by Tyler Cowen
on May 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm
in Web/Tech |
1. Michael Lewis on Warren Buffett. And Lewis's forthcoming book on the crash.
2. The worst Mexican restaurant on earth?
3. Did fairy tales originate in print?
4. He wants to launch a paper plane in space.
5. The waning interest in WolframAlpha.
Wolfram Alpha is something I’ll use occasionally. But I can learn far more on wikipedia. I use wikipedia daily, and google for small calculations even, so what can WA do that I can’t do in those other less formal ways? It’s almost a week since the season finale, and it still can’t tell me what lies beneath the shadow of the statue for goodness sake. I like that it can integrate a function, but so what?
I confess to being slightly amused that we’re relying on Google to tell us that people aren’t interested in Wolfram Alpha.
True, I think Tyler himself would point out that all those Mexicans who make French food in the US probably can’t speak French.
I’m with the group here. Why would an American get upset because a waitress in a Mexican (so called) restaurant in Germany can’t speak Spanish? Why on earth should she? You’re privileged enough that she speaks English. Imagine how pretentious and obnoxious the waitress probably thought these people were. Imagine you were working in a pizza joint in Columbus, OH and a German couple start ordering in (bad) Italian and then getting frustrated with you because you don’t understand (and you happen to speak decent German). How would you feel?
It’s true that Mexican food in Germany is really quite a bizarre pastiche. But yes, the sense of entitlement that the author brings is surely a greater source of human suffering than any shortcomings the food might have had…
I confess that I didn’t, and don’t, understand the hype over WA. It’s just AskJeeves with a new suit of clothes. Nobody ever explained why it would succeed where AskJeeves, answers.com, etc. couldn’t.
And about Chilli’s in Germany…the place sounds hideously bad but, first, why would you expect decent Mexican food in Germany? Every Mexican restaurant I’ve ever been to is clearly owned and operated by (relatively) recent Mexican immigrants. How many of those can there be in Germany? And second, why does it matter whether the waitress can speak Spanish or not?
Note that you get different trend results if you check for wolframalpha instead.
Was interest in Wolphram Alpha waning when you made this post? Because as I look at it now, it’s on a continuing upswing. Although I suppose it’s possible that’s *because* you linked about it…
Mexican food in Europe = automatic epic fail.
I think I’d like Warren Buffet. He has good taste in food.
The comments on European Mex cooking are an appropriate complement to all those Parisian food and travel guides (often written by Americans) that have lots of asides about how difficult it is to get *decent* (oohh those crude Americans!) French cheese or real prosciutto on this side of the pond. I had a recent conversation with a European transplant who said American food isn’t that cheap because if you must have *real* mozarella or *real* jamon serrano then you have to spend a fortune. So this is a good reminder of the importance of relative and comparative advantage.
I’d like to note that not all Mexican food in Europe is a fail. Anyway ever been to Wahaca in London?
It owns most of the places I’ve been in the Southeastern US. By far.
The interest in WolframAlpha actually seems to be increasing, according to that link.
When we were last in Germany (Fall 2008), we noted that many restaurants were advertising Spanish food names. We finally asked at one place, and they said it was just a fad, nobody in any of these restaurants ever spoke Spanish (which my wife speaks fluently). The food itself bore only a passing relationship to the Mexican items after which they were named, the mapping was a little closer for Spanish items. The “enchilada” came with beans: 5, to be exact (see if you can spot them, and no, the little bowl on the left is corn nuts, so keep searching).
Also, there was Wild West Pizza Potato to be had.
In general, we assume Mexican food outside of Mexico and parts of the upper Rio Grande Valley will always be disappointing and to be tried only for their own sakes, not for comparison. So, at a mall in Maryland for example, we had options of red, green, and yellow sauce on the flour tortilla with broccoli and carrots, the yellow sauce being of course something like Alfredo; not Mexican, but not bad. In California, “spicy” means “with cilantro”, as opposed to here, where it means “any last words, pinche?”. One does not have to go to Germany to get bad Mexican food, but I might go along with a nomination for “worst customer in a Mexican restaurant”.
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