Link to my local letters.

*disclaimer* Know that most of my commentary is said with jest, self-mockery, and a playful spirit. I believe a bit of lightheartedness and dry humor go a long way towards resolving serious issues. *end disclaimer*

My hypothesis: (a) the Scoville scale of Davis’ restaurants is on the lower end of the piquancy spectrum and (b) their spice complexity forced into an equilibrated state of collective mediocrity. The reason, I believe, is caused by the 50% student population and the raw economic constraints they impose. How, you ask? Well, it’s rather simple, really: the student population at Davis, on the whole, has been raised with minimal exposure to (a) capsicum and (b) spices common in foreign foods—such as Thailand, India, and Mexico—rendering their taste buds squeamish, weak, and unrefined. This phenomenon, I suspect, ties in with the bourgeoisification of America on some primal level, as well as the general blandness of average American home cooking (salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, etc., are all common and, unless used in gourmet cooking, patently bland). The consequence of the Davis population's bland pallet is that restaurants must (a) savagely curtail their piquancy levels and (b) spice complexity to maintain regular patronization. The cooks, therefore, may be inculpable, but the students—well, I'll leave that judgement up to you. (It occurred to me that the food commentary doubles as an extended metaphor for decadent culture in general—ha! We're all in the Village! Watch out!)

Parodic Autobiography of Prince Vogelfrei

I'm considered baseborn, despite being a descendant of the King of Ireland (or so my father tells me—but then again, all Irish folk—or I should say, more technically, all people who regard themselves as such—think themselves descendant from royalty, and if you go far back enough, it's inevitably true). By saying this my intentions should not be confused: I don't resent being baseborn, for it does not mean I am base. Golden children come from bronze parents, after all. And in this regard, I was fortunate to have golden parents, of a sort (character, though not class). Nor does being baseborn entail suffering from ressentiment—or does it? Perhaps someday, if I make a name for myself in academia (pardon my perhaps unfounded ego-optimism), I'll look back and say, "All my frustrations were expressions of ressentiment, after all, because now that I have extrinsic, institutionalized power, I no longer know the feeling of oppression—my feelings before were all imagined." But are imagined thought contents and their attendant emotions any less real? I feel, therefore I think. Self-made (or happenstance) liberties do not free us from imagining the very real bonds of others: we can imagine their oppression, empathize with their suffering, their intrinsic ability and potential, despite their being "baseborn." We can also imagine and see a lack of all these good qualities in others—this we should not forget, though I repeatedly do, as a sort of dispositional default. My dog is my pain. Weltschmerz is his name. So someday (maybe), as I suggested, I'll make a name (for myself?) and talk about these things in a scholarly journal or book where people will actually care about what I say enough to influence others in accordance with "my" teachings (that is, the teachings of all who come to the same point). Or maybe (more likely) I'll make a name for myself without extrinsic recognition, in which case I'll live a very real though self-deluded life, and I'll pontificate away the days, expounding on my own theories about ressentiment and fictional foundational emotions. Then everyone will point at me and say, "There's a bronze man thinking he's golden." Though my delusions will be real enough for me (or not). Quando etiam sapientibus gloriae cupido novissima excuitur.

Writing on the Wall

New caution. — Let’s stop thinking so much about punishing, reproaching, and improving!
We rarely change an individual; and should we succeed, something else may have been
accomplished, unnoticed: we may have been changed through him! Let’s rather make sure
our own influence on all that is to come balances and outweighs his influence! Let’s not
struggle in a direct flight, which is what reproaching, punishing, and desiring to improve
amount to. Let’s rather raise ourselves that much higher. Let us give our own example ever
more brilliant colours! Let us darken the others through our light! No—let’s not become
darker on their account, like those who punish and are dissatisfied! Let’s sooner step aside!
Let us look away!
—F. N. (GS, 321)

“With the development of modern civilization, nature (which man had tried to reduce to a mechanism for the purpose of ruling it) and objects have become man's lord and master, and the machine has come to dominate life. The ‘objects’ have progressively grown in vigor and intelligence, in size and beauty—while man, who created them, has more and more become a cog in his own machine. Perhaps there is no point on which there is more general agreement among sensible and right-minded contemporaries.” —Max Scheler (1915, Ressentiment)

"Whoever is ringed by the flame of jealousy in the end will turn his poisonous stinger upon himself,
like the scorpion."
— Nietzsche (''Z'' I.24)

Life must offer us a rest. — If, as the thinker does, one usually dwells in a great stream of thought and feeling, and pursues this stream even in nocturnal dreams: then what one desires of life is rest and silence— while others, conversely, want to take a rest from life when they give themselves over to meditation. — Nietzsche (Daybreak 572)

Nobody questions things in this country anymore ... people are too fat and happy; people
are way too fucking prosperous for their own good. Everyone’s got a cell phone that’ll make
pancakes and rub their balls now, you know? So, nobody wants to rock the boat. Americans
have been silenced and bought off by gizmos and toys and as a result no one learns to
question things -- no one learns to question things in this country anymore.
-- George Carlin, ''It's Bad for Ya!''

