From the NYer: The Duel

There's a wonderful piece in this week's The New Yorker by Jesse Lichtenstein called The Duel, a series of letters in which President Bush demands a "Gentleman's Satisfaction" with Saddam Hussein to settle their differences. If you've ever read any 18th century correspondence (Thos. Jefferson's, for example) this may delight you even further. In addition it contains the phrases "seditious Moustaches" and the Shakespeareian-sounding "Cankerous Blight."

The Non-Expert's Desk: When in Rome

Sometimes I like to link to stuff just because it made me laugh out loud a lot when I was in a crummy mood and I think it might do the same for you, whether you are in a crummy mood or not. From The Morning News, The Non-Expert's Desk: When in Rome.

Adaptation Screening

I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of Adaptation at SFMOMA last night (thanks New Yorker Nights series and Rebecca for the tip!) and it was really something. Having read the book it was sometimes difficult for me to relax and enjoy the flow of the movie, my brain kept jumping ahead to "what was next." Of course, my brain was often wrong because the movie, at least the first half, does not proceed like the book or chronologically. It jumps back and forth between years and decades and centuries to create its story and only becomes more linear as the film heads for the finish. I'm very much looking forward to seeing it again when it's released. There was too much richness to absorb in one sitting.

The true delight of the evening was meeting Susan Orlean. She was just as I imagined she would be -- ebullient and gracious and wonderfully at ease while the hubbub of a movie fictionalizing parts of her life swirled about her. Now I am paying the price for such a wonderful evening: I'm exhausted and I have a zillion things to do in preparation for our move next week. Guh.

Blogger Updates

If you're looking for information regarding the Blogger hack, is your friend. Pyra folks will be updating it as they address the issues.

Update: Anil's got some good comments about the security concerns the attack raises and Jason asks a few pointed questions in the ensuing thread.

The Wedding Cake

I haven't had the time to write-up my experience making a wedding cake for my friends Lane and Courtney's wedding but I've finally found a photo of it to which I can point you: the wedding cake in action. Outside is rolled fondant, inside is Red Velvet cake. And when I say red, I mean red. For a first wedding cake, I don't think it turned out too badly. But I'm not sure I'm up for doing another wedding cake, at least not anytime soon!

Cake baking tips

Do you bake cakes a lot? Hate to grease and flour those cake pans? Then do I have the recommendation for you. There's this amazing product called Baker's Joy (it's no misnomer) that's a simple spray, a la Pam, but with flour included. I was skeptical but I used it last week when I baked a wedding cake (three 12"x2", two 9"x2", and two 6"x"2" batches). It worked perfectly! Took less than five seconds to coat an entire pan and the cakes flipped out perfectly when done. Not one bit stuck inside. Two thumbs up. If I had any more thumbs, it would get a higher rating.

Tip two: Magi-Cake strips. You soak these puppies in water then wrap them around the outside of the cake pans. They prevent the outside of your cake from cooking too quickly (causing it to rise unevenly) and the result is a perfectly level cake. My cakes, after coming out of the pans perfectly, were as flat as boards. No messy leveling required!

If you bake at all, I highly recommend both of these products. I found the Baker's Joy at my local Andronico's and the Magi-Cake strips are available at Sur La Table.

The End of the West

There's an interesting article in this month's Atlantic by Charles Kupchan, The End of the West. The premise is that, "[t]he next clash of civilizations will not be between the West and the rest but between the United States and Europe--and Americans remain largely oblivious" Kupchan posits that the USA/EU similarities are superficial and that fundamentally the two superpowers (if one can call the EU a superpower at this point) hold quite different values and belief systems. His analogy for the power-shift and rivalry? Rome and Constantinople and the fate of the Roman Empire after its division into eastern and western halves. Something interesting to think about, especially next month when I'm in Paris experiencing the EU life first-hand.

Whole-Wheat Rigatoni with Butternut Squash and Beet Greens

Now's the season to start cooking Whole-Wheat Rigatoni with Butternut Squash and Beet Greens. I was thinking of this recipe last night as I made a pumpkin gratin (yum!) and realizing how much I like to cook with fall ingredients. I also roasted a beet and grated it atop some greens I dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette to top off the fall/winter feel of the meal.

Observation #82

Observation #82 in an infrequent series: People will take anything that you give away for free. Except free paint. No one seems to want free paint.

megnut in Shift

There's a short interview with me over at Shift where I talk about, you guessed it, weblogging. I talked to the writer a while ago, so hopefully everything I said is still relevant (if it ever was to begin with).

More on Eldred v Ashcroft

Ernest Miller writes in with several points of clarification regarding yesterday's post. Apparently it was Justice Ginsberg who was questioning Lessig's First Amendment argument. He was in attendence, Yale Law School LawMeme notes here. Also he points out something I didn't know. He says,

Also, I don't know where Aaron was sitting. Not all of the seats have a clear view of the Justices. Reporters always complain that they can only see one or two of the justices from where they sit. So, it is entirely possible that Aaron only heard the voice and couldn't see the justices.

