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I can’t stand roller coasters, but I guess I have a similar craving for experiencing fear and suffering from a safe position, because I have been reading books that make me writhe with anxiety. Right now I’m reading The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. The only people in danger are creations of Collins’s imagination, but I’m gripping my seat and occasionally yelping “Oh no!” and “Don’t do that!”

Is this bad for my blood pressure, do you think, or is vicarious terror good for us?


Shopping inspires all sorts of ethical questions for me. For example, is there a special place in hell for people who spend $425 on a lace t-shirt in a world where they could use that money to feed a hungry family for a month? And if so, am I going there too for spending $65 on a jacket? There’s a line between conspicuous consumption and possessing nice things. I walk it uneasily. I would love to hear how others weigh these choices.


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