“When man possesses the feeling of power he feels and calls himself good: and it is precisely then that the others upon whom he has to discharge his power feel call him evil!” —F. N. (D, 189)

Usually misunderstood. — In a conversation you can watch one of the participants busy
setting a trap into which the other then falls—but he does it, not out of malice, as might
be thought, but out of pleasure at his own artfulness. Then again, you will see one set up
a joke so that the other can make it, tie a loop so that the other can unknot it: but he
does it, not out of benevolence, as might be thought, but out of malice and contempt for
cruder intellects. — Nietzsche (D, 351)

“Do not waste the remaining part of your life in thoughts about other people, when you are not thinking with reference to some aspect of the common good. Why deprive yourself of the time for some other task? I mean, thinking about what so-and-so is doing, and why, what he is saying or contemplating or plotting, and all that line of thought, makes you stray from the close watch on your own directing mind.” — Marcus Aurelius

Learning solitude. -- O you poor devils in the great cities of world politics, you gifted
young men tormented by ambition who consider it your duty to pass some comment on
everything that happens -- and there is always something happening! Who when they
raise the dust in this way think they are the chariot of history! Who, because they are
always on the alert, always on the lookout for the moment when they can put their
word in, lose all genuine productivity! However much they may desire to do great work,
the profound speechlessness of pregnancy never comes to them! The event of the day
drives them before it like chaff, while they think they are driving the event -- poor devils! --
If one wants to represent a hero on the stage one must not think of making one of the
chorus, indeed one must not even know how to make one of the chorus.
-- Nietzsche (D, 177)

Beware ". . . the vindictive cunning of impotence . . ." — N

Young people, many of you are looking to make a difference, to challenge the status quo.
Well the way Dr. King chose to challenge authority was revolutionary, and I think we can
do better. He accomplished so much by refusing to engage in violence. Doesn't it stand to
reason that we can accomplish so much more by refusing to engage in anything at all? Not
riding a bus sent a powerful message, so imagine how powerful a message you can send
by not leaving your bed. Young America, it is time to go beyond passive resistance to pure
passiveness. And you're off to a great start. In almost four years of war, there have been
no rallies, there has been no action in the streets . . . you have been to the mountaintop,
you have seen the promise land, and you have turned up your iPod and started playing
Xbox. Yes. But you can do less. So get up out of your chair right now and lie down on
your sofa. I'm calling for a nationwide lie-in. Stock your snacks accordingly. Remember:
it won't just be one of you doing nothing, it'll be millions. In the words of so many young
people this Christmas morning, "I . . . have a Wii."
--  Stephen Colbert

“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

. . . Take stock of those around you and you will see them wandering about
lost through life, like sleep-walkers in the midst of their good or evil
fortune, without the slightest suspicion of what is happening to them. You
will hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings,
which would seem to point to them having ideas on the matter. But start to
analyze those ideas and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the
reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover
that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite
the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any
personal vision of reality, of his own very life. For life is at the start of
a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is
frightened at finding himself face-to-face with this terrible reality, and
tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear.
It does not worry him that his 'ideas' are not true, he uses them as trenches
for the defense of his existence, as scarecrows to frighten away reality.
        The man with a clear head is the man who frees himself from those
fantastic 'ideas' and looks life in the face, realizes that everything in it
is problematic, and feels himself lost. As this is the simple truth -- that
to live is to feel oneself lost -- he who accepts it has already begun to
find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked,
he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless
glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will
cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only
genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric,
posturing, farce. He who does not really feel oneself lost, is lost without
remission; that is to say, he never finds himself, never comes up against
his own reality.
-- José Ortega y Gasset, from ''The Revolt of the Masses.''

Fundamental idea of a commercial culture. — Today one can see coming into existence the culture of a society which commerce is as much the soul as personal contest was with the ancient Greeks and as war, victory, and justice were for the Romans. The man engaged in commerce understands how to appraise everything without having made it, and to appraise it according to the needs of the consumer, not according to his own needs; ‘who and how many will consume this?’ is his question of questions. This type of appraisal he often applies instinctively and all the time: he applies it to everything, and thus also to the productions of the arts and sciences, of thinkers, scholars, artisans, statesman, peoples and parties, of the entire age: in regard to everything that is made he inquires after supply and demand in order to determine the value of a thing in his own eyes. This becomes the character of an entire culture, thought through in the minutest and subtlest detail and imprinted in every will in every faculty: it is this of which you men of the coming century will be proud: if the profits of the commercial class are right to give it into your possession! But I have little faith in these profits. Credat Judaeus Apella—in the words of Horace. — Nietzsche (D, 175)

