Critical Linking: January 24, 2013


English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare “that his drama is the mirror of life.” Now the Bard’s words have been translated into life’s most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.

This is what happens when scientists follow through on ideas they have while stoned.


Just to be clear, the reimagined independent bookshop is not really a money-making outfit. While these shops might break even, in some cases turn a small profit, it is only because their customers override their instinct to act like consumers and act like good citizens instead, paying full price when they could get a discount by crossing the street or just clicking a mouse. At Curiosity House, Hicks got locals to sign a contract saying they wouldn’t shop on Amazon – for the most part, it’s worked. Patchett went on The Colbert Report and asked viewers from across the country to buy her book at full price from her shop’s website – and they did, in the thousands.

Heart-warming, but signing a contract not to shop at Amazon?


Even in the book’s version we see an issue: the dwarves accept Bilbo’s “offer” but then proceed to give terms. This is not actually an acceptance but rather a counter-offer, since they’re adding terms. In the end it doesn’t matter because Bilbo effectively accepts the counter-offer by showing up and rendering his services as a burglar, but the basic point is that the words of a contract do not always have the legal effect that they claim to have. Sometimes you have to look past the form to the substance.

Sounds like Bilbo should have had a good lawyer.

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