Some notes on the year 2000, the Internet stock bubble, liberals and
conservatives, the institutional logic of the always-on world, and the
terrific cheap pens that can be yours.  And URL's.  Thanks to everyone
who contributed.


Some people asked how to find the previous installments of my "what
I'm interested in" lists of books.  You can go to the
archive  and type "interested" into
the search engine and you'll get most of them.  Or you can get the
whole batch at .


It's still the year 2000, so let's continue with our survey of the
futurists' predictions.  In 1996, venture capitalist and would-be
political leader of the computer industry John Doerr said this:

  "the Internet will be decisive in who's elected president in the
  year 2000.  Its impact on politics will be significant: more people
  will be more involved in the process and far better informed."

  Quoted in Richard Davis, The Web of Politics: The Internet's Impact
  on the American Political System, Oxford: Oxford University Press,
  1999, page 114.

That quote was not at all unrepresentative of the climate of opinion
in 1996.  And now that we're wrapping up the year 2000 presidential
elections, we can ask whether the prediction has come true.  It has
clearly not.  The Internet is not having a significant impact on
politics, people are not more involved to any significant degree,
and they are not far better informed.  In fact, given the astonishing
psychosis that has gripped the media, the electorate is probably
much less informed than they were back in 1996.  The Internet's
insignificance in the current campaign is a standing joke.  Remember
those elaborate party convention Web sites that nobody cared about?
True, the Internet will be decisive in who's elected president this
year if the electorate believes that Al Gore falsely claimed to have
invented it.  But that's not what the guy meant.


Who wants my :Cue:Cat?  (That's the device that all readers of Wired
and Forbes are getting in the mail to scan print ads and pull up Web
pages.  It seems like an awful lot of hardware and hassle for a small
amount of useful functionality.)  I understand that people are hacking
them, not least because of their tendency to capture records on their
users' reading habits.


After reading my piece on "The market logic of information", one
reader sent me $5 through  I think we have the makings of
a new Internet custom here.  Maybe I should write a bit of Javascript
that lets me embed a button in my Web pages: if you like what you're
reading, punch the button to send me $0.25 through Paypal.  If you
like it a lot, punch the button several times.  Great idea!  I should
file a business method patent.


About once a year, a scientist confides in me that scientific field X
has no intellectual content.  The exact identity of X varies somewhat,
with some X's coming up more than once.  I'm not telling you what the
X's are, because (having discovered the limits of my ability to grind
out problem sets about curve integrals in sophomore electromagnetism)
I have no way of telling for sure.  Just once, I'd like to see a
well-designed survey of scientists on this matter: what are the least
substantive areas of science, and which areas should be regarded as
completely lacking in substance?  I think the resulting uproar would
be most illuminating.  The survey would be restricted to scientists
who have worked in more than one field, because they have a basis for
comparison.  I care about this because, having moved into the social
sciences, I have to put up with people who think they know all about
my field whether they do or not.  Every radio personality is an
authority on the supposed weaknesses of intellectuals, by which they
don't mean scientists, and I would like to see some equity.


Recommended: The November/December 1999 issue of the ACM Magazine
"Interactions", which is a special issue about family snapshots and
their migration to digital media.  This issue is interesting for
a bunch of reasons.  It was put together by designers, and so the
whole issue is designed in an interesting and consciously chosen way.
To start with, the whole issue is packed with real snapshots.  The
designers' culture also comes through in a more subtle way: they do
not follow the conventional division of labor whereby every article
(or book, etc) has an author.  Instead, they recognize more complex
and unconventional divisions of labor.  For example, several of the
articles are written on the basis of interviews with experts, with
both the expert and the writer getting a credit.  The issue is also
interesting for being the result of a European Commission research
project.  The EU long ago decided to organize cooperative research
projects that cross national boundaries, as well as boundaries between
the private sector and universities.  The research programs are much
more group-oriented, much more coordinated than in the United States.
This social engineering on the part of the EU has been successful,
and it is now quite routine for European researchers to draw on their
Europe-wide professional networks to put together far-flung cooperative
research projects.  This particular project was called Maypole, and
was funded by i3, the European Network for Intelligent Information
Interfaces .  This kind of advanced culture of
collaboration means that the project crosses disciplinary boundaries
in a productive way, for example mixing ethnographic studies of family
snapshots with industrial design studies of products and services that
the families might find useful.  Some details can be found on the Web
at: .


A theory of the Internet stock bubble.

