April 3, 2013

vegetable protein

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 7:47 pm

Disclaimer: this is not a rah rah meat post. I love meat. I also love vegetables.

So, I normally don't bite on stupid facebook memes, but this one is so egregiously stupid I had to comment -- especially because nutrition is a pet topic/peeve of mine. So this image is floating around facebook:

veggies

So, you don't have to be a nutritional expert to get the impression these numbers are ... amiss. Cucumbers? 24% protein? So, I can't pretend to know where they got these numbers, but the numbers for beef, chicken and egg are accurate, as a calculation of % protein by weight. So I fixed the image using that as a calculation for the vegetables:

veggies_fixed1

These are a little off in some regards -- I used small gram amounts, so some figures yielded 0g when really there's some fractional amount. Also, to be fair, using percentages by weight doesn't really mean anything. What you should really look at is percentage by kilocalorie content. So here's the real version fixed:

veggies_fixed2

Spinach is awesome. This is why I eat bales of it. I think my favorites on this list are cucumbers, which have hardly any protein at all. That, and parsley. Listing parsley on a protein content infographic is hilarious. I would love to watch someone eat enough parsley to get their RDA of protein.

March 5, 2013

the scene’s 2013 photo contest

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 9:49 pm

Some of the photos from the Scene's photo contest that I thought were noteworthy:

  • Scott Simontacchi, “Eloise,” Bowling Avenue
  • Holden Head, “Pasiphae,” East Nashville -- I actually found this photograph to be grotesque, but that doesn't make it a bad one. It did get me reading about Pasiphae. Pasiphae, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Helios that fucked a bull and gave birth to the Minotaur, and represented the evils of feminine lust and excess. I am not 100% certain what the connection between her and this photograph is, but it got me thinking/reading, so there's that.

February 25, 2013

on cunt

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 11:47 pm

I thought the onion's joke was hilarious. The joke:

"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhan Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?"

For those (like me) that maybe didn't actually watch the Oscars: Quvenzhan Wallis is a 9-year old actress up for an award at the ceremony. A few of the hypothetical reasons proposed that this joke was horrible and should have immediately been deleted, and my response to them:

The word "cunt" is horrible and offensive and should never be used ever.

Yeah ... no.

Still, it was kinda funny, but they should have chosen a less inflammatory word, like "bitch".

What? Frankly, bitch is just as horrible a word in a colloquial context. The inflammatory, derogatory gendered nature of the word is specifically what made the joke so funny.

I don't get it. Why are they calling a 9-year old a cunt?

Because calling a 9 year old girl a cunt is a horrible, horrible thing to do -- similar to all the horrible, horrible things floated in the name of snarky Oscars commentary. Often, these things center around highly contentious and offensive gender notions/roles. Get it? This is not horribly complicated humor.

I still don't get it -- I find it easier to be obtuse and pretend I've never read The Onion and I don't really get how humor works, because I really love Being Offended.

Er .. okay.

Okay, fine, you're right. The onion is pretty hilarious and often risque. But still, no one should ever objectify a 9 year old in that way, no matter what their intent. If anyone called my little girl a cunt, I'd kidneypunch them.

If we're going to go down the "protect the virgin ears of an oh so innocent child" route, might I remind you that this is a 9 year old actress that was in a movie that spent the evening at the Oscars -- a gathering of arguably some of the worst people in the world. I find it hard to believe that being called a cunt on the internet is really the most damaging aspect of her experience for her, assuming she would have heard about it at all. It's not like the Onion sent a correspondent on to the red carpet to call a little girl a cunt to her face. But she will hear about it, now, undoubtedly -- thanks to the indignant claims of offense and raucous calls for censure. It's headline news, now. (Nice work, indignant public!)

