Monday, June 30, 2008

He had me until the word "not"

If you were under the age of 35 ( . . . which most of you are), and were reading the paper with your breakfast, would you continue with an article that started like this:
I do not unconditionally celebrate the Internet, particularly its intrusion into classical music. As replacements for the record store, Amazon and iTunes have become necessary evils. Typical commercial downloads are sonic shadows of the superior sound of CDs. Blogs ghettoize critics. YouTube is pretty much a toy.

I am not an expert on the business model for classical music, but in general, the problem is not the internet's "intrusion into classical music" -- the problem is the classical music community not embracing the internet. If you're not happy with the classical music offerings online, do something about it yourself. But if you don't embrace the internet, you'll never reach that next generation of fans.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Easy Check In! Just Click Right Here, Please

We're leaving for Pittsburgh tomorrow (family wedding! woo! seriously!), and I wasn't paying attention as I was checking in. You know how it is, you have to go page by page re-confirming your seat, etc.

Well, United knows how it is, too. And they're hoping you'll mindlessly click on the arrow, hoping to go to the next page, but instead paying $29 for the privilege of not sitting with your knees under your chin.

(I didn't click it.)

(But only because Eli caught me before I did.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Second place is the first loser

It's been a tough two months of sports for us here. In April, Michigan lost in overtime to Notre Dame in the Frozen Four, ending a wonderful, unexpected rush of a season. A few weeks ago, the Penguins lost to the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals, four games to two, after an impressive run in the playoffs. And tonight, the Celtics utterly shellacked the Lakers (sorry, Eli), winning the NBA championship in six games.

I can tell you right now that the Dodgers will make it to the World Series and lose in six games, Michigan football will finally beat Ohio State only to suffer (another) embarrassing loss to USC in the Rose Bowl, and the Steelers will lose in the Super Bowl after some sort of epic third-quarter collapse.

I'm really sorry to all of our fellow fans, but our household seems to be cursed this year.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Playing around with time

I feel like time-lapse videos are everywhere lately, and "Players" is my new favorite:

Players from Sam Javanrouh on Vimeo.

Sam Javanrouh is the photographer behind the excellent [daily dose of imagery] photoblog, which is wonderfully moody and urban.

Now if I could just find a good time-lapse video of density waves in traffic jams, I'd be all set . . .

Thursday, June 12, 2008

But that just raises more rumors!

While I'm glad that the Obama campaign is ready to combat the crazy rumors about Obama and his family, I'm disappointed that the campaign was pressured into releasing Obama's birth certificate. (Not that anything will ever be enough for some people.) And no matter how much people insist that they just want to know if his given name was "Barack" or "Barry", or if his middle name was originally "Muhammad", I don't think that the mildest of those rumors would be flying around if his name was John* Smith.

Either the commenters haven't realized that Barack Hussein Obama is just as likely to be a natural-born U.S. citizen as John Smith, or they're aware of it and very, very bitter. Sorry, but the guy butchering names at Ellis Island retired in the last century.

What could people possibly ask for next? I'm afraid to ask, as it's only June, and the crazy xenophobes have plenty of time to write breathless emails about Obama being Muslim/Kenyan/racist/OMGBLACKWITHFUNNYNAME!

* I realize that there have also been some quibbles about McCain's eligibility for President, as he was born on a military base in Panama. But the Senate voted to declare him a natural-born citizen, and no one is disputing his birth name or his place of birth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is there a Top Geeky Chef?

On tonight's Top Chef finale (no spoilers here, don't worry), Richard bragged that he was using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream, and that "only a dozen top chefs in the country" do that sort of thing.

Top chefs, pffft. Even I've made liquid nitrogen ice cream on multiple occasions. In fact, other than procuring liquid nitrogen, it's one of the easiest desserts out there. Clearly Richard should have noted that "a dozen top chefs and thousands of physics geeks" use liquid nitrogen in their cooking.

Monday, June 9, 2008

That was MY template!

So I was distressed today to see a blog posting on the McCain campaign PowerPoint on a "Path to Victory" (warning: NSFW). Apart from the ridiculous strategizing going on at the McCain camp (I'm not too worried after seeing their plan) I was surprised that the McCain people don't actually use PowerPoint...they use Keynote!

And not only that, they use the same template that I do!

I guess I need to find a new template.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Spicy Corn

As the summer grilling season begins (but in Santa Barbara it never ends!) corn on the cob starts to appear at the market. And there's nothing we love more than Indian-style spicy grilled corn. I learned this recipe and technique from my neighbors on Tappan St. in Ann Arbor, some time in the last millennium. And after Madhan and Pravina showed me how to make this recipe, it's been my favorite way to eat corn on the cob.

Corn on the cob, husked (see below)
Coriander chutney (from a jar, available at Indian grocers)
Fresh lime
cayenne pepper, to taste

Fire up the grill. Husk the corn, and save a few inner husk leaves (whatever they're called), which we will make into a basting brush. Cut the very thick, white end off the leaves, and then make 1-inch slices into the ends of the leaves to make a brush-like head. Peel off another 1/2 inch wide strand of husk, and use this to tie the base of the brush together. Or, if you're feeling lazy, you can just use a regular brush, but the husk-brush is disposable and biodegradable!

Squeeze the juice of 1 lime (enough for 3-4 ears of corn; this recipe scales well) into a small bowl. Put a tablespoon or more of coriander chutney, a healthy pinch of salt, and ~1/8 teaspoon cayenne (to taste) in with the lime juice. Stir. If it's too thick it can be loosened with more lime juice, water, or whatever beer-like beverage you happen to be drinking.

Put the corn on the hot grill, and baste the top of the corn with the mixture. After a few minutes the bottom of the corn will begin to blacken, rotate the corn, and baste the top again. Repeat until the corn has been roasted and basted all the way around.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A beautiful edit

I am a total sucker for good editing and good transitions, even in commercials. The first great example of this -- and still my favorite -- that I can recall is the Nike "Move" ad from 2002. There are two recent ads that have also caught my eye:

This Stanley Cup ad is neat, if on the choppy side:

And this camera ad is a great mix of photography and film:

It's almost enough for me to reconsider my opposition to Flickr adding video.

What other brilliantly edited sequences -- from ads, movies, whatever -- do you love?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dean gets it, and gets votes

I read that the Democratic National Convention is giving full press credentials to hundreds of bloggers, including one locally-focused blog from every state. This is yet another example of how Howard Dean gets it, the 21st century, and I still can't believe that the Democratic Party actually, for once, did the smart thing when electing him DNC Chair.

Maybe it seems like electing Dean was a no-brainer, or that even poorly-trained monkeys could have been elected to Congress in 2006 if they had a D next to their name. But if you paid any attention to the RBC meeting this weekend -- or tried to avoid news of it -- it's worth noting that Harold Ickes was a contender for DNC chair. If you just emerged from the cave you hid in this weekend to avoid the RBC updates, you might need to go back into it to cope with even the thought of Ickes as DNC chair. (It's also delightful to note that the linked blog -- which just happened to be the first google hit for this -- thought that Dean would be a disaster as DNC chair. If this is a disaster, I'll take it!)

Meanwhile, the Republican Party will also be issuing press credentials to bloggers, but they don't sound enthusiastic about it:
How many independent bloggers are ultimately credentialed will be determined by several factors - including interest; space available; the reach and influence of a particular blog; the amount of original content the blog typically generates; and other factors.

The difference in tone is remarkable.