food system thoughts

A friend and I were email-discussing this Sunday’s NYT magazine piece by Michael Pollan, whose recent work on food and the American food system is really superb. But he stops short of real policy recommendations to create the “right” incentives instead of the perverse ones currently on offer. Here's an excerpt of what I was saying (at the beginning, I qualify to his suggestion that we need to retrain many farmers in order to reduce the massive surplus of commodity corn, wheat, and soy).

I don't know – I actually disagree some about "retraining" because don't we actually need more farmers of smaller size, producing more diverse crops in more places?

If anything the human cogs in the monsanto / cargill / adm machine should be retrained in managing sustainable farm ecosystems (on their own). So we should create systematic incentives for consumers to want high quality local, sustainable, seasonal food; for distributors to make it available to consumers; and for producers themselves to disperse so as to reduce, if not strictly minimize, distance from field to table for most of what we eat.

For me as a consumer, the only incentive I need is sublime fresh food. Fresh green zebra, black cherokee, and brandywine tomatoes in august keep me from buying tomatoes the rest of the year. Two caveats: I know I am an anomaly in that level of zealotry (or devotion to tomatoes), and I do feel somewhat hypocritical with respect to geographic-heritage foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano.

But I think Pollan shares my problem: not eveyone is, shall we say, enraptured by food as I am (and I would venture he is). I hope you read his last article in the nytm. It feels like he, though much more knowledgable and eloquent than I, still quickly reaches the point of, "Doesn't the food just speak to you??" — if it doesn't, then where do we start to change the food system? It's very frustrating.

There's still a market, senseless to some of us, for out-of season shit from far away; for factory farmed meats (truly don't get how anyone could shop at a grocery store after having anything fresh – the time from slaughter is at least several more days, not to mention the other problems); for any and all the products of preservatives and new!improved! marketing.

compression algorithms


upcoming treats, egg article

exploring baked eggs: with leek in my pretty glasses, and with chorizo and pimentón (to serve with delectable primitivo! – A Mano has long been a go-to pizza wine, but I'll have to try to find this other one.)


Vanilla chocolate bread

Vanilla chocolate bread Originally uploaded by gay.goy.gourmet.

things to make


No, that is no more apt a description of wine than type. Seriously. (otherwise lovely article via Jessica).
In his photo-heavy book Helvetica, designer Lars Müller praises the titular typeface for its “understated self-assurance” – describing it as if it were an especially pleasing glass of shiraz.



Uncle Ben is a rare survivor in the once-crowded world of racist spokescharacters. Most of his contemporaries were fired a long time ago. … Today, no company would be dumb enough to build a brand around a black servant, but the ones now in supermarkets have been grandfathered in, rendered innocuous by the passage of time, image overhauls, and judicious wardrobe adjustments. But it's worth remembering what these spokescharacters truly are: a final, living vestige of Jim Crow America.


slate on skymall:
The issue also features the "upside-down tomato garden," the "remote controlled robotic hammerhead shark," the "pop-up hot dog cooker," the "million-germ-eliminating travel toothbrush sanitizer," the "window-mounted cat porch," the "world's smallest indoor remote control helicopter," the "Turbo-Groomer® COBALT" nose-hair trimmer, the "Sudoku glass tabletop set," the "Solar-powered mole repeller," (what, no handcrank in case of nuclear winter?), the "versatile mock rock in five sizes." (For those unaware of the purpose of a "mock rock"—since real ones are not in short supply—they are designed to "hide problem areas in your yard or garden.")

nyt discovers underwear

“There’s been an explosion in printed underwear, low-rise underwear and different kinds of boxer briefs,” said John Sievers, an owner of International Jock, who said that his business has doubled in three years. Underwear by C-IN2 and Andrew Christian, artfully constructed with seams or straps to make the most of a man’s, um, profile, has done extremely well, he added.


open formats for open government

A legislative staff employee who would lose his job if he were quoted here by name said, "By the time those lobbyists were done talking, it sounded like ODF (Open Document Format, the free and open format used by OpenOffice.org and other free software) was proprietary and the Microsoft format was the open and free one."