It is true that to offer political rights, or safeguards against
intervention by the State, to men who are half-naked, illiterate,
underfed and diseased is to mock their condition; they need medical
help or education before they can understand, or make use of, an
increase in their freedom. What is freedom to those who cannot make use
of it? Without adequate conditions for the use of freedom, what is the
value of freedom? . . . The Egyptian peasant needs clothes or medicine
before, and more than, personal liberty, but the minimum freedom that
he needs today, and the greater degree of freedom that he may need
tomorrow, is not some species of freedom peculiar to him, but identical
with that of professors, artists, and millionaires.
-- Isaiah Berlin

The next time you say something inappropriate, I'm gonna tell you that "a still tongue makes a happy life" :-) — CraigBrozinsky

  • " ... but not a happy wife."
  • I'm so very depressed, and always will be, according to that maxim. "Questions are a burden to others. Answers a prison for oneself." —ZN

Unmutual! —JeffreyNonken

If it be calumny, time will tell. —ZN

It is an extremely painful thing to be ruled by laws that one does not know. -- Kafka

In Memory

The title of this section, "In Memory," is a target of contention in George Carlin's last skit, so I think it’s appropriately named. His last act was about death—not an easy thing to make light of. Its success as a truly comedic act, despite its darkly subject, helps ease the passage of a great comedian. Carlin combined two often contradictory qualities: he was both a percipient satirist and a warmhearted, authentic individual. His sardonic cynicism was always inexplicably counterpoised by warm lightness. I'll most remember Carlin for his fearlessness in the face of the status quo. He never wavered. I like to think he knew what was coming, and so he faced his greatest fear by making fun of it.


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2005-10-11 00:04:47   Yeah, since my Arrival in Davis, I've also noticed that the General's Chicken is uniformly bland, no Indian restaurant borders on hot, and the Thai restaurants barely tango with taste. If you'd like your taste buds to be Living in Harmony, I'd recommend you convince servers that Its Your Funeral, and clearly state the A, B, and C's of your own spice tolerance. For those restaurants that have A Change of Mind, you'll have Many Happy Returns. For the restaurants that simply placate your requests, I'd like to see the Fall Out on the wiki where, as you know, commentary is always a Free For All. BTW, make sure to preview your edits before saving them— you're re-saves on Thai Recipes Numbered 6! —CraigBrozinsky

  • You should know that I do preview my posts, but oftentimes I return to change them. Not only this, but first-readings (even second, third, and fourth readings) tend to overlook little mistakes, of which I am prone. I'm no Bertrand Russell. My first attempts don't come out right. Thus, I will likely always produce multiple re-saves, as you call them; but to me, I call them signs of fastidiousness, not carelessness. How are they intrinsically bad, after all? I'll try to listen to your answer with an open mind, but I must admit, thus far your advice sounds frighteningly arbitrary and conformist coming from a fellow admirer of The Prisoner. Have you forgotten its themes?
  • The Doctor: "He can't do as he likes."

    No.2: "He's an individual—and they're always trying."

Who knows, perhaps your posts could use a few re-saves. (And I say this with cordiality, since I’m sure you’re a nice, bright person—it's a bit of light raillery that I'm sure you can appreciate.) I will try to use the preview mode more often for your sake, if you convince me I should.

  • Regarding the advice about restaurants, I have doubts about the power of a single critical comment, situated in this town and dealing with the context we speak of, having any influence on business as usual. After all, if my hypothesis (above) is marginally correct, no number of comments can alter the reality that half of Davis' population will always be composed of students with Americanized taste, a population that's always afresh with inexperience. We could, perhaps, start a “Coalition for a Sapid Society,” but I haven’t time for such trifles. I’ll stick to cooking, thank you very much =)

2005-10-11 09:07:18   Sadly, I agree that the likelihood of Davis restaurants uniformly changing the spicyness level is roughly zero. I was more suggesting that you ask them to personalize the spiciness of your dish. This is always a reasonable request in a restaurant who's selling out to accomodate American tastes. Its funny i told you to preview— i accidentally clicked the submit button in the middle of typing this! Anyway, previewing is good because it limits the number of changes in the history. Last time I checked, the viewable history is limited to the last 100 changes. Fewer saves therefore allows for more snooping into a page's history. Also, you'd be helping out people with Chronic Recent Changes Syndrome, a minor form of OCD where WikiGnomes feel obligated to check every change made to the Wiki. As for my movie site, I'd love to have you aboard! Let me know when you've come up with 5 or so films, and I'll give you an account. As for New Canton, I've never been there. Well, thats a half truth— the half hour wait this past Sunday was unappealing, so I went to Pancake Circus instead. —CraigBrozinsky

  • The history limit should be increased, then. Are you sure the limit isn't associated with changes made to individual pages, and not re-saves? I'll come up with five flicks as soon as I can.
    • All are saved, but not all are displayed. Soon to be changedTM.

