"indecision may or may not be my problem."
i'm a big fan of css. an avid latex user, i strongly support the separation of content from design. i personally don't really have the design know-how to make something really pretty, css or not, but even for me it makes life so much easier. it's the classic 'a little more effort in the beginning, a lot less work in the end' phenomenon. or, as someone once said: 'writing bad code takes just as long'.
the css zen garden has a nice demonstration of how versatile your design can be with the same content.
click on the links to the right to switch the css page rendering the same html, and then - please - stop using <font> and <center> tags forever.
a friend asked me how to bake pita bread. i searched for a recipe, and found one that was pretty good. yesterday i baked some pitas, and everyone i talked to about it asked me the same question: how do you get the pocket in?
my intuition was that it has to do with the fact that you bake it very quickly in very high heat, which causes the crust to form immediately, and then when the center bloats it stretches, but doesn't rip the crust.
strangely enough, an israeli q&a site has just been asked to solve the same mystery. thanks to yoad for linking me up.
the link is in hebrew but you should at least go in there to see what real pita bread looks like. nothing like the stuff you buy in the stores here.
as for the solution to the problem, here's a rough translation of the central points (the author goes into gluten and yeast, which i think is mostly irrelevant to the point at hand):
pita bread, as opposed to normal bread is a flat disc and not a lump of dough. also, it is baked at high heat for 5 minutes, and not at medium heat for longer. the heat makes the water and carbon dioxide (generated by the yeast) expand. in bread there are often slits in the crust to allow the bread to expand slowly without ripping the crust randomly.
in pita bread, the high heat makes the crust stiffen immediately and preserves the flat shape right away. when the heat gets inside the pita bread, it starts evaporating the water and expanding the carbon dioxide generated by the yeast and tries to expand. this creates a 'baloon' of air that doesn't rip the crust but holds the two sides of the disk apaart, until those get baked too, preventing reattachment.
i'll refine the recipe a little and then post it here, too.
foreign films are great. they're so subtle.
but really, life's more precise than any script you can write. so let's hear it for cinema verité.
if you prefer size over quality, there's also a hi-res version that's a little grainier.
much of what you see and hear can be attributed to the fact that we just spent a night (not) sleeping in the car to save on hotel bills.
and the funny thing is that just because it's in a foreign language, these things are sometimes considered high art. if you ask me - 'y tu mama tambien' is basically this, in spanish.
the details are: thursday feb.3 4:30pm, pound hall 102.
i wonder if a second screening will be as impressive, the discussion should be fun nonetheless. chatting about how robots are going to change our lives has been a favorite pastime since homo sapiens started walking the face of the earth.
people tell me to wear a turtleneck and grow a goatie, but i'm not sure i can pull #2 off in time.
The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.
and more in the advice department: the stunning israeli connection. for $129 fight like an israeli.
Here's what's up: These fighting secrets have NEVER been revealed before to anyone outside the Israeli Special Forces compounds. Nir has agreed to share them because, first, he created this special system himself. It's mostly his. (The Israeli army begged him to stay and continue teaching, but he had other plans after his long and distinguished service.) And second... Nir (along with so many other front-line veterans) realizes it is past time for Americans to learn how to fight.
via jesus' general
from my road trip to north carolina, painted on the back of a truck.
AP has a story about a teleoperated robotic vehicle to be deployed in iraq.
they already scored a 10 out of 10 in my book by using the silliest acronym since 'USA PATRIOT Act' (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism). this one's called SWORDS, short for Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System.
and yeah, 'there are no letters to write home if they meet their demise in battle.'
also, and my female accomplice concurred, it's definitely a male movie, not a chick-flick (hey - there's even a sentence there saying 'you're looking for a girl? ha! ain't we all?').
i loved the special effects, and the sound design was brilliant. whenever the hundreds of tons of steel almost skidded into a huge frozen rock, my testosterone made me a very happy person. it made me want to (quoting an old lover of mine) kill a large animal and carry it home over my blood stained shoulder.
fuck 'i love you'. my favorite three words are 'you were right'
this morning the snow was piled up to my chest when i walked out. last night i stood out the blizzard with some good company, chai, mulled wine, and an overdose of chocolate cake and other pastries.
i also learned about the blizzard of '78. now that the sox won the championship, i guess it's the most salient agony in new england's collective memory.
update: thanks to alea and her trusty powershot, here are the pictures of this morning, from where i was standing. my favorite one:
from all the snow being blown up by the wind, you can't even see the sun.
my old friend ori, to say it as he would, 'is a funny guy'.
he has just finished his nyt cited ph.d thesis, and is on the job market for a teaching position.
jaded by one too many rejection letter (all from ivy league institutions, i might add), he wrote the one rejection letter to end them all.
had me (and some of my captive audience) laughing in tears today:
Thank you for your interest in the position with our group. We enjoyed meeting with you and learning about your background at our recent round of interviews.
