WhiteBoard News Bits 3/13/95
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 95 19:20:58 PST
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: WhiteBoard News Bits 3/13/95
From: WhiteBoard News for March 13, 1995
This item comes by way of Matthew Johnston:
Los Angeles, California:
"It's like a Xerox machine for food," says California inventor John Kitos
of his creation "Decorate." The machine scans color images and paints them
on white frosted cakes with near-photographic quality resolution.
Decorate, approximately $18,000, is based on a 386 computer, a color
scanner, and a custom painting unit that squirts edible food dye. The
painting unit is "halfway between an inkjet printer and an air brush," Kitos
explains. Refill cartridges, holding enough dye for about 40 cakes, cost
And cake isn't the only thing Decorate can paint. Any food with a flat
surface will serve as a canvas.
Hoping to salvage the leaning Tower of Pisa for another 80 years, engineers
began work Saturday on an underground cable network designed to pull the
structure back toward the center.
The system could replace the 600-ton lead ingots that have served as
counterweights on the 180-foot tower.
The new project involves connecting the tower to an underground platform
with 50 steel cables, each of which will have varying degrees of tension
intended to stop the tilt and pull it slightly more upright. The system is
expected to be completed late this year.
The goal is to straighten the 12th century tower by another 1.6 inches. It
has already been straightened eight-tenths of an inch by the counterweights,
installed in July 1993.
Those with an appetite for lofty economic debate might consider Japan, which
is having a big yen attack.
McDonald's Co. (Japan) Ltd., the Japanese arm of the fast-food giant, is
planning to cut prices of key menu items this spring. The company says the
move is partly the result of the strong yen, which has sharply reduced the
cost of such imported ingredients as beef and potatoes.
Company officials says that they have yet to decide which fast-food items
will be affected, but that a cheaper Big Mac is likely. That could cut the
cost in Japan of the big double cheeseburger by as much as 100 yen -- down
from the current price of 380 yen, or $4.23.
For economists, the impending burger devaluation is food for thought. Many
use the famous burger to make judgments about the theoretical values of
currencies. Indeed, the price of the Big Mac, a favorite of fast- food
junkies everywhere, has long been a centerpiece of a debate over what
economists call Purchasing Power Parity.
Call it the benchmark burger. Supporters of the PPP theory say the average
$1.80 price of a Big Mac in the U.S. -- less than half the current cost in
Japan -- would suggest the yen is wildly overvalued compared with the
dollar. After all, the ingredients for the burger are roughly the same
whether it's made in Tokyo or Tulsa.
And with the dollar recently hitting a new low of 88.75 yen, many say it
was only a matter of time before either the dollar rose or the Big Mac fell.
"It makes sense," says Marshall Gittler, an analyst at Merrill Lynch Japan
Ltd. "But please don't quote me on that because I'm a vegetarian."
Los Angeles, California:
"I knew that by assembling seven different people and forcing them to live
together, the show would have great philosophical implications. On a much
larger scale this happens all the time. Eventually, the Israelis are going
to have to learn to live with the Arabs. We have one world, and 'Gilligan's
Island' was my way of saying that."
Sherwood Schwartz, "Gilligan's Island" creator.
© 1995 Peter Langston