Saturday, August 17, 2013

Innovations in alchoholism: Name this crabapple cocktail.

I can't make jelly.  Do I look like the sort of person that does canning of preserves?
Be a dear and fetch me my apron.

And I don't want to sit here with a tiny knife peeling and coring these little sons-of-bitches to make a tiny little crabapple pie.  So I've done what I can; if you'd like to play along, you'll need:

Apple brandy (I have a nice calvados), about 1.5 shot glasses worth
Maple syrup, maybe a teaspoon, or two
Several crabapples, full of worms and bugs
Cream soda, to top up (maybe one shot glass of it)
Nutmeg, pinch
Ice, cubed and crushed

Proportions aren't critical here, because I've only done a few trials.  All I know is that you should go easy on the maple syrup or it overpowers everything.

Technique after the jump:

Douglas Bader: A legendary man few have heard of

I stumbled across this man's story the other night; and I can't get it out of my mind.

Douglas Bader was one of the most successful British fighter aces of World War II.  He finished the war with 22.5 kills, despite the fact that he spent much of the war in German POW camps.
His aerobatics abilities were without peer.  He initially flew the Hawker Hurricane Mk 1, which was outdated even at the beginning of the war (it had a steel and wood frame, with a fabric skin), against faster, better-armed, more powerful all-steel-and-aluminum Messerschmidt ME-109s, and quickly rose up through the ranks to command a somewhat ragtag Canadian squadron, the 242.  The Canadians resented their new British commander, until they saw him fly; Bader whipped them into shape, and they went on to have one of the best kill ratios of any squadron in The Battle of Britain.  He was a proponent of the "Big Wing" tactic, massed formations of fighters, and he led formations of over one hundred Hurricanes and Spitfires against German attackers (early in the war) and then against targets within Germany.

He collided with a Messerschmidt over Germany and was captured in 1941.  After several escapes, only to be recaptured before he could get out of Germany, the Germans put him in the infamous Colditz castle prison.  He stayed there til the end of the war, when Colditz was liberated by the American First Army. After the war, he continued to work as a pilot for Shell Oil; he would go on to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth; and he would die at the age of 72 in 1982.

This is a remarkable life, and I've left out one small detail:

Douglas Bader was a double-amputee.  He had no right leg from just above the knee; and no left leg just below the knee.

And I'm not saying he lost his legs during the war.  I'm saying he started the war with no legs.

Icepick on bulletproof whiteboards for professors

From the Baltimore Sun:

Calling "campus violence a reality" to prepare for, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced plans Thursday to spend $60,000 on the Clark Kent of teacher supplies: an innocuous-looking white board that can stop bullets.
The high-tech tablet — which hangs on a hook, measures 18 by 20 inches and comes in pink, blue and green — can be used as a personal shield for professors under attack, according to the company that makes it, and a portable writing pad in quieter times.
18" x 20"? I could hide my head and part of my upper body behind that. (I just checked, and I'm about 22" across at the shoulders.) Of course, covering my head and upper torso would be a good thing. If we've learned nothing else from the movies we have learned that it can take days to die from a bullet to the gut.

But the man behind the bullet-resistant white boards envisions an ancient phalanx.
[George] Tunis envisions teachers using the whiteboards to fend off attackers individually or as a group, standing side-by-side to create a wall that could shield evacuating students or to fend off an attacker.
"It's designed to be a last resort and to buy you some extra time," he said.
Yeah, extra time is good. I can see a shooter faced by a phalanx of professors (possibly including wannabe Hoplites from the Classics Department) holding these white boards up in formation, blocking all of 20" of vertical target, max. All he'd have to do is aim low and chop them down like a Ma Deuce through the under-growth in Vietnam. It'd take a committed mad man whole milliseconds to figure this out.

