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March 17, 2006

World's Best RSS Reader — For OSX


Robyn Miller says it's Newsfire (screenshot below).


That's good enough for me, should I one day add an RSS reader.

Real soon now.

One of his readers recommends Sage


for Foxfire.

[via Robyn Miller and tinselman]

March 17, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hanging Boot Shapers


From the website:

    Boot Shapers with Hangers!

    Boots Stay In Shape Longer...

    Hang, stand, and shape with this unique and essential product by Austin-Abbott, Inc.

    Boots will retain that crisp, smooth look — that means no creases or folding!

    Specially–conformed boot hangers are included.

    12"tall x 4"diameter.

A pair costs $9.79 (boots not included).

[via Marianne Rohrlich's "Personal Shopper" feature in yesterday's New York Times]

March 17, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bill Cardoso — the man who invented the word 'gonzo' — is dead


The man who invented the word in 1970 (or possibly 1968) to describe the early work of Hunter S. Thompson died on February 26 of this year but word travels slowly in gonzo world: Douglas Martin's superb New York Times obituary (below) didn't appear until yesterday.

    Bill Cardoso, 68, Editor Who Coined 'Gonzo', Is Dead

    Bill Cardoso (above), a writer and an editor who might have been lost in the haze of the hip, offbeat, drug-tinged world of 70's journalism had he not come up with the perfect word to describe Hunter S. Thompson's roller-coaster prose — "gonzo" — died on Feb. 26 at his home in Kelseyville, Calif. He was 68.

    The cause was a heart attack, said Mary Miles Ryan, his companion for many years.

    Mr. Cardoso worked for many newspapers, wire services and magazines, establishing a reputation as a careful but hardly prolific writer and a jolly companion.

    Friends tell of his being "writer in residence" at a hotel bar for nearly a year; making up a secret "language" with Mr. Thompson when both covered the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight in Zaire, and owning a jazz club in the Canary Islands.

    Both Mr. Thompson, who died last year, and Mr. Cardoso said "gonzo" sprang to life after Mr. Cardoso read Mr. Thompson's article about the Kentucky Derby in Scanlon's Monthly in June 1970.

    The article, "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," bristled with the raw disorder, odd humor and piercing insight that became Mr. Thompson's trademarks.

    Mr. Cardoso, who was the editor of The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine at the time, wrote Mr. Thompson a letter, saying he had scored a stunning breakthrough.

    "This is it, this is pure Gonzo," Mr. Cardoso wrote, using a capital G. "If this is a start, keep rolling."

    Ralph Steadman, the illustrator who worked with Mr. Thompson, said in an interview that Mr. Thompson immediately took to the term: "He said, 'O.K., that's what I do. Gonzo.' "

    Mr. Steadman theorized why. "It was a strangely goofy word," he said. "Things are strangely gonzatic."

    The next year, the following appeared in Mr. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas": "Free Enterprise. The American Dream. Horatio Alger gone mad on drugs in Las Vegas. Do it now: pure Gonzo journalism."

    A new breed of subjective journalism was christened.

    The idea was that a bizarre, highly personalized grapple with a situation led to truth.

    If drugs did not help — a minority view — they unarguably made the journey more colorful and the resulting journalism more marketable.

    "Gonzo" came to describe everything from marketing to computer programming to mud-kicking country music.

    Google has 15.3 million references to "Gonzo" [actually, 15.1 million — I just checked], and the Oxford English Dictionary gives full credit to Mr. Cardoso.

    Not that even he knew its roots.

    He often said it was a corruption of the French Canadian "gonzeaux," which he said connoted "shining path."

    In an academic paper, titled "What Is Gonzo? The Etymology of an Urban Legend," Martin Hirst of the University of Queensland in Australia wrote that he could not find the word in French dictionaries.

    He offered other possibilities: a hipster expression, an Italian word for "simpleton" or old South Boston slang for the last man standing after a drinking bout.

    Another twist comes from Lucian K. Truscott IV, an author and a screenwriter who was friendly with both writers.

    He said Mr. Cardoso first used "gonzo" in 1968 to compliment Mr. Thompson on an article he wrote for The Globe magazine about President Richard M. Nixon.

    William Joseph Cardoso, a son of a fire chief, was born in Boston on Sept. 24, 1937.

    He attended Boston schools, pitched a no-hitter in junior high school and graduated from Boston University.

    He worked for newspapers in Vermont and New Hampshire before joining The Globe.

    Mr. Cardoso, a reporter at the time, met Mr. Thompson on a press bus during the 1968 New Hampshire primary, according to "Fear and Loathing in America: The Gonzo Letters, Volume II."

    He became the editor of the Globe magazine later that year.

    In 1984, he published "The Maltese Sangweech and Other Heroes,"


    an anthology of his articles that had appeared in Harper's, Rolling Stone and other magazines.

    The New York Times called it "a good natured romp."

    In addition to Ms. Ryan, Mr. Cardoso is survived by his daughter, Linda Cardoso of Los Angeles, and his brother, Gilbert, who lives near Boston.

    "It seems sad to me that all Bill's going to be remembered for is Gonzo journalism," Mr. Truscott said, explaining that Mr. Cardoso's style was more precise and restrained than Mr. Thompson's.

    "Bill may have named it, but he never wrote it," he said.

March 17, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy St. Patrick's Day


I like holidays that fall on a single date rather than the third Wednesday, etc.

So much easier to remember.

I mean, July 4 — you know what day that is.

A four–leaf clover under glass costs $25; if you really want to press your luck, the three–clover iteration costs $35.


Order now before they go away till next spring and you'll be ready same time next year.

March 17, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Comparing Cream Cheeses


Is there a better food writer around than Robert L. Wolke?

