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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

105,000 Pounds For Drinks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Middle Eastern businessman spent over 105,000 pounds in a five-hour, champagne- and vodka-fuelled spending spree in a London nightclub at the weekend.

Fraser Donaldson, a representative of Crystal, a club favoured by Prince Harry, said in 20 years working in the industry it was the biggest bill he'd seen from one customer.

The unnamed big spender entered Crystal at midnight on Saturday with friends -- nine women and eight men -- and ordered a 24 pound bottle of white wine, a spokesman for the club said.

But before long he was ordering magnums of Dom Perignon at 700 pounds each and then called for a Methuselah -- eight bottles in one -- of Cristal Champagne at 30,000 pounds and the party spread.

The festivities ended with a "night cap" consisting of a Methuselah of Belvedere vodka, which cost 1,400 pounds. "He basically just said, 'keep the drinks flowing,'" the club spokesman said.

When the party left at 5 a.m., the bill was 81,471.50 pounds, which with tax and service added amounted to 105,805.28 pounds. It included the cost of six Coca-Colas.

Posted by Ajay :: 6:01 PM :: 0 comments

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Blogging With Whales

Over at the internet marketing blog One Degree, Toronto-based online business guru Bill Sweetman writes about how a non-computer, non-tech, non-internet business is making use of a corporate blog. The article, titled Blogging with the Whales, covers the blog run by a New Brunswick company that offers whale-watching cruises. Bill writes:

The blog is maintained by Danielle, a marine biology graduate in charge of photographing, identifying and recording the whales and sharing that information with various marine research organizations. Danielle’s blog chronicles through words and photos (by Danielle) the recent whale sightings and had been updated earlier the day I first looked at the blog with photos of whales that had been spotted that morning.

I was immediately captivated by the near-immediacy of this information and the fact it chronicled the spontaneous nature of whale watching. The “Sightings and Updates” blog also demonstrated to me that Quoddy Link Marine really cared about whales and the environment, not just selling whale tour tickets. Thanks to their blog, I also felt one degree closer to the people behind this tour company than with those from any of their competitors.

If you're wondering if having a corporate blog can help your company attract new business, you might want to read the article.

Posted by Ajay :: 5:57 PM :: 0 comments

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Smartest Parrot On The Planet Died

Alex the famous African gray parrot, renowned for the landmark cognition research conducted by owner Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., has died at the age of 31. By learning elements of the English language to identify shapes, colors and sizes, Alex shattered the notion that parrots are only capable of mimicking words.

According to Pepperberg who is a faculty member at Brandeis University, Alex was able to identify 50 different objects, seven colors and shapes, and quantities of up to six. Alex also understood the concept of bigger and smaller and same and different. Pepperberg says they were in the midst of learning basic mathematics skills.

"This was a very amazing creature," she says.

Alex also had the emotional level of a 2-year-old child, Pepperberg says. After repeating some learning trials dozens of times, Alex would become tired and throw objects off the trays with his beak. When visiting the veterinarian, Alex would go back in his cage and slam the door.

How would Alex say goodbye? Pepperberg says that she imagines it would sound something like what Alex would say to her every night before going to bed: "You be good. I love you. See you tomorrow

Posted by Ajay :: 9:49 AM :: 0 comments

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What, If ?

On casual glance, I think I would like Rep. Ron Paul, who is running as a libertarian candidate for the Republican nomination.

Problem is, advocating for withdrawal from NAFTA, the WTO, and the UN, his policies sing an isolationist tone. And, like a paleoconservative, Rep. Paul takes a hard-line stance on immigration, free trade, and some social issues. But the real game ending moment—why I cannot support the congressman—is his support of a gold standard. Such a belief is just absurd.

A gold standard cannot adjust the monetary base to meet liquidity demands. Yet the price of gold does vary, just not as policy might prefer. The supply of gold is a function of mining output; the demand varies vis-à-vis its non-monetary uses.

Economists universally decry deflation as an economic hamartia. Moderate inflation is preferred to even minor deflation. Deflation lowers incentives to invest, leading to a liquidity trap, and to spend, leading to a collapse in aggregate demand. Deflation forces the economy to deal with demand shocks by lowering output. Deflation is cataclysmic to debtors, as they must repay their debt in ever more expensive units of currency. Deflation, as with inflation, suffers from menu costs.