Makes total sense. Another reader points out that a Former Solicitor General twice called one female justice by the other's name. So I guess getting them mixed up is more common than one would think.

Danger HipTop is Live!

Oh, and I forgot: the Danger hiptop from T-Mobile is live. The buzz is really beginning. Alas, I'm not goint to buy one until I return from France. No use in getting one that will sit unused for a month. Plus I want a NY number. Must be patient. Want one right now!

Head's Up: Head's down

Not that I've been particularly consistent these days with my postings here anyway, but I suspect I will be even less so in the coming weeks. It's getting down to the wire for our departure and there's much to do. I'm making a wedding cake this week for dear friends (picture to follow for sure, if it all turns out OK). Then I'm going to be celebrating another wedding with family on the east coast, then trodding the streets of NYC looking for housing, then packing, then moving, etc. etc. If you happen to live in NYC and you have good apartment-hunting tips that you'd be willing to share, please send them my way.

In the meantime, check out Jason's post about the Eldred vs. Ashcroft oral arguments. Also pb's post about Senator Byrd's speeches in Washington regarding a potential war with Iraq. I've been thinking a lot about this one and wish I had some time to write about it. And finally, for no particular reason except people sometimes like to know this, I'm re-reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So very good. It tempts me to do nothing but read all day.

Aaron Swartz on the Supreme Court, DC, and Lessig

Aaron Swartz has a wonderful write-up of his experience listening to the oral arguments at the Supreme Court for Eldred v. Ashcroft. One thing that struck me in his write-up though was this passage,

One of the female justices interrupted and pressed him on the First Amendment issues.

Based on other write-ups I've read, I believe it was Justice O'Connor who interrupted Lessig. I found it kind of amazing that Aaron didn't recognize her. I mean, aside from the fact that there are only two women on the Supreme Court at all, O'Connor was the first woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.

I don't mean this as any slight on Aaron whatsoever, it just struck me as odd for someone not to know her name. And made me feel a bit old too -- I remember when O'Connor was nominated and thinking it was one of the coolest things in the world: a woman on the Supreme Court! But that was all before Aaron was born. I'm really envious he was able to attend such an amazing event.

Glitterati vs. Geeks

Steven Levy's got a great piece in this week's Newsweek, Glitterati vs. Geeks. It's a good primer on the digital rights battlefield and what Lessig et al are fighting for with Eldred v. Ashcroft. If you're wondering what the big deal is, Levy's article is a great place to start.

Software Doesn't Steal Part II

Ev responded to my comments from the other day about whether applications can be designed to steal. Jason's tried to encourage a discussion about the topic, asking how an application would function if it were designed to steal. Some interesting discussion follows.

It's Funny Because It's True

Two Onion articles this week are so spot-on, they almost read like honest news items. First, Bush Seeks Support For 'US Does Whatever It Wants' Plan. Choice quote: "Despite repeated American efforts to change the situation, Saddam Hussein defiantly continues his longtime policy of being the president of Iraq," Bush said. "The time has come for this man to step down, because we want him to." The brilliance continues with RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music. "It's criminal," RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. "Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song." God Bless the Onion.

Where do stories go?

Back in early 2001 we experienced a terrible energy crisis in California -- rolling blackouts, outrageous electrical bills, and the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric. An excellent episode of Frontline, Blackout examined the issues and included interviews with many folks at Enron, including Ken Lay. At the time of the crisis, I recall the White House refused to provide any federal support, saying it was California's problem and responsibility (a 21st-century 'state's rights' I suppose).

Jump ahead to the present day. Enron CFO Andrew Fastow has been arrested by the FBI on variety of charges, including, "fraud, money laundering and conspiring to inflate the company's profits and enrich himself at the company's expense." Vice President Dick Cheney continues to refuse to turn over records to the General Accounting Office regarding the development of the administration's energy policy last year (whose task force met with Enron executives six times).

When the Enron news first broke, I thought for sure there'd be big discussions here in California, at least as it related to the energy debacle. But there was nothing. Then I thought, "Shrewd, they're waiting until closer to the election, when they'll pull out the big guns." But elections are little more than a month away, and I'm not hearing anything. Is there no story here? Or are we waiting until it all comes out in the Enron trials? And where's the outrage -- not only did Enron employees lose their savings when their stock tanked, millions of Californians and California businesses paid exorbitant prices for electricity while energy company fat cats made millions. These fat cats also broke the law and had close (and secret) contact and influence with the highest ranking members of our executive branch. Something seems fishy to me. So where's the story? Am I missing something? Or am I looking for conspiracy where none exists?

Blogger Is A Harsh Mistress

This really isn't funny on some levels at all, and it makes me sad. And yet, it's a thing of beauty: Blogger Is A Harsh Mistress.

5 Things I'm looking forward to back east/in New York

1. Bagels. Real bagels.

2. Dry leaves blowing along the street in late fall. Then snow!

3. Ocean you can swim in without a wet suit.

4. Only 188 miles from New York City to my grandparents' house.

5. Scallops.

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