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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tasting Notes...
Another edition of Tasting Notes, a series of quick hits on a variety of topics that don't really warrant a full post [Previous Editions: part 1 | part 2]. So here's what I've been watching/playing/reading/drinking lately:

  • The Walking Dead has been an agreeable series so far, though I do have one major issue with it. Indeed, it's one of the things that always bothers me about zombie movies. In short, nothing of import actually happens, and this series is a good example. It starts out promisingly enough, with the sheriff waking in a hospital (a la 28 Days Later...) and setting out on a mission to find his family during the zombie apocalypse. But then he finds them in, like, the second episode, leaving no real purpose to the series. Everyone is so reactive, and that's where all the tension comes from. That's fine for what it is, and each episode seems pretty well constructed, but the focus is more on characters rather than any sort of story. What's more, I don't really see an overarching story emerging since zombies are uniformly boring antagonists and the notion that "humans are the real monsters" is just as lame if not even more boring. The show is entertaining enough, but I'm not really in the "Best New Show!" camp just yet either (then again, of the "new" shows, it's the only one I'm really watching, so maybe I should be in that camp...)
  • Courtesy of WatchTrek.com, I've been revisiting some of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. Not sure how long this site will be up (it certainly doesn't seem official), but it's pretty damn cool. Favorite revisited episode: Peak Performance.
Video Games
  • I've started Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and it's quite good! If you've played the first game, you pretty much know what you're in for, but it's still a lot of fun. The biggest observation I have about the game is a more general one about how sequels always need to strip you of all your abilities and weapons, then gradually give them back. The God of War games are the worst in this respect (I mean, really? Kratos forgot how to spin around with his blades of whatever?), but Uncharted has that too - you start the game without any weapon, then a dart gun, then a pistol, gradually working back up to the more powerful guns. Of course, that's only about the first hour, but still. I hate that. It's a big part of why I never got into GTA IV either - lame cars, lame weapons, etc... start the game, which is boring. I've already played the same game like 5 times before, why do I need to keep going through the paces?
  • Now that the hockey season is in full swing, NHL 10 has entered the playing rotation again. It's amazing that something so repetitive can continually keep my interest, but there you have it.
  • Has anyone played the new Goldeneye for the Wii? Is it worth picking up? I'm hearing good things, but I'm almost always disappointed by games for the Wii these days...
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is fine, I guess, but like the past couple of films in the series, I can't really shake the feeling of filmmakers simply going through the motions (minor spoilers for the rest of the paragraph). I understand that there's a certain difficulty in adapting such beloved source material, but I think the final book could probably have used some liberal editing when being translated to the screen. Do we really need to portray all 7 horcruxes in the movies? Do we really need to break the last book into two movies? Indeed, I think that's the biggest problem with this movie, which is that it's incomplete. They chose a decent place to end the first part, I guess. There's a meaningful death... but then, the really strange thing is that the death that happens in this movie is probably given more attention and fanfare as Dumbledore in the previous film. And while I always liked the character who died and was sad to see him go, I don't think he needed quite so heroic a sendoff. In any case, there were plenty of things to like about the movie - it's quite beautifully shot, there's a great animated sequence in the film, and for the section of the film intended to be all about character building, there are a few decent action sequences (there is, for instance, a nifty "shootout" in a coffee shop that I rather enjoyed). I'm looking forward to the last film, but then, I still think the fourth film is probably the most fun...
  • The Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright commentary track on Hot Fuzz is amazing and worth the price of the BD alone. (Update: Ohhh, there's a page that neatly collects all the films referenced in the commentary - 190 in total, which is pretty astounding.)
  • Currently reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It's great, and it reminds me that I need to revisit that (planned) series of posts that touches on this subject...
  • My recent beer brewing adventures were preceded by some books on the subject, notably How to Brew by John Palmer (also available online for free) and The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition by Charles Papazian. They're both pretty good, though I'd probably recommend the Palmer book for those just getting started (as I was). Papazian's book is good too, though I have to admit that his frequent advice to "relax... don't worry... and have a homebrew" is really annoying for the first timer (as, you know, I don't have any homebrew yet, and why don't you just rub it in some more!?) I think he might address that situation once, claiming that bottled beer is ok for the first timer, but it's still annoying. Anyway, while the beginner's section could use some work, the rest of the book is rather interesting (though I have yet to read the final sections on Advanced All Grain brewing) and there's lots of detailed information and recipes and whatnot (I think my next beer will be based on his recipe for a Belgian-style Tripel - page 191).
The Finer Things And that about wraps up this edition of tasting notes!
Posted by Mark on November 28, 2010 at 07:37 PM .: link :.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Link Dump
Some fine links we should all be thankful for:
  • Epic Meal Time: These guys are insane, and I love it.
  • Part Kid, Part Machine, All Cop. - I've been meaning to link to this for, like, two weeks... But it's brilliant and cute.
  • Ben Kenobi: Private Jedeye - Brilliant parody of old-timey detective movies. Funny.
  • Software Props - Interesting science fictional interfaces made available in flash, including the interface for the Sentry Guns from Aliens and the Death Star power meter. There are only a few here right now, but apparently this guy is working on some new ones (including the motion tracker from Aliens).
  • Tweet of the Week: @DeathStarPR "He's more machine now than man, twisted and evil," said the guy who chopped off his arms & legs, then left him to burn alive. #StarWars
That's all for now. Have a great Thanksgiving!
Posted by Mark on November 24, 2010 at 11:15 PM .: link :.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Adventures in Brewing - Part 2: The Bottling
A couple of weeks ago, I started brewing an English Brown Ale. After two weeks in the fermenter, I went ahead and bottled the beer this weekend. Just another couple of weeks in the bottle to condition, and they should be ready to go (supposedly, the impatient can try it after a week, which I might have to do, just to see what it's like and how it ages).

