April 2007

2007 04 30
Chronicles of the pathologically courteous, Part XCVIII

Posted by in: Anecdotal

Walking along Lexington Ave. the other day, I passed a woman smoking a cigarette. At the very moment that I walked by her, she carelessly swung her arm out wide from her body and in one quick accidental motion ended up grinding her cigarette out on my hand. I felt a little sting, and looked down to see the grey streak of ashes on my hand. Without thinking, following an impulse ingrained in me by years and years of practice, I turned to her and blurted out: “Sorry!”

Howls of outrage (8)

2007 04 26
Take Away Shows

Posted by in: Music

Just found this amazing site Take Away Shows, with videos of street performances from a few dozen great bands. I don’t know the full story but I guess this French site Blogtheque invited a bunch of bands, especially Canadian indie bands, to come and perform walking around the streets of Paris at night, last summer. For Chris there’s Arcade Fire. The only ones I’ve looked at so far are the Islands and the Hidden Cameras, both of which are great.

Howls of outrage (3)

2007 04 26
Braised pork ribs

Posted by in: Food

I made braised pork ribs the other day. Although Yoon and I have made braised pork ribs before, I had never made them on my own before this occasion. Also, I sort of made up this recipe (with a bit of glancing at other’s recipes, of course), so I’m proud of myself. Extremely vague recipe follows.

First, prepare the rub: Lots of brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, coriander, thyme, toasted cumin, ground mustard. Put it in a largish container with a lid.

Cut up the ribs into manageable pieces (one or two ribs per piece), throw them in a colander and rinse them carefully under running water. Pat dry.

Throw the ribs in the container and shaka, shaka, shaka until thoroughly coated. Then leave sitting in the fridge for a few hours.

Wait, wait, wait.

Now, 3 hours before the meal is to be served, spring into action again.

Get the braising liquid heated up and ready to go: In a pot of its own put beef broth, apple cider, just a wee bit of maple syrup, 2 sticks of butter, and worcestershire sauce. I also put in homemade ketchup (tastes nothing like store ketchup), which Yoon had made a while ago using the recipe from this excellent cookbook. If you don’t have any of this handy, you could wing it by throwing in other yummy spices that strike your fancy.

Get that braising liquid heated up.

While it’s heating, take a large pot with a lid. Coat bottom of pot with olive oil and heat for a while. Then throw in the ribs and brown for about 10 minutes on high heat. Throw in chopped garlic halfway through.

After 10 minutes, deglaze the pot with white wine. Then pour in the braising liquid. The ribs ought to be completely submerged in the braising liquid. (So when you’re preparing the braising liquid, you should anticipate that you’re going to need enough liquid to completely cover the ribs.)

Put the lid on and simmer at very low heat for about 2 hours. The meat should be just about falling off the bone when it’s done.

Remove the meat from the braising liquid. Let sit for 5 minutes on a cooking tray, and then put in a closed container so that it doesn’t dry out.

Now, turn the heat up on that braising liquid and boil the shit out of it until it gets reduced to a thick sauce. It should smell great at this point, since now it also contains essence o’ pork.

After the sauce has been reduced, turn the broiler in your oven on. Place the ribs on a cooking tray, liberally coat them with the sauce, and then stick them in the broiler. Please note that this is the point at which you’re most likely to fuck up the meal: They’ll burn to a crisp in the broiler if you’re not very careful. I only needed 3 minutes to finish mine, but you should just use your own eyes to judge things, checking very regularly.

Remove from broiler, add a bit more sauce, and serve!

Since the sauce is a bit sweet, I chose to serve the ribs with a salad lightly coated in a slightly sharp dressing, for contrast. It’s also nice to have some yummy bread that you can use to mop up all that sauce.

Howls of outrage (4)

2007 04 24
The Books

Posted by in: Blegs, Music

Does anyone out there like The Books? Bad planning has left me with an extra ticket for their show on April 30th, which is part of the Wordless Music Series. You don’t need to know me to take me up on this offer. You just need to pay me for the ticket.

