When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 May 2009

Thought for the day

"A gourmet who considers calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard

(source: friend Marci's Sunday afternoon Facebook status)

30 May 2009

Permanent safe havens along the porous border?

KHOST, Afghanistan - Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is seizing a greater role behind the scenes in Afghanistan and Pakistan in an effort that could block the Barack Obama administration's stated goal of denying the terror network sanctuary in South Asia.

A three-month investigation of al-Qaeda's activities, from Nuristan in the north to Paktika in the southeast, suggests that bin Laden's terror network - working through Afghan and Pakistani partners - is present in almost every Afghan and Pakistani province along the fluid border areas between the two countries.

Interviews with US military commanders and American radio intercepts of Arab and Chechen fighters as well as confirmed captures or kills of foreign fighters inside Afghanistan bolster the findings.

More alarming to Western terrorism analysts and US commanders, however, is the recognition that al-Qaeda has succeeded in goading its regional partners into accepting the idea of a "two-front-war" against US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan and the government in Pakistan. That war in turn guarantees bin Laden's network permanent safe havens along the porous border between the two nations, from which it can plan larger international terrorist attacks.
Asia Times Online: Al Qaeda Spreads Its Tentacles

I love it when she knits

Happy Gato

Gear

Yeah, this is how we roll.   (More details at the link.)
WORKING KIT FOR SYNOPTICAL CHARTS LLC

iMac 24" (OS X) - Big Mac
Acer Desktop (Windows Vista/Ubuntu Linux) - Quarter Pounder
Dell Studio Laptop (Windows Vista) - Hamburger
Macbook Pro (OS X) - Cheeseburger
Macbook Air (OS X) - Filet o' Fish
Macbook (OS X) - McRib (retired)
Ubuntu Netbook (Ubuntu Netbook Remix) - Fries
XP Netbook (XP Home) - Milkshake

28 May 2009

Victuals I have known

Personal top ten lifetime restaurant meals (so far).

Tie for first place:

-- 2004 Summer tasting menu at Babbo -- New York City

-- Barbecue sandwich with slaw + sweet iced tea at Allen and Sons -- Chapel Hill, NC

THE REST...

(3) Roast chicken with fall vegetables, Chez Panisse -- Berkeley, California

(4) Blue Hill at Stone Barns Offal Supper with guest chef Fergus Henderson (he cooks with parts most people throw away - VERY successfully) -- Pocantico Hills, NY

(5) The clam-and-bacon pie at Sally's Pizzeria -- New Haven, CT

(6) Salt-and-pepper crab at the R&G Lounge -- San Francisco, CA

(7) Roast chicken with cold green bean salad -- La Rotisserie d'en Face, Paris

(8) Cambodian/Vietnamese soups and noshes at Phnom Penh -- Vancouver, British Columbia

(9) The pastrami sandwich at Katz's Deli -- New York City

(10) The corned beef at the old Second Avenue Deli -- New York City (haven't tried them in their new location)

You may have noticed that two of my all-time favorite meals were roast chicken. Yes, I noticed too. I like simple stuff done well in addition to complex stuff done fussily and often in preference to it. :-)

Thought for the day

If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt.
- Dean Martin

There is an ineluctable appeal...

Primarily of interest to those of us with Y chromosomes: Explosions and Boobs (PG-13, safe for work image-wise but might be big fun if they read the site access logs...)

26 May 2009

I'm thinking Jamie Foxx could play Obama. No. Denzel?

The silly season in re Sotomayor is already upon us:
You can just see Jennifer Lopez and Rosie Perez — actresses and producers who share Sotomayor's Puerto Rican heritage — jockeying for the rights to star in the judge's life story the second Obama announced her name Tuesday morning.
Sonia Sotomayor, The Movie: Who would star? (Christy Lemire, Associated Press)

Weather delay

Rainy day in Chapel Hill...

monsoon season in chapel hill

...and I'm getting over a long Memorial Day weekend of being under the weather. More soon.

23 May 2009

Memorial Day 2009

This post is a Memorial Day tradition at enrevanche, begun in 2006. Thanks to guest blogger C. Scott Smith.

If you're headed to the beach, drive safe - and let's remember the reason for the holiday.  This post will remain up all weekend; I'll "see" you Tuesday.



