January Lagniappe

January 13, 2009

I am just back from my long winter’s nap; the Lent Term at LSE started yesterday and though I’ve been back working for a while, it feels more real now that fellow academics are back on the hall and students are on campus rushing to lecture.  And so, with the start of term comes my re-commitment to blogging.  Counter-intuitively, it is easier to post to the blog during term time because though I have more to do, I am more in touch with the goings on of the world.

Before we get back to the hard work of explaining globalisation, I thought that I would share 10 random tid-bits of information I picked up this holiday season.    Here they are, in no particular order:

1) The per kilo value of ostrich feathers was almost as much as diamonds at the height of the ostrich feather boom in the 1880s.

2) The word credit comes from the Latin “to believe.”   Trust is part of the credit system!  I should have known this since the Italian word “to believe” is credere.  But I never put the two together (blame the lack of Latin training in the American school system).

3) The price of gasoline in Texas is again ridiculously low: $1.69 a gallon in Austin a month ago.

4) Among the people that lived on my hall at Stanford, one has become a famous singer, one a professor of medicine at Harvard University and one will work  in the Obama administration.

5) A cutting board was a suprisingly popular item with the under 25 age group in our family Christmas gift exchange.

6) 330,000 people applied to work for the Obama administration using the incoming administrations’ online application system on change.gov.  Only 44,000 applied to work for Bush in 2000.  I’m sure that the above-mentioned Stanford friend did not get his job this way.

7) Polyester these days looks incredibly like cotton.

8) In the Whitbread literary awards (now called the Costa Book Awards thanks to the London coffee shop’s sponsorship), the “best book of the year” is awarded in five categories: first novel, novel, poetry, biography and children’s book.  An overall book of the year is then chosen from the five.  A children’s book has never won.

9) The risk from talking on your mobile phone while driving is related to your brain, not your  hands.  Which means that hands-free devices are no help at all in avoiding accidents.

10) President Jimmy Carter is short.

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