I have a theory of the Internet stock bubble.  A technical standard
such as TCP/IP or HTTP is a coordination mechanism: it helps people
to interrelate their activities with much less negotiation than they
would otherwise need.  Establishing a standard is a major coordination
problem, since a critical mass of users have to be persuaded that
a critical mass of users will actually adopt the standard.  But once
that condition is achieved, everyone can go on back to work and the
standard will keep everyone interoperating.  A standard thus creates
wealth in society, and the big economic question is who will capture
that wealth.  The answer to this question will depend on many factors.
It might be a single vendor who captures all of the wealth through
its proprietary control of the standard, or else it might be content
providers who withhold their intellectual property until they can
extract rents from everyone else.  It might be the early adopters
who won't use the standard unless they get subsidies from the vendor.
It might be the applications developers.  Underneath every standard is
a hidden struggle among all of these players, each of them trying to
capture the largest slice of the pie by adjusting the standard itself
or the legal or contractual arrangements around it.  The winner will
be determined by a hundred factors: who is best organized, who can
leverage their control of existing standards, who has other options
they can choose, who can wait, who has money in the bank, who has the
manufacturing capabilities, who happens to think of the idea first,
and so on.  If the players push too hard then the standards process
can fail altogether, leaving no pie at all to divide.  It's quite a
complicated game.

By coordinating a vast number of diverse activities, the Internet
creates enormous wealth.  So it stands to reason that large numbers of
investors have tried to cut themselves a slice of the pie by providing
capital to one or more of the players.  Some of them, obviously, have
succeeded, such as the early investors in Cisco.  But an huge number
of them have failed, and it's interesting to consider why.  Despite
its great fame, as standardization processes the Internet is wildly
atypical.  In the Internet's case, one player, the philosopher-kings
at ARPA, held nearly all the cards; they were the smartest, richest,
best-organized, and most prescient of anyone, and they chose to rig
the game to ensure that almost all of the wealth went to the ordinary
users, that is, the taxpayers.  This poses a problem for the players
who want bigger slices of the pie than they get just from having a
computer on their desk.  The pie is sliced so thinly that it's almost
impossible to assemble a large slice.  Some people have done it, of
course, but even the billionaires of Silicon Valley have captured a
tiny proportion of the entire wealth that the Internet has created.

The rest of the wealth is out there, of course, but to capture it you
have to come up with an investment strategy that separates the value
of the Internet from all of the other factors that affects investments
in particular contexts.  For example, you could invest in whichever
auto company is doing the best job of using the Internet, but then
you're exposed to all of the other issues that affect auto companies.
Investors, therefore, are looking for the "pure plays" that depend
on nothing except the success of the Internet.  And this is where the
Internet stock bubble comes from: the amount of capital that is out
there chasing Internet stocks is probably not out of line, given the
amount of wealth that the Internet has created.  It's just that the
capital is all squeezing into a tiny portion of the space where that
wealth is getting created.  There's only so much Cisco to go around.

This all leads to the only proven method of making money by investing
in high technology: do a huge amount of research until you identify
the standards that are going to build critical masses, analyze the
players and their strategies, and put your money on the player that is
going to capture most of the wealth.  If you arrive too late then that
player will already have enough capital to grow on its own steam, and
in that case you should walk away.  Two years ago you should have been
studying the players in optical networking.  And now?  Well, if you
were reading about it here then you'd be too late.  That's the point.


Conservatives call themselves the party of personal responsibility,
but this has always struck me as odd.  Liberals feel responsible
for everything.  Poverty, pollution, violence: you name it, liberals
take personal responsibility for it.  The point of conservatism is
precisely the refusal of personal responsibility.  Why are people
poor?  It's their own fault (and not mine).  Why are crime rates high?
It's the criminals' fault (and not mine), and besides criminality is
in their genes so it's not even *their* fault.  Why do men leave their
families?  It's the feminists' fault.  Why is the earth's temperature
rising?  It's, um, er, they're just making that up.  And listen to
a "senior Bush aide" (LA Times, 8/4/00): "We are getting past this
whole era, both the Clintons and the atmosphere they created among
Republicans."  Now *that's* a refusal to take personal responsibility.
When liberals go around taking personal responsibility for everything,
conservatives mock them for "liberal guilt".  They have a whole
rhetoric for making fun of personal responsibility.  And then they
use the words in empty ways to cover up.  It's true, of course, that
liberals can go overboard with the personal responsibility.  But at
least they believe in it, and act on it, as opposed to simply using it
as a stick to hit people.


