Inferior Good: Diminishing Marginal Stupidity in Action

Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday factoid

Delaware, a Vitis Labrusca varietal, is the most widely planted wine producing grape in Japan (according to De Long's).

And if that little tidbit doesn't make your Friday, then surely this article on the viticultural potential of West Virginia will [Ed. Stop calling me Shirley].

Take what you want

Making a trip to the big city? Concerned about getting mugged? Perhaps this video will help you keep cool and respond appropriately. And while you learn, you'll burn some calories too.

If you ever have to use the training, I recommend reciting the phrases sans aerobic moves.

Was the video designed for Japanese travelers to the US? What would an equivalent video for American travelers to Japan be like? Perhaps the phrase would be "I prefer to eat food that isn't moving".

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wizards take pair of Soviets

The Washington Wizards selected Ukrainian Oleksiy Pecherov and Belarusian Vladimir Veremeenko with their first and second picks in the NBA draft, respectively. Read more here.

I'm encouraged by these comments from an unnamed scouting service:

[Pecherov is] ...a very skilled big man who can play both inside and out. Decent athlete. Excellent shooter. Has the ability to put the ball on the floor though that seems to be somewhat diminished as he's filling out. Has developed into an excellent rebounder.

I'm discouraged by his size (7ft, 210 pounds... this guy needs to start eating breakfast) and the fact that he last played for a team called Paris Basket Racing (sounds like a small town fair event). But hey, he doesn't have to be great to improve the Wizard's anemic inside game. 10 boards and 6 points a night would be huge.

Check out TrueHoop and Bill Simmons for comprehensive draft coverage. (Photo: Dusan Vranic/Associated Press)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

2002 Jose Maria Da Fonseca Periquita

Periquita ("little parrot") is the nickname for the Castelao grape upon which this wine is based (70% Castelao, 20% Trincadeira and 10% Aragonez). Castelao is a relatively acidic varietal, whereas Trincadeira and Aragonez (aka Tempranillo) are relatively low in acidity.

Periquita comes from a part of Portugal south of Lisbon called Terras do Sado, featuring both sandy and clay-lime soils. The wine is aged for 5 months in a combination of new and used oak.

Periquita is the oldest brand of Portuguese table wine. Jose Maria Da Fonseca began marketing wine under the name Periquita in the mid 19th century, using grapes planted on a property know as Cova de Periquita.

I really like this wine. Periquita is medium-bodied with good acidity and smooth, soft tannins. It delivers red berry fruit and a pleasing tobacco finish. This wine is juicy, a good red wine to enjoy in hot weather. And best of all perhaps, Periquita tastes like few wines I’ve had at this price. It’s refreshing to have something different.

$7.99 at Esquin Wine Merchants, imported by Palm Bay Imports, Inc.

ADDENDUM: Another version called Periquita Classico is produced in select vintages. Here is Jancis Robinson's glowing review of the 1995 Periquita Classico.

Clown saboteurs

Coworkers referring to me as a clown used to make me feel bad. But this article, sent to me by my buddy Clark Kent, makes me feel better. Now I realize my coworkers are simply emphasizing the importance of humor and laughter to the realization of the firm’s goals. Huh?

Also, those clowns must have been pretty hungry. You know, to start eating gravel and all.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The best ketchup

The August issue of Cook's Illustrated (subscription required) features a taste test of 8 widely available traditional Ketchups. The overall winner chosen by the 29 person tasting panel was... Hunt's! Hunt's scored highest for both taste and texture and was praised for a tangy and fresh flavor. Market leader Heinz finished in the middle of the pack, though Heinz Organic was the runner-up.

In summary, author Leigh Belanger observed that:

Ketchup is best when it's smooth, thick, and tangy, with balanced, bold flavors. The parameters are tight - not to thick or too thin, not too tangy or too sweet. Bright red, but no chunks.

[Ed. Aren't these just simple condiments? Does it really matter?] Look, I'm not a big ketchup guy. But I love mayonnaise, and I enjoy my fries much more with Hellmann's/Best Food's mayonnaise than with boring old Kraft. So yes, condiments do matter.

Enjoying all this condiment talk? Here's a Cook's tasting of BBQ sauce.

UPDATE: Dr. Vino mentions a Malcom Gladwell piece on ketchup in the comments section. You can find the article, a favorite of mine, here.

The golden age of the alternative fringe

Jamie Goode expresses a popular sentiment on his wine blog; concern for the uniform and sanitized civilization resulting from the world's alleged increasing sameness. It sounds to me as though he’s worried the mainstream is crowding out the alternative fringe.

In my view, the alternative fringe is quite healthy. Indeed, the fringe will continue to expand with the creation of ever better tools that help people like Mr. Goode keep the world interesting.

Communication and trade are cheaper and more accessible than ever before in human history. It takes mere minutes on the Internet for a small producer of interesting wine in say, Slovenia, to find some folks that might enjoy her wine. Perhaps she’d send a bottle to Mr. Goode. If Mr. Goode wrote a glowing review of said wine, surely other like-minded promoters of wine would notice. Somebody like blogger and NY Times writer Eric Asimov, for example. Perhaps Mr. Asimov would tell a sommelier friend about the Slovenian find. Maybe the wine ends up on the wine list of the sommelier’s influential NY restaurant, causing a stir in the local fine wine scene. Next thing you know, a fine wine shop is recommending the bottle to a regular guy like me.

