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: At last, a parody we can all agree on.

It Was Ever Thus: "The character Mr. ZIP was designed to promote adoption of the new ZIP Code."

: The entries are pretty thin on the ground these days because Leonard (my uncle) moved out of the house and took the DSL with him, so I must peck into the Hiptop or goldbrick from work. Coming soon, I hope: the meta-review of hot sauces which either tells you how to determine on sight whether a particular hot sauce is worth your money, or gratuitiously insults your taste if it's different from mine.

While You Were Out, Damned Spot: The most depressing part of coming back from a vacation is catching up on all the depressing things that happened while you were away. At least having a news aggregator makes it easy.

: For the impatient, Jarno has information about EuroPython and the surrounding vacation: 1 2 3

Bonus Independence Day Tonight's Episode: We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Immolating

Decision Procedure For Hot Sauce Quality: Kevin and I have tried hot sauces from all over this fair planet, and I'm here to tell you how to find a hot sauce that is worth your money without having to buy it. 99% of the time you can tell whether a hot sauce is good or not without trying it. I would say 100% of the time, because my decision procedure has never let me down, but I want to leave room for improvement. I've bought a lot of hot sauce in my day, and all the sauce that passed this decision procedure was good and all the sauce that failed it was not good.

The bad news is that at that roadside stand in Gilroy or wherever that has a whole shelf of hot sauces, there are probably only a couple, if any, which will survive this decision procedure. The good news is that you won't waste your money on that shelf of hot sauce.

To run this decision procedure, you must ignore the funny graphic on the front of the bottle and the "This is the hottest damn thing you've ever tasted in your life! Not for sissies! This will blister your tongue and the tongues of your ancestors!" bravado on the back of the bottle. Those things are a constant on every bottle of hot sauce, no matter how un-hot or foul-tasting it actually is. Instead you must look at the ingredient list on the side of the bottle, where by federal law an honest reckoning of the contents will be found, and answer the following questions:

  1. Is the first ingredient habanero peppers? The first ingredient should be habanero peppers, or be somehow based on habanero peppers. If it's some other kind of peppers but all other conditions are met, then it might still be good (if you like that kind of pepper), but it probably won't be as hot.
  2. Is the second ingredient some kind of vegetable matter? The second ingredient should be a non-pepper member of the vegetable kingdom, such as carrots, or mangoes. This is the 'base' of the sauce, a nonreactive substance which prevents it from being merely a habanero relish. Note that the base must be something you like: if you don't like mangoes, you won't like a mango-based sauce.

    "Why do you have this rule?", you might ask. "What non-member of the vegetable kingdom could possibly be the second ingredient of a hot sauce? Venison? Drywall? The set of all natural numbers?". No, I refer to that scourge of this decision procedure: vinegar. If the second ingredient of your hot sauce is vinegar, this means you have what we in the business call "a vinegar-based hot sauce", which is no good. Most hot sauces I've seen are vinegar-based, for some reason I cannot comprehend, so you need to be careful about this.

    Now, some of you may like vinegar-based hot sauces, and at this point you are probably seething with vinegary rage. "You'll get my vinegar-based hot sauce when you pry it from my cold dead hands!", you might be saying. Well, THAT'S JUST FINE, because NOBODY WANTS your lousy vinegar-based hot sauce, and if we did we could just BUY SOME FROM THE STORE, so stop being so touchy.

    It is okay for vinegar to show up later in the ingredient list. All hot sauces I've seen contain some vinegar. If you like incredibly hot sauces there might be no hope for you but to go with a vinegar-based sauce.

    NOTE: Sometimes the non-pepper member of the vegetable kingdom comes first in the ingredient list, and the pepper comes second. In my experience, this is fine. It just means that there's more base by weight than there are peppers. If there are a bunch of vegetables in the ingredient list, and then the pepper, then what you probably have is a salsa rather than a hot sauce, which is fine. In fact salsa is generally better than hot sauce because the vegetables are fresher.

