Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nautical terms

Highly recommended. Start with the definition of slush fund, which was new to me. Also by and large. Listen to some sea shanties while you're at it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Magnolia at age 10

I just watched it for the fourth time. Still tremendous... I haven't seen a better movie made since. And that includes Ratatouille, which would however be a good remedy for the mood Magnolia puts you in.

Friday, July 3, 2009

On cap and trade

My letter to the editor of the NY Times today should not be taken as an endorsement of the government giving away most of the carbon permits, as is proposed in the House bill. I'm a strong believer in auctioning as a relatively efficient way of enhancing government revenue. Nor do I endorse the bill's inadequate reduction targets. Still, the news article in the Times simply got the effect of a permit giveaway on emissions prices wrong.

To the Editor:

The claim that giving away permits keeps the price of emissions low reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how cap-and-trade programs work (“House Backs Bill, 219-212, to Curb Global Warming,” front page, June 27).

The price of emissions, and therefore the effect of the program on fuel and energy prices, will be determined by the total supply of permits (the cap), not by how they are initially allocated. Consumers will have to pay the price either way, as well they should, for their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

William A. Sundstrom
Santa Clara, Calif., June 30, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Munching down Middlefield

Palo Alto is smack in the middle of food heaven, but the town itself is a little thin, especially at the low-cost end. I recommend Tofu House (my favorite resaurant in PA) on El Camino and Mediterranean Wraps on California Ave. Downtown we now have Patxi Pizza, which is very good indeed, although hardly a budget meal.

So let's drive south on Middlefield Rd., which runs roughly parallel between El Camino and 101. Toward the southern limits of PA you'll pass our fine local grocery store, Piazza's, and soon cross the border into Mountain View. Bear left after the Toyota dealership onto Old Middlefield Rd., which passes through a typical ugly CA landscape of small warehouses and light-industry businesses, punctuated by a string of cheap eateries. At the corner of Rengstorff, we have three quite good Mexican/ Latin American establishments: La Costena, famous for made-to-order burritos, the reliable Los Altos Taqueria, where you can get a hearty bowl of homemade soup along with the usual fare, and the greasy but very tasty La Bamba, featuring a nice pupusa.

Until tonight I had heard good things about but never tried Uncle Frank's BBQ, at the back of a dive bar called Francesca's. I am not a BBQ expert by any means, but I found the food very fine and the portions, well, bordering on excessive. I recommend it.

A sad moment in Old Mid food history was when DeeDee's chaat buffet and Indian grocery, just past Toyota, closed and was bulldozed to make room for... say what?... an overgrown vacant lot! But you can still eat very well for not much on Old Middlefield.