He is so wonderful at rendering the complex understandable.

This past Wednesday, in his Food 101 column in the Washington Post Food section, he dove deep into the subject of cream cheese.

Apart from the salient facts, his asides — such as the explanation for why Kraft's is called "Philadelphia" (hint: it's not because it was created there; in fact, it originated in New York) — are gold.

    Here's the story.

    Q. We think you're the man to solve a friendly little husband-wife discussion: What's the difference between a brick of cream cheese, soft cream cheese and whipped cream cheese?

    A. I love to mediate marital "discussions," but you don't say who's betting on what, so I can't bestow the told-you-so rights on either one.

    You'll have to work that out without me.

    There are almost as many types of cream cheese as there are bagels. (But don't get me started on those wimpy, round breads that the chain bagelries sell. I grew up in New York. 'Nuff said.)

    To quote Kraft Foods, which owns the Philadelphia brand: "Cream cheese originated in the United States in 1872, when a dairyman in Chester, N.Y., developed a 'richer cheese than ever before,' made from cream as well as whole milk. Then in 1880, a New York cheese distributor, A.L. Reynolds, first began distributing cream cheese wrapped in tin-foil wrappers, calling it Philadelphia Brand."

    (An aside: Thin metal foil used for food wrapping was originally made of tin, but today it is aluminum. That doesn't prevent many metallically challenged folks from calling aluminum foil "tin foil.")

    "But why did he call it Philadelphia?" Kraft continues. "The name 'Philadelphia Brand cream cheese' was adopted by Reynolds for the product because at that time, top-quality food products often originated in or were associated with the city, and were often referred to as being 'Philadelphia quality.' "

    Today, Kraft makes at least 11 varieties of cream cheese: brick, soft, fat-free brick, fat-free soft, light soft and whipped, chives and onion, garden vegetable, garden vegetable light, cinnamon sugar and strawberry.

    The last five are classified by the Food and Drug Administration not as cheeses, but as "cheese spreads," because their milk fat content is substantially lower than that of whole cheese.

    That's not even to mention the many variations that Kraft makes for ethnic palates around the world.

    In its standard form, cream cheese is made by pasteurizing and homogenizing a blend of milk and cream and allowing a bacterial culture to work on it for about 18 hours.

    The curd is then separated from the whey; salt and vegetable gums are added; and the product is chilled and packaged.

    It is not aged.

    The gums -- xanthan, carob or guar, or a combination of them, obtained from various plants -- are what give cream cheese its gummy texture.

    The mutant cream cheeses on the market -- such as light, soft, low-fat and fat-free -- are made by juggling the relative amounts of various ingredients, such as whole milk, skim milk, milk protein, whey and lactic acid, in the formulas.

    Whipped cream cheese is made by whipping air into the product.

    For years, I have used the whipped version, assuming that I could eat maybe twice as much of it for the same amount of consumed fat.

    But according to measurements I made while researching this column, the whipped product occupies only about 22 percent more volume (for the same weight) than the brick product.

    That lowers the fat content from 35 to 29 percent.

    Not much of a difference.

    Should I, then, switch to the "light" version, which contains 14 percent fat, or the fat-free one, which has less than 2 percent fat?

    After a thoroughly unscientific blind tasting (just me with my eyes closed), I concluded that none of the mutants can match the flavor and texture of the original.

    The whipped product had good flavor, but it is significantly watered down (aired down?).

    The "light" product had the consistency of sour cream -- not what one expects for a cream cheese -- and was distractingly salty.

    The fat-free product was unpleasantly gelatinous, with a sour aftertaste.

    So what to do?

    I'm switching from the whipped version back to the original. There are more things in life to worry about than an extra 2 grams of fat per ounce.

    Now about those bagels....


Robert L. Wolke (www.robertwolke.com) is professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. His latest book is "What Einstein Told His Cook 2, The Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science" (W.W. Norton, 2005). He can be reached at wolke@pitt.edu.

March 17, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cordinator — When cool products have bad names


Don't judge a book by its cover and don't judge a new device by its appellation.

Wait a minute, joe — what does this have to do with mountains?


Cordinator is, I surmise, a too–clever–by–half play on the words "cord coordinator."

Back to the linguistic drawing board, girls and boys — but in the meantime here's the skinny from the website:

    Yes, You Can Lose That Mess Behind Your Computer Table!

    Our Cordinator gives you a slim but spacious case that hides cords, cables, and transformers for up to 10 devices.

    A single 4.5' grounded power cord plugs into your wall, delivering power to 10 hidden outlets inside.

    A 15-amp circuit breaker provides protection from overload; 3400-joule surge suppression guards against sudden spikes that can fry your semi–conductors!

    Just pop open the sturdy lid (strong enough to support your monitor on top), and wind excess lengths of cables and cords into neat bundles.


    Self-adhesive retaining rings keep cords under control.

    Feed the connector ends out the side — in just the lengths needed to plug in — and you’ll have order where once you had chaos!

    12" x 12" x 3".


Could be particularly useful in the treadmill office space.

In stylish black or beige to cordinate with your decor.

$55 (cords and cables not included).

March 17, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MIT Open Studio Experimental Art Exchange


Activate tags by clicking on a word.

In a word — way kewl.

You idiot, Joe: can't you count?

That's two words: "way" and "kewl."

OK: waykewl.

Ha ha ha.

Got ya.

Which reminds of a great idea I had recently for a new hit TV series.

"American Idiot."


Have your people call my people.

We'll take a meeting or maybe even do lunch.

[via Linda Hales and the Washington Post]

Green Day... now why does that remind me of something...?

March 17, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Waking up


March 17, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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