Sunday, April 29, 2007

Encyclopedia Britannica: Not Obsolete

I love Wikipedia. It's a modern phenomenon that has changed the way we think about reference sources. But those who try to compare Wikipedia to traditional encyclopedias are missing a central point: just as movies have not rendered novels obsolete, Wikipedia will not displace Encyclopedia Britannica. They have different niches. I use both frequently.

I subscribe to Encyclopedia Britannica's online service for $10 a month. This gives me access to the full articles online, some of which have been written by influential figures in many genres. Case in point: the article on money (25 pages in the paid full edition, but you get a one-page summary for free) was co-written by Milton Friedman, and is well worth reading.

Of course, Wikipedia's article on money contains the basic facts about money, and is full of links for further inquiry (Milton Friedman among them.) But the Britannica article is a wonderful primer on the history of currency and the modern monetary system, with a cohesiveness missing in the Wikipedia version. Sometimes an article written from one or two points of view is extremely valuable, especially considering who the author is. Britannica has many articles written by prominent figures.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lovin' My 'Nips

Parsnips and turnips, that is.

I have been experimenting with them as alternatives to potatoes. The tastes are definitely stronger, but the consistency is satisfying. Turnips are sweet, and parsnips have a gingery taste . Parsnips are about half the calories and half the carbohydrates of potatoes, and turnips are about one-sixth!

I have cubed and roasted both of them, which was easy and yummy. Tonight I boiled and mashed the parsnips with a little butter and salt. They tasted good, but they are not as easy to mash as potatoes, because of their stringier texture. I didn't peel them- perhaps that would help. They have a higher water count, so there is no need to add liquid.

Kenpo says, "I forbid you to ever make mashed potatoes again!"

Nutrition Data for Turnips

Nutrition Data for Parsnips
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Jimmy Wales on Fresh Air

NPR : Jimmy Wales on the User-Generated Generation

This is a link to the Jimmy Wales interview on NPR's Fresh Air. (Jimmy Wales is the founder of Wikipedia.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Frickin'..... Yay.

O.K. So I know it's silly to get caught up on specific numbers, especially since weight is so relative. But I haven't been under 130 lbs. for 15 years.

When I first started trying to lose weight, my goal was 135lbs. Now I am 5lbs. beneath that, and my body fat is still around 30%! (give or take a few %, since the scale is not perfectly accurate.) It just goes to show how much muscle mass I have lost in 15 years.

I'm not really using weight as my primary goal now, I'm using body fat instead. I'd like to be around 20%. I don't know what weight I will be, since I am putting on muscle mass at the same time.
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High Intensity Resistance Training

A Google search on "High Intensity Resistance Training" returns a plethora of studies that cite the beneficial effects of such training (similar to the Crossfit workouts), as well as its limits. A few of the most interesting to me were:

High-Intensity Resistance Training Improves Glycemic Control in ...High-Intensity Resistance Training Improves Glycemic Control in Older Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. David W. Dunstan, PHD1, Robin M. Daly, PHD2, ... -
Similar pages - Note this

Effects of High-Intensity Resistance Training on Untrained Older ...

Effects of High-Intensity Resistance Training on Untrained Older Men. II. Muscle Fiber Characteristics and Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Relationships ... -
Similar pages - Note this

And this one is about High Intensity Training
(not necessarily resistance) on football referees

The Impact of Specific High-Intensity Training Sessions on ...

Study Design: The authors examined the cardiovascular strain of specific high-intensity training sessions and also their impact on referees’ fitness levels. ... - Similar pages - Note this

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ethnography and Collaborative Systems

Here's a link to a short review I wrote about:

Crabtree, Andy. (2003). Work Studies and Design. In Designing Collaborative Systems: A Practical Guide to Ethnography (pp.87-125). London: Springer

Crabtree advocates using a pattern language (based on Christopher Alexander's work) as a lingua franca between ethnographers and designers. However, his adapted pattern language does not include a solution.


Nutrition Data is a great comprehensive source for the nutritional content of just about every food you can imagine. Features include a display of the ratio between protein, carbs and fat, a "Nutritional Target Map," which shows the balance between how nutritious and how filling a food is, the glycemic load, and of course, the complete nutritional analysis (shown below).


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My Favorite Marinade

My brother turned me on to this marinade... Basque Meat Tenderizer and Barbecue Sauce. (Note for link: beware cheesy music!) It's basically a marinade of red wine and spices. I've been using it for a few years now, and haven't tired of it yet. I cover pork, chicken, or beef with it in the morning and grill it at night. They also have a fish sauce that I've used on fish, but I don't taste much difference from the original.
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Is Government Behind Increase in Milk Prices? - Associated Content

If you've noticed the rise in milk prices lately, you might be interested in this:

"I first learned that the federal government controls milk prices when I owned a convenience store. I aggressively protested the rise of retail milk prices two years ago that sent my customers to big discount stores for relief. Ignorantly accusing our milk distributor of price gouging, I was astonished to learn from our supplier that raw milk prices are controlled by the federal government, and that program ultimately leads to the retail price of milk. "

The rest of the story here.

