New Look, New Business, New Offer

Welcome, dear readers, to the new new new Twice Cooked.

This seems to happen just about once per year, here. I get progressively more peeved with the clutter and crud that builds up around the edges of the site, and when I can stand it no longer, I go into a fit of web-coding berserker rage, bulldoze the whole thing, and install something cleaner, faster, and (I hope) a little better both to read and maintain.

Randall Munroe’s New “What If” Book

New book!

For the second time in a fairly short span, I’m going to push a book at you that is mostly unrelated to cooking, or eating, or politics. I don’t know if you are all aware of Randall Munroe, author of the geeky-chic, totally amazing, thoughtful, incisive, and hilarious XKCD web comic. But if you’re not, you should be. And you should know that he’s writing a book!

Grown-ups, by Randall Munroe
From XKCD, not What If? But the joy of this particular strip expresses some how how I feel about Randall Munroe writing a book.

It’s not an XKCD book, exactly. It is based on his equally thoughtful blog, “What If?” in which he provides serious scientific answers — mostly based in physics — to all kinds of crazy questions that readers send him. My favorite from way back in the blog’s early days is called “Everybody Jump,” and it answers the pressing question: What would happen if everyone on earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?

At any rate, the book is called What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. And you can click on the title to pre-order. Or, if you prefer, Mr. Munroe has some links to where else you can get it over on his website.

Bilingual, Illustrated Tao Te Ching

Not strictly cooking related, but I wanted to point you all in the direction of this edition of the Tao Te ChingPhilip Ivanhoe’s translation — the version that I teach — is a favorite.  But this translation by Gia-Fu Feng looks very promising.  And it comes (in Amazon’s words) with over a hundred new photographs by Jane English that help express the vast spirit of the Tao.  I don’t quite know from expressing the vast spirit of the Tao.  But based on what I’ve seen, the photographs are beautiful, and the book may well be worth it just for them.

Massachusetts’ Experiment in Open Debates

The Open Debate Process

So — Massachusetts’ fifth congressional district is throwing a special election.

This in itself isn’t news. Earlier this year, Ed Markey, who had long represented Eastern Massachusetts in the House of Representatives, was elected to the Senate to fill the seat that John Kerry vacated when he was appointed Secretary of State. By law, Governor Deval Patrick has one hundred sixty days to line up a replacement. And so, on December 10, folks in Middlesex, Suffolk, and Worcester Counties will come out, cast votes, and send someone new to the least popular institution in the United States.

News, Updates, and Miscellany

Good news! And some reminders, too.

The big item of interest — the thing that has driven me to metablogging — is that Elizabeth, author of the Bread and Honey blog and sometime guest blogger here, has agreed to become a regular Twice Cooked contributor. Which means that, beginning in the next couple of weeks, you’ll see her name pop up in the author field somewhat more regularly, unaccompanied by the italicized mini-biography that ordinarily prefaces posts by folks who are not me.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

In addition to grilling asparagus this holiday weekend, and watching Joe Biden deliver some of the most honest, admirable Memorial Day remarks of which I am aware (more on this later — maybe), I had the opportunity to get out of the house and peep about Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary. For those who don’t know, […]