Donnerstag, 3. Juni 2010

Velas, muitas Velas no Centros de mesa para as festas de final de ano













http://queroenfeitarvoce.blogspot.com/

Giselle Itié conta segredos de sua dieta




http://mdemulher.abril.com.br

No ar na novela Bela, a Feia, Giselle Itié está no auge da forma física - ela perdeu 5 kg e ficou mais linda do que nunca

por Roberta Cerasoli
Conteúdo do site ANAMARIA Comentar | Imprimir | + Favoritos


Giselle perdeu 5 kg com disciplina
e força de vontade
Foto: Juliana Coutinho


Daqui a algum tempo, a feiosa Bela vai aparecer linda e provocante, com um corpo escultural. A atriz Giselle Itié já está preparadíssima para a volta da personagem que interpreta na trama Bela, a Feia, da Record.

A beldade está com tudo em cima, depois de perder 5 kg com uma reeducação alimentar. Ela confessa que fez alguns sacrifícios, como cortar os doces do cardápio e não comer carboidratos depois das 18h. Mas valeu a pena: com 1,72 m, está com 55 kg! "Hoje, eu não me privo mais. Mas se eu percebo que as roupas estão apertadas, dou uma enxugada no cardápio", conta. A seguir, conheça os segredos de Giselle para chegar ao corpo ideal.



Giselle combateu o inchaço da TPM

"Eu retenho muito líquido! Essa é minha maior preocupação, ainda mais quando tô com TPM. Me sinto muito inchada"

Para combater o inchaço, Giselle bebe muita água e faz corrida e aeróbica. Também abusa dos chás (verde, branco e o chinês jinchen). E nada de sal! "Um dia, comi carne com muito sal, logo fiquei com bolsas nos olhos", conta.
Elimine o inchaço de uma vez!

Tércio Rocha, médico endocrinologista com pós-graduação em medicina estética na França, dá dicas para combater o inchaço. "O chá de cavalinha e cabelo de milho é um ótimo diurético para quem incha muito", aconselha Tércio.

Alimentos que devem ser cortados do seu cardápio

- Sal
- Molho shoyu
- Refrigerante light
- Álcool
- Frituras e gorduras



Nada de carboidrato depois das 18h

Segundo Tércio Rocha, ingerir carboidratos à noite engorda e envelhece. No jantar, fuja de...

- Pães e biscoitos
- Torradas
- Batata
- Inhame
- Mandioca
- Doces e chocolates
- Refrigerantes
- Leite e derivados


1. Foco
"Quer emagrecer? Então coloque isso na cabeça como um objetivo. Essa força vale pra tudo: no trabalho, no relacionamento... O tempo está voando. Ou nos tornamos escravos do tempo ou lideramos essa situação"

O estalo para Giselle emagrecer veio com um pedido do ator Silvester Stallone. O americano convidou a bela para fazer o filme Os Mercenários, mas pediu que ela perdesse peso. "Sou feliz comendo, mas emagreci pelo papel. O pedido do Stallone não me magoou. A minha personagem, a Sandra, é uma guerrilheira, vivendo no meio da ditadura, sem comida. Não dava para estar com um corpão, né?", disse a atriz.


O segredo dos chás
Eles melhoram o metabolismo e aceleram a digestão de gorduras. E o melhor: podem até inibir o apetite! Beba 4 xícaras diárias de chá, por um mês, e veja o resultado. Mas não abuse: o ideal é consumir até 6 xícaras por dia.

- Casca de laranja, carqueja, casca de abacaxi e hibisco são chás que aceleram a digestão de gorduras e proteínas.

- Chá-verde aumenta a taxa de gasto calórico. Ou seja, ele faz o organismo trabalhar bastante e gastar mais energia para se manter em funcionamento. Isso faz a pessoa emagrecer.

- Os reguladores de apetite são alecrim e orégano. Eles controlam a sensação de fome.


