Letters from our listeners

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Kai Ryssdal: A couple of hundred dollars in new supplies and back-to-school clothes later, some of you might be having a bit of buyers remorse right about now.

It's a feeling our commentator Sandra Tsing Loh knows all too well. She spent more than $1,300 for a Picasso lithograph the other day -- and later lamented the purchase of such a pricey copy.

Artist Nick Patten of Hudson, N.Y. wrote in with a correction for us. A copy can be a lithograph, he said, but a lithograph is not always a copy.

Nick Patten: Lithography is an original print-making medium where you draw on a limestone block or an aluminum plate that is later inked and printed in editions.

More arts now, the literary kind this time.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with the author of a biography of winemaker Robert Mondavi. We talked about the moment when Mondavi and his brother, Peter, came to blows. Robert was pushed out of the family business and went on to start his own winery -- arguably a turning point in the history of the American wine industry.

Jeffrey Daniher of Cincinnati, Ohio thinks it might have been interesting if we had shared the actual cause of that brawl.

Jeffrey Daniher: The fist fight had to do with tension between Robert and Peter over the purchase of a mink coat at a time when their business was struggling.

With crude oil near $75 a barrel, struggling's not a word you might use to describe the Venezuelan oil industry. President Hugo Chavez is using the proceeds to distribute foreign aid across Latin America. And a whole lot of it, too -- almost $9 billion worth. An economist in our story about that topic said that in doing so, Chavez might be giving people fish instead of teaching them how to fish.

Listener and former poverty activist David Quammen points out the saying kind of misses the point.

David Quammen: That is the greatest half-truth ever told. If the man has nothing to fish with, nor a place to fish, all the knowledge in the world will not produce the next day's catch.

Finally, Leona Helmsley's dog. The hotel magnate left $12 million to her pet when she died a couple of weeks ago.

Helmsley called her millions "a living," which reminded John DeCherney of Juneau, Ala. of an old joke he knows.

John DeCherney: So this old man is crossing the street and he gets hit by a car. A policeman comes up, wraps his coat around him, calls and ambulance, looks down at the old man and says: "Are you comfortable?" And he looks up, he goes: "I make a living."

Ba dum-bum.

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Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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