This year, we have an unusually small and not very competitive applicant pool. That said, the Search Committee has reviewed your application and discussed your case, and we are less than unimpressed with your work. While your interests seem perfect for us, and while we are desperate for people in your field of research, you simply did not make the cut.
While we are always willing to make great compromises and accept mediocre -- and even weak -- candidates, we decided to not include your application for the next round of interviews. Such decisions are, typically, hard to make. Fortunately, in your case, the decision was easy, and the Committee voted unanimously. You did not come even close to being seriously considered.
We want to emphasize that it is the low quality of your work, and not of your character, that the Committee was put off by. However, it would make some sense for you to take this also as a personal criticism. Please interpret this as a clear indication of a lack of enthusiasm for both your research and your future prospects.
We wish you success in your career search.
Search Committee Chair
the short story, i didn't win the simplicity snowflake-a-thon this afternoon. not even close.
this was my entry for the simplest program creating the most beautiful snowflake.
if you can, it would be great to spread the word about the snowflake, i really think it's a good way to make snowflakes with almost no code if you ever need to.
oh, and next time i'm going for a square simple house with no towers or any such bullshit. because that roof was really a mean motherfucker. the seemingly nicely located 4 corners do not define a plane. close to the tower the roof is almost vertical, while at the other end it's much more horizontal. i'm thinking of maybe adding a rain pipe along the edge to tie it together a bit.
in the most recent interview with el presidente, the washington post exhibits some of the finest journalism for the blind:
Sitting at the head of a long conference table in a cabin at the front of the presidential plane, Bush wore a blue Air Force One flight jacket with a red tie and crisp white shirt.
there's few things that annoy me as much as the general consensus of paranoia that's the staple of existance here, and the worst part is that it's spreading all over the world, where 'safety first' becomes the undisputed axiom of what's important in life.
i much prefer the high-risk but worthwhile approach.
particularily unnerving is the insistance of people in the u.s to wish their fellows a 'safe trip', where in every other language i know of people wish each other a 'good trip'. but here it's like - i don't care if you enjoy yourself, just don't die on me, please!
knowing that pet peeve of mine, my friend zoz forwarded me the following quote, 'from george carlin's latest book, 'when will jesus bring the pork chops?'':
always having something bad to say, however, i must point out that that 'creepy' is also one of my least favorite word in american english. not as bad as 'sketchy', but still.
this was communicated to the media lab community in a short, but precise email, which had a closing line that can be described as nothing less than brilliant; fitting to sum up many of our lives' failures:
From the beginning, it was a high-risk, but worthwhile venture.
thanks to ori for pointing this out to me.
this month i'm helping out with a stop-motion compositing project here at m.i.t. yesterday i took a shot at designing and building a miniature apartment building for the set.
as part of the production email exchange, i got this link with the comment: 'if you'd like to see an example of how *not* to do compositing of live-action people into a non-live-action world, watch the trailer'.
seriously, i'm doing some real work today. collecting the collective knowledge on my way to a blissful ph.d - it's not my fault that, in the process, i stumble across gems like electron band structure in germanium, my ass, by lucas kovar.
Check this shit out (Fig. 1). That's bonafide, 100%-real data, my friends. I took it myself over the course of two weeks. And this was not a leisurely two weeks, either; I busted my ass day and night in order to provide you with nothing but the best data possible. Now, let's look a bit more closely at this data, remembering that it is absolutely first-rate. Do you see the exponential dependence? I sure don't. I see a bunch of crap.
steven pinker, in his mildly annoying 'the blank slate', cites an 'old joke among psychologists':
what did the behaviorist say after making love?
'it was good for you, honey. was it good for me, too?'
walking and sliding back home last night, i thought how american it is that everyone is responsible to clear the sidewalk in front of his own house from snow and ice. it's not the city's business, but instead the home owners' problem.
the result: a patchwork of clean and slippery sidewalks, with the poor pedestrian at the mercy of the citizens' laziness. in other words, the problem is totally unsolved because of the privatization, and you stand a good chance to slip and break an arm.
the reason is supposedly that the sidewalk is owned by the home owner, so the city shouldn't be cleaning up other people's mess.
good thing cleaning the roads of ice is not the home owners' responsibility, otherwise we would have cars crashing into trees whenever they drive by a vacant lot.
talking to someone about this, she asked me if in israel the city clears the snow from the sidewalks. that's a good question, and we'll investigate it the next time there's ice on the sidewalks in israel.
the washington post reports that the search for wmd in iraq has officially ended.
with a whimper.
Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.
basically the conclusion was reached in september of last year, but hey - that was really an inconvenient time to officially say things like that.
not that i think it would have swayed anyone to vote differently.
oh, and speaking of the i.s.g, it's always fun to revisit the fabulous thank you video bush sent them before the elections.
nr. 1 turnoff in men or women: people who take themselves seriously.
on that note, cynthia did finally drag me to 'i ❤ huckabees' and she was right: i loved it. chances are that you will, too - but it's best not to know anything about the movie before you go (as it is with most movies).
it also made me inexplicably horny.
another tip - the strawberry something ice cream at j.p. licks, which was not only perfect for the weather, but i was also allowed to take into the movie by the nice and regulation-ignoring staff at the somerville theater.
one of the funniest things i saw on this trip is that they have established women's parking spots in germany. the idea is that women can park close to the elevators so they won't be raped on the way to their car, which really sounds much more like an american idea than a german one. naturally, it sparks a host of jokes ("these parking places are also wider"), and i found the sign, well, hilarious. reminds me of the women-only train cars in india.
it's that time of the year again. apple's new line of products this time around is aimed at all the people who look at dell and say 'but dell is so cheap and apple is so expensive' while looking only at the bright red "$500" icon without reading the specs. i've used my grandma's new super-cheap celeron and let me tell you, it's not a pretty sight. a one-year-old, clean computer that takes forever to boot and about 90 seconds to open a new i.e window.
so personally, i wouldn't touch a $500 desktop, but then again i'm with the odd people who think that waiting 2 minutes for every nontrivial action on your p.c is a dramatic decrease in quality of life.
having used other people's windows x.p and internet explorer for most of my trip, i realized however that most people don't care waiting that much.
in other news, the rumours that apple have a competing word processor in store that microsoft (who is the nr.1 software developer for mac o.s) doesn't like at all, and apple is just waiting for the right moment to release, was also true. apple and m.s have been playing nice for a while, but i guess that's over.
judging by keynote, which i've been using over powerpoint in the last few months, it may well be that i can finally stop using m.s word, the last crappy program on my applications menu, forever.
also there's a new cheap mp3 player from the company that taught the rest what an mp3 player should be like. here, i'm much less than excited. it looks like nothing more than a glorified cheap player building on the ipod brand. it doesn't even have the cool thumbwheel that's so convenient to use. and seriously, it's kind of scary how they play up the shuffle feature. i mean, what's the big deal? shuffling songs? are they just trying to hide the fact that their playes does not have a display?!?
i like the fact that you can have it download random 240 songs every time you plug it in to your computer for recharging. that's pretty minimalist right there. plug into your computer, then into your ears. repeat.
oh, and it's tiny.
trying to post my comment on the previous blog post discussion, my bloodhound-y spam filter wouldn't let me. i had to look at the log to find out why: i used the work 'socialist' in the post, which includes the illegal string 'cialis'.
to quote yariv: 'can you imagine how much of the current socialist agenda is blocked all around the world?'
no wonder socialism died when the internet started. imagine there was a you-know-what (don't want to attract any more spam) drug called 'pitalis'. that would be the end of the free market...
this week i've fallen back in love with tel aviv, and the modest, simple house that is the site of this historic occasion is characteristic of what i love about the city. not a huge amphitheater, but a small dwelling. not huge malls, but small cafes. not collosal t.g.i fridays but hole-in-the-wall hummus bars who serve only one thing, and never thought of printing a menu.
a plug for my old-time friend ori heffetz, whose thesis was described in the new york times today.
not getting married seems to be the trend around me these days. people are having kids, living together - but don't tie the proverbial knot. the ones that do often choose a minor ceremony instead of the usual $40,000 fanfare affair.
and honestly? why bother?
talking about non-marriage with some friends here recently, i remembered something my old landlady once told me. when i first signed the lease with her, i was very surprised at how informal it was. the whole thing was one page without much legalese and it just sort of sketched out an agreement and put our names together.
when i asked her - 'is this the whole lease? are there not going to be items concerning this and that and the other?' she - a 85 year old woman by then - replied:
'with honest people you don't really need a lease to start with; and with crooks, no lease in the world is going to save you.'
I believe, but cannot yet prove, that acquiring a human language (an oral or sign language) is a necessary precondition for consciousness.
couldn't help but smirk when i heard one of the settlers' spokesmen on israeli radio this morning, bitching about the supposedly imminent evacuation of settlements by the army as part of the disengagement plan.
as part of this latest political development, there is a lot of talk in israel about some right-wing soldiers refusing to follow orders if they are commanded to evacuate jewish settlers from gaza.
i don't have the precise quote but he said something to the effect of "it's simply wrong to put the army in charge of what is obviously a police job. the army should fight the enemy and not do policing jobs dealing with civilians. there can only be a disaster if we have the army dealing with civilians, since they're trained to kill enemies and not to deal with a civilian unarmed population."
(sidenote: i would be interested to hear what percentage of gaza settlers is unarmed).
as they say in hebrew: good morning, eliyahu! the army is not equipped to deal with civilians?
who would have thought?
in a similar story, there are many banner ads around jerusalem that say that population transfer is a violation of human rights. again, as opposed to the last 30 years, this time the settlers are the ones funding these ads. cute political stand coming from a group who - at least partially - was an avid proponent of transfer when it was the arab population who was in line for the one way ticket to elsewhere.
these two areal photographs from bbc news paint a very tangible picture of the power of h2o.
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content here by guy hoffman .. as seen times since march 2004