Links: National security letters, car culture, hookup culture and moral panic, art, booze as muse, and more

* “What It’s Like to Get a National-Security Letter,” which should scare you.

* The End of Car Culture; I view this as a positive development.

* What makes a work of art seem dated.

* Booze as Muse; yes!

* Thoughts about rice and men.

* Programming for everyone. Cool.

* “Quinoa should be taking over the world. This is why it isn’t.” This describes me: “But it’s also about the demographics of the end-user in developed countries–the kind of people who don’t think twice about paying five bucks for a little box of something with such good-for-you buzz.”

* “Special Deal: The shadowy cartel of doctors that controls Medicare.” One problem with centralizing government control of certain industries is that a small number of hidden players can control a larger and larger share of the economy, making it difficult or impossible for non-insiders to compete.

* “There’s an awful lot wrong with moral panic stories about “hookup culture” on campus [. . . ] I’m also struck that [. . .] these stories fail to reflect the very sound basis for engaging in casual sex if you’re a college student, and the folly of pining away for the traditional relationships of yore.”

Parties and sobriety

“I drank for years, and then I stopped drinking and discovered the sad truth about parties. A sober man at a party is lonely as a journalist, implacable of a coroner, bitter as an angel looking down from heaven. There’s something purely foolish about attending any large gathering of men and women without benefit of some kind of philter or magic dust to blind you and weaken your critical faculties. I don’t mean to make a big deal out of sobriety, by the way. Of all the modes of human consciousness available to the modern consumer I consider it to be the most overrated.”

—Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

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