August 2008 Archives
Illuminating exploration of the discreet world of appraisals
This NYT story is an illuminating exploration of the discreet world of appraisals....
Kneeling on the dining room floor, Evan Lattimer sliced open a cardboard box and braced herself for what might be inside: a lock of human hair, a half-smoked cigar, an arcane torture device, perhaps? Her face broke into a smile as she peeled away the bubble wrap: a dinosaur egg.
“You just never knew with Dad,” she said.
When her father, John Lattimer, died in May of 2007 at the age of 92, Ms. Lattimer knew her inheritance would include more than the family tea set. Dr. Lattimer, a prominent urologist at Columbia University, was also a renowned collector of relics, many of which might be considered quirky or even macabre.
. . .
As she moved through the estate’s many piles, she said, she was often perplexed. Was the tear-shape metal object on the third floor a piece of junk, or was it historically significant?
"In a Father’s Clutter, Historic Oddities," by Kassie Bracken and Erik Olsen, The New York Times, August 20, 2008
The tragic story of Zimbabwe
The tragic irony of Zimbabwe is that what is today a hellish country should by all evidence be a paradise. Its high, malaria-free interior is a magical place: sweeping vistas of long tawny grasses slope up to the mountain ranges of the eastern highlands; in the north the land falls sharply down to the Zambezi River, which tumbles magnificently over the Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is blessed with rich, loamy soil. Beneath it lie generous seams of gold, chromium, coal, iron, and diamonds. At independence in 1980, Mugabe inherited a sophisticated, well-maintained infrastructure. The black middle class grew fast, and Zimbabwe enjoyed the highest standard of living in black-ruled Africa.
But that was yesterday. The most recent World Values Survey shows that Zimbabweans are today the world’s unhappiest people. Their economy has almost halved in size in the past 10 years. The unemployment rate is more than 80 percent. About half of all Zimbabweans are reliant on food aid. Some 20 percent of the population is afflicted with H.I.V./aids. Zimbabwe today has the world’s shortest life span--the average Zimbabwean is dead by age 36 (down from age 62 in 1990). As a result the country now has the highest percentage of orphans on the planet.
"Day of the Crocodile. Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler, Robert Mugabe, made a brutal sham of recent elections, after banning Western journalists. The author, a native, reports from the inside on Mugabe’s campaign of terror--and the extraordinary courage of those who’ve confronted 'The Fear.'” By Peter Godwin, Vanity Fair, September 2008
- "Zimbabwe," by Lauren Ploch, CRS Report for Congress RL32723, March 25, 2008 (46-page pdf )
- "Zimbabwe: Current Issues," by Jeffrey Townsend and Raymond Copson, CRS Report for Congress RL32723, March 11, 2005 (24-page pdf )
- "The Food Crisis in Southern Africa: Background and Issues," by Charles Hanrahan, CRS Report for Congress RS21301, December 6, 2002 (6-page pdf )
- "Zimbabwe Update," by Raymond Copson, CRS Report for Congress RS21595, August 15, 2003
- "Zimbabwe: Election Chronology," by Raymond Copson, CRS Report for Congress RS21161, March 26, 2002
There's Still Time to Enjoy Summer!
Francesco, Lucu, Giacomo and I drove to JFK airport to pick-up Mieta from Rome. Afterwards, we drove to Joe's Shanghai in Flushing for 3 bamboo baskets of very soupy pork dumplings ... Shanghai sauteed pork/soy-sauce noodles and a steamed yellow-fish with ginger and scallions ... very good food.
Flushing is a great place to enjoy Chinese food and the #7 subway is so very efficient. Three-year old Luca loves soupy pork dumplings with white rice! I can't wait to go with you to their branch on Pell Street ...
China's "Little Emperors"
Chinese parents bemoan their only child's desire for instant gratification, excessive consumption, and a life free of hardship, but such complaints are just proof that the policy worked: The children are like little Americans. "These kids have the same dreams as all middle-class kids: to go to college, to get white-collar jobs, to own their own home, to have Nikes and name brands," says Fong. "They expect things that are normal in developed countries, but by China's standards, are unheard of."