Also from the article:
"It needs to be a great whiteboard and a useful tool so that it doesn't get hidden in the closet," said maker George Tunis. His Worcester County company Hardwire LLC starting out making military armor, then adapted it for the classroom after the tragic shootings last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed.
Maybe it's be useful if you're writing answers down and flashing them to the class? I don't know. But we used most of the large blackboards that measured their dimensions in feet when I was a TA in college, and I don't ever remember a professor only using a space that measured that small. So these things aren't even all that practical for a classroom, despite the claims of the manufacturer.

Distressingly, the school in question doesn't seem to have anyone capable of doing a cost-benefit analysis. How many classrooms does the nation have? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? How many of these classrooms see the kind of random violence where such a device MIGHT have an impact?

These things cost $299 a pop, so they're not cheap. But at least they come in a variety of attractive colors! I'd suggest that they add red to the pink, blue and green currently offered. It would better hide blood spatter and thus be more intimidating to any shooters out there. (See "red coats" for more.) Or perhaps they should be rainbow-colored on the non-writing side, to demonstrate the school's commitment to diversity.

Spending $60,000 on these for this one college in a backwater part of Maryland seems ludicrous. It would be ludicrous for just about any other school as well. (And if there is a school for which this isn't a ludicrous expense, they need to MOVE THE SCHOOL!) Surely there are other things that can be done with the money.

So, can anyone else think of how the school could have better spent the money? Remember that this is a one-time expense (or at least not a regular expense) so hiring an additional security guard is out, as that is an ongoing expense.

What better ideas has everyone got?


Crowdsourcing answers to two mysteries

I'm going to take advantage of your collective knowledge to answer two questions that have been bothering me.

1)  What's this fucking tree in my yard?
Close-up, and possibly NSFW beagle shots, after the jump:

Overheard: Chip S.

"I agree with Deford. Pete Rose should enter the HoF with Ichiro--as his guest after Ichiro's induction ceremony."

-Chip S.

Muslim Brotherhood burns Coptic churches

"Churches burned across Egypt following the security crackdown on pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators. Online reports suggest up to 17 churches were burned across Egypt, along with other Christian-owned businesses and schools.

Coptic witnesses and religious leaders said the attacks were carried out by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in areas without police protection. In some areas, the attacks reportedly came amid ongoing fighting between security forces [Egyptian military] and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood."


These guys I know like to play cards. I observed them for a while playing on a retro 50's laminated table. Bright yellow. Squarish irregular link design. Odd number of people at the table, the deck of cards dark green. Each hand dealt rapidly and expertly, creating a little pile in front of each player and darkening the whole area as individual leaves from bright yellow to dark green, then all at once without any signal at all, just the cessation of the deal, all hands swipe up their cards in one single deft movement, all players all at once like five choreographed windshield wipers, and bang, the table is yellow again.

I told them that.

They stopped playing and all turned to me at once and regarded me standing there regarding them, and one of them said,

"Chip, we have to drop acid to see the world like you do sometimes."

It looked like this, except worse, and it could have been five cards.


I needed the word "spy" to explain NSA and I used the combined signs for peeking through the ninja mask plus telescope examine closely microscope plus cup-to-wall eavesdrop wire to ears, roll eyes upward as if concentrating, all on top of spelling s.p.y. a.g.e.n.c.y. 

And it worked.

And then later I thought, well, how do you say the word "spy?" 

The answer online turned out to be "peek" 

And I recalled the moment an age ago when Jeff showed me that in a sentence so pure it read like a movie being shown to me and not a sentence being spoken and it was that sentence that suddenly made me understand and changed the whole way I speak.

He told me he saw his teacher from the State Deaf/Blind school in Colorado Springs in the baths in Denver. The sort of thing that could really bug a normal person but didn't seem to bother Jeff at all. I asked him what did the guy do and he answered, 

"Peek around the corner. Eye contact. Disappear. Depart."


