Ah, virtual friday. The day of the week to share a bunch of lunchtime news chum links that have defied categorization. So take a deep breath… we’re jumping in…
- From the “In The Holiday Spirit” Department: A number of articles related to Saturday’s holiday (and I don’t mean Shabbat). Let’s start with gifts. Everyone loves gifts, although as Planet Money points out, they are an incredible economic waste if you are given something unwanted. So what to do? Well, you could give gift cards. Many folks are doing that: in fact, gift cards are more popular this holiday season than ever. But beware… for that gift card is worthless if the company goes under, as some folks in Fresno found out. ETA: Of course, what is one of the most popular gift cards: grocery stores (a reflection of our times).
Taking a page from something closer to the origins of the holiday, USA Today has a nice piece on the life of a shepherd today, and how it is very close to what it was in biblical times. Of course, shepherds then didn’t work on restricted work visa, with three-year contracts. Still, if you want to learn about a job most Americans do not want to do (or why we still import people to do some jobs), it is well worth reading.
- From the “It’s The Economy, Stupid” Department: A few articles all related to economic aspects of things. First up, a nice interview with the owners of Casa De Cadillac in Van Nuys about what they have had to do to weather the recession. The Ventura County Star has a nice piece on the bloat added to ticket prices by outlets such as Ticketmaster, and how a number of venues are fighting it with their feet. The LA Times has a nice article on grandparents and giving, and how they often give and give and give for their grandchildren. The NY Times has a nice piece on retro-electronics: manual typewriters that serve as keyboards, laptop cases disguised as old books, etc. Lastly, in the mergers and acquisitions area, private equity firm Leonard Green is purchasing Jo-Ann Fabrics; what I found interesting was that Leonard Green also owns The Container Store, David’s Bridal, Del Taco, Petco, Sports Authority, Tourney, Neiman Marcus and Whole Foods Markets.
- From the “Dead Presidents” Department: An interesting article from the LA Times on the fighting taking place regarding Israel’s currency: specifically, who should be portrayed on the bills. Some want dead political figures. Some don’t, including the families. Some want dead poets. The compromise doesn’t seem to be making anyone happy. But Israel’s not alone. Brit’s are upset about the image of Kate Middleton on a new coin.
- From the “Exposing Problems” Department: An interesting piece in the NY Times about the technical limitations of the common college application, specifically how it cuts off text with arbitrary limitations without warning. The LA Times talks about a more problematic exposure: a new restaurant refused service to a food critic and posted their picture on the web because they didn’t like the reviews she wrote.
- From the “A Miracle Happened Here” Department: If we’re going to celebrate miracles this season, how about this: a miracle drug that came from the bark of a tree.