2. Menos 5 kg em 40 dias
"Fechei a boca. Eu gosto muito de comer doce, salgado, não tem tempo ruim! Cortei totalmente os doces, e os carboidratos à noite. Acho que é uma doideira tomar remédio, emagreci só com dieta"


Giselle conseguiu perder o peso bem rápido, só com disciplina. Ela foi a um médico endocrinologista, que montou um cardápio com uma dieta bem rica em carnes magras e vegetais à vontade.



3. Pimenta na veia!
"Amo, adoro! Eu coloco pimenta em tudo: na salada, no sanduíche..."


As conhecidas ardidinhas emagrecem e fazem bem à saúde. Segundo estudo realizado por cientistas do Canadá, a pimenta aumenta a temperatura do corpo, acelerando o metabolismo. Com isso, ela queima as gordurinhas.

"Além da pimenta, o gengibre, a canela, o guaraná e a cafeína têm esse efeito", garante o médico Tércio. Ao comer um pedaço de picanha com pouco sal, por exemplo, você vai ingerir 170 calorias. Se ela tiver pimenta e for acompanhada de uma salada de alface com gengibre, esse número cai para 130 calorias. Além disso, as pimentinhas controlam a hipertensão, aliviam crises de enxaqueca e protegem o organismo contra o câncer. Mas o máximo que deve ser consumido é de 1 col. (chá) ao dia.



4. O segredo da mamãe
"Eu sempre como nozes e amêndoas nos intervalos das refeições. Minha mãe diz que elas fazem bem à saúde. Ela comprou um monte para deixar na minha casa"


Mãe sempre tem razão! Nozes, amêndoas e castanhas fazem bem. No lanche da tarde, por exemplo, comer 2 castanhas com gelatina e um mate light aumenta o poder de saciedade. Assim, você vai ter menos fome no jantar. Essas delícias ainda combatem o colesterol ruim.



5. Fome noturna
"À noite, quando bate a ansiedade, ataco um sorvete. Mas é preciso ter controle!"

Com certeza, Gisele não é a única mulher que tem vontade de atacar a geladeira de madrugada. Isso é o transtorno do comer noturno. Os sintomas são fome intensa entre as 20h e as 6h, insônia e falta de apetite na manhã seguinte.


Dica: como fugir da geladeira de madrugada

- Não pule refeições de dia.
- Procure fazer à noite algo que te dê prazer, para ocupar sua cabeça e esquecer as guloseimas.
- Reduza os carboidratos no jantar.
- Não deixe a comida à vista.
- Não tenha o costume de ver TV comendo.


6. Celulite
"Tenho celulite e não ligo muito para isso. Mas agora, com a Bela se transformando, já pensou se ela colocar uma calça bege e ficar com aqueles furinhos aparecendo?"


Combata estes inimigos

- Evite leite e derivados.
- Corte do cardápio açúcar e gorduras hidrogenadas.
- Deixe de ser uma mulher sedentária. Uma caminhada de 20 minutos, três vezes por semana, já ajuda.


7. A ajuda do amor
"Meu namorado [o americano Kenin Tang] é muito parceiro, mas me deu uma caixa de chocolate no meio da dieta. Eu comi tudinho! Mas foi só uma vez..."

É provável que seu marido não queira sabotar seu regime, mas ele quer te agradar. Então, se ele te convidar para jantar, vá. Escolha um restaurante onde você possa abusar das saladas e ele, comer aquele pratão. Ah, e um chocolatinho dado com amor não faz mal. Relaxe!