So yes, she probably has heard about it. What horrible things exactly are we imagining have happened as a result? A brief explanation by her parents that it was a joke poking fun at institutional sexism and the vacuity of celebrity viciousness in general? A more in-depth conversation about the power of the word "cunt" and how its colloquial usage is pernicious and should be avoided, and how the Onion turned that on its head to make a rather biting point? A quick lesson that the Onion is, in fact, hilarious? Are we really claiming exasperated offense at this idea because we are so cynical so as to assume that she's so stupid she won't understand any of this? Or that her parents are too stupid to explain it to her?

Okay, yeah, but ... the word "cunt" is horrible and should never be used ever.

*headdesk*

It seems to me that any reasonably intelligent adult (I realize this rules out a lot of the American population, but stay with me here, dear reader) can discern the difference between using a slur in a casual way that promulgates a negative stereotype (which I have talked about at length) and using it in a specific way to make a point, or a joke. Given that, the crux of the Onion's supposedly horrible offense was making the joke in a context where this 9 year old girl might hear about it (and ignoring for the moment the relative initial implausibility of this), let's examine this for what it is: the rough equivalent of grown adults making a joke to eachother using a word in a context that a 9 year old might not understand, and a 9 year old in the next room maybe overhearing it. Do you: a) pull the kid aside, explain to them that "cunt" is a horrible word and that mommy was making a joke, or b) freak the fuck out and accuse the person telling the joke of being a horrible misogynist bully, even though you know they're not and that you're being willfully obtuse so you can be a big jerk?

February 22, 2013

sriracha == n00b

Filed under:, , — cwage @ 11:04 pm

I love sriracha as much as the next guy, but I have to admit, the sortof viral meme-like spread of its popularity is suspect to me. Frankly, I think it's a bit of a newb food. Who would have thought that chiles, garlic and sugar taste good?! I'm shocked, SHOCKED! I'm surprised there's not an entire subcontinent whose culinary tastes are founded on this combination!

"What's that? Sugar?", you say? Oh yes. It's there. Roughly 1/3 the sugar in maple syrup, actually. So, come on. Stop fooling yourself. Yes you, guy, out there, slathering all your food in sriracha and gloating about how you just looooooove spicey food: be real with yourself. It's the sugar. Sriracha isn't that spicey, tough guy. You're slathering your food in sugar.

February 18, 2013

the Nashville Software School

Filed under:, , , , — cwage @ 7:47 pm

The cover story in the City Paper this week is on the Nashville Software School. It's a great read, and it's about a great program.

The NSS is a game-changer for technology and education in Nashville. I'm immensely proud of everyone involved of it and incredibly thankful to John Wark for his tireless efforts to get it going. Years ago, Nashville's first ISP, Telalink, had an intern program that accepted anyone and everyone for weekly meetings to teach and discuss just what this whole "Internet" thing is, anyway. I learned about everything from ISDN channel bonding to CGI programming (in C, no less, until I discovered Perl). I am forever indebted to Thomas Conner, Bill Butler, Tim Moses and everyone else at Telalink that helped us out back then. The roster of people that came through that program (me notwithstanding) is a veritable Who's Who of incredibly smart people here and abroad. Nick Holland (also a Telalink intern) and I tried to revive a similar program years ago (and I believe a young Eliza Brock was a member!). It fizzled, eventually -- frankly, due to the hustle of running a small biz -- a testament to the time and energy required for something like this. I had wanted for years to start something up again and I'm delighted that I don't have to (yay, laziness!). The NSS has done all that and more.

I'm a product of the Nashville public school system, and an aborted failure of our country's higher education system. A year into it and roughly $17k in loans later, I learned that if I was going to learn anything about technology, it wasn't going to be at a university. So, I've been in the private sector ever since. I would have killed for something like the NSS to have been around then. It fills a huge gap in our education system, and it makes me tremendously excited.

