Archive for January 4th, 2013

The steer, the stall, the shade, the duke man, and the dip.

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Picked this up from Insta, but I don’t care that he already linked it; this is one of those stories.

People who have been reading this blog regularly know that I’m fascinated by magic and the history of magic. You know that my admiration for Penn and Teller is like the universe itself; finite but unbounded.

Penn and Teller are only in this story as sort of peripheral figures, but I commend it to your attention: New Yorker profile of Apollo Robins, the world’s greatest pickpocket.

…Robbins begged off, but he offered to do a trick instead. He instructed Jillette to place a ring that he was wearing on a piece of paper and trace its outline with a pen. By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale.
“Fuck. You,” he said, and slumped into a chair.
Robbins held up a thin, cylindrical object: the cartridge from Jillette’s pen.

Part of what makes this story so interesting to me, other than the magic angle, is that Robbins’ work, and the techniques he’s developed, reveal really interesting things about the mind and human perception.

The intersection of magic and neuroscience has become a topic of some interest in the scientific community, and Robbins is now a regular on the lecture circuit. Recently, at a forum in Baltimore, he shared a stage with the psychologist Daniel Kahneman—who won a Nobel Prize for his work in behavioral economics—and the two had a long discussion about so-called “inattentional blindness,” the phenomenon of focussing so intently on a single task that one fails to notice things in plain sight.

This is the best thing I’ve read so far in 2013. It may be the best magazine article of the year; I expect it to be in contention if we’re all still here in December.

We must stop the killer Italian cars!

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Nobody needs a Ferrari to drive to the grocery store! We have to do something about these killer assault cars! Two deaths this week!  And that’s just in California!

A Ferrari driver was killed and his passenger injured when he lost control of the speeding car on a curve in Ventura County, plunging the red sports car into an irrigation ditch, where it burst into flames, the CHP said Friday.

Skulls for the skull throne!

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Hey, remember Bloody Monday? Wasn’t that a time?

Remember how the Kansas City Chiefs fired Romeo Crennel as head coach, but didn’t fire Scott Pioli as general manager?

Well, about that

Beyond the losing on the field, Pioli’s management style created a toxic atmosphere within the organization. Haley told The Star a few days before he was fired in December 2011 that he suspected rooms at the team facility were bugged so that team administrators could monitor employees’ conversations. Haley also believed his personal cellphone, a line he used before being hired by the Chiefs, had been tampered with.

And this is, not, but we have to add this note:

The move clears the way for the Chiefs to hire…

Yes, Andy Reid is the new coach.

Important safety tip. (#13 in a series)

Friday, January 4th, 2013

For God’s sake, people, you’re adults. Act like it.

“Egging” someone’s house as a “prank” is just dumb.

Especially if that someone is your boss.

And especially if you’re a cop.

He says is handling the matter internally.


Friday, January 4th, 2013

I think Calvin has the right idea.

But I was puttering around in the kitchen yesterday, putting together a loaf of sourdough beer bread, and a couple of thoughts occurred to me.

  1. There’s something kind of magical in the transformation of water, flour, and yeast to bread. I know some of the science, but it still kind of amazes me when I dump a bunch of stuff in one end, and get something I can eat (that tastes good!) out of the other.
  2. I have a really nice bread machine that I haven’t been using as much as I should. I need to step that up, and I’ve already started working in that direction.
  3. I’ve been working through, or plan to start working through, several cookbooks: primarily Bread Machine Baking, though I want to try adapting some of the ones from Breads from the La Brea Bakery to bread machine use. Laurence Simon has some recipes on his site that I’d like to try as well.
  4. I’ve also been improvising some breads. For example, on Sunday I made a basic white bread from the cookbook that came with the machine, but I added a tablespoon of Penzeys Italian Herb mix and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan. It came out okay, but a little salty for my taste. (A major reason it came out that way is that I misread the recipe and added too much salt. If I had put in the correct amount, I think it would have been better, even with the added salt from the cheese.)
  5. But I haven’t been documenting the recipes I’ve tried, or my improvisations.

So I’m going to start keeping a bread journal of what I bake, where it came from, what changes/improvisations I’ve made, and how it came out.