O cardápio de Giselle
Veja o que Giselle Itié come e inspire-se no cardápio da bela


Café da manhã

- 1 pote de iogurte light com 2 cols. (sopa) de granola sem açúcar


Lanche

- 1 copo (300 ml) de água de coco ou suco


Almoço

- Salada à vontade, 1 col. (sopa) de arroz, 1 col. (sopa) de feijão e 1 peito de frango ou peixe grelhado


Lanche

- 1 copo (300 ml) de água de coco ou suco


Jantar

- 1 fatia de peito de peru com queijo branco e pimenta, ou 1 prato de sopa de legumes com um ovo cozido

Broad Plan Urged to Battle New York’s Fiscal Crisis

http://www.nytimes.com

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch at the Capitol on Tuesday. His plan includes billions in borrowing and imposes curbs on future spending.
By DANNY HAKIM
Published: March 9, 2010



ALBANY — New York could borrow billions of dollars to address its urgent budget shortfall and a financial review board would be established to impose new discipline on future spending under a five-year financial rescue plan that Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch will present Wednesday.


The plan would also require significant spending cuts and abolish some of Albany’s much-criticized budgeting practices, forcing lawmakers and the governor to account for how they will pay for spending expansions when they are approved.

Mr. Ravitch, who was asked by Gov. David A. Paterson to draw up the blueprint, is seeking to curb the runaway spending that has helped plunge New York into fiscal crisis. Despite the recession and talk of fiscal austerity, state spending this year soared by 10 percent over the previous year’s budget.

The state faces a $9 billion shortfall for the fiscal year that begins April 1 and a $15 billion gap for the following year.

The plan, which requires legislative approval, seeks to address New York’s immediate cash needs by permitting the state to sell bonds to help cover operating expenses. But those bonds would be contingent on the state’s producing a balanced budget, and the newly established board would have the authority to determine whether the budget meets that requirement.

In addition, the plan would limit how much could be borrowed — probably 1 percent or 2 percent of the total budget, so lawmakers do not rely on borrowing to shirk difficult decisions on spending cuts, though any increase in borrowing will be controversial.

It would represent drastic change to how Albany has operated for decades. But the severity of the fiscal problems, and Mr. Ravitch’s stature as one of the leading figures in the rescue of New York City in the 1970s, have legislative leaders and other top state officials examining the proposal seriously.

Even though the plan would take away some authority from lawmakers, Sheldon Silver, the most powerful Democrat in the Legislature, said it would be carefully considered by his colleagues.

“It’s not D.O.A.,” said Mr. Silver, the Assembly speaker. “I think there’s too much respect for Dick Ravitch in that regard, and he’s worked hard to come up with a plan that works.”

Mr. Ravitch declined to provide details on his proposal on Tuesday, but the plan was described by a number of people who had been briefed on it.

Currently, New York generally borrows money for capital expenses but not for continuing operating costs. Under Mr. Ravitch’s proposal, if the control board declared the budget to be out of balance, lawmakers and the governor would have an opportunity to revise it and address the imbalance. If they failed to, the bonds issued to address the operating budget shortfall would go into default, giving the board considerable leverage, because of the dire consequences of default.

Elizabeth Lynam, deputy research director at the Citizens Budget Commission, which advocates for lower spending, said it might be difficult for lawmakers to swallow such a change.

“The Ravitch plan can’t be used as an excuse to avoid cutting spending,” Ms. Lynam said. “So it really does have to come with considerable strings attached, and those are going to be tough strings for the Legislature to tie onto themselves. The last thing we want right now is for them to see a giant exit sign in the form of deficit financing and they run for it.”

The five members of the review board proposed by Mr. Ravitch would be appointed by the governor, the legislative leaders and the state comptroller.

Mr. Ravitch’s plan would also require the state to adopt “generally accepted accounting principles” for its budget process, a step many budget watchdogs say is long overdue. And he is proposing to move the end of the state’s fiscal year from the end of March to the end of June, putting New York in line with other states and allowing budget planners to gain a better picture of tax collections when drafting a spending blueprint.

With the governor mired in investigations and scandal, lawmakers are increasingly looking to Mr. Ravitch to fill a power vacuum, or at least help chart a way out of budget negotiations that barely seem to have started, even though there are only three weeks left in the fiscal year.

