuits served me, and I honor that service with ginger appreciation. I power it up once a month to download and archive e-mail and to update a document or two. Otherwise, I use K’s new PC, which after deleting all the factory-installed bloatware (which includes Windows XP, the way the factory installed it), works well enough to suffice. The unfortunate side of using the PC is that any new projects I begin, or old ones I continue, will have to be made on an operating system that has no use for the easy use of diacritics. It’s Neolithic computing.

Scott Esposito has a thoughtful post on things Ecclesiastes—for his part, it’s the reading of books which has no end. It’s a sentiment I’ve held, lately, because I’ve decided, other than magazines, for the forseeable future I have declared a moratorium on the buying of books until such time as I’ve actually read good portion of the ones I own. That I managed to collect several hundred books for free once, and that a good portion of our library also includes books that were from K’s single life means that I have a lot of reading ahead of me. Esposito’s acquiring is an ongoing professional obligation, however, as mine no longer is, which makes reading that much more difficult to keep step with whether you’re a researcher or a reviewer.

My own moratorium on book buying, however, doesn’t keep me from reading magazines, although after this summer, I’m about three months behind in everything. Which is why I’ve only just now gotten around to Barry Lynn’s argument that Wal-Mart’s power has reached monopsony status and for that reason has led to the creation of oligopolies that disrupt the free market and kill competition not only in the local economies in which a Wal-Mart has been placed, but also in the hundreds (and decreasing) of suppliers who stock Wal-Mart’s shelves. (Building off Lynn, Ezra Klein has, with characteristically sharp analysis, taken this up lately.) Wal-Mart’s monopsony has created a market in America where not only does price not change because of the basic market forces of “supply” and “demand,” but also it has encouraged collusion between competitors. Even if even only as a temporary solution to a larger problem, which Krister White articulates well, there is still good reason to shop at Target and other not-Wal-Mart box stores in spite of their own problems, many of which are exacerbated by the fact that they attempt to compete with the monopsony power itself.

My e-mail has finished downloading. It is time to shut down the Mac.



I’ll confess to buying an anthology of Foucault essays the summer after my freshman year at HU. I carried it back from Seattle, to Alabama, to Arkansas, back to Alabama, to England, and it sits on my shelf today, still completely unread. I have rather enjoyed glancing at it and thinking, “Umhmm. I am a person who owns an anthology of Foucault essays.” The only thing that keeps me from having many more of these sorts of books is that I’m so damn po’. You’ll have to tell me how you got hundreds of books for free one day.

That is a well-traveled French cultural historian you have! At my great-grandmother’s funeral two weeks ago we met my distant cousin who’s a French prof at a different Big 10 university than in this town. He looked really out of place. He mentioned that he’d brought a “just published!” volume of Foucault with him. He said he went to town and even read it. He remarked how he knew he was must have been the only person reading Foucault in S, AR.

The books came from a culling by Penguin classics. Sometimes publishers do big book dumps. They cut all the covers, throw all the books in a warehouse, and then invite “teachers,” a class which includes students and errant passersby, to haul them away. This happened twice in two years in S when I was in highschool and college. I still have a lot of them, though I’ve gotten rid of a number over the years. C, I remember, gathered his fair share, too…

i’m not a huge worshipper of the material book, but those cut books really bother me. and they take up a lot of shelf space. and you can’t sell them. and you can hardly give them away. did i say i don’t like those cut books?

k, you are a book snob.
we left a carton of “free books!”, including many of the penguin ones, in my grad school dept lobby. i assume somebody took them.

She’s only sort of a book snob. For instance, she prefers paper to cloth.