The Best Pizza in Providence?

Back when I lived in Providence during the late 90s and into the early Aughts, the best pizza in Providence was Pizza Pier on Wickendon Street. I figured that was still the case until the other night when I ordered a “Take and Bake” pizza from Gourmet Pizza, which is on the corner of Hope & Olney and right next to Tortilla Flats.

I picked up the Margherita (sliced beefsteak, tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, fresh ground pepper, fresh basil, and balsamic essence) and popped it in the oven for about 7 minutes, then sprinkled on the fresh basil and drizzled on the balsamic essence and oh my was that a good pizza. Probably one of the better pizzas I’ve ever had. The crust is thin, but has character and the toppings were top-notch. The only problem was that I’m going to want to buy pizza from them way more than I should actually let myself spend the money or consume the calories.

Best pizza in Providence? You betcha-by-golly-wow, Gourmet Pizza delivers a great pie.

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Why Apple Products are Good for Me

I am a product of my culture and a bit of a computer geek and, as such, have an affinity for getting the newest, most up-to-date x (where x = “pretty much damn near anything tech/computer related). Of course, I have never had the income to really pursue that affinity to the lengths that I might want. However, even if I can’t afford to get the newest, coolest x, not having it produces a vague sense of dissatisfaction1 . Ironically, I find that by switching to a Mac as my computer and buying an iPhone I am able to excise some of that dissatisfaction and be content with my current set of tools.

Investing in Quality

My Macbook Pro is the most expensive computer I’ve ever purchased and it’s almost 20 months old–which is like 5 of our people years. Since then, the line has had a minor refresh and a major overhaul with the new (pretty!) unibody construction. Until I switched to a Mac, I was always buying low- to mid-end computers that meant I wanted to upgrade every 6 to 12 months. I wasn’t actually making a serious investment in my computer equipment, so I was seeing each computer as temporary, merely a brief stop on my way to the next, better computer. Not so much these days. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think the new Macbook Pros are gorgeous, and if someone were to give me one, I’d surely take it, but I honestly don’t feel like I just have to have the newest and latest model because my computer remains an excellent tool that is more than sufficient to my needs. This is partly because of the quality of Apple products and partly because I consciously invested in getting a computer that would last 4 or 5 people years.

Updates? We don’t need no stinkin’ updates.

I have a jailbroken iPhone. Primarily for two reasons and secondarily for one reason. Mainly I keep my iPhone jailbroken for 1) Video capability–even though I haven’t had a use for this, I like knowing that I could capture video if necessary and 2) tethering, which can come in handy if there’s no other source of internet access. Additionally, I like being able to individualize the look of my iPhone and have a theme that I think is actually nicer than Apple’s (though many of the themes are not). One of the ramifications of keeping my phone jailbroken is that I need to be careful when updating the phone and this is forcing me to reconsider my knee-jerk reaction to hearing about updates to any of my technology which has generally been, OMG I need to update NOW!

Patience, they say, is a virtue, and my (jailbroken) iPhone is helping me learn a bit more patience than I have previously maintained . . . at least in this one area of my life (but maybe it’ll bleed over into other areas).

Using a well made tool will make any task more enjoyable than using an ill made tool, and Apple products, beyond their sleek design and sexy looks, are well made tools that are helping me focus a bit more on how and why I use technology instead of just wanting to play with the newest, coolest, most cutting edge x out there.

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  1. capitalism at work!! []

Fighting the Anti-Science Forces

There are lots of ’em out there: people who don’t understand the difference between science and religion, people who prefer fantasy to fact, people who think that imposing their own particular reason on children through the school system is a perfectly fine and decent thing to do, people who choose to stick their head in the metaphysical sand instead of approach the world with a sense of curiosity, skepticism, and experimentation, and people who see science and education as potential threats to their sense of power and ability to control others. These forces come in numerous forms, from simple and individual ignorance to world-wide networks dedicated to disrupting science and education through a series of well-coordinated lies.

Of course, at the heart of such anti-science and anti-rational efforts are the continued misinformation and deceptions these people spread about the Theory of Evolution. This came up recently in a Facebook comments thread that I was part of and I decided to contact my friend Jay for some links and thoughts on the matter because he’s been doing a lot of research on evolution and the battle against creationists. His response was helpful in framing my own arguments and the resources he provides are excellent if you want to learn more about how to fight against these anti-science, anti-rational winguts who can’t be bothered to understand the basics of the scientific method and who want our children to be uneducated and scientifically illiterate. He has kindly let me reprint his email here.

