Friday, August 31, 2007
I rarely dog-ear, and never write or highlight on a page. I would never rip out a page, or burn a book. I would struggle to throw a book in to the rubbish bin. I do however, have no problem whatsoever leaving books behind for other people to read, particularly those that I cannot imagine reading again. I do like to maintain a bookshelf at home that I have particuarly enjoyed and would like to re-read again in the future. I love to read. Novels and fiction more than history and biographies. The escapism of a good yarn appeals more than the self-education aspect of reading. Not to say that I don't try to read a varied range of authors and subjects. I struggle to not finish a book even if I am not enjoying it. The same with films I find. I should be more strict with my leisure time I think. From the list below I think I would only contemplate the Ramsay or the Harry Potter book, but they would be books of last resort and no doubt I would leave them behind too.. well, perhaps not the Potter.
The top 10 most discarded books in Travelodge UK hotel rooms
1. The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell
2. Don't You Know Who I Am? by Piers Morgan
3. A Whole New World by Jordan
4. Wicked by Jilly Cooper
5. Dr Who Creatures & Demons by Justin Richard
6. The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
7. I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna
8. Humble Pie by Gordon Ramsay
9. The Story Of A Man And His Mouth by Chris Moyles
10. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
In Japan there is no public holiday in August at all. In September there are two days, both Mondays, in October another Monday, in November a Friday and then in December two Mondays again, but no Christmas Day or Boxing Day.
Monday 17 September - Respect for the Aged Day
Monday 24 September - Autumnal Equinox Day
Monday 8 October - Health Sports Day
Friday 23 November - Labour Thanksgiving DayBirthday
Monday 24 December - Emperor's
Monday 31 December - Bank Holiday
On top of these there are 9 other public holidays in a Japanese calendar year.. doesn't really make up for the 12 hour days though.
Egon Ronay in the Times on Heston Blumenthal, chef-proprietor of the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire.
Joli and I ate dinner at the Duck a few weeks ago during our UK trip. I would like to write it up, but my descriptive powers fail me. It was amazingly fantastic.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
He had just been offered eight venison legs for 50 quid and wondered if that was two deer? I thought it was stag-gering value.
Reminded me of getting stung by a bee the other day. 20 quid for a jar of honey. Outrageous.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.""
msnbc via dilbertblog
Bad news: Events that cause the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates so that share prices go up
Bears: Sad, lonely people who don't appreciate why equity prices invariably move higher
Brokers: Specially-trained relationship managers who convert mere mortals into super-bulls
Bulls: Well-bred equity investors
Bond market: The place where stock market bears are sent out to pasture for their wayward views
Cash: Realized gains that equity investors spend on fancy vacations and assorted luxury items
Dividends: A positive influence on stock prices
Economy: An irrelevant side show to what happens in the equity market
Fear: An emotion that bulls experience when they are not 100% invested
Federal Reserve Board: A group of public officials who do their best to ensure that bulls are happy
Fundamentals: Anything that can help explain why stock prices rally
Greed: The only emotion that matters when it comes to playing the stock market
Hedge funds: Aggressive investors who use lots of leverage to ensure that stock prices eventually go up
Interest rates: A factor that occasionally serves as an explanation for why stocks rally
Leverage: The fail-safe strategy of using borrowed money to boost returns as share prices rise
Losses: The net result of selling short and listening to bond traders
Mutual funds: Investment vehicles that enable bulls to remain fully invested in the equity market at all times
Short-sellers: Dour individuals who scramble to cover bad bets as stock prices rally
Strategists: Highly paid cheerleaders who figure out ways to make stocks appear cheap
Wall Street: The place where bulls congregate and fawn over one another.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
When someone's bicycle is stolen the discussion is entirely about what he or she could have done to prevent it. The police talk about the need for tougher locks, and special serial numbers, and the cycling experts give out various bits of anti-theft advice. Don't have a bike that's too flash, they say. Try painting it some depressing colour, like orange or purple. Try having a basket at the front, they say, or mudguards, or anything to make your bike look a bit grungy and unappealing.
All of which advice may be well meant, but somehow makes me pop with rage, because we seem continually to be ascribing responsibility for the event to the victim, and ignoring the critical point. It wasn't some supernatural agency that nicked your bike, or nicked my bike. It wasn't oompa-loompas or fairies or bike elves. It was thieves.
It was a bunch of cynical little sods who don't care a toss for private property, and it so happens that, on this occasion, I had taken just about every possible precaution. It was no ordinary lock I used to immobilise my machine: it was a huge steel thing made in Germany, as thick as a baby's arm, and I locked it to some railings and, as I stood back to admire my handiwork, I noted that both were far too thick to saw through.
So what did they do? They uprooted a large stake that was being used to encourage the growth of some sapling, and they jemmied it into the railings and heaved and heaved until they snapped the bar, and then scarpered with my bike and left their wreckage contemptuously on the pavement..."
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
"Last week's stock market meltdown suggested that a financial sector rigged for the falsification of reality eventually enters a danger zone where reality implacably reasserts itself, expectations dissolve, and all that remains is the sour odor of fraud.
This long episode of market mania, running for seven years, was based on the idea that non-performing loans could be turned into money by removing them from their point of origin and dressing them up in respectable clothes -- like taking all the winos in downtown Los Angeles, putting them in Prada suits, and passing them off as the faculty of the Harvard Business School. It was a transparently ludicrous racket and the wonder is that America proved to be so utterly bereft of regulating authority -- not to mention plain decency and self-restraint -- at every stage.
It's really hard to account for the stunning failure of responsibility. What you had was a whole industry that surrendered the standards and norms that brought it into being and enabled it to function in the first place. Mortgage lenders stopped requiring house-buyers to qualify for loans; bankers stopped caring what stood behind the paper they issued; dubious loans were bundled and resold like barrels of rotten anchovies -- in such numbers that no individual stinking minnow would stand out -- and the barrels were traded up the line, leveraged, hedged, fudged, fobbed, and fiddled until, abracadabra, they were transformed into so many Tribeca lofts, Hampton villas, Piaget wristwatches, million-dollar birthday parties, and Gulfstream jets.
It worked for the Goldman Sachs bonus babies, and the private equity scammers, and for the corporate CEOs and their board members, and for the politicians who parlayed their votes into cushy lobbying jobs, and even for the miserable quants in the federal government's termite mounds of statistical reportage. It even worked for about 18 months for millions of feckless US citizens gulled into contracts for houses they could never hope to pay for, under arrantly false and ruinous terms.