Gender (in)equality at Google

I love this statistic. When ordered by the Department of Labour in the US to produce wage figures…

In a final hearing last month, Google argued it was financially burdensome and logistically challenging to compile and hand over the salary records the DoL had requested, saying it would have to spend up to 500 hours and $100,000 to comply with the ongoing demands. The defense earned a strong rebuke from the DoL and others in the industry who noted Google has touted its $150m “diversity” efforts and has a nearly $28bn annual income as one of the world’s wealthiest companies, building some of the most advanced technology.

“Google would be able to absorb the cost as easy as a dry kitchen sponge could absorb a single drop of water,” DoL attorney Ian Eliasoph said in his closing arguments. Accused of underpaying women, Google says it’s too expensive to get wage data

I thought it was worth converting these figures into something more relatable to the average person. $100,000 to $28,000000000 is as 40 cents to $100000. So it was as if a person on a $100K income argued that it could not afford an expense of 40cents to comply with a request from the government.

I’ve been spending years telling people that they are creating a monster in their support of Google. There are many ways at the moment in which the monster is being revealed….

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Dining in Stockholm 2017

You may not be able to use cash in Stockholm any more (well, here and there still) but not much else has changed over the last three years. Cream and mayo, sweet and salty still prevail. I find that challenging. Easier to take is the price. It’s the usual story, you live in Geneva and everything else seems cheap and good….

Bar Central is Hungarian without creamed spinach. The ultimate statement about how impossible it is, still, to get green vegetables in Stockholm. As long as you can cope with that, I recommend it. Menu ranges from trad Schnitzel to interesting risotto. I didn’t really notice how salty it was at the time, but came home to find myself drinking water, which is a rare thing for me. SALTY! I gather there are a few Hungarian cafes around town, I may search for one which does spinach.

Aubergine does a mixture of local, Italian and French cuisine. I found the tomato base of the fish soup coarse. Fish needs something more subtle. Like so many restaurants in Stockholm it provides an excellent value lunch, when I went back I tried an acceptable lasagne – on the side was a mysterious salty cream thickness, no idea what it was, didn’t like it, left it alone. It was better than I expected when it turned up decorated with small tomato halves.

Speceriet is the neighbouring cheap and casual sibling of Gastrologik. It’s a good ad for the latter. Based on my experience today I’d be willing to trust them to serve me up great fare for the not-cheap experience. And maybe you get to sit at tables with chairs. Speceriet is high chair territory and that’s usually enough to put me off. But I had an idea that I would find a lighter touch than I’d so far been eating and my stomach really need that. So, I balanced on a chair at a high table and looked at their lunch menu for this week:

THE PACKAGE

Choose one of the lunch dishes, something sweet and coffee 195

VEGETARIAN

Carrots, honey, egg and kale 135 (take out 105)

“ALMOST VEGETARIAN”

Cabbage, celeriac, parsley and smoked pork 135 (take out 105)

FISH

Rose fish, tomato, fennel and potatoe 135 (take out 105)

DESSERT

Berries, cream cheese and short bread 65

I had the fish. ‘We don’t have any rose left, so it is another white fish’. I conveyed my indifference. I don’t know one fish from another. Suffice to say it was flakey, soft, really very nice. The tomato was a concentration, but refined, more as I had wanted in my fish soup at Aubergine. The fennel was delicate. The bread at meals in Stockholm is always good quality, but I’d say this was best, ditto for the accompanying butter.

We went back for dinner, small dishes meant to be shared. It was a good deal more expensive than lunch and I found it hard to come away with a definitive opinion as to whether it had all worked. I need to give it another chance, which will be on another trip.

Bobonne is an excellent restaurant which had me thinking, as usual, that by getting out of French areas, one can find acceptable French fare. The usual fabulous lunchtime value. Dinner time is more expensive, a small menu strongly oriented to meat and seafood. Unlike Speceriet, which has the sort of music people willing to sit on highchairs might take to, Bobonne is low key and as the place fills, the music is not turned up, so the endless cycle one suffers in Australia of music louder, people louder, doesn’t happen. Why do Australian restaurants find that hard? Friendly expert service – the second time I went there I was immediately given the table we asked to be moved to on our first visit. How nice to feel like a regular instantly! And the staff had that feeling that they were a big family, the open kitchen was a pleasure to view, unlike most which are loud, tense and frenetic.

