I believe I'm on the record regarding my prediction of our future as slaves of a hyper-intelligent class of robots , so, for me, even seemingly positive advances in robotic technology are a harbinger of our forthcoming doom, but I guess if you're interested in a machine bringing you the soda you asked for, enjoy it while it lasts.
Here's a cool video from the research team at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics department (the Search-based Planning Laboratory), in which a robot bartender (the PR2 dual-arm mobile robot) is demonstrated. After a human makes a drink and snack selection, the robot can determine the proper area of where the items are located, as well as how far its arm is so it can properly grab the snack and drink choice.
Since it's apparently it's "let's consider all the crazy bills" day at the Arizona Legislature today, a tip of the hat to Rep. Chad Campbell for this moment of levity added to SB 1083, which would create an "Arizona special missions unit."
There are plenty of political bodies and organizations that end up being punching bags around Tucson, but I don't think anything that absorbs the same amount of ire as the Tucson Unified School District, fairly and unfairly. However, TUSD is at least paying lip service to the idea of change, so like any good bureaucracy, at TUSD, that process needs to include a seemingly pointless community survey, complete with jargon-filled platitudes like "communication that produces a culture of mutual respect and trust that honors the professionalism and expertise of staff" and "clear and consistent communication with all stakeholders."
Have at it, stakeholders.
Despite the presence of the nationally-recognized University of Arizona men's basketball program, Tucson has by no means ever been considered a hotbed of local basketball talent. To this day only three players who attended high school in the region have gone on to play in the NBA.
That could soon be four, with the news Monday that former Santa Rita High School standout Terrell Stoglin has declared for the NBA draft.
But, there's a catch: Stoglin, who was the starting point guard for Maryland and led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 21.6 points per game this past season, announced his intention to forgo his final two years of eligibility one day after apparently being suspended by Maryland for one year for a "violation of the Maryland Student-Athlete Code of Conduct," according to the school.
Stoglin was one of two Maryland players given one-year suspensions; the other had previous announced his intention to transfer to a different college.
At Santa Rita Stoglin was a four-year starter, leading the Eagles to four consecutive state final appearances, including a win in the Class 4A-II championship game as a senior in 2010.
If he gets drafted and/or makes it onto an NBA roster he would join a slim list of locals that includes Sean Elliott (Cholla), Fat Lever (Pueblo) and fellow Santa Rita grad Dave Feitl, who played 275 games with Houston, Washington, Golden State and New Jersey from 1987-1992.
He'd also be only the 20th person to attend high school in Arizona to make the NBA, according to online hoops database Basketball Reference.
Well maybe "galore" is a bit of hyperbole, but we do have two local Iron Chef-ish tidbits to talk about today.
The first is the Local Foods Iron Chef event happening this Saturday, May 5. Feast your eyes on this description:
Six chef teams will prepare gourmet dishes featuring local ingredients from partnering local farms and markets — including a special secret ingredient that we’ve just revealed to teams the week before the event. The lucky tasters (you!) will sample each dish and vote on your favorite to crown the winner of 2012 Local Foods Iron Chef.
Each chef team will be tasked with a specific variety of cooking (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and meat-featuring) and we've encouraged them to make their delectables desirable to different palates — so there will be something for everyone!
Soak up a Tucson sunset while you listen to local band Hey Buckos and sample a selection of locally crafted beer, Arizona wine, and other drinks. In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, the food and live entertainment for this event will take on a Mexican flair.
The second thing you should know about is that Iron Chef Tucson has officially begun accepting applications for this year's event. So, if you think you can beat Ryan Clark of Lodge on the Desert - a young man who seems to whip ass on just about any competitor he comes across - go ahead and fill out the application here.
As we mentioned in last week's feature story about the race between Democrat Ron Barber and Republican Jesse Kelly to finish Gabrielle Giffords' term, we're likely to see a lot of national money pouring into the district.
The National Republican Campaign Committee rolled into town over the weekend with a TV ad that hits Democrat Ron Barber on a standard GOP talking point: Obamacare is bad. The NRCC started out with a $150,000 buy of ad time and doubled it to $300,000, according to press reports.
The National Democratic Campaign Committee responded with an ad hitting Kelly for saying that he'd "love to eliminate" Social Security and supports phasing out Medicare. The DCCC is spending $150,000 to air the ad, matching the original buy by the NRCC.
The NRCC ad makes two claim that have been declared "false" by Politifact.
The first is the question of whether Obamacare cuts Medicare by $500 billion. This is a frequent GOP attack line that Politifact has repeatedly rated as false:
Hotel Congress is throwing its annual Agave Fest this Friday, May 4, with more than 40 different liquors to sample, $2 street tacos and a performance by the Latin Funk Project. More on all that here.
This year's event will also include an Iron Chef-style bartending competition in which contestants can make any drink they want, except margaritas. There will be plenty of other innovative cocktails to sample as well.
While it's still going on somewhat under the radar, Tucson has a steadily growing cocktail scene that can be glimpsed at events such as this one. It wasn't more than four or five years ago that we had no modern cocktail to speak of and now we have our own chapter of the United States Bartending Guild - which is one of the sponsors of Agave Fest - and restaurants across the city that are steadily raising the ante drink-wise.
Tickets to Friday's event are $25.
Yes, Virginia...there is such a thing as certified taco judging.
I began my day at the Tucson Taco Festival as a judge for this premiere event. The event is part of the National Taco Association, of which I am now a certified judge.
There were 23 other judges, including food writers, Karyn Zoldan and Mary Paganelli and food radio host, Matt Russell. Dan Gibson from the Tucson Weekly was also a judge. We were all sequestered in a large tent. The sponsors kept us well hydrated with all the water and/or beer we wanted. We could hear the live music and just get a peek of the crowd. We weren’t allowed to alter the tacos in anyway, if they came with a side of salsa or lime we had to just let those items be.
Tacos were divided in four categories: chicken, pork, beef and seafood. Every hour, starting at noon, contestants brought their wares to the tent – we couldn’t see who they were – where the tacos were checked in and then distributed to us in a well-planned process. There were four tables with six judges each and in spite of the fact that not every judge got to taste every taco, we still each ate over 20 tacos each. We were not allowed to talk amongst ourselves while we sampled and scored the tacos on presentation, taste and texture on a scale of one to nine.
The variety of tacos was amazing. The seafood tacos, for the most part, really rocked. One ceviche taco was jammed packed with a mess of fish and was tangy and sweet with just a slightly crispy shell. Another one had a clever shell. It looked as though the chef – whoever that was – had cut the tortilla into a square and then deep-fried it.
There was an outstanding pork taco that won me over with the first bite. It had everything a good taco should have: creaminess, crunchiness, a bit of heat, perfect balance of seasonings, tender meat and lots of it. Oddly, in that same round there was my least favorite taco where the only flavor came from an odd tangy sauce. The meat had no flavor at all and the texture was just plain weird. One of the other tables had a chicken taco where the shell was a waffle!
In between rounds we wandered the grounds and made a couple of trips to the Tequila Expo. Of course, we sampled the various choices there – a there were plenty of them – but not so many as to impair our judgment or palates. We finished off with a mix of smaller categories such as salsa, guacamole, and anything goes. By that time we were taco weary, so the others were a nice way to end the contest.
I had a spectacular time. I ate good food with old friends and met some new, fun people. There were plenty of delicious potent potables. I loved every minute and can’t wait to do it again.
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