That showed me, thereafter, show it, don't say it, and everything became thought about in visual terms.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Open Thread

Steely Dan - Josie - Live HD

Extensive timelines of slang for genitalia

The title says it all.
Jonathon Green, a slang lexicographer, has two new timelines. The first is an interactive timeline that shows slang for male genitalia going all the way back to the 1300s up to present. Colors and shapes represent different parts.
Names for the male member

 Go here for the timeline for female genitalia. It has slang terms that date back to 1250.

via Infographics

Digestible Self Improvement

I found this list intriguing because it takes interesting (helpful?) bits from studies and wraps them in a superhero sugarcoating. I almost didn't read it when I saw the way it was packaged, but then I found it worthwhile. I feel that there is a cultural insight waiting to be gleaned from this, but I am too distracted at the moment to see it. Perhaps you can.

Or you can tell me that's stupid.

Either way, the comments section is there below.

Democrats: Who will you nominate in 2016?

Since I wrote a similar premature post for the Republicans, it seems only fair to take a look at the Democrats' best hopes in 2016.  Who gives them the best chance to retain power, so that they can continue to protect us from the sinister triumvirate of binders full of women, prosperity, and rodeo clowns?

I have no fucking idea.

Seriously, I could only think of one viable candidate, and she'll be 70, and she has higher negatives than Satan.  So I consulted this article -- let's take a look at this guy's first few picks:

Hillary Clinton:

I won't actually reduce you to a eunuch; I'll leave you an angry nubbin this long.

I don't really have anything against Hillary.  I mean, other than her relentless pursuit of power and her apparent willingness to stop at nothing to obtain it; the nepotism that's gotten her this far; her hidden hard-left agenda; her (possibly justified, given her spouse's behavior) hatred of men.  It's the pants suits I just don't think I can take.  And if she's the nominee, be prepared to see a lot of pictures of her back when she wore this little green number:

(Read more after the jump)

A case for EPR

I understand the concept of soaking swollen feet in an Epsom salt bath in order to draw water from the feet.  But I wonder about the claims of this website, touting several products along the lines of Arsenic Detox Clay Bath. And most strangely, there is one for radiation, though I will assume they mean natural ambient radiation or radiation of the level from a television set.

According to Reggie Love...

“Most people were like down in the Situation Room and [the president] was like, ‘I’m not going to be down there, I can’t watch this entire thing.’ So he, myself, Pete Souza, the White House photographer, Marvin [Nicholson], we must have played 15 games of spades.”
-Reggie Love, former personal aide to President Obama

The Daily Caller

"If you hear a word, that greases the wheels of perception,"

says Lupyan: the visual system becomes primed for anything to do with dogs.
In a series of CFS experiments, the researchers asked volunteers whether or not they could see a specific object, such as a dog. Sometimes it was displayed, sometimes not. When it was not displayed or when the image was of another animal such as a zebra or kangaroo, the volunteers typically reported seeing nothing. But when a dog was displayed and the question mentioned a dog, the volunteers were significantly more likely to become aware of it. 
That article 'took me back' (as opposed to some weird rhetorical device) to a radio program I had heard called Is Free Will Really Free?
It's scary to think that choice might just be an illusion. Perhaps we are not so in control as we would like to be. In a conversation at the 92nd St Y, Malcolm Gladwell talks to Robert about the common sense of dissatisfaction felt by people required to justify a choice to others before they made it, and he brings up the unsettling idea of priming--that certain stimuli could predispose us toward certain choices or behaviors. Yale psychology professor John Bargh takes us a step further by describing an experiment where researcher Lawrence Williams was able to alter people's opinions without their knowledge using nothing but a simple cup of coffee.
So, what does coffee have to do with it, anything, dogs, zebra, kangaroo, the volunteers, whatever. Aside from the fact that I have to close this post, which, aside from "choosing" the topic to base the post upon, satisfactorily closing the post seems to be the hardest part.

Listening to Imus, this morning, I heard the following clip.

Ashton Kutcher Speech - Teen Choice Awards 


This'll be good, a unique window into the personal lives of my fellow Americans about whom I do think I know so much. Yes, I do think that. Why, just today... never mind any of that. This will be similar to a test. I do care to see, as a group what you say about yourselves.

* Your opinion doesn't matter until you pay a bill.

* you don't waste food unless you want to hear a story about a hungry african child in Uganda.