"Plight of the Little Emperors: Coddled from infancy and raised to be academic machines, China's only children expect the world. Now they're buckling under the pressure of their parents' deferred dreams." By Taylor Clark, Psychology Today, July/August 2008
"America, ...." Bernie Mac dead at 50. RIP
Mac struggled early in his career, driving a Wonder Bread delivery truck to pay the bills."Chicago comedian Bernie Mac dead at age 50" Chicago Tribune
"Popular comedian, actor, Chicago native: Bernie Mac 1957-2008" Chicago Sun-Times
"Bernie Mac, 'Original King of Comedy'" Seattle Times
"Comedian Bernie Mac dies at 50" The Independent
"Comedian Bernie Mac, 50, dies of pneumonia complications" The Dallas Morning News
"Bernie Mac, 1957-2008" Hartford Courant
Bernie Mac - Wikipedia
"Economics Does Not Lie"
If economics is finally a science, what, exactly, does it teach? With the help of Columbia University economist Pierre-André Chiappori, I have synthesized its findings into ten propositions. Almost all top economists--those who are recognized as such by their peers and who publish in the leading scientific journals--would endorse them (the exceptions are those like Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs, whose public pronouncements are more political than scientific). The more the public understands and embraces these propositions, the more prosperous the world will become.
1. The market economy is the most efficient of all economic systems.
2. Free trade helps economic development.
3. Good institutions help development.
4. The best measure of a good economy is its growth.
5. Creative destruction is the engine of economic growth.
6. Monetary stability, too, is necessary for growth; inflation is always harmful.
7. Unemployment among unskilled workers is largely determined by how much labor costs.
8. While the welfare state is necessary in some form, it isn't always effective.
9. The creation of complex financial markets has brought about economic progress.
10. Competition is usually desirable.
The best of all possible economic systems is indeed imperfect. Whatever the truths uncovered by economic science, the free market is finally only the reflection of human nature, itself hardly perfectible.
"Economics Does Not Lie: The dismal science is at last a science--and the world is the beneficiary." By Guy Sorman, City Journal, Summer 2008
Smokey says - care will prevent 9 of 10 forest fires!
This is a WWII poster from the Northwestern University archives.
Smokey says - Care will prevent 9 of 10 forest fires!
Beacon and La Goulue
Last week, I had two very enjoyable "Restaurant Week" lunches with my haute-cuisine partner at Beacon and La Goulue...
The plank-wood roasted oysters at Beacon are worth a return trip! Sorry to report that the peach melba at La Goulue was sub-par because it was Libby's canned peaches, mon dieu! But I loved their grilled squid on a bed of fresh green salad as a starter and the pan-seared striped bass. A glass of the house-white cost $13. Mon dieu! At Beacon, two glasses of a muscadet and a red cost $6!
Lunch at La Goulue was very fabuloso with all the beautiful people... I started with a plate of grilled calamari (squid) on a bed of green salad. Very well prepared with the correct squid texture and a fine salad dressing. Next was a plate of pan-seared striped bass on a bed on potatoes and a orange-squash sauce. Very well prepared dish with very fresh fish, moist and not over-seared. Finally a peach melba ... canned peaches, mon dieu!!! I thought I was eating at Howard Johnson's somewhere in the Deep South ... a glass of house white cost $13 ... not going back ... I think that Jean-George's Jojo or Nougatine is much better for their food and desserts...
Over the conversation with my haute-cuisine lunch partner, I suddenly realised that these happy times will be over next year. My lunch partner will be retiring from his professional job! We will celebrate this joyous occasion on his last train ride back to Westport with a party-ceremony to burn his final monthly Metro-North card!!! The Age of Aquarius and Let the Sun Shine, Let the Sun Shine... Living well is the best revenge...