I think the one other feature of paper that they can sell, along with paper's quality as a medium for pictures, is the attractiveness of paper itself. Do good market research, determine what books people have an emotional attachment to, and sell those books in premium-priced, durable, beautiful, hardback editions. Don't try to compete with ebooks on cheap content delivery. People still buy vinyl records, designer clothes, luxury cars, and fancy hand soaps. People will pay a premium for a special version of something that they love.
I'm not sure about book stores, per se, but I think that printed books have a long life ahead of them. I imagine that they're analogous to vinyl records. I've already begun moving the bulk of my paperback collection to ePub but some titles are worthy of better treatment and get upgraded to a hardback. I'll pay a premium for an elegant copy of a book that I love.
My hunch is that the drive to force more kids to learn programming is a facet of a bigger issue. There's a two-faced problem in the state of college education. One, the supply of college educated people is probably too high. Two, the quality of high-school educated students entering college (or the workforce) is too low. Both devalue the end result of a college education. This initiative to teach more computer programming to high school students is, I think, a recognition that we need to expect more of high school graduates. A program that makes high school graduates marginally more employable and which builds a stronger foundation for a meaningful, rather than remedial, college education, is probably a good thing. On the other hand, I think that policy-makers are still trying to plug holes in a leaky dam rather than devoting serious thought and resources to building better dams.
One of the things that I found most delightful about Myst - and continue to marvel at - is that the core of the gameplay had nothing to do with killing things. I find Minecraft increasingly appealing because the emphasis is more on building and exploring. Myst really gave the impression of a bigger world around you and used the literary technique of "show, don't tell" to exhibit it. I guess I can admit to being a little bit jaded. There are quite a few "show, don't tell" elements hidden in a game like Guild Wars 2. On the other hand, they're more like Easter eggs than serious components of the narrative or the gameplay. In Myst, if you weren't paying attention, you weren't proceeding. How many games dare that nowadays? Not that it would matter. Today, if you aren't paying attention, just consult the wiki. In fact, just consult the wiki in advance, so you'll know what to prepare for.
You're already at 5:Insightful, so there's no need to mod you up. Instead, I'd just like to thank you. You raised some points that I hadn't considered before, which I appreciate. Furthermore, I rarely see such thorough, thoughtful writing on Slashdot.
It's the "looping it through" that's the problem. I currently use a U-lock which is somewhat restrictive in terms of what I can attach the bike to. That's if there's even something suitable nearby. I think somebody would look askance if I locked my bike up to the sign that says "No Parking, Fire Lane"
I've considered this option for myself but I haven't yet invested in the trailer. In your experience, how easy are they to lock up with the bicycle? Biking to the grocery store with my wife but then requiring one of us to wait outside to guard the bikes is workable but not the best. We had the same problem when we walked to the store towing a little red wagon. I ended up pulling it around the store instead of using a grocery cart because there was no good place to leave it outside. (That sounds great except the thing was really noisy on its hard-rubber tires.)
I didn't pick Sally. It's just the one that I hear most often. I came up with Sigma at the spur of the moment when a client misunderstood my Sierra. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best choice. If I were interested in changing again, I'd probably change to Silver, a word that is notorious for having no rhyme.
When talking with folks who aren't consistent users of the NATO phonetic alphabet, I have to find a substitute for S. Many people hear the SEE at the beginning of Sierra and write down a C. I've taken to using Sigma but the one I hear most frequently from people who don't know the NATO phonetic alphabet is Sally. I sure wish people would learn any "real" phonetic alphabet and use it consistently. I had a client reading off a model to me the other day and for some letters, he used more than one word. Usually, that's not too much of a problem. B-as-in-baker, B-as-in-Bob I can handle. E-as-in-Edward, E-as-in-eye I can't handle (especially since "I" was a valid character for that code in the model.)
It's funny that you should mention playing table tennis left-handed. I tried learning to do that in college. I was one of the stronger players in my social circle, playing right-handed but I wanted to be able to switch. Unfortunately, the weaker players in the circle got offended that I was "handicapping" myself by playing left-handed against them, so I had to quit. (The difference between my right-handed and left-handed play was great enough that it was hard for me to actually learn playing that way against stronger players.)
I don't know about kits but you can definitely still buy Lego by the tub. There's a big Lego store at the Mall of America near where I live. They sell lots of licensed kits but there's lots there for freeform building. A few shelves are dedicated to tubs of plain bricks as well as some utility sets. Last Christmas we bought for my cousin a box of nothing but wheels and windscreens. They also have an entire wall they call "Pick-a-Brick" where you can fill up a cup with any assortment of bricks that you please. We're giving him a cup of those this year to provide him with some of the pieces that tend to get overlooked in the boxed sets.
It isn't precisely the same thing but it is a variant of an accusation sometimes leveled against people professing faith: that because they believe in something without a rational explanation, they cannot be relied upon to think rationally about anything. On more than one occasion, I have had somebody tell me that because I profess a belief in God that I shouldn't be trusted to work as an engineer.
Ahh. I must concede those two points. Not that I meant for my anecdote to serve as an irrefutable counterargument, of course. Just adding my perspective to the conversation. On that subject, though, I like to think that one of the ways in which geeks can serve their communities is by promoting geek-like enthusiasm for creativity and exploration in the people around them. Too often, we lament how unimaginative our neighbours are. I believe that it's worthwhile to encourage them, though.
I'm just curious regarding your opinion of netbooks. You say that a better device came along. What device would that be? I'm very happy with my netbook less as a portable media machine and more as an ultralight writing desk. It is a handy platform for keeping all of my writing in one place: essays, speeches for my Toastmasters club, short stories, and my unfinished NaNoWriMo attempts.
I suspect that the better device[s] to which you're referring are the tablets that followed the netbooks. They're superiour media platforms but for light, mobile productivity, they aren't even really trying. I don't think that all the hype that netbooks generated was merited but I think that there will remain a modest market for devices that are legitimate laptops but low-power, light-weight, and inexpensive.
I've actually been looking into getting a subscription to The Economist and I was looking at their online options. Your last point about the availability of back issues is pointed because it's not universal. Apparently with The Economist, you have access to that week's issue only. Now, with a news magazine, maybe knowing what happened two or three weeks ago isn't quite as important. On the other hand, sometimes it takes me longer than a week to finish such a lengthy, dense magazine. Furthermore, sometimes, I want to call up last week's news because it contained a particularly interesting article to which I wish to refer.