  3. Does it contain the bonus ingredients? The bonus ingredients are garlic, lime juice, and onion. They are not neccessary for a good hot sauce, but they make it taste better.
  4. Does it not contain the malus ingredients? The malus ingredients are things like sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, and drywall. Most of these are put into a vinegar-based sauce in the misguided hope of thickening it. This is misguided because 1) they should have given it a vegetable base in the first place, and 2) it just makes the sauce taste worse. If you have these ingredients you probably also have a vinegar-based sauce. If nothing else, try to find a vinegar-based sauce that doesn't have this junk in it.

The following sauces are known to pass the decision procedure, and meet with the approval of Kevin and myself:

: Amazing New "Second System" To Resolve Problems Of Original System

: Jarno: "Stop Promoting Python" was a joke talk. The premise was that promoting Python would lead to the existence of more Python programmers, which would impair the abililty of the preexisting Python programmers to charge high fees for their services. The conclusion was that Python programmers should contrive to keep Python a secret so as to mantain a competitive advantage relative to Java programmers. This, you'll recall, is the strategy that has worked so well for Lisp.

Which Is Funnier?: Two supervillains who are married and only know each other's mundane identities, or a superhero and a supervillain who are married and only know each other's mundane identities?

This has been Which Is Funnier?

The Pitch! #2: Wacky sitcom starring Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

John Jay plays the eccentric next-door neighbor.

I call it "The Federalist Capers".

Deep Sea Interviews: Inspired by these cool pictures. Today: the coffinfish.

News You Can Bruise: Hello.

Coffinfish: Hello.

NYCB: Is it true that you can walk on the ocean floor using your fins?

CF: You'd better believe it.

NYCB: Where do you usually walk?

CF: Just around.

NYCB: But like where? Like to the store?

CF: There are no stores in the depths of the ocean!

NYCB: Well, have you ever thought about opening a store?

CF: Why?

NYCB: Because it's never been done before. The market is completely open. I think it would be a good business for you if you opened up a convenience store off the coast of Australia. You could sell to the other deep sea fish and to the squids and crabs and whatnot.

CF: Look, do you know what fish use for money?

NYCB: No, what?

CF: Nothing! 'Cause we're fish! We have no economy! Our relationships with other fish are predator/prey relationships or mating relationships or rival relationships! So stop with the store idea!

NYCB: Do you think that the ocean as a whole would be more productive if you had an economy?

CF: No.

NYCB: Why not? Humans have an economy.

CF: Yeah, and what do you get out of it? You have to work all day to get your "money"!

NYCB: But you have to work all day as well. All day you lure smaller fish to their doom with the glowing bait atop your head.

CF: That's not work! I just sit back and the fish fall into my gaping maw! It's fun!

NYCB: And then you have to evade predators.

CF: To evade predators, I simply swallow an enormous amount of water! I bet that doesn't work for you!

NYCB: No, but if a predator did get you, how would your family survive without you to provide for them?

CF: That is a moot point because I don't provide for them now.

NYCB: I'm saying that maybe it would be a good idea if you took out an insurance policy or something.

CF: I have an insurance policy!

NYCB: Really?

CF: I am insured against theft, and damage from earthquake!

NYCB: That's pretty useless.

CF: We fish trade only in things that have no value! If we have something valuable, we keep it for ourselves.

NYCB: But what about symbiosis?

CF: Symbiosis is for sea anenomes!

NYCB: You're a very unpredictable interview.

CF: You are a very unpredictable interviewer. Why do you ask me about economic activity all the time? Why don't you ask me some more stupid human questions about how I walk, just like you do? Huh? How about anthropomorphizing me some more? Blaaah! I'm a coffinfish! Blaaah!

NYCB: So, uh, when you walk, are you all walkin' down the street like this, or are you all walkin' down the street like this?

CF: The first one.

NYCB: 'Cause that one's cooler?

CF: Yeah, whatever.

NYCB: Look, you wanted more questions about the walking thing.

CF: Why don't you ask me about my new book?

NYCB: You have a book?

CF: Yes, it's called "Passion and Power: The Political Houses of the Great Barrier Reef 1951-1956".

NYCB: What's it about?

