Interesting Articles: Mar 21st-27th 2006

* Rich state, poor state, red state, blue state: What's the matter with Connecticut? (unpublished academic paper). I can't summarize this article better than the first two sentences of the abstract:

We find that income matters more in "red America" than in "blue America." In poor states, rich people are much more likely than poor people to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but in rich states (such as Connecticut), income has a very low correlation with vote preference.

* Are We Having a Conversation Yet? An Art Form Evolves (New York Times). On the history of the art of conversation.

* It's Not the Sights, It's the Sounds (New York Times). A neat overview of accents in New York and the neighboring states.

Science and Medicine:
* Hand Sanitizers, Good or Bad? (New York Times). Some sanitizers are worthless. Not posted because hand sanitizers are that interesting but simply to emphasize the importance of researching and comparing products or, lacking time for that, at least reading and comparing product labels.
* Experts Reveal the Secret Powers of Grapefruit Juice (New York Times). An example of serendipity in science. And a warning about interactions between grapefruit juice and some medicines.

* Here's an Idea: Let Everyone Have Ideas (New York Times). A(nother) wisdom-of-the-crowds piece profiling one company's use of internal markets for ideas and predictions.

* Wanted: A Few Good Sperm (New York Times). A long and thoughtful piece composed of anecdotes portraying various "single women by choice," including their lives, experiences, and what shaped their decisions.

Interesting Articles: Mar 14th-20th 2006

* Silent Struggle: A New Theory of Pregnancy (New York Times). An interesting exploration of intra-family evolutionary pressures.

* A Wrongful Birth? (New York Times). A fascinating read on medical ethics and prenatal testing.

* Buff and Brainy: Exercising the body can benefit the mind (Science News). This is why I solve all my academic problems during or coming back from ultimate games.

* Finding dirty diesels (Science News). It turns out just a few vehicles account for most of the pollution. And the way they figured this out was also neat: simply by putting a device on the side of the road. The source article, Monitoring the Soot Emissions of Passing Cars (Environmental Science & Technology), is available online.

* Smart shoppers use unconscious tactics (Science News). A blink effect for non-experts in everyday life. Complex buying decisions are better made based upon unconscious thought (but simple ones should be thought about). The abstract of the source article, On making the right choice: The deliberation-without-attention effect (Science), is availably online.

* Many Utilities Collect for Taxes They Never Pay (New York Times). Many businesses do what they can get away with. The morale? Regulating industries is difficult because nearly every detail is important.

* The Return of Patriarchy (Foreign Policy). A thought provoking read tying together birth rates and patriarchy, leading to consequences with standards of living, politics, and the rise and fall of governments.

Interesting Articles: Mar 7th-13th 2006

* Unnatural Selection (New York Times). On why we should eliminate peremptory challenges and put more transparency back in this part of the legal process.

* The Claim: Skipping Breakfast Can Affect Your Mood and Energy Levels During the Day (New York Times). A brief summary of some studies exploring the importance of breakfast.

Real Estate:
* This Very, Very Old House (New York Times). A combination of history and economics, this article explores changes in the housing market in Amsterdam over the several centuries and what those changes can tell us about real estate in general. (Or, one could read the article as: analyzing interesting and unusual data sources can yield intriguing results.)

* The 411 on Directory Assistance (New York Times). Ways to get around the high 411 information charges: 800-411-METRO, 800-FREE-411, or text GOOGL, 27627, or 1-650-430-718.

* Open Doors Don't Invite Criminals (New York Times). Not as scientific as I would like, but a good piece arguing against the common misconception that immigrants cause crime.

Manhattan Restaurant Endorsements

A friend of mine recently moved back to New York and asked me what restaurants I really liked while I was there. I almost told him to go through my old blog entries himself, but then I realized I'd be much faster going through those old entries and also would be able to judge the restaurants from memories that I didn't record in the blog. And I realized it would be nice to have such a list for myself.

Without further ado, the definite endorsements (in no particular order):
* Cafe Lalo - desserts (went three times) - upper west side
* Katz's Deli - jewish deli (went twice) - lower east side
* Ali Baba - turkish (went twice) - midtown east
* Havana-Chelsea - cuban (good Cubans and steaks, bad service (went three times)) - chelsea
* Murray's - bagels and lox (went multiple times) - chelsea
* John's Pizza - pizza (really good quality cheese) - theater district
* Gray's Papaya - hot dogs and juices (went three times) - chelsea (near 8th Av and 37th)
* Wild Ginger - thai (usually quite good, and excellent atmosphere and notably good service (went twice)) - greenwich village
* Via Brasil - brazilian (notably good service, frequently has live music) - little brazil (theater district)
* Molly's - pub with above average burgers - gramercy park
* Divane - turkish (get the signature dish) - midtown west - now closed

