December 31, 2006

fixity: ancient recipes

a fascinating bit about Libellus de arte coquinaria, a (roughly) 13th century cookbook, as based on a bit of historicizing.


kindred spirits sample new russian vodkas: the great vodka taste test. sadly my drink of choice, controversial as of late, was not included.

December 27, 2006


noah kalina's priceless photolog.

and beautiful photography. i used to live near many of these places.

December 24, 2006

happy holidays

tonight marks our first christmas in boston and what better way to celebrate it (as non-believers) than going out for chinese food.

nina's been complaining that we are yet to find "good chinese food" in boston, so tonight we are trying the sichuan garden in brookline. i hope that it will be as good as the grand sichuan in nyc.

December 15, 2006


nina blogs her favorite music of 2006 and it's good. i only have one thing to add: synth pop!

the existence of this genre may be final proof that god exists.

December 11, 2006


sadly, olog has sufferred a touch of neglect over the past few weeks.

though no excuse, but we've been busy finishing papers, applying for a fellowship, and learning (caution: big words!) fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry as part of a larger project on urine proteomics.

meanwhile, work has been progressing nicely, and for the month of december we are back at a local institution, stomping out disease with both feet in its ER.

for all the nyny homies out there, come to puffy's next sat. it's been cleaned up recently but hopefully still b&t immune.

November 12, 2006

borat's cultural teachings

finally, there is some turbulence from sb cohen's "borat," including the frat boy lawsuit and reflections of a veteran feminist. the negative dialectic is nowhere to be found, but the funny continues.

November 07, 2006

new, not old, mexico

we have returned from a trip to new mexico. it took a few days to get into the life of leisure, but of course the vacation was too short to truly excel at it.

highlights of the trip included visits to the lightning field, bandelier, and white sands national parks. gustatory mentions go to the joseph's table and coyote cafe. and of course, miles and miles (nearly 2000 on our odometer) of spectacular and desolate nature. click on the above picture for a link to nina's flickr to see some of it.

October 17, 2006

give me back my google

internet without the commercial clutter: givemebackmygoogle.

computing films

malcolm gladwell chronicles attempts to predict the commercial success of films, and while i am not in principle opposed to "black box" (atheortical) theoretical approaches like neural networks, why not put talents to better use, and make a better netflix suggestion algorithm?

October 15, 2006

unconscious irony

john ashcroft is interviewed by nytimes:

In addition to songwriting, you dabble in the visual arts. What sort of work do you do?

I make barbed-wire sculpture.

Why barbed wire?

Because there was a surplus of it on my farm.

yes indeed.

October 11, 2006

we love france VI

and they love mushrooms. which we (nay, i not nina) love too which is why we are planning an excursion to a birch forest this weekend.

October 08, 2006

if you have not seen hard gay, here is your introduction: thank you japan!

sammy's roumanian

this weekend's visit to nyny brought many joys, among them a visit to sammy's roumanian style restaurant, a gem from another era on the lower east side.

what can we say when there is a maple syrup-style bottle of schmaltz on every table?

and said bottle is used generously to mix chopped liver with caramelized onions and sliced radish to generate sammy's chopped liver in real time!

fried potatoes, latkes, garlic tenderized steak, pickles, and frozen vodka completed the experience.

john stewart inquires...

while one-sided commentary is not entirely right, this one is simply too good...

September 22, 2006

the russian bmw bike

who knew there was such a thing?
During the break-in period the noise and ‘crunchiness’ is normal ... After about 2,000 kilometers, the stiffness and noise significantly decrease.
love it! nytimes story.

September 18, 2006

m. ward rocks and sings too

nina reviews m. ward's concert last night which was the best rock show i can remember. it's indie folk noise rock, extremely beautiful and supremely crafted. check him out.

reality tv? not any longer

for those with a thirst for pop culture as big as mine, laguna beach (the real orange county) has been a thrill. now, mtv plans to introduce the virtual laguna beach. it can't get any better! i am already planning my avatar. nytimes story.

September 10, 2006

weird al's white and nerdy

weird al's latest parody has started diffusing through the blogosphere and i thought i'd chime in to help it go critical, since it's so right on and clever.

the parody is inspired by chamillionaire's debut single "ridin' dirty" which has been conveniently gvideoed:

al transposes the ghetto fab imagery and the infectious beat of the song to the popularly neglected part of youth culture that consumes rap: "the white and nerdy."

here is the mp3. and the lyrics:
White & Nerdy
Parody of "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire
New lyrics by Al Yankovic

They see me mowin'
My front lawn
I know they're all thinking I'm so white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
Can't you see I'm white and nerdy?
Look at me, I'm white and nerdy
I wanna roll with
The gangstas
But so far they all think I'm too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
I'm just too white and nerdy.
Really really white and nerdy.

