The Rice Cooker

The first thing to know about a rice cooker is that it knows more than you.

It knows when the rice is done.

ItBlack-&-decker-20-cup-stainless-steel-rice-cooker knows when the shrimp is cooked.

It knows how to keep food warm for hours on end.

It probably knows more about your emotional state of being in the kitchen than anything or anyone else.

How? "It's a mystery of the orient. Don't ask questions you don't need the answer to."

So, take it from me, a man who has challenged the Cooker's authority two too many times: be deferential in its presence.

The second thing to know about rice cooker is that it is arguably the most versatile piece of kitchen equipment yet invented. How versatile? Think of how versatile peanut butter and cottage cheese are: it's that versatile. Think of Kobe Bryant now with a post game. Think Philip Seymour Hoffman doing the Big Lebowski, Capote, and Doubt.

Want to cook white rice? Done. Brown rice? Done. Banana nut bread? Done. Steam vegetables? Done.  Korean BiBimBap or Chicken Biryani? Done. Want to liberate women in Iran? According to the New York Times, thank rice cookers.

Roger Ebert, in the face of such variety, just calls it "the pot." Me? I'm a religious man. I call it "El Padre."

Bottom Line: Love the rice cooker because the rice cooker loves you.

Quote of the Day

The craziest sentences uttered at the Vancouver Olympics came from Norwegian silver medalist Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset describing his performance in the men's 4×10 cross-country relay:

"My name is Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset. I skied the second lap and I fucked up today. I think I have seen too much porn in the last 14 days. I have the room next to Petter Northhug and every day there is noise in there. So I think that is the reason I fucked up. By the way, Tiger Woods is a really good man."


In other news that made me laugh:

Epic Beard Man: Another Day in Oakland

A few days ago there was a fight on an Oakland bus between a 50 year old black man and a 67 year old white man who was wearing a T-shirt that read "I AM A MOTHERFUCKER." The fight is embedded above and available on YouTube here, where it has been watched more than two million times.

Know Your Meme has an exhaustive analysis of this internet phenomenon including this summary:

The older white man in the video has been identified as Thomas Bruso, AKA Tom Slick, AKA Vietnam Tom; infamous in Oakland for his reputation of belligerence. Prior to the discovery of his identity, Anonymous had already dubbed him Epic Beard Man.

After the black man’s nose is broken, he says “bring an ambulance” which has been misheard as both “bring M&M’s” and “bring Amber Lamps” due to a combination of his dialect and facial injury. Amber Lamps has also come to be used as a pseudonym for the girl sitting next to the black man in the video.

Here is one man's video response to the fight. Here's a post-fight interview with EBM via the always-reliable KRON-4 news in which he at times he is crying and other times is bragging about knocking out the black dude for "twenty two and a half minutes" with a Mohammad Ali strike. (Totally false.) Here is Epic Beard Man getting tased by police at an Oakland A's game.

Besides the hilarity of it all — except the ugly racial slurs that have accompanied many of the internet postings — it is a case study in how quickly a internet meme can catch on. Thanks to the indefatigable Steve Dodson for the pointer.

How to Write Funny

A couple years ago Scott Adams laid out the keys to writing funny. It's excellent advice. A few up-front points about humor:

  • A company's or an executive's ability to deploy humor is an undervalued asset in the business world.
  • It is rare to find someone who is very funny and not smart.
  • My two main filters on whether I want to spend time with someone: interestingness and sense of humor.
  • Writing funny is harder than in-person humor. I discussed this a bit in my post The Best Jokes Are Hardest to Recall.

So, read Scott's advice on writing funny quoted below:

Picking a Topic

The topic does half of your work. I look for topics that have at least one of the essential elements of humor:


In order for something to be funny, it has to have at least two of the six elements of humor….

Simple Sentences

Keep your writing simple, as if you were sending a witty e-mail to a friend. Be smart, but not academic. Prune words that don’t make a difference.

Write About People

It’s impossible to find humor in inanimate things. If you must write about an object or a concept, focus on how someone (usually you) thinks or feels or experiences those things. Humor is about people, period.

Write Visually

Paint a funny picture with your words, but leave out any details that don’t serve the humor…

Leave Room for Imagination

…Leaving out details allows readers to fill them in with whatever image strikes them as funniest. In effect, you let readers direct their own funny movie.

Funny Words

Use “funny” words when you can. Here are some I used:

Shish Kabob
Storm drain

You can read that list of funny words totally out of context and it almost makes you laugh. Funny words are the ones that are familiar yet rarely used in conversation. It’s a bonus when those words have funny sounds to them, as do most of the ones in my list.

Pop Culture References

References to popular culture often add humor. It’s funny that the world’s tallest man is retrieving a lost iPod, and not something generic such as a wallet. And it’s funny that his manhood is compared to Ryan Seacrest as opposed to something generic, such as an oak tree. Someone could write a thesis on why pop culture references are funny, but just accept it.

Animal analogies

Animal references are funny. If you can’t think of anything funny, make some sort of animal/creature analogy. It’s easy, and it almost always works. I made these creature analogies in my post…

King salmon

Exaggerate, then Exaggerate Some More

Figure out what’s the worst that could happen with your topic, then multiple it by ten or more. Don’t say a mole is as big as a grapefruit. Say that mole is opening its own Starbucks. (Notice the pop culture reference of Starbucks.) The bigger the exaggeration, the funnier it is.

Near Logic

Humor is about creating logic that a-a-a-lmost makes sense but doesn’t. No one in the real world could put gum on his penis and retrieve an iPod from a storm drain. But your brain allows you to imagine that working, while simultaneously knowing it can’t. That incongruity launches the laugh reflex.