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PODCAST: Coffee table books here to stay and 'Shatoetry'

Author Caroline Masters dressed as a Star Trek character attends a Star Trek convention on October 19, 2012 in London, England.

More than a million people are still without power -- more than a week after Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast. That has more than a few folks saying they're fed up with their power utilities. But what does it take for a community to actually change its electric company?

Now before Sandy hit the East Coast, it made its way -- as so many hurricanes do -- through the Caribbean. Haiti got some of the worst of it with over 10,000 houses destroyed and massive agricultural damage.

OfficeMax and OfficeDepot saw sales fall in the third quarter -- though both chains managed to contain the damage to profits by cutting costs. Falling demand for personal computers was the most critical factor. There's some hope new machines running Windows 8 will bring more people into the stores before the year is out.      

We've talked a fair bit about the uncertainty that's been hanging around the markets until tomorrow dawns with an election outcome. A lot of things Wall Street cares about hang in the balance: health care, taxes, the dreaded across-the-board spending cuts and tax hikes they call the "fiscal cliff." But what if that sweet, sweet certainty the election can deliver isn't there when we wake up?

Markets closed higher in Europe despite protests that have erupted again around Greece before a critical vote in parliament. The votes to pass a new austerity package are reportedly peeling off, which makes for a very uncertain situation there.

It's no secret that paper-and-ink publishing is struggling as e-readers transform the way we read. But a recent deal sheds light on one traditional publishing niche that's hanging in there. If you're home lounging on the sofa, enjoying your morning caffeine fix, you might be looking at it right now.

You know those little stop signs that pop out from the sides of school buses -- you're supposed to stop, going both ways -- kids could be crossing. Lest you wonder how seriously they are taken in a court of law, witness the creative sentencing of a woman in Cleveland. She took her SUV up on a sidewalk to drive around a parked bus. No kids were in danger, but her penalty includes two mornings standing at the site of her infraction, wearing a sign that reads:"Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus." Honk if you support school bus safety!

Now not stopping for school buses is kind of an unsettling note to end on, so let's finish with some  inspiration for you from a new iPhone app that launched last week and quickly shot to the top of the charts. Three bucks will buy you "Shatoetry" -- the official poetry app of William Shatner. Choose from hundreds of words, adjust them on your screen to affect emphasis and timing, and press the "Shat That" button to hear them delivered by Captain Kirk.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.
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