On Monday, Mr. Paterson raised concerns about the borrowing permitted in the Ravitch plan, while acknowledging that he had not been briefed on the details. By Tuesday morning, after he met with Mr. Ravitch, his stance had softened somewhat.

“No governor should be signing off on borrowing by itself right now, because borrowing is what got us into this mess,” the governor said at an appearance in Albany on Tuesday. “But if we were able to constrain our spending, then obviously bond holders and credit rating agencies would look more favorably on us.”

Switching to generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, would also mark a significant shift. While the principles are used by public corporations and in New York City’s budgeting, New York and most other states prefer what is known as cash budgeting.

The change would make it much more difficult for the state to defer budget problems into future years by holding off on paying bills.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the Democratic majority in the Senate, said the Senate leader, John L. Sampson, believed “it should be viewed in sum, not in parts, and he wants to discuss it with his conference before moving forward.”

The board proposed by Mr. Ravitch will inevitably be likened to the panel that oversaw New York City’s finances beginning in 1975. It would lack that board’s sweeping authority to reject financial plans or labor contracts, powers that led former Mayor Edward I. Koch to once complain that the city had been reduced to an “indentured servant.”

The state has the power to impose such severe measures on municipalities; Mr. Ravitch, by contrast, will try to persuade the governor and lawmakers to agree to more moderate restraints on their powers.

Certainly, the state is in tough fiscal shape. The governor and officials in the Budget Division are warning that there could be another cash crunch in late May and early June, when the state has to pay a number of large bills, including $2.6 billion in school aid and $3.5 billion in Medicaid. That could lead the state to delay making some of those payments.

And some of the revenues the state was depending on are in serious doubt. The state hoped to generate $300 million from its recent move to award video gambling machines at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, a deal now mired in a federal investigation. New York City officials have balked at a state plan to raid $200 million from the Battery Park City Authority. And Mr. Paterson’s plan to raise $465 million from a new tax on sodas is facing stiff opposition in the Legislature.

Bank of America to End Overdraft Fees on Debit Purchases

Bank of America to End Overdraft Fees on Debit Purchases
By ANDREW MARTIN
Published: March 9, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com

In a move that could bring an end to the $40 cup of coffee, Bank of America said on Tuesday that it was doing away with overdraft fees on purchases made with debit cards, a decision that could cost the bank tens of millions a year in revenue and put pressure on other banks to do the same.


Bank officials said that effective this summer, customers who try to make purchases with their debit cards without enough money in their checking accounts will simply be declined. Debit purchases account for roughly 60 percent of overdrafts at Bank of America, the nation’s largest issuer of debit cards.

Banks are bracing for a new federal rule that will require them to get permission from account holders before providing overdraft services for debit purchases and A.T.M. withdrawals. That change was already expected to wipe out billions of dollars in overdraft revenue for the banks.

“What our customers kept telling me is ‘just don’t let me spend money that I don’t have,’ ” said Susan Faulkner, the bank’s deposit and card product executive, who said the overdraft changes were part of a broader push to build trust among its customers. “We wanted to help them avoid those unexpected overdraft fees.”

The bank will continue to provide overdraft protection, for a fee, for checks and automatic payments, say to a biller that debits money from an account each month. Consumers who try to exceed their balance when making an A.T.M. withdrawal are already being notified that they will be charged a $35 overdraft fee if they choose to proceed.

There has been considerable consumer and political outcry against overdraft fees on deposit accounts. Over the last decade, the fees have become a major source of revenue for banks as they realized they could make more money by covering consumer overdrafts, offering a short-term loan for a fee, than in denying them.

Last year alone, banks generated about $20 billion from overdraft fees on debit purchases and A.T.M. transactions, and $12 billion more by covering checks and recurring bills, according to Moebs Services, an economic research firm.

But as reports surfaced of customers incurring hundreds, even thousands, in overdraft fees, often for purchases of just a few dollars like a cup of coffee, regulators and lawmakers stepped in. As of July 1, the Federal Reserve will require that banks obtain a customer’s consent before they can charge them overdraft fees for A.T.M. transactions and debit purchases; many banks now automatically enroll customers.