CF: It's got it all: politics, food, sex, budding, intrigue, all set against the stunning backdrop of the postwar Great Barrier Reef.

NYCB: So is it a history?

CF: It's more of a fictionalized memoir. It takes place from the perspective of a young polyp who grows unobserved in the chambers of the ruling class of corals.

NYCB: I'm intrigued.

CF: It also has my favorite recipe for fish. I call it "Fish a la Fish".

NYCB: Would you like to share the recipe?

CF: Yes. First, you stay very still with your mouth open. Then, you eat the fish.

NYCB: So, it's more a means of acquiring fish than a recipe.

CF: It's both. The second part is the recipe.

NYCB: Your book sounds very interesting. Do you have a publisher?

CF: I was planning on disseminating it through oral tradition.

NYCB: You should get a publisher.

CF: Is that another economy thing?

NYCB: Sort of. I think a lot of humans would pay good money for a book written by a coffinfish.

CF: And what would I do with this "money"?

NYCB: You could buy a bunch of really tacky knicknacks and scatter them over the ocean floor, and then show them to other fish.

CF: Your human ways have corrupted me! Now I too must have these tacky knick-knacks!

NYCB: Sorry.

CF: Tell me where are the knick-knacks!

NYCB: Like what do you want?

CF: A little castle! I must have a little castle that gets algae in it! And a treasure chest that opens to reveal fake treasure!

NYCB: That sounds like classic aquarium store material.

CF: All right, I will try your aquarium "store".

NYCB: Thanks for inaugurating this series, coffinfish.

CF: Blaaah! [swims off]

: Way to go, Pete Peterson II!

: For no real reason, Kevin sent me some funny reminiscence essays on post-Communist Czech culture.

Broken Joke: Inspired by a spam Sumana got:

Q: What has four legs and is a dog?
A: A dog.

: Jason exceeds analysts' expectations in regards to Which Is Funnier?

Definitely supervillain and superhero. Their marital problems could be expressed in their super activities or interpretations. E.g., "This diamond thief has no taste in jewelry, just like my husband. And, he rushed in with inadequate preparation, then once he was satisfied with the booty, he selfishly withdrew and rolled over to the dark side of the city. He's probably snoring away over there right now."

It might also be funny to have a mother/daughter relationship. E.g., "What kind of a supervillian would pierce the noses of Mt. Rushmore? And, this villian is leaving clues all over, just like my daughter leaves her clothes on the floor." "Missy Mid-drift may be misguided, but why would she break Lex Loser out of prison? I don't know, but one thing is sure: Lex is going to be a bad influence on her." Missy Mid-drift: "When I block out the sun, curfews will be impossible."

Menanggalan/Penanggalan Spelling Discrepancy Explained!: Old obsessions never die. Remember the menanggalan? Remember the penanggalan? Remember how they were the same gross Filipino undead monster, as evidenced by my usage of the same link for both just now? Well, I never figured that one out until today, 2.5 years after the [mp]enanggalan first reared its ugly, bile-dripping head in the pages of NYCB. Today's the day I saw this Kuro5hin story on the folklore of the Philippines and read it for [mp]enanngalan information. It introduces two more spellings of the monster's name, but makes up for it by explaining that the "p" spellings are the Malaysian names of the same monster. Whew! Pretty weird that the Malaysia spelling would be penanggalan and the Philippines spelling would be menanggalan, unless it's a "French letter"/"capot anglais" thing.

The story also contains the hilarious sentence "They have a tube which comes out of their mouth to perform the feeding, like this (Warning: annoying midi music ahead)."

: Brendan is now using NewsBruiser, and gushes about it a bit. Eg. "Switching my journal software was like walking into a dealership with a wheelbarrow and driving out with a red Ferrari." It's more grist for the NewsBruiser mill, which, as they say, bruises pretty quickly, and exceeding fine.

Man, These Photo Wires Round Themselves Up:

General Lego Entry: Brickshelf is great; it's got user folders in which people put up pictures of the things they hammered together on the Lego forge. It's also got scanned instruction booklets for a lot of the official Lego sets, but it's more interesting to see peoples' fire engines, Ferris wheels, large-scale reproductions of individual pieces, enormous, messy spacecraft cobbled together from the remains of other spacecraft, where the crew just sit around in vacuum while travelling at superluminal speeds, like in the really old sets, etc. etc.

