IT’S GOOD TO BE ON VACATION: The Dow plummeted and rose again, and I didn’t know or care about it until it was over. (I probably wouldn’t have cared much anyway; my investment strategy is based on sloth and inattention, and it’s done pretty well even through the downturn, so why change now?)

We’ve been frolicking on the beach, cooking on the grill, and generally having fun. I finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt, an alternate-history novel in which the Black Plague wipes out nearly everyone in Europe, instead of the 30-50 percent, leaving China and the Arabs as the world’s great power. Robinson’s a bit heavy on mysticism and conversation, but it’s still quite an interesting read and very timely. I hope that it gets a lot of readership in the Islamic world.