Friday Dismal Thread

by Ted on July 29, 2005

I recently made a one-night trip from Houston to Chicago with very little notice. I managed to save almost $200 off of the lowest-price plane ticket by adding a hotel room at a Super 8 outside of Gary, IN, which I didn’t use.

A quick look at Travelocity shows me that it was no fluke- for brief trips with very little notice, it’s much cheaper to book a flight to Chicago if you book a room at a Super 8 at the same time. At the time that I originally wrote this post, Delta would sell a flight from Houston to Chicago for $616 without a hotel room, $340 with. If I needed to leave tomorrow, I could buy a ticket on American for $606 without a hotel room, or $350 with.

How does this make sense? I can imagine that, all other things being equal, it would be worth a few bucks to an underutilized hotel to boost its occupancy rates. They might gain a customer for the future. However, even if the hotel in question incurred no costs at all for a housing a guest, I see no way that the hotel could derive $200+ worth of benefit. I must be missing something obvious, but I can’t figure out what.

My department is hiring

by Eszter Hargittai on July 29, 2005

My department – the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern – is looking to hire up to two faculty members (tenure-track, open rank) this coming year for positions starting in Fall, 2006. We are especially interested in candidates with expertise in either of two areas: social network analysis and computer-mediated communication. Details below the fold.

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The Ribena test

by John Quiggin on July 29, 2005

In the July edition of Prospect Erik Tarloff reviews What Good are the Arts? by John Carey. Tarloff’s critique (subscription-only link I think, but give it a try) is summed up in the write-off

If I prefer Ribena to Château Lafite, does that make me a fool? No. It’s just a matter of taste—as it is for art. That is John Carey’s thesis, and it’s wrong

I haven’t read Carey’s book yet, but as far as I’m concerned, Tarloff is wrong. Not having read the book, I won’t assert that Carey is right, but he is certainly raising the right questions.

The difference between ‘Art’ (I’ll defend the scare quotes later) and mass-produced cultural products is, in most respects, just like the difference between Château Lafite and Ribena. One takes a lot of skill and indefinable talent to produce, and an experienced palate to appreciate , and the other is cheaply produced in bulk and reliably appeals to basic tastes we all possess[1]

In fact, this comparison is too favorable to ‘Art’ since a lot of stuff produced under that banner, and accepted by its official representatives, has none of the merits of Château Lafite, while lots of things that don’t make into the canon are subtle and complex.

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