Braised short ribs two ways

French-style Asian-style

I have a special place in my heart for beef stew (from fond childhood memories of Chinese beef noodle soup) but braised short ribs are threatening to knock beef stew from its pedestal. Read more of this post

Blog as recipe archive

I use my blog pretty randomly, posting essays on the culture of science, photo galleries from hiking trips, and the occasional here’s-what-I-did-in-the-last-three-months-since-I-last-blogged. To those who wish I only posted essays, sorry — I know myself and it ain’t going to happen. In fact, I’ve been meaning to document more of my culinary experiences but even this has been a challenge for me; three hours of cooking and eating dinner at 10 PM does not put me in the mood for blogging. (Especially when a purring cat curls up on your lap.) But my “system” of index cards, scribbles torn out of notebooks, and sauce-stained printouts simply isn’t tenable. So over the next month or so I’m going to attempt to catch up a bit on some of the recipes we’ve tried and do a better job of archiving them online.

Let that be a warning to those who could care less about cooking. :)

A quintessential California weekend

After some weeks of cooler weather and intermittent rain, Chris and I wholeheartedly embraced a weekend of warm sunshine to spend outdoors with friends. Ben and Lisa had flown down from Seattle for Heather and Vinny’s wedding and we hosted a barbecue at our house Friday evening so they could see folks. The portable fire pit came in handy as the temperature dropped and we roasted marshmallows well into the night.
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No comment

At the risk of beating the issue to death, I offer yet another post on the question, “why don’t scientists comment on scientific articles?” Previous reflections stood within the larger context of scientific impact and article-level metrics, and I’ve also attempted some superficial analysis of commenting behavior at PLoS, BMJ, and BMC. More recently (and this is why the topic is on my mind again), a room full of bright minds at the PLoS Forum (including Cameron Neylon and Jon Eisen) scratched their heads over it and came up with pretty much the same conclusion as everyone else who’s ever thought about the problem — the costs simply outweigh the benefits.

The costs, in principle, are minimal. You might need to register for an account at the journal website and be logged on, but then all that’s needed is little more than what most of us already do multiple times a day with our email — type into a box and click “submit”. (In practice, there may be nonsensical, hidden costs that make you wonder what the folks at those journals were smoking.) So the perception that the cost-benefit equation doesn’t work speaks more to the lack of benefit than anything else.

Photo by jamesclay on flickr

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Three months later

I haven’t been very active in my usual online spheres lately. No blog posts in three months, only the occasional jaunt into FriendFeed, and random peeks at the ever-growing Twitter stream.  Here are some random bits of what I’ve been up to.
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A brief analysis of commenting at BMC, PLoS, and BMJ

As announced on FriendFeed and Twitter, a writing collaboration between me and the inimitable Cameron Neylon has just been published at PLoS Biology, “Article-level metrics and the evolution of scientific impact”! (Loosely based on a blog post from several months ago.)

One of the many issues Cameron and I touched on was the problem of commenting. Most people probably aren’t aware of the problem; after all, commenting is alive and well on the internet in most places you look! But click over to PLoS or BioMed Central (BMC) and the comment sections are the digital equivalent of rolling tumbleweed.

As we mention briefly in the article, comments have great potential for improving science. For one thing, they’re a form of peer review, but without the month-long wait and seemingly arbitrary review criteria. Readers, authors, and other evaluators can also get a sense of what people think about the article. The ideal is certainly tantalizing — vigorous, rigorous debates over the finer scientific points as well as the overarching conclusions with participation both from experts in the field as well as informed laypeople, always with intelligence and civility!!!1!11!!one!! But let’s not kid ourselves — the worst-case scenario is all too easy to imagine and would probably look something like the discussions over at YouTube.

And this would be positively urbane. (From PhD comics)

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The big hairy ambitious haircut – finally!

It seems like ages ago that I was fretting over what big hair ambitious haircut to get… because it was, well, ages ago. But I finally went out and got it after determining that you could see my split ends from Google Earth and that brushing my hair required more shoulder flexibility than I possess.

After some back and forth with the stylist over whether I could have my short hair cake and not have to blow dry it too, I ended up with this:

Photo 5 Photo 3

While I think I might have to compromise and use some kind of “product”, it might just work. Well, except for the bits across my face, which are already starting to annoy me. Still, it’s leagues better than the $4 mullet cut I got in college, which was the only other short style I’ve had since I was a toddler.

The jury is still out on whether I can actually play sports and see at the same time.