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2007 04 23
Rocking the Uke Fest

Posted by in: Music

New York’s annual Ukulele festival is nearly upon us. Yoon’s band will be playing on the opening night. $10 will get you in for an evening of Uke madness starting at 7pm, but Yoon doesn’t go on until 11pm.

NY Uke Fest 2007
Thursday, April 26th @ 7pm

Theater for the New City
(Joyce and J Seward Johnson Theaters)
155 First Avenue @ E10th ST, Manhattan

It should be a fun show with a spirited audience. Ukulele fans, as you might have guessed, are a pretty excitable bunch.

Howls of outrage (2)

2007 04 21
What you have to understand about Jeter is that he plays the game using all of his limbs.

Posted by in: Baseball, Iran

Ah baseball season. The Red Sox are playing their first series against the Yankees this weekend, and we’re getting the intolerable national/New York announcers (Joe Buck and Tim McCarver) rather than Boston’s own loveable Orsino Orsillo and Remy. Which means that the ritual refrain is upon us – from the other room, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Tim McCarver.”

Here are two things I liked:
Remy cracking up when one fan throws a slice of pizza at another fan.

A nice non-baseball bit about the thing you have to understand about Iranians. The same point goes double, I often have reason to observe, for statements about The Difference Between Women and Men, or Why Women are Like That.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2007 04 16
On the shooting

Posted by in: Odds and ends

I believe this should be read by as many people as possible.

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2007 04 15
Upcoming shows

Posted by in: Music

I have sinusitis, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to make the first of these. But they’ll be fun, fun, fun – unless Yoon catches it (can you catch sinusitis? I hope not.)

Monday, April 16

Yoon Sun Choi – voice
Jacob Sacks – rhodes
Thomas Morgan – bass
Vinnie Sperrazza – drums

55 Bar
55 Christopher St.
1/9 train to Christopher

No Cover

Friday, April 20
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Yoon Sun Choi and The E-String Band
Jacob Sacks – melodica, harmophone, percussion
Khabu Doug Young – ukuleles
Thomas Morgan – guitar

Night and Day Skylight Room at Biscuit
230 5th Ave (corner of 5th Ave and President St.)
Park Slope, Brooklyn
R Train to Union

By the way, sinusitis really sucks.

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2007 04 12
Civility and political discourse, again

I alluded to this issue at the tail end of another post the other day, but it’s still rattling around in my head, so perhaps writing about it again will properly dislodge it: I occasionally get a bit ticked off when I see complaining about the lack of civility on blogs. Now, there are a lot of blogs that seems to me out of line – enough so that they discredit themselves with me and I just don’t bother to go back. And I can also see plenty of good reasons to try to keep political debate civil. People who are arguing in good faith are unlikely to be persuaded by a rude interlocutor. People are complex too: people with obnoxious political views often have other valuable and morally worthy qualities, and there are certain forms of incivility that write off people as a whole, inappropriately. Honest people have honest disagreements about political issues, and that’s compatible with mutual respect. And so on.

But, but, but. When I see journalists whining about the nasty, nasty bloggers, I often feel that they’re putting a whole lot of emphasis on form at the expense of substance. This is what I was getting at the other day when I pointed out that Krauthammer might not use bad words in his columns but the content is downright nasty. I suppose at this point I might try to co-opt the civility talk and point out that, for example, proposing to continue the occupation of a country against the wishes of the occupied is itself a bit rude, but it’s so many other worse things besides that that even seeing things put this way should jar us out of a too narrow focus on civility. Krauthammer regularly (and influentially) proposes courses of action that are criminal and murderous; bloggers curse about his columns. How about some perspective about the respective norms being violated here?

It’s worth recalling that although politics often looks and feels like a game to the people who are engaged in it and comment on it, at the end of the day it really isn’t. When we engage in political debate about health care in the U.S., we are literally trying to figure out whether people will die for preventable reasons. When we engage in political debate about the Iraq War, we are talking about the fates of millions of people. At some level everyone knows this, but a certain Broderesque fastidiousness about the norms of civility in political discourse often seems to go along with the tendency to think of it as a game which one plays in columns and television chat shows.

