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Matt Austern
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Attended Taylor Allderdice
Lives in Palo Alto, CA
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Ah, there's nothing like a classic Martini. Like this one, from George Kappeler's Modern American Drinks (copyright 1895): "Half a mixing-glass full fine ice, three dashes orange bitters, one-half jigger Tom gin, one-half jigger Italian vermouth, a piece lemon-peel. Mix, strain into cocktail-glass. Add a maraschino cherry, if desired by customer."

The origin of the Martini seems a little unclear. One popular theory, which I find pretty plausible, is that it derives from the older Martinez cocktail; the 1860s Martinez recipes look pretty similar to the Martini recipes from the 1880s and 1890s, anyway. By the 1930s, though, when Frank Meier's The Artistry of Mixing Drinks was published, Martini recipes start looking a little more like what we're used to. Meier has "Martini (Sweet): half Martini Vermouth, half Gin", and "Martini (Dry): half French Vermouth, half Gin".

Note that neither of those recipes is what we'd call a dry Martini today, and note that the difference between Meier's sweet and dry Martinis isn't the gin:vermouth ratio, but the type of vermouth.

http://books.google.com/books?id=opIXAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=bartender&source=gbs_similarbooks_s&cad=1#v=onepage&q&f=false
http://www.scribd.com/doc/19426042/The-artistry-of-mixing-drinks-by-Frank-Meier
http://www.ahistoryofdrinking.com/wordpress/2010/08/05/historical-cocktail-books-online/
books.google.com
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The book I finished today: Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice.

“She was probably male, to judge from the angular mazelike patterns quilting her shirt. I wasn't entirely certain. It wouldn't have mattered, if I had been in Radch space. Radchaai don't care much about gender, and the language they speak — my own first language — doesn't mark gender in any way. This language we were speaking now did, and I could make trouble for myself if I used the wrong forms. It didn't help that cues meant to distinguish gender changed from place to place, sometimes radically, and rarely made much sense to me.”

It's intelligent space opera that made the Tiptree Honor List and that's been nominated for a Nebula. What's not to like?
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Tolkien supposedly thought that "till Byrnane Wood do come to Dunsinane" was a cheat, and the battle of Isengard, where a forest really did walk, was in part a reaction against it. I've always liked the prophecies in Macbeth, though — especially "none of woman borne shall harm Macbeth", which sounds like a rhetorical intensifier instead of a loophole.
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The Keanu Reeves Citizen Kane remake sounds pretty good, and it sounds like you really do need  IMAX 3D for the full experience. As Charles Foster Kane says, "Don't believe everything you hear on the radio."
Movie critic Bob Mondello reviews a remake of a cinema classic about a boy who rises from poverty to head a media conglomerate — but who dies longing for the simple joys of his long-lost childhood.
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Urs is the Senior VP of the part of Google where I work. As you might imagine, this has been getting a lot of attention among my coworkers.
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Matt Austern

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Public service announcement for anyone who bikes around Palo Alto: the bike underpass under 101 just north of San Antonio (a.k.a. the Adobe Creek underpass, a.k.a. the Fabian underpass) is now open for the season.

I have yet to find a way to get a definitive answer to whether or not it's open, other than just going there in person and checking,
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Happy Passover to all who celebrate it! Here's everything you need to know about the Four Questions, sung to the tune of Clementine.
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The book I finished today: Diana Wynne Jones, House of Many Ways.

Jones doesn't really do sequels in the ordinary sense. This is sort of a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle in that it's in the same world and it takes place later and Sophie and Howl and Calcifer appear in it, but it isn't a continuation of their story. It has different main characters and they have their own story.
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The book I finished today: Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni.

Among all the immigrants in early 20th century New York, why shouldn't one of them have been a being from Jewish mythology and another a being from Arab mythology?

This is a first novel, and it's been getting a lot of attention. It's been nominated for a Nebula Award, and it's on the Tiptree Honor List. It deserves the attention. It's a big sprawling novel with a lot of characters and a number of different stories. It has interesting things to say about things like gender (the Golem is female; the Jinni is exaggeratedly male) and the immigrant experience, but it's the characters, including some of the minor characters, that are most memorable.
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The book I finished today: Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

What follows is based on actual occurrences. Although much has been changed for rhetorical purposes, it must be regarded in its essence as fact. However, it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It's not very factual on motorcycles either.

I think this is one of those books that everyone reads when they're around 20, but somehow I never got around to it until now. I hadn't really known what to expect. The subtitle is “An Inquiry into Values,” and it is: partly a road trip, partly an intellectual discourse, only to a limited extent a novel of character. I hadn't expected that it would have so much to do with issues of personal identity, or the double-timeline structure, and I certainly hadn't expected that it would have so much about philosophy — not meaning woo-woo, but fairly detailed exposition of the ideas of Kant and Hume and Aristotle and Plato. (And others.) It's about a person for whom those ideas are of central importance, and they form the central conflict of the book.

It's also an example of a problem with ebooks: you still can't take proper formatting for granted. In the forward to the 25th anniversary edition the author says that the ending of the book was widely misunderstood, and says that in this edition he uses a sans serif typeface in parts of the last chapter to make a crucial distinction of voice that clarifies what's happening. That's a decision he could make in the paper edition, but, alas, that typographical nicety is missing on the Kindle.
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What did you think of this book? I first read it many many years ago, and then when I revisited is recently found it to not be profound (to me at least) as I remembered. In fact I didn't even bother to finish it. I was left with the impression that the book either lapse the depth that it often imputed to it, or that I lacked the depth to sufficiently appreciate it.
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Have him in circles
1,027 people
Education
  • Taylor Allderdice
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Physics, Math
  • University of California, Berkeley
    Physics
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Matthew Austern
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Software engineer
Employment
  • Google
    Software engineer, 2005 - present
  • Apple Inc.
  • AT&T
  • Silicon Graphics, Inc.
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Palo Alto, CA
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Alameda, CA - Menlo Park, CA - Berkeley, CA - Cambridge, MA - Pittsburgh, PA