Archive for May 9th, 2009
I’m roasting a chicken using this foolproof method, and I found I was out of kitchen string, so I had to make do with dental floss. With the size of chickens and lemons that I buy, one lemon seems to be plenty. I’ll roast this one, then let it sit and cool and eat it cold later. Nothing like a bottle and a cold bird.
Thanks to Beth for sending the link. The note at the YouTube video says:
A random clip from the cult classic “Incubus”. It is one of the only films made entirely in Esperanto. However, language enthusiasts have noted that the actors’ pronunciation here is not always accurate. Ann Atmar’s pronunciation is decent, but Shatner sounds French at times.
Suppose you were writing about the financial-policy mistakes that helped bring on the Great Depression. And you wanted to dramatize the damage done by adherence to the gold standard, which meant that the central banks of Britain, France, Germany, etc could issue only as much money as they happened to have gold in their vaults.
As the world financial crisis spread after the 1929 stock market crash, the flow of gold became highly unbalanced. The United States, with its undamaged industrial-export base (and its determination to collect on wartime loans to the Allies) was piling up gold. So were the French, for various reasons of their own. This meant big trouble most of all for England, which was losing gold and therefore had to imposes a domestic credit squeeze. You could put it that way — or you could write this:
"Unknown to most people, much of the gold that had supposedly flown into France was actually sitting in London. Bullion was so heavy — a seventeen-inch cube weighs about a ton — that instead of shipping crates of it across hundreds of miles from one country to another and paying high insurance costs, central banks had taken to ‘earmarking’ the metal, that is, keeping it in the same vault but simply re-registering its ownership. Thus the decline in Britain’s gold reserves and their accumulation in France and the United States was accomplished by a group of men descending into the vaults of the Bank of England, loading some bars of bullion onto a low wooden truck with small rubber tires, trundling them thirty feet across the room to the other wall, and offloading them, though not before attaching some white name tags indicating that the gold now belonged to the Banque de France or the Federal Reserve Bank. That the world was being subjected to a progressively tightening squeeze on credit just because there happened to be too much gold on one side of the vault and not enough on the other provoked Lord d’Abernon, Britain’s ambassador to Germany after the war [WW I] and now [1930s] an elder statesman-economist, to exclaim, ‘This depression is the stupidest and most gratuitous in history.’ "
This paragraph is from Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance, recommended here previously. There are many touches I love in this passage, from the "small rubber tires" detail and mot juste "trundling" term, to the vivid real-world description of how grand policies worked in practice, to the perfectly used quote at the end. No larger point here; just worth noticing admirable examples of explaining the world.
I have the book whose title appears above. Culinate offers an extract. Take a look.
Interesting article in Business Week. I’m particularly interested to try Wolfram Alpha, which will launch next Friday. The article begins:
Google dominates Internet search, but a growing number of companies are trying to come up with something better. On May 15, British mathematician Stephen Wolfram plans to launch an online service intended to provide more useful answers to search queries than the standard list of Web pages. IBM just took the wraps off a computer program designed to field questions well enough that it can compete on Jeopardy! with the game show’s best human contestants. And Microsoft is planning to relaunch its own search service this spring, though the details are top secret.
Why challenge a company that has crushed every contender to date? Certainly, rivals want a slice of Google’s $20 billion in search-related revenue. But they also see that search has loads of room for improvement. Too often, search engines return a list of Web sites people must comb through for information, and that’s if they get the right sites at all. The Google challengers, as well as Google itself, aim to divine the essence of what people are searching for and to provide answers that come closer to what they actually want than the standard list of blue Web site links…