Friday, May 23, 2014

On My Shelf and My Plate

So the idea has sprung to mind that I wanted to discuss a few things I have in my culinary library that probably aren't in yours. Everyone's at least heard of the Joy of Cooking and a few of the more famous Chefs all have their books out, but I have a few (shall we say) niche titles I think need to get a wider spread.

The first is the instant go-to: On Cooking, specifically the 4th Canadian Edition. This book was my textbook in college and will probably be my touchstone for the years of apprenticeship to come. While the recipes inside are all rather staid and either common classics or somewhat-passe trends, the true value of the book is its focus on technique and theory over individual recipes, and for that it's rather invaluable, because it puts you in a position to actually write the recipes. Oh, and as an added bonus, it correctly lists all recipes in mass units (imperial AND metric) rather than volume units. Most professional cooks in Canada will obviously have heard of this book, but there are plenty of non-professional cooks who take the trade at least as seriously and I imagine you could use the knowledge contained within rather aggressively.

The second niche cookbook on my shelf is the exceptionally well-done Tide's Table by Ross and Willa Mavis, and if you're trying to figure out why the name of the book sounds familiar, that's because that was actually the dining room that I ran and the associated kitchen I managed while working for Ross and Willa briefly at Inn on the Cove - before it closed its doors, of course. The book, which was a wonderful book I would have happily bought had it not been given to me for my birthday, was the book on which a lot of our menu hung at Tide. Not only that, it's a pretty good distillation of what Atlantic Canadian cuisine really is, at least on the homegrown level. There are some necessary items I would say are not in the book if you want to call it the true bible of Atlantic Canadian cuisine, but its accessibility and relative completion are major, major selling points. I'm not sure Ross and Will are still in the business at all, either, so now that I am thinking about it, the copy I have may be among the last copies ever sold.

Busting UFOs

Feasting on Hearts! Literally!
So it's been shown a few times before that I have a pretty damn near infinite capacity to entertain myself, and while entertaining myself is rarely productive in the sense of getting me closer to the consumerist nirvana of a house and a car and a hefty 401k that doesn't quite cancel out the debts caused by the first two, it's generally productive in the sense that something is produced.

Whether it's the entirely sub-par work of the Zaxton Space Program or the hilariously terrible work of various minecraft projects, continuing the work from last November's NaNoWriMo (an event misnamed if ever there was), I can usually at least be bothered to do [i]something[/i]. Hell, in the past I've entertained myself by making videos and posts about fish. FISH. On a blog that started as a philosophy blog, and like most blogs, is now more a personal screed than any sort of coherent content.

So when I was faced unexpectedly with nearly a month's unwarranted and unpaid vacation, did I do something logical like pick up where I left off on my book, pre-write a small library of posts for the four blogs under my control, or even follow the technically-true defintion of productivity by working on the business plan I won't be needing this decade?

Nope! I spent short work week's worth of hours investigating one single ridiculously shaky report of an Unidentified Flying Object in Malaysia. Not because I believe in aliens in the crossing-the-gulf-of-the-cosmos sense, or because it was particularly well-reported, or even because I placed any emotional weight behind the setting.

I did it because it was that or continue working on my evolving DnD campaign and this seemed like the least hopelessly wasteful use of the brain that my brain actually allowed me to do!

Okay, so earlier this month the indisputably niche blog The Object Report reported on a sighting in Malaysia of a very large and very dramatic flying object sighting near one of the busiest buildings in Kyala Lampur. The article came with two "High Resolution" photographs presented by two different sources.

Now, the very first thing I want to address is that the article takes this photographic evidence, whatever its merit (which I will get into), and then extrapolates it to support the conjecture of a bunch of other alien-human interaction such as a co-breeding problem, which is absurd on the face even if it wasn't a complete non sequitur fallacy.

Now, the only purportedly original photograph on the article (credited to witness Chong) that was available is part of a set that the blogger, one Agent D, claims to have independently verified as "definitely from a cellular phone camera" and "not processed or manipulated by photoshop". My own analysis, which is considerable (when you get engaged to a graphic designer, you tend to develop an interest in photographic analysis), only determined that the photo had been artificially stripped of metadata - either the sort of data that would allow you to positively identify it as a camera shot was never part of the photo, or had been removed. Beyond that, there was nothing I could identify as being overtly shoppy, but that really just means that anyone with an interest in photoshopping the images was better than I am at his forgery roll.

The main problem is the location. The article claims that the appearance happened at about 1230 local. Right in the middle of lunch, at the tallest building in the world, only two people were equipped with working cameras. Oh, and those two people both failed to realize that their cellphones could take video instead of photographs.

Now, I wanted to use the images in the article, and I'm fairly certain I could have under fair use, but I didn't, because the authors of the article (the probable owners of the images I did analysis on) weren't courteous enough to respond to my email for permission and comment.

However, if Agent D happens to be reading this, he should be expecting a call from A Cell rather soon.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Examining Arms Rights

Don't currently arm myself, so...
So there's a few nations in the world where their citizens have either de jure or de facto rights to arm themselves, and since the United States of America is one of those countries, and their overall cultural dominance in the western sphere, while inexplicable, is palpable, most discussions of the subject centre around the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Now, I want to get into an arms rights discussion without being dragged into the absolute mire that is the seeming inability of literally anyone who lives south of Washington, DC to correctly interpret the phrase "a well organized militia". This can be relatively difficult to do because most of the people on the internet seem to be either American or confused about what laws are relevant when you're discussing something on its own merits.

Then I remembered I operate a blog owned by google over which I have relatively complete creative control.

The Saga Continues

Canadian Politics
My American viewers are probably somewhat less annoyed with me for the moment, since I'm not boring them with our politics and certainly not antagonizing them with theirs. That's not because nothing has been happening - we have lots to talk about, from the closure of my province's last abortion clinic to the absolutely ludicrous relationship my southern cousins have with firearms and the terrifying way that a secession crisis in Ukraine that was bolstered by US interests is rapidly becoming a problem for all of NATO.

But I can't talk about those things, because first Canada has to figuratively and literally clean house. Toronto, which most Canadians will never be to, is the forth or fifth most populous city in North America and commands unusual attention both at home and abroad - recently largely because Mayor Rob Ford is an admitted alcoholic with substance abuse issues.

While I can't condemn alcoholism or addiction given their nature as mental illnesses, I can certainly condemn lawbreaking and untoward behaviour. An exciting development last night (today?) was that Ford is taking a Leav of Absense to deal with his issues, so I am putting everyone on notice: This month, there will be politics.