If I were doing an article on Brickshelf I would have to do stupid journalistic things like talk about how people were using Brickshelf to sell Lego paraphanelia. But since this is just a weblog entry, I can point you to the Lego trilobite and the Lego soccer game, complete with Lego soccer hooligans.

Ray-Traced Lego Mania is also great; its glorious raytraces of retro Lego sets take me back to the days when I had to do a bunch of yardwork to get a really cool set. It's also got some funny joke sets: the Blacktron Ice Cream Disseminator and my favorite, the satirical BURP Adventure.

: This is an "I'm bored and I have a Hiptop" entry, so bear with me. I'm at the hospital waiting to get blood tests. Deep sea cuttlefish sez: "it's boring!". Saturday night I made some potato salad, which turned out okay, and a lemon meringue pie which tasted great but was very messy and not like a pie at all.

I have a book, so there's no reason to keep rambling on. See you later.

PS: My mother called all in a panic. I'm just checking my cholesterol level and lipids and whatnot. Don't worry.

But I Know What I Like #1: The Casual Tyrannosaurus at Home

Mention It, Mentioning Boy!: I forgot to mention that when I met with Jarno, he gave me a cute refrigerator magnet shaped like a patriotic moose, with the Finnish flag painted on its abdomen. "We come in peace," he [Jarno] said. The moose was a mysterious wrapped gift, and I was planning to open it when I got home, but I had to open it up in the Brussels airport and show it to the security woman, lest she think it was a drug. A cute picture will arise with the dawning of a new era of Internet access at my home, an event which could be mere years away.

Security Through Propriety: Whenever someone types in a phone number to make a phone call I have the urge to look away because I think they're typing in a password.

: In case you haven't noticed, this is Tonight's Episode Palindrome Week (aka Tonight's Episode Barrel-Bottom Scrapefest), featuring broken and actual palindrome TEs from Jason.

: via ftrain I found the Project Gutenberged works of Stephen Leacock, a sub-Twain, sub-Wodehouse humorist of the early part of the previous century. Some dross, some funny highbrow stuff, reminiscent of where MAD magazine would have been on its highbrowness inevitable-decline curve[0], had it existed when Leacock was writing. Example: this excerpt from Literary Lapses in which he describes everyday activities in terms of the rules of games; in this case, taking a trip by streetcar.

"Should the player who controls the crank perceive a player upon the street desirous of joining in the game by entering the car, his object should be: primo, to run over him and kill him; secundo, to kill him by any other means in his power, tertio, to let him into the car, but to exact the usual philopena."

Good stuff to read while you're waiting for me to update NYCB like I never do.

[0] The inevitable-decline curve is the curve which quantifies the delta of quality over time reflected in the statements "I prefer his earlier work," "Things were better back in the day," etc. It generally looks like this:

q |
u | ---_
a |     ~\
l |       |
i |        \
t |         ~---__
y |_________________

The inflection point is precipitated by some event which you take to be the day everything started going to pot, eg. when Dylan went electric or when they started making different faces for different Lego people.

: Sumana is getting weirder and weirder spam. Today she got one that said "Smoking is hazardous to your health." This reminded me of the enormous (1/4 of vertical space) cigarette warning labels they have in Europe, so large that when I was in England I walked past a cigarette billboard almost every day thinking it was an anti-smoking billboard because the largest text on the billboard was the warning. I only figured out it was a cigarette billboard after I saw another cigarette billboard that had been vandalized.

Anyway, rather than making the warnings so big that no one can tell what brand of cigarette they're buying, I think anti-spam filter mechanisms could be employed to make more people read the warnings: SPAMMER GENERAL'S WARNING: leonardr, Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks To Your Health onkaecpjrmzddw

Leggi online gratis: I once asked Seth how much of the literature of antiquity has been translated into English. He said, "About ten percent. I'm Seth David Schoen." But in actuality and not in my fevered imagination, he just said, "About ten percent." Why is this? Mainly because of Sturgeon's Law. It's not worth anyone's time to translate Porcellus' De Re Crapola. Another reason is more sinister: to ensure that students have an unending, cheatproof supply of translation exercises.

