Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Go to the podcast home for "Americana the Beautiful" and download all the episodes. Come on, is there anything more purely noble than supporting college radio? I can't think of anything off-hand, except for maybe rescuing abused puppies (cute ones) or helping one-legged children achieve their dream of mounting Everest.
Cute one-legged children, that is.
Friday, January 11, 2008
I think this is a fantastic development and I want you, my readers, to form the avant-garde of this burgeoning movement. (I choose you because, frankly, I think that readers of this blog qua "readers of this blog" have already demonstrated your concern with matters of infintesimally small significance.) Ideally, there should be a set of nanophilosophical questions for all of the standard subdvisions of philosophy proper. Here are some to start:
What is the sound of two hands clapping?
Is there something rather than nothing?
If a tree falls in the woods, does a bear still shit there?
Is this the best of all actual worlds?
Is there life after birth?
Can "God" be studied?
Is faith consistent with believing?
PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND LANGUAGE
If a human could speak, could we understand it?
If a scientist was poking my brain in a vat, would my shoes still fit?
Is there a relationship between language and talk?
Is it permissible to harm none to save five?
Do two wrongs ever make more than one wrong?
If I'm okay and you're okay, am I still okay?
Can we derive an "is" from an "is"?
PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Can science be naturalized?
Is classical mechanics consistent with Newton's laws?
Is there any difference at all between expensive art and cheap art?
Are tragedies always sad?
Does buttered popcorn add anything to the cinematic form?
How would things look if the Earth rotated on its axis?
If the unexamined is life is not worth living, what is it worth?
Can I, in fact, know my arse from a hole in the ground?
Is obeying the law legal?
Does an absolute sovereign have absolute power?
If we never removed the "veil of ignorance," could we form an idiocracy?
These are just a start, of course. I am counting on you to add your own burning nanophilosophical questions. Very, very little is riding on your participation.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Saturday, January 05, 2008
How does a steakhouse get rid of its leftover meat through Burger Friday?
Now, Ideas Man's real question is, how do you turn steaks into burgers? or what's the difference between ground beef and steak? Apparently, he had a bad experience with a steakburger at some Steak-n-Shake (pictured above) in Florida. Now, I can't speak to the tastiness of Steak-n-Shake's alleged "steakburgers," but I can explain the principle behind the steakburger, which I will commence to do now...
[Warning: the following explanation may offend the sensibilities of my vegetarian readers... or my carnivore readers who aren't particularly concerned to know where their meat comes from.]
When regular beef is processed, all the "good" parts of the cow are cut first (steaks, roasts, brisket, ribs, etc), then the bones are trimmed of all remaining scraps and that is sold as stew meat. What's left is shavings of meat, fat, and connective tissues which are blasted off with pressured water or air. It's these last scraps that are ground up and sold in the grocery store as ground beef. (Except for the meat that is sold as "ground chuck", which is the ground-up excess of the chuck steak-- the toughest cut of meat.)
Now, we usually make hamburgers from ground beef or ground chuck-- but, theoretically, hamburgers could be made from any part of the animal, since all of it can be ground up, pressed into patties and thrown on a grill. So, you could have a T-Bone burger or a Rib burger as long as your grillmaster has the time and desire to de-bone and grind your meat for you. The reason that steakburgers taste better than regular burgers is because they are made of better meat. There's less fat and other undersirable tissues and they should, theoretically at least, taste like a boneless version of whatever steak meat from which they were made.
Back to Steak-n-Shake. I checked on their website and it looks like you did, indeed, eat a bona fide "steakburger" when you were there. They claim to make their burgers out of steak meat, in the tradition of their founder, Gus, who back in 1934 was grinding up round steak, sirloin and T-bones right in front of his friends to make their burgers. Of course, since Steak-n-Shake is a chain restaurant, we can probably assume that there is a good amount of regular old ground beef mixed in with the "finest quality steak meat"... but that would just be speculation on my part and I wouldn't want to malign Gus' good name without proof.
For future reference, here's a handy guide to the meat parts of a cow:
There you have it. Order up!
What is home like?
Great question, Petya. Not only do I like the vagueness of your question, but also its form. You don't ask what home IS, but what it's LIKE. For me, the associations I make with "home" are almost all sensual. Smells. Sounds. Touches and tastes. So, I'll start with those...
[Olfactory answer] Home is like... the smell(s) of barbecue, fabric softener, talcum powder, fresh-cut grass, hot biscuits, wood-burning stoves, fair food stands, frying bacon and piles of raked leaves.
[Aural answer] Home is like... a pedal steel guitar, a church choir, a football stadium cheer, "Rocky Top," a horn section, a B3 Hammond, Delta blues, Stax, Sun, a banjo, a train whistle, the ringing and dinging of a fair midway, a Southern drawl, the words "y'all" and "fixin'," what Isaac Hayes used to call "hot-buttered love songs," the "amen" of a congregation, clinking beer bottles in a bar and a well-stocked jukebox.
[Tactile answer] Home is like... sweltering humidity, oppressive heat, the bracing chill of walking into a buiding with AC when you're covered in sweat, barbecue sauce or grease on your fingers, bare feet in Bermuda grass, the stitches on a beat-up football, an afghan crocheted by my grandmother, mosquito bites, the exact amount of breeze that you can get on a front-porch swing, the furry ears of a good ol' dog and the vibrating handle of a gas-powered lawn mower.
[Gustatory answer] Home is like... barbecue (of course), anything overly buttered and/or deep-friend, gravy, pickled okra, homemade blackberry preserves from a mason jar, a Coke out of a real (and real cold) bottle, biscuits, oh-so-salty country ham, green jello "salad," any kind of cassarole, sweet tea, meats-and-threes plates, fair food, pie, Budweiser, Jack Daniels, a hot toddy, cornbread and greens with lots and lots of vinegar.
I had every intention of trying to answer this question abstractly, but I came to discover that "home" is very hard to describe apart from my home. That is, I think home is a lot more than the place you hang your hat. For example, I could never, ever associate "scrapple" with "home," no matter how long I lived in the Mid-Atlantic states.
Thanks for the question, Petya. And we're off!
Thursday, January 03, 2008
So, yeah, I intend to keep this little dot in the blogosphere going. That will probably be the one New Year's resolution I'll be able to keep. But, to get the new year kicked off, I need your help. I'm starting off with a little experiment called the Just Ask Challenge, invented by Petya, who executed it to great effect last year. Click on the link for a full explanation, but it basically works like tihs: you get to ask questions, and I'll post an entry-long response. Simple as that.
Hope you are all still out there...
In other random news, I've been catching up recently on a few cable series that I somehow missed out on. I watched the first couple of seasons of HBO's Entourage, which seemed a bit simple and a little too frat-boyish at first, but has turned out to be pretty interesting. Major kudos to Jeremy Piven, who delivers a great performance as a scheming talent agent with a heart of, uh... well, sterling silver at least. On the recommendation of several friends, I also watched the last season of The Wire, the HBO series about the "corner" drug business in Baltimore. My friends were right. It's amazing. (And for those of you who've seen it, can you believe that Snoop is almost 30 years old?!!) And, just yesterday, I started on Rome, which I think I remember Kyle saying that he loved. The jury is still out on that one. I haven't decided whether or not its much more than soft porn and gore.
These series have served their purpose for me over the last couple of weeks, which was primarily to ease the drudgery of constructing syllabi and prepping for the new semester. I start back next Wednesday. Argh.
So, get your Just Ask questions in... otherwise I'll be forced to bore you with blow-by-feeble-blow accounts of my life.