The final gravity ended up at around 1.008, so if my calculations (and my hydrometer readings, which are probably more approximate than I'd like) are correct, this should yield something around 4.5% alcohol. Both my hydrometer readings were a bit low according to the worksheet/recipe I was using, but that ABV is right in the middle of the range. I suspect this means there won't be as much sugar in the beer and thus the taste will be a bit less powerful, but I guess we'll find out.

I ended up with a little more than a case and a half of bottled beer, which is probably a bit low. I was definitely overcautious about racking the beer to my bottling bucket. Not wanting to transfer any yeast and never having done it before, I was a little too conservative in stopping the siphoning process (which was a lot easier and faster than I was expecting - just add the priming sugar and get the siphon started and it only took a few minutes to transfer the grand majority of the beer to the bottling bucket). Next time I should be able to get around two full cases out of a 5 gallon batch.

Once in the bottling bucket, the process went pretty smoothly, and I actually found filling the bottles up and capping them to be pretty fun (the bottling wand seems like a life saver - I'd hate to do this with just a tube). Once I got towards the bottom of the bucket, it was a bit of a challenge to get as much out of there as possible without oxidizing the beer too much. I managed to get myself a quick cup of the beer and took a few sips. Of course, it was room temperature and not carbonated enough (carbonation happens in the bottle, thanks to the priming sugar), but it sure was beer. I didn't detect anything "off" about the taste, and it smelled pretty good too. Maybe I managed to not screw it up!
Beer Siphon
Siphoning the beer
The worst part of the process was really the sanitation piece. Washing and scrubbing two cases of beer bottles, then getting them to dry out (as much as I could - I'm sure some still had some water in them when I was bottling, which is probably bad) was a huge, tedious pain in the butt. That was probably the most time consuming portion of the process. The actual bottling/capping probably took the same amount of time, but that was more fun. It probably took a little over 2 hours in total, which actually wasn't that bad. In the end, I'm pretty happy with my first experience in brewing. Even if the beer turns out terrible or bland, I feel like I've learned a lot and will undoubtedly have an easier time of it in the next round. Speaking of which, I'm looking to put together a recipe for a Belgian Style Tripel. This will be a higher gravity beer and probably take longer to brew, but it's one of my favorite styles and it's apparently not that difficult either.

