: High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Discovery Channel Documentary, North Korea – Children of the Secret State

Google Video features full video of the shocking Discovery Channel Documentary, North Korea – Children of the Secret State

Bill Buford goes whole hog into Tuscan cuisine

Bill Buford has written one of the best articles I’ve ever read for this month’s New Yorker – Carnal Knowledge: How I Became a Tuscan Butcher. Part personal journey borne of a desire to commiserate with the reality of our grocery-store fed lives, part travelogue of rural Tuscany, it’s a masterpiece.

For me, meat wasn’t a cause. I just believe people should know what they’re eating. At the Greenmarket, you overheard discussions about fertilizers and soils and how much freedom a chicken needs before its eggs are free-range. Wouldn’t it follow that you’d want to know your meat? I had brought home a freshly killed animal—better raised than anything I’d find at a store—and, in preparing it, I was hoping to rediscover old-fashioned ways of making food. This, I felt, could only be positive. But I was sure getting a lot of shit for it.

And this was the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time –

When we made sausages at the butcher shop, people often ate the meat raw, straight from the bowl, which—I don’t know, call me old-fashioned—just seemed wrong. But it illustrated an attitude toward good meat: if you’re lucky enough to get it, don’t mess with it. The recipe the shop used (to the extent that one existed—everything was pretty much eyeballed) followed the same if-it’s-good-don’t-touch-it philosophy, and was three parts meat to one part back fat (from the top of the pig), plus garlic, pepper, and salt: that was it. You mushed it together until it became an emulsified pinkish goop, which you then stuffed into a cannister that looked like a giant bullet. At one end of the cannister was a spout: this was where you slipped on the casing, about twenty feet of pork intestines, which the meat mix went into. (The task of getting the intestines onto the spout, which was not unlike putting on a condom the length of an African serpent, involved a universally recognized hand movement, and predictable Tuscan jokes were made at my expense.)

Links: New Yorker Carnal Knowledge: How I Became a Tuscan Butcher, Q & A with Matt Dellinger. Buy the new book from Amazon, Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

America’s Ambivalence toward International Law

Nixon the environmentalist. Reagan an early mover to counteract ozone depletion. America’s invasion of Hawaii. It’s remarkable how a little time paves over the details in our perception of history. Brian Urquhart reviews of three recent books on international law, focusing on America’s ambivalence towards the rule of law and national autonomy.

Link: New York Review of Books, The Outlaw World


2 days. 180 miles. 12,000 riders. 10 million raised for MS research. Not a bad weekend. Kris, Katy and I cross the finish line.

New EP from Mieka Pauley, Out of Car Wrecks & Hurricanes

I just realized I have an extra copy of Mieka Pauley’s excellent new EP Out of Car Wrecks & Hurricanes. Be the first to e-mail me with your address and I’ll mail it off to you.

UPDATE: We have a winner.

Grupsters, the new adulthood

I know a few of these:

He owns eleven pairs of sneakers, hasn’t worn anything but jeans in a year, and won’t shut up about the latest Death Cab for Cutie CD. But he is no kid. He is among the ascendant breed of grown-up who has redefined adulthood as we once knew it and killed off the generation gap.

Links: New York, Up with Grups

The Grace Bible Church Podcast, Guinea Pigs Needed

I just finished creating a podcast for my church and I need a few guinea pigs if any of y’all would be willing. Basically I just need to know if it works and if people have trouble subscribing or downloading the mp3 files. If you want to play, grab a copy of iTunes and follow the directions below. If you are offended by the idea of being associated with rodents, feel free to refer to yourself as a beta-tester.

1. Download a podcast reader such as Apple’s iTunes (it’s free, no excuses)
2. Install it, then run the program
3. Click the “Podcasts” option in the Source menu (on the left)
4. Copy the link
5. From the iTunes menu select “Advanced” and “Subscribe to Podcast”
6. Paste the link from step 4 into the URL field

For steps 4 through 6 you can also try to drag and drop the following icon:

Subscribe to the Grace Bible Church Podcast

Springsteen, the Seeger Sessions

The Boss has been hard at work on a Pete Seeger tribute album coming out April 25, We Shall Overcome The Seeger Sessions. I have a feeling the Born to Run fans will feel a little out in the cold, but folkies and traditionalists like myself are in heaven. He’s got a large, old-timey band that’s really rocking.

