December 31, 2005

wanna see what's happening on new year's eve elsewhere in the world?


December 30, 2005

so sincere, it hurts

8-10-23-33-42-14. friends record a lottery announcement on tv. friends buy next day's lottery ticket with yesterday's winning numbers. friends play the recording. watch what happens: google video.

what's wrong with medicare

the scandal over umdnj's medicare fraud has finally come to a first conclusion: nytimes story; i am sure there'll be more to come. the university's administration, as well as its trustees, were aware of the overbilling for years and did nothing about it. that's in a public university; one can only imagine what goes on in thousands of private medical practices across the country. one wonders how reliable statements about the "failure of medicare" really are. you should check pnhp, read their perspectives, and spread the word about the need for healthcare for all!

best videos of 2005

warning: extremely addictive. thanks doco.

December 29, 2005

(self-referential) sentimentalism

yesterday, i posted a picture of a monkey trying to stay warm in a snowstorm. now, i just read a story of owen and mzee, orphaned one-year-old hippo and 130-year-old tortoise, both survivors of the tsunami, and now a reported happy mother and son, and also felt the need to reblog it. am i fulfilling some subverted need for cutsey, pukey sentimentalism? unclear, but it is pretty dreamy. here is a story from snopes and a piece of yahoo news about the upcoming children's story.

what the restaurant pros want in 2006

zagat survey. true that.

forces of freedom vs. forces of control

yesterday, i watched a charlie rose interview with reed hastings, founder and ceo of netflix. very interesting fellow, who among other things, served as the president of the california board of education for several years. he talked of the netflix business model, how it relates to the roles of the hollywood studios and the cable networks, discussing metaphors such as "forces of freedom and forces of control." he talked of "web 2," forecasting the dissolution/evolution of film studios and cable networks, and the growth of on-demand, internet-dependent, narrowcast media. if so, nina's current occupation will be key. and of course, i am all for the disappearance of cookie-cutter, broadcast content. unfortunately, the interview is not online, but here is a piece from donata in similar spirit.

December 27, 2005

spielberg's munich

a biting and thoughtful perspective on spielberg's munich by edward rothstein. nina and i saw the movie this weekend, and while i was once again impressed by spielberg's cinematographic craft, i was also frustrated by the movie's subtext. it was predictably simple and heavy-handed. rothstein's review captures that sentiment and articulates it. i felt such a kinship with his words that i had to look him up. i should've known the source of the kinship.

December 26, 2005

part of my heritage

here is a very amuzing post about how to drink vodka properly. it's equal parts superstition and tradition, in the most slav of ways. very endearing.

December 25, 2005

nina's secret powers II

earlier, i revealed one of nina's secret powers. here is another instrument in her armamentarium:

i have yet to innumerate the number of post-it notes and lists in other forms contained in this filofax, but let it suffice to report that in addition to movies (shown), there are lists of books, stores, and even websites. in this age of miniature computing, it's a bit antiquarian, and also very endearing.

in these pictures, nina updates her list of movies to see, after i cleaned up her/our netflix queue (because it exceeded the current limit of 500!). movies removed included rocky, die hard, and patton; movies added included funny ha ha, schizo, and head on.

December 23, 2005

one laptop per child II

earlier, i wrote about the one laptop per child initiative. i tried to argue that the framework of the initiative is misguided. here is a nytimes article about school children in ethiopia. not much else to say.

the strike no more

the strike is over; its outcome is less clear though. there is some mention that the mta has abandoned its (troublesome) requirement of reduced pensions for future workers. rami believes that a failure on the part of the union to secure this concession signifies the beginning of the end of the erosion of the pension system, with similar reductions being implemented for city employees in general, then at the state, and ultimately, at the federal levels. it seems that this has not happened. but, the union did agree to the mta's demand that the workers pay more for their health coverage. six of one, half a dozen of the other?

