Monthly Archives: September 2003

Books: Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro

Books: Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro

After reading the first two Caro books on Johnson (Path to Power and Means of Ascent), I’ve been looking forward to this book since it came out two years ago. This was the perfect antidote to just moving in to a new home and having a great book on tape to listen to while devouring construction projects — those projects can be pretty boring without something to listen to in the background…

Caro describes Lyndon Johnson’s acumen, understanding of power, cunning, and his often unethical actions. I find Johnson a textbook case of what not to be and one of the reasons the public is so cynical about politicians.

The book did not let me down. Path to Power (Caro’s book on Johnson’s first 30 years) is still one of the best biographies I have ever read, but Master of the Senate certainly did not dissapppoint. I highly recommend it.

Book: Shadow : Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate

Book: Shadow : Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate
by Bob Woodward

Good book on tape. Woodward makes parallels of Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, and Clinton through their scandals and how the public perception and the internal handling was influenced by Watergate.

i though this was actually a really good book. Though Woodward spends most of his time on Clinton (he has the most scandals), he also talks about numerous problems Presidents have had.

i suggest this book.

CD sales dropping

Forrester Research recently released a study accusing online file sharing of costing $700 million in lost sales to the record industry … i’m not sure if i buy that number.

certainly, CD sales are declining … and certainly, online music file sharing (dare I say pirating) is increasing — but it is extremely hard to make the causal link between the two. … at least 90% of songs downloaded would have never been bought in the first place…

i think a bigger threat to the music industry is the efficient marketplace emerging of used CDs. today, it is as easy to buy a used CD as it is to buy a new one. and most $17 CDs go for $5 used.

Let’s say you are a big Madonna fan — you might go to Amazon to buy her greatest hits CD The Immaculate Collection. But clicking on the Amazon link will show you that a new CD costs you 11.99 and a used CD costs you $3.99 — I’m personally choosing the used CD every time.

If you buy The Eminem Show on Amazon, it will cost you $14.99 new and just $4.99 used.

of course, the record companies do not profit from the now efficient used CD trade. but i can tell you that many people i know haven’t bought a new CD in over two years — but they are still buying the same number of CDs per year (they are just buying them used).

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

The New York Times Magazine published another interesting article:

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

definitely worth reading — the article tries to answer questions about our expectations of happiness. will that BMW make us happy? researchers have found that it will probably not make us as happy as we expect. will a death of a loved one cause us incredible grief? maybe, but the long term effect of a death will make us less sad than we suspect.

according to the article, humans tend not to predict very well the gradation of happiness.