In anticipation of the new Fed rule, some banks have begun marketing campaigns to encourage their customers to opt in to overdraft protection to keep the dollars flowing.

Several bills have been introduced in Congress that would go beyond the Fed’s rules on overdraft fees.

Bank of America, by deciding to scrap overdraft charges on debit card purchases instead, is hoping to bolster its reputation with consumers at a time when anger at banks for their role in the financial crisis remains high.

The bank’s overdraft policy will take effect on June 19 for new customers and in early August for existing ones. Overdraft protection will still be available, typically for a fee of $10, to customers who link their checking accounts to savings accounts or credit cards.

Bank officials declined to say how much money the bank earned from overdraft fees, but anecdotal evidence suggests it had been a multibillion-dollar business for the bank.

“Consumers have shown a willingness to incur overdrafts if it’s covering mortgage payments or car payments, but not to cover a hot dog and a soda,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com and one of a handful of analysts and consumer advocates briefed by Bank of America on its new policy. “They don’t want to incur overdrafts on everyday purchases.”

Martin Eakes, chief executive for the Center for Responsible Lending, called Bank of America’s decision “a very big deal.”

“If Bank of America can forgo the fee income and do the right thing by their customers, this should be seen as a direct challenge to the other big banks to match and do the same,” said Mr. Eakes, who serves on a Bank of America advisory council, an unpaid position.

Of course, because of the new federal rule that requires customers to opt in to overdraft protection, all the big banks are anticipating a sharp drop in revenue once it goes into effect this summer.

But Mr. Eakes said that because of Bank of America’s size, it might have still charged hundreds of millions of dollars in overdraft fees even if most of its 37 million debit customers in the United States dropped out of overdraft protection.

Most major banks continue to charge overdraft fees on debit purchases, though some have modified their policies to appease critics. Citibank, for example, does not allow overdrafts for debit purchases or A.T.M. withdrawals.

It was not known on Tuesday how other banks would react to the change in Bank of America’s overdraft policy.

Told of the change late Tuesday, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said the bank was still working on its overdraft plan as it relates to the new federal rules and was not yet prepared to release the details.

Banks are rethinking their policies on consumer products like credit cards, mortgages and debit cards to comply with new laws and regulations and the continued economic malaise. In the past, a relatively small number of customers generated such enormous fees from overdraft charges and penalties on credit cards that they subsidized free checking and generous rewards programs for the majority of customers.

In the case of overdraft, 93 percent of the fees are generated by just 14 percent of the customers who exceed their balances five times or more a year, according to a 2008 study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Three-quarters of customers are not charged overdraft fees at all, the study found.

But the collapse in consumer credit, combined with new rules limiting banks’ ability to make money on credit cards and overdraft fees, has prompted banks to experiment with fees that reach a broader set of customers, like annual fees on credit cards and monthly fees on checking accounts.

Tacos in the Morning? That’s the Routine in Austin


Tacos in the Morning? That’s the Routine in Austin
Ben Sklar for The New York Times


http://www.nytimes.com


Robert Vasquez, right, owns the Tamale House in Austin, Tex. Richard Lanlotz, left, and Jason Coleman were recent customers.

By JOHN T. EDGE
Published: March 9, 2010

Austin, Tex.



AUSTIN can’t claim taco primacy. That category is too broad, encompassing too many variations in style.

When it comes to breakfast tacos, however, Austin trumps all other American cities.

Roberto Espinosa, proprietor of Tacodeli and the breakfast taco interpreter of the moment, espouses a slacker consumer theory of why Austin — a city thick with creative folk, techies, students and politicians — has embraced breakfast tacos.

“People wake up at all hours of the day,” Mr. Espinosa, a native of Mexico City, said as he served a taco, piled with scrambled eggs and drenched in a purée of russets and jalapeños that he calls Mexican mashed potatoes.