Ciao Ciao Grande is a pasta/pizza establishment rumoured to be the place favoured by the Royals when they fancy a ham and pineapple. The service was impersonal and atmosphere, much as it is described as candle lit at night, was totally lacking, not least because food delivery people were rushing in and out. I read of an Adelaide restaurant recently pointedly stating that it did not consider it was appropriate to subject its eating guests to this and I’m going to start a list! If I go out for a meal, I don’t expect it to feel like I’m in the middle of a takeaway. Having said that, we both thought our pasta dishes were better than we expected, but I’m not sure if that’s because we were feeling like we’d made a terrible mistake as we were waiting for them.

We went to NK and I somehow expected the lovely places to eat that one finds in London at places like Harrods and F&M. But instead all the settings were cafeterias, lining up to buy prepared food which was not even an attractive price. I was surprised.

Saluhall is in a temporary structure at the moment whilst the historic building is being renovated. I suspect it’s a fair bit smaller, but has ample of everything to please the diner in or taker out as I discovered once or twice, though nothing stands out as deserving special mention.

Finally, we went to The Grand, which is the only posh hotel in Stockholm. The Verandah Restaurant fills up quite early with people doing the buffet dinner. I talked Manny into going really early so we could be out by the time that was happening. We got window seats with the iconic water views while we ate:

Grilled fillet of char with deep-fried scallop, broccoli purée, Lavaret roe, edamame beans, green peas, white wine sauce and green asparagus SEK 305

Salt cured salmon with dill-creamed potatoes SEK 230

Manny tried this for dessert: Chocolate cake with whisky purée, milk chocolate cream and cherry sorbet SEK 120, passing up on a concoction that included pickled cucumber:

Yoghurt variation with dill and white chocolate crème and pickled cucumber  SEK 110

If you want to stuff your face on a good quality buffet in nice surrounds, this is definitely the place to be. But I’m glad we went for something more refined than that. Fish with green vegetables done posh was a welcome treat for me after a week of meat and cream.

Conclusion: I don’t really understand the Swedish fixation with sweet, fatty/creamy and salty. Maybe it’s historic from when it was the only way to stay warm, but in modern days of overheated indoors, it seems odd to me. I also don’t understand why good quality greens are so rare. Is it lack of demand?

 

Parsley pesto

The simplest version, made for two.

  • olive oil
  • parsley including stalks – 1.5 bunches for two people – roughly chopped
  • maybe half a cup of pine nuts toasted
  • perhaps a cup of grated parmesan
  • one clove of garlic finely chopped

I layer these in a mixing cup: olive oil, parsley, a little of the garlic, some nuts, parsley, garlic, nuts, olive oil. Mash with a stick blender.

Add several dessert spoons of the pasta stock and then the cheese. Decide whether you’d like more liquid. I put in maybe half a dozen spoonfuls, but it will depend on your preferred consistency and how much olive oil you began with.

Put drained pasta in bowls, add a few spoonfuls of the pesto. Extra cheese and fresh pepper to be added as desired.

At the point of adding stock and parmesan, this simple combination is remarkably sweet. There are many things I might consider adding; for a start salted capers, anchovies, chillies, lemon are all on the table.

 

High rise box living in Australian cities

This is obviously the serious problem of cities across Australia at the moment. This, combined with the future problem that the aim is to create hugely increased populations which Australia cannot sustain.

The developing disaster is most obvious in Melbourne. But Adelaide, Perth, Sydney (Brisbane?) all follow. We are supposed to think it is inevitable. What a crock.

In particular the point must be made that Australia has decided to follow the Asian high rise pattern of most people living in small boxes in badly built ghetto highrises. An extraordinary decision, perhaps brought on by corrupt dealings between politicians and developers. There is presumably a big connection with inferior Chinese building products commonly used.

The obvious and preferable option would have been to follow European design principles of medium density mixed buildings, typically 5-7 floors high. Decent amounts of space and light are always part of the developments even those of more modern vintage which are frequently ugly from the outside.

How ironic that Adelaide is called the Urban Forest when it is stripping itself of those inconvenient assets as fast as possible both in order to assist in big business’ building objectives and also to cater to the ‘that tree might fall on me’/that tree is….brigade.

The good thing about Adelaide is that it is way behind the catastrophe as developing in Melbourne and maybe there is the possibility of doing something about it if we can find politicians who are independent of the business behind building development.

One point worth noting that in Europe nobody as a rule wants to live in the more modern medium density apartments either because of their ugliness and the fact that they tend to be in outerlying areas. They live there because they can’t afford to live in the older, gracious apartments in the older more central parts of the city.