Some ideas I'd like to see emerge from the success of the NSS in years to come:

  • The resurgence of an intern program more suited to younger people -- something to get high school-age students started and funneled into the NSS (or something like it).
  • Something more accommodating to people still working full-time -- either a less aggressive courseload and/or after-hours courses.
  • More advanced parallel tracts of schooling: systems engineering/devops, network engineering, and so on. These are all areas where schooling and expensive certification do exist, but pales in comparison to the education via the school of hard knocks. Something like the NSS could serve this demographic as well.
  • Local business/govt-sponsored scholarships. I realize that giving out money for education is a hairy business once you get into trying to decide how to hand it out (merit vs. need vs lottery vs who-knows-what), but it could be done well.
  • Failing that, or in addition to it: A way for federal money (Pell, Perkins, et al) to be available to students of the NSS. This is probably a long-shot for a variety of reasons, but it'd be nice to see this money redirected to grassroots programs like the NSS that are actually generating real skills and real jobs in a relatively short turnaround rather than padding the bottom line of elephantine institutions of higher learning.

February 12, 2013

diction

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 2:02 am

It took all my willpower not to title this post "DICKtion". GET IT?! Moving on:

So, Southern/Alpha is sponsoring an event called Spark Nashville, which will feature some startup pitches, general tech-ey networking, and some speakers -- Marcus Whitney and Nicholas Holland, who were referred to in the press release as "patriarchs" -- a truly unfortunate choice of words.

Why is this a problem?

First, the definition of patriarchy, courtesy of wikipedia:

Patriarchy (rule by fathers) is a social system in which the male is the primary authority figure central to social organization and the central roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where fathers hold authority over women and children. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination. Many patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage.

Now, stay with me here, but some wacky feminists of late have suggested that female subordination is a total bummer and should be avoided. If you stretch your imagination a bit, you can prrrrrobably imagine how this particular word might be a little off-putting to any women that read it.

Given that, do I think it likely that the author of the press release intended to promote the subordination of females? Not likely. Both Hanlon's and Occam's razor apply here. It's more like that whoever chose the word was simply ignorant of its implications. There really is no common ungendered colloquial sense of "patriarch", especially when so many other words would have sufficed (start with "leader" and go from there), so it's a bit weird. There it is. Patriarchs. A truly unfortunate choice of words in a city trying desperately to get women involved in many traditionally male-dominated fields, technology foremost among them.

I won't get into the details of any actual patriarchy in the industry (which of course does exist), and how hegemonies tend to be promulgated despite the best conscious intentions of everyone involved. I can't speak for Nick or Marcus, but I know that if anyone ever described me as a "patriarch" of anything I'd be annoyed and politely but firmly ask them to choose another word.

Related: this older blog post.

February 6, 2013

chili

Filed under:, , — cwage @ 5:02 am

I know what you're thinking. "Didn't he already post some stupid recipe for chili already? Again with this?" It's true. I'm gonna write about chili again. Like all true artists, I've grown since then. I simply must share my art with the world! (But not the chili.) As I mentioned in that post, I'm no purist. I put beans in my chili. I am not really even sold on something like chili requiring a recipe, per se. I think of making chili more like jazz. Sure, there are general rules, and, if you require it, a general melody to come back to. But otherwise just wing it, and have fun. Every pot of chili I make is the BEST CHILI EVER. Because it's always a little different.

I grew up with chili, but in the Midwest and the south -- and the chili I knew and loved reflected that: it had ground beef, tomatoes, and beans. It had little in common with either traditional Mexican dishes or Texas chili. There was nothing religious about it except that it could be made quickly out of cans and a tube of beef in an hour or so. It wasn't until my late 20's that I discovered the wonders of a more basic, authentic chili -- e.g. chile colorado, which my mom had actually made for me on occasion as a kid as well. You can google around for recipes, but for the uninitiated, it's basically the essence of chili: not much other than slow-cooked beef and chiles -- the combination of which delivers an amazingly complex bouquet of flavors on its own.

