Judson here writes the same basic idea that Dawkins tries to in the (rather tedious, belabored) Unweaving the Rainbow: science offers a more beautiful and fulfilling way of approaching the mysteries of the world than religion, whose basic message is “we [should] give up.” It also sort of makes me happy to study human social phenomena – few truly believe that elections and policies are decided by a deity. (Even W. knows this; if he didn’t, he would have traded Karl for the chatechism.) She also belies her britishness pretty heavily (“Fieldwork … can also be jolly boring”).

Studying evolution has changed the way I look at nature. For knowing that all of us — oak trees and venus fly traps, starlings and brush turkeys, humans and sea urchins, not to mention bacteria harvesting light from the glowing vents at the bottom of the sea — are the products of the same ancient forces is something that brings me enormous pleasure, awe and a sense of peace. As I have learned more about other organisms, I have come to regard them (and us!) with increasing amazement and delight.

Most of all, though, I find the study of evolution to be a profoundly optimistic way of looking at the world — for the message is: despite the apparent complexity, we can understand. It’s a view of life that unshackles the mind. When we come to a difficult problem — something, say, that appears so complicated it is hard to imagine the steps through which it could have evolved — the solution isn’t to throw up one’s hands and invoke deus ex machina. It’s to imagine, to dream, to wonder: how? And then, to start to work it out.

Review of a possibly interesting perl book (but not a must-buy like Art of SQL)
Of all the popular programming languages now in use, Perl is perhaps the best suited for writing utilities — for several reasons, such as its text-processing capabilities, ease of addressing system resources, and minimal language overhead for input, output, list processing.


IDEA (Industrial Design Excellence Awards).
mmmmmm tasty


i hate vegans.

Anthony Bourdain at Salon – this is tough to excerpt, but here are a couple morsels.. He also goes off on Rachel Ray!:

You've never had much love for vegans, and that doesn't seem to be something you've revised your opinion on.
Never. They're rude! ... How can you travel? Before you've even left home, you've already decided, "I reject most of the world's bounty and the expression of their hopes and dreams and culture." Some nice, possibly impoverished Vietnamese rice farmer is nice enough to offer you the one chicken he can kill a month, or a week, and you say, "Sorry, I can't"? It just seems antihuman. It's antisocial.

What was your worst meal ever?
Certainly the vegan meal I had in Berkeley was soul-destroying, and just frightening


GTKThe recently released Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is a comprehensive set of APIs and tools that lets you create dynamic Web applications almost entirely in Java™ code.

harping on my statistical themes...

(slate) Reporters have so much faith in the pure power of numbers that many will inject into a piece any ones available as long as they 1) are big; 2) come from a seemingly authoritative source; and 3) don't contradict the point the reporter is trying to make.

Is Wal-Mart Good for the American Working Class?

A slate dialogue – Ehrenreich and Jason Furman. Always good.

Ok this is silly

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage - New York Times:
"I love my husband. He's well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent [jewish grandmother accent] that still cracks me up after 12 [6] years of marriage. But he also tends to be forgetful [me!], and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker [aaah! me again!] when I'm trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues [scott!] in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness [both of us] but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. 'What did you say?' he'll shout.These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott [aaah! his name is scott!]. I wanted – needed – to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn't keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love."


Ridiculously French

So I heard nothing from the organisers of the ECPR grad conference since submitting my proposal ages ago, only that since I was a slacker and turned it in on the deadline that I wouldn't be on one of the pre-arranged panels, submitted together.

Then I got emails this week from a panel that apparently I'm on, starting with this, which could hardly if it tried be any more French:

Dear All,
I am writing to you in connection with the First Graduate Conference taking place in Essex in septembre 2006.
We may try to decide amongst ourselves who shall act as the chair/discussant.
We could also try to find a deadline for the papers (in August), so that the papers circulate amongst us before the conference.
I suggest that instead of having one discussant for all the papers, all of us could discuss one paper. Would you agree ?

But I do love Intelligentsia

Intelligentsia logo

Another (last one today) from NYT:

Mr. Watts and the founder and chief executive of Intelligentsia, Doug Zell, do not ascribe to the ‘buy low, sell high’ business model. They buy high and sell high. In the coming years, both say they expect to pay 50 percent, 100 percent, even 200 percent above Fair Trade rates.

I will also note that their summer solstice blend is a unique treat – when I tasted it I thought of coffee gelato.

God I hate Thursday Styles So Much

stupid golf outfitLAME!: “Michelle Wie in her funky clothes sets the style for young women who play golf.”

oh leather people oy

“The key pieces this summer, Mr. Bunch said, are leather shorts and a harness. Actually, those are the key pieces every year. ‘It’s too hot now for chaps,’ said Mr. Bunch, who bears a tattoo on his right bicep that reads SLAVE. ‘If shorts are too hot, you can always wear a studded leather codpiece jock.’”

Yeah, let's not forget that, “complete with ‘cock-hole’ and under-strap:”
leather codpiece jock


some food

  • chicken korma and basmati rice
  • pan-fried tofu, with lemon, garlic, zucchini, and beet greens
  • red beans & rice
  • green curry with eggplant
  • spinach-bacon quiche
  • chicken and green beans kaeng par curry


I love hypocrisy

dumb nyt hamburger graphicI apparently have a thing for hypocrites – like I find them endearing or something. Here we have the French behaving every bit as we would expect a certain other person to, lacking entirely a sense of ironie.
But even as protesters sought to cast McDonald's as the embodiment of all that is wrong with fast food and American culture, the French never stopped eating its hamburgers.

