Chinese chef gets top Michelin ranking

HONG KONG: When the Michelin guide announced that Chan Yan-tak had become the first Chinese chef to get a top ranking of three stars, a scrum of local journalists hurried out of the news conference and jumped into taxis to seek out an interview…

The world’s big Michelin-starred names – the Robuchons, Ramsays and Ducasses – generally achieve success by breaking free of former employers and opening eponymous restaurants, followed by offshoots, cookbooks, TV shows and other trappings of the celebrity chef.

Chan, a stout, plain-spoken man in his late 50s, has done none of these things. It was only because of an odd stroke of luck that he was in contention at all: He had already quit the industry to be a stay-at-home dad when, in 2002, the Four Seasons began looking for a master Cantonese chef for its new hotel here and coaxed him out of retirement.

The fact that the world’s best-known restaurant guide had practically ignored one of the world’s best-known cuisines until now was not lost on Jean-Luc Naret, the Michelin Guide’s director. The guide had been criticized in past years for not giving due credit to top Japanese and American restaurants, and Naret did not want this to happen with its first ranking on Chinese soil.

We followed Mr. Chan for years, before he went to the Four Seasons,” Naret said. “We went to Lung King Heen 12 times this year.”

Michelin is famously terse in its write-ups. It affords one sentence to Lung King Heen’s harbor view and interiors, and one to its food. “Ingredients here are of the highest quality – particularly the seafood, which is impeccably fresh; all dishes are expertly crafted, nicely balanced and enticingly presented.”

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Vegas electronics show diminishes along with the economy

Daylife/AP Photo by Jae C. Hong

Even amid the flash and sizzle of the world’s premier showcase for consumer electronics, the reality of the economic recession will be hard to ignore.

With shoppers in a funk and companies scaling back, the annual Consumer Electronics Show extravaganza in Las Vegas this week is likely to be subdued, with fewer manufacturers, retailers and people expected in attendance.

The focus is likely to be on smaller, more connected and greener devices that can help consumers save on bills. That is a change from years past, when companies trafficked in excess, offering items such as massive 150-inch TVs that were beyond the financial reach of most consumers.

“In tough times, the emphasis maybe shifts from cool and neat to how do you make things work better,” said NPD analyst Stephen Baker.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts CES, estimates that 130,000 people will attend, down from 141,00 last year. Hotel rooms in Las Vegas, usually scarce at this time of the year, can still be found.

One of the Las Vegas Shows I’ve never attended. Probably never will.

The only tech I’m waiting for will be an all-HD line-up from DirecTV. That’s mostly a function of candyass broadcasters sitting on their wallets during the recession. And a wee bit more in price cuts for photo-voltaic panels. Then, I plan to move 1st to grid-tie and, then, off the grid entirely as battery efficiency/price gets sorted closer to an old geek’s budget.

US Fortress/Embassy opens in Baghdad

Universally-accepted decoration for U.S. embassies
Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

The new US embassy in Baghdad has been opened, with a dedication ceremony attended by the Iraqi president. The compound is one of the biggest and most expensive embassies the US has ever built, and was opened amid heavy security in the Iraqi capital…

The new complex, which will house a total of 4,000 staff, has been built with security very much in mind. Oh. Are we to infer the folks who live nearby, in the nation, perhaps the entire region – don’t care to lay down their lives for the United States?

The opening ceremony was led by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and attended by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Mr Talabani thanked the US for helping to create a democratic Iraq “which will serve as a model for other peoples of the eastern world”.

There is little I might offer in comment about this spew. The United States built a command and control center to manage imperial armies throughout the Middle East. The whole nightmare was scripted by fools like Dick Cheney and Jeb Bush with his brother as front-man and flunky.

Their schedule required the handover to an Iraqi civilian government and celebration of this Maginot Zone of Democracy. The fact this has been a costly failure forced the celebration to happen with a certainty – ahead of Obama’s inauguration.

New Year calligraphy contest in Tokyo

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Participants show off their writing at a New Year calligraphy contest in Tokyo. About 3,000 calligraphers, who qualified in regional competitions throughout Japan, took part in the contest to celebrate New Year. The words read: “Joy of living.”

Junna Kikuchi, a fourth-grade girl, using a brush writes “Beautiful heart” during the contest. About 3,000 people attended the annual new year’s contest. Her headband reads: “Fighting spirit.”

Sith gun robh so…

Playing golf can be bad for your health. Har!

Keen golfers are being warned by doctors that they could be risking their hearing for their sport.

Players who use a new generation of thin-faced titanium drivers to propel the ball further should consider wearing ear plugs, experts advise.

Ear specialists suspect the ‘sonic boom’ the metal club head makes when it strikes the ball damaged the hearing of a 55-year-old golfer they treated. The man had been playing with a King Cobra LD titanium club three times a week for 18 months and commented that the noise of the club hitting the ball was “like a gun going off”.