Lately I've started playing more with this, taking bits and pieces from the different styles I like. This weekend I made a batch of chili that is probably my favorite yet (although I say that every time). A rough recipe below, which this time isn't written in the style of a drunken fratboy:

Ingredients

  • 1-2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 9-10 dried New Mexico chiles
  • 3-4 dried Ancho (Poblano) chiles
  • 1 beef Chuck roast, cut into 1-2" squares. (feel free to use any other cut of meat -- I prefer chuck for stewing).
  • 2-3 cups of beef stock (I used homemade, storebought is fine, water will work in a pinch)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • Beans. Yeah, I said it. (optional, and to taste)
  • Cumin (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)

The Chiles (not a Mole)

I won't call this a Mole, because I don't want a Mexican grandmother reading this and coming after me because I dared to compare what I did in 10 minutes to what takes her hours upon hours and generations of experience. And it's really not a Mole, but it's a Mole-like thing. That is, it's groundup chiles.

  1. Remove and discard the caps of all the chiles, and remove the seeds by shaking/clearing the pods with your finger. Getting every single seed isn't necessary -- they won't significantly add to the heat of the dish, but they can make it bitter.
  2. Put the chiles in a small saucepan and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and cover.
  4. Let this sit while you prep the rest of the chili and then come back here when you're ready to mix everything together. They'll be well hydrated by now.
  5. Transfer the now-hydrated chiles into a blender or something similar with a small portion of the water they were boiled in. I use a stick blender for a relatively mess-free cleanup. Blend the chiles thoroughly until they form a thick paste.
  6. (Optional?) Filter the paste through a medium/large-holed colander or sieve. Sometimes the chile peppers, no matter how well hydrated and blended, have little bits of pepper that didn't blend down. These can be annoying or distasteful to some, or get stuck in your teeth, so filter it out if you want to get rid of them and any stray seeds that made it through.
  7. Add this to the rest of the prepped ingredients (see below)

The Chili

  1. (Optional but unnecessary step): Dredge the cubed beef in flour. Some people do this because they feel it insulates the meat while searing and makes for a better, more flavorful crust even though science says otherwise and they are wrong on both counts. It can help thicken the resulting chili, but my tastebuds and certainly my waistline don't require the flour.
  2. Coat a large stockpot with vegetable oil (I used peanut because it's what I had on-hand), and bring to a medium-high heat.
  3. Add the beef to the pot when the oil is shimmering (Just kidding. I have no idea what this means, but every recipe I read says it. Shimmering? What is this, Twilight?) Just add the meat to the damn pan when it's hot.
  4. Thoroughly brown all of the beef (do it in batches if you have a lot -- it's best to keep the temperature really high here). Remove and set aside.
  5. Lower the heat (let it cool so you don't burn anything) and add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, maybe 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the beef stock to deglaze, and make sure to scrape up any little delicious brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the beef chunks, the not-Mole chile paste, and if necessary, enough water to cover all the beef.
  8. Bring everything to a low boil and then adjust to a low simmer.
  9. Simmer until the beef is cooked and can be easily pulled apart with a fork. In the past, at this point, I've painstakingly pulled all the chunks apart with a pair of forks, until I had the GENIUS idea to just grab a potato masher and go to town. Don't go overboard, though: mash just enough to get a healthy balance of stringy beef incorporated in the dish along with some bigger succulent chunks.
  10. Add in any canned or pre-soaked beans at this point, and let them cook a bit.
  11. Add salt and cumin to taste. I am loathe to give specifics about cumin, because I like a lot of cumin. Do what you feel.
  12. Add the teaspoon of cocoa powder towards the end of cooking.

Et voila! er .. Y aqui! Note that there are no tomatoes in this recipe. After the past few years of experimenting with rehydrated dried chiles and of noting the amazing complexity of the flavors and richness of the color you get, I am now convinced that tomatoes really have no place in chili. So far I think the cocoa powder is a decent addition, but I am not 100% sold on it. It makes sense, given the presence of chocolate in many mole recipes. It stands out noticeably, though and it's very easy to overdo it. I am not convinced that the crappy Hershey's cocoa powder I am using is doing justice to the dish.

