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Mocking Eye

'Tis all in vain?

Reverse Heel Christian Louboutin Experiment

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As far as I know Christian Louboutin--maker of the sexiest heels--has never done a reverse heel. I came up with reverse heels totally independently a couple of weeks ago while contemplating crazy things to do to women's shoes. Alas, I found out I was soundly beaten to this concept by others and several versions of it have already been made. Basically, a reverse heel is a heel that juts horizontally towards the back from the front part of the shoe rather than straight down from the heel.

So, I decided to mock up what a Louboutin might look like with a reverse heel, whilst maintaining its original lines, curves, and sexy look. It turned out... ok. I think with some tweaking it could turn out to look quite nicely! In particular I would elongate the support past the heel, while making it thinner and more deadly--Louboutin shoes are famous for looking like dangerous weapons.

Just a random exploration, we'll see what Christian does :>

Reverse heel Christian Louboutin experiment

Curbing Music Being Played on Cellphones in Public

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Curbing music being played on cellphones in public

If you take public transportation you've indubitably encountered someone playing music using their cellphone as a boom box.

If you're an ethnomusicologist perhaps you're delighted at the developments in treble culture. If you're not, chances are you found it rather annoying, and perhaps the young turk or turkette partaking of the tinny notes seems rather too set in their ways to be berated by you in public.

So, I've come up with a passive-aggressive and mildly vandalistic (yes, vandalistic) method to curb this! Instructional pictograph stickers!

What you're looking at is a prototype for a design. The dimensions are those of a bumper sticker. I'm not perfectly satisfied with the wording, nor with the NO pictograph, but it's getting there. Would appreciate comments and suggestions! Once I've finalized, I will provide these TO THE WORLD!

You'll be able to deploy them at your favorite public transportation venue, or just anywhere else affected by this scourge!

Fixing Svn Checksum Mismatch

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All the info I found addressing this contains way too much cruft and doesn't present the actual solution clearly. Here are steps that will work, so you can get back to coding:
  1. Copy the file away
  2. svn revert FILENAME (in case you have local changes)
  3. svn rm FILENAME
  4. svn ci -m "Fixing checksum mismatch"
  5. Copy the file back
  6. svn add FILENAME
  7. svn ci -m "Fixed checksum mismatch"
There you go. No more headache.

Made-you-look Advertising

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I got a spam letter today from AT&T. Except it didn't say anything
about who it was from on the outside. The addressee was "California
Resident" so it was clear it was spam, but it was printed in a fake
handwritten font, in a fake blue pen color.

Upon opening the envelope you find a paper in standard Letter
dimensions, with what looks like a photocopy of an ad, complete with
the characteristic ink fading and smudging. Several parts of the ads
had the same kind of fake blue pen marked up as if with notes by the
kind sender. Although throughout the short interaction between myself
and the letter I was quite aware it was just advertising, the
anti-branding just drew me in. As far as I can recall, the AT&T logo
was only visible in one place, and even there it was understated and
quite small. Maybe it was just my fascination with the thinking behind
such an ad, but I felt drawn in against my will, my disbelief
suspended just a tad.

We live in a word saturated with brands. Also today, I saw a pack of
Duracell batteries at Safeway that included a horrible plastic
screwdriver shaped like a Duracell battery, clearly with the primary
purpose of adding the brand to your life even though it's obvious
almost no one would actually use the dinky screwdriver; it would lay
discarded somewhere, ready to anchor the brand when you least expect
it.

So, we seem to have developed powerful advertising ignoring skills.
Some studies have shown that advertising we pay less attention to
tends to have even greater effects, but I find this spam masquerading
as a personal letter to be proof that we've gotten too good at
discarding the useless brochures and pointless offers clogging our
mailboxes.

Perhaps once we get good at discarding these, they'll be able to
return to the gaudy spam of old.

Problems of a Jewish AI

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Future Jewish post-human minds are going to have to turn to their post-human Rabbis and ask:
  • Is running on Shabbes considered a violation? Or does that count under Pikuach Nefesh?
  • How do you circumcise? Drop the least significant bit?
  • Do you have to switch to a UPS for Yom Kippur?
  • Is an MP3 of a Shofar good enough?
  • Where should the Tefillin go? The boot sector?
Can you think of others? Better clear these things now, before all uploadees count as Apikoros :>

The Correct Way to Peel a Banana - Newsletter Series

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A picture of a bananaA common problem. I've often seen it mentioned in collections of trivia and cool facts that monkeys and apes open their bananas from the "bottom", often accompanied by a suggestion for us to do the same. Following a recent reminder by a fellow named Mahdroo, I started doing just that! It has proved to be far superior to the traditional human choice.

As you can see on in the image to the left, a banana has the little "tail" on top, and a small nub on the bottom. Commonly one may bend the tail backwards against the banana's natural curvature, until it tears. Then you peel the banana. But sometimes, the banana isn't quite ripe, or just extra hardy. In those cases the skin doesn't tear as easily and you mush up the top of the banana. Here's the solution:

Turn the banana upside down! Use your fingers to squeeze the nub. It should start opening in the middle as you squeeze (careful not to squeeze the flesh of the banana), then just use your other hand to peel the two (or more) sections apart! Voila! You have peeled a banana from the bottom! Feel free to discard the little part that's now at the top of your banana, though I know some folks who enjoy eating that part.

This has been a post from the Newsletter Series
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The Mocking Eye Newsletter

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The Mocking Eye NewsletterAfter this week's daily news commentary experiment failed, I finally decided to get started on my newsletter!