So the stakes are high, and people on opposite sides of many political debates have very good reasons to be upset with one another. But it’s important to add to this that many of the disputants in the op-ed wars are lazy, stupid and dishonest. They really are. David Brooks is just fucking stupid. Charles Krauthammer and I don’t have an honest disagreement about the Middle East. He’s a liar who peddles bad arguments for a living, in defense of policies which get innocent people killed. At a certain point, with a certain sort of interlocuter, you have to give up and admit that you think they’re arguing in bad faith for morally reprehensible ends. And I wonder sometimes if the Broderesque calls for civility from journalists and professional pundits is really a plea to stop treating them with the disrespect they so richly deserve. A large part of the point of civility is to make reasonable political discourse possible, but with pundits of this sort (and some high profile bloggers) there’s no hope for reasonable political discourse anyway, and the only thing left to do is expose them to as much public ridicule as possible.

I admit this is all a bit vague and not terribly well-thought through. A better post would have tried to say more about different kinds of civility and incivility, since I’m probably running together different forms that could be usefully distinguished. And since I start off admitting that certain forms of incivility bother me, I really ought to say a bit more about how I distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable form of incivility. Finally, I suspect some of what I’ve written may conflict with my admission above that people with obnoxious political views can have other morally admirable qualities. I’m not sure, so anyone who has an opinion about this is invited to make it known in the comments.

Howls of outrage (9)

2007 04 11
Grand piano

Posted by in: Odds and ends

I just showed this to Yoon and she almost cried.

Howls of outrage (2)

2007 04 10
Rowan Atkinson, what are you doing with your hand in that fruit bowl?

Posted by in: Art

At Cat and Girl today, a nice lesson about classical art. The comic is good, but look below it at the note from 4/10, and be sure to click on the links to see the paintings.

I’m striving, but unable, to come up with a good alternate title for my favorite Caravaggio. Any thoughts?

Howls of outrage (5)

2007 04 08
North Korea arms Ethiopians as U.S. assents

That’s the big news today. It isn’t that the U.S. (appears to have) actively helped Ethiopia get spare arms parts from the North Koreans; just that it allowed a transaction to go through at a time when it was useful for the U.S. to be able to help Ethiopia out with Somalia.

For this to make sense, you would need to believe that the success of Ethiopia’s Somalia project is more valuable than:

a) imposing an actual embargo on North Korea;
b) retaining U.S. credibility on the issue of nuclear proliferation in general;
c) building support for U.S. policies with respect to North Korea.

U.S. support for Ethiopia’s actions in Somalia didn’t make sense to me before I learned that the Bush administration was willing to engage in this kind policy trade-off. But even if there were good reasons to back Ethiopia, it’s hard to believe it could be worth this price. I just don’t understand why the Bush administration would put so much energy into a Security Council resolution and then undermine it three months later while at the same time acting very huffy about the prospect of anyone else undermining the same resolution. It’s just bizarre and irrational.

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2007 04 04
Iran predictions, again

If true, this would provide some nice support for 1 on my list of Iran predictions from almost exactly a year ago.

Revisiting the list, I think recent moves by Russia and China provide some possible evidence against 2, but not nearly enough for me to take it back. 3 is looking a bit rough in light of the last resolution the U.S. managed to get through the security council. I didn’t really regard that resolution as terribly meaningful, but I wouldn’t begrudge someone if they felt that I was stretching it a bit here. 4 through 7 are holding up just fine.

Howls of outrage (6)

2007 04 03
Actually, we’re all happy about it

Posted by in: Overheard

Overheard in the gym:

Don Juan: Yeah, I just never found the right crop to sow my oats in, you know?

Friend: Ha ha. Yeah! [High fives]

Howls of outrage (8)

2007 04 03
Latest Toxoplasma gondii news

Posted by in: Health, tech-sci


Howls of outrage (2)