Margin Call

It all starts with borrowed money. If people only risked their own money then margin calls would not exist.

When the investor borrows money to invest and the investment falls in value, then the lender’s loan is at risk and the lender acts to protect it.

A margin is the amount of liquid assets (cash) that the investor must hold in relation to the value of its investments. And the margin is agreed between the lender and the investor when the loan is set up.

A margin call is when the lender tells the investor to honour the agreement because the value of the investment has fallen and the lender doesn’t like the increased risk of the investor never being able to repay the loan. The investor then has to either put more of their own money in or sell some of the assets.

The lender doesn’t have to wait for the investor to sell the assets. The lender can take matters into its own hands and sell them.

The very fact that the investments are falling in value means it is not a good time to be selling them. Selling them accelerates the fall and make the margin more difficult to maintain.

Spreading investments, not putting all one’s eggs in one basket, are the ways to avoid a meltdown. That and not borrowing money in the first place.

How Flexible Is An Unconscious Body

I watched a video on relaxation, and the person giving the lesson said that people under anaesthetic are very flexible.

She said you can put the legs of even an older person with stiff joints right over their head and that people are so flexible when anaesthetised that doctors and nurses have to be careful when moving them.

I wanted to hear from anyone with substantial direct experience of the truth or otherwise of this statement. So I asked on Metafilter and got a lot of replies. One was from a doctor in Mineola, NY, and she said:

From my ample experience positioning patients for surgery this year: while everyone is more flexible under anesthesia, not everyone is extremely flexible. Some extremely stiff old folks become merely moderately stiff instead.

Radiocarbon Dating

The fundamental principle behind radiocarbon dating is simple: plants – and by extension animals – take in carbon from the world around them, including a natural amount of radioactive carbon-14 along with carbon-12.

When a creature dies, that absorption stops, and the carbon-14 starts to decay and become nitrogen-14 while the amount of carbon-12 does not change.

By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left relative to carbon-12, researchers can calculate how long ago the creature died.

The technique is used on everything from human bones to clothing, wood and seashells.


Coined by Edmund Spenser as the personification of vainglory, empty boasting, and arrogant pretension in his epic poem The Faerie Queene published in 1590. The word derives from brag, with an ending added from Italian words that were in vogue in English at the time.

So a braggart and a braggadocio would be one and the same.

The word passed into general use by 1594, and over the next two hundred years came to mean the kind of talk in which such people engage.


The tragus, the bumpy bit at the front of your ear nearest your cheekbone, gets its name from the the Greek ‘tragos’ or he-goat because of the tuft of hair that grows there like the beard on a goat.

188,000 Lakes

The forested landscape of Finland is dotted with patches of water so numerous that Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes. To be more exact, there are 188,000 lakes in Finland.