Friday, November 15, 2013

Write Makes Right

Monday, November 11, 2013
Gretchen Morgenson is a very astute financial reporter for the New York Times.  She manages to extract an interesting story from the swirl of numbers that accompanies most business reporting.  Yesterday, she dealt with Twitter's highly-touted initial public offering.  For the first nine months of 2013, Twitter experienced a net loss of $134 million by generally accepted accounting standards.  Since such a performance might deter anxious investors, Twitter’s prospectus for its stock sale offered the alternative of a $44 million loss “through the eyes of management.”  Feel better?  Just like hearing from your mother, “You’re not fat, bubbele.  You just have big bones.”

Usually, I avoid dwelling on typographical errors or mistranslations, however, I had something to do with placing my young friend Joshua Greenberg on the program for next Sunday’s Global Day of Jewish Learning to speak about Bob Dylan as a modern Hebrew prophet, so the following excerpt from his biographical sketch in the program cannot go unnoticed: “An attorney and filmmaker, Joshua was also a founding member of the Tree of Lice Society at Cardozo School of Law, has been a recurring guest lecturer at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and was the producer of multiple award winning short films while at Columbia University.”  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 

I decided to give the ducks a rest, at least for a day or two, and pursue another fetish, scallion pancakes.  That meant Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, best all-around scallion pancake ($2.25) and a beef with scallions lunch special ($5.95), including very good hot and sour soup and white rice.  There was plenty to eat, and I left full and warmed up against the harsh, cold wind that followed this morning’s brief snowfall. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The duck hunt is back on.  Chatham Sq Restaurant, 6 Chatham Square (March 9, 2010), is a triple threat joint at lunchtime.  It offers dim sum on rolling carts, lunch specials averaging $5.95, and its regular menu.  I ordered half a Peking duck ($16) and found a serious contender for top honors.  A waitress fixed six packages using puffy buns, with scallion threads, cucumber slivers and hoisin sauce.  Additionally, there was a leg and piece of wing on the side, but also the remains of the carcass chopped into 1" pieces.  A lot of food, in all.  The duck was slightly fatty, less so than most, but not as “clean” as New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe (November 8, 2013, September 19, 2013).  However, considering price and amount of food, Chatham Sq has to be regarded as a contender.

Just a note on pancakes vs. buns to hold the Peking duck concoction.  The larger diameter and thinness of the pancakes compared to the buns offer more room to pack in the ingredients.  The thick sponginess of the buns, on the other hand, fills you up as quickly.  So far, no one has offered a choice of wrapper. 

Franklin Street, 4:15 P.M.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Richard A. Posner, of the U.S. Court of Appeals, has just published Reflections on Judging, the latest in more than 30 books that he has written.  While Posner is viewed as a judicial conservative, according to several reviews (it’s hard to find time for books during hockey season), his strongest criticisms are reserved for the faux-serious reasoning of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  

One of Posner’s concerns seems to strike close to home, his objection to judges relying upon their law clerks for draft opinion writing.  After all, that’s what I do for a living.  However, I find it not too difficult to elude Posner’s scorn.  He is focussing on bright-eyed, just-out-of-law-school-with-high-honors, recently-pubescent law clerks, with very little in common with Grandpa Alan.  When he wrote that a clerk-written draft typically “lacks color, depth, and authenticity,” I knew that I was in the clear.

Friday, November 15, 2013

You can eat lunch in Golden Steamer, 143A Mott Street, but you have to be somewhat nimble.  Almost all the available space in this very busy small joint holds packages of sweet and savory buns for retail sale, mostly in the bao family, that is puffy white bread filled with stuff.  While the four brushed aluminum stools bolted to the floor sit opposite an 18" deep ledge, it is completely covered, up to two feet high, with packages of buns.  Eating in means sitting on one stool and using the next one or your lap as your table, which I somehow managed.  I bought three small baked roast pork buns ($1.25) and a jumbo bao ($1.50), a 5" inch round filled with meat, half a hard-boiled egg and some green vegetable.  The small amount of meat in the roast pork buns were overwhelmed by the bread wrapper, served at room temperature.  The jumbo bao had a much better balance of inside to outside and was served warm.  

Other reviewers favor Golden Steamer for its sweet buns, especially the pumpkin at this time of year.  

To end the week on an upbeat financial note, I’m happy to announce that the rental car agency that disappointed us mightily in Sicily (October 4, 2013) has now refunded the entire $445 advance payment, after disingenuously offering only $45 back, withholding $400 as a cancellation fee.  While I don’t discount the quality of our advocacy, I must admit to some surprise at winning an argument with a British firm for a transaction in Sicily when they already had all our money.  Fortunately, virtue wasn’t the only reward. 

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