Wednesday, March 31, 2010

High expectations

[...] We’ve been busy traveling around in the Nordic regions and we have been finding a number of simply phenomenal ingredients that we have flown into town for our use: Horse mussels, deep-sea crabs and langoustines from the Faeroe Islands, which are living right up until the moment they are served to our visitors. Halibut, wild salmon, cod and seaweed and curds from Iceland. Lamb, musk ox, berries and the purest drinking water from Greenland. In much the same fashion, we are constantly scanning for new sources of inspiration in Denmark, especially, as well as the other Nordic regions, for purposes of securing reliable sources of top-quality raw produce. This pertains both to very costly ingredients and also to ingredients of a more everyday character that we feel have come to be overlooked in the formulation of a salient Nordic approach to cooking: cereals, hulled grains and legumes, which you will come to experience here in the context of surprising preparations. [...]

The verdict on the top exponent of new Nordic culinary craft after the weekend.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Theory and practice, in theory and in practice


The playful mantras of our adolescence have become a way of life for later generations. At least in the ’60s we knew, whatever we said, that sex was about…sex. All the same, what followed is our fault. We—the left, academics, teachers—have abandoned politics to those for whom actual power is far more interesting than its metaphorical implications. Political correctness, gender politics, and above all hypersensitivity to wounded sentiments (as though there were a right not to be offended): this will be our legacy.

Why should I not close my office door or take a student to a play? If I hesitate, have I not internalized the worst sort of communitarian self-censorship—anticipating my own guilt long before I am accused and setting a pusillanimous example for others? Yes: and if only for these reasons I see nothing wrong in my behavior. But were it not for the mandarin self-assurance of my Oxbridge years, I too might lack the courage of my convictions—though I readily concede that the volatile mix of intellectual arrogance and generational exceptionalism can ignite delusions of invulnerability.


Superb historical/biographical account by Tony Judt, in "Girls! Girls! Girls!". A must read for all us elitists without scruples (some things will always be the same)... and anybody else who dares.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Danish Norvegian perspective. More. Didn't know vikings can be that funny.

PS. The milkman can start anytime a PhD in Economics.

(with credits to Hans-Martin)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Weekend econlinks: The quest for perfection

  • Gelman writes a useful overview on causality and statistical learning (caveat lector: I have only read through Angrist and Pischke's book, among the three Gelman mentiones; that one is very well written, but aimed at junior graduate students at best: hence, the book's tag "an empiricist's companion" is overselling it; and that has nothing to do with Josh Angrist kindly "advising" me to change my PhD topic/focus, sometime in my beginning graduate years, because 'nobody serious would be interested in structural modelling' :-)). I guess I would position myself more within the “minority view” set, represented here by Heckman (I wouldn’t say that is really a "minority" within Economics alone, by the way), but the usefulness of these debates cannot be questionned. And an outsider's (to Economics) opinion, such as Gelman's, is always more than welcome. Related, the WSJ talks about statistical time travelling to answer interesting counterfactuals; I have a feeling I'll stick to my structural guns for now...

  • The ubiquitous problem with such academic et al rankings (which I brought over and over, including in earlier posts and articles, particularly concerning the academic ranking obsession in Romania, where they also-- still! -- have problems understanding that a publication 'anywhere in ISI' can be total nonsense) is that they try to rank overall, ie. over all disciplines, often over (too) long periods of time etc. The only meaningful hierarchies in science are those done on specific disciplines and, even better, subdisciplines, and over shorter periods of time, thus revealing top new places etc. Then, inter alia, one would not be able to claim that biological sciences are advantaged, since there would be a within-discipline focus. I haven’t heard a single serious (but plenty of marginal) scientist(s) stressing the relevance of the rank of her/his university/institution over that of her/his department/research group. Politicians and journalists should take note, too.

  • Gastronomic sacrilège: where have all the great cheeses gone-- roquefort, camembert, brie de Meaux, Saint-Félicien, gruyère, comté, münster, pont l’évêque, cantal, reblochon, tomme de Savoie, crottin de chavignol?! Worse, together with the cheese, soon gone might be oysters, and epsilon common sense... Quo vadis, France?

  • The most exciting scientific upshot I've heard about in a great while: explaining the tip-of-the-tongue moments. It comes finally clear (although at this stage I understand it is still just speculative/conjectural, and needs more testing) why polyglots (such as I like to consider myself...) have more of a problem in remembering specific words than people who use a single language: “ […] this kind of forgetfulness is due to infrequency of use; basically, the less often you use a word, the harder it is for your brain to access it." Good, I will feel much better when invoking 'lapsus memoriae' next time :-).

  • How very true, though my feeling is that the battle for the brightest junior (and not only) Economists is far from over. It is sadly not Europe overall that might offer an alternative for European economists (not a chance: for starters, Europe needs to cut that embarrasing red tape where academics depend on useless, worthless, ridiculous bureacrats, and to think of attractive real wages... ), but Canada and Australia, which look more and more like worthy competitors to the USA (top; the bulk is way worse than pretty much anywhere in western Europe) places (related, earlier).

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Shawms and bagpipes

Superlative medieval tones, and a combined use of Romanian & Latin lyrics, in Mille Anni Passi Sunt. Plus, you cannot afford to miss my other personal favourites (including videoclips of live --ad litteram-- shows): Dulcissima, O Varium Fortune, Venus Vina Musica, Totentanz, Chou Chou Sheng, Ballade de Mercy, Suam Elle Ires. A total medieval feast, by the extremely creative Corvus Corax!

(with credits to The Eclectic Metalhead, and YouTube).