My friend Jen Gardner has co-written a gorgeous recipe book called Meringue, which is all about the featherweight delicacy that turns desserts into works of art. I asked Jen if I could include an excerpt that discusses the history and science of meringue, and she kindly gave me permission.
Egg whites. Sugar. A pinch of cream of tartar or a dash of vinegar. And air.
Meringue. How can something be so simple, so divine, and yet so intimidating at the same time?
We both fell in love with meringue the same way. Though we grew up thousands of miles apart it was the first bite of our mothers’ lemon meringue pie, the fluffy topping still warm from the oven atop sweet lemon curd that made us swoon. But it was years before we fully realized how many different forms meringue could take -- and we were hooked for life. For Linda, it was the addictive meringue gelato at the world famous gelateria Vivoli in Florence; for Jennifer, it was a cloud-light meringue torte, le Vacherin, while living in Paris.
Our paths finally merged at a potluck “feast” at our children’s preschool. We spotted the desserts first -- Linda’s tiny, light-as-cloud meringue cookies flecked with chocolate, and Jennifer’s raspberry meringue tartlets -- amidst the store-bought cakes, cookies and one sad frozen lasagna. As the adults elbowed their toddlers out of the way to get to our desserts, our eyes met, smug smiles in check. It was friendship at first sight.
We always get the same reaction when we serve meringues. It seems that because they are so delicate and look so elegant, everyone -- even our friends who are experienced bakers -- assumes they are difficult to make. Not so. They may look intimidating, but they are actually quite simple to make. Even those with little or no baking experience can quickly master meringue.
Meringue is magical. It is incredibly versatile. It can be spooned onto pies, or piped into any number of beautiful shapes. It can be baked or poached, whipped into silky frostings, or folded into cakes to make them fluffier. It can be combined with ground nuts, chocolate or any number of flavorings. It can be formed into various vessels for Chantilly cream and fresh berries. And that’s just the beginning. We hope that Meringue will encourage you to embrace meringue as we have, and that it inspires you to create heavenly creations of your very own.
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Just in case you had any doubts about how much of a security risk your mobile phone presents, have a read of Jacob Appelbaum's interview with N+. Jake's with both the Tor and Wikileaks projects, and has been detained and scrutinized to a fare-thee-well.
Appelbaum: Cell phones are tracking devices that make phone calls. It’s sad, but it’s true. Which means software solutions don’t always matter. You can have a secure set of tools on your phone, but it doesn’t change the fact that your phone tracks everywhere you go. And the police can potentially push updates onto your phone that backdoor it and allow it to be turned into a microphone remotely, and do other stuff like that. The police can identify everybody at a protest by bringing in a device called an IMSI catcher. It’s a fake cell phone tower that can be built for 1500 bucks. And once nearby, everybody’s cell phones will automatically jump onto the tower, and if the phone’s unique identifier is exposed, all the police have to do is go to the phone company and ask for their information.
Resnick: So phones are tracking devices. They can also be used for surreptitious recording. Would taking the battery out disable this capability?
Appelbaum: Maybe. But iPhones, for instance, don’t have a removable battery; they power off via the power button. So if I wrote a backdoor for the iPhone, it would play an animation that looked just like a black screen. And then when you pressed the button to turn it back on it would pretend to boot. Just play two videos.
Resnick: And how easy is it to create something like to that?
Appelbaum: There are weaponized toolkits sold by companies like FinFisher that enable breaking into BlackBerries, Android phones, iPhones, Symbian devices and other platforms. And with a single click, say, the police can own a person, and take over her phone.
You may be saying here, "Huh, I'm sure glad that I'm not doing anything that would get me targeted by US spooks!" Think again. First, there's the possibility that you'll be incorrectly identified as a bad guy, like Maher Arar< who got a multi-year dose of Syrian torture when the security apparatus experienced a really bad case of mistaken identity.
Peggy Burns of Drawn & Quarterly wrote about two concurrent art shows taking place in Chicago and New York in conjunction with the release of Chris Ware's graphic novel, Building Stories. I've been a great admirer of Ware's for many years (so has David -- he wrote about him for The Happy Mutant Handbook), and I'm looking forward to this title.
