The Burger Lab: The Ins-n-Outs of an In-N-Out Double-Double, Animal-Style | A Hamburger Today

I have fond memories of In-N-Out. In fact, one is fairly near my house, so I don’t need to go deep into my past: I can simply go over there and get one whenever the mood strikes me. I recognize that the burgers themselves aren’t (to the truth be told) particularly all that good. I suspect that my fondness for them stems from a memory of the first time I had one, when the In-N-Out in Pinole had just opened, I was in the process of hunting for my first house. Carmen and I stopped in, and had a couple of them, and whether it was the stress of the day or whatever, I thought they were the best thing on earth.

Some others seem to have similar notions. This article was interesting, because a fanatic went to the trouble of dissecting their burgers and making them at home. That he used mathematics and their nutritional information as clues is just a bonus. Check it out:

The Burger Lab: The Ins-n-Outs of an In-N-Out Double-Double, Animal-Style | A Hamburger Today.

Wikileaks, and the Report on the Barnhouse Effect

My iPad blinked a CNN headline this weekend that Wikileaks had published a vast number of previously secret reports on the ongoing war in Afghanistan. While the furor over this doesn’t seem to have reached the level of, say, Lindsay Lohan in prison might, it does nevertheless seem to have generated some significant chatter in the blogging universe.

As the father of a young man currently serving in the Armed Forces (thankfully not in Afghanistan) I am a bit concerned that this release of information may provide aid to enemy combatants. If that is your fear, then I understand it, and I won’t try to argue against it. Our children are precious beyond reasonable measure, and keeping them safe is the first priority of any parent.

And yet, I’m not really outraged by the Wikileaks publication, and I guess I can thank Kurt Vonnegut for that.

In his short story Report on the Barnhouse Effect, Professor Arthur Barnhouse develops the ability to control physical objects through a power he calls “dynamo-psychism”. It begins with him just being able to bust a crap game by controlling dice rolls, but as he practices, his power grows until he literally becomes a super weapon. At this point, he presents himself to the U.S. government, who is eager to test his powers and add them to their arsenal. After a successful test, the generals turn around to find that Barnhouse has disappeared, leaving a note that declares that he is the “first weapon with a conscience”, and that he won’t permit himself to be used by them. Barnhouse goes into hiding, and then begins The War of the Tattle Tales. Whenever a government tries to stockpile weapons, someone merely needs to leak its existence to the press, and Barnhouse would eradicate it.

Wikileaks is starting a similar war. I’m not going to argue whether our “War of Terror” has been worth the monetary or human costs: quite frankly, I’m not sure either way. But we certainly can’t formulate an informed debate by simply hiding or ignoring the reality of the costs involved. Wikileaks is shaming us all by forcing us to abandon our plausible deniability and to address the real human costs of the war, and to balance them against the importance of our objectives. If this proves to be disruptive to our foreign policy, then I would submit that perhaps our foreign policy needed disruption.

Could the publication of this information be dangerous for American troops? Yes, quite possibly. I’m not sure I’d have the guts to publish this information, because I am not sure I could stand the responsibility. But let’s be clear: our troops are already in danger. Our foreign policy decisions put them in danger. We should be arguing and debating about whether the risks that they have agreed to undertake on our behalf are truly worth the cost that they will pay.

It is said that nobody likes a tattle-tale. Certainly if you are the one being tattled on, you probably don’t like it. But ultimately, the truth is the truth, and it is probably best not to hide it or deny it. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

In closing, I’d like to thank all the brave men and women of our armed forces: you are brave beyond anything I know, and it is my deepest hope that you all complete your duties and return to your friends and family who love you.

Addendum: On a lighter note, Dimension X produced a radio version of Report on the Barnhouse Effect, which you can find on archive.org (MP3). It’s not quite as good as the real short story, but it’s not terrible either.

Addendum: Elwood pointed out that Julian Assange gave a talk about Wikileaks at TED. For your consumption: