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January 2007 Archives

FY 2008 Budget Proposal

On Monday, February 5, 2007, President Bush will submit his fiscal 2008 budget proposal. We are offering 2 courses that will examine the President's proposed budget:

Throughout the week of February 5, Congressional Quarterly's Budget Tracker will offer:

For a free trial of CQ Budget Tracker, click here.

Federal budget process flowchart on our Congressional Operations Poster, by Bill Heniff Jr.
See the federal budget process flowchart on our Congressional Operations Poster, by Bill Heniff Jr.

January 31, 2007 05:17 PM   Link    Budget    Comments (0)

So THAT'S what's wrong with the picture....

What's wrong with this picture?

Good table manners should be second nature so that you can concentrate on your meeting, not on which fork to use.

  • Place your napkin on your lap within 10 seconds of sitting down at the table.
  • Buttering the whole piece of bread; butter one bite-size piece of bread at a time.
  • Gesturing with food
  • Holding spoon wrong
  • Ladling soup towards himself (OK, it's difficult to see, but you ladle soup away from yourself)
  • Placing silverware on both table & plate (butter knife)
  • Resting elbow on the table
  • Eating with both hands
And remember to pass the salt and pepper together.

Did you get at least six of these?

10 seconds! That's all you get to make a favorable first impression. Our training can help you shape your first impressions and all that follows. See our web site for information regarding business etiquette, presentation & briefing skills, and networking skills for Washington.

Communication Skills for the Professional

Communication Skills for the Professional
Presentations, Briefings, Business Etiquette, and Networking Skills for Washington

Also see our Capitol Learning Audio Course, "Business Etiquette: Keys to Professional Success," with Jill Kamp Melton.

Text used with the permission of Jane Wilger Engstrom.

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January 31, 2007 03:37 PM   Link    Career ~   Dining ~   Fun ~   Training    Comments (0)

Geographically based Economic data (G-Econ)

The G-Econ research project is devoted to developing a geophysically based data set on economic activity for the world. The current data set (GEcon 1.3) is now publicly available and covers "gross cell product" for all regions for 1990, which includes 27,500 terrestrial observations. The basic metric is the regional equivalent of gross domestic product. Gross cell product (GCP) is measured at a 1-degree longitude by 1-degree latitude resolution at a global scale. Updates will be posted as they become available. The project director is Professor William Nordhaus, Yale University.

click for animated version (requires Flash)

Geographically based Economic data (G-Econ), Yale University

Thanks to Tyler Cown for the pointer

January 30, 2007 06:17 AM   Link    Economics    Comments (0)

Julian Bream - J.S Bach-Violin Sonata fugue

Julian Bream - J.S Bach-Violin Sonata fugue, on YouTube

More Julian Brean on YouTube

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January 28, 2007 07:07 PM   Link    Music    Comments (0)

If this guy comes to town, I am definitely going to see him...

Alan Sulc, bounce juggler:

Another Alan Sulc video on YouTube

We'd love to see this on TV: "So you think you can juggle?"

January 25, 2007 06:37 AM   Link    Fun    Comments (0)

Beta test of new THOMAS features - review by Peggy Garvin

This month, January 2007, the folks at THOMAS rolled out a beta test of new THOMAS features at the URL While making no change in the core content, the beta presents some of the biggest search, display, and navigation changes to THOMAS in its history.

"Testing the THOMAS Beta," by Peggy Garvin,

Real World Research Skills, by Peggy Garvin
Real World Research Skills, by Peggy Garvin

January 23, 2007 07:17 AM   Link    Research    Comments (0)


Gridlock is the natural gift the Framers of the Constitution gave us so that the country would not be subjected to policy swings resulting from the whimsy of the public. And the competition - whether multi-branch, multi-level, or multi-house - is important to those checks and balances and to our ongoing kind of centrist government.

Bill Frenzel, Guest Scholar, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution (Congressman for the 3rd District of Minnesota from 1971-1991)


Congressional Deskbook 2005-2007, by Judy Schneider and Michael L. Koempel
Congressional Deskbook 2005-2007, by Judy Schneider and Michael L. Koempel

January 20, 2007 06:47 PM   Link    Congress ~   Congressional Operations ~   Legislative Process ~   U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Our training and publications catalog

We just mailed our 2007 catalog, which has descriptions of all of our courses and publications.

TheCapitol.Net's 2007 catalog
TheCapitol.Net's 2007 catalog

Upcoming Courses

TheCapitol.Net is the exclusive provider of Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences

January 18, 2007 05:17 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Japanese instant noodles

The news last Friday [January 5, 2007] of the death of the ramen noodle guy surprised those of us who had never suspected that there was such an individual. It was easy to assume that instant noodle soup was a team invention, one of those depersonalized corporate miracles, like the Honda Civic, the Sony Walkman and Hello Kitty, that sprang from that ingenious consumer-product collective known as postwar Japan.

But no. Momofuku Ando, who died in Ikeda, near Osaka, at 96, was looking for cheap, decent food for the working class when he invented ramen noodles all by himself in 1958. His product -- fried, dried and sold in little plastic-wrapped bricks or foam cups -- turned the company he founded, Nissin Foods, into a global giant. According to the company’s Web site, instant ramen satisfies more than 100 million people a day. Aggregate servings of the company’s signature brand, Cup Noodles, reached 25 billion worldwide in 2006.