(Cross posted at the Kaedrin Beer Blog, along with some other stuff posted today)
Posted by Mark on November 21, 2010 at 07:04 PM .: link :.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Link Dump
A few interesting links from the depths of teh interwebs:
  • Singel-Minded: How Facebook Could Beat Google to Win the Net - Wired's Ryan Singer makes an interesting case for Facebook to challenge Google in the realm of advertising. Right now, Facebook only advertises on their site (in a small, relatively tasteful fashion), but it's only really a matter of time until they make the same move Google did with AdSense. And their advantage their is that Facebook has much more usable data about people than Google. The operative word there is "usable", as Google certainly has lots of data about its users, but it seems Google's mantra of "Do no evil" will come back to bite them in the ass. Google's promised not to use search history and private emails, etc... to help target ads. Facebook has no such restrictions, and the ads on their site seem to be more targeted (they've recently been trying to get me to buy Neal Stephenson audio books, which would be a pretty good bet for them... if I hadn't already read everything that guy's written). This got me wondering, is targeted advertising the future and will people be ok with that. Everyone hates commercials, but would they hate them if the ads were for things you wanted? Obviously privacy is a concern... or is it? It's not like Facebook has been immaculate in the area of privacy, and yet it's as popular as it ever was. I don't necessarily see it as a good thing, but it will probably happen, and somehow I doubt Google will take it for long without figuring out a way to leverage all that data they've been collecting...
  • If We Don't, Remember Me: Animated gifs have long been a staple of the web and while they're not normally a bastion of subtlety, this site is. They all seem to be from good movies, and I think this one is my favorite. (via kottke)
  • The Tall Man Reunites With Don Coscarelli for John Dies at the End: I posted about this movie back in 2008, then promptly forgot about it. I just assumed that it was one of those projects that would never really get off the ground (folks in Hollywood often publish the rights for something, even when they don't necessarily have any plans to make it) or that Coscarelli was focusing on one of his other projects (i.e. the long-rumored sequel to BubbaHo-Tep, titled Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires). But it appears that things are actually moving on JDatE and some casting was recently announced, including long time Coscarelli collaborator Angus Scrimm (who played the infamous Tall Man in the Phantasm films), Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown. This is all well and good, but at the same time - I have no idea what roles any of these folks will play. None seem like the two leads (David and the titular John). Nevertheless, here's to hoping we see some new Coscarelli soon. I think his sensibility would match rather well with David Wong (nee Jason Pargin). (Update: Quint over at AiCN has more on the casting and who's playing what)
  • Curtis Got Slapped by a White Teacher!: Words cannot describe this 40 page document (which is, itself, comprised mostly of words, but whatever). Its... breathtaking.
That's all for now.
Posted by Mark on November 17, 2010 at 09:16 PM .: link :.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Double Feature
While not quite the accidental double feature I ran into a few weeks ago with Catfish and The Social Network, I saw a pair of movies this weekend that share an uncommon type of protagonist. Both are a bit off the beaten path and thus don't really have a ton of mainstream appeal, but they're both worth watching...

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is the third and (for the moment) final movie in Stieg Larsson's "Millenium Trilogy". It has the unfortunate reputation of being the worst of the three films, but while I can certainly see where that comes from, I think the problem lies more with the source material than the films. Which is not to say that the source material is bad or anything, just that this film and the second film are really part of a single whole. The first film made for a great introduction and featured a solid, self-contained story. The two sequels are intertwined. You can't watch one without needing to see the other.

The common complaint about this third film is that it basically represents a rehash of the entire series, and there is something to that complaint. However, I find that there's also something satisfying about how things play out, even if they do so in a mostly predictable fashion. For me, the thing that the first film had that the sequels don't is the relationship between Lisbeth Salandar and Mikael Blomkvist. That was what impressed me most about the first film, but in the sequels, the plot requires a physical separation of the characters and the interactions through intermediaries just aren't the same. And in this film, the majority of screen time belongs to Blomkvist, who isn't as interesting as Lisbeth (who spends most of her time in a hospital, jail cell, or courtroom, and her interactions are mostly speechless).

So perhaps it isn't quite as good as the first two films, but it's still a worthy effort that's better than most of its competition. To me, the first film is clearly the best. The two sequels, taken as a whole are quite good, but can't quite recapture the magic of the first. It's rumored that Larsson left behind plot outlines and half finished works for a number of additional sequels, and the original trilogy has been far too successful to let those sit unfinished. This could, of course, be a blessing or a curse. There are many pitfalls possible in potential sequels to these three films, but there is also the possibility of recapturing the magic. Also, while I'm not normally enthused about Hollywood remakes of foreign films (especially when they're made so close together in time), I have to admit that the talent being assembled for the remakes looks promising.

