31 October 2007

Fried Catfish Sandwich Late-Night Snack

It was a Tavern Wench post that inspired me to post my procedure (or "recipe," as people who grew up outside of labs call them) for a fried catfish sandwich. After years of letting my late-night hunger pangs succumb to the lure of Camp Washington Chili, I needed a new direction. The pan-fried catfish sandwich helped me, and it can help you, too.

The bread I use is a whole wheat baguette from Shadeau Breads. I cut off 1/3 and slit it into a hoagie bun. I get my fish from the two places at Findlay Market that sell fish, neither of which I can remember the name of even though I've been there four score and seven times. Remember to smell fish before you buy it. If it smells fishy, buy more.

Heat up about 1 Tbsp oil in a pan (or even better, an iron skillet like the one I bought dirt-cheap at an antique store in rural Kentucky) on medium-high. Coat the fillet in equal parts flour ("all-purpose," if you want to be technical) and cornmeal. You can dip it in milk or buttermilk first, but I just sneeze on it and rub the mucus around.

Fry the fish, about 4 minutes per side. Add salt & pepper to the face-up side, and then again after you flip it. Remember, you're pan-frying, not deep-frying. The point is to be MORE healthy than a 3-way.

While that's going on, put a couple of spoons of mayo in a bowl, add some curry powder, salt & pepper, and some lemon juice. Don't add too much because it will become too soupy and lemony. Just a teaspoon, if you're the measuring type (I'm not; I just squeeze about half of a half-lemon). If you add too much lemon then just add more mayo. No rocket science here.

Mix it up, spread it on, add the fish, and eat it up.

The key thing is to make the curried mayonnaise. It makes all the difference.

In addition to being a healthy meal that you can have the satisfaction of making yourself, catfish is not one of the mercury-laden fishes that should be avoided by childbearers, future childbearers, children of childbearers, and pretty much anyone else that doesn't want their brain to turn to Bush mush.

3 Cool Things

One possibly perfect gift for the person whose birthday falls on Halloween.

Paintings that Gaudi might have made if he were a painter and from arctic Russia.

Sculptures that you'll like if you like the first two items and you wish you could be friends with Hieronymus Bosch.

23 October 2007

How to Cut a Whole Chicken

Chicken Butchery 101 (from the Niagara Culinary Institute), one of the better videos I've found on the procedure:

22 October 2007

Malone, Cooper, Winburn, Bates

This blog salutes WKRC's Dan Hurley for providing the only substantive program on local issues. I once saw him at the Clifton Graeter's, and if he wasn't already at a table, I might have bought him ice cream myself in gratitude for his good work. This was a few years ago when I was in my chocolate shake phase (chocolate shake w/ vanilla ice cream).

Hurley has been hosting non-incumbent candidates on Newsmakers for several weeks now. Yesterday, he had Malone, Cooper, Winburn, and Bates. If you missed it, you didn't miss much. Here's the recap:

Malone: A comment at Porkopolis called Malone's performance "borderline retarded." I don't know that I'd go that far, but it's safe to say that "Sam Malone" and "genius" have never been in the same sentence. And yet amazingly, he turned out to be the smart one on the show. As I recall, he was the only one who actually had something resembling a plan to reduce crime in hotspots.

Cooper: I don't know much about Minette Cooper except that she served on council before. I have never heard her speak before, and, based on what I heard, I find it unbelievable that she served on council. She was poorly informed, unintelligent, and appeared confused. I would not be surprised to find out she was on medication at the time.

Winburn: I can see why he has the nickname "Charlie Windbag." He said almost nothing of substance, instead serving up vague platitudes about how he will provide leadership on council and fight crime.

Bates: Bates has about zero charisma, which won't help her, but that's not a reason not to vote for her. The reason not to vote for her is because she is poorly informed about local issues and didn't have any clear ideas about crime, the Banks, or fiscal issues. She also didn't understand the streetcar issue, which she thought was just something that would look fun and nice. The host had to explain that it was about economic development.

The most generous description I can give about these four candidates is that they barely meet minimum expectations, if at all. I know I'll be looking for something more on Nov. 6.

17 October 2007

Hospitals and Mortality Rates

From Medical News Today:

Patients have on average a 71 percent lower chance of dying at the nation's top-rated hospitals compared with the lowest-rated hospitals across 18 procedures and conditions analyzed in the tenth annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study, issued today by HealthGrades, the healthcare ratings company. The study, which documents a wide variation in the quality of care between the highest-performing hospitals and all others...