Findings from a group of 12 study patients showed that vitespen vaccination (trademarked as Oncophage) was effective in stimulating the patient's immune system to attack the tumor cells, a function that is known medically as tumor-specific immune response. All the patients had recurrent, high-grade glioma, and all showed the immune response. The vaccine is made from the patient's own tumor.

grad school is absurd

We have a make-up class to schedule for Bayesian, meaning coordinating among the class and with the professor, whose schedule can be tricky:
Sorry, but the time we chose (4/30 at 4:30) won't work for me. I've got out-of-town company, and I'm taking my first Pilates class at that time.



The Eurocrats in Brussels are paid princely salaries to decide whether feta has to come from Greece (yes) or how curved cucumbers can be (Class I cukes are allowed a bend of 10 millimeters per 10 centimeters of length, according to Commission Regulation No. 1677/88). My beef is with the whole brouhaha over a liquor whose greatest, and only, virtue is that it is colorless and tasteless.


i love wine

NYT wine columnist:
“What I’m about to propose is a do-it-yourself method that has a lot to offer to just about anybody who loves wine, or wants to learn about it. In fact, if you’ll join in with me, we will take this home wine class together and be the better for it. Let me explain.

to this I would add, go to good free tastings at the same wine shop. People ask how I know lots of interesting wine, or how I can manage to pair pretty well (or at least thoughtfully, rather than randomly) with food— and for me a good deal of the experience has been at free or inexpensive tastings of some truly great wines that I certainly can't afford. It's also taught me a lot about those overpriced (though sometimes not) bottles.

stereotypes r fun

A few years ago, Meghan Daum, an op-ed contributor to The Los Angeles Times, wrote about a promising first date with a man that never led to a second one because, she later learned, the guy saw that she drove a Subaru Outback station wagon and concluded she must be a lesbian… “It’s not a choice. It’s the way we’re built.” (subaru ad with martina!).


You better believe I will celebrate this mf

And while there are several eggs Benedict creation myths, some of which may be the subject of discussion among aficionados on National Eggs Benedict Day, a little-known observance celebrated on April 16, they share decidedly genteel roots: rich and distinguished New Yorkers, fabulous New York restaurants and an adventurous 19th-century dining culture unfettered by contemporary concerns about trans fats and cholesterol.



Some of the mysteries of easter explained: As it turns out, chicks have little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with spring.

New! Peep surgery!


mobilization and technology

Protests Move From the Streets To YouTube

I hate america

Religion is dumb. Americans believe in religion. Americans are dumb.


NeoOffice/J is really slow and cumbersome, and buggy in a few important ways. Openoffice itself is also slow... and now we're at OOo 2.2. I may try to build the Aqua alpha and see how that goes.

Powerpoint is evil

and hinders learning. (Also: previous Wired piece by Tufte, my hero).

cool bayesian image labeling

Supervised Learning of Semantic Classes for Image Annotation and Retrieval (see also here)

more e voting

Finally, it requires that the source code for e-voting machines be made publicly available. (we can hope!)



So I was just stopping by iusethis.com (mainly to see if anyone else had picked up on the beauty of catdoc/xls2csv) and the top like new item is this. I laughed. Especially at the icon!

good design

It's good that people notice it, and think a little bit about it: NYC Condoms mentioned again in nyt.

rabbit ravioli

rabbit ravioli
Originally uploaded by gay.goy.gourmet.
i meant to post this over here. ravioli stuffed with: rabbit braised in white wine and chicken stock, with fennel, shallots, goat cheese, and herbs, served with toasted pine nuts and browned butter.


nyt gay boys

[more on why i don't get people who came out later]. Now, as a 17-year-old 11th grader, Zach has passed through phases that many gay men of previous generations didn’t get to until their 20s, 30s, even 40s. “Eighth grade was kind of his militant time,” Mr. O’Connor says.