There are certain similarities between Lisbeth Salandar and the hero of Winter's Bone, yet they're very different characters. Ree Dolly is the primary focus of Winter's Bone, and she's a 17 year old who's faced with a sick mother and two kids to raise (not her kids - they're her brother and sister). She does not live for herself; everything she does is for the benefit of others. Early on in the movie we learn that she dreams of joining the army. Later, we find out that the only reason she would do so is because of the signing bonus, which would be a boon to her cash-strapped family. So aside from being strong and independent, she doesn't really share anything else in common with Lisbeth Salandar, but that's enough. Roger Ebert actually catches on to the most courageous thing about this character in his review:
Ree is played by Jennifer Lawrence, a 19-year-old newcomer who has already starred in Jodie Foster's next film. Lawrence embodies a fierce, still center that is the source of her heroism. She makes no boasts, issues no threats, depends on a dogged faith that people will do the right thing — even when no one we meet seems to deserve that faith. “Don't ask for what's not offered,” she tells her little brother, although the lives of her parents seem to be an exercise in asking and not offering. Did she raise herself?
(emphasis mine) That she "depends on a dogged faith that people will do the right thing" is an interesting and rare thing in a thriller of this nature. Usually you can expect this sort of independent movie to be so steeped in misery that the only resulting feeling is despair. But this film is different. The "faith" espoused by Ree is something that makes her much more courageous than most film heros. It's not glamorous and it won't earn her any fanfare, but it gets the job done. This isn't to say that everything is fluffy bunnies and rainbows, but there is a very "real" feeling to the film.

The story is relatively straightforward. Ree's father, a meth cooker by trade, has disappeared after putting the family's house up as collateral on his bail bond. If he doesn't show up for the trial, the family will loose the house. When Ree is informed, she says "I'll find him," with the quiet determination and resolve that is uncommon for folks in her situation. The film does bog down a bit as Ree goes from person to person, many of whom are seemingly from the same family (though the relationships are rarely very clear), and eventually begins to piece together what happened to her father.

The film is perhaps a bit too long considering how simple the story is, and thus the pacing is a bit too slow, but it's still a striking movie. Filmed on location in the back woods of Missouri, the setting is atmospheric and evocative. In a time of economic downturn it seems appropriate, but I suspect the setting of this film was the same even when business was booming. Visually, the film is stark and while not showy, it's effective. The acting is great, especially the lead (as already mentioned, Ree is played by Jennifer Lawrence in an Oscar-worthy performance) and her uncle, played by John Hawkes. Given the nature of the story, there would be a real danger of falling back on caricature, but writer/director Debra Granik never lets that happen, which is quite impressive.

In the end, I really enjoyed both of these movies, even though both suffer from some flaws that many would find deal-breakers. I don't expect either to really broach the top 10 at the end of the year, but they're both quite interesting in their own ways and I'm glad I got to see them...
Posted by Mark on November 14, 2010 at 04:10 PM .: link :.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Earlier in the year, I had noticed a pile of books building up on the shelf and have made a concerted effort to get through them. This has gone smoothly at times, and at other times it's ground to a halt. Then there's the fact that I can't seem to stop buying new books to read. Case in point, during the Six Weeks of Halloween, I thought it might be nice to read some horror, and realized that most of what I had on my shelf was science fiction, fantasy, detective fiction, or non-fiction (history, technology, biography, etc...) So I went out and picked up a collection of Richard Matheson short stories called Button, Button (the title story was the source material for a very loose film adaptation, The Box).

It was a very interesting collection of stories, many of which play on variations of the moral dilemma most famous in the title story, Button, Button:
"If you push the button," Mr Steward told him, "somewhere in the world, someone you don't know will die. In return for which you will receive fifty thousand dollars."
In the film adaptation, the "reward" was raised to a million dollars, but then, they also added a ton of other stuff to what really amounts for a tight, 12 page story. Anyway, there are lots of other stories, most containing some sort of moral dilemma along those lines (or someone exploiting such a dilemma). In particular, I enjoyed A Flourish of Strumpets and No Such Thing as a Vampire, but I found myself most intrigued by one of the longer stories, titled Mute. I suppose mild spoilers ahead, if this is something you think you might want to read.

The story concerns a child named Paal. His parents were recent immigrants and he was homeschooled, but his parents died in a fire, leaving Paal to the care of the local Sheriff and his wife. Paal is a mute, and the community is quite upset by this. Paal ends up being sent to school, but his seeming lack of communication skills cause issues, and the adults continually attempt to get Paal to talk.