The exhibits are mirror images of each other, splitting the 126 pages of original artwork in half between them. Each will be complete with a 3-D built version of our Building Stories S&N portfolio, which will also be on sale at each gallery along with a double-sided poster of the above. I have to say that I am in complete awe of how Chris' mind works and almost fell off my chair while looking at Adam & Carl's websites for the exhibit information. And not just awe, but feeling completely fortunate to work with him, and very very lucky that I get to see the NYC show. These times, people, these times are AMAZING!About Building Stories:
Building Stories imagines the inhabitants of a three-story Chicago apartment building: a 30-something woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple, possibly married, who wonder if they can bear each other's company another minute; and the building's landlady, an elderly woman who has lived alone for decades. Taking advantage of the absolute latest advances in wood pulp technology, Building Stories is a book with no deliberate beginning nor end, the scope, ambition, artistry and emotional prevarication beyond anything yet seen from this artist or in this medium, probably for good reason.
I love R. Crumb's sketchbooks. I have three of them, which are facsimile editions of his sketchbooks from the 60s and 70s. I paid about $100 per volume. This six volume set for Taschen is $1000. It looks great, but I don't think I'm going to plunk down that much cash.
This six-book boxed set is the first collection of Robert Crumb sketches to be printed from the original art since the hard-bound, slipcased, seven volume series issued by the German publisher Zweitausendeins between 1981 and 1997. Unlike the Zweitausendeins edition, which included every doodle ever made by the preeminent underground artist, our best-of edition has been personally edited by the notoriously picky artist to include only what he considers his finest work, including hundreds of late period drawings not published in previous sketchbook collections. Robert Crumb requested that the books representing the second half of his career be published first due to fan demand for new Crumb material (Volumes 7-12 cover the period 1982-2011, and the forthcoming Volumes 1-6 will cover the period 1964-1981).
In the last 20 years Crumb's artistic output has slowed considerably, making new works more rare and highly prized. This collection of over 600 unseen drawings created between 1982 and 2011 makes this a must-have collectible for every Crumb fan.
Click here to play this episode. Gweek is Boing Boing's podcast about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
My guest today is Gretchen Rubin, author of the brand new book called Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life. It’s published by Crown and it’s a followup to her 2009 runaway bestseller, The Happiness Project, in which Gretchen spent a year conducting experiments to find out if doing certain things made her happier or not/ The experiments were based on folks sayings, advice from famous thinkers, and scientific studies.
Past episodes: 001, 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019, 020, 021, 022, 023, 024, 025, 026, 027, 028, 029, 030, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035, 036, 037, 038, 039, 040, 041, 042, 043, 044, 045, 046, 047, 048, 049, 050, 051, 052, 053, 054, 055, 056, 057, 058, 059, 060, 061, 062, 063, 064, 065
Ian Welsh writes on Naked Capitalism with 21 dismal and compelling "basics" about the economy and the so-called "recovery."
7) Europe, ex. Germany, is in recession.
8 ) the developed world is in depression, it never left depression. During depressions there are recoveries (such as they are) and recessions, but the overall economy is in depression.
9) China’s economy is slowing down. Since China is the main engine of the world economy, followed by the US, this is really bad. If it goes into an actual recession, bend over and kiss your butt goodbye.
10) Austerity is a means by which the rich can buy up assets which are not normally on the market for cheap.
11) the wealth of the rich and major corporations has recovered and in many countries exceeded its prior highs. They are doing fine. Austerity is not hurting them. They control your politicians. The depression will not end until it is in their interest for it to do so, or their wealth and power is broken.
12) The US play is as follows: frack. Frack some more. Frack even more. They are trying the Reagan play, temporize while new supplies of hydrocarbons come on line. Their bet is that they’ll get another boom out of that. If they’re right, it’ll be a lousy boom. If they’re wrong (and the Saudis think they are, and the Saudis have been eating their lunch since 2001) then you won’t even get that. Either way, though, they’ll devastate the environment, by which I mean the water you drink and grow crops with.
13) For people earning less than about 80K, the economy never really recovered. Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/09/some-basics-on-the-economy.html#0PPQV6PGXuqWiWc9.99
The Dot and the Line, Chuck Jones/MGM's classic 1965 Oscar-winning short film based on Norton Juster's 1963 book The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics inspired by Edwin Abbott Abbott's 1884 novella "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions." When I was a kid and this came on between Tom and Jerry episodes, it blew my mind. Still does. (Thanks, Kathy Cheun!)
Brazilian artist Diego Kuffer writes, " I have a new series of photos called 'Chrononaut'. It's about how experience shapes the way we perceive the world and reality. Also, it pictures public clocks in Sao Paulo that are abandoned, because it isn't allowed anymore to post ads in public spaces, as part of a law that forbids this kind of visual pollution."
That is a high claim, I know. But over Labor Day weekend, a combination of dedicated curation and popular vote resulted in Henri 2, Paw de Deux being named the best Internet cat video.
