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August 28th, 2015
11:36 pm


Movies as religion
A lovely piece about looking for a sense of purpose and finding it in loving movies.

Also-- and possibly relevant to the Hugos-- thinking that awards disrupt the connection between viewers and art.

Link thanks to Greg commenting at File770.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1072810.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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August 26th, 2015
07:43 am


Do Libertarians Love Burning Man?
Question inspired by this, which argues that Burning Man is being damaged by the covert capitalism of allowing labor which is paid off-site (probably true), that the abusive nature of the practice is especially pure capitalism (not obviously true, but it's hard to argue with people about the essential nature of whatever), and which states that libertarians love Burning Man.

There's also a claim (probably plausible, but I don't have the background to be sure) that people (Americans?) are bad at acknowledging that working for money is selling labor.

Personally, I'm just cranky that labor which is not sold (what people do for themselves and for other people for free) isn't considered in the GDP. "Hard to measure" is not a good enough excuse.

If you are a libertarian, do you love Burning Man?


If you are not a libertarian, feel free to talk about Burning Man in the comments. If you want to talk about libertarians, please say something about your sources of information about libertarians. If all your sources are people who hate libertarians, consider the possibility that you aren't an expert on the subject.

I'm a libertarian. I don't love Burning Man. Let me count the ways. Some of this is personal-- I don't like being overheated, I don't like loud noise, and I just don't run at the necessary energy level. However, I think there's some ideological repulsion too-- Burning Man is just not libertarian because commerce isn't permitted. This doesn't mean I'm opposed to Burning Man, but it isn't my flavor of utopia.

Also posted to Dreamwidth.

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August 5th, 2015
02:12 pm


The old world changes....
It turned out that almost all the Hugo ballots were sent in electronically, with only 6% coming in on paper.

I'm reading a discussion of Worldcon site selection ballots, and the level of inconvenience of sending in paper (the only way currently available) for people who might not even have a pen or stamps in the house.

And my local gourmet store just had a show on the food network, but their customers (at least all who mentioned it) didn't have televisions.

I thought I was weird for not having a television, rather than typical, at least of gourmet store customers.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1072288.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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July 31st, 2015
10:42 am


I voted for the Hugos
Just applying that little nudge for those who haven't acquired the round tuit.

Voting closes tonight at 11:59 PDT.

And I'm thanking whoever designed or chose the design for the online ballot-- it was easy to use and the fact that it stored my rankings but allowed me to change them was a great convenience.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1071960.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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July 30th, 2015
07:42 am


Falsehoods Programmers Believe
This isn't because programmers are especially likely to be more wrong than anyone else, it's just that programming offers a better opportunity than most people get to find out how incomplete their model of the world is.

The classic (and I think the first) was about names.

There have been a few more lists created since then.

Time. And time zones. Crowd-sourced time errors.


Possibly more about addresses. I haven't compared the lists.

Gender. This is so short I assume it's seriously incomplete.

Networks. Weirdly, there is no list of falsehoods programmers believe about html (or at least a fast search didn't turn anything up). Don't trust the words in the url.

Distributed computing

Build systems.

Poem about character conversion.

I got started on the subject because of this about testing your code, which was posted by andrewducker.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1071695.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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July 17th, 2015
11:42 am


When language meets big data
Here's a podcast from that list-- -- 17 minutes of looking at big data analysis of language from Kieran Snyder from Textio.

It turns out that Kickstarters that get funded are more likely to have a lot of text and (depressingly) a lot of different fonts.

And (their main product analyses job offers) that "synergy" turns job applicants off, and women are less likely to want jobs that advertise for gurus or ninjas. You can run other sorts of data through their job offer analyzer-- you might find something interesting.

I'm worried about what happens if big data is commonly used for language-- there could be a lot of tiresome convergence.

This has a text version some of what was in the interview.

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11:27 am


Podcast Recommendations
I frequently listen to podcasts, but I've had trouble finding things I like. There's TED.com, but the quality is unreliable. There's Blogging Heads, but I want more variety. There's Hello Internet (recommended by dcseain), which is intelligent, pleasant, and charming, but somehow I don't get around to it very often.

Cool Tools (the online descendant of The Whole Earth Catalog) is doing a survey to find podcasts to recommend, and I'm checking out their list. Any other recommendations?

99% Invisible


Bulletproof Radio

Cool Tools Show

Design Matters


Here's the Thing

The Ihnatko Almanac

In Our Time

The Infinite Monkey Cage


The James Altucher Show

The Joe Rogan Experience

Latest in Paleo

Little Atoms

Love + Radio

The Memory Palace

Mystery Show

New Yorker Out Loud

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Radio Lab

Reply All

Science... Sort of


Smart Drug Smarts

Snap Judgment

Song Exploder


Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project

Theory of Everything

The Tim Ferriss Show

This American Life

This is Actually Happening


The Truth

You Are Not So Smart

WTF with Marc Maron

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1071175.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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June 28th, 2015
10:23 am


In praise of nicknames
Facebook has a real names policy, rather sketchily enforced.

There are a number of serious, practical reasons to oppose a real names policy-- there are people who need privacy for their safety or to not lose their jobs (I wonder what happened to Ahashuerus(sp?) from rec.arts.sf.written) and there are people who've built a social network around a nickname and losing that network is a serious thing for them.

However, what gets lost in those discussions is the positive argument for nicknames. Nicknames are fun-- they're a realm of playful invention and flexible identity. I don't want that to be lost. Besides, I mostly find nicknames easier to remember. They're generally more varied than real names and they have more emotional resonance.