The date on the grave is shown as March 18, 1945 and the site at the Henri-Chapelle military cemetery is, if my memory serves, on a long rolling hilltop in the middle of farmland in Belgium about an hour from Brussels.

C-02-33 Heinlein 1

I visited it once with my mother in 1967 after a harrowing taxi ride along single-lane farm roads from Brussels. The grave belongs to my grandfather, Crayton Mack Heinlein, who was killed fighting the Germans in World War II.

Family lore, or at least that lore passed along by our often unreliable grandmother, tells us that Mack, as he was known to his friends and fellow soldiers in the 9th Infantry Division, was killed in action in the battle just before the Battle of the Bulge. This information would seem at odds with the date of death listed on his grave, since the Battle of the Bulge took place from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945 and Granddad was listed as having been killed in March.

I for one never really thought that knowing the correct date that he died was all that important. He was dead long before I was born and whether the date we were all told by Grandmom was the right one never really seemed to matter.

We do know, thanks to surviving letters from him, that Mack landed with his division at Normandy on D-Day plus 3 and fought across France, through the killing hedgerows of Normandy, and from there into Luxembourg and Belgium where, if Grandmother was to be believed, he died sometime before the Ardennes offensive which was launched by the Germans in their last gasp to fight their way to Antwerp and force a negotiated peace with the Allies. If the Army’s date is correct, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge before being killed.

He was almost too old to serve in the Army, having been called up at the age of 39, but he went without complaint. During the winter of 1944-45, one of the coldest on record in Europe, he lost part of both feet to frostbite (his first Purple Heart) but refused medical evacuation; once he had recovered, he rejoined his unit--where. during a short sharp firefight, he was credited with saving the life of his best friend. He was killed shortly thereafter (his second Purple Heart), the details of his death never really being made clear since no one from his original infantry platoon survived the war and the Army was confused as to the actual date and cause of his death.

I had not thought about his grave in years. and yet recently something caused me to recall that trip my mother and I took by taxi from Brussels all those years ago. We used to have a photograph that I took as an eight year-old of my mother kneeling next to her father’s grave, a young woman of 28 with tears rolling down her face and seeing her father’s grave for the very first time in her life. There was another photo that my mother took of me at that time and in it I’m standing at attention next to the grave attempting to look solemn.

Neither picture exists any longer and Mom died in 1987.

I don’t know why I started thinking about Granddad’s grave, but I did, and the thinking about it drew me to Google, that divinely inspired fount of all knowledge both useful and less than, and within about a minute I had located the web site for the American Battle Monuments Commission, and from them I was able to locate my grandfather in Belgium 61 years after his death and almost 40 years since my visit to his grave.

The Battle Monuments Commission does an incredible job of maintaining the graves of our fallen soldiers. There are over 5,000 of them at Henri-Chapelle alone. If you have the name of the fallen you can easily find his or her grave, and if you request it, they will take photographs of the grave for you and return them via email or regular international mail within days of your request.

In order to make the inscription on the cross or Star of David stand out better in a photograph, the lettering is filled in with contrasting beach sand for the photo. The sand used can only come from Omaha Beach at Normandy (the site where over 2,000 American GIs fought and died on D-Day) because, as I was told by the superintendent of the cemetery, only sand from hallowed ground can be used to touch a grave marker that marks a hallowed site.

I was going to try to write something to finish this that might serve as a final statement and fitting tribute to the man my grandfather must have been. Upon reflection, I think that there can be no better statement about who he was, what he did and what the men and women with whom he served and died with accomplished for us all than this photograph.

Crayton Scott Smith
Seattle, Washington
Memorial Day 2006

20 May 2009

Thought for the day

Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
- Howard Aiken

From the home office...

Helpful cat iz helpful.

helpful cat iz helpful

Examine your motives

Funny joke I just heard from a friend who's also a very successful psychologist:

Guy goes to Alaska on a hunting vacation. His second day, he shoots a black bear, and as he's working out how to field-dress his kill, another black bear ambles up and says, "Hey, man, that was my cousin, and I'm really pissed off. I can either maul you to death or have my way with you, and those are your only choices."

Guy considers it for a few minutes, and thinks, basically, how bad can it be? So he submits. Takes him a few weeks to heal up.

Next summer, he goes up and shoots a brown bear. And lo and behold, just as he's walking towards his kill, another brown bear walks over and says, "That was my brother. And now I will either maul you to death, or I can have my way with you." The guy submits again, but this bear is really rough, and it takes him some months to recover.