Yeah, I've been dealing with the government a lot lately. A couple weeks ago I went to the DMV. The Latin Library and Perseus mainly have the original-language versions of the stuff that's been translated into English, but Intertext has more of the obscure stuff.

What? You say that stand-up-comedy-style segues only work if they have some relationship to what comes afterwards? But if I can connect two irrelevant things with a segue that's only relevant to the second one, why shouldn't I be able to connect two mutually relevant things with a segue irrelevant to either? Sounds to me like you're in the pay of Big Comedy!

Spoiler or Spoiled?: Hey, I never read that book, but I was wondering. So, did they ever figure out who moved the cheese?

Dead Spammer Chronicles #N: Today, the spammer's boat capsizes and they succumb to the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

I didn't want to struggle anymore! lp scg

And one for the "tepid irony" department, "choked on a tin of spinach" subdepartment:

I chose life instead of fat nhiwaxzgxpk lyhotz

Those were from Sumana. Kevan sends in "Speech Therapy Spam"

Do You Say: "I Wish I Knew How To Be A Seller On E B A Y" qybaygdswxhc m

: Many of my ideas come to me in little moments of delusion in which I envision the world as other than it is (this is the real-life analogue of this). It is sort of like a game where you fish in a little pond and sometimes you get a fish and sometimes something comical like a boot. The big fish get turned into ideas like Downhill. The boots get turned into tasty NYCB entries, The Gold Rush-style.

Here is a boot. Consider the encoding UTF-8. Now instead of an encoding, visualize it as a Japanese TV show, "Ultra Terra Force-8", with spaceship battles and dumb-looking aliens.

That's it. It just sits there, like a sleeping alligator, planning to live off Google royalties (a hit for "japanese tv" here, a hit for "'gold rush' boot" there) for the rest of its life, not contributing a bit to the intellectual quality of this website. Well, out with it, I say! It has no place on my glamorous weblog! Now, if I could only work this electronic doohickey... there, "Publish". That should do it.

: There is nothing new today, with the exception of the revelation that my blood chemistry is within normal limits (but my HDL should be higher).

Mormon Tiramisu: As regular NYCB readers will know, I like tiramisu. But, I don't really like coffee. And I could do without the gallons of booze that go into restaurant tiramisu. So on Saturday I made

Mormon Tiramisu

The goal of this recipe is to make and then combine three things:

  1. Marscapone filling
  2. Shaved chocolate
  3. Soggy ladyfingers

It is based on this recipe for root beer tiramisu by Mitchell Rohrbach, whose mother apparently lets him eat anything he wants for breakfast.

Marscapone filling

  • 1 cup marscapone cheese (marscapone is named after Mars Capone, the space gangster)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup of whipping cream, whipped up with powdered sugar and vanilla
  • An egg yolk
  • A whipped-up egg white

Put the cheese, brown sugar, and egg yolk into a bowl. Mix it up. Mix in the whipped cream. Mix in the egg white.

Shaved chocolate

  • 4 squares chocolate from a candy bar

Shave the chocolate with a grater or zester.

Soggy ladyfingers

  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 packages instant cocoa
  • 24 ladyfingers

Heat up the milk. Add the cocoa and mix well. Pour the hot cocoa into a shallow dish and put ladyfingers into it. Turn them over to make them all soggy, but not so soggy that they fall apart when you try to pick them up.


As you soak the ladyfingers, you will also be assembling the tiramisu, because there's nowhere to store soggy ladyfingers except in the actual tiramisu dish. I used a 9-inch circular dish and arranged the ladyfingers like so:

         |===| (top view)

(Note that this arrangement will leave you with 3 leftover ladyfingers. Either cram an extra ladyfinger in there per layer, or dispose of the remaining ladyfingers safely at a recycling center. Ladyfingers are not good for anything except being turned into tiramisu, or possibly being fried in cheese sauce and turned into giant Cheetos (I have not tried this, but it should work). Under no circumstances should you eat a raw ladyfinger. Keep out of reach of children.)

