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Showing posts from March, 2013

What is a 'hair cut' in the financial world?

A 'haircut' is a loss in the value of an investment or security: see here for an example. 

Where does the word Easter come from?

Word Origin
Old English ēastre, after a Germanic goddess Eostre; related to Old High German ōstarūn Easter, Old Norse austr to the east, Old Slavonic ustru like summer.
Perhaps surprisingly, the word Easter is not strictly Biblical - there is no reference to anything similar in the New Testament. Scholars agree that the word was taken from the pre-Christian pagan world - it refers to a festival for a goddess  in the month of April.

English is unusual in this respect. In most languages the word is a derivatiation of the Jewish feast of Passover around which the key events take place (in Spanish 'pascua', for example). There is also more linguistic emphasis on the idea of Holy Week (in Spanish the most common reference point is Semana Santa)

This has lead to some controversy amongst some English-speaking Christians (see here)

An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies

What is a 'run' on a bank?

A run on a bank is when a large number of customers withdraw their funds simultaneously. If a run on a bank gains momentum it can quickly 'fail' or go out of business, as  happened with Lehman Brothers in 2008. This is what George (James Stewart) is trying to prevent in the famous scene (above) from 'It's a Wonderful Life'.

With institutions that are 'too big too fail' a government or international financial organisation may rescue the bank by either taking it over or injecting huge amounts of cash. This is the role the EU is currently playing in Cyprus.

Unfortunately the proposed solution, which involved seizing ten per cent of depositor cash has created a crisis of confidence that threatens the banks, the role of Cyprus in the EU and ultimately the EU project itself.
How do you stop a bank run?With great difficulty. The traditional remedies are:
a) delay -  ....the bank is going to open again next week ...
the key requirement is to 'buy time' to organi…

Difference between satire and parody?

This can be complex, as this explanation suggests:
Satire can be termed as humour and anger combined together. Parody is really meant for mocking and it may or may not incite the society. Parody is just pure entertainment and nothing else. It does not have a direct influence on the society. While Satire makes a serious point through humour, Parody does not contain any thing serious. Parody is just fun for fun’s sake. Satire can induce the society to think where as parody does not. While satire stands for changing the society, parody only stands for fun and making fun Read more: Difference Between Parody and Satire | Difference Between | Parody vs Satire So if you're looking for fun try the The Oxford Book of Parodies, edited by the late, much lamented, John Gross.

What is a meme? A scientific term? Or 'a pretentious way of stating the obvious'?

The word meme was first introduced by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene. Dawkins was looking for "a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'" to apply a biological concept to 'cultural evolution'. He wrote that evolution
depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmission – in the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution.[1] The form a meme can take is very fluid. Here BBC Radio 4's Start the Week discuss a 'cultural meme'

listen to ‘English FAQ: What is a meme?’ on Audioboo

The term internet meme is a further simplification of what some have argued is a pseudo-scientific term. It is defined on one tech blog as: a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person. The 'catchphrase' element refers to the f…