2005-10-12 00:53:04   Maybe town restaurants need to have a scale like this: "Mild," "Medium," "Hot," "Thai Hot," "Police-grade Pepper Spray" —PhilipNeustrom

  • Am I to assume from this comment that you feel the temperature levels are just fine as they are? — ZN
    • Nothing in town has been spicy enough EXCEPT Thai Recipes, in my experiences. I usually order from my housemate, BrianMartinez, so he probably tells them to make it spicy (I order Thai hot from them)? In my opinion, if it were any spicier it would start losing flavor. Compared to all the other thai places in town, it's certainly the spiciest! —PhilipNeustrom
  • Cool, I'll keep that in mind. Perhaps next time I'll try asking for a "9." I of course disagree about the flavor dampening effect of anything beyond a "4." If it were a true "10," maybe—but not "4" (in my opinion, as well). Thanks for the comment! —ZN

Frequent editing is good, but multiple, rapid-fire re-saves are just a bad habit. They clutter up the change log for a page, which makes it harder to track the real evolution of the page's content, rather than someone fixing minor typos, slight rewordings/reformatting, or general brain farts. Then you have to answer the question, Which group of changes really represents that one revision? Also, they force the server to save a copy of every single little change. Use preview and spend some time thinking about what you've written before actually saving. Looking at the revision history of a page and seeing 3+ edits from the same author in less than a minute is just lame. —Jevan

  • I still disagree—it's not "lame" if each edit was made with conscious intent and only after using preview mode. Sometimes I find things that I didn't see before that I can’t just let go—they have to be changed, otherwise the intended meaning will be wrong or a whole sentence may be confused. I'm thorough and self-scrutinizing (though ultimately imperfect), and so on final analysis, I won't alter my personality to conform to your, or anyone’s, arbitrary conception of what's lame—which in this case is little more than a latching on to conformist, unreasoned preconceptions of Davis Wiki etiquette. Being "lame" is not a substitute for an argument, nor is fulfilling your need to track the "true" evolution of a page (whatever that is). I will continue to use preview mode as much as possible before posting, but beyond that, I’ve done my part. I won't suppress the urge to change something after a few minutes' time just to appease the fulfillment of some fantasy rule, some "look at me! I'm in the Wiki club! Ain't I cool?!" whim. And what are the real consequences of re-saves, anyway? ("Forcing the server" to do anything doesn't count.) The bottom line is this: if the only consequence of multiple re-saves is pushing other saves out of the history, that’s not my problem; it’s the problem of this Wiki’s kernel. And if that's the only real consequence of re-saves, then the truly selfish Wiki contributor is the one who edits the most, since every edit, even if it's only one, "forces" other edits out of the log. But we both know that's not true.

2005-10-12 11:43:43   That hilarious—a dinner where you expect no one to like any of the food! —CraigBrozinsky

  • No, I'd expect everyone who brings their own dish to appreciate the dishes of others, at least :)

2005-10-13 21:26:44   aren't all of the reports regarding bistro 33 "unconfirmed"? and you are not very good at judging character, fyi —DisgustedDiner

  • Danke for the comment. Yes, but not all of the "reports" at Bistro 33 are of the same kind; most are food reviews, and a few others are serious assertions about particular individuals, assertions that may impact their reputation and employment. The latter kind of comments, as I'm sure you're aware, require greater care and scrutiny than the former. This is why I took a skeptical stance. As for your other remark, all I can say is that, sure, it's possible. Sometimes I am a poor judge of character, and other times not. The ecology of human beings is highly complex, and when you have to judge someone by what they write alone, and when his or her writing is in fragments already inflected by a particular online context and format, it's exceedingly difficult to be positively right about what's said. Ultimately, then, I must suspend judgement in lieu of some variety of confirmation. One of my favorite mottos is de omnibus dubitandum, doubt everything, and this includes myself. That said, you do realize the irony in your comment, no? You make a positive, general assertion about my personality based on a shred of evidence, and if you are referring to my cautious evaluation of your post, then you're conveniently taking yourself out of the equation. Some call this an example of the fundamental attribution error. What do you think? —ZN

2005-10-13 22:08:16   What about that freaky Bistro 33 story turned out to be true? Also, you should try the New Delhi Chaat House and ask for you food to be ultra-spicy. Its the spiciest food I've had in Davis, and I'm sure the cooks would be amenable to heat requests. —CraigBrozinsky

2005-10-28 10:35:05   I deleted DisgustedDiner’s comments because they were an unsubstantiated, anonymous flame. If we let everyone flame restaurants anonymously, it’s going to get out of control. How long before less than ethical restaurants start using the wiki to claim finding fingers in their chili? —ArlenAbraham