I will leave it at that for now, but if you're at all familiar with Matheson, you can kinda see where this was going. What struck me most was how much a sign of the times this story was. Of course, all art is a product of its cultural and historical context, but for horror stories, that must be doubly so. Most of the stories in this collection were written and published in the 1950s and early 1960s, which I find interesting. With respect to this story, it's primarily about the crushing pressure of conformity, something that was surely on Matheson's mind after having just finished of the uniformity of the 1950s. The cultural norms of the 50s were perhaps overly traditional, but after having witnessed the deadliest conflict in human history in the 1940s, you can hardly blame people for wanting some semblance of tradition and stability in their lives. Of course, that sort of uniformity isn't really natural evil, and like a pendulum, things swing from one extreme to the other, until eventually things settle down. Or not.

Anyway, writing in the early 60s (or maybe even the late 50s), Matheson was clearly disturbed by the impulse to force conformity, and Mute is a clear expression of this anxiety. Interestingly, the story is almost as horrific in today's context, but for different reasons. Matheson was writing in response to a society that had been emphasizing conformity and had no doubt witness such abuses himself. Interestingly, the end of the story is somewhat bittersweet. It's not entirely tragic, and it's almost an acknowledgement that conformity isn't necessarily evil.
It was not something easily judged, he was thinking. There was no right or wrong of it. Definitely, it was not a case of evil versus good. Mrs. Wheeler, the sheriff, the boy's teacher, the people of German Corners - they had, probably, all meant well. Understandably, they had been outraged at the idea of a seven-year-old boy not having been taught to speak by his parents. Their actions were, in light of that, justifiable and good.

It was simply that, so often, evil could come of misguided good.
In today's world, we see the opposite of the 1950s in many ways. Emphasis is no longer placed on conformity (well, perhaps it still is in some places), but rather a rugged individuality. There are no one-size fits all pieces of culture anymore. We've got hundreds of varieties of spaghetti sauce, thousands of music choices that can fit on a device the size of a business card, movies that are designed to appeal to small demographics, and so on. We deal with problems like the paradox of choice, and the internet has given rise to the niche and concepts like the Long Tail. Of course, rigid non-conformity is, in itself, a form of conformity, but I can't imagine a story like Mute being written in this day and age. A comparable story would be about how lost someone becomes when they don't conform to societal norms...
Posted by Mark on November 10, 2010 at 09:23 PM .: link :.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Adventures in Brewing - Part 1
As I mentioned the other day, I've been getting into beer in a big way of late (see my beer blog), and now I've made the leap into the realm of homebrewing. I've noticed lately that while I do participate in a number of creative activities, most of what I end up creating is virtual (i.e. it's all done on the computer). There isn't anything wrong with that, of course, but I've been itching to make something out here in meatspace, and brewing beer should help me scratch that itch.

I stopped by a local brewshop yesterday and picked up a brewing kit, complete with a Brewer's Best English Brown Ale ingredient kit (which should make something akin to a Newcastle Brown Ale). A Trappist brew master, I am not, but it seems like a good place to start (a step ahead of the venerable Mr. Beer, but far below the all-grain brewers). My first brewing attempt is tonight, so wish me luck. Beer nerd details are below, and I'll post an update after I've finished.

Brew #1: English Brown Ale
November 7, 2010

3.3 lb. Amber liquid malt extract
2 lb. Amber dried malt extract
8 oz. Caramel 60L malt grains
4 oz. Chocolate malt grains
6 oz. Crushed Carapils malt grains
1 oz. Willamette Bittering Hops
1 oz. Willamette Flavoring Hops
0.25 oz. Willamette Aroma Hops

Steeped grains in about 2.5 gallons filtered tap water at around 150°F for 20 minutes (some of the thinner grains filtered out of the bag before even putting it in the pot - is that bad? I just poured the debris into the pot too...). Removed grain bag slowly, letting whatever water was left in there drain out. Brought wort to a boil (mental note: allow more time to heat and boil water), removed from heat, added liquid and dried malt extracts, stirred vigorously, brought back up to a boil (again, I've underestimated how long it takes to bring even hot wort back to a boil and even had trouble keeping it at a good rolling boil - it was a very light boil). Once it was boiling again, added bittering hops. Kept at a small rolling boil for 45 minutes, added flavoring hops. Boiled 10 more minutes, added aroma hops. Boiled for 5 more minutes, then took off heat and placed pot in my sink (which was filled with some cold water and some ice) to quickly cool. This didn't work as well as I'd hoped, and I'll probably need more ice next time. Got the wort down to manageable temperature and poured it into my fermentation bucket (attempting to remove sediment with a controlled pour through a sanitized strainer, but wasn't super successful with that). Added some extra water to the bucket to bring up the 5 gallon mark, pouring from high up to aerate the wort. Pitched yeast, stirred a bit, threw the cap on, and installed the airlock. Done!

