Trade Deadline (August)

July 31, 2007

I’m writing this on July 31st, but… hey, it’s August GMT. The baseball trade deadline has passed… or at least it passes in the next few hours.

The Rangers have made three trades. The first sent Kenny Lofton (CF) away in exchange for a single-A catcher. Which may seem sort of odd – a major league player for a single-A player – but we only had Lofton for this year, we’re not doing anything this year, so we might as well get what we can for him. And we need to get rid of him so we can try out Nelson Cruz and Marlon Byrd.

Next, they traded Mark Texeira (1B) for Jared Saltalamacchia (C/1B) and a bunch of prospects. To this, I say – good job. We only had Teixeira until the end of 2008, we couldn’t re-sign him, and I won’t really miss him. And we got a good deal for him.

The Eric Gagne trade was a good idea too. We got a decent starting pitcher (though he is a rookie) who might develop into something good. And, like Lofton, we only had Gagne for the rest of the season. That said, I’ll miss him the most of these three, since he was a good player and we definitely could have re-signed him – he said he liked Texas and thought we had the best bullpen he’d ever been in.

Anyway, as you can see, it’s pretty easy to make good trades when you’re having a fire-sale – you just get rid of everybody you don’t have a long-term contract for and get what you can for them.

If you were wondering, this post is baseball-themed because that’s probably what a lot of my August is going to be about. I’m out of town for two weeks on vacation and three days in WashingtonDC (ugh), I won’t have a computer either of those places, and I’ll probably be paying a lot more attention to the Rangers during that time than I have been so far this summer. And I’m also going to go to as many baseball games as I can, since come September 1st I probably won’t be able to (I’ll be at college), and IIRC we have a lot of tickets left, a lot of games in August.

Anyway, let me think…. what Wesnoth character is most baseball-like? It seems to me it has to be a troll, you know, carrying a big club, like a big baseball bat – or maybe an outlaw, with a club for a bat and a sling representing his glove. Of course, I’ve never written a campaign with an outlaw or troll character, so I’ll have to pick someone from another campaign.

I chooose Baldras, from Liberty. Mainly because I prefer all-around good players to sluggers. Trolls remind me of David Ortiz, the designated hitter – “me big man with club. I hit ball far. Argh!!!”. Outlaws are more diverse in their skillset.



Harry Potter Overload

July 28, 2007

Perhaps it’s just me, and I’ve been obsessing too much, but it seems to me that a lot too much attention is being paid to the final Harry Potter book. I suppose I didn’t realize before how damn big a ‘cultural phenomenon’ it is. But everywhere I look I see articles about Harry Potter, people talking about Harry Potter, and of course the three people in my house who are about to start reading Book 7 and the two besides me who have already finished it.

And, because my views on Harry Potter are different from most of the ones I’ve read, I feel obliged to argue with all of the reviews I read and all of the opinions on the book I hear. I’ve read reviews I agree with, in whole or in part, but all of them I think miss something important even when everything they say is true.

So I’m going to write a review of Deathly Hallows (which, yes, I read). Except it won’t be so much a review of Deathly Hallows as a review of the entire series. And there certainly won’t be any spoilers.

So, I would say that Harry Potter is…

  • It is certainly not great literature.
  • Nor is it very good children’s literature. I certainly wouldn’t encourage any child of mine to read it. It’s not a good thing that Harry Potter is so popular.
  • But it isn’t evil witchcraftery that’s making children want to use black magic.
  • But it is evil in that it corrupts the proper view of Faerie and mythopoeia, and it shouldn’t be by people who don’t realize this going in.

The first three of those opinoins aren’t unheard of, but I’ll defend them anyway. The last one need more discussion, which I’ll try to provide.

(1) Anyone who thinks Harry Potter is great literature is obviously a fool. Compare the writing of J. K. Rowling to that of, say, Flannery O’Connor. There’s no doubt whose prose is better. The characters, in my opinion, aren’t particularly likeable, though I liked Snape until Book 7 (and, to a lesser degree, after it), and I for some reason like Ginny, probably because I pity her for falling for Harry. It’s driven entirely, it seems to me, by plot and the sense of fantasy it creates – a grievously flawed sense, as we shall see.

(2) For most of the above reasons, I wouldn’t encourage any child to read it. Good children’s literature should also be readable by adults. And, I might as well put this here, their length is not a virtue, it is a vice. The books are bloated. They could be cut in half at least, probably more, without losing much of anything. If you’re looking for good children’s fantasy literature, I can recommend several books – The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dark is Rising, The Chronicles of Prydain, The Deptford Mice and Deptford Histories trilogies… all of those have not-horrible prose, more believable characters, and just as good plotting as Harry Potter does.

(3) Still, it seems absurd to me how some Christians accuse Harry Potter of encouraging black magic. I’ve said this before, I think; there’s a difference between magic in our world, which means calling upon and trying to control powers greater than ourselves and expecting them to follow our commands. That’s foolish whether the powers are good or evil, though for different reasons – if they’re demons, they might serve you until they can betray you and damn you, while if it’s God you try to control that very act of trying to control him is a sin.

But ‘magic’ in Harry Potter isn’t anything like that at all. It’s basically another natural force, like gravity or electromagnetism. Making up a world in which there is such a force is hardly sinful. It’s normal mythopoeia. It’s possible that children don’t understand this and think that Harry Potter is encouraging black magic, but I don’t buy that. It’s pretty obvious, I think. It’s never said or even implied in the books that their “magic” is calling upon other powers; from what we can gather, it just uses powers from inside the person. A series of books that discusses this explicitly is Tales of Alvin Maker, which I read in June and which I enjoyed a lot more than Harry Potter.

(4) And yet I call Harry Potter evil. How is this? As I said in my previous post about Harry Potter I think that the world of Harry Potter makes no sense. This isn’t a minor fault. It makes the book that much less of good literature (for those adults reading it), and it gives children, who perhaps can’t be expected to realize this, a twisted view of the fantasy genre. Some children will eventually catch on and see that Harry Potter is grossly deficient in this area, but many will not, and will go on thinking that Harry Potter is a good way to view the magic of Faerie or worldmaking in general. And even those who do catch on will have wasted countless hours reading Harry Potter under the impression that it’s good (why would they read it unless an adult told them it was good or they thought it might be and so tried it themselves?). It’s dangerous to read something bad under the impression that it’s good, even if you later discover it’s badness. So yes, I view this aspect of Harry Potter as evil, and as a good reason to not read the books or allow children to read them (you’re not depriving them of anything – they’re not particularly good books regardless and there are many other better children’s books out there).

It is true that there are other books who mythopoeic worlds make no sense; take The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I liked and still like. The different between Hitchhiker’s Guide and Harry Potter is that Hitchhiker’s Guide is a satire. No reader will ever be under the impression that the world is supposed to make sense. It’s absurdity for the sake of absurdity, which I can appreciate and which I often enjoy. (I have on occasion been known to make stories that are absurdities; take the world of Wadish Rac that resides in a Hyperdonut on which Sfinckses from east of the corruption line and Freaks from west of it battle for superiority until the Mad Scientist blows the whole damn world up then travels backwards in time to create it.) Harry Potter is a very serious story. Rowling wants us to read it as if it is, anyway.

Setting a serious story in an absurd setting shouldn’t be done (unless you’re trying to make some very avant-garde point), but that’s exactly what Rowling has done. And even worse, the setting isn’t intentionally absurd, but unintentionally, which means the absurdities cast no light on the story itself – they make no avant-garde point. They just confuse things and corrupt the reader. The seriousness of the story subconsciously makes the reader expect the world to make sense, and when on the surface it does, he’s lulled into a false sense of complacency and proceeds to take in the world as presented as being the right way to make worlds.


OK, that’s enough ranting about Harry Potter for now. I won’t return to the subject unless/until I publish my own Harry Potter-like story here (it’s currently titled Ben and I’m spending way too much time working on it).

[This post composed while listening to: Rhapsody of Fire, The Mystic Prophecy of the Demon Knight; Kamelot, Ghost Opera; Blind Guardian, Theatre of Pain; Rhapsody, The Last Angel’s Call; Yo-Yo Ma, “Noli, Ò Cara, Te Adorantis” (Vivaldi); Sonata Arctica, Gravenimage; Stratovarius, United; Aleksi Aubry-Carlson, Main Menu (from the Wesnoth OST); Týr, The End; Kamelot, Descent of the Archangel; Rhapsody, Dawn of Victory. It took me about an hour to write.]

Free as in Freedom

July 26, 2007

When RMS (Richard M Stallman) announced GPLv3, he talked a lot about the purpose of Free software. He says there are four freedoms the GPL is designed to protect:

Freedom 0. The freedom to run the program as you wish.