  • I understand and appreciate your concern, Arlen—I thought of it myself, in fact, when you first posted of the Tazer Incident. I thought, "this could be a bogus report made to denigrate B-33," and I thought this despite having low opinions of the place and its food. But why did your report, which was not fully substantiated (on the Wiki, at least) remain in full, while another's of a similar yet more serious nature be removed simply due to the anonymity of the author? My feelings about DisgustedDiner are clear (see above), but censorship of any sort is, in my estimation, just as dangerous as the consequences of a false report; indeed, they're both acts of a similar nature—censorship removes potentially true information, while anonymous reports add potentially false information. I know the following clause is not true, but I say it as an example: what if you're somehow tied to B-33 and want to get rid of a potentially damaging report that's ultimately true? To be sure, until the facts are all in, why do you get to act alone in making the choice to remove the post? and why should you poison the well for anonymous voters? If your deletion was based on information the rest of us are not privy to, information that discredits DisgustedDiner's report, then by all means, do tell; otherwise, you're acting on a suspicion alone. Anyway, thanks for responding.
    • I'm inclined to agree with Arlen with this one. It's not so much the anonymity as the fact that DisgustedDiner is new to the wiki and hasn't established any credibility. I'm not trying to treat the wiki like an old-boys-club, but you have to weigh outrageous claims with the credibilty of the speaker. —CraigBrozinsky
      • Now you're sounding like the Bush administration :) Anyway, I somewhat agree—but no amount of reputation can stand in for the truth. If it did, it would be the common fallacy termed argument from authority.
        • When did the Bush administration establish its credibility? ;-) —CB
          • Ha! :) Touché.
  • Regardless of identity or anything of the sort, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, no matter who makes them (be it ArlenAbraham or an anonymous poster) —PhilipNeustrom
    • I agree with this completely. Hence my suggestion: why is there no "unconfirmed" tag wiki editors may add to serious accusations?

2005-11-05 13:25:15   You are questioning the greater social institution of schools, which I think is good. I was merely acting as devil's advocate, explaining why this particular district is currently doing what it is doing. I have not even expressed my opinion on the matter and am offended that you would say I am consciously conforming to the way things are. There are many things wrong with our public schools, but you have to understand why things are they way they are before you can change them. Thats all I'm saying. I said your initial comment was idealistic because at this point in time I don't see a change in student's rights happening anytime soon. —MiriamKaufman

  • I'm sorry for offending you—this was not my intention. Sometimes my language is stronger than it should be. When I wrote that, I intended it to apply to your position in this particular argument, not to your person, in general. If I meant otherwise, I would be a fool for generalizing so wildly based on so little information. I should like to thank you, moreover, for your civility and presenting propositions rather than mere assertions. Your Devil’s Advocacy is appreciated. —ZN

2005-11-22 23:19:59   no hard feelings here either, i was only responding at all in idle fun. arlen hates resaves cause it looks messy and clogs the revision history. if you save when someone else is writing, it just creates an edit conflict, where it displays both your version and my version. easily fixable in about 5 seconds. i didn't want to commit to a serious arguement, fun as it may be, because i didn't really have a side i wanted to pick. —ES

  • Sigh. I wish I knew when someone was dead serious or not. well, lesson learned about saving when someone else is editing—it said "may conflict" in the warning, so I took that literally.
    • hehe, considering the relative price of poptarts "The End" of anything is a sign to look for :P
      • Ha! I would generally agree, but I've seen stranger positions on the wiki, so it wouldn't have surprised me if you were serious. And don't forget, you said, sarcasm apparent, "You're right, I've been blind my whole life. I plan to give all my worthless commodities and useless baubles away now and focus on true values." With that in the context, it was hard not to take you seriouslly.

2005-12-13 21:40:39   Is Loki microchipped? —ES

  • Unfortunately, no—and what's worse is that, just before he was lost, I was saying we should take our cats in to get chipped :~(

2005-14-13 Awesome picture!! Is that from The Prisoner? That's a great series, and if you haven't been to 49'ers Video in the Albertson's complex on Covell, it was just released on DVD and is available for rental. "Be seeing you." —DerekBorba

  • Thanks, and it's good to know The Prisoner series is now available for rental. Now I know where to send people who haven't seen it.
    • Definitely — In my opinion it's one of the best shows out there. Unfortunately, the last time I checked, the first 8-10 episodes were on DVD and the rest are in the look forward to the series in its entirety in the near future! "Be seeing you"

2005-12-25 14:39:04   once that conversation fizzles down, it would be useful if you can concisely extract the Davis-relevant points, and maybe put them on Restaurants/Authenticity or a new page. —CraigBrozinsky

  • Yeah, I'm trying to do this now—but whether it will relate to any particular Davis content is doubtful. It relates to Davis only insofar as this is an Agricultural Mecca, and so people in Davis have a desire (I would even say propensity) to debate related issues. Feel free to help me out with the new page, though :) —ZN

2005-12-26 18:56:00   I like how you brought the food philosophy pages together. —NickSchmalenberger

  • Danke. When you have time, you should consider—per Craig's suggestion, above—adding Davis-specific references to your natural/unnatural exchange. While to me your exchange is at least tacitly relevant to Davis, given its agricultural implications, there are some who feel (justified or not) that all content should somehow explicitly relate to Davis. (This is a nice ideal, but in reality it could have unforeseen consequences, imho.) At any rate, I've done my part in at least trying to keep content anchored to Davis, and maybe that's all we can ever hope for. —ZN

2006-01-10 01:19:04   i think the appropriate response is a great two word phrase: "Pretentious? Moi?" :-) —CraigBrozinsky