* DON'T talk back. You know you bouta get knocked tf out she look at you like .. pic

* "there's no such thing as an 'allowance', no matter what your white friends say. I allow you to eat here rent free."

* Don't be making to much noise in your room because they'll come back there like .. pic

* When you wanna do something at home parents say "THIS IS MY HOUSE" When it's time to clean "THIS IS OUR HOUSE"

* I'll take you but you're gonna need a ride back home

*  if one is getting beat DONT EVER EVER EVVAA EVA EVVAA laugh you will soon experience the pain

* whoever drink the last of the KoolAid, makes the next batch

* Don't waste food, If you don't finish it or not hungry, wrap it up and put it in nthe refrigerator for tomorrow.

* If Jehovah Witness come knoccin on the door, cut everthang off and dont say a damn thang.

* Never eat the last of something, they gone think you the one that ate it all.

* either eat what your mama cooked or dont eat at all.

* Until you pay some damn bills you have no say so

* Why do I see white people tweeting bout #RulesInABlackHouse ? yall donlt know our struggle.

* no matter how right you are, your argument is invalid if you dont pay the bills.

* don't ask for no McDonalds especially if you don't have McDonald's money.

* Don't Stare Directly At Your Mom & Blink, She'll Think You Just Rolled Your Eyes, Which Will Result In U Getting Slapped.

* Mom: You ain't going no where til this room clean
[cleans room]
Mom:You only cleaned the room so you can go somewhere

* you can get beat anywhere Grocery story, School, Church, We don't care

* Never ever touch the thermostat

There you go. So what do you think? Uniquely black experiences? Is this so very different from your own experience?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Take Care That The Laws Be Faithfully Executed...

"That duty does not lapse when a president decides Washington’s “political environment” is not “normal.” Says long time opinion columnist George Will, in a hitherto scathing rebuke of president Obama.
When was it “normal”? The 1850s? The 1950s? Washington has been the nation’s capital for 213 years; Obama has been here less than nine. Even if he understood “normal” political environments here, the Constitution is not suspended when a president decides the “environment” is abnormal.
Neither does the Constitution confer on presidents the power to rewrite laws if they decide the change is a “tweak” not involving the law’s “essence.”
And then George Will does the unthinkable, for a columnist of his stature. George Will evokes Nixon. The top Obama is like Nixon tag I have been waiting for.
In a 1977 interview with Richard Nixon, David Frost asked: “Would you say that there are certain situations . . . where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation . . . and do something illegal?”
Nixon: “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”
Frost: “By definition.”
Nixon: “Exactly, exactly.”
Here is a movie version of that...

Frost/Nixon (7/9) Movie CLIP

After watching clips of the real interview of Nixon with David Frost, I cant find the part where Nixon says "when the president does it, that means it is not illegal". That is frustrating. Almost as frustrating as the idea that most people will fail to see the connection between what essentially ran Nixon out of office and what Obama has done here.

Books That Could Use A Kindle Edition...

..."The Periodic System of Chemical Elements: A History of the First Hundred Years by J.W. van Spronsen"

I can name a few other works I'd like to own but never will because of prohibitive cost. Can you think of some?

Help me find a cheaper copy of this book!

Lindsay in "The Canyons"

If you enjoy tales about raucous former child-stars, has-been directors, boy-next-door porn actors, and what's new in financing on the Indie scene, this in-depth article is for you. Stephen Rodrick recounts what he saw during the filming of The Canyons
Schrader thinks she’s perfect for the role. Not everyone agrees. Schrader wrote “Raging Bull” and “Taxi Driver” and has directed 17 films. Still, some fear Lohan will end him. There have been house arrests, car crashes and ingested white powders. His own daughter begs him not to use her. A casting-director friend stops their conversation whenever he mentions her name. And then there’s the film’s explicit subject matter. Full nudity and lots of sex. Definitely NC-17. His wife, the actress Mary Beth Hurt, didn’t even finish the script, dismissing it as pornography after 50 pages. She couldn’t understand why he wanted it so badly.
...Schrader goes over some ground rules; no trailers on set and one contractually obligated, four-way sex scene. Oh, another thing, Schrader adds: he will not try to sleep with her. This was probably a more relevant point in 1982, but no matter. Lohan stands up and says goodbye, telling everyone how excited she is to be working with them. She leaves the restaurant, followed by her mother and the mysterious man with the presents. 
...Schrader knows he should be terrified, but he’s as giddy as the son of dour Calvinists can be.
“I think this is going to work.”