I don't use a nickname because I assumed that if there was a right nickname for me, it would be obvious to me, and that never happened. (I don't consider nancylebov to be a nickname for Nancy Lebovitz-- it's just a desperate effort to have something a little easier to spell.) Besides, anonymity would be hard-- I've had more than one person say that they hear my voice when they read my writing.

I recommend Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play by James Scott, who started his career of mistrust of centralized authority with research into governments regularizing names. (He also started with research into limitations on nomadism, but that's another large topic.)

First link thanks to supergee. Which reminds me-- Live Journal and Dreamwidth are very usable social sites that *don't* have real name policies at all.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1070862.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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June 13th, 2015
09:36 am


Sous vide!
I got an Anova Precision Cooker-- a sous vide cooker which is well-reviewed, not terribly expensive and with a $50 off sale from Anova at the moment. Apparently those sales happen repeatedly.

The Anova cooker clamps on to the side of a pot rather than coming with its own pot, and it has a timer which just beeps rather than controlling the cooker.

Anyway, sous vide is putting food in a vacuum-sealed packet, then simmering it at a controlled temperature for a while. It has a reputation for cooking meat wonderfully-- partly because it gets the whole piece to a cooked temperature without over-cooking anything, and partly because none of the flavor goes off into the air making the kitchen smell good. If you want a dark, tasty surface, you use a propane torch or a hot skillet.

You don't have to use a vacuum sealer, you can use a zip-lock bag. I'm not worrying about danger from cooking in plastic on the assumption that people who worry about it seem to be running on general principles and I'm not likely to be sousviding more than once a week. If there's more evidence (preferably with information about dose and risk), let me know.

I found that after I got the cooker, I couldn't get myself to cook some meat, and decided that the problem was that I normally cook as a result of coming up with a combination of foods which seems really good to me, and it just wasn't happening with meat.

Modernist Cooking Made Easy has a recipe for French Scrambled Eggs which looked interesting.
Scrambled Eggs Sous Vide Recipe

Scrambled eggs sous vide are one of the more interesting dishes to cook. The resulting texture is much more like a custard than the sometimes rubbery scrambled eggs we're used to here in America.

Scrambled Eggs Sous Vide
Time: 18 Minutes
Temperature: 167F / 75C
Serves: 2

Scrambled Eggs Sous Vide Ingredients
4 Eggs
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
3 Pieces of bacon, cut into lardons
1 Tablespoon basil, cut into strips
Parmesan Cheese for grating

Scrambled Eggs Sous Vide Directions
Preheat your sous vide setup to 167F.

To make the scrambled egg mixture beat together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until mixed well. Grate a few tablespoons of the cheese into the scrambled egg mixture then pour the mixture into a sous vide pouch and add the butter.

Seal the pouch lightly, shutting off the vacuum when the eggs get close to the opening. A good way to help with this is to hang the sous vide pouch off the edge of your counter when sealing it.

Once the sous vide setup has preheated, add the pouch with the scrambled eggs to it. You will be initially cooking it for around 10 minutes.

While the scrambled eggs are cooking, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy.

After 10 minutes take the egg pouch out of the water and massage it to break up the eggs. Return it to the sous vide setup and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until the mixture begins to firm up.

I basically followed the recipe, except that I included some cooked wild rice and basmati brown rice and some spinach with the bacon, and I'd say it serves one.

The eggs were very nice, and I speak as one who generally doesn't like soft scrambled eggs and has to kind of remember that my tastes have changed since I was a kid to enjoy raw egg yoke. I kept looking at what was on my fork and thinking "that's soft scrambled eggs-- do I actually want that?", and then I'd eat some more of it.

I'm planning to check information about time and temperature and then cook some meat with salt and pepper so I've got some information for my intuition to work with.

More recipes: I'd been irrationally lusting for a copy of Modernist Cuisine. Not only is it way too expensive for me, but it's huge (but with gorgeous pictures), and I almost certainly wouldn't get around to reading it or using it very much. It has a website with many recipes, and I've heard good things about the macaroni and cheese.

You can find a way to search the recipes by using the hard-to-notice menu icon in the upper left corner and going to "recipes".

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1070751.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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June 5th, 2015
01:10 pm


On not having a bra size
A woman goes to six bra stores-- the usual advice is that women don't know what their bra size is, and they should go to a store and get a professional fitting. This turns out to be as good advice as just saying "go to a doctor".

Even if you aren't especially interested in the subject, the article might be worth reading.

The author has a fine hand with her snark: "This bra itself is a Lilyette “infinity back smoothing minimizer,” which isn’t so much a description as it is just four words hanging together for dear life." "

"Upon closer inspection, I discover that the “push-up” mechanism of this bra is literally some air bags. Presumably this is a safety feature?"

One important bit is that women don't have bra sizes because (as with other women's clothing) there is no standardization in bra sizes. Bras that are labelled as the same size aren't the same size. The map is not the territory.

The conclusions, which (with a little generalization for some of them) apply to much more than buying bras:
1. You should be fitted for a bra every time you buy a new one. Just because you’ve recently had a bra that fit you in one size doesn’t mean that they’re all going to fit well.
2. Be honest with the person fitting you. They are human people like you who do not have the ability to read your mind, and they can’t help you unless you tell them your concerns — and if they totally ignore your concerns, then it’s time to go somewhere else.
3. Never buy anything you don’t love. At the end of the day, it’s my fault for buying a bra that I didn’t feel comfortable in, because I let myself be convinced that my instincts were wrong. Nobody threatened to strangle me with a bra strap if I didn’t hand over my credit card.
4. A good fit is what feels good to you. Do you feel comfortable? Supported? Can you put your bra on without having to adjust it 85 times a day like a crazy person? Does it make you feel your best in clothes? Then you’re wearing the right bra size, and everyone else can shut their mouths. Case closed.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1070499.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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