Our American media landscape

For reasons too odd to contemplate, a quick, business-related, out-and-back trip from Beijing airport to.... Newark! With stay at an airport hotel designed to make me newly grateful for the environmental pleasures of Beijing. Surrounded on three sides by freeways. On the fourth, by check-cashing storefronts, pawn shops, liquor stores, tattoo parlors, car-auction sites. Kind of disappointed not to see some gun shops in there too.

All the other occupants of the hotel that I have seen are flight crews on Newark layovers. At least it's my aspirational peer group! Get to sit with the grizzled pilots in the bar and talk about "there I was...."-type flying tales and which airline will fold next.

On the first night in the hotel, dragging in late from the PEK-EWR flight, I see... a single copy of the New York Times in the hotel gift shop! I snap it up. Second day, leave in a rush before dawn, back late in the afternoon and see there is still one copy of the NYT left. Snap that up too. Just now, day three (nearing the end of the adventure), on my way in to breakfast I see that again I've had the luck to get the last copy of the paper.

I remark on my good fortune to the woman at the news stand. She says, "Oh, sir, we only get the one."