  • Unless I suffer from a particular type of anosagnosia, or mind-blindness, where I'm absolutely incognizant of my ego and its (always already [sic] nonconscious) motives, then there must be some grain of truth behind my saying "I am not pretentious"; if I were, I would, according to OED's definition, either (a) profess "or make claim to great merit or importance, esp. when unwarranted" or (b) make "an exaggerated outward show." Now, I absolutely abjure (a), since by my own definition of "great merit or importance" I am as yet—and likely always will be—among the bottom tenth, but as for (b), I suppose—and this is a stretch of the imagination, but I must try to be charitous—it could be said that, since I do tend to use hyperbole as a stylistic device, I am, technically, making an exaggerated outward show, if by "outward show" one means "writing in the Davis Wiki." And one is free to make such an accusation, since it has no real implication. I guess what I'm saying (and my response is pedantic and verbose, for irony's sake), is that I wouldn't even joke that I'm pretentious. But it is a funny thought (somewhat akin to Alfred E. Neuman's "What, me worry?"). —ZN

2006-01-10 04:09:56   Either you're right or — and this is just a small fact that you seem to have missed — the majority of America's culinary inheritance comes from western Europe, which uses a different range of spices, few of which have any capsicum (sage, thyme, basil, etc). You say you are descended from Irish ancestors? I hate to break this to you, but Irish cuisine isn't exactly hot. Creamy and savory, yes. Hot, no. On the other hand, they did spend a few millenia perfecting that beer you like so much. —JabberWokky

  • Heya JW. Thanks for the comment. Hrm, perhaps I'm not clear enough in my hypothesis, since you're the second person to think it focuses exclusively on temperature and not, as I say, "spice complexity," the second and equally important factor in my argument. When I talk of spice complexity, I mean to include European standards, like sage, thyme, etc., but also—and for me more importantly—Eastern and South American standards, like cumin seeds, cardamom, coriander seeds, asafetida, lemon grass, Thai ginger, etc., and a variety of chilies (serrano, dried red, etc.) used not only for heat but flavor, all of which are not standard household spices in America, unless you live with an immigrated, traditionalist family. So I would not want to set up a false dichotomy, as you seem to suggest, between European culinary influences and those from the rest of the globe (India, Thailand, Mexico, etc.). My hypothesis is of course silly on some levels, since it applies not only to Davis but potentially anywhere with 50% student populations, making it rather unfalsifiable, so if this is the focus of your criticism, I’ll have to concede; but insofar as Davis restaurants are concerned, I’ve never been to a place where on the whole they're so collectively mediocre, bland, and mild. Even in towns like Santa Cruz and Berkeley, both of which have large student populations, the Indian and Thai restaurants are much more complex in their spice variety, and their piquancy scales have much more range. So my hypothesis—which isn't a true hypothesis, in the strict sense—nevertheless tries to understand why Davis, in particular, has such comparatively bland offerings. I'm assuming it must have something to do with the student population, but more than the population itself, it may have to do with the diversity and background of Davis students. It's a complex problem indeed. I'll make a few ad hoc adjustments to my hypothesis, though, just for fun. —ZN
    • Since you mention capsicum specifically, it does sound like a lament about the heat level of local foods. You are, of course, correct that 90% of restaurants (and home cooked meals) are crap... Sturgeon's Law states that 90% of everything is crap. The remaining 10% tends to be (but not always) more expensive, and thus generally not popular among students. It also still sounds like you are looking for particular foods (Indian and Thai) that are not common in this country simply due to historical influences. Fewer examples tends to mean less changes for excellence. If you were looking for good, say... pit barbeque in the area, you're not going to be able to find much, whereas in Georgia, you find four or five on every commercial street, some of which will be good, and a few of which will be great. Interesting observations; I can tell you have thought about this. — jw
      • If Sturgeon's Revelation applied to restaurants, there would be no reason to eat out. And again, the implications of my hypothesis are twofold: one dealing with temperature and the other with complexity, although the former certainly overlaps and influences the latter. As for your other comment, which I generally agree with, you should recall that all American food is derivative—even "soul food," which often has Cajun influences (influences that, again, originate outside the US)—and so my hypothesis cannot possibly apply only to "particular foods that are not common in this country," for it's precisely because of such historical influences that we have any variety of cuisine to begin with. —ZN

2006-02-09 00:50:38   ZN, care to recommend any of your favorite literary works to paisans like myself? —JohnNapier

  • I'm not sure what gives you the impression that I'm qualified to recommend literature, but I'll give it my best shot. If by literature you mean fiction, the first thing that comes to mind is Hermann Hesse, if you have not yet read his work. The Glass Bead Game is my favorite, but any of his stuff is good. To start, you might want to check out Narcissus and Goldmund. And you can’t go wrong with Shakespeare, of course! Check out his Julius Caesar if you haven't already! It's a lesser-known gem. If you'd like more recommendations, philosophy or otherwise, let me know. Oh, and by the way, thanks for using the word "paisans." I'd never heard it before. —ZN

