Category Archives: culture

The Greatness of Günter Grass

Grass died today. To read most of the pieces on him, you’d have a hard time imagining he was a great writer. So read this instead: The Greatness of Günter Grass in The New Yorker. It’s by another great writer, Salman Rushdie. It makes you appreciate the greatness of Grass.

Sure basil and tarragon are great, but what about marjoram?

Marjoram
I was in my local grocery store some time ago, and two of the produce staffers were talking about herbs. One of them commented that while tarragon did well and basil sold out, marjoram did not do so well and they might not stock it anymore.

I thought about this and did some random research. I found that while some of my older recipes had it as an ingredient, I don’t see it featured as much any more. (Same goes for paprika, which used to be used alot it seems, though seldom now, save in Martha Stewart’s recipes). Now it seems there is more focus on newer herbs and spices or “sweeter” herbs like basil.

It’s a shame, since marjoram is a very versatile herb. It’s less ‘sweet’ than basil or tarragon, but that makes it great in such things as an omelet. So now, several times a month, I’ll make an omelet with sauteed shallots, grated emmental cheese and some marjoram sprinkled in. Delicious.

(great photo of marjoram from Jade Craven’s photostream at flickr.com)

Feast for the eyes! Life photos archive hosted by Google

You can see it here: LIFE photo archive hosted by Google. (Thanks to kottke.org for the notice!)

Robert Lepage Brings His Magic to the Metropolitan Opera in NYC

Robert Lepage is bringing his brilliant stagecraft to the Met in New York with a production of “Faust”. I’ve seen LePage’s “Erwartung” and “Bluebeard’s Castle” and I thought they were exceptional, but he seems to be doing something really incredible with this production, as he intertwines the production with the voice and movement of the performers, so that the entire show interacts. You really want to read the article and see the video, so visit Techno-Alchemy at the Opera – Robert Lepage Brings His ‘Faust’ to the Met – NYTimes.com

I would love to see this show.

Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld talk shop

Time has a fascinating interview with Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld talking mostly about …Ford and his clothes. Lagerfeld is very generous with his praise of Ford. Ford also praises Lagerfeld, but really, he doesn’t need it: Karl is in a league of his own.

It’s interesting to hear them talk about the thinking that goes into their design. You might think mens wear is simply a matter of adjusting the number of buttons on a suit, but they are evolving the way men dress.

See Behind the Seams: Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld Talk Shop – America: Conquerer of the Global Menswear Market – TIME for the interview transcript. I would recommend you scroll down and watch the conversation between them: it’s good.

Martin Luther King and the influence of Star Trek

It is easy to mock the first Star Trek. To do so, however, would be to miss out on the importance and influence it had. Lots of technical people will tell you about how it influenced the way engineers and designers see the future. But it had a much bigger influence than that. How big? Listen to Nichelle Nichols explain:

Thanks to Matthew Yglesias for the link.

Neutron loans, or how the subprime disaster works

Over at bloomberg.com is a very simple explanation of how the subprime problem works it’s destructive effect:

Joe Ripplinger took out a $184,000 mortgage in 2006 and makes his payments every month. Now he owes $192,000. The 66-year-old Minneapolis house painter has a payment- option adjustable-rate mortgage. It allows him to write a check for $565 a month even though he owes $1,300. The difference is added to the mortgage, and when his total debt reaches $212,000, or after five years have passed, he said his monthly minimum could jump to about $2,800, which he can’t afford. “We’re barely making it right now,” Ripplinger said. The estimated 1 million homeowners with $500 billion of option ARMs are beyond the help of interest-rate cuts by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. While subprime borrowers face an average increase of 8 percent or less when their adjustable- rate mortgages reset, option ARM homeowners may see their monthly payments double after their adjustments kick in. “We call them neutron loans because they’re like a neutron bomb,” said Brock Davis, a broker with U.S. Express Mortgage Corp. in Las Vegas. “Three years later the house is still there and the people are gone.”

ARMs are fine for speculators who know what they are doing and can handle the risk. For people like Joe Ripplinger, they are anything but fine. And there are alot of people like him out there. See: Bloomberg.com: Exclusive