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News and analysis: Lego Friends sells well, Organic food is no healthier, Bulgaria nixes EU membership plans

Lego’s Friends line has been a huge success. I’m mostly pleased by this, but I have somewhat complicated feelings.

I have a daughter, and it’s a little frustrating that the opportunities provided for girls to play a career include a beautician, a veterinarian, a horse trainer, a baker, a fashion designer, and a rock star. I’m glad they included the inventor but it smacks of tokenism. It’s also frustrating that there’s a bunny house and a pet patrol and a horse trailer and a puppy house–it’s bunnies and puppies and kittens and pink and purple. I’m just as offended, I suppose, by the violence in a lot of the boys’ kits, but with the inclusion of molded figures that don’t match minifig scale, the City and Creator Lego sets don’t seem intended to integrate into the Friends’ world.

My hope is that the crazy success of Friends’ means that they’ll release new models annually–and you can’t build a beauty shop every year. Here’s hoping we get to see ambulance drivers and astronauts and architects this go-round (and that’s just the A’s).


Organic may not be much healthier, according to some studies. I love these “studies show” stories, because they still treat science like it’s got a final say on things. Science is messy and complicated and I guess places like this is where we find out what the upshot actually is, but I hope we the general populace can eventually come to accept that scientists are just mucking about from ignorance to slightly reduced ignorance, like the rest of us, only in their particular field.

Studies seem to show that organic is not much healthier for you. I was not laboring under the impression that it was, so it’s not news to me, per se. It appears to me to be healthier for the ecosystem, which I value, but how much? It’s hard to say. Organic also has cultural cachet, so there’s some value there as well.

It’d be cool if we thought people were buying organic for a specific reason x, because then we could use expenditures on organic to assess the value the public places on x, but unfortunately it’s a whole big mishmash of reasons, some of which are undoubtedly vaguely mystical.

Bulgaria decides, eh, maybe not so much on joining the European Union. So that’s different. The nice thing about getting your country ready to join the EU is that it seems like a really nice target to set. Not actually joining the EU is maybe not such a big deal just now.

I’m curious, of course, to see how it falls out. It’s not a good sign, but it makes a lot of sense. Austerity was a bad idea, and continues to be one. The unfortunate truth seems to be that deficit spending is the best solution to the growth problems the EU is experiencing, and that a subset of the countries are going to bear the bulk of the burden of that deficit. They don’t want to, and so there will be no solution right now. I’m not sure how an economic union can get through a crisis without being a full fiscal union–if the U.S. states got to decide on whether to keep California’s debt and bear its cost on the value of our dollar, we might decide not to. Fortunately–and it is a good thing, for sure–we don’t have the choice.

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September 2012
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