After arranging one layer of ladyfingers, apply the marscapone filling and shaved chocolate. Do two more layers. If you have leftover hot chocolate, dump it on top of the last layer of ladyfingers. Dust the top layer of marscapone with cocoa powder, because it looks cool. Chill for several hours. You now have tiramisu!

"You've ruined the tiramisu!", you might say, clutching your opera glasses to your chest. That may be true, but how come almost all of my tiramisu is gone, and your tiramisu still sits under plastic wrap in a display case next to the fruit salad, a lonely gold leaf adorning each forlorn square slice? Because my tiramisu tastes better, that's why! Also, you made the mistake of trying to sell your tiramisu in a restaurant for $4.50 a slice, while I was giving mine away.

Tiramisu is really just a trashy cake, like eclair cake (recipe for eclair cake, from Susanna, coming soon) which works by reappropriating some other, store-bought dessert (stipulating for the moment that ladyfingers can be considered a "dessert"). This fact is disguised by the fancy cheese, coffee and booze it contains. But once you look at tiramisu in this light, a wide range of variants become visible. For instance, if you wanted a specifically Rocky Mountain Mormon tiramisu rather than an ideologically-compatible Mormon tiramisu, you could use Nila wafers instead of ladyfingers, and, I don't know, cream cheese instead of marscapone.

There are all sorts of store-bought junk foods with which you could replace the lady fingers, and many of these foods have flavor. For instance, I used to like dipping those Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies into hot chocolate. Why not use them as the soak base in a peanut butter tiramisu? Or those big Pepperidge Farm cookies. Put Twinkies in there for a surefire rich-uncle-killer. Or, and this is where it becomes too crazy to even contemplate: instead of buying, bake chocolate chip cookies, then include those same cookies in a tiramisu. Your refrigerator will explode![0]

[0]With flavor.[1]

[1]I hope.

Live the Parody!: Behold the Shoggoth On The Roof, complete with secret, mysterious lawsuits; writs served on the blackest night of the new moon, etc.

No Thanks: Spam: Refinance Leonardr

Next Harry Potter Book: Harry Potter And The Secret Of DocumentFactory

: From clickolinko, a page that mocks those crackpots with expensive stereo systems who are always going on about their audio cables and their vacuum tubes and the hey hey. Their behavior confuses and bewilders me, and so I'm comforted to see a big yellow web page that holds them up to ridicule. That page, in turn, links to Unique Audio Products, a gag page which includes the hilarious phrase "Keeps Oxygen out and Radioactivity in."

: My ultimate triumph (by proxy): robotfindskitten ported to a can of Coke.

: Minstrel, strum thy lyre and bring the strains of Model View Controller once more to this troubled court.

Where Is He Now?: What have I been doing in the absence of Internet access at home? I wish I could say I've been working on something amazing that you'll see once broadband is restored, but apart from a new song and Belgium pictures that's not true. I've been working out, cooking (exciting new Iron Chef-esque recipe coming soon!), playing Zangband, all sorts of unproductive stuff. I thought it would be boring, like this entry, but it's not really.

A link to keep you at bay: Muji Online, a company that sells stylish things made of recycled materials shaped into the wrong dimensions. At a Muji store in London I got a notebook for Sumana from a two-story Muji store, and the notebook paper was about two inches by six inches. It looked like Sir Humphrey Appleby's margin-shaped notebook paper from the Yes, Minister book. In fact, it looked like the Muji store itself, which was two stories high and about ten foot by thirty.

: It looks like the movie Bad Boys 2 is so bad that at the end of Roger Ebert's review the context-sensitive ads tell you how to atone for having seen it. There are ads for the ARC, Peace Corps, etc.

For weeks I've been meaning to make fun of the poster for Bad Boys 2 where Will Smith has his arms stretched out like Christ crucified, but I can't find a picture of it anywhere.

