How To Make Good Pancakes

Here’s my recipe for blueberry banana pancakes:

  • 1 egg
  • 400 ml whole milk
  • 375 ml flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 400 ml blueberries
  • 25ml vegetable oil and whatever else you need to grease the pan.

Heat a griddle (or a flat pan of some sort) between medium and medium-high.  Mix baking soda with egg and whisk.  Add milk, oil, and salt and stir.  Add first 200 ml flour and stir.  Add remaining flour until the consistency is not too soupy (it should be most of the rest).  Slice bananas thinly and cut into smaller pieces.  Rinse and mix in blueberries.

Pour 1/4 cup portions onto the griddle.  Cook on first side for about four minutes, or until brown on the bottom.  Bubbles may or may not appear, due to fruit.  Flip and cook on other side for three to four minutes or until brown.  If the pancakes are raw in the middle, turn heat down a bit and cook a little longer.

Serves 2 adults, one child.

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Google Chrome?

A picture of a mess of wires

This past week Google released a new browser called Chrome.  Google has been a principle and driving donor to the Mozilla Foundation, the people who brought you Firefox.  Why, then, would they abandon that work in favor of starting from scratch?  There are any number of reasons I can think of, putting aside what they in fact wrote:

  • One of Google’s interests is to be able to compete with Microsoft in the applications space.  Google already has a spreadsheet and a document editor available on their web site for free.  However, the browser interface itself gets in the way of the user experience.  By way of an example, if you wish to save documents to your desktop, something everyone does, one has to invoke a download function, which might in fact cause the document to be displayed in the browser, rather than being saved.  Otherwise it might bring up the download windows, which is rather clunky.
  • To take this a step further, it is equally possible that Google is unsatisfied with the semantics to be found with the combination of HMTL, Javascript, and Java.  One thing we do not see in the announcement, for instance, is a discussion of standards adherence.  Google has a history of attempting to set de facto standards.  The problem with this is that people moving from Microsoft could end up exchanging one evil for another.  Don’t get me wrong- EVERY company wants to play this game.  However, in Microsoft’s case, they are supervised by at least two government bodies to see that their interfaces remain (at least somewhat) open.
  • There is perhaps a more obvious reason.  Firefox in particular is one of the most complex pieces of code in the world, making use of nearly every C++ construct that exists.  Few on this earth are really qualified to make changes to the code because of the level of sophistication.  Sometimes, in such circumstances, starting from scratch is easier.

Is there room in the market for Chrome and whose market share will it take?  My guess is that Firefox will bear the brunt of the loss, but sometimes hype is sufficient to steal from others as well.  If there truly are new capabilities in Chrome, they will quickly find their way into other browsers.  Unless Google encumbers the work in some way, Chrome will end up being a demonstration project.  Of one thing we can be assured: the hackers are still out there, and they will be among the first to use Chrome, to find its weaknesses, and to exploit them.  We can say that the other browsers are well vetted (yes, even IE).  Here is another opportunity for PCs to be 0wn3d.

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The Giant Bear roars again…

Prime Minister Putin – er – President Medvedev has laid out five “principles” of foreign policy, according to this article from the BBC.  The funny thing about principles is that there things people aspire to, but often times don’t meet.  And Russia is no exception.  And to be fare, principles often conflict with one another.  Let’s see…

3. No isolation

“Russia does not want confrontation with any country; Russia has no intention of isolating itself. We will develop, as far as possible, friendly relations both with Europe and with the United State of America, as well as with other countries of the world.”

You would think that means not overrunning your neighbors with troops, but the Russians may choose to hide behind the next one to get around that little inconvenient fact:

4. Protect citizens

“Our unquestionable priority is to protect the life and dignity of our citizens, wherever they are. We will also proceed from this in pursuing our foreign policy. We will also protect the interest of our business community abroad. And it should be clear to everyone that if someone makes aggressive forays, he will get a response.”

While one cannot argue with the general idea, there are many Russians in neighboring countries who have Russian passports.  Is that grounds for invasion?  But if it is not, perhaps the next one is:

5. Spheres of influence

“Russia, just like other countries in the world, has regions where it has its privileged interests. In these regions, there are countries with which we have traditionally had friendly cordial relations, historically special relations. We will work very attentively in these regions and develop these friendly relations with these states, with our close neighbours.”

As Bill Cosby would say, “Riiggght.”  Read: if you aren’t friendly to us, we’ll invade to “protect our citizens”.

Cuba, are you listening?  Still, better to oppose the principles and the bad behavior of one state rather than compound it.  Of course that might depend on who makes the decision.  President Bush might decide that one more crusade is in order.

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Another Downturn Another BuyOut

Bureau of Economics

Americans love capitalism.  We love to tell the government to stay out of the business of business.  “That which governs least governs best” and all that hoo ha.  This holds true until something goes wrong.  The World Trade Center and Pentagon are attacked: let’s change our way of life.  The mortage industry fails to properly regulate itself, and now it appears that the government will come to the rescue of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac.

Given the circumstances I don’t see any recourse but to bail out these two pseudo-corporations, but wuoldn’t it have been more cost effective to employ some amount of regulation to avert the need for the U.S. tax payer to step in – again?  Let’s recall the last fiasco in the 1980s where the savings and loan industry all but collapsed and the Resolution Trust Corporation was formed to recover the mess.

Instead of paying through the nose at the end, perhaps a little LESS liquidity would have done nicely.  For instance, debt was sold from one bank to another like candy without any notion of the risk.  What if the bank that issued the note had to hold it?  At that point the risk is the bank’s and the bank’s alone.  Perhaps this is also an argument for a higher reserve ratio for subprime mortages.  Another approach would similarly require a ration of prime to subprime loans so that there is a maximum risk portfolio.

One of the reasons this isn’t done is that people say that the market should sort itself out.  And that works up until a certain point, after which Americans who are not delinquent foot the bill.

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Update: No Sooner Had I Finished Writing, When…

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw out an entire raft of regulation, regarding CO2 emmission.  Either as planned or unplanned incompetence, the Bush administration’s protection of the environment has simply been incompetent.  Or worse.  The Wall Street Journal reports today that President Bush is renewing his ridiculous calls for more drilling in sensitive areas.

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