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.

The Expanse

I first heard about James S.A. Corey’s science fiction series The Expanse a couple of years ago when it was announced that Syfy would be producing a show based on it. (I also learned that James S.A. Corey is a pseudonym for the writing tag team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.) Since the book (or books) is always better than its adaptation, I started reading to see if the show would be worth watching.

I’m happy to report that, if the books are anything to go by, the TV series should be quite enjoyable.1 The Expanse is set in the not-too-distant future, with humanity having colonized many planets, moons, and planetoids in our solar system. The good news is that the first episode is now completely viewable online, with the show set to start airing in mid December. The bad news is that they’ve blocked out geographies that are not Canada or the USA. If you live in Canada, watch it on Space. If you’re in USAmerica, this embed should work:

If you’re anywhere else in the world, I’m sure you’re used to acquiring your media through other means.

  1. I liked, but didn’t completely love the books. Most of the books have been a bit slow to start, but when they get going, they really get going. 

Stop Watching the News and Read a Book

Yesterday’s post was an attempt to cope with the seemingly steady stream of horrific news of late. Then I read Karl Ove Knausgård’s Vanishing Point, which helped me to better understand how the media makes things more distant even as it makes the world smaller:

Perhaps the foremost characteristic of our age, what sets it apart from all others before it, is that the sheer volume of images of the world—not just the world of the past, but also, and perhaps especially, that of the present, the world of which we are a part—is so massive. Any event, anywhere on the planet—an earthquake, a plane crash, an act of terrorism—will be available for us to view only moments later, in on-the-scene images we see and consider as we go about our day-to-day lives, stuck in our tailbacks of traffic, as we make our coffee, visit the bathroom, wash our clothes, prepare our meals, set our tables. Usually, we keep these different levels of reality apart, or at least I do. Even the worst disasters are something I merely register, with varying degrees of horror, as if the world outside were a film, a play, a performance, of concern to me only in the most superficial manner. At the same time, and more profoundly, such images provide a release insofar as they allow me the freedom of never having to be entirely present in my actual surroundings, in the routine state of boredom they constantly threaten to dull me with, since one’s attention is continuously being directed toward something else, to what is happening right now: the occurrence, the event, the news item.

The article—actually from a speech in acceptance of the Welt Literaturpreis—makes an interesting case for reading novels as a way to move beyond the media’s distancing universality to something much more personal, particular, and singular.

Faith in Humanity

It’s easy to get discouraged about the world. There are a ready supply of assholes who think that they’re doing God’s work by killing people, be they recently in Paris, or today in Colorado Springs.1 So today I went looking for some good quotes, preferably about nonviolence since only those who repudiate all violence can help to stop it.2

Instead, I found a pretty great quote from Mahatama Gandhi on Wikiquote that helps put things into perspective:

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

And then, as one does while reading a series of quotes from Gandhi, you read everything, and then you come across someone’s quote about Gandhi, and then you read this from Marian Wright Edelman, and hope that you’re up to the challenge:

A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back — but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.

  1. There are so many non-Western examples that I don’t even know where to begin. This is the problem. 
  2. Everyone who commits violence believes that they, alone, are applying it morally, because their cause is righteous. See The Moral Source of Violence

Thanksgiving and Refugees

Let’s be honest here. Every generation has had its own ugly reaction to refugees, whether they are the Irish, the Vietnamese, the Cubans, or the Haitians, and those fears have been broadly unfounded.

In fact there was only one time in American history when the fear of refugees wiping everyone out did actually come true, and we’ll all be sitting around a table celebrating it on Thursday.

John Oliver gets it right, as usual.

Happy Thanksgiving.1

  1. To my USAmerican readers, that is. Canadian Thanksgiving happened 6 weeks ago.