“Maybe the first meal of their day comes at 11 in the morning, and maybe it comes at 2 in the afternoon,” Mr. Espinosa said, as customers queued for migas tacos, bound with jack cheese. “They want a taco, and they want breakfast. And a breakfast taco gets you both.”

Breakfast tacos, eaten by early-morning commuters and third-shift laborers, as well as rock ’n’ roll club kids, sound Mexican. Some ingredients, like refried beans and chorizo, taste Mexican. And Mexican-Americans own many of the restaurants that serve them.

But breakfast tacos may owe as much to the American fast-food industry as they do to the taquerias of, say, Guadalajara.

No one agrees on which cook popularized them. Nor is there agreement that Austin was the locus of the development; San Antonio and other cities in the Southwestern United States also claim them.

One recent morning, as Robert Vasquez, proprietor of the Tamale House, rang up 85-cent breakfast tacos of loosely scrambled eggs and hard-fried bacon tucked inside flour tortillas, he recalled the late 1970s, when he opened his take-away spot. That’s also when he began serving egg and refried bean tacos. Mr. Vasquez guessed that, by the 1980s, breakfast tacos where going mainstream in Austin.

Robb Walsh, an author of a number of books on Texas foods, explained that “they were a way for Tex-Mex joints to compete with Egg McMuffins.”

By the late 1980s, the fast-food industry was returning the favor. In 1989 Burger King introduced bacon-and-egg tacos in Dallas, and Owens Country Sausage of Richardson, Tex., began making microwaveable sausage-and-egg tacos for grocery freezers across the Southwest. Today, breakfast tacos are this city’s totemic food.

“They’re cheap, they’re good, they’re Austin,” Mr. Vasquez said.

Arkie’s Grill, a biscuits-and-gravy sort of place that has been in business since 1948, sells sausage-and-egg breakfast tacos. Polvos, a restaurant that interprets “interior Mexican” cuisine, serves ham-and-egg tacos. Coffee shops across town stock coolers and steam tables with bean-and-egg tacos distributed by Tacodeli, a local quick-service restaurant group.

Porfirio’s, open since 1985 and housed in a white cinderblock coop, is a typical working-class purveyor, serving chorizo-and-egg tacos, bacon-and-refried-bean tacos and 17 other breakfast tacos.

“My aunt started when she was working at I.B.M. in the early 1980s,” said Daniel Macias, who bought the business from that aunt, Oralia Calderon, and her husband, Jesse. “She was testing circuit boards and started bringing tacos from home to sell. The business just grew from that.”

Wrapped in tinfoil, stuffed in white paper bags for carry-out, Porfirio’s chorizo-and-egg tacos and bean-and-bacon tacos are paragons of the Austin form.

That means they cost less than $2. They’re built on flour tortillas. And they’re girded with ingredients that stray from conventional notions of Mexican food.

Sausage figures large in the Austin breakfast taco canon. Chorizo, colored with paprika, is a constant. So is Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage.

Jalapeno Joe’s, on the same stretch of Airport Boulevard as the Tamale House, recently advertised a 99-cent breakfast taco happy hour and heralded the Jimmy Dean provenance of their sausage.

Armando Rayo, a nonprofit consultant who covers the local food scene for the Web site Taco Journalism, doesn’t see the presence of Jimmy Dean — or a preference for flour tortillas instead of the corn tortillas that predominate in much of Mexico — as culturally problematic. At Taqueria Chapala, a vinyl-booth cafe on Cesar Chavez Street, Mr. Rayo faced down a couple of barbacoa-stuffed tacos dorado and framed his identity: “I’m the sort of person who obsesses over breakfast tacos, but doesn’t watch Spanish-language television.”

That’s the Austin breakfast taco: inspired by Mexico, but not Mexican, a composite food reflecting two cultures.


