business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Jim DeJohn:

Regarding your comment about the Canadian bookseller…

“Indigo’s management likes to say that Canadian customers think that its stores are their “happy place.” That may be true, but if they wanted to find out if the same thing could happen with American customers, I’m not sure I would’ve picked New Jersey, especially a place that is just 25 miles from Philadelphia and 90 miles from New York. Maybe Vermont?”

Not Vermont (unless maybe Burlington)!!  There already is one of the best independent booksellers – located in Manchester, VT (with their other store in Saratoga Springs, NY) – called Northshire Bookstore (  They run an amazing bookstore and the Vermont location has a wonderful attached coffee shop.  You should stop by next time you are in the area (It is one of the favorite places to go for my youngest who is an avid reader).

I’ll do that. I was actually making a weak joke about how New Yorkers and New Jersey residents are not the first people I think about when I think of folks looking for “happy places.”

Also got an email from MNB reader John Toner V:

So I had some free time this Saturday morning in Chicago and I went to go check out the new Amazon Go stores. I am amazed by the traditional store hours! Who knew the company that brought retail to a 24 hour/365 day a week business would make the stores open Monday - Friday.

Last week, MNB took note of a Washington Post has a long and fascinating piece about a new study - published in Nature and authored by 23 global experts - concluding that “a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms, including a radical change in dietary habits.” That story came on the heels of a more-than-dire UN Climate Change report.

MNB reader Brian Hart wrote:

I will try to keep this based on personal experience and previously agreed to science to avoid a rabbit hole…

I chose to become a vegetarian gradually over a several year period, finally “succumbing” in 2014 while in my late 50’s. There were a couple of reasons: 1) I felt it was healthier than my “every meal needs to be centered around meat” diet I thoroughly enjoyed for my entire adult life and 2) It’s more humane for the animals. Since then when I read differing accounts of how much water is needed to produce a basic hamburger (600-1000 gallons) I realized there’s an environmental benefit as well. The range of 600-1000 gallons is broad to take into account varying opinions. Even if that estimate is off by a rather large magnitude that is still a LOT of water.

Without getting into climate change arguments with others, I’ve quietly dropped some pounds, have better blood work results, feel great and  have learned a whole new style of eating and cooking. I loved my food for 50+ years and continue to love it with no meat. My carnivore friends and family members respect what I have done and I fully respect their right to enjoy their food how they wish. And yes, there are times I still crave a really good steak or some outstanding BBQ.  Oh well.

BTW, the Mark Bittman shrimp recipe you mentioned sounds easy and excellent. And, I hope anyone that eats meat will try it and enjoy it.
Thanks for posting the Washington Post article. I happen to believe it is spot on.

MNB reader Richard A. Eastes wrote:

What few seem to recognize is that human existence on planet earth resides only in a very narrow environment. Homo Sapiens are terrestrial on a planet whose surface area is 71% water. Virtually no meaningful population lives above 10 thousand feet above sea level (about 2 miles). The earth’s circumference at its equator is 25 thousand miles, which gives humans a survivable environmental ‘envelope of clearance’ of 2/25,000s. Mechanically, that is a very narrow margin.

An environmental scientist at a conference once gave the following analogy: “if the earth were the size of a basketball, the entire biosphere would be the thickness of a piece of cellophane wrapped around the ball.”

Oxygen only makes up about 20% of our atmosphere at sea level. In earth’s total history, there was a time when there was no atmospheric oxygen in the earth’s environment. The oxygen humans and animals require was created over eons of plants consuming carbon dioxide and through photosynthesis releasing atmospheric oxygen for future animal species to consume and evolve. We must be careful not to cut down forests; they are our “oxygen generators”.

Human existence is not guaranteed. Our range of temperature tolerance, the percentage of uncontaminated oxygen in the air to breath, and our rate of consumption of earth’s resources puts strict limitations on our ability to survive. For those alive now and perhaps a few more generations, humans can ‘get by’. But once the true environmental ‘tipping point’ is passed, there is no guarantee that the earth will provide a survivable environment for human existence—and that’s even if we do not do other things to put our planetary existence in jeopardy socially.

We need to be concerned, and do whatever it takes to protect our survivability. For now we are a space ship (a grain of sand compared to our sun), moving at 67,000 mph around an average sized star, fortunately angled at 23 degrees to allow for an environment that can cool itself, and have a magnetic iron core center that deflects damaging radiation.  And, yet, we continue to take our existence for granted.

MNB reader Roy St.Clair wrote:

RE: your comment this morning…
“I’m willing to sacrifice a little bit of economic growth if that means extending the life of the planet…
But the real question is…are you willing to do without cheeseburgers?


The fact is that I’ve mostly given up cheeseburgers. If I have one or two a month it is a lot … I’m eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, and a ton of fish. Meat, not so much.
KC's View: