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.