And a FAQ from the California Department of Agriculture.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Braggin' About My Honey

Caravella comes back for second at Santa Cruz Criterium - By Julie Jag - Sentinel Staff Writer - April 16, 2007: "A few unknowns from Santa Cruz County placed well in other categories Sunday. Rob Evans of Capitola took second in the Cat. 3 men's race, Bryan King of La Selva Beach took second in the Cat. 5 men's race and Vladen Strbae placed second in the Masters 35 Cat. 4/5 race, followed by Eric Horton of Aptos, who took fifth."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Crossfit Update

Max Front Squat: 100 lbs.

I hadn't worked out in five days- I had a wicked case of DOMS in my arms from doing shoulder presses. I couldn't lift my arms comfortably or sleep through the night until yesterday. But the pain is gone, so no damage done.

I checked my measurements yesterday compared to November, and I have lost two inches in my waist, two inches off my hips, and an inch around my thighs. I had to buy some new pants. My body fat is a little under 30% (27-29%?) , so I still have a substantial amount of fat to lose.

I'm trying to get back to three times per week.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Holy Calories, Batman!

Next time I consider breakfast at Denny's, I'll have to remember this. Considering I need less than 2,000 calories per day to maintain my weight, these breakfasts are ridiculous. Even the omelettes are more than a prudent breakfast should be. And I won't even mention the protein/carb/ fat ratio.

Boing Boing: Virtual ants simulated in Second Life

Boing Boing: Virtual ants simulated in Second Life: "Wagner James Au sez, 'A programming student created this ultracool video demonstrating his ant colony simulation in Second Life; he's programmed his ants to have different behavior states, so they can coordinate their food gathering. 'The behavior is arguably emergent,' he says, 'because the ants only interact locally and follow local state-based rules, yet they end up working together to harvest food.''"

Thesis Methodology


Research Question: What features contribute to a wiki's growth?
The proposed methodology for this project will be a quantitative analysis that compares the growth rate of different wikis with differnt features.

Growth rate might be measured using the following: (These metrics are taken from Jakob Voss: Measuring Wikipedia)

1. Database size (combined size of all articles including redirects in bytes)

2. Total number of words (excluding redirects and special markup)

3. Total number of internal links (excluding redirects and stubs)

4. Number of articles (at least contain one internal link)

5. Number of active Users (contributed 5 times or more in a given month)

6. Number of very active Users (contributed 100 times or more in a given month)

Possible Hypotheses to Test

Exclusive Content: wikis that provide a place for content that is not easily available from other places will grow faster than wikis that replicate easily available content.

How to measure: Measure the difference in growth rate between:

  1. A set of wikis whose common feature is that they offer a unique place for content, with
  2. A set of wikis whose common feature is that they replicate already available content.

Competitive magnets: Contests will result in contribution flurry. But do they lead to an increase in overall contributions?

How to measure:

  1. Compare the contribution rate of a single page before a contest solicitation, and after the end of the contest.
  2. Compare the overall growth rate of the wiki before and after the contest

Seeding: wikis that are seeded with content grow faster than wikis that expect users to create content from scratch.

How to measure: compare the growth rate between:

  1. A set of wikis whose common feature is that they were pre-seeded with content.
  2. A set of wikis whose common feature is that they were started from scratch.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Legos–Those Evil Tools of Capitalist Domination - Britannica Blog

Legos–Those Evil Tools of Capitalist Domination - Britannica Blog:

Here's a blog entry that describes a situation in a private school in Washington in which the Lego town class was building was accidentally destroyed one weekend. The teachers thought it was a good opportunity to teach the kids a lesson in economics:

"The teachers devised a game involving Lego blocks. In the first round, the fundamental rule of the game, an explanation what was required to win, was kept from the children until after they had each chosen a set of blocks. Then it was announced that colors have point value, and the child who happened to have chosen all his blocks of the highest-value color was declared winner. In subsequent rounds new rules were added by previous winners. After several rounds there was general disgust with the game. What was the point? The teachers explain it to us as they had to explain it to the children, who in their still unenlightened state

were unable or unwilling to see that the rules of the game — which mirrored the rules of our capitalist meritocracy — were a setup for winning and losing."

Those damn capitalist LEGOs! I guess we should all be given an equal number of blocks, regardless of whether we have earned it.

They should have let kids who perform better in the class (in behavior and academic achievement) have more blocks to add to the city.