Kindles and Drugs In The Pursuit Of Happiness

Our pursuit of happiness remains both intact and awake. We want the best and we want it now. It's an improvement over the slogan of the last century, "We want the world and we want it now." We don't want the world anymore; we just want the best it has to offer.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Commentator Andrei Codrescu has been thinking about money - Euros and dollars - and Kindles. That's an electronic reader, not a currency. Anyway, we'll start with the money.

ANDREI CODRESCU: A young poet dropped by my table at the coffeehouse to tell me with some urgency that drug dealers are only taking Euros. They don't care about dollars anymore. If our crisis might have seemed unreal until now, I saw it's gravity at once.

Americans, in the pursuit of happiness, have been the greatest illegal drug-users on the planet. So being snubbed by criminals is no joke.

The Euro always looked like funny money to me until last year, when I handed over some of that funny paper in a Paris cafe and realized I'd just paid $7 for two sips of java. At those prices, they might as well make it illegal. At least I can get some adrenaline with it.

Another young poet dropped by. Kindle 2, he whispered urgently, is worse than Kindle 1. There is no SD-card slot so it has a lot less de-facto memory than Kindle 1.

We have a problem here, I told him. Last week I was all gung-ho for Kindle, but I've since downloaded several books on my iPhone and I've been reading them without any problem. Owning the Kindle seems redundant now, but I can see where 250,000 instantly downloadable titles from Amazon might present an advantage over the iPhone's spare shelf.

The young poet thought about it and said, The Kindle looks designed by Apple, so it won't be long before Bezos will either have to sell Kindle to Apple or throw in the towel. I know Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com. He wears shorts but keeps a grip on his towel.

After they left, I reflected that, one, young poets are a lot smarter than they used to be, and two, the Euro is just a copycat of the dollar. Just like Kindle, even with Amazon behind it, is a copycat of something that Apple already possesses.

I also felt relieved for our economy because whether it's drugs or a better e-reader, our pursuit of happiness remains both intact and awake. It would be easy to throw in the towel and pay for our sins in overpriced Euros or settle for the first Kindle that comes along, but we won't. We want the best and we want it now. It's an improvement over the slogan of the last century: We want the world and we want it now. We don't want the world anymore. We just want the best it has to offer.

BLOCK: Andre Codrescu is author of "The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess."

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