Links.

By retrofitting our capital cities, we’re forcing residents to live with planning failures discussing some of the catastrophic decisions being made in our cities.

Backyard blitz having an adverse impact on our health, planning expert warns

To investigate planning policies that deliver positive social outcomes in
hyper-dense, high-rise residential environments. Report by Leanne Hodyl – 2014 Churchill Fellow Hodyl_L_2014_Social_outcomes_in_hyper-dense_high-rise_residential_environments_1

The Housing We’d Choose includes a downloadable report on what Australians want in housing, report is 2011.

Transport-Oriented Development – US site but the ideas have been brought to Australia.

Activity Corridor Intensification in Perth and the role of Design Based
Research A 2013 report on this development strategy in Perth.

Melbourne Activity Centres – trying to make suburban life attractive enough to stop pressure on the city centre. Looking at their timeline for Broadmeadows, one cannot help thinking of Elizabeth in Adelaide. Can governments create such things successfully?

City Futures Research Centre (UNSW) has a large list of resources including a literature review of a couple of hundred pages:

Healthy Built Environments LiteratureReview_FullDocument

chickpea and vegetable soup

Nothing special here, just what was in the cupboard.

  • onion, peeled and chopped
  • carrot, peeled and chopped
  • potato, peeled and chopped
  • garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ghee or oil for cooking (I used grapeseed oil this time)
  • tin of chickpeas, hulled
  • ground cumin, coriander and chilli
  • water or stock
  • plain yoghurt, lemon and freshly ground pepper at the table

Obviously you can vary this at will or convenience. I used two medium carrots, maybe half a kg of potatoes, one onion. The key question may be how sweet you want it – and what colour.

On medium heat sauté the onion until it is softening, add the other vegetables and fry stirring for maybe 5 minutes. Turn heat down and add the garlic – no burning the garlic – and the ground spices. When the spices are thoroughly mixed in, add the water or stock along with the chickpeas. It doesn’t take long to take the skins off, you can do it while the vegetables are frying. It makes a big difference to digestibility, which is a literal pain for some people.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes covered. After the mixture has cooled a little you can puree it. It won’t be best on day one.

Serve alone, with toast or maybe a Middle East bread and with the accompaniments listed in the ingredients.

The Adelaide Parklands’ future.

Written in reaction to this story in The Adelaide Review. A bit depressing that such news gets no reaction. My two cents’ worth. When the idea of the Parklands was conceived, the impact of cars/traffic was obviously not factored in. I want to compare Tiergarten in Berlin with the Parklands. The Parklands are bigger, but it is all shallow and surrounded by cars. There is no meaningful concept of being ‘In Nature’ when you are in the Parklands. Compared with this, Tiergarten is smaller, but it is less spread out and only divided by one (large) road. This means that you can be inside away from roads and traffic. You can really feel, as the original intention was, that you are In Nature. It is a highly successful way for urban folk to get the sensation, the peace, the ambience of it.

Further, Tiergarten is deliberately left mainly uncultivated rather than manicured, but it is lush. You can always sit on the ground, there is always shade nearby. The parklands suffer, as all common area does in Adelaide, as opposed to Melbourne from being dry, harsh and generally unshaded. (Do the toffs in North Adelaide have it better?). It can’t be used in the way that Tiergarten can be. Or, indeed, Melbourne parks such as Treasury Gardens.

It will be a great pity if the Adelaide Council or the SA Govt is allowed to give the parklands to cronies to build more cafes (because we don’t have enough of them) or to make them places for Events (yes, let’s have more noise and environmental degradation because? I’ve forgotten why) or to make them increasingly sports places combined with the accompanying car parks. What’s the problem. It’s a parkland right? So we’re parking on it.

But I would be strongly in favour of improving the usability of this natural asset by making it more accessible to the idea of urban residents being able to seek solace there. Not Coffee, not Events, not Sport. Solace. The expensive way is to put all the road surrounding parkland underground, which I guess isn’t going to happen. The cheap way which will only make things better, not best, is to slow down all surrounding vehicle traffic substantially. Uproar. Cars travelling more slowly than they might? Well. Yes. It can be done.

PS: I wonder if I’m the only one who feels unsafe walking through the parklands even in daylight? Didn’t feel safe when I was a teenager, don’t feel safe now. More could be done in this regard to facilitate use.