December 22, 2005

10 best films of 2005?

here is roger ebert's list. i am particularly glad to see junebug listed, which i saw thanks to nina's ongoing presence as a film critic.

glocalization and enlightenment

the current issue of the newyorker contains a louis menand review of two books: english's "the economy of prestige" and casanova's "the world republic of letters." the review, and the books, are about "caxtons ... the mechanical birds with many wings," and is the most enlightened piece i've read in a long time about art, its production, and circulation in the world. unfortunately, it is not online, so you if you are not one of the priviliged with a newyorker subscription, git yo'self to the newsstand.

December 20, 2005

snl makes a funny

check it: lazy sunday.

it's a strike!

the fact is that the mta's union is on strike and there is no public transportation in nyc at the moment. my feelings about it are mixed. the local union wants pensions for future workers commensurate with those in the past. the mta doesn't. what's fair? i know noone (being currently hired) who is being offered a pension.

of course, this deliberation is just that. i don't have to travel anywhere in particular today. but many others do, some of their comments are on the union's blog.

December 17, 2005


the other night, nins made her usual complaint that "there is nothing to eat in the house." being stranded in the neighborhood for the evening meant finding an appealing restaurant nearby that wouldn't hurt our wallets and have a median age less than 65. we were pleased to try solera at 53st+3av. the dinner menu is perhaps too expensive, but the tapas were better priced and solidly executed. the croquetas and stuffed piquillo peppers were delicious. the atmosphere is nice enough though suffers from a bit of midtown corporate poisoning.

overall: good for a rezzie-less dinner, but expensive.

japan culture club

instructs on how to enjoy sushi. awesome!

December 15, 2005

j'aime la france

yet another piece of evidence that something is awry with the french republic.

the power of numbers

nature carried out a blind assessment of the apparent accuracy of wikipedia, a collaborative self-edited encyclopedia. even i made a contribution (for better or for worse). in spite of some recent bad press, it turns out that wikipedia does pretty good, nearly as well as britannica.


went to sakagura on 43st+3ave. most delicious. and the unlabeled entrance through an unremarkable corporate lobby, down an unmarked metal staircase added to the fun. of note were nasu dengaku (grilled eggplant with 3 kinds of miso) and surume ika yaki (squid in squid liver sauce). goes great with sake, of which there are too many varieties to choose from. and i know next to nothing about all of them. bartenders were great. fun scene, lots of hipsters, lots of daters, and of course, lots of elders with their "comforts."

overall: a high mark, though not cheap.

December 13, 2005

things to come

soon, cable companies will begin to offer "family-friendly" tv channel packages; here is the nytimes story. the idea is to allow parents to shield their children from unwanted influences. i think it's lame. why not offer a la carte programming? (rhetorical question). everyone can simply make up their own choices and not pay for unwanted crappy tv content. after all, this is inevitable, as the internet and cable tv converge.

nina's secret tv knowledge powers

yesterday, nina and i were watching a bit of last laught 2005, which premiered a preview of season 3 of chapelle's show. it was goood. thereafter, a debate ensued as to whether these are new episodes or old unaired ones. once again, i was trumped by nina and her superior tv knowledge (they are episodes that were completed before chapelle left last year). now, i am here to claim revenge and reveal the source of nina's secret tv knowledge powers.

December 12, 2005

"non-Western burgeoisie"

a great little letter in the newyorker from orhan pamuk, author of the recently translated snow, about his upcoming trial, the armenian genocide, and the "non-Western burgeoisie."

just plain not smart

as a future pediatrician with interest in cancer, a bbc headline caught my eye: Colds 'may trigger child cancers.' such integrative, physiologic hypotheses are always appealing to yours truly, but with such a preposterous title, i had to investigate further. here is the original paper by houben et al. i really don't know what the study shows except that the incidence of some childhood gliomas is weakly clustered in the eastern part of the south of netherlands, but it's definitely not smart here.

bizarre cocktails #1

the tenement-penthouse is searching for its original cocktail. in this pursuit, i have come across a number of fun libations, but none more unusual than the sourtoe cocktail. is it the remote yukon territory, or is it just canada?

scary owen

happy bithday jeffers!

this could've been me (russian jumping)

not as smooth as some french originals, but still pretty fun to watch: russian jumping video. what else can kids do in this town?

what's your favorite idea of 2005?

nytimes published its year in ideas. the serialized pop song is definitely one of my favorites.

