If you’re a big gold fan, you might want to look at the CombiBar, which is a gold wafer that can easily be broken down into one-gram portions:
Private investors in Switzerland, Austria and Germany are lining up to buy gold bars the size of a credit card that can easily be broken into one gram pieces and used as payment in an emergency.
Now Swiss refinery Valcambi, a unit of U.S. mining giant Newmont, wants to bring its “CombiBar” to market in the United States and build up its sales presence India — the world’s largest consumer of gold where the precious metal has long served as a parallel currency.
Investors worried that inflation and financial market turmoil will wipe out the value of their cash have poured money into gold over the past decade. Prices have gained almost 500 percent since 2001 compared to a 12 percent increase in MSCI’s world equity index.
[. . .]
The CombiBar is particularly popular among grandparents who want to give their grandchildren a strip of gold rather than a coin, said Andreas Habluetzel head of the Swiss business of Degussa, a gold trading company.
Other customers buy gold for security reasons.
“Demand is rising every week,” Habluetzel said. “Particularly in Germany, people buying gold fear that the euro will break apart or that banks will run into problems.”
H/T to Tyler Cowen for the link.
Jon, my former virtual landlord, sent me this link while I was on vacation (and generally unable to stay connected to the internet for more than minutes at a time). If you’ve already seen this, my apologies for being late:
The First World War, explained as a pub fight…
Germany, Austria and Italy are stood together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria’s pint.
Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit, because there are splashes on its trouser leg.
Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view
Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.
Serbia points out that it can’t afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for cleaning Austria’s trousers.
Russia and Serbia look at Austria.
Austria asks Serbia who it’s looking at.
Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone.
Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so.
As Jon pointed out, the key comment is “And when Germany wakes up, it goes out to its car, gets the gun out of the glovebox and heads back inside…”
A new study of Stonehenge by the University of Birmingham and Vienna’s Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology has made its first major discovery:
Archaeologists have discovered a second henge at Stonehenge, described as the most exciting find there in 50 years.
The circular ditch surrounding a smaller circle of deep pits about a metre (3ft) wide has been unearthed at the world-famous site in Wiltshire.
Archaeologists conducting a multi-million pound study believe timber posts were in the pits.
Project leader Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University of Birmingham, said the discovery was “exceptional”.
The new “henge” — which means a circular monument dating to Neolithic and Bronze Ages — is situated about 900m (2,950ft) from the giant stones on Salisbury Plain.
I imagine, given how many times Stonehenge has been mucked about with by earlier enthusiasts, there must be much misleading data has to be sifted and re-sifted before any definite discoveries can be announced. Stonehenge has been fascinating people for centuries and there are probably lots of amateur investigations that may well have made the situation more confusing (think of a sixteenth century equivalent of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft with a nose for treasure).
The most recent issue of OntarioWineReview included a snippet from an article originally published in Decanter on the outcome of a legal tussle between Reidel and Eisch over the term “breathable glass”:
Austrian glassmaker Riedel has declared victory in its lawsuit against its rival Eisch Glasskultur over false claims for breathable glass.
Riedel, Nachtmann and Spiegelau filed suit in Munich, Germany alleging that Eisch’s advertisement boasting ‘breathable glass’ constituted false advertising.
On 19 January the two parties agreed to settle after Eisch’s claim that its ‘breathable’ glasses were made using a secret process that ‘opens bouquet and aromas within 2 to 4 minutes’ was not supported in court.
The court ordered Eisch to cease claiming its glass is ‘Breathable’ or ‘Opens bouquet and aromas within 2 to 4 minutes’, or face penalties of up to €250,000, or imprisonment of up to six months for senior directors.
A few years ago, Elizabeth and I bought a set of the Eisch “breathable glass” wineglasses and actually tested them. I doubted the claim, as I couldn’t think of a way that glass could be altered to allow air to pass through that would not also change other characteristics like clarity. Later that evening, we sat down with our friend Brendan and tried to determine if there was any difference between the “breathable” and ordinary glasses.
It may just have been our willingness to believe, but we each thought the wine in the breathable glass was better than the same wine in an ordinary wine glass. That being said, we didn’t think the degree of improvement was enough to justify replacing all our Riedel glasses.
Economic times are hard on non-essential services, and the luxury train called the Orient Express faces cancellation:
Its name evokes images of glamour and mystery and has provided authors including Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming with perfect backgrounds for their tales of intrigue and suspense.
But now the Orient Express is to be cut from Europe’s rail timetables. Next weekend, the service — which runs only between Strasbourg and Vienna — will be scrapped, a victim of high-speed railways and cut-price flights.
“The name the Orient Express will disappear from the official timetables before the year is out, after more than 125 years,” says Mark Smith, the rail expert who runs The Man in Seat Sixty-One website.
Only travellers who can afford lavish private trains — such as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and the Danube Express’s Istanbul Odyssey — will be able to enjoy the service’s former glory.
Of course, it’s hard to believe that Vienna qualifed as an “oriental” destination . . .