1610 (allegedly) – A list of community regulations in Krakow stipulates that bagels are to be given to pregnant women.
1683 (allegedly) – An Austrian baker bakes a stirrup-shaped roll in honour of the Polish King for defeating the Turks.
1872 – Cream cheese is invented.
1907 – The International Bagel Bakers Union (Local #338), specifically for bagel workers, is formed in New York. Its influence declines in the late 1950s with the automation of bagel manufacture. Merges in early 1970s with Bakers Union Local 3 (as does Matzoh-Noodle Local 269).
1919 – A baker named Engelman introduces bagels to Montreal. Thus begins a long simmering dispute about which city produces the best bagels.
This is the first of an occasional series [everything about this blog is occasional (ed)] on what people think about getting paid for stuff that they or other people do.
To kick things off, here's Philip Larkin on the rewards of being a poet:
Everyone envies everyone else. All I can say is, having a job hasn't been a hard price to pay for economic security. Some people, I know, would sooner have the economic insecurity because they have to "feel free" before they can write. But it's worked for me. The only thing that does strike me as odd, looking back. is what society has been willing to pay me for is being a librarian. You get medals and prizes and honorary this and thats – and flattering interviews – but if you turned around and said, Right, if I'm so good, give me an index-linked permanent income equal to what I can get for being an undistinguished university administrator – well, reason would remount its throne pretty quickly.
For journalistic/conference reasons, I found myself in Macao this past week, which, although I didn't get to explore too much in the 36 hours or so I was there, looked to me like Monaco on steroids.
My arrival coincided with the bigest corruption trial ever in Macao. According to The Australian:
Macau's biggest corruption case started this week with its former transport and public works secretary, Ao Man Long, appearing on 76 charges including bribery, money laundering and the abuse of power.
Mr Ao is accused of gaining more than $US100 million from dishonest dealings in his seven years in office, including taking bribes for approving land deals for several developers.
Mr Ao had jurisdiction over land grants, public works and infrastructure projects in Macau until he was arrested on bribery and corruption charges last December...
The Court of Final Appeal in Macau was told Mr Ao had helped developers win tenders for a range of projects in the city, including the Venetian hotel and casino, which opened in August, a border crossing to China, and the stadium for the 2005 East Asian Games.
In a four-month investigation, anti-graft officials said they uncovered assets worth about $100 million, or 57 times more than Ao's family income over a seven-year period, and that many of the assets had been deposited in bank accounts in Hong Kong and London.
Macau, about 40 miles west of Hong Kong, is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal.
The territory — less than one-sixth the size of Washington, D.C. — is struggling to shake off its reputation for gangland warfare and attract more Western casino resorts.
Since 2002, when the government broke up a casino monopoly, foreign investment has flooded in, with Las Vegas operators such as Steve Wynn and billionaire Sheldon Adelson opening luxury gambling resorts, including Adelson's $2.4 billion Venetian.
Once-frequent shootouts between triad gangs have become rare, although the lure of gambling-linked revenues may be bringing crime back, analysts said.
Steve Vickers, president of security consultants International Risk, said organized crime and money laundering was endemic in Macau and that Beijing authorities were likely waiting for the end of next year's Olympics before seriously addressing it.
Macau also hit the headlines earlier this year when a private bank was accused by U.S. authorities of money laundering for North Korea.
Walking down (and I mean down) Peel Street in Hong Kong this morning after shul (where the rabbi is an old school chum of mine from Zimbabwe who I hadn't seen for over 35 years), I pass a bar with the intriguing name of 'Joyce is not here'.
On Wednesdays, says the board outside, they have "Poetry Reading for Sad Drinkers". They also seem to have Sad Hour rather than Happy Hour prices. If I weren't leaving tonight, I'd give it a go.