The Delightful Diversity of "Cup" Sizes in UK/US/AU/NZ Cooking

Volumetric measurements (using the volume of a container) are inferior to Gravimetric measurements (i.e. weight) in most ways. Weighing is faster (for a given pareto-optimal degree of accuracy), can achieve greater accuracy, and most importantly there will be less dishes to clean up afterwards.

Most irritatingly, "cups" and "spoons" mean different amounts in different countries. Even worse, sometimes three "thirds" of a cup are less than one cup....

Read more…

10 Minute "Meaty" Vegan Moroccan Pilaf

10 minutes cooking time, that is, so to be honest it's about 12-15 minutes total.

This is my usual standby meal because it meats (heh) all my requirements:
  • High in fibre (wholegrain burgul and veg)
  • High in protein (soya mince and wholegrains)
  • Relatively low in calories
  • Filling meaty taste, but no animal products
  • Each serve contains two 75g Australian "serves" of vegetables
  • Only uses non-perishable ingredients, so no need to plan ahead
  • Faster to make from scratch than to get takeaway
  • Only uses one pan/pot

Read more…

Non-Monotonicity in Australian Preference Voting

There are several methods of voting which allow voters to rank candidates in order of their preference, rather than just selecting a single desired candidate and then doing a single count (Plurality or "First Past the Post" voting). The system specifically used in Australian elections is "Instant-Runoff Voting" (IRV).

IRV is intended to allow for a variety of political parties of various sizes to flourish (unlike the famously two-party-dominated politics of the USA) as citizens who vote for a minor party as their first preference don't "waste" their vote; if their first preference is too obscure to get in, their vote goes to their second preference, and so on.

However, it is still possible for "vote-splitting" to have a negative effect on minor parties - in some cases, giving a candidate a higher preference can paradoxically cause them to lose, as they can be eliminated earlier.

Read more…

Sunday Maths: The Diagonal-Sum Mental Multiplication Method

This is a mental math technique to solve non-trivial integer multiplication I picked up from one of Arthur Benjamin's talks, and is widely used by other "mathemagicians" to solve large products.

It converts an n × n multiplication problem into a n² set of single digit multiplications, arithmetically identical to the "Lattice Method". However, instead of filling the lattice first and then summing each diagonal, this method calculates each sum as soon as possible - thus you only need to keep track of the bare minimum of working data and it becomes possible to do the problem entirely in your head.

Read more…

How to use a Unix PC as a Vocal Monitor

If you have a computer running on Linux or BSD, a microphone connected to it, and a desire not to spend $50 on a very small amplifier, you can use a one line shell script to listen to yourself sing instead.

Listening to yourself through a vocal monitor gives a better indication of the pitch and timbre of your voice than just listening to yourself, as the sound reaching your ears from your mouth is affected by resonating through your head, like listening to someone talk through a bone wall covered by a wet blanket. A monitor will therefore be a more accurate reproduction of what you sound like to everyone else than "directly" listening to your own voice.

Read more…