Trauma and unreason on the left.

Having said that, let's also talk about the left for a moment.  As
you might imagine, I received all sorts of commentary on my piece
about the assault on reason in American political culture.  I have
focused on this topic because of the tidal wave of professionalized
irrationality that is dominating the proceedings in the presidential
election campaign.  But some of the messages that I received from
people on the left brought back memories, and fairness requires that I
describe one major way in which leftists -- not all of them, but many
-- reject reason.  For leftists, the starting point is oppression --
the various ways in which groups of people are kept down through a
combination of violence, stereotyping, propaganda, discrimination, and
so on.  Oppression is real, and traumatic.  The problem with trauma
is that it renders its victim irrational.  Not completely irrational,
necessarily, but locked unconsciously into the oppressive pattern of
interaction.  Oppressors enjoy painting their victims as irrational,
and so a whole world of mind-games get started that twist the norms of
rationality for oppressive ends.

For a lot of leftists, this pattern takes the following dysfunctional
form: "there's no use engaging in rational argument, because you'll
never convince them anyway", or (exasperatedly) "we've tried rational
argument, but the only language they speak is the language of power".
You've heard these lines.  They are the lines of someone who, at a
basic unconscious level, is trapped in a small box that contains just
themselves and their oppressor.  Living in that small box, it is hard
to comprehend, much act upon, the political imperative of talking in a
way that 51% of eligible voters can understand.  The box has no third
parties in it, no undecideds, no way to imagine the perspective of
people who have not been traumatized in that particular way, and who
consequently retain their capacity to reason somewhat rationally about
the situation.

This explains the perplexing failure of liberals to articulate in a
systematic way the plain-language, common-sense, concise-and-catchy
responses to the great outpouring of jargon that has rained down upon
us for the last ten years.  When you're living in the box, everything
is always as bad as it can possibly be, and everything, no matter how
dreadful, is just more of the same.  This is powerlessness, and the
demon of powerlessness wants nothing except for other people to become
powerless too.  That's why the most interesting and useful people on
the left have focused so much attention on power in the positive sense
of the term: not the ability to do things to people, but the opposite
of an entrenched sense of passivity and futility -- the deep-down
belief that it is possible to rise up and do positive work in the
world.  This is one reason why I wrote my treatise on professional
networking for graduate students: not just to instruct them in the
steps of a procedure, but to communicate a fundamental set of positive
beliefs that they were born with, but may have lost.

Power in this existential sense is closely related to reason.  Reason
does not imply its many stereotypes: lack of emotion, fancy language,
exclusionary rituals, throwing oneself on the mercy of the powerful,
the scientific method applied to everything in sight whether it fits
or not.  It is notoriously hard to define reason in a positive way,
in terms of the exact criteria or procedures that make something
rational.  It is better explained in a negative way: don't say things
that don't make sense.  The professionally twisted language that I
have described here is the opposite of reason: if you read it in a
careful way then you can see, and clearly and calmly explain, that
it does not make sense.  Although we are all born with power (in the
positive sense of the world), we are not born rational.  That comes
through dialogue, and by internalizing our interactions with rational
people.  We all say dumb things and we all make mistakes.  We are all
imprecise sometimes, and we all definitely make assumptions that we've
never thought about.  We inherit a lot of this stuff from the culture,
of course, but the main problem is that it's just a big job to think
straight.  If we can have sane conversations, or honest arguments,
or even if we can read good books, then we have a chance to sort
out our thinking and become rational.  The traumas of oppression have
the opposite effect, and the damage to our rationality that oppression
causes is much of its point.  People who cultivate the currently
fashionable political jargon make a point of going around traumatizing
people with nonsense that pretends to be rational but is actually
crazy.  It is dangerous, and to preventing it from hurting people we
must persistently place it under a microscope and show people how it


Human relationships in an always-on world.

The always-on world isn't just about network connectivity; it's also
about relationships.  Every one of us has thousands of relationships
of numerous types, and every one of those relationships is acquiring
more and more of an informational architecture.  Occasionally calling
someone or sending a greeting card is an informational architecture,
and so is having someone's home page in your bookmark file, and so is
the full details of your bank account, which relates you to the bank
and all of the people in it.  We can watch informational architectures
becoming complicated in the Web-based personalized customer service
interfaces that many companies are establishing: online banking, for
example, or the status of your frequent flier miles on the airline's
Web site.  Professional relationships become more informationally
complex when you can pull up one another's publications in the online
library catalog, or when you can search magazines and Web sites for
mentions of one another.

