Archive for December, 2005

Carnival of Tomorrow

December 28, 2005

In the absence of fresh material here, go check out the 16th edition of the Carnival of Tomorrow at The Ministry of Minor Perfidy.

Peace — Paz — Shalom

December 25, 2005

Here is wishing you and yours the joy and peace of the season.
Merry Christmas… and Happy New Year!

Musical Carnival Musings

December 19, 2005

This week’s Carnival finds its emergency home this week here, where it all began on my blog. I hope this is not where it will end.
Structurally, I think I have done everything necessary to make the Carnival a success. We are listed on a couple of Blog Carnival referral pages, and for most of the carnivals I have notified the major bloggers.
I wonder what I am doing wrong. I certainly cannot blame the submitters and wonderful volunteer hosts, whose fine efforts have distinguished the Carnival of Music as one of the most interesting in the blogosphere.
Is the blogosphere just oversaturated with carnivals? Is the topic of “music” too broad? Does there need to be a Carnival of Jazz, or Composers, or Rock??
I have not been as engaged in the Carnival over the last few weeks as I should be, and I’m sure that hasn’t helped much. Still, it seems like the Carnival hasn’t ever reached that critical mass of readers to stimulate volunteers for hosting and posting.
I would be interested in any suggestions.
In the meantime, please spread the word and check out the many fine submissions we have received over the last 2 weeks in Carnival of Music #24.

Carnival of Music #24

December 19, 2005

This week’s carnival is a bit of a rushed affair, as I wasn’t planning to host this week. Nevertheless, there were a good number of posts waiting in the drop box. Please check out these fine entries:
Elisa Camahort has been filling in the gaps in her music collection with iTunes. Elisa also has a post at The Browster Blog asking Who Will Deliver Me My Nirvana? As Google has introduced music search, Elisa explores what she wants from music search and compares Google, Yahoo, and the iTunes Music Store.
Andrew Ian Dodge at GoD: blog presents Now we have gone & done it. What is “it?” Go see.
Turns out that Coldplay is to Jon Pearce at Dodgeblogium like Kryptonite to Superman.
Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway presents Happy Birthday Ol’ Blue Eyes. Doug grew up listening to Frank Sinatra. It wasn’t because his parents were particularly Sinatra fans. Instead, growing up in New Jersey he really couldn’t help it. In big ways and small, Sinatra was everywhere. On the radio. Blaring over the speakers at Yankee Stadium at the end of a game. In Atlantic City. You get the idea.
Back in July, Starling David Hunter took note of an announcement by MTV that it had purchased Neopets, the parent company of popular website, for an undisclosed sum. Here’s the strategic logic behind the acquisition: Virtual Pet Shop Boys
Adam at Sophistpundit examines intellectual property, and what the future might hold for artistic expression.
Prent Rodgers at Microtonal Music Podcasts invites you to listen to four different microtonal pieces by four different composers, all for solo piano. Each was done using a different set of techniques to retune the piano, with different intonation systems, and all showcase the world between the 1:1 and the 2:1. Check it out.
Please check out the archive page for previous Carnivals, to submit posts for inclusion in future carnivals, and to volunteer to host.

New Extreme Sport?

December 19, 2005

If space tourism takes off (pun intended), I can foresee a market for extreme skydiving from the literal edge of space. Can you imagine that first step out of the cabin door?JoeKittengerJumping.gif
How about knowing that you will break the speed of sound? I would expect a video camera to be built into the helmet to record the jump for future viewing and showing off to friends.
Check out this video (found via BoingBoing) to get a taste.

Best Texas Blog

December 18, 2005

Many thanks to Life Or Something Like It for naming me “Best Texas Blog” in the 2005 LOSLI Blog Awards.

Holiday Recipe Blogging – The World’s Best Chex Mix

December 18, 2005

I’ve spent most of this weekend in the kitchen, making a couple dozen tamales from scratch and preparing two batches of Jackie’s Chex Mix (named after my best childhood friend’s mom, who invented this variation of the recipe).
I’ll write about the (successful) tamales some other time. This post is devoted to the best Chex Mix you will ever taste:

Dry Ingredients
1 box Wheat Chex cereal
1 box Rice Chex
1 box Corn Chex
4 C. Cheerios
1 bag pretzels
1 – 2 lbs mixed nuts
Sauce Ingredients:
1 lb. butter
1 – 1.25 C. Oil
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. Tabasco sauce
0.5 tsp. celery salt
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. red (cayenne) pepper
1 tsp. allspice
Accent (MSG) to taste
Optional (my variations in addition to the above, never more than 2 at a time extra):
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
Preheat oven to 200 degrees (F).

