Food & drink

How People Will Inspire Curiosity About the Farmer's Market in the Year 3000 [Three Best Things 8/2/10 - 8/8/10]

Thing: Futurese: The American Language in 3000 AD by Justin B. Rye. TIME MACHINE PREP: unless you can tell what the word ZHÜBwatögh refers to, you’re going to need to click and read, overwhelmedly. Also, a tremendous quote:

When looking at a biological family tree (such as the evolutionary history of the horse), the general public insists on seeing any movement as intrinsically progressive, moving from primitive to advanced designs. Yet somehow when looking at the linguistic equivalent (such as the development of the Romance languages from Vulgar Latin) they see exactly the reverse - any change is proof that the language is in decline. In reality they’re just as wrong both times!

Thing: The Itch of Curiosity from Wired.

Thing: Creating Cultural Change by John Rauser. The keys to cultural change — whether that means getting people to brew another pot of coffee, dance en masse on the side of a hill, or buy more of a particular brand of cereal — include letting them in on the big joke:

It’s Not Really a Bonus If There’s Always a Bonus

A montage of the greatest Iron Chef America mystery ingredient reveals. Stick around for honeycombs wielded as weapons, the overwhelming glory of the farmer’s market, and Bruce Lee swish noises used to punctuate eyebrow gestures. I don’t understand any of this:

[via Ryan See]

Three Best Things 6/7/10 - 6/13/10

THING: Copyright: The Elephant in the Middle of the Glee Club from Balkinization. Glee might be the most unrealistic show on TV, now that [something something Lost joke]. How is a tiny extracurricular group able to pay $150k copyright fines for releasing videos of their performances? Let us discuss copyright.

THING: Mind Over Mass Media from the New York Times. You may have heard that Twitter is making you dumb. (Yes, you also probably heard the same thing about mime in 450 BCE, and look how smart that’s made you.) Well, Harvard psychology professor and best-selling pop science author Steven Pinker says Twitter isn’t bad for you, which sounds kind of like Harvard psychology professor and best-selling pop science author Steven Pinker says Twitter is good for you to me!

In fact, there isn’t anything — except for, like, helmetless motorcycling — that can make you dumber or smarter at anything else, so to speak:

Music doesn’t make you better at math, conjugating Latin doesn’t make you more logical, brain-training games don’t make you smarter. Accomplished people don’t bulk up their brains with intellectual calisthenics; they immerse themselves in their fields. Novelists read lots of novels, scientists read lots of science.

THING: Real Gardening vs. American Lawncare from Kitchen Stewardship.

Comment-Free Double Bonus Round

Being Wrong, Being Right, Being Informed, and Being Heard [Three Best Things 5/31/10 - 6/7/10]

As usual, three means more than three.

THING: Eat Your Words: Anthony Bourdain on Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz. Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (first four seasons currently streaming on Netflix), is notorious for challenging his own strong opinions. In this interview he discusses the value he’s gained from his willingness to be wrong, whether by traveling the world or preparing for fatherhood, and what doing it wrong can teach us:

There’s enormous respect and a romanticized reverence for what’s considered the “right” way—meaning, the classic way—and I think most chefs feel powerfully that one should know that before moving on. Like, “I’ve researched this, this is the way they were making it in 1700, goddamn it, and that’s the way it should be made.” Or: “This is the way they make laksa in Kuching and Borneo; that stuff I just had on Ninth Avenue is definitely not the same; ergo it’s wrong.” But, you know, what does “real” or “authentic” mean? The history of food is the history of migrating ingredients and occupation and foreign influences and accommodation.

Somebody who’d be very interesting to speak to on this is Grant Achatz [one of the pioneers of molecular gastronomy]. Here’s a guy who’s been trained in the classics, who knows the quote-unquote “right” away to do everything, but made a very deliberate decision to subvert it all. I think that’s admirable. We need people like that. We would never have had Jimi Hendrix if he’d stuck to the right way to play guitar.

THING: Wooden and Love by Joe Posnanski. John Wooden, the most successful coach in major American sports, died this week at 99. Though he once won 10 college hoops national titles in 12 years, he was even more beloved away from the game. Wooden famously wrote a love letter to his wife every month after she passed 15 years ago, his former players talk about him as if he’s their own grandfather (mixed with Moses or Ben Franklin), and his thoughts on life have become a rolling motivational quip factory over time. Posnanski looks through the lens of Wooden’s coaching style at the Pyramid of Success, a fifteen-block pile of Wooden aphorisms that appears to be a stack of pure cheese at first glance, and finds nothing short of a life plan.

