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Showing posts from March, 2012

Iced Coffee Season

Kurt Soller has an excellent post over at Grub Street explaining why a cup of iced coffee costs so much more than a cup of hot coffee. With the unseasonably warm March temperatures a lot of cities have been having, I think iced coffee season is already in full swing.

(from Teresa Stanton on Flickr)

To me, it's interesting that everything about iced coffee, from the coffee grounds, the cups, and even the ice itself, increases the cost compared to a hot cup of coffee. If you have the patience, iced coffee is easy to make at home, and I strongly recommend the cold-brew method.

I've complained in the past that the coffee scene in DC leans heavily toward the "Japanese method" of iced coffee. Soller's article makes me think that New York leans more toward the cold-brew method, or at least it has a better balance of each method. For reference, Starbucks uses neither of these methods, they just brew hot coffee twice and strong and pour it over ice, which is really the least…

Gasoline Politics

Angie Schmitt has been posting about gasoline quite a bit recently over at Streetsblog. Recently, she wrote about the public's disapproval with the president over prices, and how unfair that really is. From the post... Frustratingly, leading Republicans are doing a pretty good job convincing the American public that the president can dictate prices at the pump, even while they propose a transportation policy that would only further entrench American gasoline dependence.Well, yes and no. I don't think they're convincing anyone of anything. They're merely confirming an existing belief. Gasoline is the low-hanging fruit of politics, there's much to gain and not much risk in blindly accusing the president of being responsible when it gets expensive. The voting public clearly doesn't understand how this all works.
Media Matters compiled a clip of Bill O'Reiley talking points from 2008 where he defends then president Bush against the exact same attacks that these…

Daisey's Dilemma

After I heard Mike Daisey tell his monologue about Apple on This American Life back in January, I decided that it was one of the most interesting episodes of the show that I've yet listened to. The reason I thought it was so good was because it was a very well told story. Allegations of sweat shop conditions in developing countries are nothing new and frankly, the stuff in Daisey's story passed my smell test.
(from Aaron Webb on Flickr)
Of course, we now know that Daisey's story contained a lot of fiction. But when I listened to Daisey on This American Life's retraction episode last weekend, my interpretation of Daisey's opinion is that his deepest regret is getting caught. He seems to truly feel like his story, even with the fabrications, is justifiable, because it's for the greater good. A logician would probably call Daisey a pious fraud.

What's even more troubling is this clip that I heard on Marketplace yesterday morning - it's a prologue that Daisey …

Regression to the Mean

I'm often reminded of the simplistic view that a lot of people have about climate and weather. For example, the belief that "it's snowing therefore global warming must be a hoax" is probably the most egregious example; but it exists nonetheless.

This post over at Capital Weather Gang seeks to answer the question, "since it was unseasonably warm in DC this winter, does it follow that it will be unbearably hot in DC this summer?" The author's answer to the question is: not necessarily. If you look at the scatterplot Ian Livingston created, you'll see that there is a positively sloped relationship between average winter temperature and average summer temperature.

(from afagen on Flickr)

However, the relationship appears statistically weak (they didn't post the r-squared value, so I can only estimate). What I see when I look at the scatterplot is a classic regression toward the mean. In other words, unseasonably warm winters are a data point in …

Back to the Basics

Dave Conz has an interesting article about Homebrewing over at Slate, along with a nice, short video that gives a basic introduction to how it's done.



I'll now admit that I've got a 5-gallon batch of homebrew porter aging in the other room as I write. This is my first attempt and will probably not be my last.

Why do it? Some people argue cost - that you can get high quality beer for less money than buying craft beer in stores. Others argue that it's a fun activity and nice to say you made something yourself. I'm somewhere in the middle. Yes, it's a little less money (but not a lot) and it's great to be able to say you accomplished it (even if you're not as good at it as your favorite microbrewery).

That said, the reason to homebrew is the same as the reason to roast your own coffee: freshness. Both beer and coffee are best when they're freshest, and the easiest way to guarantee it is to do the work yourself, controlling the process from beginning to e…