Summer after that, he shoots a grizzly bear. And, on cue, a big grizzly walks out of the woods over to him, and says...

"Bob, you really need to face this. You're not here for the hunting."

NTSB animation of Colgan Air crash in Buffalo

Via James Fallows:

The extraordinary NTSB animation of the flight's last 2 minutes and 39 seconds dramatizes how it happened. At time 1:40, the plane begins slowing from its cruise speed of about 185 knots. By 2:04 -- with the autopilot holding a constant altitude and the power setting still low -- it had slowed all the way down to 140 knots. That is where the power should have come back in, because the plane had reached its proper approach speed and shouldn't safely go much slower. But the crew left the power at idle, and within four seconds the plane was slowing below 130 knots - at which point the "stick shaker" gave its warning and, tragically, the pilot reacted in exactly the wrong way. The animation shows how quickly this all could happen, and what it looks like when a plane goes into aerodynamic "stall."

19 May 2009

Briefly mentioned

Ah, late spring in North Carolina - you never know whether you're going to be using the air conditioner, the heat, or both (conceivably on the same day).

To borrow a trope from blogfriend Buck, here's the weather forecast for Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

chapel hill weather may 19 2009 0705

It has been warm enough in the middle of the day for the last few weeks that the central A/C has run pretty often.

Last night, it got down to 41 and I had to get up in the night and turn the heat on... it was either that or wake my wife up to find out where she put away the comforters.

Friend Ron came over for dinner last night. Ron, in addition to his many other talents, is a Cat Whisperer.

Mister Gato was skeptical of Ron at first.

angry gato

But in the end, he gave him his highest endorsement.

ron and gato

16 May 2009

Wolfram|Alpha

Been playing with Wolfram|Alpha today:
Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

wolframalpha

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come. With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.

Acer Aspire One + Ubuntu Netbook Remix = WIN!

The folks at Apple claim that they don't know how to build a netbook that doesn't look and feel "junky"...

Oh, y'all are *so* full of shit.

I spent less than $300 and I've got an ultralight, portable computer that is fun to use - and it worked with every peripheral I own, out of the box (including a 3G USB cell modem.)

Here's how to go ultralight and mobile in style, on the cheap:

Buy an Acer Aspire One (Dual-core Atom CPU @ 1.6Ghz, 8GB solid-state drive, plus SD card slot for another 8GB and USB ports for whatever you want to attach, street price about $275.)

Download and install Ubuntu Netbook Remix (you'll need a 1GB jump drive to do this most easily...)

This look like junk to you?

Ubu

OK, go do this with OS X please.

15 May 2009

Overworked, overtired, underpaid, undertrained and inexperienced

You will hear all kinds of spin and posterior-covering as the NTSB continues its hearings, but here it is in black and white for you: the flight crew was overworked, overtired, underpaid, undertrained and inexperienced. Period.

Some rules were broken. Before the flight Captain Marvin Renslow slept in the crew room at Newark after commuting from Tampa. First Officer Rebecca Shaw flew through the night from her home in Seattle and was up all day before signing in for her final trip.

And the crew did not maintain a “sterile cockpit” (meaning no chit-chat) as they descended below 10,000 feet.

Otherwise, they - and the airline - apparently met the minimum FAA requirements.

But those minimums still allowed:
  • A captain to flunk no less than five flight exams and still hold the “left seat”.
  • Those long commutes between a pilot’s home and base.
  • The airline to pay pilots paltry wages.
  • Only 8 hours of rest time (from wheel-stop to sign-in for next flight).
Reading the transcript of the CVR is a gut-wrenching experience for me. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who lost a loved one that February night.
Miles O'Brien: From Sully... to Sullied (TrueSlant)

(via James Fallows)

14 May 2009

Heh.

From today's Popbitch.com newsletter:
Rising star of receipts
Revealed: the MP with quick wit

The daily drip-feed of MPs expense claims reminded us of an old BBC legend which did the rounds when Michael Gove was a promising journalist rather than a Tory rising star. One day Gove's boss is said to have told him he wanted a chat about his expenses. The boss assured Gove he was not casting aspersions on anything, but was merely curious... perhaps he'd dated something wrongly. One of the receipts was for lunch with Ken Clarke. Gove's boss said he thought that was very interesting, as on the day of this lunch, he himself had lunch with Ken Clarke.

