Max's latest book (he is also the author of Man Bites Log) arrived in the mail recently. Bright Lights, No City: An African Adventure on Bad Roads with a Brother and a Very Weird Business Plan (Hyperion Books) tells the tale of Max's adventures in Ghana, West Africa, with his younger brother Whit.

Whit Alexander was the cofounder of the Cranium Games (which he sold to Hasbro for a tidy sum). An inveterate entrepreneur, Whit had an idea, in the vein of what Bill Gates called "creative capitalism" — using the tools of capitalism to help the poor.

The pitch: market high-quality, rechargeable AA batteries to off-grid villagers. Max accompanied his brother to Africa in order to tell the story and Bright Lights, No City is the result.

So far, Jorge has forged through about a half-dozen chapters and can report that the story is funny, touching, and quite informative for those who have never been to West Africa. Casa Diablo highly recommends this book.


An interesting essay in last week's New York Times Sunday Review section caught your superior correspondents' eye. David Leonhardt, the Times' Washington bureau chief, opines in "Old vs. Young" that, while a variety of divisions in American culture have received plenty of ink (religious vs. secular, the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent, et al), "one dividing line has actually received too little attention" — that separating the young from the old.

Leonhardt doesn't specify exactly where the line is, but he suggests that the generation gap today is wider than it has been since the 1960s. He notes that the majority of older Americans have moved to the right, while younger Americans have shifted to the left.

He notes, among other things, that the young overwhelming favor same-sex marriage, have a more positive view of immigrants, are notably less religious, are more supportive of cuts to the military budget, and have a more optimistic view of the country's future. And younger Americans support greater spending on education.

While P&J are, chronologically, firmly ensconced in the "older American" demographic, we find ourselves in strong agreement with the youth on most issues. Maybe we're just old weirdos, but we do know that the future is with the young and we feel pretty good about that.


The Lincmeister has vetoed a bill, passed in the hectic and dangerous final hours of the General Assembly's legislative session, that would have given auto body shops the right to sue automobile insurance companies if negotiations between the two didn't lead to an "agreed price."

Much as we do not trust the insurance companies, it would seem that the governor's reasoning — that this would lead to higher insurance rates — is sound. But regardless of how one feels about the Chafee veto, we think that we can all agree on one thing: thank God we won't have to hear any more of those dueling radio ads about "the billion dollar insurance bullies" vs. "insider auto body shops."

At least until the next legislative session.


By the time you read this, it is likely that the US Supreme Court has already issued a decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obama-care"). The main sticking point is the individual mandate — the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance.

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