The pattern is clear: relationships shift from episodic interaction
-- individual phone calls or letters -- to a state where everyone
you know becomes a continual presence in your life.  Each of us will
have a portfolio of always-on relationships to manage.  It's a scary
prospect, and we'll need good tools.  We already have decent tools:
software for managing large amounts of e-mail, for example, and the
various search tools that are in widespread use.  But we're going to
need much better.  Salespeople have customer relationship management
and contact management software, together with structured practices
for capturing useful information about every customer and sharing it
with others in the organization who need it.  These tools presuppose
that the various relationships are homogeneous, or at least that they
have a similar structure: the people are all customers, and we all
want them to buy the stuff that we're selling.  But they might provide
a model for managing the more hetereogeneous portfolio of always-on
relationships that the rest of us are accumulating.  People in the
field of CSCW (computer supported cooperative work) have smart things
to say about the matter as well, though they don't speak in these
terms.  For example, they've experimented with mechanisms for giving
one's phone calls (or attempts to initiate synchronous interaction in
general) an urgency level so as to avoid interrupting more important
activities on the other end.  Meanwhile, normal people are out there
inventing new always-on cultural forms, from abbreviated languages
for instant messaging to rituals for having numerous short cell-phone
conversations with close family members in the course of a day.

Every relationship is always-on, in a sense, in that you stay related
to the person even when you're not synchronously interacting with them
or actively processing information from or about them.  But as always-
on technologies proliferate, we will explore new kinds of relational
middle distance.  One of these middle distances in professional arenas
is the practice of surveilling other people's careers, for example
reading people's publications to watch their intellectual development.
This kind of surveillance is part of a manager's job, or a department
chair's -- anyone whose career is made by assembling an organization
or network of talented people.  And it's fair game, since almost by
definition a professional has a public persona whose whole point is
positioning oneself in the professional world.

New tools could improve both the cultivation and the surveillance of
these public personae.  Web pages are already a major step forward,
but they are limited by their lack of structure.  I find it very
frustrating that everybody puts different information on their home
pages, so that I can have few expectations about what information
I can find and where.  So imagine, for example, an XML document type
for vitae (the academic equivalent of a resume).  I would like to
be able to enter a query such as "show me bibliographic records for
every book that has been published in the last five years by anyone
who got their PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago".
I would also like to be able to instruct my mail-reading program to
inspect the vita of everyone who sends me mail, and display a summary
of it that lists the items that automatic analysis reveals to be most
related in content to my own publications.  And I would like to have
a Web page that displays a continually updated list of bibliographic
entries for the most recent publications and other public professional
activities (like conference organizing) of all of the people whose
careers I am watching.  Of course, academia is an especially favorable
environment for this kind of technology, given the complicated public
personae that academics develop and the institutions that impose a
relatively standardized structure on it all.  But similar mechanisms
can be imagined in other contexts as well.

The always-on world is a world of divided attention.  It used to
be that activities mapped onto places, since it was only practical
to interact with the people who were physically present.  But cell
phone calls come and find us wherever we are, and portable digital
devices are rapidly growing the ability to make our entire portfolio
of relationships present to us wherever we are.  We will certainly
develop rituals to manage this situation, as for example when people
meet for lunch and then both get out their cell phones to get their
lives back under control before they settle down to eating together.
These rituals are widely reviled, of course, but you wait: soon they
won't just be for yuppie scum anymore.

And cell phones are the least of it.  To see the possibilities, think
about every institution that you are part of -- family, work, banking,
recreation, politics, you name it -- and imagine how the relationships
associated with those institutions could evolve in real time.  The
people might reach out to grab you, as with a phone call, or their
status might change in some way that you want to be automatically
notified about, or you might want literally to keep an eye on them
through a Webcam, or you might have some project in common that is
being coordinated by a project management tool.  Then think up ways
in which the relationship might change once it becomes possible
to manipulate its informational architecture anytime and anyplace.
Addiction will be a big issue; lots of people out there can't let go
of their stock portfolio for five minutes.  You could spend your whole
life continually tweaking your portfolio of institutionally organized
relationships, and never get anything done.  We will have to be strong.