Without missing a beat quick-witted Gove looked up and replied, "The greedy bastard... two lunches!"

13 May 2009

Flip-flops we can believe in

President Obama said on Wednesday that he is seeking to block the release of photographs that depict American military personnel abusing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan, worrying that the images could “further inflame anti-American opinion.” As he left the White House to fly to Arizona for an evening commencement address, Mr. Obama briefly explained his abrupt reversal on releasing the photographs. He said the pictures, which he has reviewed, “are not particularly sensational, but the conduct did not conform with the Army manual.”

He did not take questions from reporters, but said disclosing the photos would have “a chilling effect” on future attempts to investigate detainee abuse.
Obama Tries to Block Release of Detainee Photos (New York Times, 13 May 2009)

As I noted in a comment to a post over at Buck's place:

Obama will take heat from some quarters for this decision, and may come in for some general abuse as a flip-flopper.

For my part, I find it refreshing that we have a President who listens to reasoned criticism and is prepared to change his mind when presented with a compelling argument. I agree that this was the right call to make under the circumstances.

Billy Preston - "Will It Go Round In Circles"

Playing live on the Midnight Special, 1973. Ferocious funk.

Some days I *do* miss NYC

Nothing Personal

Hobo, standing too close: Don't worry, pretty girl, you ain't got nothing to be scared of. I won't hurt you.

Pretty girl: Oh, I'm not. (smiles) But you should be terrified, 'cause I'll fuck you up.


--14th St

Overheard by: Lucy Lurks
via Overheard in New York, May 5, 2009

12 May 2009

1937-up

Last fall, I spent about a month in the file room of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, hoping to learn the secrets of the good life. The project is one of the longest-running—and probably the most exhaustive—longitudinal studies of mental and physical well-being in history. Begun in 1937 as a study of healthy, well-adjusted Harvard sophomores (all male), it has followed its subjects for more than 70 years.

[...]

...[A]s the Grant Study men entered middle age—they spent their 40s in the 1960s—many achieved dramatic success. Four members of the sample ran for the U.S. Senate. One served in a presidential Cabinet, and one was president. There was a best-selling novelist (not, Vaillant has revealed, Norman Mailer, Harvard class of ’43). But hidden amid the shimmering successes were darker hues. As early as 1948, 20 members of the group displayed severe psychiatric difficulties. By age 50, almost a third of the men had at one time or another met Vaillant’s criteria for mental illness. Underneath the tweed jackets of these Harvard elites beat troubled hearts. Arlie Bock didn’t get it. “They were normal when I picked them,” he told Vaillant in the 1960s. “It must have been the psychiatrists who screwed them up.”

[...]

Most psychology preoccupies itself with mapping the heavens of health in sharp contrast to the underworld of illness. “Social anxiety disorder” is distinguished from shyness. Depression is defined as errors in cognition. Vaillant’s work, in contrast, creates a refreshing conversation about health and illness as weather patterns in a common space. “Much of what is labeled mental illness,” Vaillant writes, “simply reflects our ‘unwise’ deployment of defense mechanisms. If we use defenses well, we are deemed mentally healthy, conscientious, funny, creative, and altruistic. If we use them badly, the psychiatrist diagnoses us ill, our neighbors label us unpleasant, and society brands us immoral.”

[...]

What allows people to work, and love, as they grow old? By the time the Grant Study men had entered retirement, Vaillant, who had then been following them for a quarter century, had identified seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically.

Employing mature adaptations was one. The others were education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight. Of the 106 Harvard men who had five or six of these factors in their favor at age 50, half ended up at 80 as what Vaillant called “happy-well” and only 7.5 percent as “sad-sick.” Meanwhile, of the men who had three or fewer of the health factors at age 50, none ended up “happy-well” at 80. Even if they had been in adequate physical shape at 50, the men who had three or fewer protective factors were three times as likely to be dead at 80 as those with four or more factors.

What Makes Us Happy? (The Atlantic, June 2009)

If that's not enough to get you to go read the full article, I'm not sure what would be. :-)

11 May 2009

First Fan

Call him the First Fan.

