Archive for June, 2009

Start Being Real: Real World Cancun

MTV’s The Real World is the godfather of the reality TV genre: It’s been around the longest (since 1992), has spawned the most spin-offs and derivatives and has one of the most loyal followings

Now, it may seem like this is not a distinction to be proud of. This is probably the point where I need to defend watching a show that is ostensibly all about young people drinking and having sex with each other. Clearly, that’s what most people are watching for; that is, after all, why MTV set the show’s newest iteration in Cancun. Continue reading


Consider the Appetizer… Or the Lobster

I love the concept of tapas. Since dinner is served so late in Spain, tapas, a variety of small appetizers, serve to keep Spaniards from suffering from hunger bouts between work and dinner. What I love about tapas is that it allows people to eat a diversity of foods in one meal. One can reasonably eat four tapas for the price of one entrée.

In Spain, tapas precede dinner. But, I see no reason why tapas-style appetizers should not constitute dinner. Most entrees have diminishing returns. As you eat more of an entrée, that entrée becomes less pleasurable. Some of this can be attributed to decreased hunger but much of it can also be attributed to decreased novelty. The first taste of a delicious flavor does more for you than the 35th taste of that flavor (there, arguably, are exceptions: lobster may be one). The last bite of that steak or chicken is rarely as pleasurable as that first bite. Rich foods like creamy pastas tend to have significant diminishing returns. Anyone who has ever eaten penne alla vodka can attest to this.  Moreover, one of the benefits of going out to eat at a restaurant is that the chefs cook for far more people (who have varying tastes) than you probably do at your home: as a result, its easier to order a variety of dishes than it is to cook a variety of dishes.

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The Sports Revolution: Flipping the Diamond

Let me set the scene for you: a prominent base stealer is on first. A left-handed pitcher is on the mound. The baserunner doesn’t try to steal second—as he would if a right-hander were on the mound—because the lefty has an intrinsic advantage in picking him off.

Let me reset the scene for you: a prominent base stealer is on first. A left-handed pitcher is on the mound. The baserunner does go for second—as he would if a right-hander were on the mound—because the lefty no longer has an intrinsic advantage to picking him off.

How? Because the baseball diamond was flipped. With a left-handed pitcher on the mound, third base becomes first base, and vice versa.*

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Matt Bai Should Concede Logical Defeat

Matt Bai argues in New York Times Magazine that the art of conceding defeat is lost. He posits that Norm Coleman’s extended challenge of his Senate loss to Al Franken is just a microcosm of a broader cultural trend towards resisting defeat. Bai claims:

What happens in politics, however, can almost never be extricated from the culture at large, and the lost art of losing nobly is by no means an exclusively political phenomenon. At the upper reaches of society, we litigate ever more readily and accept misfortune with ever less stoicism. Being fired from a job becomes the beginning of a negotiation, while a routine school suspension instantly goes to appeal. In part, this is probably the inevitable reckoning for a culture that gives trophies to every Little Leaguer because, as the saying goes, we’re all winners. Shouldering defeat is, after all, a skill that has to be learned early, like speaking Mandarin or sleeping through the night. Then, too, we are guided by an unflagging faith in modern technology — a sense that no discrepancy is small enough to defy absolute quantification. A blown call on a home run hooking foul used to be part of the game, a generations-old lesson in the randomness of adversity. Now the crowd breaks for hot dogs while the instant replay delivers its verdict and the homer is revoked. There are no more bad breaks in life — only bad umps.”

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Fun Times at Malibu Sands

So “The N” has been running the “Malibu Sands” episodes of Saved by the Bell for the last few days. For those of you who don’t remember (shame on you), Malibu Sands was the beach club where the gang worked the summer after their junior year. Some thoughts upon re-watching: Continue reading

Don’t Throw Twitter Down the….

There is a lot of good scholarship out there on the history of invention and technology. What is not as well documented, however, is the history of peoples’ reactions to technology. If recent history is any indication, this is how certain technological developments were greeted:

The wheel? God, your generation just doesn’t know the art of carrying heavy loads across long terrains.

Why would anyone ever need a phone? What do you need to say to someone who isn’t there? Don’t you have more important things to do?

How big of an ego do you have to actually own a car? What do you need to do that can’t be accomplished on foot?

Twitter is the latest luddite lightning rod. People don’t really understand Twitter: What is it for? Why do you need to know what other people are doing CONSTANTLY? What can you say in 140 characters? Continue reading

What to Eat in NYC

New York City (NYC) has a lot of really good food: So much good food that it is very difficult to decide where and what to eat when in the city. The question I pose here is this: If someone is in New York City for the first and only time for a day and can eat three foods/meals what should they eat? Before moving on let’s put forward two assumptions about this person to make my job a bit easier: 1. He has a very diverse palate and is willing to eat foods of most cuisine. 2. He is well-traveled and intends to continue traveling and dining in other cities.
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