The result is a beautiful deep red chili, with beans interspersed with delicious chunks of beef. Ground beef could have easily sufficed if browned and added in order to save time. It's surprisingly unspicey -- new mexico and poblano chiles of course are very mild. Had I been making this only for myself, I probably would have added some dried habaneros, but I was happy to supplement my bowl with cayenne powder for kick. Enjoy!

January 20, 2013

a sentence that hayek wrote

— cwage @ 3:35 am

This is not the place to discuss how this change in outlook was fostered by the uncritical transfer to the problems of society of habits of thought engendered by the preoccupation with technological problems, the habits of thought of the natural scientist and the engineer, and how these at the same time tended to discredit the results of the past study of society which did not conform to their prejudices and to impose ideals of organization on a sphere to which they are not appropriate.

This is the sort of sentence that only a native German speaker could write. What the fuck, dude?

January 10, 2013

LP Field: we should demolish it because of how it sucks and is terrible

Filed under:, , , , — cwage @ 8:23 pm

River

Behold our east bank, withered and dying.

LP Field. I've said it before. I'll say it again here, so it's on the record. The construction of LP Field on the east bank will go down in our city's history as the worst thing that ever happened to its urban development. Aside from being hideous to look upon, this monstrosity occupies the entire east bank of the river -- urban space that could be put to any number of fantastic uses to develop and improve the downtown community. Instead, it sits empty most of the week, and it puts a stranglehold on connectivity between the two sides of the city -- an annoyance for the most part, an infuriating clusterfuck on gameday. I won't pretend to be an expert on the places it could have potentially gone, but I'd be hard-pressed to think of a location worse than where it ended up.

Now that the Titans are doing poorly, I vote we seize the moment and tear it down.

December 28, 2012

when NPR gets unlistenably stupid:

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 6:06 pm

During elections, arguably during pledge drive season and, apparently, after school shootings.

I consider myself a pretty liberal left-leaning NPR-friendly sortof guy (describing what I actually am involves a lot more -isms), but I find myself turning off NPR in disgust a lot more since sandy hook. This story, for example, was so mindblowingly dumb I had to turn off the radio, because I was afraid I might plow my car into a telephone pole:

Yang is from China. She says that in college there, she studied math, and then suddenly — totally without prompting — I find myself in another conversation about possibilities and probabilities. Yang, it turns out, specialized in statistics, and since the shooting has been thinking a lot about possibilities and probabilities, reconsidering her original feelings about them.

Yang tells me that she had always assumed that she was safe because the chance of a shooting happening to her specifically was very small. But since the shooting she's been focused on this one rule of statistics she learned in college, which she calls the "large number certainty theorem."

"If the base is big enough," she explains, "even though the probability is small, things will happen with certainty."

By Yang's reckoning, this is how the large number certainty theorem applies.

...

"So, you know, mathematically, something somewhere will happen with certainty," she says.

And so though Yang previously depended on the idea that school shootings were so rare they would probably happen to someone else, the shooting has taught her that "we should not wait until it actually happens to us to take action."

Yang has decided to get more involved with fighting for gun control. This, to her, seems like the logical thing to do.

I .. I just .. What do you say to this? First, I love the hilariously awkward and blatant appeal to authority in the way that they present her as some sort of statistics expert because of a "rule of statistics she learned in college". See? It's a theorem! That sounds very sciencey! You can't argue with FACTS like that!

A fun mental exercise is to substitute literally anything into this line of thought:

Yang tells me that she had always assumed that she was safe because the chance of slipping on a banana peel and splitting her skull open specifically was very small. But since some other guy slipped on a banana peel and split his skull open she's been focused on this one rule of statistics she learned in college, which she calls the "large number certainty theorem."

...

"So, you know, mathematically, something somewhere will happen with certainty," she says.

And so though Yang previously depended on the idea that slipping on banana peels open was so rare it would probably happen to someone else, the dude that slipped on a banana peel has taught her that "we should not wait until it actually happens to us to take action."

Yang has decided to get more involved with fighting for banana control. This, to her, seems like the logical thing to do.

SCIENCED!!!

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