President Barack Obama today welcomed the University of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team to the White House to congratulate them on their recent national championship—which the president correctly predicted they would win.
Obama Welcomes UNC's National Champs to White House (WSJ Blogs - 11 May 2009)

obamaunc

More memes than many

Raised as a Roman Catholic, I internalized the social values of that faith and still hold most of them, even though its theology no longer persuades me. I wrote about that, too. I have no quarrel with what anyone else subscribes to; everyone deals with these things in his own way, and I have no truths to impart. All I require of a religion is that it not insist I believe in it. I know a priest, a lovely man, whose eyes twinkle when he says, "You go about God's work in your way, and I'll go about it in His."

What I expect will most probably happen is that my body will fail, my mind will cease to function, and that will be that. My genes will not live on, because I have had no children. Perhaps I have been infertile. If I discover that somewhere along the way I conceived a child, let that child step forward and he or she will behold a happy man. Through my wife, I have had stepchildren and grandchildren, and I love them unconditionally, which is the only kind of love worth bothering with.

I am comforted by Richard Dawkins' theory of memes. Those are mental units: thoughts, ideas, gestures, notions, songs, beliefs, rhymes, ideals, teachings, sayings, phrases, clich├ęs, that move from mind to mind as genes move from body to body. After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and happily torturing people with my jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all eventually die as well, but so it
goes.
Roger Ebert's Journal: Go gentle into that good night (Chicago Sun-Times blogs)

If you aren't reading Roger Ebert's Journal, you're missing out on some incredibly good, thoughtful writing, in a long form that no newspaper would have room for these days. He also links a lot of YouTube videos, and his stuff is uniformly interesting and amusing and thought-provoking.

Sysadmins in BDUs

The Army forces were under attack. Communications were down, and the chain of command was broken.

Pacing a makeshift bunker whose entrance was camouflaged with netting, the young man in battle fatigues barked at his comrades: “They are flooding the e-mail server. Block it. I’ll take the heat for it.”

These are the war games at West Point, at least last month, when a team of cadets spent four days struggling around the clock to establish a computer network and keep it operating while hackers from the National Security Agency in Maryland tried to infiltrate it with methods that an enemy might use. The N.S.A. made the cadets’ task more difficult by planting viruses on some of the equipment, just as real-world hackers have done on millions of computers around the world.

The competition was a final exam of sorts for a senior elective class. The cadets, who were computer science and information technology majors, competed against teams from the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine as well as the Naval Postgraduate Academy and the Air Force Institute of Technology. Each team was judged on how well it subdued the threats from the N.S.A.
Cyberwar: Cadets trade the trenches for firewalls (New York Times, 11 May 2009)

Morning bath

I really love how his head is sort of blurred in this shot - it was taken with no flash, and his head was moving pretty vigorously.

gato in red chair may 2009 chapel hill

10 May 2009

What the hell is going on here?

Update: More people are noticing this emergent phenomenon. 


Quite a few more people.


But nobody knows for sure what's going on yet.



A string of Javascript beginning

input id="gwProxy" type="hidden"

... started showing up in blog entries in HTML the other day - on one machine, the Vista laptop.

The phenomenon has been noticed and is spreading.

This little snippet of code is not in and of itself malware, but it calls another program, and I'm betting that one does something naughty.

Anybody have a clue what flavor of ghost is in my machine? The Macs are all unaffected.

Antivirus and spyware scans (Avast antivirus; Windows Defender and Spybot Search and Destroy) of the affected machine report negative.

09 May 2009

A wonderful time at the open house today


Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
We had a wonderful time at our open house today.

Chap brought some beautiful wines and brandies and an 18 year-old single-malt Scotch whisky that had several of us absolutely speaking in tongues.

Laura Anne made a wonderful coconut cake. I was worried that I might not have room to refrigerate leftovers. I should not have worried.

Ron brought homemade salsa and chips, which were popular in the entire age range of the party (toddler to an aunt and uncle in their late 80s).

It was wonderful to see some old friends and meet some new ones and get everybody introduced to each other. It was especially wonderful to see all of these folks from different tangents of our lives in the mixing bowl of our living room.

Good times, y'all.

And now we're all tired out.

More tomorrow.

08 May 2009

07 May 2009

So, so wrong.

But so funny:



Hat tip: Scott (site comprehensively not safe for work unless you work for gay pornographers or your office has very relaxed Acceptable Use policies... in which case, click away!)

It's never too late

More than 70 years after a girl and a job got in the way of Dillard Griffin's degree, the Durham County man will take part in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's commencement this weekend.