Crummy.com Salute To Salutes: Google "salute to" and salute your troubles away! Here's to you, "Salute To x" web pages!

Nutellamisu!: I gotta say, I am a culinary genius! (So is Nick Moffitt, who came up with this idea.) I present for your delectability the ultimate European dessert:


This is like my Mormon Tiramisu, but instead of being tiramisu-flavored it will clobber you over the head with the great taste of hazelnut. As before, there are three main parts:

  1. The filling
  2. The soaked cookies
  3. The interlayer topping


  • 1 cup marscarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, whipped with powdered sugar and vanilla
  • 1 egg white, whipped

Mix the cheese, Nutella, and egg yolk. Mix in the cream. Mix in the egg white. Add a little more Nutella because Nutella is tasty. Keep adding Nutella until it tastes like you want. The filling should have the consistency and color of chocolate mousse.

Soaked cookies

  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 packages hazelnut-flavored instant cocoa
  • 24 dipping cookies (NOT ladyfingers!)

As previously discussed, ladyfingers are tiramisu's own worst enemy. Instead of ladyfingers, use those Italian butter cookies that you're supposed to dip into your drink. You'll be dipping them into a drink, all right--a drink of nutellamisu! Those cookies would cost about $1.50 for two at a coffee shop, but I got a package of 24 for $3.50 at the grocery store. Maybe you could even use biscotti, if you can afford/make it. Before I found the Italian cookies, I was about to use some shortbread cookies which were much more expensive; that probably would have been good too.

Heat up the milk and add the cocoa mix. Use an eggbeater to get it properly mixed up. Then pour some into a bowl on top of some cookies. Flip the cookies to get them soaked. Butter cookies soak faster than ladyfingers, so watch out.

Interlayer topping

  • 1/8-1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 squares chocolate from a candy bar

Chop the hazelnuts very finely. If you want a crunchier nutellamisu, use more hazelnuts. Shave the chocolate with a chocolate shaver or cheese grater. Interosculate chocolate shavings and hazelnuts.


You can assemble the nutellamisu as in my Mormon Tiramisu recipe, but this time I made two small bowls of nutellamisu using a base of 4 cookies each. This let me use all of the cookies, and the result is easier to transport. As before, assemble the nutellamisu with a layer of soggy cookies, then filling, then interlayer topping; then repeat that; then do another layer of cookies and filling.

Topping the whole thing with cocoa powder is not a good idea from a presentation perspective, because the Nutella makes the filling brown and there's no contrast. So what I did was I chopped up some of those little spiky hazelnut chocolates that look like typewriter balls, and put that on top. You could instead top it with more chopped hazelnuts.

"Beats any tiramisu I've had before." --Muthu Krishnan

I was going to unveil this recipe this afternoon at a gala event at Seth's house, but I never heard from Seth or Nick, so I'm unveiling it now and I'm going to eat all the nutellamisu myself. (Actually I am giving some of it away at work.)

Prior art: Hazelnut Tiramisu Parfaits and Tiramisu Alla Nutella, which according to Babelfish incorporates "a beautiful one manciata of the most fine tritate nocciole".

: A nice Python interface to the timezone database. Requires Python 2.3.

The Story Of 100 People Aged 25: I went to the insurance office with Sumana. And they had a tiny pamphlet with the Eggersesque title "The Story Of 100 People Aged 25". It was a really bad story, though, so I thought I'd try my hand at writing a better story with the same title and general theme.

They went their separate ways, but the laws of statistics entwined their fates as tightly as if they knew each other. They formed an equation in one hundred variables, a cross-section of humanity sent on a rocket ship into the future, each filling a niche as surely as does the cold woman scientist who'd be beautiful if she only removed her zero-gee glasses. To look under the covers of causality and say, this hundred people, this one of the hundred people--this is the power that we want, forever out of our reach. For this reason I cannot tell you their names, or give you faces to put with the names; the group made sense only as a group.

As spring became summer their numbers began to dwindle. The 25-year-olds celebrated birthdays and moved into other groups of a hundred, a thousand. By autumn the group was no longer statistically viable, and its members' behavior became erratic and unpredictable. And when March (or perhaps April) came around again, the group contained only a single unmodellable member, his behavior and circumstances defining the norm for the set containing only himself.