December 10, 2005


with cheap hydrogen fuel cell production far from reality, the internal combusion engine is full of surprises. here is a nytimes piece about biodiesel, and a company that will convert your diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. i think it's awesome! thank you mr. diesel.

politicization of nobel prizes

in general, i detest the politicization of nobel prizes. like the peace prize given to elbaradei (what was his accomplishment exactly?). but, pinter's acceptance speech for his literature prize is worth listening to. here is a guardian story.

one laptop per child

OLPC has been in the works for some time, and i've been suspicious for just as long. it was probably good enough to sell a book, but not to effect lasting change in the world. the idea is to design and produce a $100 laptop, cheap enough to distribute freely to millions of impoverished children all over the world. power? no problem, it's got a dynamo. internet? easy, it will mesh a peer-to-peer network. i even like the rhetorical analogy to (a community of) pencils. but the truth is that structural obstacles to growth in impoverished countries are not the absence of pencils (or computers), it is the absence of communities. sure, network computing has transformative properties, reducing effective social structures and making them more fluid. but that's in already structured societies. for the impoverished, this $100 laptop will be nothing more than a commodity, something to exchange to fulfill more immediate needs, consistent with the impoverished social structure. what's needed are initiatives to (help to) remodel that structure (read, teachers). the $100 laptop is cutsey and innovative, but a solution it is not. at least not yet.

December 09, 2005

nyny: how much i love thee

lately, i've been thinking about housing. and capital. and just how porked out nyc is in regards to affordable housing. watched an instructive nytimes clip that shows what can be purchased for a mere $7E5. gabe and claudia just bought an apartment in ditmas park. maybe hudson heights is not so far for nina and me.

year in pictures 2005

intelligent design

the update mechanism of the sober worm has been cracked.

December 07, 2005

the best mockumentary ever

i was duped, i admit it. and it was awesome! just watched it's all gone pete tong, a film about frankie wilde, a legendary dj at pacha, who went deaf. obviously, it's a work of fiction, but what a pleasure to watch it thinking otherwise.

subversive science

when i was a wee lad, i had lice. many times. in part, because i was working on a soviet version of chaplin's flea circus that would use actual trained lice to control hoards of industrial laborers being inculcated in my school. more accurately, it was probably due to lack of effective delousing treatments in the mother land. no tasty smelling shampoos that some times cause seizures.

in the motherland, we used kerosene and vinegar. the first to kill the adult lice, the second to obliterate their offspring. maybe that's just a folk tale. in any event, this combo was unbeatable: a kerosene soaked-towel wrapped around my head for 20 minutes produced a nice, slow chemical burn, and the vinegar soak was refreshingly tingling, just a gentle "fruit acid" treatment.

now, it seems that cetaphil skin cleanser is just as effective as these toxic treatments. original revelation here. digest here. original study here. and the most interesting thing is that the study, which apparently could not be funded by disclosing the true identity of the treatment, had to be done subversively, by using fake "nuvo lotion." props to dr. pearlman. needless to say, he is a pediatrician.

December 06, 2005


have i been misguided in my recent thoughts about working on predictive profiling of cancers?

it seems that a new and exciting field is being developed. it even has a master formula. here is the bbc press release.

if i were single, i would definitely put this "discovery" to good use. thanks professor efron. i could even improve this metric by including a self-referential term, whereby tears, streaming from one's eyes upon the realization of one's own beer factor, would thereby alter the overall beer factor. it could really stir things up! i don't know whether to laugh or cry.

what is house music?

the other night, a bunch of us were at the m bar, and dr. pro asked me "what is house music?" i.e., all electronic music sounds the same. being a preeminent academic, i succeeded in not bullhitting too much, but also failed to give a satisfying answer. wikipedia to the rescue. it should include a note about shelter, but i am not the one to make that edit.

it's just a cyclotron, homey

the other day nina asked me "what's a synchrotron?" prompted by allan's and sharon's frequent trips to places like the aps. a picture is worth a thousands words, i figured, or better yet, why not just build one at home as both a conversation piece, as well as a late night kink toy? albert swank, jr. did. here is the wired story.

hate microsoft, love the gates foundation

the gates foundation is not only the largest health philanthropy, but also the most innovative.
We favor preventive approaches and collaborative endeavors with government, philanthropic, private sector, and not-for-profit partners. Priority is given to projects that leverage additional support and serve as catalysts for long-term, systemic change.
here is the nytimes story about their most recent grants. amazing stuff! why can't the same be done at microsoft? (rhetorical question).

December 05, 2005

retrospective: karina

my sister turned 24 yesterday: happy birthday!

systems and persons, abortion and crime, freakonomics and levitt

a few months ago, i read stephen levitt's freakonomics, which brought me much frustration. it doesn't help that i have a conceptual aversion to the dominance of systems-level inferences about their components, be they social aggregate statistics of behaviors of individuals or ensemble properties of molecules. largely, it's that levitt's approach is meta-physical, drawing inter-generational inferences of the effect of abortion in the 1970s on the rates of crime in the 1990s.

now, it seems that the statistical significance of the original analysis may be lacking altogether (Foote & Goetz). related story in the wall street journal.

the republic of letters?

occasionally, i used to read daniel drezner's blog, assistant professor of polisci at the uofc. not any longer. he still writes his blog, but having been denied tenure at the uofc, moved to tufts. did his blog play a role? here is the nysun story, and a more interesting one from insidehighered.

The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate

when i was a youth, i have attended many of these debates, an annual event at the uofc, when two minds present arguments as to what is superior: latke or hamentashen? reading through the archives, it seems that the debate to attend must have been The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate of 1976 with Ted Cohen on the (apodeictically superior) side of the latkes.

December 04, 2005

freedom and necessity

ditto on megnut's post about the covert campaign to limit women's rights, as featured in frontline's the last abortion clinic.


an insightful NYT Magazine piece by susan sontag's son about the end of his mother's life.

love your job

an important lesson from nina's new job and her regained sense of happiness.

movie: the dying gaul & restaurant: fillip's

after seeing the dying gaul, went to fillip's at 21st+7th for dinner.

first, a great movie, though the dying gaul is not an accurate title, since the gaul was likely a barbarian and the film's protagonist is anything but one.

second, fillip's service was impeccable. the food was standard nyc french bistro fare, with a few unique accents. some like moussed foie gras had a pleasant texture but left me wanting more foie. others like grilled lamb paired with a cassoulet, and pickled raisins with microgreens were superb.

overall: definite return if in the neighborhood, undeserving of a trip otherwise.

my top 3 bands of 2005

1. LCD soundsystem
2. death cab for cutie
3. loto

here is a list from leafblower

first snow

what better reason to (re)start a blog than the functional start of winter. olog has been published before, but due to web traffic drain from our competitors, i.e.,, services had to be suspended.

now, inspired by (read: jealous of) my better half, i am back. of course, i cannot match her transparent and charming writing, though i do confess to being influenced by her distinctive style, like many other couples becoming like each other. more about that later, including a theory.

here, in nyny, it is snowing for the first time this year. this fall has been unusually warm, or rather unusually fluctuating in temperature. these fluctuations are a subject of much discussion, being interpreted in various models as significant of global warming and climate instability.

in the past, i've discussed global warming in my own classes, interpreting the lack of correlation between average global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations as inadequate evidence for global warming. today, i wonder if fluctuations are more informative. Swedish friends (Moberg et al.) have done some work on this; digest at

what this means?

olog is back.

and it's snowing in ny.