One consequence of the always-on world is that everyone will have
their own relational environment hovering around them all the time.
We will have free association in a radical sense; increasingly freed
from geographic constraints and equipped with powerful search tools,
we will be able to pick out exactly the people we want to associate
with, and we will be able to associate with them whenever we want.
We won't devolve into disembodied brains, of course, and geographic
proximity will always play an important role in our lives.  That's
not the argument.  The argument, rather, is that we can maintain more
continual relationships with whoever we associate with, near or far.
This is already happening as family homes break apart into separate
media spheres for each individual, everyone with their own television
and telephone and Internet connection, and it will intensify as the
informational architectures of our various relationships become more
complex.  I remember my first large-scale exercise in professional
social engineering -- a journal issue that I edited.  I felt like
I was playing a huge video game, answering dozens of e-mail messages
every morning and making constant decisions about who to recruit as
an author or referee, who I should set talking to whom, and so on.
Although the computational tools allowed me to get a lot of useful
work done with minimal hassle, and even though my conscience is clear
about the choices I made, it was not an entirely good feeling to have
so many people so readily on tap.  It's a feeling that will become
much more widespread.

The basic point here is only partially technological.  Yes, we will
have more complex technical means for managing relationships with
other people, and for pursuing our various projects upon the terrain
that those relationships define.  But we should also think about what
these developments do to the very concept of a person.  Institutions
define their participants to a great extent: I am a professor, for
example, and so my actions and beliefs have been shaped a certain way,
and people treat me a certain way, and I have certain options open to
me and not others.  In particular, the institution of the university
shapes the kinds of relationships that I can have with other people.
Of course, I can have all sorts of relationships in other settings,
outside of the university.  What I mean is that the university defines
a structure of relationships, for example in my responsibility to
cite the work of people whose ideas I have drawn on, and (much harder)
to acknowledge the work of people whose ideas have anticipated my own.
That doesn't mean that I fulfill these responsibilities perfectly;
that may not even be possible.  But it does shape the way I think, and
the genres in which I write.  And it also defines to a great extent
who I have professional relationships with: if someone's ideas stand
in a certain relation to mine, then I am automatically related to that
person, and that relationship has a definite structure because of the
customs and incentives that the institution creates.  This is not just
true in the university, of course, but is true in many settings, each
with its own structure and logic, its own way of shaping relationships.

I think of this phenomenon as "spacing": every institution defines a
set of relationships among its participants, and taken together these
relationships place us all in a big map of who is related to whom and
how.  When you write a dissertation, for example, one of your jobs is
to articulate precisely the relationship between your own work and the
work of dozens, even hundreds of other people.  In doing so, you knit
yourself into a network of relationships, and into the institutions of
research.  You acquire a precisely articulated relationship to everyone
around, so that, so far as the institution is concerned, you exist.
Other institutions define their own spacings: in the job market, for
example, your relationships to your coworkers are defined not only by
your respective job descriptions, but also by the possibility that any
one of you might get a new job tomorrow.  Of course, if you're smart
and intend to stay in the same industry then you'll keep all of those
relationships going.  The point is, in the world of the market, every
relationship is thoroughly contingent, and the market might reshuffle
everyone to new locations in the overall order at any moment.  The
widespread vision of a "friction-free economy" is not wholly imaginary, 
and it consists precisely in a radicalization of the contingent quality
of every relationship, every connection, every attachment, every bond.
This, too, is a kind of spacing -- the institution structures all of
the spaces between people, conferring on their relationships a definite
logic, and a definite informational architecture, many aspects of which
lend themselves to formalization in computational terms.

All of this is good and bad.  The opposite extreme from an always-on
world is feudalism, in which everyone assumes that all relationships
are fixed, static, permanent, and God-given, so that everyone knows
their place and fully expects to spend their lives maneuvering within
a specific, small, stable repertoire of relationships.  Feudalism has
its virtues: if the relationships are good ones, then they can acquire
a depth and comfort that comes from the confidence that they will
always be around.  The problem with feudalism, of course, is that most
of the relationships aren't good ones, so that everyone is trapped in
the relational world they were born with.  The always-on world has the
opposite problem.  It is a world of freedom, but it is also a world of
anonymous global forces that ceaselessly rearrange all relationships
to their liking.  We don't understand this world very well, but we will
soon have plenty of opportunity to study it first-hand.


Recommended: Cristiano Antonelli, New information technology and
the evolution of the industrial organisation of the production of
knowledge, in Stuart Macdonald and John Nightingale, eds, Information
and Organization: A Tribute to the Work of Don Lamberton, Amsterdam:
North-Holland, 1999.  This is a startlingly sophisticated theoretical
paper about the role of knowledge in the evolution of high-technology
industrial organization, and of the role of high technology in the
market structure of knowledge.  I won't even try to summarize it.
The whole volume that it's in looks worthwhile, though I've only had
a chance to skim most of the rest of it.