Trivial Pursuit

Something I learned today about this Pink Floyd song, "Pigs (Three Different Ones)"...

...and its lyrical reference:

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha, charade you are
You fucked up old hag, ha ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You're nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You're hot stuff with a hat pin
And good fun with a hand gun
You're nearly a laugh
You're nearly a laugh
But you're really a cry. 
Hey you Whitehouse, ha ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse, ha ha, charade you are
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street
You're nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?

You gotta stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
Mary you're nearly a treat
Mary you're nearly a treat
But you're really a cry.
Mary Whitehouse was a conservative British social activist (see link). Roger Waters probably considered her the equivalent of Anita Bryant. 

Speaking of Roger Waters, didn't he recently catch some flak for flying a giant inflatable pig with a Star of David?  

Random Integer Generator - 2 out of 34

Generate 2 random integers
Each integer should have a value between 1 and 34
34 stories to choose from Drudge (as of this morning)



To make Catchup to keep twenty Years

A scan of the title page of my late copy
of The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse

In the comments about my previous post, Secret Ingredient: Anchovies, there was interest in Hannah Glasse's recipe for "Catchup to keep twenty Years". I used to be the proud owner of a 1778 copy of Glasse's book The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, but difficult times forced me to sell it earlier this year. Not to worry, as another edition of it is available for free, courtesy of Google.

The Art of Cookery, written by Glasse in 1747, was a huge success and became the standard reference cookbook in England and in the American colonies in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Because the book was published in earlier editions as simply "By a Lady", Hannah Glasse was assumed for many years to be a pseudonym. Her biography was not researched and her authorship of the book was not confirmed until the early 20th century.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Crowdsourced Solutions: How would you Ask?

How do you ask for something and also, at the same time, ask to remain anonymous?

To be more specific.

How do you ask for something, when the only way to ask is by suing, thereby relinquishing anonymity.
Can you ask, or, is it too much to ask for anonymity, when asking/suing for something you believe you may be entitled to. Asking, is also the way to find out whether or not there is a legitimate claim of entitlement*.
What if the anonymity is just as valuable, if not more, than whatever it is you may be entitled to.
Can a lawsuit be something less than a demand?

How do you ask, when asking is not as simple as the art of putting white makeup on, standing on a box and handing someone a flower. Or is it that simple, really, and some of us only fail to recognize it.

Has this ever come up. Or this hypothetical, in the realm of the impossible.

* I wanted to use anther word, rather than entitlement. That word has taken on political connotations that are not applicable to this hypothetical, as I have framed it in my mind. After giving it as much attention as I can muster, entitlement, I believe is the appropriate word.

Cirque de Soleil shocks audience of fifteen thousand

By featuring in their show, the image of the Chinese man stopping the tanks in Tianamen Square.

Per Deirdre Wang Morris's twitter feed, CNBC Singapore.

She says, "Collective gasp from the audience."

Easter egg in Google Maps let's people see the wonders

To behold inside a blue police telephone box located Earl's Court Rd, London, Greater London SW5 9RB, United Kingdom. Clickensie fotos fer der betrachten innen

Oh! It's in Google Earth too.

What's it like to have schizophrenia?

The brain, it's a strange tool.  So much possibilities, so great an achievement.  But the wiring can get mixed up.  We're all mixed up in some ways, with nature and nurture mutually conditioning us from even before birth.

The one affecting the other, our self not always, nor even often, under our own control.

Sometimes we can create a self that makes the mixed up into a new normal.  Sometimes, though, we're confronted by the fact that our normal isn't shared by anyone else.