Freedom 1. The freedom to study the source code and change it so it does what you wish.

Freedom 2. The freedom to help your neighbor, which is the freedom to distribute exact copies up to and including republication when you wish, and . . .

Freedom 3, which is the freedom to contribute to your community, the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions up to and including publication, when you wish.

I completely agree with these four points where software is concerned. My question is, should these same Freedoms apply to things other than programs, and if not, why not.

Take a piece of literature. Substitute “program” wherever it appears in the 4 Freedoms with “book”.

Obviously Freedom 0 should apply to it. If you have the book, you should be allowed to read it and interpret it however you want. To say otherwise doesn’t make much sense.

It’s the same with Freedom 1. I see no reason the reader shouldn’t be allowed to change the story in their mind, or even rewrite the book so they like it better. Many people, for example, might want to do this with Harry Potter.

Freedom 2 is clearly more controversial. It sounds absurd to say you should be allowed to distribute copies of the book to whoever you want. And perhaps it is. But why is it so absurd? It’s perfectly legal to lend a book to someone for them to read. Republication is a bit more extreme than that, but it’s the same concept, I think. Perhaps the problem is that making copies of the book (as opposed to just lending the book itself) creates wealth. You’ve created two copies of the book when you had one, which is somehow wrong and evil.

Freedom 3 actually seems less controversial to me than Freedom 2. If I write a fan-fiction based on Harry Potter, why shouldn’t I be allowed to publish it and let other people who are interested in fan-fictions of Harry Potter read it? The issue would be that if the modifications are too slight then you’re essentially using Freedom 2, not Freedom 3. So everything comes down to Freedom 2, which we don’t allow because… because of the economics of it?

That seems to be the case. You can’t let people steal an author’s work (even though you’re not taking anything away from them) by copying it and giving it out for free! If you do, how is he supposed to make money?!

Well, it seems to be working all right for the Free Software peoples… lots of free software is being created under this regime of freedom. The difference between software and literature is what, exactly? Philosophically I support software being free because it’s just math. If you discover a mathematical formula you shouldn’t be able to keep other people from using it. But I don’t really see why literature is different; all you’ve done is discover a combination of words that have a certain significance, why can’t other people use those same words? And what about music, which is just a given combination of notes, and art, and…?

As you can see, I’m drifting towards the view that there should be no intellectual property. I think there’s a lot to be said for that position. Intellectual property never did make much sense to me…what makes a story mine after I write it, exactly?

The main objection to this seems to be that people won’t have an incentive to create if they don’t get something back from their investment of time and energy. I don’t like this argument because it seems to say that artists are in it only for the money. I realize that some are; and if our economy was such that they no longer churned out pot-boilers to support themselves, would we be that much worse off? I think not.

The stronger objection would be that even if they did want to create and wanted to put energy into it regardless of money, they wouldn’t be able to support themselves while doing so. Indeed, I’m not sure how such an economy could work. I’m not an economist. To find out, I would say, look at how the Free software people support themselves and, if possible, emulate that system for all these other systems.

The Dwarf-craft

July 23, 2007

I plan on eventually writing about the nature of magic in the Orbis Terrarvm, however, I am right now going to write on a related topic – the relationship between technology and the various races.

Technology is ‘dwarf-craft’. The dwarves are the ones to make the great advances – tower shields, siege weaponry, advanced metallury, explosives, flying vehicles. This is the nature of their race. Other races are able to come up with some ideas, improve on some dwarven ideas (the Lavinians were especially adept at seeing the nature of the dwarven ideas and, once they understood siege-craft, they made many devices of their own design). However, other races are incapable, mentally, of the same technological innovation that the Dwarves excel at.

This is an important point. The Men in Orbivm seem in many ways similar to humans in our world, but in this, they are slightly different. They are, you might say, deficient. If dwarves had not invented their hot air balloons and their gyrocopters and suchlike, no man would have ever attempted to create them. Nor would any orc or elf.

It might be said each of the races is an exaggeration of human (this-world) tendencies. Elves are conservative and contemplative, dwarves are innovative and mercantile, humans are quick to adapt, orcs are almost bestial. That’s a very inadequate characterization but it’ll do for now.