Some breakfast tacos served at Austin cafes, bodegas and taco trucks track a path back to Mexico, where, broadly speaking, natives eat tacos in the morning, and some tacos contain eggs, but breakfast tacos are not a food category.

Taqueria La Flor, a baby-blue trailer, serves nopales and eggs on house-made corn tortillas. La Mexicana, a 24-hour panaderia, dishes feathery flour tortillas topped with molten refried beans.

The next steps in the breakfast taco’s evolution are occurring on the margins of Austin’s Mexican-American community.

Torchy’s Tacos, which began in a gray trailer plastered with pitchfork-wielding baby devils, is an Anglo-owned enterprise, serving migas tacos, made with a scramble of eggs and strips of fried corn tortillas, pocked with green chilies, capped with avocado slices, enveloped by flour tortillas.

In a similar vein is El Chilito Tacos y Cafe, where University of Texas students eat ham-and-egg-filled breakfast tacos while drinking soy milk lattes.

Further afield, geographically and culturally, is Donut Taco Palace II, operated by Pisey Seng, born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She sells doughnuts, sausage-and-jalapeño-stuffed croissants, Czech-inspired pastries called kolaches, and breakfast tacos, filled with everything from migas to nopales to Jimmy Dean and eggs.

When asked why she chose to sell breakfast tacos from a strip-mall shop, decorated with glossy photographs of Angkor Wat, Ms. Seng said, “We wanted to be different from everybody else.”

She could have been talking about breakfast tacos, prepared by a crew of Mexican cooks and Cambodian managers, or she might have had in mind the rainbow sprinkle-covered chocolate doughnut she held in her hand.

What’s for Breakfast?

PORFIRIO’SA variety of breakfast tacos, from carne guisada to potato, egg and bacon. 1512 Holly Street (Comal Street), (512) 476-5030.

TACODELI Try El Popeye— spinach and scrambled eggs with crumbled queso fresco. 1500 Spyglass Drive (Barton Skyway), (512) 732-0303, tacodeli.com.

TAMALE HOUSE The owner, Robert Vasquez, talks about the taco wars, when the price went down to 35 cents. 5003 Airport Boulevard (East 50th Street), (512) 453-9842.

TAQUERIA LA FLOR This trailer sells puffy potato tacos. 4901 South First Street (Heartwood Drive.)

TORCHY’S TACOS At five locations, Torchy’s sells tacos with eggs, guacamole, fried poblanos, carrots and poblano ranch sauce, among other styles. 1311 South First Street (Elizabeth Street ), (512) 366-0537, and four other locations, torchystacos.com.

Google’s Computing Power Refines Translation Tool

Google’s Computing Power Refines Translation Tool

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Franz Och, with a copy of the Rosetta Stone, said Google’s translation tool “can make the language barrier go away.”
By MIGUEL HELFT
Published: March 8, 2010



MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In a meeting at Google in 2004, the discussion turned to an e-mail message the company had received from a fan in South Korea. Sergey Brin, a Google founder, ran the message through an automatic translation service that the company had licensed.


The message said Google was a favorite search engine, but the result read: “The sliced raw fish shoes it wishes. Google green onion thing!”

Mr. Brin said Google ought to be able to do better. Six years later, its free Google Translate service handles 52 languages, more than any similar system, and people use it hundreds of millions of times a week to translate Web pages and other text.

“What you see on Google Translate is state of the art” in computer translations that are not limited to a particular subject area, said Alon Lavie, an associate research professor in the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Google’s efforts to expand beyond searching the Web have met with mixed success. Its digital books project has been hung up in court, and the introduction of its social network, Buzz, raised privacy fears. The pattern suggests that it can sometimes misstep when it tries to challenge business traditions and cultural conventions.

But Google’s quick rise to the top echelons of the translation business is a reminder of what can happen when Google unleashes its brute-force computing power on complex problems.

