July 2007 Archives

Tue Jul 31 11:02AM (2007)

Was It Fun?

Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen offered a personalized podcast to anyone preordering his new book Discover your Inner Economist. I preordered one simply because I like his writing and his personality, and because I expect to learn from it. I didn't actually have a question, but this sentence from his offer nagged at me:

        I believe this will be fun for me.  

...so at the last minute I sent him my question: "Was it?" I was curious because we humans are so often lousy at predicting what we will or will not enjoy.

Tyler has just replied, in more depth and with more feeling than I expected. He even liked my question. Listen for yourself to see if he did indeed have fun. Then go buy your own copy.

His reply satisfied me. I look forward to receiving his book and to his continued postings.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link

Thu Jul 26 9:18PM (2007)

Sweet Swan, continued

Robin Williams answered my question even before her lecture, even before I asked it, as she signed my book: Yes, she has eagerly searched for counterevidence, for anything that will refute her claim of Sidney's authorship. Yet all she finds is more evidence in favor -- including new facts learned after the printing of her book.

What do her detractors say? Not the close-minded emotiotards who get apoplectic at the suggestion that Shakspere / Oxford / Marlowe / Flintstone isn't The One True Author. What is the best argument against Sidney? And on the flip side, what next from Williams? This is the most promising idea of all the ones I've seen: it's parsimonious, elegant, and feels right. I'm so curious to see what the next few years will bring.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link | File under: Books

Wed Jul 25 3:08PM (2007)

Sweet Swan of Avon

The first part of the Shakespeare Authorship question--did the man from Stratford-upon-Avon write the works bearing the name William Shakespeare?--has pretty much been settled: No. Few people seriously claim that he did.

The second part--who did?--is a doozy. For years I've been intrigued by the Oxford hypothesis, but bothered by the contortions required to believe it.

In Sweet Swan of Avon: Did a Woman Write Shakespeare?, Robin P. Williams makes the case for Mary Sidney, sister of Philip Sidney. And what a case it is! Williams's research is thorough, her argument convincing. The chapter on Sources includes a 16-page table documenting striking connections between Sidney and many works known to have been sources for the plays. Williams includes a beautiful chronology, and the events fit Sidney's life in a way they don't for the other candidates.

Williams speculates, but doesn't require suspension of disbelief. Her argument works, and feels right in a way that others don't. Williams will be speaking at the Library on Thursday, and I'm eager to see her presentation.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link | File under: Books

Thu Jul 12 2:33PM (2007)

Exquisite Timing

I was pretty sure this was a no-nuts recipe, but there it was on the baking sheet as I took out today's second batch of shortbread: a lone hex nut with a sheared-off piece of bolt inside it.

"If the recipe didn't call for nuts", I reasoned, "I wouldn't have put in nuts". Besides, I usually prefer pecans. So where did this nut come from and why didn't I notice it on the baking sheet when I put it into the oven? I resolved not to rest until I had figured out this fiendish puzzle--or until I got tired, whichever came first.

Have you solved the mystery, dear reader? You might, once I give you one final clue: I need to spend most of tomorrow and Saturday baking a wedding cake, so this would be a most inauspicious time for the oven to break. Yep, it's the oven. There are two bolts holding the back panel in place, and both sheared off.

Fortunately, the oven still works: I have 8 dishes of creme brulee in there right now. And even more fortunately, Mike at Miele was able to find the parts and thinks I can replace them myself. They're sending me the parts at no charge, even though the oven is well past warranty. That's a huge savings over a service call.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link | File under: Food