Statistical Graphical Illiteracy

roulette wheels!
All of these suck at conveying the important information – that the risk of death is dramatically reduced by annual screening. The article itself talks about a different study entirely, about decisionmaking for self versus someone else (and attempts no graphical display of its findings).


future brunch foray

4 Taste Off Rush. The menu offers inspired choices like ostrich Benedict and pomegranate-banana pancakes (each $10.95).

new, indie coffee shops


wtf is this shit?

If I asked you "what do you think head on is" and you replied "probably a blowjob simulating gel", I would say, "well, that's what I thought it was too". But it isn't.


Caramelized Sugar Cookies

These cookies are really interesting – they're really sort of a rich cracker dough loaded with butter, that you roll out in a pile of sugar, thus impregnating the dough. The dough itself has no sugar at all, nor any eggs, so it's hard to call them a proper cookie at all. I’ll definitely be making them again, probably to serve at a party or something.

are you seriously claiming

that some overpaid idiot riding without a helmet actually deserves this serious an ethical treatment? Jessica: you study justice and democratic theory. thoughts on this nonsense?

When [NFL football player] Roethlisberger decided to ride without a helmet, what were his obligations to the larger society, in this case greater Steelerdom? And what mechanisms should there be for society — or Steelerdom — to impose those obligations?

In a democratic society, everybody benefits from other people's risk-taking. But must everyone pay for it as well? The question goes back to the founding of the country and continues to shape who Americans are as a society.

"America more than European countries prizes entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom of individuals to run risks, even if they might not turn out well," said Cass R. Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago. "One reason the economy does so well is that people take gambles. And sometimes they work out badly."

NEWS FOUR INVESTIGATES!And I thought making pancakes was disaster-prone! [I tried really hard to find some images or maybe the video of the commercial that shows in black and white the poor disheveled woman spattering pancake batter around the kitchen and finally, I think, grilling the cat. Any help out there?

But today, the venerable NYT alerted me to an ever more present danger:

Amazing New Cereal Topper!!!!!Early-morning grogginess can wreak havoc on a person's eye-hand coordination, occasionally turning the act of dishing out corn flakes into a messy adventure…. Philippe Meert has experienced that messiness firsthand. Four years ago, while on a business trip in Los Angeles, he tried to start his day with a healthy breakfast.


Yes, I changed my blogger template. No, I'm not sure I like it. It's really just a stopgap until I write my own. We all know how lazy I am, but also how much I hate hard-coded widths in html. I did add the trickery to make comments show/hide directly on the page (no stupid clickthrough), but sometime over the summer I'll fix it up the way I want it to look.


chipotle cheddar grits, sautéed spinach, and broiled snapper

Today featured tasty polenta(/grits) and fish. It was an interesting effort; I worked on keeping each element distinct, such that only the spinach had garlic, and the grits had smoked pimentón and chipotle. I liked it, and plan to work on it again sometime soon. It’s also tasty as a vegetarian dish, or, I am sure, with the grits formed and fried (mmm).

Beet Risotto

Featuring fresh market vegetables of course, beet risotto is colorful and delicious.


oh yeah

I received word yesterday that, as expected, I passed my comprehensive exams (see post below).

the day of the BEAST

We went by our condo today to check on it, and also to think in situ about wall colors. We were pleased to discover that work had in fact commenced:
started work!
DAY OF THE BEASTMoreover, one work order indicated that the hardwood floor work was to commence yesterday – the day of the BEAST. I hate cell phone pictures, but it’s the best I had today.


Science Idol

The Union of Concerned Scientists is hosting Science Idol: the Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest. We're looking for your creative take on the issue of political interference in science. Submit one-panel or multi-panel, print cartoons that address the misuse of science on a specific issue or in general.

european anti-GMness

Two articles in the Times on GM foods:
But European consumers and farmers generally do not want them, leaving the European Union to try to steer a Solomonic course between conflicting interests. The basic problem is that Europeans, whose food culture has developed over centuries, balk at putting biotech crops in their fields or their mouths.



shai image
shai imageshai image
I’ve been meaning to post this for a while but forgotten. Normal catalogues are full of sultry pouts, and people wearing just one article of clothing (think Abercrombie boys in just jeans, since we all really inspect the clothing in the picture). Shaï’s brilliant catalogue does away with the pretense – it is full-on pornography, in gay, straight, and lesbian versions, to say “wear our clothes and get laid.” (Thanks, Taylor, for the link)

I am a little crazy

So we went to brunch, and to see the al gore movie, and then I hung out at Steve and Shane’s this afternoon; I went home before realizing that I didn't have my building key, and didn't really feel like just taking a shower than then the train back up there for dinner, so I rode back the way I came. It all came out to 23 miles, and it was fun. I meticulously charted it on gmap-pedometer.


  • quesadillas with cheese and refritos negros
  • pasta with lemon and tofu
  • pasta salad with yellow squash, dill, and tzatziki-ish sauce.
  • Risotto with zucchini, asparagus, and basil
  • Tortilla española and mixed greens salad
  • (from last week) Tofu with chili and basil and sweet thai noodles
  • barbecue baked tofu, salad, cornbread