First in my class here at MIT
Got skills, I'm a champion at D&D
MC Escher - that's my favorite MC
Keep your 40, I'll just have an Earl Grey tea
My rims never spin, to the contrary
You'll find that they're quite stationary
All of my action figures are cherry
Steven Hawking's in my library
My MySpace page is all totally pimped out
Got people beggin' for my top eight spaces
Yo, I know pi to a thousand places
Ain't got no grills but I still wear braces
I order all of my sandwiches with mayonnaise
I'm a whiz at Minesweeper - I could play for days
Once you see my sweet moves you're gonna stay amazed
My fingers' movin' so fast I'll set the place ablaze
There's no killer app I haven't run
At Pascal, well I'm number one
Do vector calculus just for fun
I ain't got a gat but I got a soldering gun
Happy Days is my favorite theme song
I could sure kick your butt in a game of ping pong
I'll ace any trivia quiz you bring on
I'm fluent in JavaScript as well as Klingon

They see me roll on
My Segway
I know in my heart they think I'm white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
Can't you see I'm white and nerdy
Look at me, I'm white and nerdy
I'd like to roll with
The gangstas
Although it's apparent I'm too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
I'm just too white and nerdy
How'd I get so white and nerdy

I've been browsin', inspectin'
X-Men comics, you know I collect 'em
The pens in my pocket, I must protect 'em
My ergonomic keyboard never leaves me bored
Shopping online for deals on some writable media
I edit Wikipedia
I memorized Holy Grail really well
I can recite it right now and have you ROTFLOL
I got a business doing websites
When my friends need some code, who do they call?
I do HTML for 'em all
Even made a homepage for my dog
Yo, I got myself a fanny pack
They were havin' a sale down at The Gap
Spend my nights with a roll of bubble wrap
Pop, pop, hope no one sees me
Gettin' freaky
I'm nerdy in the extreme
And whiter than sour cream
I was in AV Club and Glee Club and even the Chess Team
Only question I
Ever thought was hard
Was do I like Kirk
Or do I like Picard
Spend every weekend at the Renaissance Fair
Got my name on my underwear

They see me strollin'
They laughin'
And rollin' their eyes 'cause I'm so white and nerdy
Just because I'm white and nerdy
Just because I'm white and nerdy
All because I'm white and nerdy
Holy cow, I'm white and nerdy
I wanna bowl with
The gangstas
But, oh well, it's obvious I'm white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white and nerdy
I'm just too white and nerdy
Look at me, I'm white and nerdy

September 05, 2006

foie grassimo

the other day, nina, her parents and i sampled todd english's olives in charlestown. though the restaurant was struggling a bit to keep up with the diners, the food was fundamentally good.

of particular note was an appetizer of black truffle flan, still warm and sprinkled with generous slivers of truffles, served atop a mixture of pan fried mushrooms and foie gras in a demi glace reduction. what a treat!

jeffrey steingarten agrees about the need for foie gras.

oh no, we love france and england

i am among many with a fetish of things french, and things english. but what if one had to choose?

marc levy does.

August 18, 2006

bring me the head of charlie brown

the distinction between genius and derangement is subtle, and this video is sheer joy.

August 17, 2006

the water wars

as the population grows and resource distribution becomes more heterogeneous, many have speculated that the biggest conflicts of this century will be over fresh water. i haven't yet found a comprehensive web source on the topic, but doing a google search reveals alot.

here, metafilter users contemplate this question with much success.

letters from nyc

nytimes published a series of complaint letters from long ago. they are a treasure.

August 09, 2006

ohmygod, i don't have enough time to spend on the web!

i have a few meta sources on the web that i peruse regularly, but this is really too much. introducing: popurls.

social jet lag

as of late, i've become accustomed to quite deranged sleeping schedules, including staying up for 30 hours with a couple of hours of sleep every 4th day.

now, a group studying "chronotypes," or preferred timings of sleep and activity, has concluded that nearly half of people are socially lagged. i agree. here is the pop link and the original paper.

July 26, 2006

on wind patterns or why i feel thwarted

though my bikesnotbombs 18-speed is a far cry from the slick fixies that are popular in boston, i've been quite a biker lately, riding every day to and from work for the past several weeks.

it took me some time to get used to the bike, and its spontaneously changing gears, and a little longer to learn the ways of riding the streets of boston, where neither the drivers nor the streets are straight-forward.

now, i am trying to learn wind patterns. and i am discovering that the wind blows in my face both going to and from work. you thought that all those stories about walking uphill both ways were tales, but this is true. granted, i go to and from at different times of the day, but am i really this unlucky?

not to worry, i am returning to children's in 3 weeks and resuming my usual ride through the fens, where the breeze tends to be more pleasant.

July 21, 2006

face control

jeffers and triin recently married near to and friends recently came back from the motherland. i couldn't go because of work. here is a piece of what i missed: midnight in moscow.

July 15, 2006

restaurant: toro

the other day, nini and i went to toro, in the (far) south end on washington and mass, the latest from john critchley, who is actually in the kitchen, and ken oringer, who is coincidentally marrying nina's school friend from the 5 towns, and now should also be referred to as restaurateur in addition to chef. you should overlook the complaints of citysearch readers about the "service" and such things, which are important for a restaurant, but neither make nor break one.

importantly, toro is a great place for food. the portion sizes are generous, meant to be shared, and prepared with a great deal of care.

the sweet-and-spicy green peppers were lightly fried, tender on the inside, and perfectly seasoned with coarse salt. the sweetbreads served on a skewer were crispy, also perfectly seasoned, and accompanied by a brush of piquillo pepper aioli and a mound of fruit foam (it's a beauty). skirt steak a la plancha was exactly medium rare, served with a circle of cabrales blue cheese, and when nina wanted it to be cooked a bit more, it was promptly replaced with a medium version. and finally, the stew of crab, lobster and sea urchin, was just that, extraordinary. so were the dates, compliments of the chef and his bride, stuffed with cabrales and wrapped in jamon. strong work!

we'll be coming back, "palate fatigue" notwithstanding.

July 10, 2006

on einstein and letters

having recently done a small study of albert einstein's letter correspondence (communication in nature), it seems that the archive used was incomplete, missing 3,500 pages of personal letters that were just released.

fascinating stuff. thanks slashdot.

July 02, 2006

by popular demand: more japanese videos

"how to remove whole crab easily"


"how to make long lasting cut flower"

for more delights, go here.

June 22, 2006

how to make a thermostated waterbath for sous vide for under $150

  1. buy a temperature controller, directly from manufacturer or for less from mcmaster-carr.
  2. this device runs on a logic controller programmed up to 60 C, and operates on a thermistor temperature probe, the resistance of which varies with temperature. add a constant 10 kOhm resistor in series with the thermistor in order to extend the operating range above 60 C.
  3. buy an electric heating element, such as a single cup water boiler or a crock pot, but one that uses less than 1.8 kW of power or draws less than 15 Amps of current at 120 V.
  4. calculate an instrument response function by measuring water temperature in an appropriate vessel such as a pot. here is one obtained by using a 8 quart pot with a 300 W heating coil.

  • the linear fit in the temperature range of interest yields: Actual = 6.4 * Read - 57
  • attempt to reproduce pierre gagnaire's egg cooked at 68 C (for 20 minutes) yields a most delicious entity with a delicate and uniform texture, neither "soft" nor "hard"

thanks to emil for the controller-resistor fix
digg it

pitchfork's 100 awesome music videos

time killer!

30 boston restaurants for under $30

the list. thanks megnut.

June 18, 2006


a truly great piece in the nytimes about a truly fascinating phenomenon: the show and its "fabuloso friday" concept, "Where you think so I don't have to." it touches on many new potentially important things such as wikis and collaboration dynamics, and of course the nature of humor.

June 12, 2006

where is web 2.5?

now that web 2.0, which i see as an adaptation of global enterprise systems to applications that involve collaboration and sharing, is seeing its apogee, one wonders what's next?

the best predictor of the future is...history, naturally. and the best way to improve global applications, is to add a local dimension.

etsy is the next step. it's glocalization at its best. here is the story.

June 10, 2006

rscho's favorite restaurants in boston

rscho sends in his list of favorite restaurants. we are excited:
  • Rangoli, best Indian restaurant on the east coast, in Allston near Harvard Ave.
  • El Oriental, best Cuban restaurant in the world. Good goat. In JP, on Centre Street.
  • Any of the chinatown places for Sunday dim sum. Not as crazy busy as in NYC.
  • Moby Dick, good iranian food, mostly kabobs and stuff, but very tasty.
  • Helmand, excellent Afghani place in Kendall Square, the bridge. Kind of romantic, so would be a nice place to take Nina.
  • Elephant Walk, fancy Cambodian place. Two locations, but the better location is in Porter Square, the Bridge.
  • Dali, expensive Spanish tapas place off of Inman Square (corner of Hampshire and Beacon) in Somerville. Very good food and fun atmosphere. Make a reservation.
  • Atasca, beautiful, tiny Portuguese restaurant in East Cambridge. Fall in love all over again.
  • Izzy's, a puerto rican joint. Don't go with Nina, cuz she will think it's gross but go with Mikey. He likes it too.
  • Taqueria de Mexico, tiny little chearp divy but oh-so-authentic Mexican joint in Union Square in Somerville. Worth the hassle to get there (if you can find a car).
  • Porter Exchange, a Japanese mall in Porter Square, has decent noodles and greasy japanese food.
send yours!

June 08, 2006

cellphone etiquette: in the toilet

on the way from the seychelles, i had the pleasure of using the new public toilets in paris. they involved a recording of birdsong, that seemed to get more cocophonous when there were more people using the toilets. that alone was sufficient to cause major disruption to my toilet regimen.

however, the bigger nuisance were people using their cellphones while sitting on toilets in neighboring stalls. now, it seems that american attitudes towards this practice are changing.

how do you feel? i am conducting a scientifically rigorous poll below; please vote.

June 07, 2006

health and wellbeing

it's been argued that one of the most expressive reporters of health and wellbeing is oral health, for the simple reason that people with limited access to health care tend to neglect dental care, since it's least insured and most expensive.

here are some state-by-state statistics, including for example, the percentage of people who have lost all of their teeth versus the percentage of people who are disabled:

needless to say, the states with the highest rates of total dental loss (40%!) are also some of the poorest in the country.

get involved.

June 03, 2006

we are in boston: via matta

after emil finished assembling the beatifully red book shelves that he painted (thanks to mosman for recommending the rakks), we set off to via matta for dinner.

the staff was extremely thoughtful and the food enjoyed a similar level of attention. we had spicy calamari with tomatoes, olives and capers, which were tender and well balanced, but could have benefited from a thicker sauce. the crunchy eggplant with basil and marinated tomatoes, on the other hand, was simply awesome. i had rabbit tortelli which were very tasty and had nice complexity, while nina tried spinach and ricotta ravioli nudi in brown butter with sage (always a winner), though the ravioli were a little plain on the palate in my opinion.

needless to say, this is a good start to our gastronomical tenure in boston.

May 30, 2006

one step behind

just read an interesting piece in the newyorker about facebook. though i've known about it since its creation last year, i did not appreciate its significance. the assertion is that by enabling users to control who views their profiles and how those profiles are viewed, facebook stimulates a greater level of "sociability." of course, it could just as well be that youths are eager to see and be seen and to brand their recently forged identities.

naturally, no one i know is on facebook. but if you have a .edu email address, join and Facebook me!