These will be weekly emails that will my writings on all sorts of subjects. You'll get to learn about the coolest things possible, with links to further resources. Also: fabulous how-tos that will teach you various useful skills! Basically a bit like DamnInteresting.com but with a Mike K twist.

Sign up below! Other than the newsletter once a week you will never be spammed, nor will your email address be used for anything else ever, nor sold, given away, etc. It's safe with me!

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Delicious Vegeterian Dishes for Carnivores Part 1 - Le Tourin à L'ail

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Delicious Vegeterian Dishes For Carnivores Part 1 - Le tourin à l'ailNow that my copy of On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee has arrived, I decided it was time to get started exploring French cuisine. For those unfamiliar with the book it is the premier guide on why food tastes as it does when handled in particular ways. It's the science of food presented in a readable and clear way, without the flourishes of molecular gastronomy or modernist cuisine. Highly recommended!

As much as I love meat, meat products, meat flavors for health reasons I've been try to cook mostly mostly fish and vegetables.

This also poses an interesting challenge: I happen to be taste averse to a wide variety of vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables in their cooked state. I don't mean "I don't like them", I mean "I will vomit if I force myself to eat them". This doesn't mean I want to avoid vegetables I'm averse to entirely, but rather, I will figure out what in their chemical composition I am bothered by, and attempt to minimize it. I'm gonna up the difficulty level a bit more: I can't just drown everything in salt and butter and call it a day, that's the easy way out.

To start out, though, I wanted something relatively easy, thus: Le tourin à l'ail. This is a pretty simple garlic soup common in the south-west of France. It's pretty low in fat and since it contains egg much like egg drop soup, this lets me consume another item to which I'm taste averse.

The recipe I used can be found on Wikibooks, but I'll reproduce it here for convenience, my modifications are in italics:

Ingredients

  • 10-12 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • water — 4 cups (adjust amount as needed - use distilled, filtered or reverse osmosis water)
    • I used a diluted vegetable stock. Seasoning this water properly is the key to making this soup taste delicious.
  • salt to taste
  • 1 egg, separated
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

Serves 2

Procedure

  1. In a frying pan, brown the chopped garlic (or optionally, an equal mixture of chopped onions and garlic) in the olive oil.
    • I used a small pot. I would recommend that or a saucepan. Looking up the recipe in French, they tend to use a "faittout", which seems to mean some sort of saucepan.
  2. Add the flour.
  3. Mix well, then cook for a moment.
  4. Add some boiling salted water, and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. In a separate dish, mix:
    • egg yolk
    • pepper
    • vinegar
  6. Add the egg white to the soup, first tempering in a separate bowl with a whisk, so that no large pieces of egg white form.
    • Make sure to add it very gradually, and to use a fork in the soup itself to spread out the egg whites as you are pouring.
  7. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the egg yolk mixture, again tempering to avoid coagulation.
  8. Place thin slices of bread in each soup bowl, and pour the soup on top. Serve hot. Bon appétit.

 

It turned out quite well! The garlic which I only browned slightly turned out to have an almost potato-like texture, but without the starchiness. Soft and rich, it complemented the egg whites in provided substance to the texture. The cooked garlic also lacked the sweetness many root vegetables (such as turnips) acquire when cooked. For me, that's a plus. I'm not sure what the vinegary yolk contributed, but I'm sure it helped. The soup was redolent of garlic, but surprisingly mild, the flavor releasing only in your mouth, never overpowering.

I cannot overstate the value of properly seasoning the soup. My vegeterian girlfriend remarked that she would be afraid to order this soup at a restaurant after tasting it, it tasted so much like chicken broth. With no additions of MSG or similar umami-fortifiers, the saltiness is what provided this deepness of flavor. It's a thin boundry between "perfectly seasoned" and "oversalted" andwe must tread and carefully remain on the right side. The cowardly will be rewarded with bland and tasteless soups!

 

Not sure what I'll make next time! Ratatouille calls out to me, but I can't stand neither zucchinis nor aubergines... which makes me want to figure out a way to prepare it even more!

A Classic of Soviet Engineering

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A Classic of Soviet EngineeringIn one of my sailing classes, one of my shipmates was a Russian ex-navyman who served on a Delta IV class (designated "Delfin" or Dolphin in Russian) nuclear submarine. Once he realized I spoke Russian we got to chatting more about his experiences on the submarines and he told me the amusing story of the genesis of the Typhoon-class submarine (that's the NATO designation, the Russians call it "Akula"--Shark).

Those of you have watched or read The Hunt for Red October would be familiar with the Soviet-built Typhoon, it was the Red October itself. It also has a rather distinctive wide and flat appearance.

In the late 70s and early 80s, the workhorses of the Soviet nuclear sub fleet were earlier iterations of the Delta class (Delta I through III). The world was moving from liquid-fueled to solid-fueled rockets but apparently the latter take up more space that was available on the Deltas. The Americans were designing and putting out bigger subs.

When faced with this dilemma the Soviets thought about it for a while, then put two Delta class hulls next to each other, wrapped them with a shared skin, and called it a day!


P.S. This reminds me of a Soviet joke my Dad used to tell, that I'll translate here into English. It doesn't carry over all too well, but some of you may be amused at the self-deprecation:


The Americans are trying to steal the Russian MiG-29 plans.
The CIA sends a spy who manages to come back with the blueprints.
They build them only to discover they've just built a steam locomotive.
So they send a better spy who comes back with plans that he's sure are the right ones.
They build them, and find they've got another locomotive.
This time they send their best spy, and his orders are to bring back the head engineer.
Back in the US with the engineer they ask him what they were doing wrong. The engineer looks at the plans they've stolen and at the locomotive, and points at some fine print on the plans, "See? you've just forgotten to file it down!"