Death by dismemberment was always my favorite...
The Melting Pot:
Just how successful assimilation has been in America may be more clearly visible from outside. In 1988 I was taken to a press dinner in Washington at which President Reagan spoke. He gave what was no doubt a well-rehearsed set-piece speech: ''Every immigrant makes America more American," he said. You can't become an Englishman by going to live in England, or a Frenchman by going to live in France, ''but anyone can become an American." It may have been corny; I was moved almost to tears.
Indeed Reagan's words were truer than he may have realized, and even nomenclature is telling. A friend of mine was born and bred in Vienna before he left quickly and for good reason in 1938. Having spent the rest of his life in London and, in the fullness of time, as a subject of Her Majesty, he used to say drily, ''I've become British, but I know I can never become English." But anyone can become an American.
The Economics of Escapism:
Sociologists and anthropologists have written about MMORPGs before, but Mr Castronova looks at the phenomenon from a new perspective: economics.
Mr Castronova's thesis is that these synthetic worlds are increasingly inter-twined with the real world. In particular, real-world trade of in-game items—swords, gold, potions, or even whole characters—is flourishing in online marketplaces such as eBay. This means in-game items and currency have real value.
^This is an interesting thesis and something I have wondered about for a while now...
Owen Wilson Update:
Count me already in line for the Wendall Baker Story... and yes, even Cars.