Some links that have caught my eye of late:
— 2008 Year-End Google Zeitgeist (Via Steve Rubel on Twitter)
As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look at the big events, memorable moments and emerging trends that captivated us in 2008. As it happens, studying the aggregation of the billions of search queries that people type into the Google search box gives us a glimpse into the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times. We’ve compiled some of the highlights from Google searches around the globe and hope you enjoy looking back as much as we do.
— WSJ: “Asia’s Tourism: Boon and Bane: Low-Cost Countries With Popular Spots Better Off Than Others”
Recession in major economies around the world has hit Southeast Asia’s pivotal tourism industry, but increased domestic and regional travel by cash-squeezed travelers based in Asia means some countries will be hurt less than others.
Governments around the region are cutting forecasts for income as both long-haul tourists and business travelers get increasingly cost-conscious. That is a problem because tourism accounts for a hefty 6% or more of most economies in Southeast Asia.
Still, some low-cost countries with attractive tourist spots and large homegrown populations should lose out less.
— Daily Routines: How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days. Sample entry: Truman Capote
What are some of your writing habits? Do you use a desk? Do you write on a machine?
I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.
— Foreign Policy: The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2008. They are:
1. The Surge in Afghanistan Starts Early
2. Colombian Coca Production Increases
3. The Next Darfur Heats Up
4. The United States Helps India Build a Missile Shield
5. Russia Makes a Play for Africa
6. Greenhouse Gas Comes from Solar Panels
7. Shanghai Steel Fails Basic Safety Tests
8. Aid to Georgia Finances Luxury Hotel in Tbilisi
9. For the First Time, U.S. Citizen Convicted of Torture Abroad
10. American Company Sells ‘Sonic Blasters’ to China
— An interesting motorcycle story from the New York Times’s Handlebars section: “To Attract New Riders, Motorcycles Go Shiftless“:
Car sales, already in a deep funk, would probably be slower yet if automakers decided to offer no alternative to manual transmissions.
Makers of street motorcycles have largely painted themselves into that corner. And with the effects of stalled credit markets flattening out a 14-year streak of steady growth — despite the allure of good gas mileage in a wobbly economy — it’s no surprise that manufacturers are mounting an effort to introduce more rider-friendly bikes.
Makers as big as Honda, the world’s largest, and as specialized as Aprilia, a style-centric Italian brand, are working to eliminate the perceived obstacles of shifting gears and mastering a clutch with new models that let riders simply gas it and go.
— New York Times: “Holiday Books: Travel”
— And last but not least, a wonderful collection of book scans on Flickr: “Nostalgia for the Scholastic Book Club, circa ’60’s & ’70’s”