Friday, April 29, 2005
If, in a graduate school interview, the interviewer left the room and a folder containing all of your application status information were left open on the desk, would you turn it around and read it? I think most people wouldn't, if only because of the danger of being caught. Pretty obviously, if you were caught, you'd expect that your application would be rejected.

So why is the situation different online? Or is it? Read this article and decide what you think.

Monday, April 25, 2005
If you spend any time with me at all, you'll know that I have no patience for the old saw that supposed 'high culture' is more edifying, beautiful, or beneficial than 'low culture'. My least favorite species of this is the contention that classical music is inherently superior to hip-hop or rap; it's often a very unsubtle coding of racism and class anxiety. So too-- ironically-- is a passion for Shakespeare, who in his time wrote a substantial number of plays that were considered solidly 'low culture'. Then there's the almost universal maligning of television as a destroyer of intellect, attention spans, creativity, etc. . Now, I'm not saying that the most recent episode of "Fear Factor" is likely to be transformed into a cultural monument over the next several centuries, but I do firmly believe that television is sometimes home to real artistry, often complex and nuanced.

There are social scientists who've stood up for television before (i.e. McLuhan, most famously), but now apparently, Steven Johnson is taking on all the criticism and turning it on its head, asking if the opposite of what we've suspected about TV might not be true.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
We tried once before to turn leftovers from a lobster dinner into stock, and ended up failing miserably. I think it was all because we left the rubber bands on the claws when we steamed the lobsters, but I could be wrong. Tonight, inspired by the idea of a lobster risotto in my future, I decided to try again. This time, no rubber bands made it into the steamer during Phase One.
Out for a swim
Then, in Phase Two, I made sure to add a good amount of water, white wine, flat leaf parsley, a chopped onion, several cloves of garlic, a shallot, and a little bit of Old Bay seasoning. The stock is really sublime. We've got about 3 quarts of it in the freezer, and I'm itching to use it now. Any ideas?

Monday, April 11, 2005
Whether or not you believe that television can be 'high art' (whatever that means), I think you can't help but admire a little bit what Alessandra Stanley has done at the New York Times in her television criticism. She's known for sprinkling arcane references into her columns, sometimes reanimating ghosts of theorists and writers who almost everyone has forgotten. I'll be the first to admit that it can feel a little pedantic, but there's something really lovely to the idea that the New York Times has a television critic who actually not only likes television, but lets it inhabit her intellectual world.

The staff at seem to take a slightly more jaundiced view of Stanley's writing, comparing it to a 'continuing-education course' [sic.] and sniping at her references to mid-century French playwrights. In their rush to damn her, they seem to forget that television today is intensely intertextual, borrowing images, quips, quotations, touchstones from just about any source it can-- watch an episode of Gilmore Girls (any episode) if you still need proof. Why shouldn't reviews of television mirror this? What's wrong with drawing parallels between Heinrich Böll and Lucille Ball? The best texts are the ones that make you want to learn more, after all.

Friday, April 01, 2005
Quite possibly the most adorable children ever: sleepy bunnies

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