The HealthGrades study of patient outcomes at the nation's approximately 5,000 hospitals, the most comprehensive annual study of its kind, covers more than 41 million Medicare hospitalization records over the years 2004 to 2006.

The top-rated hospitals were in the upper midwest (WI, IL, IN, MI, OH). The lowest were in the lower midwest (KY, TN, AL, MS). So it will behoove you to be close to home if plagued by something on this list:

Atrial fibrillation, bowel obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary bypass surgery, coronary interventional procedures (angioplasty/stent), diabetic acidosis and coma, gastrointestinal bleed, gastrointestinal surgeries and procedures, heart attack, heart failure, pancreatitis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, resection/replacement of the abdominal aorta, respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke, and valve replacement surgery.

15 October 2007

Why I'm Not for Peace

That's the title of an Ellen Willis piece I found via a random click. She died last year, I believe. This article is from 2002 and, in my opinion, it accurately articulates what is wrong with the American left, why it has failed in effecting substantive change, and why people like me are so unimpressed and disappointed with it.

There is no shortage of articles examining defects of the right so it's nice to read something like this for a more holistic perspective.

It expounds on ideas expressed in a Chris Hedges speech when he recalled the warnings of a teacher who had lived through Nazi Germany:

He despaired of liberals, who he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and allure of evil nor the cold reality of how the world worked. The current hand wringing by Democrats in the wake of the election, with many asking how they can reach out to a movement whose leaders brand them "demonic" and "satanic," would not have surprised Adams. Like Bonhoeffer, he did not believe that those who would fight effectively in coming times of turmoil, a fight that for him was an integral part of the Biblical message, would come from the church or the liberal, secular elite.

I can't post excerpts because the Acrobat file won't let me, so you'll just have to read it. The article is from Vol. 29, No.1 (top left).

I'd be interested to know what you think.

(h/t 3QuarksDaily)

(Added: These are the people we're talking about, photographed by 5chw4r7z)

Trashy Ideas for Cincinnati

From the Business Courier:

The Green Cincinnati Recycling Plan launched this week by Mayor Mark Mallory and city council members would increase recycling by 50 percent in the next four years.

Cincinnati now recycles about 9 percent of its total waste. By upping recycling to 15 percent, Cincinnati would increase the rebate it receives from the Hamilton County Solid Waste District, which would reduce the cost of the city's recycling program. The city now gets a $26 rebate for each ton of recycling. The rebate increases to $30 per ton if the city recycles to 10 percent of its trash, and to $34 per ton by recycling 15 percent.

And up in Butler County they're having a "Recycled Sculpture Contest" for grade schoolers. The kids made art out of trash. See an example here. The best of the bunch are on display at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton (no mention of the contest on their web page, though).

Could this be a good idea for the students in our beloved inner city? It certainly could. It's an out-of-the-box idea to stimulate creative thinking and it might just impress an awareness of their environs on them.

If anyone out there is a member of the Mayor's Kitchen Cabinet, think about it. It's not as if it would cost much.

14 October 2007

How Many Ways Can You Tie a Shoelace?

Over 43,000, according to the shoelace mathematics expert (don't laugh... his article got published in Nature).

Here's a few dozen you can try yourself. I might try the "double helix" myself.

12 October 2007

Appendix Might Actually be Useful, Say Researchers

But it still can't stand up to the spleen or gall bladder.

From Bio.com:

Drawing upon a series of observations and experiments, Duke University Medical Center investigators postulate that the beneficial bacteria in the appendix that aid digestion can ride out a bout of diarrhea that completely evacuates the intestines and emerge afterwards to repopulate the gut.

The gut is populated with different microbes that help the digestive system break down the foods we eat. In return, the gut provides nourishment and safety to the bacteria. Parker now believes that the immune system cells found in the appendix are there to protect, rather than harm, the good bacteria.

As always, the best course of action is prevention: don't get diarrhea in the first place. An erstwhile college friend worked construction one summer, building fast-food restaurants. He never ate fast-food after that and advised me to do the same, although he wouldn't tell me why. But the look of contemplative disgust on his face suggested that I was better off not knowing the specifics.

So try to avoid fast-food, no matter how attractive the value.

Peace Prize Goes to Gore

Well, it's official. Al Gore has something to put in his lockbox.