Griffin, 92, enrolled at UNC in 1934 and was on track to graduate four years later. Fate then intervened and led him in another direction.

[...]

Griffin never told his children that he hadn't graduated, even as he put them through college. When his daughter learned his secret last year, she enrolled him in a correspondence course.

Because he's legally blind, he had his coursework projected onto a screen to make it large enough for him to read. He said he got three A's and two B's on his assignments.

When he picks up his business degree on Sunday, he plans to wear a T-shirt under his cap and gown declaring him 1938 class president of the UNC Procrastinators' Club.
Rougemont man to get UNC degree 75 years after enrolling (WRAL.com)

06 May 2009

Belief-O-Matic analysis of my philosophy of life

The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.

Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.


1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Theravada Buddhism (95%)
3. Liberal Quakers (94%)
4. Mahayana Buddhism (89%)
5. Taoism (87%)
6. Secular Humanism (87%)
7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (84%)
8. Jainism (77%)
9. Neo-Pagan (74%)
10. Hinduism (74%)
11. Sikhism (72%)
12. Nontheist (65%)
13. Baha'i Faith (64%)
14. Reform Judaism (63%)
15. Orthodox Quaker (63%)
16. New Age (55%)
17. Scientology (51%)
18. New Thought (48%)
19. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (47%)
20. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (45%)
21. Islam (42%)
22. Orthodox Judaism (42%)
23. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (41%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (40%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (38%)
26. Roman Catholic (38%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (15%)
Take the quiz yourself at Belief-O-Matic and report the results in the comments, if you're so inclined.

05 May 2009

Locavore makes good

This is great news - we've enjoyed Dan Barber's two NYC-area restaurants immensely:
Dan Barber, a pioneer of the so-called farm-to-table restaurant movement, was named the nation's top chef Monday by the James Beard Foundation.

Dan Barber was lauded for using his New York restaurants — Blue Hill New York and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills — to highlight the difference seasonal and sustainable agriculture can make on the plate.

Barber sees his cooking — which he calls American seasonal — as an effort to raise awareness about everyday food choices. At Stone Barns, which is set on a working farm, the menu is a simple list of fresh ingredients.
Dan Barber named top chef in US at "food Oscars" (AP via Yahoo! News)

Related: Blue Hill Farm

Roubini: "We can't subsidize the banks forever"

The results of the government's stress tests on banks, to be released in a few days, will not mark the beginning of the end of the financial crisis. If we are to believe the leaks, the results will show that there might be a few problems at some of the regional banks and Citigroup and Bank of America may need some more capital if things get worse. But the overall message is that the sector is in pretty good shape.

This would be good news if it were credible. But the International Monetary Fund has just released a study of estimated losses on U.S. loans and securities. It was very bleak -- $2.7 trillion, double the estimated losses of six months ago. Our estimates at RGE Monitor are even higher, at $3.6 trillion, implying that the financial system is currently near insolvency in the aggregate. With the U.S. banks and broker-dealers accounting for more than half these losses there is a huge disconnect between these estimated losses and the regulators' conclusions.

The hope was that the stress tests would be the start of a process that would lead to a cleansing of the financial system. But using a market-based scenario in the stress tests would have given worse results than the adverse scenario chosen by the regulators. For example, the first quarter's unemployment rate of 8.1% is higher than the regulators' "worst case" scenario of 7.9% for this same period. At the rate of job losses in the U.S. today, we will surpass a 10.3% unemployment rate this year -- the stress test's worst possible scenario for 2010.
We Can't Subsidize The Banks Forever (Matthew Richardson and Nouriel Roubini, Wall Street Journal, 5 May 2009)

01 May 2009

Here's hoping this is just a drill

North Carolina is one of 29 states that has not stockpiled enough flu treatments to meet the federal government's recommendations, but the state's health director says there's no reason for concern.

State officials have stockpiled about 660,000 courses – enough doses to treat one person – of antiviral medicines. North Carolina's federal allotment is about 1 million, and roughly one-quarter of that was distributed this week in preparation to combat the swine flu outbreak.

Combined, those 1.7 million total courses are enough to treat about 18 percent of the state's population. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that each state have enough antiviral medicine on hand to treat 25 percent of its population.
NC stock of flu meds below guidelines (WRAL.com, 1 May 2009)