The world doesn't match up with what we know to be real and we are confronted with a crisis of our own perceptions and assumptions.

This is true for everyone, I think.  For most of us, though, our misconception stays within an acceptable range.

We might live out wrong assumptions, pursue wrong paths, vote for clearly unqualified candidates, then when confronted by the obvious evidence just point to the next clearly unqualified candidate as the answer, simply because they have  parts or colors that we think we need in order to fill out all the bubbles in our chart.

What chart?  We don't have a chart. They're qualified!

That's crazy. But it's functional and socially acceptable.

Then there's folks who are dealing with a real physiological crisis in their brain. The pulses that are our everything for determining the self, life, relationships, reality are mucked up.  It's not objective reality but it's reality to the people experiencing it.  

How do they live with a real that's not the real of everyone around them?

Some folks with schizophrenia answered what is like for them. 

An Illegal Mountain

While most property and homeowners might be lucky to erect a small fence, add a new wall, or plant a few trees without applying for a permit or checking local zoning laws, things in Bejing are apparently quite different. For the last six years an eccentric doctor built a sprawling mountain villa on the roof above his top-floor flat in this 26-story residential building, all without asking permission of residents or local authorities. The enormous addition covers the entire 1000-square-metre roof and was built using artificial rocks but with real trees and grass.

Top YouTube comments:

AhnenerbeTA said...
Fucking hell that looks cool
Rezzuan Rahim said...
It's obviously the final boss level.
Top Comment comment:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The alcoholic's diaries continued: The Margarita.

This is a drink I take pretty seriously.  It's a very simple drink, but there's a potential for variation in the results, and I've been working on refining this for a very long time.

It's rumored that some use sour mix, and call the sugary slurry that spills from their shaker a Margarita.  Such a man is the son of a thousand fathers, all of them bastards like him.  You'll need:
A competent assistant is key.
2.5 parts lime juice (about 2 limes per drink)
2 parts Patron Silver tequila (about 2 shots per drink)
0.75 parts Grand Marnier
1.5 parts simple syrup
sea salt
ice (cubed and crushed)
shaker, juicer, Margarita glass

Step into my seedy cantina, after the jump:

Can You Really Dissolve A Guy In A Bathtub?

Perhaps you heard that last night, a plucky little drug dealer named Walter White returned to television for his last eight episodes of the award-hoarding Breaking Bad.
But before he began his life of crime, Walter White was a chemistry teacher, and chemistry is what originally made him such a great meth cook. Breaking Bad has always included a lot of science talk, especially in the early days, and the time has come for someone to see whether it holds up. 
And by "someone," I mean "Mythbusters."
Breaking Bad Special Intro | MythBusters

I started watching the Breaking Bad TV series, back to back, on Netflix, but I stopped about half way through season 2 and I didn't picked up watching again.

Dead man spotted from Tokyo Tower

He's awfully small and dark up there in the top right corner
(clickensie fer der groß)

Or possibly drunk, there's that in Tokyo too. 

I kept thinking, gosh, a remarkable absence of human activity in these photographs of the most compacted city I've ever seen, surely they are down there doing things, and surely enough, they are.

The treaty's Article 5 requires nations to "establish and maintain a national control system"...

including a "national control list." Article 10 requires signatories "to regulate brokering" of conventional arms. The treaty offers no guarantee for individual rights...
 From an excellent article by John Bolton and John Yoo in the WSJ, concerning the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which President Obama has promised to sign.

But surely this treaty is entirely concerned with arms trade between nations, right?

Gun-control advocates will use these provisions to argue that the U.S. must enact measures such as a national gun registry, licenses for guns and ammunition sales, universal background checks, and even a ban of certain weapons. The treaty thus provides the Obama administration with an end-run around Congress to reach these gun-control holy grails.

(Bold for emphasis mine.)  Remember when garage mahal laughed off any suggestion that any Democrat at any level intended to advance gun control?  Paranoid wing nuts, he said.  Good times.