I’m just using a simple notebook for this right now. But I’m thinking about posting these as regular entries (maybe once a week; as a single guy, a loaf a week is about what I go through) on a blog. Probably here; I thought about doing this on the SDC blog, but that’s more restaurant targeted than food in general. I don’t see that fitting in with the shared vision Lawrence and I have for that blog.

Would folks be interested in this? I don’t think there’s any danger of me turning into a foodie d’bag: TJIC would probably…well, maybe not sneer, but at least say something to me for using a bread machine rather than mixing and kneading by hand, for starters.

I’d also like to get some feedback on what I might be doing wrong. The sourdough beer bread tastes pretty good and has just about the right texture for my taste, but the top crust came out cracked and uneven. (The basic white bread+ I made came out distorted: one end rose to a normal level, but the other end just barely rose at all. I blame that on the salt problem. It was also pretty dense, but again, the salt problem, plus I kind of expect cheese breads to be dense.)

How about it, folks? Feel free to leave comments.

(I haven’t said this in a while, so let me drop this in here: if you buy stuff from Amazon using the links above or the search box to the side, I get a small kickback which I could use right now. Just saying; no obligation to buy.)

(Oh, and speaking of magic/science, I’ve started reading Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. So far, I’m enjoying it; he’s making me want to try some of these things for myself, which I think is a high compliment for a food book.)

(Note to self: look for good kitchen scale when out thrift-shopping again.)

(Note to self 2: they’re really not that much on Amazon. Does anyone have a recommendation?)

Random notes: January 4, 2013.

Friday, January 4th, 2013

It looks like this is going to be a NYT heavy day. I apologize, but I go where the interesting stuff is.

This is a no-snark story. Even though I think the main idea is well known, and gets repeated by the NYT every few years, I still think it is worth noting,

Decades later, the operators say, the images are vivid. The slender fellow in the jacket and tie, bending his knees at the platform’s edge. The reveler stumbling on the tracks at dawn, wobbly in her evening best, unable to stagger away in time. An arm reaching up, hopefully, then disappearing in a flash.
“As cruel as it makes it sound, for the individual it’s over,” said Curtis Tate, a former operator whose train struck and killed a man in 1992. “It’s just beginning for the train operator.”

According to the NYT, operators expect an average of one death per week. (There were 55 in 2012, and the system has already had the first death of 2013.)

“I was always seeing it, you know?” Ms. Moore, 45, from Staten Island, said. “I see him alive and….”

Also in the NYT, an interesting article about the investigation into the Indianapolis gas explosion.

Even before they heard that family photographs were missing, investigators said they sensed something was not right with the scattered remains of Monserrate Shirley’s home.

I’ve heard more than once that family photos being missing, or obviously taken out of the house before the event, is a significant clue to investigators that they might be dealing with arson or some other deliberate act. But as we shift towards digital photos and storage in the cloud, how long is that going to remain a useful clue?

Officials believe the home, in the Richmond Hill subdivision, had been saturated with natural gas for six to nine hours before it erupted at 11:11 p.m. The explosion was seen and felt for miles. It shattered windows and collapsed walls throughout the neighborhood, shoving some homes off their foundations. John D. Longworth and his wife, Jennifer, who lived in the house next door, did not survive.

Conveniently, the people who owned the house were “at a casino 100 miles away”, their daughter was spending the night with friends, and they had boarded their cat.

This came to me by way of the NYT: I’m linking to the AZCentral web site, but both have about the same amount of detail. The jury in the trial of Erick Venola deadlocked on the second-degree murder charges against him. Mr. Venola is expected to be retried in late February; he was pleading self-defense in the shooting of his neighbor, James Patrick O’Neill.

Why is this worth noting? I don’t note every mistrial in Arizona. True that, but: Mr. Venola was a former editor of “Guns and Ammo” magazine, and I’ve seen absolutely no mention of this in the gun blog sphere (or anywhere else) before now. It may be that Mr. Venola is not exactly a sympathetic defendant: the prosecution claims he and Mr. O’Neill were both drunk at the time of the shooting.

Interesting set of stats from the NYT, by way of JimboArthur O. Sulzberger’s obit in the NYT was the fourth longest in the past 30 years. The top five:

  1. Pope John Paul II.
  2. Richard Nixon.
  3. Ronald Reagan.
  4. Arthur O. Sulzberger.
  5. Gerald Ford.