"Mr. Noodle," The New York Times, January 9, 2007


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January 13, 2007 07:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The perfect gift?

One thing I’ve been thinking about is generosity--what it means to be generous, how to be generous.

It’s not just a matter of buying presents for people--though presents are important, too. I hate to shop, and I don’t much like to receive stuff myself, so I’m reluctant to give things to people. I’ve been trying to be better about giving gifts when appropriate, and also trying to figure out how to be generous in intangible ways.

Baltasar Gracian wrote, “The great art of giving consists in this: the gift should cost very little and yet be greatly coveted, so that it may be the more highly appreciated.”

A friend of mine told me about a gift she’d just received that’s a perfect example of this kind of generosity. Her friend told her, “For Christmas, I’m going to replace every burned-out lightbulb in your house.” And she did. She went around the house, took out every burned-out bulb, went to the hardware store to buy replacements, and put fresh bulbs in every empty socket.

"Need to find the perfect gift? Change someone’s lightbulbs," by Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project, January 8, 2007

Hat tip: Tyler Cowen

January 11, 2007 02:37 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The movie house

The lobby contains a restaurant, a bar, and a book-and-gift shop. Before the movie, people hang out and have a drink or leaf through a hot new novel or a movie-star biography. The rest rooms are spotless, and the concession stand serves delicious coffee. All the seats are reserved, and they are plush, with plenty of legroom. The steeply raked auditorium is dark, and insulated from the sound of the other theatres in the same multiplex. Is this some sort of upper-bourgeois dream of the great good place? A padded cell for wealthy movie nuts? No, it’s an actual multiplex, the ArcLight, on Sunset Boulevard near Vine.

The idea of user-friendly theatres may be catching on. Sumner Redstone’s daughter Shari, the president of National Amusements, the family-owned theatre business, has vowed to convert half the lobbies of the chain’s hundred and nineteen theatres to social spaces with comfortable lounges, and to build more. Martinis will be served; newspapers and magazines will be offered. If theatres go in this Starbucks-plus-cocktails direction, the older audience might come back, with a positive effect on filmmaking, and the value of the movies as an art form and an experience could be preserved. After you are seated at the ArcLight, an usher standing at the front of the auditorium tells you who wrote and directed the movie and how long it is. He promises that he and another usher will stay for a while to make sure that the projection and the sound are up to snuff. There are no advertisements following his speech, and only four coming attractions. The movie begins, and you are utterly lost in it.

"Big Pictures: Hollywood looks for a future," by David Denby, The New Yorker, January 8, 2007

Locally, Arlington Cinema 'n Drafthouse, is showing "Idiocracy" this Friday and Saturday, January 12 and 13, 2007, at 11:55 pm. 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington VA, 703 486-2345

January 9, 2007 10:57 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Ray's the Steaks

Ray's the Steaks, 1725 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA, 703-841-7297 [food-plan | WaPo | City Paper | openlist | Yelp | Gayot]

Had dinner with a friend at Ray's the Steaks last week. Our waitress, Leann, recommended the Chateaubriand. We started with an appetizer that included a small cup of crab bisque, grilled shrimp, and grilled scallop. The steak was cooked exactly as we ordered it. Everything was excellent, and a good value for the quality of the food.

Highly recommended.

Steak Chateaubriand
Steak Chateaubriand

Sauces for the steak Chateaubriand
Sauces for the steak Chateaubriand

Sides included: creamed spinach and mashed potatoes
Sides included: creamed spinach and mashed potatoes

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January 8, 2007 08:47 AM   Link    Dining    Comments (0)

Metro map on your iPod

WMATA now offers a Metro map for the iPod

January 5, 2007 12:37 PM   Link    Travel    Comments (0)

A puzzle or a mystery?

The national-security expert Gregory Treverton has famously made a distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts are a puzzle. We can’t find him because we don’t have enough information. The key to the puzzle will probably come from someone close to bin Laden, and until we can find that source bin Laden will remain at large.

The problem of what would happen in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein was, by contrast, a mystery. It wasn’t a question that had a simple, factual answer. Mysteries require judgments and the assessment of uncertainty, and the hard part is not that we have too little information but that we have too much.
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The distinction is not trivial. If you consider the motivation and methods behind the attacks of September 11th to be mainly a puzzle, for instance, then the logical response is to increase the collection of intelligence, recruit more spies, add to the volume of information we have about Al Qaeda. If you consider September 11th a mystery, though, you’d have to wonder whether adding to the volume of information will only make things worse. You’d want to improve the analysis within the intelligence community; you’d want more thoughtful and skeptical people with the skills to look more closely at what we already know about Al Qaeda. You’d want to send the counterterrorism team from the C.I.A. on a golfing trip twice a month with the counterterrorism teams from the F.B.I. and the N.S.A. and the Defense Department, so they could get to know one another and compare notes.

If things go wrong with a puzzle, identifying the culprit is easy: it’s the person who withheld information. Mysteries, though, are a lot murkier: sometimes the information we’ve been given is inadequate, and sometimes we aren’t very smart about making sense of what we’ve been given, and sometimes the question itself cannot be answered. Puzzles come to satisfying conclusions. Mysteries often don’t.

"Open Secrets: Enron, intelligence, and the perils of too much information," by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, January 8, 2007


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January 3, 2007 10:37 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)