The Internet Cat Film Festival, sponsored by Minneapolis' Walker Museum of Art, drew a live audience of more than 10,000 people last Thursday night. Videos were curated from a massive collection submitted online, and were grouped into thematic categories— foreign films, for instance, or comedies. Henri 2 took home the Golden Kitty, a People's Choice award.
Bonus: If arguing about the merits of Henri 2 weren't enough of a gift to your procrastination tendencies, you can also check out a full list of all the films screened at the festival, including links.
At his blog, Kafka's Mouse, author P.D. Smith details the history of lighting infrastructure in cities—a story that begins with the dawn of gas lights.
London was the first city to get gas-powered street lamps, in 1812. But it was not the first city to hear such an idea proposed. In fact, in an alternate reality, Paris could have been the first illuminated city — had they only listened to tragically hip engineer Philippe Lebon, who was into gas street lamps before they were cool.
It was the French engineer Philippe Lebon (1767-1804) who had the ingenious – though as it turned out premature – idea of using the gas produced from burning wood for heating and lighting cities. He was utterly convinced that he had discovered a new power source for what he called ‘thermolamps or stoves that heat cheaply’. But like many inventors, he found it difficult to convince others that his ideas could work. The French government rejected his proposal to illuminate Paris with gas lights.
So, in 1801, Lebon rented a house in the heart of Paris and, using his invention, spectacularly illuminated its rooms and even the grotto in the garden. Despite this shining example, the French press poured scorn on his idea and manufacturers remained sceptical. Poor Lebon was ruined and his idea faded with the turning out of the last gas-lamp in his show-house. Lebon had spent his entire family fortune on the idea and died in 1804, a bitter man.
But the very next year, William Murdock – who had also invented an ingenious pneumatic urban message system – began installing coal-gas lighting in mills in Manchester and Halifax. Murdock had started experimenting with coal-gas a few years earlier, after hearing of Lebon’s gas-lit house. The age of gas lighting had finally dawned, but sadly without its pioneer, Lebon, ever seeing its light.
Science Debate is a group that's working to get political candidates in the United States actually talking publicly about issues of science and technology policy. In 2008, they tried (and failed) to get Barak Obama and John McCain to agree to a live, televised science debate. But they did get both candidates to send in written answers to 14 key questions.
This election cycle, Science Debate sent out a new set of 14 questions—all chosen from a crowdsourced list. Today, they announced that they'd gotten answers back from both Obama and Mitt Romney. You can compare the candidates side-by-side at the Science Debate website. I have to say that, while I disagree with a lot of Romney's conclusions, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of thought and time his staff clearly put into writing some very long and detailed responses.
Perhaps most surprising was his response to a question about climate change. Instead of attempting to flatly deny the evidence, Mitt Romney has apparently moved on to acknowledging that climate change is happening—while simultaneously overplaying the uncertainty surrounding specific risks, and claiming that even if climate change is a big problem there's nothing we can really do about it anyway ... because China.
Personally, I think that's pretty interesting. Climate scientists, and the journalists who write about them, have been talking, anecdotally, about seeing this exact rhetorical shift happening in conservative circles. It seems that the Republican presidential nominee is now one of the people who acknowledge climate change exists, but would still rather not take any decisive steps to deal with it.
I happen to think that's a dumb position. After all, even if the United States can't stop climate change alone, the kinds of policies that would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels would also help us adapt and thrive despite climate shifts and fossil fuel depletion. But this is still a step in the right direction. As several climate scientists I've spoken with have said, we can disagree on the policy. But it's high time we stop pretending that we can't see the changes happening all around us.
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I post this not just because it's the cast of AMC's Mad Men performing Rick Astley's famous Rick-rolling anthem one word at a time, but also because of the sheer man hours spent looking for each word in the lyrics being said at any point during the show's first four seasons -- which, if every episode is about 42 minutes, amounts to about 36 and a half hours of Mad Men -- and then editing them all together, to music, in order to create the appearance of an assembled song. Please, bask in appreciation of YouTube user Buchan39's efforts. Quick update 9/5: Wasn't sure yesterday if the video was created for or by standup comedian Richard Sandling -- it was, indeed, created by the comedian himself. (Thanks, Pete!)
Here's all the demonic summoning symbols you're likely to use on a daily basis, in handy flashcard form. All you need to do is print it up and stick it over your monitor, so it's handy when you need it.