It's not very good, but believe me, it's better than the story in the brochure.

The Fizzland Station: There's a new drink in town: Leninade. On the scale of tastelessness it's somewhere between the Mozilla iconography (pretty harmless) and the "Uncle Saddam" DVD Sumana linked to (eeeeeh...). As part of my "buy weird soda" policy I bought a couple copies of it at Beverages 'n' More! (motto: "Beverages... 'n' More!"). I have not tasted it yet, but I'll let you know how it is. The soda is red, of course, and the label is covered with slogans in Russian and English ("Lenin drank, Lenin drinks, Lenin will drink," according to Sumana.) My favorite slogan, which both makes me laugh and feel bad for laughing, is "Our five-year plan: drink a bottle a day to be a hero of Socialist flavor!" With socialized dentistry, is no problem!

Ai Cthulhu, Where Art Thou?: As sometimes happens, I'm just putting this dumb filk in NYCB to get it out of my head. (the original, which apparently depicts a world in which it's illegal to go to too many cabarets)

I knew a man named Ramblin' Bob
He saw a big green shamblin' blob
Late at night out on the old flood plain
Well, now he's beseiged by noises
And horrible whispering voices
In the Arkham Home for the Clinically Insane

He's in the madhouse now
He's in the madhouse now
What a shame for one so young
Just a-babblin' words in an ancient tongue
He's in the madhouse now

: One thing I'm planning to do when I have broadband again is start an Etext Roundup to go along with the parade of "X Roundup" NYCB series you've come to know and tolerate. Sure, you can look at The Online Books Page New Listings and subscribe to the Project Gutenberg mailing list to get deluged with notices of new 500k texts put up every day. But if the Web has taught us one thing it's that we need people to figure out which of the texts are interesting and which are the 19th-century equivalents of homepages for people's cats. Since I am by nature a sorter-through of data and a leaper-to of snap judgements, I might as well share you the trouble of finding the interesting texts, subtly indoctrinating you into my preferences as you become dependent on my selections.

Anyway, here's a taste of Etext Roundup: The Moon Metal, a piece of early science fiction which attacks the gold standard. Since the very title reveals the secret of the story, I have no qualms about reproducing this portion of the climactic paragraph to give you the flavor:

"I made up my mind as soon as I had penetrated Syx’s secret that he obtained the metal from those mystic white streaks which radiate from Tycho, and which have puzzled the astronomers ever since the invention of telescopes. I now believe those streaks to be composed of immense veins of the metal that Syx has most appropriately named artemisium, which you, of course, recognize as being derived from the name of the Greek goddess of the moon, Artemis, whom the Romans called Diana."

Clearly, earlier eras had a more relaxed and open attitude toward spoilers.

Am I That Predictable?: Sumana and my mother both pointed me to this cartoon.

: Hey, J. Bradford Delong did my map.

: I got a search request for "THE LIVING SOAP", but look on the bright side: at least I found this funny story because of it.

Birth Of an Email Forward: Collated from IRC:

Fitz and I [kfogel] were just speculating about what various programming languages sound like when you drop them.
Fortran       crunch
Perl          *thud* +bounce+ ~quiver~ (fading into silence)
C++           loud and messy, like if you took everything in a
              junkyard, connected it all together with cable, and
              dropped the whole mess from a cliff.
Lisp/Scheme   same sound as dropping a slinky
Java          no sound, already been dropped

The Inevitable Update: From Brendan.

PHP            sproing sproing ("stupid blasted") sproing ("off my 
               lawn") sproing
Python         Just like anything else, if air was Jell-O
Smalltalk      "Ouch!"
Pascal         *Crash.*  Now, did you notice how that sounded?  If you 
               were actually dropping something, it would have sounded 
               a lot like that.  Let's try again.
COBOL          (THUD)
Visual Basic  "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't let you drop me."

: A funny Python proposal. It drags a bit in the middle, but the payoff is good.

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