August 2009

I’ve never been to a gym.

So I’ll die 5 years earlier than you. Send me some flowers at the funeral, will ya?

But I’d sign up for a swimming treadmill gym in a snap.

A good one costs about $25,000.

With $100 monthly fee, 12 hours a day, 4 slots per hour, it takes less than half a year to recuperate the device price.

There are of course a lot of other costs (rent, electricity, water, repair, staff, etc). But if you can get a volume discount on the device and flexible plans to get more people to join at lesser fee, it may look like an ATM after a year or so.

If you have a few million dollars in your mattress, leave a comment.

(Way out of date, but what the heck.)

A very funny blog from a friend, but too much cliche and too far from truth (as if I know it).

I-bankers are not the cause of the current crisis, nor are they getting the most part of the “undeserved” bonuses, or have they ever been. At least if you define “i-banker” in the traditional and strict sense.

I-bankers mostly do IPOs and other security issurance, and deals (merger and aquisition). They do get outrageous commision, but that’s only one sea in the vast financial oceans.

Senior execs, traders, and quants are the driving force of the industry, and they get the lion share of compensation.

Now even people from Rwanda know that the current global economy crisis roots from mortgage-backed securities. But that’s just one manifest of the massive and inherent problems of derivatives modeling and trading.

The now defunct i-banks used to have most of their business in traditional i-banking and as broker/dealer, which is to help clients (institutional and individual investors) trade. Then they discovered the amazing power of computers and mathematicians, and started to use their own money (proprietary trading) and clients’ money (asset management) to trade securities, based on ever complicating models.

Goldman Sachs (and earlier killers like Salomon) made a killing. Everybody followed suit. They have to keep finding new things to trade, as arbitrage disappears and profit margin thins in established markets as they become well-known and level playing fields, and dinosaur banks move in.

Then climates changes and extinction comes.

From Hungry Ghosts By Jasper Becker, False Science False Promises:

China also experienced major setbacks when she tried to mass produce and use machinery based on impractical designs. … Another was a special Soviet plough designed for deep ploughing. The Chinese version, the double-share plough, cost ten times as much as a traditional plough but proved unsuitable for the terraces and paddy fields of southern China: 700,000 had to be withdrawn from use and melted down again.

My parents were amazing namers. That’s so me: I cost a lot, and I’m unsuitable for my environment.

Recall me.







豆瓣的一条评论更有些细节:“何先生的中学、大学同学骆静兰女士,时任商务印书馆的副总编辑···来问老同学有没有兴趣翻译罗素的这本书。因为这是工作之外的“私活”,最后何先生只接了上册的一半,另一半商务委托了南开大学的李约瑟教授(此李约瑟非彼李约瑟,这位李教授已故,其公子任职国家图书馆)。”终于了结了我多年来关于Joseph Needham为什么会去翻西哲史的疑惑。



  • 文:院长冯友兰,历史系钱穆、陈寅恪,哲学系,中文系朱自清、闻一多、沈从文,外文系吴宓、卞之琳、钱钟书
  • 理:数学系陈省身、华罗庚、许宝騄,物理系叶企孙、吴有训、饶毓泰、吴大猷、周培源,化学系曾昭抡
  • 法商:院长陈序经、周炳琳,芮沐
  • 师范



This must be one of the most delicious books ever. As usual I was reading it on my evening commute, and boy did it make me hungry. The book isn’t particularly well written, but those things would look just as delicious in a People’s Daily editorial.

There are a few obvious omissions of famous gourmet materials, as the author mentions, e.g. olive oil and foie gras. His criteria for inclusion is more about exclusiveness: there’s only one place in the world that can possibly produce it.

This post is simply a note. The story of each one can easily fill a book.

Aceta Balsamic Tradizionale di Modena

  • Material: Trebbiano, lambrusco grape
  • Environment: Wood barrels in attic
  • Production time: >= 12 years. > 25: Extra Vecchio
  • Production volume: 20,000 100ml bottles
  • Brand: Acetaia Malpighi, Acetaia del Cristol
  • Cooking and gourmet companion: Roast vegetable, Parmesan cheese, strawberry
  • Comparable: Aceta Balsamic Tradizionale di Reggio-Emilia


Huître Bélon de Bretagne

  • Material: Ostrea Edulis
  • Environment: Brittany seashore, then Bélon river head
  • Production time: 18 months in the sea, 2 months in river
  • Production volume: 1000 tons
  • Cooking and gourmet companion: Chablis white wine

Poulet de Bresse

  • Material: 2kg (sans feathers and intestines)
  • Environment: Grassland, 5000m2/500 chicken, fed with corn and milk
  • Production time: 5 weeks in house, 9 weeks on grass, 2 weeks in epinette
  • Production volume: 1 million
  • Brand: Chapon de Bresse (osten) > 3kg; Poularde de Bresse (fat hen)
  • Cooking and gourmet companion: roast

Fleur de sel de Guérande

  • Material: sea water
  • Environment: 1000 acre, 7820 oeillet
  • Production time: 2 large tides/month; 5 days to oeillet
  • Production volume: 10,000 tons of salt; 200-400 tons of fleur
  • Brand: Le Guérandais
  • Cooking and gourmet companion: as condiment
  • Comparable: Ile de Noirmoutier, Ile de Ré, Ria Formosa, Camargue

Jamón Ibérico de Jabugo

  • Material: Iberia pig (pata negra, “black-foot”) 150-180kg, leg 10kg
  • Environment: Dehesa (acorn wood), 1 hectare/pig
  • Production time: 18 months live, Salt 1day/kg, Dry 3 months/kg, Cellar 6-18 months
  • Brand: Grade: Bellota > recebo > cebo/campo/pienso. Region: Huelva, Guijuelo, Extremadura, Pedroches
  • Cooking and gourmet companion: Fino/manzanilla sherry, La Rioja red wine
  • Comparable: Prosciutto de Parma, Prosciutto de San Daniele, Jamón Serrano de Trevélez



  • Material: 16l milk makes 1kg
  • Environment:
  • Production time: 1-1.5 years: fresco, 1.4-2: vecchio (best), 2-3: stravecchio
  • Production volume: 300,000 cubes
  • Brand:
  • Cooking and gourmet companion:
  • Comparable: Grana Padano, Lodiagiano, Trentino


  • Material: Lacaune sheep, 5kg milk makes 1kg, Penicillium roqueforti
  • Environment: Causse, Fleurine
  • Production time: 4-9 months
  • Production volume:
  • Brand: Société des Caves, Papillon (black is best), Cabriel Coulet
  • Cooking and gourmet companion: Sauternes, Pecan, grape
  • Comparable: Bleu d’Auvergne, Blue des Causses, Gorgonzola, Cabrales

Tartufo bianco di Alba;
Truffe noire du Perigord

  • Material: truffle
  • Environment: Loose gravel ground, acorn wood
  • Production time: 1 year
  • Production volume: white 2000kg, black 30,000 kg
  • Brand:
  • Cooking and gourmet companion: Demi-deuil, Risotto
  • Comparable: Champignon Terfez, Tuber aestivum
white truffle

black truffle

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