Showing posts from January, 2009

On the mutability of melody

Random things I learned today: "America the Beautiful" can be sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne", and vice versa. (I suppose this is something like how the "Star-Spangled Banner" is set to the Anacreontic song .)

The Susan Sontag Diaries

Read a review of Susan Sontag's diaries in Time , which obviously is not quite the same as reading the diaries themselves. But inspired by the tone. Against Interpretation was one of the lodestars of my younger teenage self, at least in writing style. Perhaps better to write out thoughts to self in blog, Twitter-style. The Sontag-Annie Leibovitz relationship has always intrigued me. That much talent in one relationship!

The Pu er market collapse

Pu er is the main Chinese tea I drink - seems to be just the thing to sop up the oil in Chinese restaurant food. But I had no idea there had been a boom and bust in the pu er market .

A new iPhone

My iPhone's external speaker died on me a few days ago - quite annoying, as it meant I couldn't hear the ringer or listen to podcasts while I was doing something else that didn't allow me to use headphones. So after much fiddling around with solutions such as repeatedly plugging / unplugging headphones, I took it down to Singtel to get it fixed. Now, I had gone down the previous week and was told that there was a 90-minute wait, and was asked nicely to come back. So imagine how happy I was to be told that there were only 2 customers ahead of me in the queue... ... and imagine my frustration when, 40 minutes later, I was still waiting. When I went to the counter and asked how long more, I was very brusquely told "I'm sorry, but there are only two of us". Which got me frustrated - there had to be a better way for service staff to empathise, instead of making what sounded like excuses. Anyway, after waiting for them to try to restore the phone entirely, a guy com

Brad DeLong on The Financial Crisis

Went to a talk on " The Financial Crisis of 2007-2009: Understanding Its Causes, Consequences—and Its Possible Cures " by Brad DeLong, whose blog I've followed for a while, and was duly impressed by DeLong's broad historical reach and scope in delineating what made this recession different from many previous recessions, and on the huge magnitude of the impact of a sudden change in people's preferences for risky assets (which DeLong estimates led to about $17 trillion of the total decline in asset values) - as opposed to the actual increase in the default discount for mortgage payments (which are relatively small). Prof DeLong has kindly put his entire script on his blog (see the link above), so I won't go into the contents of the actual speech, but I thought it useful to note his answer to the question I posed, which was on a question of political economy and why the Austrian school of thought had gained so much currency among those on the right. (If he or any

The Days of Christmas

Happy New Year one and all. I suppose with my brother's piece in Today , it's not actually news that my mother's in the hospital, and has been so for the past few weeks. You will forgive me if it's not something I particularly wish to talk about in public at this point in time (whether on this blog, on Facebook, or Twitter), but thank you to all friends who've offered comfort, or even unknowing distraction. And I'll echo my brother's comments about doing little things to help others - besides giving blood , you can help all manner of animals , or do your part for the environment . Here's to 2009.