Restaurant eating is rising: the pros and the cons – Harvard Magazine

The danger as cooking becomes glamorized--producing rock-star chefs and glitzy television series--is that, just as with restaurant meals, cooking will be turned into another form of theatrical entertainment. Contemporary food television sets a different goal from its forebears. The earlier generation of cooking programs was instructional, attempting to teach viewers the skill, Willoughby says. Furthermore, "Julia Child is very unintimidating. She drops things, forgets things, she makes mistakes, and tells you it will all come out OK. But today, most of food television is not instructional. Viewers are just watching a talented chef cook, and getting a vicarious experience of cooking. It's like a celebrity reality show. These are professional chefs doing things in the kitchen that you cannot do--and that's not what home cooking is about."

Spectacularly entertaining gourmet shows can thus become an enemy of home cooking by implicitly suggesting that "everything has to be perfect," Willoughby declares. "Then people start feeling that they are unable to cook well--so they're not going to cook at all. People have become very intimidated by cooking, and they shouldn't be. If you publish a recipe with a mistake in it, you very rarely get letters saying, 'You screwed up this recipe.' What you get are letters saying, 'I made a mistake somehow when I made this--can you tell me what I did wrong?' Today there's a supposition on most people's part that they don't know how to cook, and therefore it's their mistake."

Google+ loses its cookies in Safari 5

Google Plus is losing its cookies so fast that sometimes it can't keep me logged in for a single click.

In this screenshot, I've logged in. When I click the red "3" for Notifications, the dynamic menu is already logged out, wanting me to Sign In again.

This always happens with Google properties when I'm using Safari. It doesn't happen on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. Just Google. The problem surfaced with the Safari 4 beta, and has persisted since. It happens whether I have extensions enabled or not, and even if I change cookies from "Block Third Parties" to "Accept Always" (I've left it at Always for weeks now, doesn't help.)


Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers holds the distinction of being the first movie this year I'm actually ashamed of. In it, I recognize every failing of we the people, paraded before us as though they were virtues.

It's too easy to say that Transformers is the worst film of the year, because it is more dangerous than bad. The world is full of bad movies, after all, to the brim. ... But the lasting legacy of this film will be that it redefined the uselessness of the MPAA ratings system; begged the question of how much hatefulness is permissible in our popular entertainment before someone says something; and caused too few people to scratch their heads in helpless dismay before this wholesale disrespecting of an entire country and its people.

Are we being good ancestors?

Why would anyone build a Clock inside a mountain with the hope that it will ring for 10,000 years? Part of the answer: just so people will ask this question, and having asked it, prompt themselves to conjure with notions of generations and millennia. If you have a Clock ticking for 10,000 years what kinds of generational-scale questions and projects will it suggest? If a Clock can keep going for ten millennia, shouldn’t we make sure our civilization does as well? If the Clock keeps going after we are personally long dead, why not attempt other projects that require future generations to finish? The larger question is, as virologist Jonas Salk once asked, “Are we being good ancestors?”

The Clock’s inventor introduced the idea of the Clock (in 1995) with this context:

I cannot imagine the future, but I care about it. I know I am a part of a story that starts long before I can remember and continues long beyond when anyone will remember me. I sense that I am alive at a time of important change, and I feel a responsibility to make sure that the change comes out well. I plant my acorns knowing that I will never live to harvest the oaks.

I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every 100 years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years.

That’s Danny Hillis, a polymath inventor, computer engineer, and designer, inventor and prime genius of the Clock. He and Stewart Brand, a cultural pioneer and trained biologist, launched a non-profit foundation to build at least the first Clock. Fellow traveler and rock musician Brian Eno named the organization The Long Now Foundation to indicate the expanded sense of time the Clock provokes – not the short now of next quarter, next week, or the next five minutes, but the “long now” of centuries.


Star found seeding universe with water

Seven hundred and fifty light-years from Earth, a young, sunlike star has been found with jets that blast epic quantities of water into interstellar space, shooting out droplets that move faster than a speeding bullet.

The discovery suggests that protostars may be seeding the universe with water. These stellar embryos shoot jets of material from their north and south poles as their growth is fed by infalling dust that circles the bodies in vast disks.

What Paddington Bear tells us about German vs British manners

Are Germans ruder than the British? Are Britons more dishonest than Germans? Fortunately, we don't have to rely on blind prejudice for answers. Serious academic research has been done on both sides of the North Sea.

There are Britons in Berlin who get taken aback by the directness of Germans. And there are Germans who get really annoyed when Britons (and Americans), in an effort to appear friendly, say things they don't really mean. Some Germans call this "lying".

So, what do the experts say on the matter?

(Apparently I'm part German.)

The happiest billionaire

If Gates is the exceptional billionaire, the one-of-a-kind who became rich and now devotes his time to philanthropy and the astonishing challenge of global health (his foundation also helps fund Crosscut), Allen is the 12th Man Billionaire, the guy who does the cool stuff that you would want to do too, who follows his intellectual passions, who experiments, who seems to truly enjoy what he has. It's a life we can envy, at least from the outside, forgetting, of course, the battles with cancer that would darken any fairy tale. There's something about Allen's passions that portray a man of expansive interests, restless curiosity, the son of a librarian whose billions have opened up the book of the world for himself.