But wait -- how could the President implement elements of a treaty that seeks to impose unconstitutional restrictions on our liberty?
...treaties therefore aren't textually subject to the limits on Congress's power. Treaties still receive the force of law under the Supremacy Clause, which declares that "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land." Some have argued over the years that this difference in language between laws and treaties allows the latter to sweep more broadly than the former.
... President Obama could issue executive orders for a gun registry and background checks, on the claim that he is implementing the treaty.
 But we still have a chance:
Fortunately the Framers required that the president submit all significant international agreements to the Senate...
 ...Whooo, that's a relief.  The senate....where the Democrats have a 52-46 majority; plus "independents" Bernie Sanders and Angus King (that makes 54).  Oh, and those 46 Republicans include 16 RINOs that voted to proceed with gun control legislation in April.

Tonight, we drink.  We drink tequila.  Prepare yourselves.

Law profs and deans overpaid?

"In response to a question about what’s driving the costs of legal education, Syverud said that the focus on particular types of classes or faculty is a "red herring." "The painful truth is that the problem with costs is that law professors and deans are paid too much relative to the amount of work they do," he said. "The whole problem of costs would go away tomorrow if our salaries were halved.""
-Kent Syverud,  chair of the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

"Capturing everything that exists from a single point in space"

"Tokyo, as you've never seen it: the second largest photo ever taken – interactive"
To create this 360º 'Gigapixel Panorama' of the world's largest city, photographer Jeffrey Martin took over 10,000 photos from the Tokyo Tower, and combined them digitally to form an interactive image, the second largest photo ever taken 

50mm vs 60mm macro

This photo is taken with the glass version of the all purpose lens Nikon includes when bought as a kit. The plastic version gets high marks for performance and the glass version one stop faster but there is little benefit in 1 stop faster than a very fast lens to begin with, shots are rarely taken that open, but still it expands the range incrementally. This is as close as I can come to the subject. You see the ball on the left slightly ahead of the wall that is the depth of focus at this low an f-stop and the ball immediately behind it also out of focus so that wall where things are in focus is not very thick. 

More light would enable the aperture to be smaller and the wall of focus to expand, be deeper, depth of field, DOF, but that's a bleh of a term so I'm changing it to wall of focus, WOF . 

More distance between subject and lens wold make the WOF thicker too, if that is desired. 

But I'm trying to get in close.

So I change lens to the 60mm and that can get right in there. 

And this thing is awesome-opossum. It is a brilliant stack of lenses. I must say it is impressive. I lerv it so. And the lens in front is so teeny-tiny, like a backward microscope, but that is not what is doing the magic, it is the stack inside that's doing that.

But it does have one drawback regarding that same WOF thing, its wall is even thinner, thin as paper in some circumstances, and that really does restrict things sometimes because you simply cannot get enough light to make the fieldxxxx I mean the wall of focus thicker. Say, if you are photographing an insect, you must decided not on the insect's face or its body, but rather decide on the front of the insect's face or the middle of its face or the back of it's face.

The Secret Ingredient: Anchovies

Detail from a Roman mosaic from Pompeii, 
now at the Naples National Archaeological Museum

In my previous post, my recipe for cold summer spaghetti, there was some discussion of anchovies, as my recipe includes some anchovy fillets. I think that anchovies are one of the most versatile ingredients in cooking, and that any well-stocked kitchen should have some on hand.

The wonderful thing about anchovies is that you can keep them on hand. In fact, the true value of anchovies comes only after they are preserved. I think that fresh anchovies, while perfectly good to eat, are nothing really special. It is the natural alchemy of fermentation, a process controlled by preservation of the fish, that transforms these tiny, multitudinous fish into gustatory glories.

Kikunae Ikeda
This transformation happens due to the "freeing" of ions of glutamic acid, an amino acid that is found in all living cells. These free glutamate ions, specifically the L-glutamate enantiomer, stimulate receptors on our tongues and give us one of our five basic tastes, called umami. Umami (savory, meaty) is a Japanese word coined by the chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, who discovered the glutamic source of the savory taste of some foods (perhaps El Pollo Raylan may need to correct my cursory description of the chemistry).