May 27, 2006

on online advertising

as you may have noticed, olog has begun to participate in google adsense.

i've decided to do this both because i was curious about the mechanics of the algorithm (check how ads change depending on what's posted on olog), as well as how much money a low readership blog like mine (~20 page impressions/day) can possibly make. admittedly, it was all inspired by andrea harner's adsense keyword cartoons.

it's all very curious stuff, and here is a piece by cringely on just this topic.

May 25, 2006


after a (too) long period of preparation, we are finally moving to boston. i am looking for online sources of bossy-ton gems, like my favorite nyc flavorpill. so far, i've found only yelp.

what am i missing? there's gotta be some good material among those cool university peeps. please email alex.kentsis[at]

ps bostonist doesn't count cuz it's lame just like laist.

bizarre inventions, part 1

a british company alleges that they've devised an ultrasound audible only to teenagers, because "research has shown that the majority of people over the age of 25 have lost the ability to hear at this frequency range."

thus, "how do we get rid of unwanted children around our shop?"

"teenage control products" from compound security systems.

May 22, 2006

how to connect securely to non-secure networks

simply forward a ssh connection to port 7070 and configure firefox to use it as a proxy. thanks thinkhole.


peacemaker is "a video game simulation of the israeli-palestinian conflict: a tool that can be used to promote a peaceful resolution among israelis, palestinians and young adults worldwide."

in addition to this self-ascribed purpose, its use, as the creators study gamers, raises interesting questions about the effect of observation on human behavior, and its design, as the dynamics of the parties in conflict are programmed in the game, begs the question about the very nature of these dynamics.

story from washington post.

food: organic, local, sustainable?

an excellent piece in the newyorker on the subtext of organic produce.

May 19, 2006

they call it pollution, we call it life

that's the tagline for a new series of television ads from the so-called competitive enterprise institute about the impact of global warming. and it's amazing.

though the average global temperature has increased by only a few degrees as compared to pre-industrial values, the quantity of western north american snowpack, for example, has decreased by nearly a factor of 2. most of the fresh water in the western US comes from melting snowpacks. (it's only a matter of time before catastrophic drought ensues).

the increasing atmospheric concentration of CO2, now nearly 2-fold greater, not only potentiates the greenhouse effect, but also stimulates plant pollenation. for example, ragweed has increased its pollen production by more than a factor of 2. ragweed is the most prevalent cause of seasonal allergies and hayfever. are you suffering yet?

if you still believe that the question of global warming is largely academic, please read up and get involved. past post here.

May 18, 2006

oliver stone's world trade center

paramount just released the trailer for oliver stone's world trade center, in which "the world saw evil ... and two men saw something else."

there is so much to say about the subject of this film, as well as the issue of making a film about it, that i am left speechless.

here is what the gothamist and its readers had to say.

May 10, 2006

molecular mixology

friends mock my fascination with new cooking techniques. here are a few more innovations: nytimes story.

May 09, 2006

president ahmadinejad of iran to president bush of usa

the letter has just been published: nytimes story. it's an amazing document: download pdf here or here.

living without numbers and time?

apparently, the language of the pirahã people has no words for numbers and does not use subordinate clauses. can that be? story in spiegel.

you can't cheat an honest man

newyorker on the advance-fee scam, aka spanish prisoner scam, aka nigerian bank scam, aka 419 scam, accomplished by the so-called "yahoo-yahoo boys." great piece full of all sorts of precious material, including a recent nigerian pop song: "I go chop your dollar. I go take your money and disappear. Four-one-nine is just a game. You are the loser and I am the winner." and of course, the utlimate question: how does one allow to be cheated?

May 08, 2006

on asthma and hookworms

an absurd and incredible account of one's attempt to cure asthma by deliberately infecting oneself with hookworm: asthmahookworm.

needless to say, this one lives in california.

on (physics jokes) and instapundit

i have never been a big fan of instapundit, though arguably it has been one of the most popular political blogs to date, largely because it is updated much too frequently and obliquely (just like this sentence). this is evident from a recent post on oil and imperialism. cosmicvariance is on point!

May 03, 2006


marylinne robinson's gilead is the most innovative piece of literature i've read in a while. (if you know me, that's not saying much lately.)

nonetheless, it's an important read, both for its form and substance. and like the dogs of coetzee's disgrace, gilead's embers are amazing.

it cannot qualify as conventional honeymoon reading, but it added an interesting perspective to the few days when nina and i read it.

colbert repor'

colbert at the white house press dinner. prez not amuzed. nytimes story. boingboing post.

May 01, 2006

La Maison du Chocolat versus Pierre Hermé

during a lunch with nina's aunt darline in paris, we got to talking about chocolate, and specifically, who is the best chocolatier in paris.

since my original foray to the nyc branch of la Maison (and numerous afternoons spent there instead of medical school lectures with dr. pro et al), i have confidently proclaimed my love of their ganaches and truffles (the litmus test of a chocolatier imho).

having heard this, darline insisted on taking us to Hermé to sample his. i have to confess that the two are quite on par. favoring one as opposed to the other is entirely dependent on mood. the latter does rather fun ganaches, with all sorts of creative fillings. it took nina and me a better part of the time in seychelles to go through the box.

ps Christian Constant, another favorite among parisians, was not nearly as good.

back in the usa

we are! though we did not follow the etymology of the honeymoon, we did prowl around paris and slug away in seychelles. pics on nina's flickr.

April 14, 2006

when in paris

go where the french go, or rather, nina's parisienne aunt darline, who took us to dalloyau, a "une haute qualité gastronomique, du petit diner à domicile à la réception de prestige," as described by another très parisienne not-to-be-missed pariscope.

April 11, 2006

disease mongering

PLoS Medicine contains a special section on "disease mongering," a recently termed phenomenon of drug companies promoting drug sales through direct-to-consumer marketing. the phenomenon is not new, but worth reading about. here is the alarmist piece in the times.

April 09, 2006

generic stovetop espresso machine versus mukka

some time ago, there was a debate whether all stovetop espresso machines (machinetta) are alike. i argued that with proper technique, even the $10 cast aluminum machine is as good as the $100 designer one. i'd like to retract that statement now.

bialetti's mukka express is to thank. it's got a wide and shallow water reservoir that minimizes steaming time, variable volume coffee reservoir that maintains constant packing density, and a pressure control valve that simultaneously prevents overheating the coffee and foams the milk for cappuccino. as advertised, it is the best cappuccino i've tasted in a long time.

plus, it comes in cowprint.

April 08, 2006

get human

for all those times you need help and are forced to interact with computerized phone systems, search gethuman first.

April 01, 2006

restaurant: peasant (nyny cont.)

finally went to peasant on elizabeth near prince. extremely rich and delicious food. and of course the restaurant itself is a marvel, dark, with lots of brickwork and a massive open kitchen in the back. in contrast to urena, as frank bruni wrote for the nytimes.

this experience again reminded us of the fact that we will be leaving nyc, its restaurants (and its music), as we sat next to yo la tengo.

March 30, 2006


what happens when one laments leaving nyc? one goes to see a new spike lee joint, inside man. and then one ends up sitting next to spike lee (and his two sons) himself.

March 29, 2006


nina has been patiently entertaining my recent fascination with preserved lemons, and the consequent attempts to cook with them. all of the dishes we made were variations on a tagine, but done in a pot, not a traditional cooking vessel.

with the exception of the very first chicken tagine with olives, lemons, and turmeric, and certainly by the third chickpea tagine with lemons, currants, and tomatoes, nina and i used patience and technique to overcome the difficulties of stewing tagine without a tagine.

now, it seems that a traditional tagine would have helped.

March 27, 2006

coolest apartment contest

results from the smallest coolest apartment contest of 2006 are in. i am impressed.

if you come across an apartment in boston that may be eligible for submission and that's available for rent this june, please contact us. we are confused about moving there.

March 22, 2006


a powerful post on craigslist.

the bc

the oc was fun to watch for a season or two, but lately got quite stale (with the exception of the music). now, it seems there is an unexpected newcomer to help it along: the bc.

if only boston was as ridiculously american place as the orange county, it would make the upcoming move from new york all that more festive.

check out the bc's blog, and of course, their profile in the nytimes.

March 21, 2006

March 19, 2006

restaurant: ureña and movie: thank you for smoking

yesterday, saw thank you for smoking, a directorial debut by jason reitman whose father directed the ghosbusters. like the father's work, the son's is a great joy to watch, though not much substantive to say about it.

thereafter, nina and i went to ureña on madison and 28th. the expectations were quite high on account of the chef's pedigree.

the food was delicious, but not exciting. that is, with the exception of the desert. the lighting was a bit too bright, as nina pointed out, and the service awkwardly "over-enthusiastic," as someone wrote on citysearch. unfortunately, the reviews are accurate.

diagnosis: go.

prognosis: closure in 2 years.

March 17, 2006

bachelor party

some pics from the bachelor party (from the green fields in flushing and pencil factory in greenpoint).

where do our taxes go?

a graphic chart of US tax spending here. the priorities are pretty clear.

the hospital for children

that's the assumed name of havard's children's hospital in boston, and my place of employment and training come this june.

March 16, 2006

dr. 90210

those that have spent time in the tenement-penthouse know my fascination with pop tv, including shows like nip/tuck and dr. 90210. now, nytimes has profiled roberto rey, the singular star of the latter show. here is a quote:
Walking through the ghetto I was raised in, I knew I was going to go to the United States, go to Harvard, be a plastic surgeon, move to Beverly Hills, become a member of Congress and then become surgeon general.
what's not to admire?


today is the day of the announcement of the results of the national resident matching program, a process designed to optimize job placement for medical residency applicants. the program has a long history and its iterative optimization algorithm has its foundations in game theory.

"the match" is a subject of great controversy and litigation, largely because it forces applicants to enter into a contract without knowing the details of its outcome and prevents residents from negotiating their salaries (which after 12 years of higher education, including 8 years of graduate training of yours truly, are admittedly meager).

to add to the frustration, the results of "the match" have been known since last week, but are not being released until 1PM EST today. count the hours with olog.

March 15, 2006

new williamsburg

yesterday, while coming back from his work, nina's father and i drove through south williamsburg, where throngs of satmar hasidim were stumbling through the streets in celebration of purim.

south williamsburg is not what it used to be though, even when i moved to nyc in '98. now, it includes places like this. and residents are displeased.

spike lee on moving into the mainstream and the upper east side

a great little interview with spike lee in the ny observer that includes comments about his recent interests, including the new inside man. and of course, spike and tonya lewis lee's town & country article.

March 13, 2006

guilty pleasures

having just watched the premiere of the sopranos (without waiting for nina: guilty!), i am realizing that one of the most enjoyable parts of the show is watching tony eat. he does it with such satisfaction, and i envy him. after all, what's the harm? it's just gluttony.

unwanted: academic

the sad state of academia begins with this nypress story.

it continues with the current administration's scientific policies, as discussed in this week's newyorker.

it concludes with paul nurse's excellent commentary "US biomedical research under siege" published in the january issue of cell.

March 12, 2006

the music teacher: a play/opera

a couple of weeks ago, nina and i saw the music teacher: a play/opera by the venerable wallace shawn. it was awful! neither a play, nor an opera, it failed through flailing narrative and faltering performance. it was so bad that i quickly proceeded to forget about it, until today when the gothamist decided to be pleased with it. here is a more reliable review from the nytimes.

March 10, 2006

is that really necessary?

yesterday, drinks and snacks at bar jamon, a formerly fav stomping ground for yours truly during the hard-working days at cabrini. but i digress.

while contemplating cheese offerings, including the intriguing "tres manchegos," i was told that they are the same manchego of different ages.

is that really necessary?

the waiter was not amused by my question: "maybe the other [cheeses] are not really necessary either!"

perdóneme. qué chechon!

free form film festival: a nervous filmmaker

March 06, 2006

more SNL: Natalie Portman


last night, tried fragole in carroll gardens. though some dishes like crostini di fegatini have a certain tasty homemade feel, every thing else we tried was uninteresting though well seasoned. combined with the prices and disorganized service, including a 10 minute delay on one of our main dishes, fragole blows.

diagnosis: stay away.

March 05, 2006

award-winning steak

bruce cole reveals his secrets about cooking steak.

thanks kottke.

spore game: geeks reign supreme!

google hacks

a list of a few google api hacks. quite useful and interesting. there should be more.

iCi and hedda

last night, dined at iCi in clinton hill with mosman and aneimark. delicious. fresh ingredients speak for themselves, while a wood fireplace warms the space. iCi is somehow related to added value, an urban agriculture project in red hook. which is also exciting.

then, we saw hedda gabler at bam. not so exciting. though cate blanchett is a joy on stage.

diagnosis: delicious iCi, dull hedda.

March 03, 2006

sous vide goes mainstream

this is an unusual cooking method that acts to cook and flavor without denaturation that accompanies conventional heating. several ny restaurants are using, including my fav wd-50, and now it seems to be going mainstream.

and i am not too far behind. you can make a very nice gift for our wedding by giving us this essential little item, required for cooking sous vide. i promise to have you for dinner upon its first use.

March 01, 2006

existential psychobiology

the newyorker has a nice piece by john lanchester on "pursuing happiness", as he reviews two recent books on the subject.

as most projects that attempt to apply biological concepts to human behavior, this one also comes short of being cogent. take for example lanchester's gedunken evolutionary experiment of "ig and og." he proceeds from the flawed intuition that evolutionary selection acts on traits, e.g., ig and og, and concludes that og, the pensive one, is more likely to survive. but, natural selection acts not on traits, but on their variability. neo-darwinian refinements notwithstanding, the correct conclusion of such a gedunken experiment is that humans have survived precisely because they have both ig and og. indeed, doesn't ig prevail in the art of war?

so how does happiness relate to the natural history of humans?

isn't happiness, in the way that we construe it today, a relatively recent development in human history? natural selection does not act on such short time scales.

and on a more general note, didn't heidegger already write something fundamental on the subject? not that i am arguing against my fellow uchicagoer's behavioral theory.

February 28, 2006

living in nyc III

yet another nyc blog. this time, from alexa, "a twenty-something new york escort." yup, nyhotties.

confit: how i love thee

the other day, we had another splendid dinner at the elder shapiros' house, which included a duck confit. a few mistaken statements were made about the mechanics of the process, especially the so-called "osmosis" that takes place (no such thing: oil and water don't mix). but it was delicious nonetheless.

here is a nice little piece about confit from nytimes, that includes a very exciting recipe. though i doubt that nina will feel the same.

February 25, 2006

another day in nyc

the structure of political transformations

this week, i've been thinking a bit about methods to study the structures of political discourse. today, my father mentioned a book that he is reading currently, krushchev by william taubman, about nikita the "transformer" of ussr. as it happens, today is also the anniversary of krushchev's famous speech that signalled the transformation of ussr and announced his own ascension to power as the secretary of the communist party.

here is the full text of the speech. and a commentary by krushchev's own great-granddaughter.

February 23, 2006

we love msg

especially, notorious msg. it's not quite as pure flavor as unami, but very refreshing nevertheless. check out their myspace for some sounds, and of course, their gothamist interview for insights.

February 22, 2006

industrial and domestic pollution

for the past week, nina and i have been living differently.

first, after our dyslexic-illiterate superintendent did some plumbic work, our tap water, though clear, acquired the smell of an organic solvent, which left an oily residue on hands and made them itchy. the perceptible oily residue and itchiness have resolved, but we surely are no longer drinking from the tap.

then, we discovered that our favorite toothpaste is likely counterfeit. its origin and contents remain unknown.

continuing with this paranoia, i decided to investigate contamination of fish, which we love to get regularly from the hood fishmonger. this investigation is no small matter: nytimes story. here are some leads for your own studies:
  • pubmed: search for "fish dioxin" or "fish mercury" or "fish pcb".
  • epa: look for local fish advisory programs.
  • fda: mercury levels in commercial fish.
we still love the tenement-penthouse, but also are looking forward to its vacation.

February 21, 2006

gopnik and gladwell debate american and canadian health care systems

seldom can i read a piece by adam gopnik to its end. the health care forum in the washington monthly is no exception. it's worth a read, not so much for the insights it offers, but for the frustration it incites.

get educated.

addendum: it seems that gladwell has changed his mind.

February 20, 2006

regional versus counterfeit toothpaste

after extensive study, nina and i have concluded that colgate herbal toothpaste from different countries of origin (usa versus brazil versus zambia) tastes slightly different.

such a study can of course be conducted only in nyc, where bodegas carry such global merchandise.

as a graduate of a prestigious business school, nina asks: has colgate become so sophisticated as to tailor toothpaste flavor to different countries?

eemmeegrants among us think differently: do i taste counterfeit toothpaste?

February 18, 2006

intelligent religion

yesterday over dinner, dr. pro jokingly remarked that people who pray to an old man in the sky deserve an automatic deduction of 20 points in IQ.

this set off a lengthy discussion of abstract versus metaphorical thinking. with the wine bottles empty, no consensus was reached.

having just read a nytimes review of daniel dennett's latest book breaking the spell: religion as a natural phenomenon, i am not sure who deserves the IQ penalty. or, whether, in fact, an IQ bonus is warranted on the basis of applying instrumental reason to metaphysical questions.

russian american fiction

while reading olga grushin's the dream life of sukhanov, i revisited the first russian american novel i read, the decidedly brilliant russian debutante's handbook. here is an interesting interview with its author, gary shteyngart, about his writing and his upcoming new novel absurdistan.

interview with a botmaster

washington post has a fascinating interview with 0x80, a 21-year-old high school dropout, who manages more than 10,000 networked PCs whose owners failed to guard against viruses, worms, and spyware that botmasters like him use to secure their machines.

another kid rocks the mic

February 15, 2006

hitchens to the rescue

earlier, we discussed bhl's impressions of america and garrison keiller's response. it seems that christopher hitchens was upset by this. here is his slate exegesis. a little weak, mr. hitchens.

useless drug, lots of money

nytimes has just published a nice piece about avastin, a humanized mouse antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor (vegf). the theory behind this drug is nice: tumors need blood vessels to grow, blood vessels need vegf to grow, mice can develop antibodies when injected with human vegf.

benefit: about a 5 month extension of life, depending on the exact tumor, as averaged over thousands of patients in clinical trials.

benefit in small cohorts and to individual patients? unknown.

cost: about $100,000 per year of treatment.

genentech: priceless.

February 12, 2006

what would i look like if...

...i was myself:

...if i was not sober:

...if i was old:

...if i was east asian (as some assume i am):

...if i was manga:

...and my favorite, if i was a chimp:

thanks the face transformer.

February 11, 2006

humor without pity

there is no fairness in this world: german coastguard. by way of dr. pro.

popular physics II

all this talk about mechanics and dynamics got me excited for some real physics. here is an arxiv paper about the dynamics of car traffic flow in the deep lefortovo tunnel in moscow. and as an accompaniment, here is a pop video of car turbulence in said tunnel.

popular physics, cont.

mouser restarts the discussion about the plane on a conveyer belt. arguments grow more sophisticated; confusion persists. i make my contribution in the comments.

February 10, 2006

russian children compete for best cartoon

the future world of carbon nanotubes

last summer, tell asked me "what's hot in science?" and i raved about carbon nanotubes and the idea of a space elevator. that is still largely an idea.

now, however, there appears another application, this time in batteries and energy storage. if mass produced, these capacitor-based devices will revolutionize every aspect of home and work lives.

February 08, 2006

frighteningly post-modern

a few weeks ago, snl's lazy sunday made rounds on the internet. now, here is lazy monday made by two 11-year-old boys. what da **** is going on?

February 07, 2006

letters from the front: mount sinai hospital of queens

the other day, nina and i went to the shapiro family jeweler, mr. faber, to buy wedding rings. it took me some time to understand the criteria for choosing the correct ring size.

now, i just saw a woman in the emergency room, who after 50 years of wearing her engagement and wedding rings, came in to have them emergently removed because they were cutting off the blood supply to her fingers.

it turns out that this is a rather common occurrence. there is even a special tool made for this purpose.

i hope this doesn't happen to us.

February 05, 2006

happy birthday sunny!

surprise dinner party at frank's.

February 04, 2006

living in nyc

yet another installment in the dyslexic and illiterate narrative that is the corpus of maintenance notices from the superintendent of our building. read nina's simulpost.

contagious media festival

cameron's friend jonah has started the contagious festival at huffington post. some entries are pretty damn funny! checkity check it.

February 03, 2006

numerical morality

just came across a fascinating bbc poll: how over 30,000 people across the world view various countries' influences (results reproduced on the right)? link to bbc. link to study details. notice the top two negative scores, as well as the top two positive ones. significance?

February 02, 2006

February 01, 2006

j'aime la france IV

ironically, i've been traveling here and there recently and forgot to mention garrison keiller's review of bernard-henry levi's new book american vertigo: traveling america in the footsteps of tocqueville.

BHL seems so earnest in his search for the meaning of america that he loses the meaning of meaning:
Americans' party loyalty is "very strong and very pliable, extremely tenacious and in the end somewhat empty."

The partner-swapping club is both "libertine" and "conventional," "depraved" and "proper."

"A strong bond holds America together, but a minimal one. An attachment of great force, but not fiercely resolute. A place of high - extremely high - symbolic tension, but a neutral one, a nearly empty one."
i don't know what that means, in spite of reading more abstract french philosophers, like emmanuel levinas. but he wasn't really french.

and a funny from alex beam at the boston globe.

January 28, 2006

life in nyc

what is it like to live in nyc? this question doesn't translate well into html, but now there is a blog by a nyc taxi driver that offers a glimpse: newyorkhack.

ap piece in the washington post.

January 27, 2006

fiction non fiction

many years ago truman capote broke all apparent rules of literature by writing in cold blood, an interweaving of fiction with journalism.

recently, there has been alot of furor about autobiographies that are apparently fictionalized. james frey and j.t. leroy got alot of bad press. people are in disbelief that their allegedly "true" writings are in part fiction. readers are upset: why did they do it?

now, the la weekly has published a great piece about nasdijj, a white writer of gay erotica turned navajo memoirist. the question we should be asking is not why he did it, but how did we believe it?

what makes inauthentic drug abuse, teenage prostitution, or child loss so appealing to be believed? is it merely their spectacular nature, or is it the particular mode of inauthenticity that's been tailored to our tastes and needs?

January 26, 2006

does hamas still want you dead?

hamas makes near absolute victory in the palestinian parliamentary elections.

ha'aretz blog wonders if hamas still wants you dead and the state of israel destroyed, as outlined in their charter.

January 24, 2006

predicting films

a while ago, nina and i had a conversation about formulaic screenplay writing and film making, and the apparent inability to predict their outcomes. now, it seems that a group of inspired folks at unspam decided to train a bayesian classifier using a data set consisting of film guides from the past 10 years of sundance festivals, and then apply this model to predict the outcome of current sundance submissions.

fun? for sure. transferability of their model to current and future films? check the predictions.

citizen journalism: iran III

an iranian journalist, hossein derakhshan, is about to travel to israel, and write about the evolving israeli-iranian conflict. keep an eye on his blog for updates.

January 23, 2006

long live the internet

the other day my father asked me about morpheus and i was happy to share my p2p experience. naturally, i pointed him towards bittorrent. now there is a comprehensive review of various bittorrent clients from pc magazine.

January 22, 2006

shanti's birthday

last week we celebrated shanti's birthday at katz's deli. i'd like to think that the choice of this eatery was inspired by my long-standing tradition of bringing her "meat snacks."

in this picture, nina contemplates the most important question of all: salami or pastrami?

January 21, 2006

oppose Digital Content Protection Act of 2006

don't worry, i didn't know what that meant either. but you should read the very good post by cory doctorow, and sign eff's petition. the power to use digital media should be in your hands, not in the corporations'.

January 19, 2006

January 17, 2006

iran: apocalypse now

great! as if the situation was not complicated enough in the middle east, now it is possible that the president of iran, mahmoud ahmadinejad, is part of a sect that hopes for the return of a "hidden imam," but not before an apocalypse. here is the telegraph story.


for some time, i was pleased with moby for creating and supporting teany, a small eatery in the les. now, all the former employees fired, the eatery is no more, redefined as a teahouse. moby and his partner however are happy to continue to sell their numerous products online. is it a brand or teahouse, one asks?

google world

access to information provided by efficient indexing, first by google, now by almost everyone, has led to qualitative changes in the way we use that information. here is the latest one, where companies paint logos on their roofs, in order to be identified in aerial/satellite images.

January 15, 2006

retrospective: ucsf

January 14, 2006

pre-nuptial dinner

sistnek parents have recruited me in selecting a restaurant for the family-melding dinner party on april 1. i am taking this duty seriously, and in addition to planning many cruel april fool's jokes, like phoning to yell that "the wedding is tonight and why aren't you here," i am also focused on finding an appropriate restaurant. here are the current choices:

comments? suggestions?


jeffers and triin started a joint blog triiffers, which is a kind of ethnographic blog (so far in estonia). check it out!

January 11, 2006

preventive medicine

nytimes is running an extraordinary series on the prevalence of diabetes. it is worth reading not for its import into the understanding of diabetes, but for what the structural and personal failures of treating diabetes mean about the ways that individual americans understand and social institutions treat disease in general. more than ever, preventive medicine needs to become a rigorous discipline. the structural and psychological obstacles to this becoming are enormous.

January 09, 2006

another argument against intelligent design

dr. pro often uses visual illusions to illustrate various neural phenomena in slugs. here is one that can be used to argue that our minds are not products of intelligent design. otherwise, why make my eyes hurt and tear by looking at this image?

via boingboing. thanks to oceanfront wifi at sf's java beach cafe.

January 06, 2006

jamais vu

what happens when one finds himself in an airport with a wifi laptop and $10 to spend after a long day of talking? one logs onto boingo and starts blogging.

and amazingly, one discovers that neenotchka is also blogging. of course, one tries to telephone but something doesn't connect. one re-reads her post, and realizes that his day has been just the opposite of her deja vu. except for one repeating element-- her writing is so clear and moving-- that he will be happy on many sidewalks. just so long as it is with her.