All About ISIS

I’m pretty hesitant to link to anything about ISIS-related, since anything that perpetuates fear plays right into their hands, and into the hands of those who would exploit that fear to get us to agree to all kinds of curtailments of our rights and freedoms in the name of safety.

But, one antidote to fear is knoledge, and I found Vox’s 18 Things about ISIS you need to know quite helpful in that regard. They’re weak, and they’re losing ground.

The Source of Violence

There’s been a lot of violence in the world lately, but most of it hasn’t been in Paris or Colorado Springs or San Bernadino. No group is better at inflicting violence than militaries, since that’s what they’re there for. The best possible outcome of a standing army is the threat of violence, but what good is that threat without exercising it on occasion?

The Dalai Lama has pretty insightful thoughts on the reality of war:

Of course, war and the large military establishments are the greatest sources of violence in the world. Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill human beings. We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous – an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering.

Strong words that I completely agree with. This bit on the military threat to democracy is also cutting:

There are people with destructive intentions in every society, and the temptation to gain command over an organisation capable of fulfilling their desires can become overwhelming. But no matter how malevolent or evil are the many murderous dictators who can currently oppress their nations and cause international problems, it is obvious that they cannot harm others or destroy countless human lives if they don’t have a military organisation accepted and condoned by society. As long as there are powerful armies there will always be danger of dictatorship. If we really believe dictatorship to be a despicable and destructive form of government, then we must recognize that the existence of a powerful military establishment is one of its main causes.

Facebook is Making You Unhappy and Stressed

Study Finds Quitting Facebook Makes You Happier and Less Stressed definitely fits my already negative perception of Facebook:

Researchers at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (yep, that does exist)… took a group of 1,095 Facebook users and split them into two groups. The first group were allowed to continue using the social network on a daily basis, while the other group were forced to go completely cold turkey, staying off the site for the duration of the experiment.

The results were incredibly revealing – after just 7 days 88% of the group that left Facebook said they felt “happy” as opposed to 81% in the group still using the site. They also felt less angry, less lonely, less depressed, more decisive, more enthusiastic, and enjoyed their lives more. Ditching Facebook also appeared to reduce stress levels by as much as 55%.

When I started writing regularly on my blog, I decided to resurrect my years-dormant Facebook account as a publicizing channel. I promised myself that I would stop doing so if I found myself engaging on Facebook in anything more than a superficial manner. Good call. Via Daring Fireball.

Fuck Turkey

While Thanksgiving is now finished on both sides of the border, the spectre of Christmas dinner is looming on the horizon. What I love about Kristin Iversen’s Fuck Turkey is everything: tone, wit, anger, and relentless usage of everyone’s favourite four-letter word:

Turkey is not a good-tasting bird. Fuck turkey for not even tasting as good as fucking bland-ass chicken, which is a pretty low bar to begin with. Fuck turkey for not tasting anywhere near as good as duck, with its tender as hell breast meat which stays succulent thanks to being able to baste in its own delicious fat. And I’m not even going to talk about how good duck leg confit is because then I’ll just start getting mad at how mediocre the turkey leg confit was that I made one Thanksgiving in a last ditch effort to redeem it by making turkey finally taste ok and then after all that time prepping and cooking, guess what that turkey tasted like: just ok.

As someone who’s tried a few of the experiments below to middling results, I found myself nodding and chortling:

Fuck brining. Fuck a wet brine. Fuck a dry brine. Fuck a brown paper bag. Fuck butter under the skin. Fuck “turketta.” Fuck deep-frying. Fuck sous-vide. Fuck sous-vide before deep-frying, because how much fucking time do you have to spend to make something that doesn’t taste good, taste ok? Too much fucking time, that’s how much.

She forgot spatchcocking, which was fine when we tried it last year.

Joule Sous Vide Machine

If you hang around nerdy food sites like Serious Eats like I do, you might have heard of this thing called sous-vide cooking. So when I saw Matt link to a story about the Joule home sous-vide machine, I was interested. When I saw that Gabe Newell—of Half Life fame—was involved, I was even more interested. I especially loved that Newell’s son really got the ball rolling:

Two years ago, Newell purchased an auction item at his son’s middle school that turned out to be a dinner for 10 cooked by Chris Young (now ChefSteps CEO) and ChefSteps’ Grant Crilly… “They came over and it was easily the best food I’d ever had,” Newell says. “Spectacular in its design and execution.” It was looking like just another memorable experience when Newell’s 11-year-old son decided, after seeing Young and Crilly in the kitchen, he needed to have the Modernist Cuisine cookbooks. “It was his bedside reading for six months. Even though, up until then, he’d never been interested in cooking at all, he suddenly decided he wanted to be a chef,” Newell says. “And when I talked to him, he was talking about it like an engineer talks about it, he was talking about trade offs and fundamental principles and thermodynamics…”

Newell’s son’s enthusiasm inspired him to start a dialogue with Young and Crilly, who were then just launching ChefSteps. The three men talked the same language, Newell notes. “They talked to me like a scientist, like an engineer, and this isn’t how I thought people in the cooking world talked. These guys are cooking nerds. And the science is super interesting. Their understanding of what’s going on in the experience of cooking resonated with my experiences in the world of creating entertainment.

Unfortunately the Joule is only available for pre-order in the USA, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled. I’ve heard good things about Nomiku, too.