And here are the decent places / mild endorsements. (The better places are closer to the top.)
* Djerdan - bureks and other eastern european fare - theater district
* Banjara - indian (could be great - I didn't ordered enough) - curry hill (east village)
* Regional Thai Taste Restaurant - thai - chelsea
* Brick Lane - indian (could be great - I didn't order correctly) - curry hill (east village)
* Bright Food Shop - mexican-ish fusion brunch place (went twice) - chelsea
* Brooklyn Bagels (pretty darn good, but without Murray's lox selection) (went twice) - midtown east
* Kunjip Restaurant - korean - korea town (chelsea)
* Ipanema Restaurant - brazilian - little brazil (theater district)
* Trattoria Trecolori - italian (went twice) - theater district
* Cafe Napoli - italian - little italy (lower manhattan)
* Little Poland - polish - east village
* The Tomato Restaurant - red-sauce italian (went twice) - chelsea
* Spanish Center - spanish - greenwich village (hidden in spanish community center)
* a pakistani place - (went twice) - theater district (on 8th in the 30s or 40s)
* Momo - sushi - midtown west
* a chinese - - upper west side (90s and broadway)
* deli / bakery - (went multiple times) - chelsea (at 8th and 23rd
* Burger Joint - burgers (hidden in a hotel lobby, quite an adventure) - upper midtown
* Soul Fixins - soul food - chelsea
* Haru - sushi - various locations
* Hong Kong Noodles Sushi - - chelsea
* Chinam 28 - chinese noodles and such - upper east side
* Mancora - peruvian - east village

Finally, the following places were disappointing:
* every burrito place I tried
* Manhattan's Heroes - Cuban - chelsea
* Amazonia - juice bar - chelsea (8th in the 30s)
* bakery - - chelsea (on 8th Avenue in the teens)
* Hunan - chinese - chelsea (across from empire state building)

For more details on any of these restaurants, use your browser's search-within-page feature on the June 2004 archive and the July 2004 archive of this blog.

Edit: Updated to reflect more details about the restaurants and their general locations.

Ski Boot Buying Advice

I bought ski boots recently and went through a lot of research in the process. Here are some web pages I used:

Buying/shopping advice:
* Someone Else's List of Links to Ski Boot Advice Pages
* epinions Buying Guides (quality varies)
* Google Answers on Ski Boots (discussing stiffness and includes some links)
* Ski Magazine includes a number of articles on boots, such as Do Your Boots Really Fit? (see "related stories" at bottom)
* Epic Ski Bootfitting Guide
* Belniak Boot Advice
* REI boot fitting advice
* Alpine Accessories Guide to Selecting Ski Boots
* CNN Overview on Buying Ski Boots
* Series of Articles on Boots at (with a discussion of lateral versus rotary boots that I haven't seen elsewhere)
* How to buy ski boots from a foot sport doctor
Boots: How To Find A Good Fit (Ski Magazine)

Two groups train/certify boot fitters:
* Master Fit University, which sadly doesn't list the shops with trained technicians directly on its web site
* America'a Best Bootfitters. Its web site lists certified stores -there aren't many-, and includes a little advice.

Post-boot maintenance:
* Master Class: How to Tweak Your Boots (Ski Magazine) (see "related stories" at bottom)
* Treat Your Feet (Ski Magazine)

After hearing a number of recommendations, I bought my boots at Granite Chief in Squaw Valley. It was quiet Thursday and I got lots of attention and tried on a large number of pairs of boots. They did a number of the fitting techniques I read about, but the most impressive fact to me was that anytime I remarked that something was uncomfortable in this particular place or that was too tight in that particular place, they just took the boots into the back and tweaked some of the settings and fixed it. That's what I think a good bootfitter can do for you: they know how to modify boots to fix issues.

I chose the tightest fitting pair of boots that wasn't so tight as to cut of my circulation. (I tested by sitting in them for twenty minutes.) All this was tested not with my thin ski socks but with an ultra-thin pair the bootfitters lent me. They said it was important and in retrospect I agree with them. The boots don't quite flex as much as I'd like, but then I'm not sure how important flexing is and many review articles say when in doubt to buy the stiffer boot. (One's calves and ankle muscles can always get stronger.)

The first day of using the boots was a bit uncomfortable. I kept feeling as if my feet were falling asleep due to the boot tightness. But they never actually did; I could always wiggle my toes. And I was surprised how warm my feet were. I was worried that since I usually ski in thick stocks that my feet would freeze without those socks. But that didn't turn out to be true, and I also skied better.

The boots the second day were perfect. I guess the lining started compressing a bit and molding itself to my foot, like all those links said it would. On the second day I also started clamping my boots down less -- since they fit so closely already, there wasn't much reason to push them hard against my skin. Maybe that lack of tightening helped the very tight issue too. (The less clamping didn't hurt my skiing either.)

Interesting Articles: Feb 28th-Mar 6th 2006

Real Estate:
* Endangered Species (New York Times). The freakonomics guys are at it again, this time exploring if being a real estate agent is as good as it seems given the large commissions and rising housing prices.
* Who Needs the Mortgage-Interest Deduction? (New York Times). An interesting to read history on the mortgage interest deduction. (In short, there is less intentionality behind it than what you thought, and it doesn't quite have the consequences you thought.) I'm slightly bothered by the article talking about larger mortgages get a larger deduction and claiming the tax is regressive without going into more details about it works on a percentage basis relative to mortgage or income size.
* Home Economics (New York Times). A article -clearly (as judging by the focus) was written by a humanities person and not a scientist- that explores the influencers to the supply side of the housing market (e.g., zoning restrictions).

* The End of Dollar Hegemony (speech by Congressional Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas)). An informative and interesting read, it provides a history of monetary policy, especially focusing on 20th century U.S. policy, and then attempts to relate the policy (in possibly questionable ways) to current international politics.

* Irreconcilable Differences (New York Times). A book review on a book that explores how genetics and the environment interact. I took a class that covered this in depth so this review is nothing new to me, but it was fun to read and think about it again.

* Schools Avoid Class Ranking, Vexing Colleges (New York Times). Despite this coming up repeatedly in everyone's (including my) academic life, I don't have a strong opinion on it. Do you?