Anyway, an interesting question seems to me to be “should the races interact with each other”. From the history of Orbivm it’s clear that a lot of pain and suffering has resulted from, for example, the relationship between Men and Elves in the northlands. Mightn’t the races be better if their went their separate ways and did not even talk to each other? I dunno, I don’t propose to answer that question through the actual history of the world. (Orbivm does not answer questions, it only asks them and provides evidence related to them.)

But at least one “scholar of Orbivm” (my term for the conceit of scholars inside Orbivm studying its history – obviously I actually wrote this passage, though I put any blame for bad prose style on the imaginary author) has answered it in this way (related to the destruction of Evrosia – which is catalyzed, though not caused, by the Dwarves being a bit too greedy.

It has often been remarked that the rest of the peoples are never prepared for what the Dwarves have discovered, and that perhaps they would be better if the Dwarves did not share what they found. This may or may not have been true in the past, but it was certainly true now. For not even the dwarves were prepared for [what they discovered]. They sold it before they truly understood it. And so they too were to blame for the carnage that followed.

Another question this seems to raise – is technological advancement good?

Alfhelm the Wise: Part I

July 18, 2007

has been released.

Download (from the add-on manager in-game), play (using the Wesnoth engine and the latest version of the Imperial Era), give feedback (there, not here, preferably).

Part I covers Alfhelm’s life up to his victory over the Wylflings and coronation as king of all Marauders. Part II will deal with his battles agains the Lavinians, and Part III with his vendetta against the Sidhe.

Big Houses and Nice Clothes

July 16, 2007

Given that the 7th and (hopefully) final Harry Potter book is coming out in about a week, I would like to discuss said book and analyze one of the things that really irritates me about it. If you have not read the books (though I know no one who has not), this may sound like a kind of boring enterprise. But perhaps it will not be; for at the end I will make an attempt to digest this analysis and come up with a ‘revised Hary Potter’ concept (more likely to be a completely new story idea), and this will give a (perhaps) interesting look at how I approach writing.

My main problem is with the economies of the wizarding peoples. The Weasleys are poor. This is shown by their inability to purchase new clothing or new spellbooks (all are second-hand and rather worn out), the ramshackle appearance of their house (“the Burrow”), and the presents they give (always hand-knit sweaters from Mrs. Weasley). In contrast, the Malfoys are rich. This is shown by their large manor (which, though never seen, is mentioned on occasion) and their expensive clothing and school supplies (including the ability to frivolously buy a Nimbus 2001, a rather expensive broomstick.

But… why would these things be the marks of rich and poor? Sure, in our (Muggle) world, having a big house means that you’re rich. But that’s because big houses are expensive to build. For wizards, why would big houses be expensive? You just magic one up.

So for the economy to make sense… well, I have three mutually exclusive explanations. All are rather interesting to consider.

(1) My first is that magic must be incapable of creating big houses and nice clothes. (I have no problem with this; in my opinion, magic shouldn’t be able to do those things – though it does a lot of other things in Harry Potter I think it shouldn’t be able to do.) But that doesn’t solve the problem. Because big houses and nice clothes are also made by Muggles. Why couldn’t the wizards just buy their big houses and nice clothes from the Muggles, trading for them some slight magical trinkets (which would be worth their weight in gold in Muggledom) or just counterfeiting some money?

The explanation might be that trading with Muggles is forbidden. By whom? By the Ministry of Magic. Which was established by… apparently, by the circle of wizards who were around however many hundreds of years ago. In other words, by the ancestors of today’s purebloods. It sounds to me like peoples were doing exactly what I described above (trading with the Muggles for big houses and nice clothes), but then a group of wizards who already had what they wanted prohibited it – not, as they claimed, because it was bad for the Muggles to be interfered with, but because they wanted to create artificial scarcity. And they succeeded. The poor chap who was stuck with the Burrow (probably because he was some ascetic who didn’t care about his surroundings) doomed his descendants to a life of poverty, while the ancestors of the Malfoys happened to have a big manor (which any one of the wizards could have acquired just as easily) and have been considered rich ever since.

(2) At least, that’s one possibility. Another is that, in response to ‘you could just magic up a house’; magic can create big houses and nice clothes, but it is a long, arduous process, meaning skill at wizardry makes you able to have these things, and wealth is a reflection of wizarding skill. In response to ‘you could just trade for one’, this was forbidden not out of greed, but because they truly believed the Muggles would suffer in the long run if they interacted with them. (I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to see why parts 1&2 are linked and why a1 is incombatible with b2 and vice versa.)

