26 December 2010

Does Coffee Mix With Leftover Eggnog?

...we're about to find out, as I pick on the NYT for telling only part of the news that's fit to print.

  • The NYT editorial page exposes yet more ignorance about IP and cultural imperatives with a seemingly contemplative criticism of Chinese attitudes toward IP enforcement. The problem is the unstated assumption in the article: That China must adopt purely post-Enlightenment Western attitudes toward foreign intellectual property in all respects, without any acknowledgement of its own cultural imperatives. For a couple thousand years, Chinese culture has been one that not only approved the borrowing/theft of the creative work of others (and, implicitly, "noncreative" innovation), but celebrated a Mandarin's (or other intellectual's) ability to silently do so... and expected the audience to recognize and applaud the borrowing as a sign of erudition and deep analysis. What we, in the post-Enlightenment West, might call "plagiarism" was instead an accepted means of communication.

    The real problem with the editorial is not that the goal is unworthy; there is a legitimate culture clash here, and the Western interests are in fact being directly harmed. The real problem is that the editorial considers only policy and WTO compliance issues without even questioning whether there might be something deeper... and the same would go for the Islamic world if that were considered, as Sharia (under at least some interpretations) disfavors — and under some more-extreme interpretations actually prohibits — private ownership of intangibles like intellectual property. In short, this is a culturally imperialistic editorial that fails to acknowledge its cultural imperialism... and I therefore disagree with it, even though I think its purpose does make some sense (as, arguably, a "pro-Chinese" approach to this issue would be equally culturally imperialistic!).

  • Yet another attempt to explain the widening gap between "average" and "top" compensation: the "superstar effect" as a basis for inequality — a problem not limited to sport. Unfortunately, what this article fails to note is that what defines a given individual/group as a "superstar" is definitely subject to disagreement... and dishonesty. Just compare Dan Brown's intellectual dishonesty about Catholicism to, say, Mary Doria Russell's deeper analysis. Further, the article fails to consider a problem noted elsewhere in the same issue of the NYT: the problem — and definition — of class conflict in entertainment, which sure as hell extends to within professional sport (consider the defensiveness of a coach's evaluation of his Harvard-graduate quarterback (after first break)).

In summary, context matters — and forcing one's idiosyncratic context on someone else seldom leads to defensible results (that's a hint for the Mad Tea Partiers, too).

Clarisse's ribcage was delicious. So was her leg.

Wheelchair Lamb
2kg boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
juice of 2 tangerines
1 Tbs ginger paste
8 marinated, garlic-stuffed olives
1 Tbs black cardamom seed, ground
1 Tbs cumin, ground
1 tsp chipotle pepper, ground
1 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
4 tsp coarse sea/kosher salt
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced into 1cm rounds

Put the tangerine juice, ginger paste, and olives in a blender or food processor; process until fairly uniform loose paste. Open out the leg of lamb and rub the paste all over the lamb, and let sit on the counter in a nonreactive dish (a glass pie dish is ideal) for about 45 minutes.

Tip any liquid in the marinating dish back into the blender/food processor. Add the rest of the spices and the olive oil to the blender/food processor and process quickly until mixed. Pour this over the lamb and rub in thoroughly, then let sit on the counter for about two hours.

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C. Lightly spray or oil a roasting pan, and make a single-layer bed with the onions. Put the roasting pan in the oven for five minutes. Meanwhile, drain any remaining marinade off the lamb, then give it a quick pat with a paper towel to remove excess surface moisture. Pull the roasting pan from the oven, quickly lay the lamb on the onions (whether you leave it butterflied or re-roll it is up to you), and return to the oven to roast for about an hour — until it is just short of the desired doneness (we go for quite rare around here). Turn the oven up to 425F/220C for the last five minutes or so.

Remove the lamb from the roasting pan and allow to rest, covered, for 15–20 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and serve with those onions, which should now be nicely softened and tasty.