One of the many small blessings of the Web is its encyclopedia of song
lyrics.  If I can't parse a line, I just type "lyrics travis fear" (or
whatever) into Google and up pops a fan site.


Most of the responses I received from conservatives to my messages
about the insanity of the Bush campaign were disturbing.  Simply put,
they were filled with lies -- false attacks on Al Gore's character
that have been put about by the Republicans.  The whole greatest hits
was there: Al Gore falsely claimed to be the model for "Love Story",
Al Gore falsely claimed that his sister was the first volunteer at
the Peace Corps, Al Gore claimed that his mother sang him the "union
label" song as a child, that he falsely claimed that his father was a
leader of the civil rights movement, on and on.  The oppo researchers
have raked through this guy's whole life, and they've come up with
a bunch of absolute rubbish: true statements that they pretend are
false, false statements that he never made, absolutely trivial errors,
and every other possible variety of spin and all-around rubbish.

What's really disturbing is the thought-patterns in which this junk
was embedded.  The people who cultivate the new jargon are filled with
extraordinary weak arguments.  Some of them would flame hysterically
at me for nothing worse than having said nothing bad about Al Gore.
Others insisted vehemently that no matter how many false accusations
are made against him, Al Gore is a "liar" if we can identify one
single statement that he has ever made in his life that was not
completely true, while treating as a diversionary tactic any attempt
to apply the same standard to, say, George W. Bush.  Normal people
can accept that everyone makes mistakes, that some misstatements
are more serious than others, and that issuing repeated false attacks
on a person's character is a more serious matter than misremembering
whether you went to Texas with the director of FEMA or the deputy
director.  But these people are playing under rules that make no
sense, and they have worked themselves into hepped-up emotional states
that render them incapable of realizing it.  They are dangerous, and
if they win then we are in trouble.


Cheap pens!!  I've gotten the latest models from Europe, and some pens
that had been in storage.  And let me tell you, I can't believe what
cool pens I have!  Too many cool pens.  What's why I'm extending my
offer: send me a check for US$20 or the equivalent made out to Amnesty
International and I will send you a cool cheap pen.  In fact I've been
sending everyone two pens, one in black or blue and another in color.
Such a deal!  Here are some of the cool pen models that I have in
stock, sorted in decreasing order of how hard they are to get in the
United States.  All are highly recommended.  If you want to specify
a particular model then I will *try* to comply, but I can't guarantee

Pilot Hi-Tec-C.  Highly sought-after and impossible to get (so far as
I know) outside a few Japanese import shops, it's best for people who
are gifted with the precise handwriting of an architect.

Zebra Antique Hyperjell.  This is a new gel pen that's just terrific.
It fits my own preferred style: big sloppy pens that deliver a great
deal of ink and flow very comfortably across the page.  Slightly odd

Zebra Zeb-Roller DX7.  Another terrific Zebra model, this is a liquid
ink pen with a rather precise point that glides in a marvelously
liquid way.

BPS-GP Extra Broad.  This is a traditional-looking pen whose extremely
wide tip, 1.6mm as opposed to the usual 0.5mm or 0.7mm, makes it an
interesting experience.

Pilot V-Corn C.  A stubby-looking liquid-ink pen that's much better
than the already very good but more fragile Pilot Precise V7 Rolling
Ball.  The Precise is widely available, but not the V-Corn.

Staedtler Liquid Point.  This is the bumble-bee pen, a robust needle-
tipped liquid-ink pen with excellent ink flow.

Sakura Gelly Roll.  An entertaining, cost-effective gel pen that
mostly comes in colors.

Uni-Ball Eye (aka Vision).  A very good liquid-ink pen.

Let me also mention two excellent pens that I can't offer to send you
because I've used them up:

Micro TANK-Pen.  This very rare Korean liquid-ink pen is outstanding.
I haven't done a write-off, but it may be the best yet.  The company
has a Web site at  
but it hasn't responded to my entreaties.  If anybody happens to be
in Lisbon I can explain how to find the stationer where I bought it. 

Finally, gel pen fans will be enthusiastic about a wide-bodied gel pen
that's only available from the gift shop of the new Tate Modern museum
in London.  This pen gets only an A- for its line quality, but being
wider than the average pen it can't be beat for people with clumsy hands.


Some URL's.

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death penalty in Texas