Saturday, May 22, 2010

Synthetically Delicious

Two days ago scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute reported in ScienceXpress that they have managed to create a viable cell whose genetic material was entirely produced by humans. The AP has posted an interview with the namesake of the Institute (and the final author of the 24 on the paper) to their youtube channel.

I especially like all the Science going on in the background. People swirling flasks of brightly coloured liquid make me feel so much better about the whole thing.

Venter expresses some concern about potential uses for this technology. To that end, Longo's has released their very first synthetic life-form for solving the world hunger problem. I give you the pizzacherry tree:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Invasion

I'm home sick today which means drinking lots of fluids, taking frequent naps, babbling nonsensically and reading the internets. Which is how I came across this:

This is how the invasion will come, people. First they will fire ziplines from one highrise building to the next. Then, the goats will carry their monkey assassins to their targets. You can never be too vigilant. Next time someone gets into your elevator with a goat, a monkey and a lot of military gear, notify the authorities.

On an unrelated note, please click the Flattr button near the title of this or any post I've written. The Flattr system is really cool; it's a way you can pay people very small amounts of money for improving your life a little. Totally worth checking out.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review: Tati Bistro

Disclaimer: I am not a food critic. I did, however, grow up on extremely good food. I have worked in kitchens. I also have a food theory course taught by a Food Network celebrity under my belt as well. So everything I say is perhaps amateurish, but not entirely ungrounded.

I had my second meal ever at Tati Bistro tonight. The first time was when I treated L for her birthday. We had a lot of (very good, 2007 Bon Courage Shiraz) wine that night. Since I was treating L, I had to very discreetly read the bill. Also, the lighting in the Bistro is... understated. I put down what I thought was a fairly generous tip (since the service had been excellent) and left. On awaking the next morning, I did a little mental math in a slightly more sober state and decided that there`s no way the bill came to what I had originally thought. I should have been a good $20 more. I realized that I must`ve stiffed the waitress.

Not being one to stiff a waitress, and certainly not when the service was as good as it had been, I returned the next day to set things right. The maître d’ hunted through the previous night`s bills to find one that matched my order. Finally, he asked which credit card I had used. I told him I`d paid cash, at which point he said it was hopeless, they didn`t keep the cash bills past the end of the night. I described my waitress and he said he could go ask her, disappearing into the basement. She hadn`t remembered being shafted. So, either I didn`t misread the bill, or I got away with leaving a lousy tip and not being remembered for it.

Tonight we took L`s mom there for Mother`s Day.

The ambiance at Tati Bistro is about what you`d expect from a modern trendy downtown restaurant: a little loud, a little crowded and a little underlit. However, the food and service more than make up for these shortcomings.

Tonight I had the baked goat cheese salad. Delicious. Excellent balance between the baked, breaded goat cheese, the croutons and the greens. My entrèe was the steak frites. The frites were exactly the crispy thin frites you`d expect from a French bistro and the steak was extremely flavourful and cooked to perfection. For desert we ordered the cheese platter to share between the four of us. I can definitely recommend the camembert, the chevrot cendrée and an Ontario cowsmilk cheese whose name escapes me.

I also had the housemade cassis sorbet. To. Die. For. And I know frozen desserts. The extremely generous portion of crème brûlée also received rave reviews from the guest of honour.

The prices at Tati Bistro are quite reasonable; two can eat well with with a bottle of wine and either appetizer OR dessert for around $100. This number can come down a bit (or add the delicious, aforementioned cheese plate) if one can make it when the prix fixé menu is available.

My only complaint about the evening (and it is a mild one) is that the waitress was slightly less attentive that the ideal. She was quite friendly and emminently knowledgeable about the menu (which is surprisngly hard to find in Toronto, in my experience). But she just didn't come 'round quite often enough. It is also possible that this is because she was a little starstruck: in the corner opposite our table sat Rachael McAdams, treating her own mother.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

People Who Are Intollerant of Other People's Cultures, and the Dutch

Overheard today at the Publications checkout counter at Service Ontario: "Do you have any publications about discrimination?"

Imagined response: "Not for people like you."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Altogether now!

We all of us have our vices, not least of all me. Being aware, however, that I am subject to various shortcomings, I try to plan in advance for them; to trick my future self, if you will, into doing the right thing.

I would like you to, just for a moment, open your mind to the possibility that it (your mind) plays tricks on you. It's easy to admit that other peoples' minds play tricks on them, but I can assure, without even knowing you, that your own mind does it to. One category of these trick is Cognitive Biases. They are surprisingly universal. I'm not saying that every single person is guilty of every single cognitive bias all of the time. But it is possible to test how often they come up and under what circumstances and the answers are quite surprising to most people.

So it is important to be aware that these biases exist and that, without even knowing it, you may be suffering from one or more at any point in time. With that in mind, please listen to this song.

Next time you're absolutely sure about something, remember the song and think about which biases you might presently be suffering from.

Everyone is susceptible to cognitive biases.

Except for me. I know because the only examples I can think of right now fit my expectations, which are that I have no cognitive biases.