Monday, January 31, 2011

I am become Debt, the destroyer of worlds

From the Manhattan Project to collateralized debt obligations, we physicists have unleashed destruction and havoc upon the earth.

However, I don’t think that “fund our experiments or we’ll go out in the world and eff things up real good” is an ethical or compelling argument.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Official battery of the 4chan /b/oating Society

Nothing powers your trolling like a genuine TrollFury!

Yes, that is less than 50%

The Penn State Daily Collegian, “State's tobacco prevention receives 'F' grade”:

Pennsylvania spends less than 50 percent of what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it spend on tobacco prevention, said Deborah Brown, CEO of ALA of the Mid-Atlantic.

The CDC recommends Pennsylvania spend $155.5 million on prevention and cessation, she said.

Currently, the commonwealth only spends about $14.7 million, she said.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Steelers vs. Jets, pizza, wine

Via Serious Eats, I made Cooks’ Illustrated’s thin-crust pizza for the playoff game. One pie was a plain cheese pie, while the other was pepperoni (poached, of course, lest I incur the Wrath of Kimball). The main departure from the recipe was to use fresh mozzarella cut into discs, since Giant Eagle only carried part skim mozzarella in the firmer formats.


The pizza was a success, with the fresh sauce a big hit. I’d say my biggest problem is shaping the dough. My pizza crusts always end up with a very thin center, gradually thickening to a thick cornicione. Obviously I’d rather have a uniform crust from the center to just inside the cornicione.

The wine was a 2003 Edmunds St. John 2003 “Wylie-Fenaughty” Syrah (El Dorado County), chosen because it was a birth-year wine for Carlee’s recent birthday. My note:

Clear dark plum. Restrained nose of red fruit, herbs, clove, menthol. Smells like there's some grenache. Bracingly mineral, herbal, iodine, coffee, with blackberry finish. (90 points)

Soundtrack: Wiz Khalifa: Black And Yellow

Now let’s get 7.

App spelling FAIL

There’s an iOS app called Better Thinking Better Living by Creative Brains. Here’s a screenshot of its title screen, from the iTunes App Store:


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Colons: The vestigal appendix of the title? (or: Paragraph-and-a-sentence of the day, title selection edition)

Jeff Ely, writing in Cheap Talk:

The absolute worst thing you can do with your title is to insert a colon into it. (quiet down beavis!) As in, Torture: A Model of Dynamic Commitment Problems. Or Kludged: Asymptotically Inefficient Evolution. In the first case you have just ruined a seminal-signaling one-word title by adding spurious specificity. In the second, you just took an intriguing one-world title and turned it into a yawner.

The second worst kind of title is the question mark title.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thank goodness for Virgin Mobile's lousy coverage

Maximum PC reports that Virgin Mobile secretly caps "unlimited" data plans:

Subscribers to the $40 per month Unlimited Broadband2Go plan who exceed the industry standard 5GB cap will receive notice that their bandwidth will be significantly diminished for the remainder of the billing period.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I obtained just such a device, but returned it due to a lack of coverage at my house. Since the whole point of the purchase was to have unlimited broadband, instead of my paltry 7.5 GB/month WildBlue satellite Internet plan, I'm glad that it didn't work out.

Virgin got some great press from David Pogue based entirely on the "unlimited" aspect of the plan. He's remarked upon the backpedaling, but I'm sure Virgin has still seen a huge net benefit from the coverage.

Most galling is this statement in Virgin's press release:

Keep in mind, 5GB is A LOT of data. To give you an idea, it’s about 250 hours of web browsing or over 500,000(!) emails*. So this change shouldn’t affect you unless you’re a heavy downloader/streamer/etc.

Yes, it's "A LOT" of data if this is 1998, and we do 1998 things with our Internet, like read email(!) and surf(!) the web(!). But what if we want to do 2011 things? Well, 5 GB/month will get you less than two Netflix movies at highest quality, or about half of a major-release game download from Steam. An operating system update for your iThing will eat through half a week's worth of your allowance. Windows 7 installation media from TechNet? Two weeks' worth, sir. Grateful Dead shows? You could get one a week, if you don't want to use your connection for anything else.

It's 2011. Digital delivery of software and HD video is here now. Stop quoting bandwidth in "emails", "web pages", and "screen-resolution photos", and recognize it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Router flu strikes again

Local blogger Angela documented an outbreak of router flu in the area.

Within minutes of reading her account of the flu, my previously-stable router spontaneously rebooted.


Hide yo routers, hide yo switches.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sentence of the day: His inner Pittsburgher, perhaps

In the New York Times:

Something — his inner Pittsburgher, perhaps — keeps his focus not on the “big” but on the “absurd.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ambrosia Fine Dining (Johnstown, PA)

A new addition to Johnstown’s restaurant scene, Ambrosia Fine Dining is located in the Rosewood Inn on Scalp Avenue in Richland. As is customary for the region, Ambrosia apparently eschews the Series of Tubes in favor of other methods of promotion. I learned of the restaurant from crookedly photocopied menus that showed up at my workplace.

While the appearance of the menus was unimpressive, the content was exciting—a wide array of Mediterranean dishes, with descriptions that suggested attention to ingredients and creative preparation. I’ve scanned the menu for your convenience.

Ambrosia Fine Dining menu (January 2011) [PDF]

The Spousal Unit and I arrived at about 7:00 on a Friday, on a cold and snowy evening. We were warmly greeted, and offered a table near the window, or across the room. Wary of the cold outside, we chose the interior option. The dining room is large and open, and appears to have been recently decorated and furnished. The walls are painted in warm tones of burgundy and gold, and the black and red tablecloths provide a modern touch.

Chart of the day: Contribution to total ISBN number

Andrew Gelman recommends five books. Dan Goldstein helpfully creates the following visualization of the recommendations.

(For those who are not familiar with ISBN, see my helpful explanation posted to the Pentax-Discuss Mail List.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Preach it, brothers and sisters!

Via Daring Fireball, Never said about restaurant websites:

“I like when the music blasts as soon as the site loads. It signals to everyone at work that I am going out to eat!”

“Why would anyone want to skip this intro? I think I’ll watch it again.”

“Broken links tell me that this place really focuses its energy on its food, not on ‘image’ or ‘good customer service.’ I like that.”

Fortunately, in Johnstown, we don't have to worry about any of this, because our restaurants just don’t bother with those new-fangled Intarwebs at all.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year’s Eve: Green Gables (Jennerstown, PA)

For New Year’s Eve 2010, going into 2011, the Spousal Unit and I decided on dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Green Gables, about 40 minutes south of us in Jennerstown. Green Gables is located just off Route 30 on the same property as the Mountain Playhouse, a professional summer stock theater. I had received an email from the restaurant, describing a special 5-course menu for the holiday, which had attractive choices, and looked well-priced at $55/person.

On an day that welcomed a thaw from a cold December, we arrived for our 7:00 reservation to a bustling dining room decorated in holiday red, with a Christmas tree. The hostess took our coats and showed us to our table in the main dining room, near the large stone fireplace. Reviewing the special menu, the Spousal Unit and I decided on different selections for each course. For the appetizer, she would have the lobster pot pie, and I chose the duck confit pizza. (The third option was a beet dish. I am always mindful of the edict that the dish that sounds worst is the chef’s best… but, man, beets are hard sell next to lobster or duck confit!) I would have the arugula salad described in the advance menu, while she would have a Green Gables iceberg wedge that was added to the printed menu. She chose the peppercorn filet of beef for her main course, while I went with the lamb, and for dessert she selected the chocolate crème brûlée, and I picked a pecan-and-pear bread pudding that was another late addition to the menu.