Here are half a dozen that clearly explain why evolution is not
religion, how it has been proven and more.

Evolution has been proven over and over, in the lab, in radioactive
dating, in field observations, in the fossil record and more.

All modern life sciences have evolution as a basis and they work
because of it. Gene therapy for diseases, DNA testing, drug-resistant
diseases like TB and MRSA, animal husbandry, plant breeding,
neurology, etc.

The argument that one of dozens of various creation myths from the
bronze age are better suited to explain how life got where it is, than
millions of hours of research in the lab, in paleontology, in gene
sequencing is ridiculous.

The idea of “teaching both” is a false dichotomy for two reasons.

1) Which creation myth should we teach? The Flying Spaghettit Monster? The Norse version?

Here are two sites with a list of some of the options:

If someone wanted to teach all of those in a comparative religions
class, then that is fine. But they have no place in a science class.
On the other hand if the “teach both” means teach the Biblical
version, then that is clearly illegal – see the Dover trial among

2) Teaching both makes it sound like there is some sort of science
behind the non-evolutionary ideas. There is not. Every creationist
argument against evolution has been shown to be false.

Oh, and often someone will say “its just a theory”, yes, that is true,
Because in science a theory is an overarching idea of how things work
backed up by facts. For example, the theory of GRAVITY or RELATIVITY.
Now, if you do not want to acknowledge that Evolution is fact, then I
suggest you either show gravity is false by jumping off a bridge, or
that relativity is false by putting an atomic bomb in your church.

Darwin never said it was a religion and “darwinism” is a word used by
creationists to make it seem like they are comparable.  Evolution has
had many changes. For example, Darwin knew nothing of DNA, yet DNA has augmented the theory, BUT it did change how the changes are passed from generation to generation.  That is the hallmark of science, new evidence changes ideas.  Creationism refuses to change in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

As for “ape to man with no bones” here is a great example of dozens of
fossils found.

Now, scientists simply see those as varying degrees of change for
different evolutionary periods.

Creationists try to draw a line from “ape to human” but they can’t
even agree on which one is which.

                   Thanks Jay and let's all fight the good fight against the forces of ignorance and anti-rationalism who seek to deny science and ignore the separation of church and state.<br /><br />Technorati Tags: <a class="performancingtags" href="" rel="tag">evolution</a>, <a class="performancingtags" href="" rel="tag">science</a>, <a class="performancingtags" href="" rel="tag">anti-science</a>, <a class="performancingtags" href="" rel="tag">rationalism</a>

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As Obama Works, So Must We

Joy. Elation. Excitement. Pride. Patriotism. Many have already written about the events of yesterdays inauguration, and many will write and talk further about this important moment in our history as a nation.

I want to simply say, now is the time for us, the American people, to re-engage with our democracy, and to do so in a fully committed manner. That doesn’t mean we have to spend our entire existence in the world of politics, but it does mean that each of us needs to broaden our sources of information about the world, we need to forge closer relationships with our representatives (on the local, state and federal levels), and we need to find ways to participate in our communities.

We must maintain a steady vigilance over our political leaders and make sure each and every one of them know that we stand ready to revoke our support if their behavior is self-centered or their votes cater to the wealthy at the expense of our fragile planet or our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Depending on even the best politicians good will is sort of like putting cookies on a table in front of a two-year-old and saying “don’t touch.”

We set the rules. We the people. Don’t let them forget it.

Each of us needs to be more aware of what Congress is doing on a daily or weekly basis. Have your representative’s emails and phone numbers handy. Write and call them when something concerns you. Attend town meetings. Volunteer. I know that if I added up all the time I spend at home needlessly surfing the internet, I would probably have a good 3-4 hours a week that I could use to volunteer and give something back to my community.

The challenges that America and the world face are intimidating. None of us can do everything (not even Obama). So find something you care about, whether that is education, science, the environment, children’s health, reproductive rights, the separation of church and state, etc. and do something to make the world a better place. Don’t narrow your focus to ignore all the other issues, but don’t feel you have to act on everything. Each of us must find our own way of contributing and if we try to act in a way that is against our nature, our actions will benefit noone. Just don’t confuse difficult and challenging with “against your nature”–the only way to grow as individuals, communities, nations, and as a species is to do the difficult.