The three-man crew of the 31-foot Belzebub II, a fiberglass sailboat "with a living space the size of a bathroom," told the world today how they sailed through the M’Clure Strait in northern Canada, a "decreasingly ice-packed route through the famed Northwest Passage." Warming global temperatures and melting polar ice caps made it possible. The crew's original blog post is here. (LAT)
New York Magazine has a feature out about the Judge Rotenberg Center (formerly the Behavior Research Institute), a controversial institution targeted by Anonymous when a video showing an autistic child receiving electrical shocks went viral. Andre McCollins was the boy in that video, which was leaked to a local Fox News affiliate in Boston. You can watch a copy here. It's very disturbing. Mother Jones covered the school in an earlier investigative series here, back in 2007.
Every once in a while, I come across an Etsy site that I feel should make a million dollars a day. (Like Pica Pica Press, the Etsy store that might have first existed in one of my own dreams, and then came to life.) Today, thanks to my old stomping grounds The Mary Sue, I have found another that I'd like to share with you: Nerd Alert Designs. Why? Because of the dress you see to the right.This is The Ash Dress, inspired by the Evil Dead movies, made in the same color of the shirt work by one Ash Williams played by one Bruce Campbell. As you can see, there is a strategically-placed chainsaw on the skirt, giving the wearer a chainsaw hand upon insertion of the hand into the left pocket. The Necronomicon is not included, but the existence of this dress is evil, dark magic enough.
This dress comes with a chainsaw pocket [The Mary Sue]
The 1980s had many surreal and outré comic-book stars. I recall particularly following The Tick, Concrete, and Nexus. They were respectively a nigh-invulnerable, possibly mentally ill superhero with a chubby accountant sidekick in a moth-themed flying suit; a writer whose brain was transplanted by aliens (themselves possibly escaped slaves) into a nearly invulnerable rock-like body often performing missions of mercy; and a man (later others, including men, women, and children) picked by a nearly omnipotent being residing in the center of a planet to atone the genocide of his father by being forced to be an almost indestructible and thoroughly powerful superhero, lest he face disabling pain.
You catch the theme here, right? Omnipotence, invulnerability, superhero—all but the Tick reluctant. Into that mix, Flaming Carrot was something altogether different.
Snip from the NYT:
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York Mycological Society and the 100th birthday of the composer John Cage, its founder, there will be an exhibition on mushrooms and Mr. Cage’s passion for them on Sept. 7 and 8 at the Cooper Union, 7 East Seventh Street (Third Avenue). Admission is free. On Sept. 8 from 8 to 11 p.m. there will be a performance of some of Mr. Cage’s works with film and photographic backdrops about mushrooms. Tickets benefit the society: $20 to $100, $5 for students, for the show. A pre-performance dinner at the home of the author Eugenia Bone is $200 a person, including the show, or $350 for two, from newyorkmyc.org.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012 would have been the 100th birthday of John Cage. Events around the country commemorating his life are gathered in this LA Times item.
(Thanks, Jerome Mercier!)
There's tons of stuff in the Boing Boing Shop -- so much that I sometimes find links to stuff elsewhere that make me think, "Hey, I should blog that" just before I realize "Hey, that's from us!"
Case in point, this Darth Vader Onesie, which is currently sold out. You can back-order it, though.
This year has been filled with sad goodbyes, but this is a particularly sad one. Michael Clarke Duncan, the former bouncer who made good and became an Academy Award nominee for his work in Frank Darabont's The Green Mile, passed away yesterday after suffering complications from a July heart attack. His family says that he "never fully recovered" and had been in the hospital ever since. So, why is this celebrity death sadder than most? Because this guy... he just seemed like one of those super famous people who would gladly and easily talk to you in a bar for an hour. You never heard anything weird or bad about Michael Clarke Duncan, and he seemed like one of the nicest people in show business. And when he showed up in the variety of projects that he did -- Armageddon, Talladega Nights, The Scorpion King, Sin City, voiceover work in Cats and Dogs, Kung Fu Panda and Spider-Man: The New Animated Series -- you were always happy to see (or hear) him! "Oh, Michael Clarke Duncan is in this! I love that guy!" Even in Daredevil, despite it being Daredevil. Even in a bad movie, the presence of Michael Clarke Duncan was usually its saving grace. For me, at least.
To say nothing of how 54 is way too young to say goodbye. Duncan was set to marry Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth (who, yes, is that "Omarosa" from The Apprentice) in January, according to TMZ, and had co-starred on Fox's Bones spinoff The Finder, which was canceled in May. Before his death, he'd completed work on two projects, Into the Hive and The Challenger. Everything about Michael Clarke Duncan's life looked like the beginning of an exciting second act, and it's a shame that the curtain came down before it should have.
Because seriously, this man could really wear a hat.