You get the idea. Globalization is connecting the world’s alternative fringe. As long as there are people that want to be different, there will be alternatives outside the mainstream. Music is an excellent example of this phenomena. For a much more eloquent expression of these ideas, see Tyler Cowen’s Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World's Cultures and Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail.

What's so interesting about wine?

A few days ago my wife asked me why I find wine so interesting. I stammered a bit as I tried to form vague feelings and notions into words. Wine tastes good of course, but my interest is deeper than that. Wine is also culture, business, and history. It’s like social studies plus drinking and food. The WaPost’s Ellen McCarthy puts it thusly:

The pursuit of good wine is part culture, part science, part geography, all in a framework of merriment and indulgence.

Well put Ellen. Her account of everyday Washingtonians enjoying wine is here. I was surprised to learn that DC residents consume more wine and champagne per capita than residents of any other US city.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Watch out [yellow tail]!

Dr. Vino reports on a slick new box wine from France called French Rabbit. Let's see now...

  • Brightly colored label featuring cute animals? Check.
  • Value price? Check.
  • Proclaimed commitment to the environment? Check.
  • Round, soft, easy-drinking wine? Check.
  • Hot mp3 music file prizes ala Cracker Jack? Check.

Okay, I made up the music file prize. Nonetheless, I wouldn't bet against this wine gulping down a big share of the value market.

A hole lot of difference between theory and practice

My friend Dog sent me this article on the world's deepest hole, which reminded me of the following quote:

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

The quote is attributed to both baseball legend Yogi Berra and computer scientist Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut.

Mmmm, delicious scallops

Last night I made pan-seared scallops with champagne grapes and almonds. This is a quick and simple recipe that delivers rich, sophisticated flavors without overpowering the scallops.

I paired the 2003 Mason Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley with the meal. It had adequate acidity and fruit, but I found it too buttery. In general, I don't want a rich, buttery wine with a rich, buttery dish. With rich seafood dishes, I want a wine that cleanses my taste buds, thereby allowing my next bite to be almost as fresh and enjoyable as the first.

So far, two out of the three dishes I've made using recipes have been quite good. Go internet! (Photo:Bon Appetit/Brian Leatart)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

When I grow up...

As a child I loved to browse toy catalogs. I read my favorite catalogs over and over again, pondering which toys I liked best. I often thought that, when I got older and had some money in my pocket, I'd be able to buy all of the toys I wanted. Even though I knew that I probably wouldn't want those same toys when I was older, it was fun thinking about it nonetheless. Today's WaPost reports on a Virginia man that actually did it. Also, be sure to check out the short video. (Photo: WaPost)

If you think that's cool, check out these old Atari catalogs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mmmm, delicious venison

The wife was in Capital City for a few days last week. The ostensible purpose was work, but the chance to visit family and old friends also motivated her visit. Working for an organization based in your hometown has its advantages.

In any case, my wife’s absence provided me a good opportunity to cook a dish I’d been thinking about for a while; medallions of venison with port and cranberries (she doesn’t like the idea of eating Walt Disney characters, you see). So myself and fellow imbibers Starbuck Jr. and Rizza (more on them later) came over for a feast.

I highly recommend this recipe. The sauce is simple, easy to make, rich and delicious. If necessary, you can mail-order the venison medallions or you can substitute beef. Just give it a try.

I paired a couple of Rhone reds with the meal; the 2000 Feraud-Brunel Cairanne and the 1999 Guigal St. Joseph Rouge. The Grenache based Feraud-Brunel offered dark fruit, leather, earth and a nice gaminess. The Guigal St. Joseph, consisting of 100% Syrah, was more structured and delineated and offered somewhat similar gamy flavors.

The unanimous favorite however, was the 2003 Chateau Mouton Bordeaux Superieur that Starbuck Jr. brought over. This round and somewhat modern-styled wine’s rich, forward fruit best accompanied the strong flavors of the meal. I felt as though the dish was a bit too much for the Rhones, though sans food (or with a different dish) I think I’d prefer the Guigal.

Gender and generosity

Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution links to an AEI published article on gender and giving. Which is the most generous of the sexes? Resident Scholar Christina Hoff Sommers writes:

The truth.... is that both sexes have their graces and their own styles of being virtuous.

So what are the policy implications? According to Ms. Sommers:

While there is nothing wrong with encouraging males to be more empathetic and females bolder in the charitable donations, ambitious programs for resocializing children to be more like the opposite sex are ill advised and, in any case, of unproven effect.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Miami Heat, 2006 NBA Champions

Congratulations to the Miami Heat for beating the Dallas Mavericks by a score of 95 - 92 to win the 2006 NBA Championship in 6 games. Despite some sloppy streches, game 6 was entertaining basketball featuring intense play.

Dwyane Wade recieved the Most Valuable Player Award.

More from the pros at TrueHoop, ESPN and Fox.

Welcome to my humble blogdom

Dearest reader(s), welcome to my tiny little piece of the infobahn. Here I plan to discuss topics of interest including (but not limited to) food, wine, economics, politics, sports, music, and cinema.

What's with the name you ask? First, as a wannabe econ nerd, I think it's funny to use economics terms unexpectedly [Ed. There goes your first reader]. Second, it's an attempt at self-deprecating humor. For someday, when your time becomes more valuable, I suspect you'll consume less of this inferior good. But until then, I'll endeavor to provide you rich bloggy goodness.

Perhaps you're wondering why you should visit Inferior Good? I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal. People know me. I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany. Just ask Ron Burgundy.