Friday, March 10, 2006

Spontaneous comments

---The stock market of late has been unsettling. Having read an obscure mystery entitled "The Fractal Murders" three years ago, I of course view myself as a expert in fractal geometry. Therefore I am concerned that the market of the last week is turning in a jagged downward direction that will persist for some time. It will take time to know, but fortunately chartists using fractal geometry suggest that when volatility is high trends persist for shorter than random periods. By the way, I noticed a few weeks ago that "The Fractal Murders" from Muddy Gap Press is now available in national bookstores, so anyone can now enjoy this light read and see how little I know.

---I had a big bowl of cafe au lait and a blackberry tart today at my favorite coffee and pastry shop in Manhattan. It's called La Bergamote, and it's located at 9th Avenue and 20th St. in an area of Chelsea on a block with two dry cleaners, a self service laundry, a funeral home, a lower end deli, and an antique store. It's definitely not the upper East Side where you would expect to find this type of place. It's small and unassuming in appearance but the pastry, breads, mini-baquette sandwiches, and coffee are "just great". I blogged La Bergamote a few weeks ago and one food writer wrote that her two favorite croissants in the world were at some place in Paris and this cafe. I note this to underscore the somewhat out of the way location. And, also, compared to the upper East Side, mid-town, or Soho it's a deal. So having bought some chocolate and almond croissants to take home, I squeezed through the small tables to the banquette on the other side with my snack and began to read and sip, shoulder to shoulder with other patrons. It was relaxing, and observing is also easy in such close quarters. To my right were a European couple speaking in English by necessity. He was French and well heeled middle aged, she was younger, taller, and Scandinavian. They talked, fed each other pieces of their croissants, and she at one point pulled a photo out of her wallet and said "if I give you my picture do you think your wife would find it?". On the other side of me a slight man in his mid-sixties meticulously edited the proofs of a book, and seemed set for the day. Further up another man(mid-50's perhaps) who was dressed in a perfectly casual way, meaning in my mind not really casual at all, sat prim and proper with an empty table in front of him and did absolutely nothing almost the entire half hour that I was there, before finally getting up, going to the counter and politely asking when he would be waited on. "You have to order here" was the response, which he did. I guess that wasn't in the guidebook. Others were there, and many others(young, old, mothers with toddlers, construction workers) were quickly in and out, pastry or bread and coffee in hand.

---Does anybody need all of this sports media orgasmic commentary about Barry Bonds. He never tested positive for steroids. He probably used them. Steroids don't give the quickest bat hands in baseball. They do give strength. In the 50's and 60's some of baseball's greatest legends drank all night and got up for games with diet pills or other types of amphetamines. Is the extent of the frenzy over this what the public wants, or is it what the sports media, some attention seeking politicians, and baseball's front office want to do a fiercely independent and sometimes difficult character?

---The Dubai port issue is over. Of course there was never any full review of the issue that was called for because politicians of all stripes had agendas. The media, however, seemed to cover the issue in a radically more balanced way than the opportunist and/or scared politicians. The best commentary that I heard was on McNeil Lehrer by a, I believe, Council of Foreign Affairs member and former senior security expert somewhere, who when asked if the Dubai port management issue was a concern said, paraphrasing, "on my list of concerns about port security it's just about on the bottom of my list. Port security will and would have remained in Federal hands and there is much to be done". So with the political bs out of the way, many have noted that this may serve as a good alert to the real issues.


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