It had become so unpleasant that he decided to ditch the club, but by this time he had already suffered some hearing loss.

Doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital carried out tests on the keen golfer after he attended their clinic with unexplained tinnitus and reduced hearing in his right ear.

Lead researcher Dr Malcom Buchanan, an ENT specialist and a keen golfer, said: “Our results show that thin-faced titanium drivers may produce sufficient sound to induce temporary or even permanent cochlear damage in susceptible individuals.”

He said golfers should be careful when playing with these thin-faced clubs as they make a lot more noise, and suggested they could wear earplugs for protection.

Har! Would’ve made Sam Clemens happy to hear this.

New Pics of Saturn from Cassini Space Probe

Click image for larger view.

Cassini Pics Combined for Natural View of Saturn

The Cassini space probe snapped a series of images during two hours in July that have been put together to create a full, natural color view of the planet, its rings, and six of its moons.

As Saturn orbits the sun, the sun’s rays are now gradually falling more to the north on the planet, and the motion of Saturn’s ring shadows and the changing colors of its atmosphere continue to transform the face of Saturn as seen by Cassini, which is in orbit around the gaseous world.

Images of six of Saturn’s many moons were added to the new picture.

Another remarkable view released Tuesday shows Saturn’s rings and gaps in detail….

The photograph is a combination of 45 images taken over the course of about 4 hours on Nov. 26.

Related Link: Saturn’s moon has ‘ice volcanoes’

Quotable Quote from the latter article: “Scepticism is part of the evolution of a scientific finding but logic dictates that we start looking at things in certain ways when certain patterns start falling together.” — Dr. Bob Nelson from the US space agency Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Letter from Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

For the first time in a decade, I’m getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.

Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed.

I’ve decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.

As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.

Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause—a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.

The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. But, just like I didn’t lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple’s CEO during my recovery.

I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.


Franken to be declared the new senator in Minnesota

Daylife/Getty Images

Democrat Al Franken will be declared the winner of the tight U.S. Senate contest in Minnesota, emerging from a ballot recount with a slim margin over Republican Norm Coleman…

At the moment, Franken has a 225-vote lead,” after the weekend counting of what were deemed the last uncounted absentee ballots, said Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat who oversaw the process.

Ritchie said unless the supreme court acts on Coleman’s request and orders more ballots to be counted, he will reconvene the state’s Canvassing Board on Monday to certify Franken as the winner of the November 4 contest.

Even so, Coleman’s campaign said it will likely challenge the result, which would require the state supreme court’s chief justice to appoint three judges to investigate its claims…

The recount of some 2.4 million votes cast for the pair has swung back and forth over several weeks. Coleman initially held the edge, but his narrow victory margin necessitated the recount under state law.

“The recount has been done so precisely, and so transparently,” it would be difficult to envision a challenge succeeding, Ritchie said.

Not that it means squat to the nutballs still in charge of the Republican Party.

As I’ve stated in other posts, I sincerely hope the existing den of neocons stays in charge of the Republicans for another four years. That should guarantee enough time to see if the Obama experiment bears fruit.

I think it likely – the staying in control as well as the experiment. On the Democrat side, nothing more is proposed than simple humanist governance of the sort that’s worked well as premise in Western Europe since the end of WW2. On the Republican side, greed and an accustomed fist holding control of graft and corruption is hard for any gangster to give up.

Did they call it Air Force One-Elect?

President-elect Barack Obama ended his post-election interregnum in his hometown and headed to Washington to await his inauguration on Jan. 20, flying for the first time on one of the Air Force planes used to ferry presidents and other top government officials.

The Boeing 757-200 airplane bore the distinctive blue-and-white colors and the words “United States of America” of the familiar Air Force One, though any plane from the Air Force’s SAM fleet — for Special Air Mission — is Air Force One only if the president is aboard, and for 16 days that remains George W. Bush.

Even so, Mr. Obama’s flight on one of the fleet’s vehicles signified his status as president-in-waiting en route to his swearing-in. Aides who arrived at the plane ahead of Mr. Obama, including the senior adviser David Axelrod and the press secretary Robert Gibbs, were plainly excited by the privilege of being aboard one of the famous planes for the first time.

On board he met Col. Scott Turner of the Air Force and Reggie Dickson, who will be the pilot and the chief flight attendant on Air Force One once Mr. Obama is president. He ordered a cheeseburger and fries from Mr. Dickson.

“You know, I just get two more weeks in a hotel. I’ve done that enough,” Mr. Obama told reporters late Thursday night, as he and his family returned on a chartered plane from their annual holiday vacation in Hawaii, his native state.

Dude. As much as I love cheeseburgers, you have to lose the fries – and maybe consume less of that red meat and suet, too.