2006-10-09 22:30:57   im sory i disagree with your analysis of the Davis palate. yes it is much weeker in terms of ability to handle spice even more so than other places in the US. However, this does not mean they have a "unrefined" palate. it would be comparable to say that someone who thought foods were too salty and couldnt handle the salt content of some dishes is unrefined. But, if you order food extra spicy at shanghai town (tan tan noodles are insanely good) i think you will be pleasantly suprised. the spicy dumplings are not hot though, go with the string beans and tan tan noodles and say you want it extremely spicy. —MattHh

  • Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out. -ZN

2007-01-15 15:40:03   Rack is slang for a G, which is slang for a grand, which is $1000, sometimes referred to as 1 K. >_< Thanks for the grammar changes; you're the man. And not the government man, but you're a cool guy man... —StevenDaubert

  • Thanks for the compliment and explanation of the term "rack." —ZN

2007-05-02 21:19:50   I share your yearning for reasonably spicy and authentic food in Davis. solidarity :( nice to know I'm not the only one. —MiranPark

2008-02-12 15:18:44   Zach, I liked your [satirical] comment on the Thai Recipes page about [juxtaposing] masturbation [with love]. It's so true that beautiful, outspoken people are an anomaly in Davis and have to resort to this. Whenever I do go slumming for soulless sex, I remember why I stopped doing that in the first place. So far in Davis, I haven't been able to make a true connection with the opposite sex. My running line is, "Everyone's so glued to their laptops that they forget life is in front of them." —HotnessSought

2008-03-19 20:13:40   While i think we have butted heads slightly in the past over Roma's cleanliness and the spice content of Davis restaurants, I have to say you are right on the money with 3rd and U. I remember saying to myself as i was eating a sandwich, "there is no way in hell that i would study here." Ew, its so lowed and uncomfortable. There was like 5 people there when i went, and I could hear every conversation and every dish being cooked. The place also has no personality, the decorations and everything are like SoCal chain healthy fast food chain restaurant. —MattHh

  • *sigh* Yeah, I miss the old Roma(s). Whatever happened to the need for environmental 'character'? Even a little seediness is preferable to the sterile, plastic-minimalist, Ikea prefab look (for me, at least). I hope the new Mishka's locale maintains its old aesthetic. The wood highlights and chalkboards are endearing. —ZN

2008-06-16 15:42:19   for what it's worth, from your posts on the wiki I think your ability to never accept dogma and to always question, I think you would make a great tutor. I think that the Socratic method is actually the best form of tutoring. The more questions i ask them, the more they think. Sometimes the questions have to be a little leading, but i am totally opposed to tutors who just give students the answers and explain them. —MattHh

  • It's worth much. I agree with you that Socratic irony is a great educational tool, but I fear that critical thinking has become a lost art. If you mention 'informal logic' or 'the logical fallacies' to anyone outside the philosophy department, for example, you'll get wry looks of incredulity, as if you were mouthing some type of conceited gobbledygook. Critical thinking has always had the same implacable enemy under different guises, cynical power, and in today's corporate driven monoculture, this brand of power reigns. (That satirical saying from The Prisoner, "A Still Tongue Makes a Happy Life," seems all the more hauntingly apt, no?) Anyway, . . . *steps off his virtual soap box* I've grown unhealthily paranoid, so do ignore my excesses. —ZN

2008-06-26 08:13:51   Zachary, I feel for you. I live out of Moleskines, Rollabinds and have a shelf of composition books that date back many years. Good luck getting it back. Did you put contact information in the "Reward" spot at the front? —JabberWokky

  • I do in my larger one, but I didn't have any info. in this one—it's one of the mini sized Moleskines, so it doesn't have a 'reward' spot. I must have been careless somehow . . . I'm thinking it fell out of my pack or pocket or something. —ZN

2008-07-24 15:32:43   What course? I have applied QT to myself, from a book, with better than 90% success (on headaches, muscle aches, muscle fatigue, scratches), so far. If it turns out it doesn't work on anyone else, I'll still use it. It just struck me as so simple others must have tried it, so I was just making an attempt at contacting them. I didn't realize Davis Wikiians were so ferociously against things like it. Oh, and I didn't realize there even was a website! Go figure. —Sankofa416

  • I should have said class, not coarse. Kaya Yoga has really good restorative sessions, I hear, although I would wait a couple of weeks until the regular teacher comes back, whom I’m told is excellent. Regarding self applied QT—and please don’t take this the wrong way—it seems to me like what you are experiencing is the post hoc fallacy. We all do this from time to time. It’s a natural byproduct of linear human perception. But many pseudoscientific programs take advantage of the post hoc fallacy as a means of exploiting peoples' natural credulity. -ZN
    • I was inquiring about your advice I take a yoga class *instead*, as if I were planning to pay someone to "initiate" me into the world of QT. An altruistic concern for the way I spend my time won't cut it, either. If assuming my thinking is fallacious makes you more comfortable, feel free. I wasn't intending to offend your scientific sensibilities.
      • I was suggesting an alternative, but I had nothing in mind about initiation. I am altruistic in this regard. I don’t get anything in return from making sympathetic recommendations, and you haven't offended my 'scientific sensibilities' :) I think you’d be surprised with how philosophically nuanced my thoughts are regarding science and psychology. —Z