The point is, deflation is anathema to an economy, and the state should do everything in its power to prevent it. But, unable to adapt the money supply, a gold standard is a poor buttress against deflation. Indeed, the 19-th century witnessed prolonged deflationary periods. Gold bugs don't dispute this, but instead argue that the deflation was not detrimental. We don't have good economic data for that period, but economists of all persuasions argue otherwise.

Moreover, any benefit of a gold standard is more easily attainable via Milton Friedman's proposal to constantly grow the money supply as a function of an economic indicator such as GDP. Dr Friedman envisioned implementing his policy via an algorithm—replacing the The Fed with a single computer—which is simpler and less risky than tying our money's store of value to Johannesburg's mining industry. (Alas, even Dr Friedman's policy is not ideal; we need flexibility.)

Advocates for a gold standard point out that it prevents the government from inflating the money supply. But does not Friedman's algorithm prevent that, as well? Or a truly-independent central bank? Unfortunately, no. These obstacles only make government intrusion more difficult, not impossible. The government can always modify its gold standard, tweak the algorithm, or stack the central bank.

(As an aside, Rep. Paul erroneously commented in one of the first GOP debates that the U.S. government "prints money" to fund our deficit, thereby inflicting on the populace the "hidden tax" of inflation. This is untrue; unlike an African kleptocracy, we fund the deficit via borrowing. Nor is printing money how open market operations work.)

Thus, a gold standard is only as good as the government implementing it. If the government can be trusted to hold the peg immutable, then you don't need a gold standard in the first place. If the government cannot be trusted, then a gold standard is little recourse. The state is either an honest custodian of the monetary supply or it isn't.

The government can always change the peg or move off the standard, and the citizenry knows this. Thus, as with any monetary policy that fixes the exchange rate, a gold standard opens the door to speculative attacks. These attacks invariably come when the economy is at its weakest and government countermeasures such as raising interest rates could not be more ill-timed. As an historical example, The Fed was forced to maintain high interest rates amid The Great Depression, causing a monetary contraction that prolonged the depression (cf. Friedman's Monetary History of the United States) And, once the state capitulates and moves the peg, the sharp revaluations amplify economic distortions, unlike the smoother price movements of a floating currency.

Anyhow, Ron Paul, a libertarian? Nah, just anti-statist.

Today is one of reflection and remembrance. But where is the politician that helps us look forward, daring us to dream heroic dreams?

Posted by Ajay :: 9:46 AM :: 0 comments

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My Life on the D-List

Before Kathy Griffin won a creative arts Emmy last weekend for her reality show, "My Life on the D-List," she joked that an award would move her to the C-list.

She was right: "C" as in censored. The TV academy said her raucous acceptance speech will be edited when the event, which was taped, is shown Saturday on the E! channel. The main prime-time Emmy Awards air the next night on Fox.

"Kathy Griffin's offensive remarks will not be part of the E! telecast on Saturday night," the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said in a statement Monday.

In her speech, Griffin said that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!"

The comedian's remarks were condemned Monday by Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who called them a "vulgar, in-your-face brand of hate speech."

According to the TV academy and E!, when the four hour-plus ceremony is edited into a two-hour program, Griffin's remarks will be shown in "an abbreviated version" in which some language may be bleeped.

The program was in production and unfinished, an E! spokeswoman said Monday.

Requests for comment were left Monday evening by phone and e-mail with Griffin's publicist. They were not immediately returned.

The Catholic League, an anti-defamation group, called on the TV academy to "denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment" at Sunday's ceremony.

The academy said Monday it had no plans to address the issue in the prime-time broadcast.

The organization may have another delicate issue to consider, this one involving an off-color fake music video that aired last December on "Saturday Night Live" and won a creative arts Emmy for best song.

Andy Samberg of "SNL" said Saturday that he had yet to be asked by the TV academy to perform the tune with Timberlake on the Fox broadcast, but he was willing. Timberlake, on a concert tour, is scheduled to be in Los Angeles next weekend.

The subject of their "(Blank) in a Box" video: wrapping a certain part of the male anatomy and presenting it to a loved one as a holiday present.

The academy has said that "show elements are in the process of being worked out."


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Posted by Ajay :: 9:39 AM :: 1 comments

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