Archive for July 2010
Mint cookies always held a special place in my heart after I discovered Candy Cane Joe Joes. While I wasn’t as passionate about girl scout thin mints as others seem to be- this recipe looked too delicious not to try. A simple egg substitution (1.5 tbsp milk, 1 heaping tbsp corn starch and 1 tbsp ground flax seed per egg) did the trick well, and they turned out delectable.
I’ve never understood why some scientists lie. Especially when it comes to relatively high-profile research- it’s only a matter of time before falsified work falls apart under scrutiny. What use is having your name attached to a grant and a few nature papers if ultimately it leads to the destruction of your reputation, your career and, potentially, the lives of many others. It does underscore the importance of free and open access to literature and data within the scientific community. Under the best of circumstances breakthroughs can be implemented and dispersed widely and rapidly, under the worst of circumstances fraud can be detected and punished early.
I had the urge to make veggie chili again yesterday. The entire endeavor was improvised and I’m not terribly good at keeping track of quantities so I’ll try to recollect the recipe:
2 cans kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 28 oz can crushed tomato + half of the empty can full of water (this will simmer out)
1 bag boca brand soy chunks (I usually avoid the fake meat stuff, but I feel like it added some extra substance to the chili that worked pretty well. I used the boca brand stuff because most other brands use egg which I try to avoid)
2-4 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, this time shredded, typically coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
A fist-full or two coarsely chopped mushrooms (I used shitake and cremini this time, but it really doesn’t matter)
5-6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
About 5-10 oz of baby spinach coarsely chopped (A lot of veggie chili recipes use cabbage as a base which I do not understand at all. Spinach adds both flavor and nutrition and wilts to practically nothing when cooked)
5 -6 medium jalapenos (coarsely chopped)
About 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves (I used a couple sweet and genovese leaves off of my new basil plants) finely chopped
About 1 – 2 tbsp chili powder (to taste)
1 tbsp garam masala
0.5 -1 tsp cumin
Hmm… I think that was about it. I basically sautéd all of the vegetables, mushrooms and spinach in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until the spinach looked a bit wilted, added in the spices, added the boca chunks, let that sauté for a minute or two and then dumped in all the beans, crushed tomato and water to let everything simmer down together until it started looking a little dry and voila! Veggie chili you can eat with a fork. I know I’m terrible with writing recipes, next time I’ll try to keep better track of what I add and how I cooked it.
This post is going to be a bit more rant-like and rambling than I’d prefer, but I really don’t feel like thinking about this long enough to polish this writing.
Hirschorn seems to be blurring a number of critical distinctions in his attempt to herald the death of free information. I’ll go ahead and sum up his argument (in an overly simplified and derisive manner)- the existence and success of the app-store model, iTunes and mobile internet subscriptions prove that information doesn’t actually want to be free. Seriously? Ok, there’s a bit more to his argument but he’s making dangerously sweeping generalizations across a number of internet communities- from pirates to open source advocates about what they believe free information means.
Hirschorn derides IBM for “wav[ing] the bloody shirt of Linux… any time they need to prove their bona fides to the tech community” and characterizes the future of the digital frontier as a battle between Apple and Google, missing the fact that Free and Open Source software (and more fundamentally “free” information) forms a cornerstone of all three of these companies’ businesses. IBM provides and supports open source tools because they provide a value to their customers that closed solutions could never match (infinite customizability, reconfigurability). Apple’s OS X and iOS were built from the Darwin (BSD) open source operating system distribution. Apple’s browser engine, Webkit, was built upon the open source KHTML and itself re-released as open source. In fact, Apple’s MO for the past 10 years has been to construct walled gardens on top of open standards and platforms. Google understands the line between which aspects of its business need to be open and which do not as well as what openness really means to consumers and developers (see this excellent blog post on The Meaning of Open from Jonathan Rosenberg). While many of its services are free to the user, the source code (the recipe, fundamentally) is not freely available. At the same time, Google recognizes that open standards and free software help to ensure the health and diversity of the web, allowing services to work together and talk with each other. This recognition drives the tremendous investments Google makes into open source technologies and web standards.
Fundamentally, Hirschorn seems to be confused about the differences between open, free and the various subtleties of “free”. The FOSS community has a great way of differentiating between them: free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-speech. For example- Facebook and Twitter are free-as-in-beer (since they cost nothing to use, but at the same time the platform itself is not freely available to all users), while Linux, Android, Webkit, Firefox and many of your other favorite open source softwares are free-as-in-speech (since they are free to use and the underlying platforms themselves are also free to redistribute, modify, etc). Openness broaches a broader issue that I won’t go into (this is where openness and the freedom of information in science come into play, for example).
Pirates want the works of others for free(-as-in-beer). The Open Source community, the Copyleft movement and the Digital Frontier that Hirschorn likens to a land grab want to put their money(/source code / music / art) where their mouths are in the belief that openness and free(-as-in-speech)dom creates more value for more people than the traditional methods of producing and distributing creative works. The Digital Frontier remains alive and well, Mr. Hirschorn.
One of the several things I miss most about living Arizona (recent immigration issues aside) is the night sky (awesome mexican food and an intricate network of dry stream beds to explore / play in come in a close 2nd and 3rd). I remember being able to stand at my front door just off of Tanque Verde Rd. in Tucson and seeing a bright red Mars hanging there just out of reach. I don’t doubt that living under such a beautiful night sky played no small part in my growing interest in space and science at the time. It comes as no surprise that 24 hour lighting disrupts not just amateur astronomers and kids with an overly romantic yearning to journey to the stars but also life that has evolved since the very beginning under a rhythmic night / day cycle. I know it’s come up here and again in the press and scientific community, but it’s still nice to see people taking an interest.
The time I spend in India, I’m always a little shocked by the frequency and brutality of the stories on caste violence, honor killings and female infanticide in the news. It comes as such a stark contrast to the cosmopolitan experience of urban Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmadabad that I often find myself imagining that these things only happen far away in some village with a name in some obscure dialect of a regional language. Reading these stories from this side of the world helps break down some of that mental barrier- especially when the victim of this story represented so much of what is going right in India today. A girl from a relatively rural region of India pursuing a post-graduate degree is perhaps one of the strongest symbols of Indian progress and the hope that we’re seeing real change in the cultural mindset of the country. Events like this are a depressing reminder of the growing battle between what different sides see as progress, stagnation, tradition, intolerance, culture, and hatred.