27 May 2016

Pssstt, I’m over here for some things.

31 March 2016

With my leftover goddamn peel, I made a second batch of HCBs, with two further variations: I took out the raisins, and replaced them with currants. I then shoved in a bunch more currants (an extra 40gms) to finish off the package.

I also replaced 50gms of bread flour with 50gms of rye flour.

These are some tasty HCBs, although the rye does mean they didn’t rise so beautifully, and the extra fruit made the dough a fair bit harder to handle.

25 March 2016

The last few years I’ve made Hot Cross Buns using this recipe. This year, I made some small adjustments:

  • I candied my own goddamn peel, because America. By some stroke of GENIUS, I saved the beautifully orange-inflected sugar syrup, and was then able to use it to glaze the buns when they came out of the oven. PRO MOVE, do recommend.
  • I used more wholewheat flour – I replaced 100gms of the white bread flour in the starter.
  • On my esteemed brother’s suggestion, I reduced the hydration slighty – 300gms of warm milk rather than 340gms
  • Also on Huw’s suggestion, I added the drained fruit after a couple of turns, which did make it much easier to manage, and probably meant the bulk fermentation was… bulkier.
  • I snuggled the buns up a bit closer after shaping – more like 1cm apart – to prove and bake, because that makes them look proper when they come out of the oven, and it’s easier to do the crosses when they’re closer together.
  • I used a tin with sides this year, which means that the buns are a bit moister inside, and probably could have gone ~10 minutes longer in the oven.

Thank you, Jesus.

22 February 2016

John Oliver on US abortion laws for 15 minutes. He’s created this form, and he’s really making it work for him. I wonder where we’ll be on this debate in ten years? Or 50?

21 February 2016

I caught this ad out the corner of my eye when watching the Super Bowl, but Rachael Kendrick reminded me to check it out properly. It would have been unimaginable even five years ago for a men’s deodorant ad to feature any one of these characters. The studio responsible was 72 and Sunny.

19 February 2016

Two things have made me cry inconsolably for > 5 minutes in the last 24 hours: a story about a refugee cat reunited with its owners after travelling from Syria, through Turkey, Greece, Germany and Norway, and a song by Missy Higgins about the death of Alan Kurdi as his family struggled to find a way to a better life in Canada.

Sort of relatedly, I was a bit baffled by the Slate Culture Gabfest team’s indifference to the film Brooklyn, which they took as a neat romance with a migration angle, and which I cried so much during I thought I was going to be physically sick.

Maybe my own (extremely happy and fulfilling) experience of life away from home has opened my eyes a fraction wider to this stuff? Or maybe I’m just human being. I don’t know. But it depresses me that most people don’t / won’t / can’t understand what a terrible, wrenching sacrifice people are making when they leave their homes to escape danger or suffering or oppression. I’m so glad when artists and journalists and etc. find ways to tell these stories in ways that bridge the gap. Except that I’d prefer not to see any more of them this week, thank you very much.

16 February 2016

This emoji identification neural network in Quart Composer kind of knocked me for six.

20 January 2016

Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump for President:

Well, I am here because like you I know that it is now or never. I’m in it to win it because we believe in America, and we love our freedom. And if you love your freedom, thank a vet. Thank a vet, and know that the United States military deserves a commander in chief that our country passionately, and will never apologize for this country. A new commander in chief who will never leave our men behind. A new commander in chief, one who will never lie to the families of the fallen. I’m in it, because just last week, we’re watching our sailors suffer and be humiliated on a world stage at the hands of Iranian captors in violation of international law, because a weak-kneed, capitulator in chief has decided America will lead from behind.

Anyway, her entirely insane speech has been the subject of some discussion this morning.

Me: She must have tourette’s, right?
Antonia: Or she’s a lyrical poetic genius. Why hasn’t anybody thought of calling his supporters Trumpeters before?

Update: the excellent Amber Jamieson filed a translation of Palin’s speech in her new gig at the Guardian.

18 January 2016

We watched the Netflix true crime documentary series Making a Murderer very quickly – ten hours of dense and visually dull courtroom footage and stock linking shots of seasons changing in Manituwoc County, punctuated by the occasional thrilling interview with defense lawyer Dean Strang; as entertainment it mostly, surprisingly, worked.

As with Adnan Syed’s case in Serial, I ended up feeling much more righteously indignant about the state of the justice system here than about the specific fate of Steven Avery. I mean, he probably did it, right? Men murder women all the time, and no plausible alternative suspects were presented. There wasn’t even a ‘Jay’ or a ‘Don’ to consider, and if there had been, the end result is just as terrible for Teresa’s family: she’s still dead, most likely horribly murdered. But whether or not I (or any other armchair observer of this case) think he did it is irrelevant: Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey were not afforded the presumption of innocence – in theory the foundation of the system in which they were tried – and their lawyers seemed never to have to clear more than the lowest hurdles in order to secure convictions, along with immense jail sentences. Some people perceive the risk of setting a guilty man free to be greater than the risk of imprisoning the wrong guy, and obviously I don’t feel that way, but having watched the show it’s hard to see how we could achieve the required systemic change to avoid it. I did quite a lot of yelling at the television and thumping my fists on the couch as I watched scenes of Brendan Dassey being coerced by police or set up by his own lawyer, or the judge blithely dismissing motions to instruct the jury in matters that seemed horribly prejudicial.

Katherine Schultz writes about some other problems with the series in the New Yorker – in essence that the documentary makers’ position on Avery’s guilt is as calculated to mislead as that of the prosecutors in the case, and that important evidence is omitted in order to support their narrative. Perhaps this is revisionism, but I feel like I was alert to that likelihood throughout; nonetheless, it’s an important consideration as this kind of documentary storytelling becomes more common.

01 January 2016

We see almost a film a week at the moment, and I kept track of most of what we saw in 2015 on Letterboxd. Carol, Ex Machina, The Martian, Spotlight and Inside Out were probably my top 5, although I enjoyed almost everything I saw. Spectre was a big disappointment, but Daniel Craig squeezed into his blue suit sort of saved it; I have basically zero recollection of This Is Where I Leave You and The One I Love, both of which I saw in that long stretch of dark air between LAX and MEL.

There’s a new cinema nearby that looks to have a pretty great roster of new and classic films coming up, so 2016 looks like being another good year for movies.