Ready_to_Pour.jpgMake sure you have plenty of room to work. Set out four 9 x 13 (or larger, if your oven will accommodate them) deep lasagna pans on a counter. I like to use disposable ones – you can get a package of 2 at Target for less than $2. Distribute the dry ingredients among the pans evenly (see picture at left).
In a 2-quart batter bowl, melt the butter; 60-90 seconds in the microwave should do the trick. Combine the remaining sauce ingredients. Add enough vegetable oil to make the sauce an even quart, usually just a bit more than one cup. After you’ve made this a couple times, you may experiment with the spice mix. However, the essential ingredients are Worcestershire sauce, garlic, tabasco, and allspice.
ChexMix.jpgUsing a 1/4-cup scoop, spoon out 1/4 cup of the sauce into each of the four pans. Using two spoons, fold and stir the cereal mix until the sauce is evenly distributed. Repeat until all sauce has been evenly spread among the four pans and has coated the cereal mixture. When you’re all done, each of the pieces should be glistening slightly. This is the most important step! You don’t want some pieces unseasoned and others to be mushy and oily. See the picture at right for how the mix should look after stirring (click for larger).
Into_the_Oven.jpgPut the trays into the oven and roast for 4 hours. Stir every 20 minutes during the first hour, and every 30 minutes thereafter. Sprinkle Accent liberally before each stirring.
Let cool before serving. Enjoy!
Sentimental aside in the extended entry:

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Monkey See, Monkey Don’t

December 15, 2005

Before it disappears behind their archive firewall, be sure to check out this interesting article in the New York Times by Carl Zimmer. He reports on a new study that builds on an earlier study contrasting the learning styles of young humans with chimpanzees.
The earlier study indicated that young humans are much more likely to “ape” (sorry!) their teacher than are chimpanzees. Both children and chimps were shown different boxes that they had to get something out of:

The [first] box was painted black and had a door on one side and a bolt running across the top. The food was hidden in a tube behind the door. When they showed the chimpanzees how to retrieve the food, the researchers added some unnecessary steps. Before they opened the door, they pulled back the bolt and tapped the top of the box with a stick. Only after they had pushed the bolt back in place did they finally open the door and fish out the food.
Because the chimps could not see inside, they could not tell that the extra steps were unnecessary. As a result, when the chimps were given the box, two-thirds faithfully imitated the scientists to retrieve the food.
The team then used a box with transparent walls and found a strikingly different result. Those chimps could see that the scientists were wasting their time sliding the bolt and tapping the top. None followed suit. They all went straight for the door.

When they turned to human children, however, 80% followed the unnecessary steps for the transparent box.
The more recent study built on these results, using new experiments designed to test the human child’s tendency to “overimitate” versus a chimpanzee. Carl allowed his young daughter to participate in the study.
Using new puzzles, the researchers showed that children (who could solve the puzzles on their own) would faithfully “overimitate” their teachers by following extra and unnecessary steps. Thus:

Mr. Lyons sees his results as evidence that humans are hard-wired to learn by imitation, even when that is clearly not the best way to learn. If he is right, this represents a big evolutionary change from our ape ancestors. Other primates are bad at imitation. When they watch another primate doing something, they seem to focus on what its goals are and ignore its actions.
As human ancestors began to make complicated tools, figuring out goals might not have been good enough anymore. Hominids needed a way to register automatically what other hominids did, even if they didn’t understand the intentions behind them. They needed to imitate.
Not long ago, many psychologists thought that imitation was a simple, primitive action compared with figuring out the intentions of others. But that is changing. “Maybe imitation is a lot more sophisticated than people thought,” Mr. Lyons said.
We don’t appreciate just how automatically we rely on imitation, because usually it serves us so well. “It is so adaptive that it almost never sticks out this way,” he added. “You have to create very artificial circumstances to see it.”

A Baby Present for Vodkapundit?

December 15, 2005

So, when Stephen Green’s lovely wife delivers their firstborn in the near future, I say let’s pitch in and get the new dad a present that will allow him to spend hours (and hours and hours) of quality time with the young one in just a few years (click the extended entry for more):

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Required Reading

December 14, 2005

Stephen Green. Now.
(And Margaret Friedenauer).