Aside from the nice salty, slightly fishy taste of the anchovies themselves, they also carry their cargo of glutamates to enhance the flavor of anything they're added to. When used in small quantities in recipes, they quietly exert their influence without ever being noticed as themselves. The addition of just an anchovy fillet or two will improve the flavor of many dishes and because the fillets just "dissolve" when cooked no one, not even anchovy haters, will know why the meal tastes so good.

For these reasons, anchovies have been used for millennia to augment the flavor of foods. The ancient Romans made a sauce called garum from fermented fish (and parts of fish) including anchovies, that was one of the pillars of their civilization. The concept of using fermented fish to enhance the flavor of foods appeared in many different cultures, from Asian fish sauces to recipes such as those found in 18th century English cookbook writer Hannah Glasse's "The Art of Cookery". Here are a couple of recipes I scanned from my (now sold) 1778 copy of the book:

Page 243 of the 1778 London edition of Hannah Glasse's
The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy

I once made the "Catchup to keep twenty Years", though it didn't last more than a year because it was so delicious and everyone wanted a bottle. The ancestor of these sorts of recipes lives on in Worcestershire sauce, which includes many of the same ingredients such as, of course, anchovies.

Most anchovies that you can buy are good, though I think that the salted ones taste the best. Salted anchovies keep very well in the refrigerator as long as you keep them covered in their salt. They're a little more work, because you have to soak them before use and you may need to fillet them yourself as the salted ones are often whole. These Italian salted anchovies are very good. If you like your anchovies to be less work, these bottled, oil-preserved anchovies made by Ortiz are also great. If you're in the New York City area, Fairway sells these French oil-preserved anchovies that are absolutely delicious.

So next time you're cooking beef stew, or meatloaf, or fish, or even hamburgers, slip an anchovy fillet into the mix. Everyone will rave, and no one will suspect that part of the reason is a secret little fish.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Open Thread

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The Real Life West

The thread down below got to talking about Westerns.

Which made me think about my great-grandfather. A couple months ago, a 2nd cousin sent some pictures out to various family members.  Pictures of my great-grandfather on my dad's side: Willis (WillyO?)

Here's a couple:

He was born in King, Texas roundabout 1885.  Did some farm work, some music, worked as a field cook for a cattle drivers, handyman.

At some point after 1915 but before 1920, he made his way further West. Rode the rails, didn't pay for a ticket.  Got to the Pacific.  His carpentry skills got him a job helping to build a pier, in Venice, California.  Bought some land in Venice, grew artichokes.  Venice wasn't then what it is now, had troubles, bad farming anyways.  He moved with his family to the Imperial Valley for a while, then was back in LA in the late 30s early 40s.

I never met him. He died in 1965, nine years before I was born.  I asked my dad about him a little while back.  "You wouldn't have liked him," he said.  Apparently he was a gruff man.  My dad's aunt, Willis's daughter, says that when she was young, Willis's mother came from Texas to live with them.  Apparently she was a bit of a terror.  Cussin', pipe smokin', chewin', never a kind word for her son.  A Texas woman, who had lived a hard Texas life. 

The West was a hard place before technology made it easy and that shaped the sort of people who lived here before the 1950s.

My great-grandfather was a hard working man, who raised a family of good children. His wife, my great-grandmother, was a saintly woman according to my dad, a wonderful and kind and prayerful woman.  She came from Nebraska.

Here he is late in life with my great-grandmother Etta.  When he saw this picture a couple years ago, my dad teared up a bit, said this is the first time he saw his grandfather's smile.

I may not have liked him, but I still have to think he was a good man.  A good man in the way the West made good men back then.  Those sorts of men don't exist anymore, and maybe that is a good thing too. A hard life is not something we'd want, if that's what it takes.  Now that land in Venice Beach, I wouldn't mind having that still in the family...  

A few more pics of him at various ages: