Monthly Archives: December 2008

SNOLA: 2 Mexicans and a snowman

SNOLA: 2 Mexicans and a snowman

Originally uploaded by nola-shiva.

I snowed in New Orleans last Thursday, Dec. 11. A very rare event–especially if there is enough snow for accumulation. In this case we got about an inch in a couple of hours. Enough to jazz everyone up. I went out as it was ending to a couple of parks. Here, on the Audubon Park golf course, I ran into two Mexican guys who were also out enjoying the event. I took their picture with their disposable camera, and then one with mine. View my Flickr page to see more SNOLA pics.

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Bubbles are a natural aspect of capitalism

Speculative bubbles have been around as long as capitalism has existed.  We look back at things like Tulip Mania of the 17th century with wonder.  But bubbles have continued to emerge in diferent forms ever since.  Each tie the prevailing feeling among speculators is, “this time it’s diferent”.

Two recent articles in The Atlantic explore the reasons for bubbles in some detail.   Exercises in “experimental economics” have shown that even under carefully controlled conditions, traders will behave in a way that creates speculative bubbles.  It rather comes down to a game in which the players place bets based on what they know and what they think the others in the game know (or don’t know).  It seems a little like poker.  See Virginia Postrel in the December 2008 issue.

In the same issue Henry Blodget discusses how the financial bubble grew and what lessons can be learned from it.  He feels that bubbles are to be expected as a natural partof a system as dynamic as capitalism.  A web of relationships, fears and expectations connecting Wall Street banks and you and me created and fed the financial bubble.  Although bubbles destroy a lot of wealth they also create it, and allow for the financing of new technological innovations, such as the rapid growth of the Internet.

New Japanese tea house imaginings

newteahouses

The image shows three examples from the “Nirvana Mini” show recently at the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC.  Each is new version of the Japanese tea house by a contemporary Japanese architect.  The one on the left is a model made from a single sheet of paper by  Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama.  The one on the right is also a model, this time of a tea house made entirely of glass and intended for a garden or forest setting.  It is by Norihiko Dan.  The center image is a full-sized “structureless” tea house by Kengo Kuma named “fu-an”, which translates as “floating hermitage”.  The gossamer “walls” of super-organdy (an exceptionally light cloth weighing only 11grams/square meter) are held up by a large helium-filled balloon.

The Nirvana Mini concept has been developed by Japanese author Masahiko Shimada, who has written stories, essays, poems and opera librettos.  (The English translation of one called Junior Butterfly can be found on his website.  It is a sequel to Madame Butterfly.)  I haven’t found a translation of the Nirvana Mini writings yet.

According to Susan Laszewski, writing on the Japanese Embassy’s newsletter Japan Now,

“Nirvana Mini” is a concept of design built upon the idea that all human habitats are fundamentally alike and can be extracted to an ideal space. As Mr. Shimada writes, this is because the basic structure of our homes is “prescribed beforehand by the structure of the human brain and body.”