The network of data centers that it built for Web searches may now be, when lashed together, the world’s largest computer. Google is using that machine to push the limits on translation technology. Last month, for example, it said it was working to combine its translation tool with image analysis, allowing a person to, say, take a cellphone photo of a menu in German and get an instant English translation.

“Machine translation is one of the best examples that shows Google’s strategic vision,” said Tim O’Reilly, founder and chief executive of the technology publisher O’Reilly Media. “It is not something that anyone else is taking very seriously. But Google understands something about data that nobody else understands, and it is willing to make the investments necessary to tackle these kinds of complex problems ahead of the market.”

Creating a translation machine has long been seen as one of the toughest challenges in artificial intelligence. For decades, computer scientists tried using a rules-based approach — teaching the computer the linguistic rules of two languages and giving it the necessary dictionaries.

But in the mid-1990s, researchers began favoring a so-called statistical approach. They found that if they fed the computer thousands or millions of passages and their human-generated translations, it could learn to make accurate guesses about how to translate new texts.

It turns out that this technique, which requires huge amounts of data and lots of computing horsepower, is right up Google’s alley.

“Our infrastructure is very well-suited to this,” Vic Gundotra, a vice president for engineering at Google, said. “We can take approaches that others can’t even dream of.”

Automated translation systems are far from perfect, and even Google’s will not put human translators out of a job anytime soon. Experts say it is exceedingly difficult for a computer to break a sentence into parts, then translate and reassemble them.

But Google’s service is good enough to convey the essence of a news article, and it has become a quick source for translations for millions of people. “If you need a rough-and-ready translation, it’s the place to go,” said Philip Resnik, a machine translation expert and associate professor of linguistics at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Like its rivals in the field, most notably Microsoft and I.B.M., Google has fed its translation engine with transcripts of United Nations proceedings, which are translated by humans into six languages, and those of the European Parliament, which are translated into 23. This raw material is used to train systems for the most common languages.

But Google has scoured the text of the Web, as well as data from its book scanning project and other sources, to move beyond those languages. For more obscure languages, it has released a “tool kit” that helps users with translations and then adds those texts to its database.

Google’s offering could put a dent in sales of corporate translation software from companies like I.B.M. But automated translation is never likely to be a big moneymaker, at least not by the standards of Google’s advertising business. Still, Google’s efforts could pay off in several ways.

Because Google’s ads are ubiquitous online, anything that makes it easier for people to use the Web benefits the company. And the system could lead to interesting new applications. Last week, the company said it would use speech recognition to generate captions for English-language YouTube videos, which could then be translated into 50 other languages.

“This technology can make the language barrier go away,” said Franz Och, a principal scientist at Google who leads the company’s machine translation team. “It would allow anyone to communicate with anyone else.”

Mr. Och, a German researcher who previously worked at the University of Southern California, said he was initially reluctant to join Google, fearing it would treat translation as a side project. Larry Page, Google’s other founder, called to reassure him.

“He basically said that this is something that is very important for Google,” Mr. Och recalled recently. Mr. Och signed on in 2004 and was soon able to put Mr. Page’s promise to the test.

While many translation systems like Google’s use up to a billion words of text to create a model of a language, Google went much bigger: a few hundred billion English words. “The models become better and better the more text you process,” Mr. Och said.

The effort paid off. A year later, Google won a government-run competition that tests sophisticated translation systems.

Google has used a similar approach — immense computing power, heaps of data and statistics — to tackle other complex problems. In 2007, for example, it began offering 800-GOOG-411, a free directory assistance service that interprets spoken requests. It allowed Google to collect the voices of millions of people so it could get better at recognizing spoken English.

A year later, Google released a search-by-voice system that was as good as those that took other companies years to build.

And late last year, Google introduced a service called Goggles that analyzes cellphone photos, matching them to a database of more than a billion online images, including photos of streets taken for its Street View service.

Mr. Och acknowledged that Google’s translation system still needed improvement, but he said it was getting better fast. “The current quality improvement curve is still pretty steep,” he said.

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