Original Gravity: 1.040 (this is a bit low, but the temperature of the wort was still a bit high at the time (around 80°, which can throw off the hydrometer because calibrated for 60° measurements). Correcting for temperature, I'm estimating something around 1.042-1.043. Still 0.002 or 0.003 off from the recommended O.G., but this will hopefully still work well enough. I'm guessing the ABV will be a bit lighter than predicted, but that should be ok.)

Well, it took a lot longer than I expected (between 3-4 hours). 2.5 gallons of water plus steeped grains/malt extract takes a while get back up and running on my setup (I have an electric stove, so temperature control is limited here, and honestly, it was even a bit difficult to keep it at a good boil without putting the lid on (but you're not supposed to do that really, so I tried to avoid that)). Part of it is also that it's my first time, so I was trying to be attentive and didn't really take any time away from the kitchen to do other stuff (next time I'll probably read a book or something, knocking out two birds with one stone). I'll need to check in tomorrow morning to (hopefully) report on the bubbling of the airlock (which would mean that fermentation is underway). In any case, it was an interesting session, and I think I've learned a lot, which is probably the best I should be hoping for at this point. Hopefully the next session will go a bit smoother (not to mention the wracking/bottling process for this batch).

Update 11/8/10: I was a little worried this morning when I didn't see any activity in the airlock, but when I got home from work, all appeared to be well. I have no idea how active it's supposed to be, but it's going at about one bubble per 20-25 seconds. Looking around the interwebs, this seems to be ok. There are too many variables to be sure, but at least there is some bubbling going on... So now we play the waiting game.

Update 11/9/10: Well, now this thing is bubbling up a storm. Intervals between bubbling have decreased to about 3-4 seconds. Once again, no idea how active it's supposed to be at this point, but this seems promising.

Update 11/20/10: Beer has been bottled. Read a recap here...

(Cross posted at the Kaedrin Beer Blog)
Posted by Mark on November 07, 2010 at 11:26 PM .: link :.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Link Dump
It's hard to believe, but it's been over two months since the last link dump, so here goes:
  • A radical pessimist's guide to the next 10 years: Author Douglas Coupland makes a series of 45 predictions about how technology and society will change each other. Some are interesting, some are way off, but most are interesting nonetheless. A few samples:
    3) The future is going to happen no matter what we do. The future will feel even faster than it does now

    The next sets of triumphing technologies are going to happen, no matter who invents them or where or how. Not that technology alone dictates the future, but in the end it always leaves its mark. The only unknown factor is the pace at which new technologies will appear. This technological determinism, with its sense of constantly awaiting a new era-changing technology every day, is one of the hallmarks of the next decade.

    10) In the same way you can never go backward to a slower computer, you can never go backward to a lessened state of connectedness

    34) You're going to miss the 1990s more than you ever thought
    The 90s have a bad reputation, but I liked them.
  • The Museum of Soviet Arcade Games: No wonder they lost!
  • Experiments in Blind Tasting: I've been getting into beer in a big way this year, and one of the things I find a little amusing is the way a lot of people seem to review their beers. They always seem to have these amazingly well attuned taste buds, picking up the most subtle of flavors easily. Sometimes I think I'm missing something, and sometimes I think they're just making it up. This article covers a course intended for beer judges, and it's a apparently quite a challenge. The key graph:
    We were then given a batch of three unidentified black beers, and told to write notes on them, then attempt to guess the beer styles. After tasting the three we were asked one by one to read our notes on the first one, all of which went along the lines of "roasty, caramel, maybe a bit neutral". The shock was considerable when we were told that it was, again, Ringnes Pils, this time with some black colouring added to it. Every single one of the 10 participants claimed to taste roastiness in the beer, and not one of the 10 so much as came near the idea that this might be a pilsener. An interesting example of the sense of taste being affected by visual signals.
    I knew it!
  • Kaedrin Beer Blog: Hey, did I just mention that I was getting into beer in a big way? Well yeah, I started a beer blog. I have no idea if it will last or how often I'll update, but so far, I've been updating a pretty good clip. And it being me, of course there's a little movie talk going on as well. I'm open to any comments or suggestions about the blog, and if you're a designer, I need to come up with a nicer looking headline than the default template orange text thing I've got up there now.
That's all for now...
Posted by Mark on November 03, 2010 at 08:50 PM .: link :.

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