The worst part is the inevitable querulousness and logical fallacies sure to emanate from the right-wing echo chamber: the Nobel Committee has a liberal bias, the U.N. is irrelevant, the "jury is still out" on climate change, and so on.

The ostriches on the right can't win the argument on scientific grounds, so their only option is to discredit their opponents.

I suggest the ostriches establish their own award ("The Inhofe Prize", perhaps?) for advances in rejecting overwhelming scientific consensus. Let the people decide which award they want to take seriously. Let the marketplace decide. The prize can be endowed by Exxon, which shouldn't be any problem.

11 October 2007

Study Correlates Hip Size and Breast Cancer Risk

From BBC News:

A study led by the University of Southampton found breast cancer rates were more than three times higher among women whose mothers had wide hips.

Rates were more than seven times higher if those mothers had already given birth to one or more children.

The researchers said their work supported the hypothesis that wide, round hips reflect high levels of sex hormone production at puberty, which continue into adult life, and impact on the embryo during pregnancy.

...breast cancer risk may be raised for a daughter during the first weeks of pregnancy if the embryo's developing breast tissue are exposed to particularly high levels of oestrogen circulating in the mother's blood.

That's bad news for a lot of women, but especially those in developing countries, where 70% of future breast cancer cases are expected to arise, as TIME's new cover story explains.

Physics Nobel Breaks New Ground

The physics prize is typically awarded for advances in the understanding of how the universe works on a cosmic scale or quantum scale. But this year it was awarded to two scientists for a nanotechnology breakthrough.

From the MIT Technology Review:

This year's Nobel Prize in physics has been given to a pair of researchers who discovered a magnetic property that opened the way for today's fast and compact hard drives, making possible everything from iPods to the massive data centers that serve as the backbone of the Internet. The discovery has helped improve data storage density by at least an order of magnitude. And it is paving the way for several experimental technologies that could increase it even more.

...in awarding the prize, the Nobel committee pointed to the wide-ranging importance of GMR in opening up the new science of spintronics, in which both the charge and spin of electrons is manipulated. The discovery, which the committee describes as one of the first payoffs of nanotechnology, has in turn now become "a driving force for new applications of nanotechnology."

The physics prize may not be the only award to break new ground this year. It would be something new if Gore wins the Peace Prize because it is usually awarded for direct efforts to rid violence and injustice in a specific part of the world.

09 October 2007

Answers not in Genesis

One of the best college classes I took was a course in American philosophy. And one of the best thinkers was William James. And one of the best things he wrote was The Varieties of Religious Experience.

An excerpt:

WERE one asked to characterize the life of religion in the broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto. This belief and this adjustment are the religious attitude in the soul. I wish during this hour to call your attention to some of the psychological peculiarities of such an attitude as this, or belief in an object which we cannot see. All our attitudes, moral, practical, or emotional, as well as religious, are due to the "objects" of our consciousness, the things which we believe to exist, whether really or ideally, along with ourselves. Such objects may be present to our senses, or they may be present only to our thought. In either case they elicit from us a reaction; and the reaction due to things of thought is notoriously in many cases as strong as that due to sensible presences. It may be even stronger.

Now, over 100 years later, we understand (well, some of us) that the question is not whether God exists, but why the human mind thinks God exists.

This SciAm article is about some recent neuroscience experiments which investigated the relationship between religious experience and brain activity. An excerpt:

Michael Persinger of Laurentian University in Ontario sought to artificially re-create religious feelings by electrically stimulating that large subdivision of the brain. So Persinger created the “God helmet,” which generates weak electromagnetic fields and focuses them on particular regions of the brain’s surface.

In a series of studies conducted over the past several decades, Persinger and his team have trained their device on the temporal lobes of hundreds of people. In doing so, the researchers induced in most of them the experience of a sensed presence—a feeling that someone (or a spirit) is in the room when no one, in fact, is—or of a profound state of cosmic bliss that reveals a universal truth. During the three-minute bursts of stimulation, the affected subjects translated this perception of the divine into their own cultural and religious language—terming it God, Buddha, a benevolent presence or the wonder of the universe.

Persinger thus argues that religious experience and belief in God are merely the results of electrical anomalies in the human brain.

Sorry if it ruins your day, but if gets Rod Parsely off the air, it will be worth it. Also, the God Helmet is now available at Wal-Mart.

(h/t Al Fin)

07 October 2007

Holy Vanillin!