THING: Clay Shirky: What I Read from the Atlantic Wire. Clay Shirky, described by WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson as “a prominent thinker on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies,” details his reading priorities as part of a great series on media consumption by people you’ve heard of.

THING: Great African Singularities by Appfrica. Appfrica, a Ugandan software company, shows how African presence, language accommodations, and representation are alarmingly absent from otherwise globally focused pages by tech giants like Yahoo!, Google, Apple, Facebook, and more. Blogger Jonathan Gosier sees one solution:

The business world (and in this case tech companies) needs to be constantly reminded that they need you with cold hard facts. There are no other arguments. Show them the numbers, the patents, the inventions, the talent, the enthusiasm, the courage…the success stories. Don’t open your mouth to tell anyone anything or ask them for anything ever again…show them.

QUICK QUICK BUSY BUSY Edition: Three Best Things 5/3/10 - 5/10/10

THING: Color Survey by XKCD. Men and women see color differently. Everyone accepts this. But according to science!, some things about the effects of gender on color perception aren’t quite what you’d think. And other things are exactly what you’d think. So.
THING: Why Is It Always Minority Players Suffering From Lack of Hustle? by Walkoff Walk. Certain sportswriter cliches — deceptively fast, great motor, reminds me of Wes Welker — have long been suspected of being applied much more frequently to white athletes. Well, somebody finally put it to the test. As Walkoff Walk proves, at least one descriptor, lack of hustle, is almost exclusively reserved for black players. I tried Googling up some football-related racial code language. The most common recipient of Wes Welkerousness as bestowed by pro writers? Looks like it’s Golden Tate, a black player. (If we’re counting message boards, then it’s Jordan Shipley, a white player who’s taller, skinnier, much less agile, and a little slower than Welker — plus they play in very different offenses. Nevermind all that; Jordan Shipley Wes Welker is a Google suggested search at this point. I just football-nerded all over the place, and I apologize.) For whatever reason football writers seem to be less influenced by race than baseball writers. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. Fans and TV announcers, on the other hand…
THING: Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day by the Seattle Times. Half the town of Seattle conspired with Make-A-Wish to give superpowers to a 13-year-old with life-threatening liver cancer. If you can make it through this article without misting up, your not-crying muscles have superpowers of their own.


This piece is entitled “Tea with Tyson,” as in Mike Tyson, and as in discussing tea with him. The following three minutes will rank among the best fifteen minutes of your day, unless if you’ve saved Seattle from Dr. Dark today:

Three Best Things: Ivory Tower Edition [2/15/10 - 2/21/10]

It was a knockout week for articles about people who are smarter than normal people.

  • There are over 300 million people in the US — only 32 of them are annually selected to be Rhodes scholars. There are almost seven billion people on earth — only 32 of them are annually selected in the NFL Draft’s first round. What are the odds that one person could score both? Hey, I only graduated from relatively lowly Kennesaw State University, and even I can calculate that it’s SLIGHTLY RARE. Future NFL star/current Rhodes scholar Myron Rolle makes you and me and everyone we know all feel like big, big losers. Can you imagine the pressures of being Myron Rolle? Article’s most underrated moment: when we learn that Rolle, quite possibly the most smartest American pro athlete ever, enjoys the music of Plies, who looks like this.
  • Rolle’s fellow people-who-are-smarter-than-you, Ivy Leaguers Jessica Lin, Jessica Matthews, Julia Silverman, and Hemali Thakkar, have created a soccer ball that generates energy by being kicked. Fifteen minutes of play generates enough power to run a light for three hours, meaning a whole day of running/kicking can help patch the electricity gaps third-world villages have to deal with.*
  • The Atlantic’s food columnist compares Walmart’s produce with Whole Foods’, hosting a blind taste-test for 16 professional food critics. THIRD-BULLET TWIST: several critics end up “not entirely happy” to discover the produce they preferred was actually THE POPULIST PRODUCE. This changes everything! Update the class war scoreboard: Little Guy 1, Rhodes Cornerback & The Soccer Teslas… still somewhat more than 1. Ok, fine.

Ebert: common ground.

Speaking of famous intellectuals with fun jobs and a lot of money and important friends: Roger Ebert, relentless tweeter and the only movie critic known of by regular humble folk, profiled after cancer surgeries have left him unable to speak, eat, or convincingly show anger. Also, check the second-disc commentary… it’s Ebert on the article on Ebert.

*: Source site turns out to be a nonprofit’s Drupal site. For more nonprofits that use Drupal, see our list here.