Sunday, March 18, 2007

Distillery District

The Distillery District is what Toronto can boast about to the rest of the world. The former booze factory buildings, dating back to the 19th century, are all preserved in outer appearance while their inside is occupied by trendy boutiques, design furniture shops, stylish cafes, spacious contemporary art galleries, and so forth. What impresses me is I can't tell what's inside until I open the door. Shop signs are all discreet, preserving the distillery atmosphere.

Shopping experiences in high streets are usually tiring because you are exposed to too many showy advertisements. Contemporary art galleries are often located in scruffy streets because rents are cheap in such areas. Here in the Distillery District you can enjoy shopping and art viewing in style. I like the whole concept behind this complex. A must see when you visit Toronto.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

FT columnists

I terribly miss Tyler Brule's column on FT Weekend everytime I read the very first sentence of the column by Chrystia Freeland, who succeeded Brule as a columnist for the last page of FT Weekend at the beginning of this year.

This week, her column begins with the following sentence:

When Nancy Pelosi celebrated her swearing in as speaker of the House this year...

I actually stop reading before reaching the end of the first sentence of the column. Freeland, FT's US managing editor, keeps writing about America. That's already a cliche. Ordinary intellectuals love writing about USA because the country offers many mainstream polemical issues. Last week, Freeland began her column with:

Whenever the FT runs a picture of Hillary Clinton...

I then stop reading it. I don't care about Hillary Clinton. Intellectuals who love talking about USA always try to talk about some social or political issue triggered by some incident taking place in the State. It's so predictable. Absolute nothing beyond my expectation.

Instead, I have recently discovered an intriguing columnist on FT Magazine: Mrs Monneypenny. She's funny because her views often conflict with mainstream ones in Western society. This week, she writes: "I am not sure why we need lists of endangered species." She defends her position by referring to Darwin's survival-of-the-fittest theory. "If species are not fit enough to survive, then surely they should be allowed to become extinct?" It's so hilarious.

Her view on childbearing is also provocative to many in the West. Two weeks ago, she wrote: "I generally believe in sending [children] to boarding school as soon as possible after they start eating solid food." She refers to her three kids as Cost Center #1, Cost Center #2, and Cost Center #3. (I still don't fully understand what "cost center" really means. I know it's a term from accounting. Anybody willing to post a comment on this?)

Now you know my taste. This is why I tend to be quiet in front of people and keep blogging. :-)

Friday, March 09, 2007

How to Write a Press Release of Your Empirical Economics Research

Based on my analysis of a successful example of RES Media Briefings. (Her research was featured in many major UK newspapers.)

1. The first paragraph begins with a general sentence on the main finding of the research, followed by another sentence repeating the same finding but in a more specific way. The first paragraph must be self-contained: "if you took away all the paragraphs except the first, the press release should still make sense." (Romesh Vaitilingam, RES Media Consultant)

2. The second paragraph states additional important findings.

3. The third paragraph introduces a bit of details on the data used (e.g. what survey is used, who answers the survey, when the survey is conducted, how many respondents the survey obtain) and what you actually investigate. But do not describe these too precisely. Keep the paragraph short.

4. Then restate the main finding with details including the magnitude of the effect, for whom the effect is larger, etc.

5. Restate the additional important findings mentioned in the second paragraph. Introduce some less important (but still interesting) findings.

6. Mention some theoretical arguments explaining the results, if any.

7. Mention the methodological innovation (ie. identification strategy) in an accessible way.

8. Conclude with a couple of policy implications of your findings.

Also see Mankiw's writing guideline.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Libor Novacek

My second-to-last lunchtime concert at LSE is a performance by a Czech pianist Libor Novacek.

Mozart: Rondo in D, K485

For the first time ever in my life, I enjoy Mozart. Libor Novacek juxtapose various expressions within this piece of music, sometimes even at the same time by playing the piano in one way by one hand and in the other way by the other hand. Libor reveals his sutble, but generous and embracing touch on keys. I would get bored if somebody else plays this piece, as the music itself, as usual for Mozart, is rather simply structured. But with Libor's hands, it sounds totally different.

Mozart: Rondo in A minor, K511

The same comments as above. I have heard some of the melodies in this piece.

Janacek: In the Mists (1912)

An intersting and sleepy piece. Towards the end, I nearly fall asleep, not because I get bored. It is because I'm pleased with Libor's play.

Brahms: Sonata No.2 in F sharp minor Op.2

A theatric, Christian Lacroix-ish piece. Again I easily imagine myself being bored if someone else plays this piece. But Libor plays it in a pleasant way. Towards the end, my mind is truly refreshed.


Another thing that deserves a mention: the Steinway piano, recently bought by LSE, sounds superb. Part of the reason I enjoyed Matan Porat two weeks ago, I now notice, is also owing to this piano.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Pierre Victoire

Have dinner with Yumiko-san at Pierre Victoire, London's affordable French restaurant.

We have duck in red wine sauce and baby chicken in tomato and basil sauce. Both main dishes are excellent. Bread and olives are excellent as well.

However, service and comfortability is not excellent. Waiters keep kicking Yumiko-san's chair. It takes five minutes to have a bill after asking for it. The place is packed with tables. Our private zone is rather limited. Plus, customers are amazingly noisy here.

I guess this restaurant is affordable despite its excellent food, because it's not that comfortable. If you only need good French foods, it's highly recommended. If you look for a place to relax, never go to this place.