2008-08-05 06:43:45 My writing skills are leaving me in old age. Can you help me to make an interesting read out of the trolls page? My trouble is blending concision and punch with informative value. —TheAmazingLarry

  • I take your hint. All the same, would you like me to really modify/expand content of the Troll's page? :) —Z
  • Sorry about that! The request seriously had no hidden meaning to it, and I only thought of your name because you appear to be someone who takes care about your writing style here. Anyway, I started to try to re-write that page to tie it to the larger social issue without killing the obvious humor in the page. I'm afraid I failed at the latter. Any suggestions?

2008-12-19 17:24:18   I think it will still see the page name... —StevenDaubert

2008-12-19 17:25:46   btw: Deathsauce FTW —StevenDaubert

2009-02-26 22:13:45   I don't know, I only asked because generally when archiving comments there are some recent ones left. Maybe the last two could have been left, but I don't think it makes sense to change that at this point. You are right that they are tied into one whole conversation. —JasonAller

2009-05-23 09:46:09   Zach, I don't know who you talked to at the Annual Meeting, but my mother was in Los Angeles the whole time. —DougWalter

  • Really?! Wow—I debated with a woman who looked exactly like your mum in the picture on your wiki page. Same type of glasses and everything. Uncanny. At any rate, for a moment, it made me feel closer to the co-op family. —Z

2009-05-27 15:15:48   I actually remember the public comments time for the proposed development on the tank house, I think the orange trees would die if they were to be transplanted, but some are better than none eh? —StevenDaubert

  • It’s complicated. I like Mishka's, and I like the bricked, shaded area around the tank house and especially the trees. How can someone choose between trees and a business's desire to expand? I don’t think it can be done without bias, although arguments can be made for privileging what’s natural over what's artificial; or in this case, since the desire to expand one's power is natural, privileging what's more natural and lasting. In this case, I wanted not to have to choose—and perhaps that reflects a complicity on my part—but if I were forced to make a choice, I would side with the trees. We’ve grown too out of touch with the consequences of development. —Z

2009-08-08 14:43:01   You may want to consider using the 'preview' button while editing. It will make less revisions for the page, and it will help avoid spamming the Recent Changes page. —JoePomidor

  • See my above exchange with Craig and Jevan on this matter. I do often use the preview button, but sometimes after the fact I don't. -Z

2009-08-11 19:16:12   I'm still trying to figure out which tone you were using when you wrote this. —JasonAller

  • Yeah, sorry—I was in a surely mood when I wrote that. In this case I did mean to show my annoyance with your glib comment of 'at least' needing to add a link. My frustration was short lived, though, so no need to concern yourself . . . I don't generalize from one petty thing to the whole of a person and his/her contributions. And as it is, nothing really gets my back up on the wiki anymore, at least not like it used to, some years ago. Now I've got other things more worth getting frustrated over, so this stuff seems like normal everyday miscommunication type stuff to me . . . nothing to brood over :) So please do delete my hasty post on your page, now that the context has passed and I could care less either way. -Z

2009-08-11 19:23:17   You seem to have a distaste for Avid Reader's philosophy section. If you would like to come in and recommend a few titles, I'd love to order them for the store so that others may share in your knowledge. We are a community-based independent bookstore for a reason and you wouldn't be the first person to do so. —SunjeetBaadkar

  • I try to purchase only used books. Occasionally I'll get something new or go browsing a bit, locally, and when I do I make an effort to stop by SB's first and AR's second. I ordered a new copy of Coriolanus from AR not long ago, and when my used copy of the Republic became too ratty, I purchased a new one at AR. These decisions are based on a conscious desire to support local over corporate business, but sadly corporations and marketing strategies run the show at both venues before the books hit the shelf. My purchasing habits, however, are independent from what ought to be generally represented, in terms of literary value, and as far as quality representation is concerned, Border's does a comparatively better job for philosophy and the classics, even though 'better' in this context still means painfully limited. —Z

2009-12-05 18:12:41   Interesting reading my past conversations in an entirely new light. Thanks for your comments and for continuing the conversation. Still learning the ropes around here. —Sankofa416

  • Agreed. I’m often astonished, after years pass, looking back over my own previously expressed thoughts. Sometimes I feel repelled by earlier beliefs, disappointed in my own narrow perspective at the time, and sometimes I’m gratified to see I was onto something after all, or at least partially. This reminds me of a section from a quote I keep returning to a lot lately: "Through knowing ourselves, and regarding our own nature as a moving sphere of moods and opinions, and thus learning to despise ourselves a little, we restore our proper equilibrium with others" (F. N., HH, 376). —Z