Friday, April 3, 2020


The NY Times / Wirecutter rates this the best canned tomato, and, amazingly, our local independent grocer had a number of cans in stock at a reasonable price just the other day. A good tomato deserves to be made into the best sauce, which is of course Marcella Hazan's. If you live near Palo Alto, do visit our friends at The Market. Mangia!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Bending that logarithmic curve

Dr. Birx: “We have to change that slope; we have to change the logarithmic curve that we’re on,” she said of the steep increases in cases in many parts of the country. “We see country after country having done that, what it means in the United States is not everyone is doing it.”

Maybe if nothing else this experience will lead to a little more seriousness about Algebra II. Whether the curve is bending elsewhere as she claims... we shall see.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 96

No, these are definitely not the good times, but we could all benefit from hearing the best disco song ever, no?

Tomie dePaola, RIP

As far as I am concerned, the all-time best dePaola book was one he illustrated for the great Daniel Pinkwater, The Wuggie Norple Story. That's Wuggie by the way, the big orange one, straddled by young King Waffle and surrounded by the rest of the family and its pets, each bigger than the last. Some of them have silly names.

Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves: The Wuggie Norple Story

Saturday, March 28, 2020


I've always liked maps, and I still prefer paper. Exploiting the creases of a big map to fold it down to just the area you need is a unique pleasure. But there's no denying the power and pure usefulness of interactive digital maps. The digitization of spatial data has revolutionized many fields of study– though at this point I sometimes wonder whether the ease of making beautiful and informative maps has led to overemphasizing spatial variation at the expense of variation along other dimensions.

Regardless, the latest issue of Bay Nature includes a couple of outstanding map displays. Before I go any further... you will subscribe, won't you? And now, the maps...

In the lower left panel, darker areas are both relatively intact (less degraded) and less protected... targets of conservation opportunity! You may note a particularly dark double-blob southeast of the Bay Area: the Diablo Range.

You can read more about this wild and rugged part of our fine state in the aforementioned current issue of Bay Nature. Here's a cool diptych that will give some idea just how wild... bring your telescope and leave your phone at home.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Social insurance for the pandemic

This simple idea from Greg Mankiw makes a lot of sense to me. What should X and N be? 2000 dollars for 4 months could be a good place to start. Total cost to the government this year = 2000*4*350 million = 2.8 trillion. Next year people must pay their grant back in surtax at the ratio of their 2020 to 2019 income. If unemployment gets really bad and incomes drop by 25%, the government will have spent (borrowed) a net of 700 billion. A quite reasonable sum as part of the necessary recovery package.

Friday, March 6, 2020

McCoy Tyner, RIP

His influence on modern jazz piano is on a par with Coltrane's on sax. Often imitated, seldom equalled.

Census Day!

Coming up.