I think if nothing else, becoming more informed and more aware of the world around us is imperative for our very survival as a species. But being informed doesn’t mean to passively accept information, even from sources we trust. Being informed means we take the data presented to us and use our own reasoning and analysis to understand and assess; it means we hold our sources of information–be they journalists, pundits, bloggers, or politicians–accountable for any lies and deceptions they promulgate; and it means that we always read between the lines because no one is without bias, no one is without ideology and there is no speech-act or text that is wholly innocent or objective.

We must strive for the creation of the sublime, of works and acts that are more than mere beauty, more than simply escapism. Whether through the creation of art or the creation of community; a poem or a small act of charity; we must strive to bring into existence anything that reveals ourselves to ourselves and helps us move forward as fulfilled and compassionate people. Sometimes simply smiling at a tired and over-stressed waiter or treating a Starbucks employee with integrity and respect can be a truly creative moment.

President Obama has a great many challenges ahead of him as he takes on the role of President. In many ways, however, we have the greater challenge. Nobody is holding us accountable for our actions as Americans, and yet, each and every day, we must, like President Obama, work to make the world a better place for everyone.

Yes we can.

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Fun Links!

I’ve been storing various links in my rss feed reader that I wanted to share with you folks for several weeks now and haven’t gotten around to posting them, so here goes:

Amanda Marcotte has an excellent deconstruction of a recent evolutionary psychology “study.” (You’ll see why the scare quotes if you read her article.) These evolutionary psychologists do seem to be a hit with the media and I have come across this so-called science more and more often recently. Look, quite simply, there is no way to divorce human behavior from cultural constructions. I don’t mean that there is no science to be done when it comes to understanding our actions and our bodies and how our brains work, but the notion that anything as socially constructed as gender roles can be reduced to genetic and evolutionary impulses misses the point, no only of gender, but also genetics and evolution. If you’ve heard of these various studies and “experts” who claim to trace notions of sexism and misogyny and just plain asshole-ish behavior to the necessities of evolution, this is a compelling take on how such arguments are used. (Link)

As we usher in a new political age with a new President and renewed hope for a common future, let’s not lose sight of some particularly egregious points of disparity in our country. Meteor Blades has an insightful article about the representation of women in our government. Sadly, “America ranks 69th in the world for women’s political leadership.” (Link)

Thankfully, President Obama seems commited to bringing back science–real science and not religious-based pseudo-science–into our national dialogue. He also seems to recognize how important a how important curiousity and knowledge will be to helping us solve many of our problems and to grow as a species. Nature Magazine has a new learning site called “Scitable,” that is billed as a “collaborative learning space for science undergraduates.” I haven’t explored it yet, but I’m willing to bet that there are some compelling articles and tools for smart high school students as well as non-students who might want to learn new ideas and concepts and facts. (Link via BoingBoing)

Finally, do not click through to this link if you are squeamish about maggots. This is definitely on the list of foods I will never, ever eat. (Link again via BoingBoing)


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Neat Videos to Watch

Sharing some fun videos. Enjoy!

An amazing film that creates an entire world, offers compelling characters, and scary action scenes and does it in a few minutes and with no dialogue:

9 Nine Shane Acker Short Animation
by FrFKmeron

A lovely rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on a ukelele:

If you never watched Ze Frank’s daily videocast when it was on, you missed out on something special. This is the first I’ve seen of him as an actor in a quirky and low-budget project that was put together during the Writer’s strike last year. While not in development, the project has some tantalizing elements that make me hope for a future incarnation:
The Remnants from John August on Vimeo.

A brief interview with one of my favorite writers. There are two parts, check out MIT TechTV’s site for the second half:

And finally, the trailer for Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman’s book. This looks beautiful and scary and so much fun:

Just to Reiterate – She was the Cutest Kitten EVER

These are old photos of a very young Lila, but they are just so frakin’ cute that I wanted to post them. I don’t think I posted much about Lila when Joya and I got her in the fall of 2006 because I’d yet to accept the fact that I went completely bonkers for her. Now I just recognize that I’m that guy: the one who would rather live with a cat than with another person.

I miss her, but am very glad she’s keeping Joya company.

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