But why would they believe that? It seems to me a rather foolish belief. I won’t delve into why it’s foolish, but here’s my explanation for why they adopted it… the Centaurs. The Centaurs are the ideal in wizarding society (even if the wizards don’t know it themselves). And the Centaurs refuse to share their second-sight knowledge with outsiders (most of the time – Firenze is an exception, and he gets banished from the tribe).

The reason for this, of course, is that the Centaurs (unlike the wizards) have no desire for big houses and nice clothings. They’re ascetics, essentially. They don’t think sharing their knowledge will help those who ask (they’re kind of fatalistic), and it certainly won’t help the Centaurs (what do outsiders have to offer them? They don’t need big houses and nice clothes, which means they don’t need money). So they don’t do it. But the wizards have seen the ‘what’ of the Centaurs’ philosophy without seeing the ‘why’. So they adopted it with regards to the humans, and thus harmed both wizards and Muggles.

(3) … Unless the wizards really do understand the Centaurs’ philosophy. Or have created one of their own that tells them to cease trading with the Muggles. Consider this – once everyone has big houses and nice clothes (or adequately big houses and nice clothes with the ability to get better at whim, which is essentially the same thing) – once they’ve fulfilled and doubly fulfilled the conditions for life of food, shelter, etc, – what is there to live for? If working can’t bring you any more happiness – as would be the case if magic takes essentially no work and can give you everything you want – what should you do with your life?

It seems to me that, once food, shelter, etc, are no longer scarcities, then only one scarcity will remain – other people. Relationships with others will become all-important. Romantic relationships, yes, but I was thinking more, who is friends with who, what cliques form, etc. If you accept this interpretation Harry Potter is actually a brilliant work of literature – the cliques of Harry, Ron, Hermione, vs. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, isn’t about good vs. evil, it’s about how once every other need is satisfied all that matters is who your friends and enemies are, not why it’s those people. If there is no need for real conflict, then create mere competition. Griffindor vs. Slytherin. Quidditch is the true meaning of life in the world of Hogwarts.

And Ron, not Harry, is the ideal wizard, with his room covered in posters for his favorite Quidditch team, and the Quidditch World Cup in the 4th book is the most important point in the series. It isn’t like in the spectacles that were invented to occupy the masses while Rome burned. Instead Quidditch occupies the wizards because nothing else is worth being occupied about – no need to worry about food, shelter, etc, and in Rowling’s completely secularized world there’s no desire for God, no longing for a higher purpose. Kind of bleak, really.

Contrived, you say? Maybe. None of these three sound like they were intended by the author. But the problem of economics in Harry Potter is a major one, and I see no better explanations. The reason is, of course, that this isn’t a question brought up by the author intentionally (in which case we’re supposed to rest assured that there IS an explanation, even if no one’s figured it out) but an unintentional one, brought about by J.K. Rowling not thinking through everything as she wrote the books.

Anyway, now that I’ve considered these three explanations (and went way more in depth with them than was necessary), I’m going to see what it’s shown me about the idea of wizardry, and specifically about having a society of wizards living in parallel with Muggle society.

It seems to me that it is more interesting if our wizards are not like Rowling’s wizards, but rather like her Centaurs. It isn’t that for some reason they are unable to get big houses and nice clothes (since any explanation sounds contrived), or that they already have big houses and nice clothes (since that would probably be rather boring, though I suppose it might work). It would be better if our magicians, like the Centaurs, simply didn’t care about big houses and nice clothes.

Why wouldn’t they care? Well, perhaps because those things are only good because they provide (1) security, which wizards don’t need to worry about, and (2) prestige, which would be gotten in the wizarding world through other means – raw displays of power, perhaps? (After all, in a world where bigger houses and nicer clothes can be gotten with a metaphorical  press of a button, no one would really care about how big and nice their clothes are.) So the wizards wouldn’t worry about those things. They also probably wouldn’t tie themselves down to any particular location, since doing so doesn’t help them any (Muggles only do it for security), and it hurts them by not letting them discover new talent as easily (I imagine our wizarding community would be much smaller than Rowling’s – which, incidentally, seems to me of unclear size…). So they would form a kind of traveling brotherhood seeking out new members, training them, and…. What?

Clearly they aren’t looking for food, shelter, etc. Their basic needs are taken care of. Imagine what you would do if you never had to work another day in your life and all your needs would disappear. What would you do with your time? As I said above, I would think relationships would become much more important. Knowledge would as well – especially taking into account that learning is much more fun if it will teach you have to shoot fire out of your hand. Perhaps they would spend all their time creating art – art can give a life purpose, make it seem like it has a definite goal, completing the work at hand, and people need to have a purpose.

But of course if you’re going to make a story out of it you need conflict. Perhaps what I said above about conflict and competition holds true here – they would devote their lives to meaningless games, diversions, etc. Or to conflict just for the sake of conflict.

I remember someone telling me once about a movie called The Highlander, in which (if I remember correctly) there are a bunch of people that, for some reason, are immensely powerful, and can only be slain by decapitation. (They also have infinite lifespans.) For some reason they spend their lives wandering the earth, searching for others of their kind, and killing each other. Or something like that. This would be the same concept, except they don’t have infinite lifespans and they continually recruit new members. Hey, look, we’ve went from Harry Potter to The Highlander in just one page!

Well, I don’t think a story idea has emerged full-grown from the ashes of Harry Potter, but one could certainly be gleamed from this post (which is, uh, 3.5 pages long in… sorry about that). I’m going to keep thinking about it and perhaps one will come to me. In any case, I think some interesting concepts have definitely emerged from my Harry Potter analysis (I was rather surprised by that “conflict -> competition” thing), and I’ve gotten in my requisite Harry Potter-related post (since the final book IS about to come out, after all) without sounding like I actually have a whole lot of respect for the books (which I don’t).

Incidentally, the above Harry Potter analysis happened in the form of a conversation between me and my older brother. In general talking over the flaws in a piece of fiction (book, movie, whatever) with someone else is the best way to get an idea of what you would have improved had you been the author (and thus what you can do better if you ever write something in that style).


July 14, 2007

I understand how economics work – supply and demand, all that stuff. But there’s one thing that consistently bugs me about how things are priced. Here, I’ll illustrate what my complaint is through examples.

Going to the movie theatre (unless it’s the dollar theatre) costs about $10. Fair enough. But for that same $10 you could buy the DVD of the movie and own the movie for the rest of your life. Now how does that make sense? It seems like the latter is worth a lot more than the former. But, you say, you’re only going to watch the DVD once anyway, so why do you need to buy it? Well, first of all, if it was a movie worth watching you’re probably going to watch it more than once. And maybe want to reference it on occasion. But also, do you not get a feeling of immense power when you own the movie?

And compare going to the movies to buying a book. A hardback copy of a book costs only $15. Would you rather go to the movies 1.5 times, or own a book? If it’s a book that you’re interested in owning, than surely you would rather own the book. For one, it will give you more entertainment (after the 3 hours of movie-watching, you’re done, but reading a book can take days). But also you can use the book any time in the future. You can lend it to friends, you can reread it if you find you can’t remember it very well… and all for essentially the cost of going to a movie. It seems like movie-going is pretty much a waste of money, no? And this applies to pretty much all ‘activities’ monies spent. I love going to baseball games, but if I had to pay for it… wouldn’t I much rather spend that $20 for a ticket and $10 on parking on a brand new copy of The Tolkien Reader?

The distinction, I suppose, is between transient objects and permanent objects. Of course, some transient objects are necessary. You need food to live. But I find it amazing how high the price of a meal at a medium-class restaurant can go – $10 per person, minimum. So if I just don’t go to a restaurant 4 times in a row (and instead live off ramen noodles or something, which cost $0.25), I can ‘save up’ $39. I can than spend that money on getting LEGOs.

LEGOs are probably the perfect example of permanency vs. transience. LEGOs give endless entertainment. People often say that they’re overpriced, but it seems to me that they’re really underpriced. For the amount of entertainment you can get from one box of LEGOs – building with it, rebuilding with it, displaying it, engaging it in mock combat with other LEGO creations – you pay, depending on the set, between $5 and $80. But any size LEGO set seems to me to give much more entertainment than a trip to the ballpark, or to the movies, or to a restaurant, or any food whatsoever. The entertainment is permanent. LEGOs are forever.

So if economics are supposed to lead to things being priced according to how much pleasure they give the buyer… well, it seems to me that books, DVDs, LEGOs, etc, are all woefully underpriced. They’re worth three, four times their actual costs. And if I have a choice, I’d almost always prefer to buy the permanent object rather than the transient experience.

Must be the dwarf in me. I did always like Thorin Oakenshield.

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