In my family, we like to gather for brunch every Sunday and discuss the latest developments in dung research. As you can imagine, we were very excited over the latest news.

Mayu Yamamoto, a former researcher at the International Medical Center of Japan, has won this year’s Ig Nobel Chemistry Prize for developing a method for extracting vanillin — an ingredient in vanilla fragrance and flavoring — from cow dung.

Yamamoto says that widespread adoption of her method could help the environment because companies would make greater use of cow dung, which arguably contributes to global warming.

As a bonus prize, Toscanini’s Ice Cream in Cambridge, Massachusetts has invented a new flavor — Yum-A-Moto Vanilla Twist — to honor Yamamoto...

The annual Ig Nobel Prizes are meant to honor scientific achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think,” according to the founders...

And hopefully that stretch of I-65 between Lafayette and Chicago will smell better someday.

05 October 2007

Music as Performance-Enhancing Drug

Barry Bonds vs. Barry White?

Technology like the mp3 player is revolutionising sports psychology, according to an expert who says these devices are allowing athletes to harness the psychological benefits of music as never before.

"It's certainly going to add a new level to [athletic] potential," says Terry, who has been to seven Olympic Games as a sports psychologist and published widely on the power of music in enhancing athletic performance.

But he says the technology could create a whole new conundrum for sports authorities by making them redefine whether the use of performance enhancing music is cheating.

In 1998 Haile Gebreselasie set an indoor world record for the 2000 metres by synchronising his stride rate to the song Scatman.

The question of cheating may become even more fraught with the prospect of tiny mp3 players that can be worn under the skin.

Seems a little far fetched; I think by the time music technology gets to that point, other performance-enhancing methods will have advanced considerably enough to be far more worrisome. Still interesting, though.

04 October 2007

Medical Miracle of the Day

Man lives after chair leg penetrates eye socket and throat.

During a brawl, another 20-year-old, Liam Peart, threw a metal-framed chair at Fahkri. The chair leg went through Fahkri's eye socket and down into his neck. Amazingly, Fahkri not only survived but did not lose his eye, which was pushed to the side by the chair leg.

Medical Mystery of the Day


DOCTORS ARE predictably baffled by what would appear to be a medical mystery. Over the last three days, assorted plant leaves and seeds have been continuously popping out from one of the ears of Aman Deep, a 12-year old boy in Faridabad.

ENT specialists, and the radiologists who performed a high-resolution CT Scan of the boy's skull on Friday, looked clueless after the test as they sought to find an explanation. The boy's ear poured out two leaves even during the investigation at the diagnostic center here. As the doctors tried to figure out the mystery, others are already attributing it to superstition and something that was beyond the world of medicine and science.

01 October 2007

Bush's UN Speech Written FONE-EH-TICK-LEE

Bush is a moron, episode 2175:

...a glimpse of how the President sees his speeches was accidentally placed on the UN website along with the speechwriters' cell phone numbers.

Pronunciations for President Bush's friend French President Sarkozy "[sar-KOzee]" appeared in draft #20 on the UN website. Other pronunciations included the Mugabe "[moo-GAHbee] regime" and pronunciations for countries "Kyrgyzstan [KEYRgeez-stan]" and "Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a]."

The press asked Dana Perino about the matter and she responded with a logical fallacy:

...when asked if the president had a hard time pronouncing some of those country names Perino declined comment saying, "I think that's an offensive question."

Solar Power Without Solar Panels?

A few months ago I read that one hour's worth of solar energy (if it could all be captured) would be enough to provide power for the entire earth for one year.

Currently, solar technology is the least advanced of all the renewable energy technologies. Most of the technical advancements are being made in the area of increasing efficiency of solar cells. But one problem with current technology is that solar cells require solar panels, and solar panels require large areas to set up an array. With land being a finite and increasingly precious resource, that is a problem that can only get worse. Furthermore, solar arrays are only practical in sunny climates.

Japanese scientists are developing an interesting solution to both these problems by putting solar panels on orbiting satellites, which collect the energy and beam it to ground-based power stations in laser form.

Unlike earthbound solar power stations, which are subject to night-time darkness and cloudy conditions, JAXA’s SSPS will be able to make use of solar energy 24 hours a day. With slight improvements in the solar-to-laser conversion efficiency and by incorporating solar collectors measuring 100 to 200 meters long, a single satellite will be able to match the output of a 1-gigawatt nuclear power plant, the researchers say.