Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I am a Finalist!

Out of dozens of entries I am one of five finalists in the Central Market Hatch Green Chile cookoff.

First prize is a year's supply of Hatch Chiles! (Also $500)

My dish is the Free Totta (or the Texas Frittata). Recipe to follow. Wish me luck. Show up in person at the Central Market on Lamar, Sunday at 5 PM to cheer me on.

Update: Several of the judges went out of their way to compliment me, but the gazpacho guy won narrowly. Also Irene forgot her hat and I forgot my pan, so not a big win for the home team.
It was sort of fun though, and I will be prominently featured in the cookbook.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
Thats how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Metaphysical Limerick

Ego, the self, is a necessary precursor for functioning in the world, but detatchment from the ego is required to preserve the world.

A major flaw of democracy is that, like in all power structures other than, occasionally, inherited monarchy, the people with the most influence are always the most ambitious and hence generally the most ego-intoxicated.

Ego, though, is an adolescent characteristic, useful for competition, genetic, cultural, economic, political. Adolescent thought is necessary but insufficient. Adult thought, altruism, is about protecting the whole gene pool, not just your own personal flourishes.

Rational self-interest does not suffice unless you take a very broad view of what the self actually means.

These thoughts were initiated by a philosophy limerick:
At t, I will be a nonentity
With plans and desires that
went to t.
Though I won’t survive,

It’s fine if I strive

For future goods. Who needs identity?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Forty Years Ago Today

In the summer of 1967, just shy of my 13th birthday, I had the historically rare privilege of being a nerdy adolescent with a season's pass to a world's fair which we called Expo '67. I saw holograms and monorails and the "Cyclotron" and all manner of futuristic optimism.

Barely a year year later, with most of my cohort of North Americans, in the light of some very peculiar events in Chicago, I had lost my futuristic optimism. In its place I developed a rather intense distrust for authority, personified to a large extent by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and US President Lyndon Johnson.

It was with some astonishment, then, that I recently found myself, as a Chicagoan, increasingly a supporter of Daley's son Richard M. Both the similarities and the differences between father and son are endlessly fascinating.

I'm even more astonished to find myself a Texan and an admirer or Lyndon Johnson!

I increasingly view LBJ as a tragic figure, a great man whose legacy was tarnished by a tragic and misguided war. (I heartily recommend renting Erroll Morris's film Fog of War for some insight into how this happened. The cold erroneous calculations of Robert McNamara clearly are still resonating today.)

In the Daleys and the Johnsons and the Kennedys, we can't entirely ignore a ruthless and vindictive urge to power. Nevertheless, in each of them, we see people motivated by higher goals than their own, as they perceived them. This sort of courage is hard to envision today except among marginalized people.

The quote I have just put at the header of the blog is an emblem of my reconsideration of Johnson and the liberal philosophy of the 1960s that was so thoroughly incinerated by the tragedy of Viet Nam. In the present disaster as we recapitulate the tragedy of Viet Nam as a tragic farce, it is worth comparing the ways in which the Kennedys and Johnsons sought to motivate the society, and comparing them with the delirious nonsense we are offered today.
We have the power to shape the civilization we want.
We should not let ourselves be advertised and bullied into a shabby materialistic cowering.

The world needs bravery and heroism, least of all from foolish boys tricked into lobbing explosives at each other, but rather from all of us, adults with position and wealth to lose and a soul to regain.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dresden Codac


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007


What would motivate someone to send me an email like this, following up on a conversation about technical books in which I and others mentioned the widely revered book on the C language by Kernighan and Ritchie?

I quote the message in its entirety.
Helo Friend
K & R Book sucks
it is bad
I mean, what??? Am I expected to respond "no, you suck"??? How can someone with the wit to know what K&R is have so little sense as to mail something like this??? I hope this is an outlier, but judging by some of my experiences teaching at Loyola, we are producing a generation of young adults that is salted by people with very little sense of what the world is or how to act in it.