‘We Shall Overcome The Seeger Sessions’ will be released in DualDisc format, with the full album on one side of the disc and DVD content on
the other side. The 30 minute video side of the DualDisc contains extensive behind the scenes footage of the recording of the album. In addition, the DualDisc package will contain two bonus tracks and a special booklet including a note from Springsteen.

His set April 30, at JazzFest in New Orleans should be a memorable one

Links: Video from cuts off the album Pay Me My Money Down, John Henry

Investigating Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Part of my transition to law school mode has been trying to think of all the things that it might be nice to know how to do before crunchtime. I sat in on Johnny Rex Buckles’ Taxation of Non-Profit Organizations last week and one thing I noticed was that Buckles would bring up an obscure or just overlooked aspect of the material and everyone would be sent flipping through the book to find what he was referring to. Every time it happened my left hand subconciously twitched into the CTRL + F position, which any good geek will tell you means “find” as in return me all instances of the phrase I’m about to type in that occur in this here document. It’s an extremely useful feature. I sure wish my brain had it. All the students had laptops open and were taking notes, but the books were lying there outside the computer, pathetically undigital and uselessly unsearchable.

Why oh why didn’t they have a pdf version of their textbook? But then how would they get one? Book publishers are notoriously terrified of digitization, and the makers of big expensive law books are not likely to be an exception. If a digital copy is available it will likely be some heinous DRM-laden executable. So assuming I get no help from the book publisher, how do I have my book and search it to?

Optical Character Recognition software has been around for a while, so my plan is to finally put it through its paces and see if it can handle a real-world problem in a cost-effective manner. More on this in days to come…

Design for the bottom line

One of the hardest concepts to get through to clients and co-workers is that design is principally functional, not decorative. While we can conceptualize the word design as a noun, it started off as a verb and when it comes right down to it a good design is designed to do something, to mean something, to communicate something. In the words of William Carlos Williams, a mantra for creative work of all kinds – “no ideas except in things.”

With this in mind, it’s refreshing to see design blogger Niti Bhan, Core77 tackle the profit equation of design in recent posts. A article from Display & Design Ideas chronicles McDonald’s most recent attempt to attack the bottom line with design, following the company’s first quarterly loss at the end of 2002, and the unflattering image cast from movies like SuperSize Me

Alvarez said that McDonald’s then corporately adopted the belief that if the company wanted to stay a successful contemporary brand, it would have to communicate a message that it presented an experience and lifestyle that people will buy into. “We consider ourselves as retailers, and an aging facility is a dying brand,” Alvarez emphasizes.

“We put ourselves in the shoes of the [McDonald's] customers to meet dining experience needs,” relates McDonald’s Johannesen. “The result was a flexible zone concept: a lingering zone; a fast zone with bar stool seating; and a quiet area for relaxing,” he says. Customers have a choice of such entertainment selections as WiFi access, programmed music and video.

Links: A plan to win, McDonald’s new prototype takes a holistic approach, McDonald’s Design Led Strategy to Boost Revenue

In a separate article from the Ad Age Australia, Richard Henderson describes the financial contribution of a rebranding for the FoodWorks grocery chain that emphasized the local connections of individual stores.

The company’s investment in a new identity is reaping dividends. Many FoodWorks stores in Australia have had up to a 30 per cent increase in revenue since the change. The company is also growing at 12.5 per cent compared with an industry average of 5.1 per cent.

Links: Identify, Discuss, Design: make money, Core77 Post

Too often clients come to designers looking to ‘make something pretty’ and when really the first job of a designer is to make it look like it does what it actually does, and the second is to help the user use it better, more quickly or more easily. If it turns out pretty, well then that’s just icing on the cake.