Assorted links

by on December 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm in Web/Tech | Permalink

1 dearieme December 29, 2009 at 12:52 pm

A Friday without fish and chips is a Friday wasted.

2 Erin December 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm

This is an excellent post delving into the origin of fish and chips (among other things) via the words used for it: http://languageoffood.blogspot.com/2009/11/ceviche-and-fish-chips.html

3 Barkley Rosser December 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I had a suspicion that the fried fish came out of Portugal. Tempura in Japan is a lineal descendant of the fried fish introduced by Portuguese missionaries and traders in the 16th century, getting entrenched long enough to survive the sealing off of the country after 1600 and the expulsion of foreigners and Christians (except from Nagasaki).

4 farmer December 29, 2009 at 3:04 pm

as an employer of jamaicans (and therefor one step removed from “track frenzy”) I would like to point out that Usain Bolt is an odd example. Bolt, in Bolt’s words, is a 200m sprinter and relay racer that happens to be good @ 100m. To non-track fans, that may be awfully close, so as an analogy it might be like saying “a soccer striker and a place-kicker for football, as they both kick balls”
And you are SURE that Asafa Powell (perennial bridesmaid @ 100m and self-described 100m runner) would cringe reading that the 100m record would likely to to the most “appropriate” person due to low drop-out

5 acc December 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

I wonder what percentage of new Chinese infrastructure was paid for by US consumers.

6 Geoff NoNick December 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm

@Acc – Probably very little Chinese infrastructure is “paid for” by the U.S., except to the limited extent that U.S. consumers buy Chinese goods and the money is subsequently invested in infrastructure projects.

I can pretty well guarantee that just about everything the U.S. does these days is debt-financed by China, though.

7 mulp December 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm

7. Should scientists be more psychotic?

Is this some sort of bad British satire?

Other that going against the popular stereotype of scientists, why would anyone give it more than a cursory glance? Why link to it?

8 gorobei December 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm

mulp,

Because it is actually a pretty interesting article. If you’ve ever wondered why the US produces so many tech startups, the article might be a good place to begin.

9 Geoff NoNick December 29, 2009 at 10:27 pm

@BKarn – Take a gander at http://www.treas.gov/tic/mfh.txt listing the major foreign holders of U.S. Treasury Bonds.

China tops the list, and has increased its holdings by $114B over the past 12 months. Admittedly, that only accounts for about 10% of the federal deficit for that period, but it would be hard to overstate the extent to which the U.S. relies on China as a creditor. 10% may not be “everything” in itself, but if China decided to stop buying T-bills tomorrow I have a feeling that the remaining creditors might look askance.

10 BKarn December 29, 2009 at 11:24 pm

“BKarn – Take a gander at http://www.treas.gov/tic/mfh.txt listing the major foreign holders of U.S. Treasury Bonds.”

Funny, that’s exactly what I was thinking of as the most immediate counter to the idea that China is financing “just about everything the U.S. does these days.” It clearly underscores that reality that not only is China not financing “just about everything the U.S. does these days,” its holdings are actually off their peak from earlier in the year. In the same period since that drop from peak, Japan and the U.K. each added nearly $70 billion to their holdings. Even chalking some of the U.K. holdings up to Chinese purchases, the picture is clear.

“China tops the list, and has increased its holdings by $114B over the past 12 months.”

Japan has increased its holdings by even more in that same period. The U.K. has increased its holdings by nearly $100 billion in that period. How much do you suppose Americans have purchased in that period?

“Admittedly, that only accounts for about 10% of the federal deficit for that period, but it would be hard to overstate the extent to which the U.S. relies on China as a creditor.”

It must not be too hard to do so, it’s done all the time. Comments like yours are the norm.

“10% may not be “everything” in itself, but if China decided to stop buying T-bills tomorrow I have a feeling that the remaining creditors might look askance.”

If America decided to stop buying Chinese imports tomorrow the Chinese economy would be decimated and be set back decades if not generations. Each are about as likely to happen.

11 Andrew December 30, 2009 at 2:24 am

Freedom you have to pay for isn’t freedom. That 8-10 years is an opportunity cost (and a HUGE one). And grad school everywhere I’ve been (2) has been incredibly normative. They don’t actually do much “for” you (what they call freedom), but everything they do do seems to be some form of control or evaluation. That “freedom” is also a last resort when they can claim that you failed because you made the wrong choices, while your great success will be the result of wonderful advisement. In my opinion, the good fortune of being left alone is only because it would cost them more energy to bug you. It has its benefits, but it’s not really as good a thing as advertised.

12 Andrew December 30, 2009 at 3:03 am

And finally,

If you don’t feel that academia is at least somewhat constricting, maybe you aren’t incredibly creative. Academia is a risk mitigation mechanism, so a lot of people select it for that emphasis. Most people are checklist checkers and notebook fillers and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is pushing out people based on that criteria because your system isn’t good enough to highlight inspiration. You may think you are unorthodox, but that may just be relative to “normal” people. How it feels to those people is not going to be how it feels to highly unorthodox people out towards six sigma.

13 Candadai Tirumalai December 30, 2009 at 9:09 am

Fish-and-chips wrapped in newspaper conjure up
for me the side-streets of British towns,
though the newspaper has been banished since
the 1980s. A generally formal nation becomes
rather informal through this ritual. About as
evocative of Britain as the hot dog at a
baseball game.

14 Geoff NoNick December 30, 2009 at 11:11 am

@BKarn –

Well then, I’m happy to grant you your specific point. I don’t conflate your criticism of that point with defense of Acc – I just wanted to be certain we weren’t debating two different things (which it turns out we were). I can’t agree that U.S. purchases buying Chinese goods whose profits are subsequently reinvested in t-bills is tantamount to U.S. self-subsidy, though. The actual ownership of the security is far from trivial.

And I still believe that China – by virtue of the fairly unique nature of its political economy and autocratic central control – is in a position to deliberately harm the U.S. in a way that is under-appreciated. Perhaps they have no interest in doing so for now; perhaps such a move would harm them to the same or a greater degree; but the fact remains that the decision to do or not do so remains in the few hands of a some inscrutable and possibly capricious decision-makers who aren’t entirely profit-motivated. That’s a problem, and isn’t the case when talking about Japan, the U.K. and other big institutional buyers of U.S. t-bills.

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