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RARRRRRRRR!!!! Rarr rarrrr rarrr meow rarr?
RARRRRR!!! Rarr. Rarrr rarr J-List rarrrr.

2008sep01. Police raids in Minneapolis. Overwhelming force against GOP convention protest planners (convention starts tomorrow). Purely an intimidation/intel gathering exercise. But the system still works, because these people will get their day in court! [raspberry noises]

2008sep05. Amy Goodman’s account of her arrest at the RNC. When asked how the press was supposed to function, the police chief of St. Paul said “by embedding reporters in our mobile field force.” That sort of talk sounds familiar. Oh yeah, war zones circa the Gulf I. You will come with us and we will show you what we want you to see otherwise you will be beaten by us and we will show you the bottom of our boots. The police are learning how to ramp up the fascism – who tells them, or does it just grow organically like children’s schoolyard rhymes? Well, as long as I gots my SUV-flavored latte, everything is smooth.

2008sep07. Excerpts from Twinkies Deconstructed (2007) by Steve Ettlinger.

Papetti’s breaks 7 million eggs a day at its New Jersey plant, located in an industrial park near Newark Airport. The mere idea of breaking, let alone handling, that many eggs, even over a lifetime, is hard for a mere mortal to conceive. But here at Papetti’s, big tractor-trailers arrive hourly and tank trucks depart almost as often, each loaded with 6,000 gallons of fresh, whole, liquid eggs. [pg 105]

On one machine, the egg is immediately seized on each oval end by two small suction cups. The supporting cup falls away, and the fun begins. Picture one egg among many suspended on a whizzing carousel, and follow the process as you walk around the wheel: a knife shoots up to give the egg a surgical whack, slicing cleanly through the shell. It then falls back into position, ready for the next hit a second later. Suction cups pull the shell halves back and up at a slight angle, perfectly mimicking the gesture countless cooks make in their kitchen as they crack eggs one by one. The yolk and white drop down into a set of corresponding cups. As the yolk plops down into a small, appropriately sized upper cup, the white falls down around it into a funnel cup, just underneath. Gentle blasts of air coax the last of the egg out of its shell, and the yolk cups are bounced a bit to shake the white completely out -- again, much like you do at home. [pg 111]

Gums may come from trees (locust bean, tree seeds from the sap in the Sahel region of Africa), seaweed (agar, carrageenan, aka Irish moss, and alginates, mostly from the Philippines), pealike plant seeds (guar gum, from India, Pakistan, and the southwestern United States), and bacterial fermentation (xanthan gum, fermented in good old Midwestern corn syrup). Travel to see gum and you’ll see the world. Even Osama bin Laden once owned part of an acacia gum firm in Sudan, but was forced to sell out when Sudan booted him in 1996. [pg 123]

Dairy-based food coating or glaze (like that used on candy) is another promising possible future use – as an alternative to the currently popular shellac (yes, shellac) product. [pg 128]

For starters, prehistoric people were known to leach water through the ashes of burned plant stalks to botain their primitive detergent for clothes washing, and the ancient Egyptians made glass ornaments with soda ash recovered from dried desert lakes. [pg 163]

Several of the [professional flavorists] I spoke with willingly tasted Twinkies, often for the first time since they were kids, and though they usually scoffed at their own diminished desire for such sweet things, they were impressed with Twinkies’ successful blend of flavors. [pg 200]

Incidentally, according to Hostess, vanilla wasn’t even the principal flavor of the original 1930 Twinkies filling – for the first ten years, banana was. But World War II created such an extreme shortage of bananas that the song “Yes, We Have No Bananas” soared to the top of the charts, and Hostess switched to the more widely available vanilla flavoring. [pg 201]

According to legend, Benjamin Franklin is responsible for the success of plaster of Paris as a soil amendment in the United States (it promotes aeration in clay soils). He was our first ambassador to France, and so admired its use while he was there that he brought some back here in 1785. An energetic promoter, he worked it into the soil on a prominent hillside in the form of letters reading, THIS HAS BEEN PLASTERED. When the clover growing over the enriched soil grew dramatically denser than the analphabetic clover around it, he had successfully introduced gypsum as “land plaster” to American farmers. (The strange thing is that ancient Greeks gardened with it, too, so it is not clear why Franklin’s coaxing seemed new to the Americans.) Imported from Paris at first, gypsum’s popularity was assured when deposits were found in abundance around the United States. [pg 223]

Sometimes we expect strong color where natural color is actually weak, which may explain why Ocean Spray includes Red No. 40 in its Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice. At Sensient, color scientists repeatedly state that we taste with our eyes before we taste with our mouths. In Australia, an ice cream company found that it sold three times as much passion fruit ice cream tinted with the pink of the fruit than a plain white version of the exact same ice cream (taste was not affected). [pg 248]

The best thing about natural colors is that they are presumed safe, seeing as they occur naturally in food and plants. On the other hand, natural colors are not necessarily as intense or as easy to incorporate into a recipe, as they are three to five times more expensive than petroleum-derived colors (all that food handling costs something), and, more concerning, they might add some unintended flavor to the recipe. Regardless of the hue, artificial colors do not add flavor – a big advantage. ¶ Still, colors derived from natural sources are often made at the same plants as purely chemical ones, and because they have been processed (or synthesized, in the case of beta-carotene), they are simply no longer considered natural. A label describing these colors can say, “color added,” “artificial color added,” or actually name the color, but it can’t say “natural color.” The FDA still classifies them as artificial unless they are coloring the very food they come from, e.g. strawberry juice added to strawberry ice cream. [pg 254]

2008sep10. Oxydonor.

2008sep14. DFW RIP. Host (The Atlantic, April 2005).

2008sep15. Greenspan: This is the worst economy I’ve ever seen. Wow. If only we knew who was minding the Fed back during the creation of the housing bubble. That’s the asshole you want to kick in the face, Greenie. Find him. [Mr. Greenspan will be signing copies of his new autobiography, “(if) I Did It” at the Moline Borders this Tuesday from 11am-11:00:07am]

2008sep17. DFW: The cruise ship essay.

2008sep18. YESH!! EFF VS. NSA

2008sep19. The Half-Trillion House of Cards. Well, that’s wonderful. Print more money. Corporations get to fail, we get to eat it, hard. If you are wondering why a can of pineapples cost a dollar last year and two dollars this year, you’ll really be scratching your head when it’s five, six bucks. Get a larder going, that’s the bare freaking minimum you could do right now. Go on, go out there and buy more non-instantly perishable food than you usually do. Stock up. Food prices ain’t going down. A larder has no downside, save the loss of space. Storm’s coming, don’t get caught with your pants down.

2008sep21.

twink twink
little star
haw I wandr
wuch you
are up
uv buv
the wry
so hiy
like a dimin
in the shy
tinkl tinkl
little star
haw i wondr
wach you
are

2008sep24. Excerpts from Cradle to Cradle (2007) by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

We were asked to focus on creating an aesthetically unique fabric that was also environmentally intelligent. [ ... ] The team decided to design a fabric that would be safe enough to eat; it would not harm people who breathed it in, and it would not harm natural systems after its disposal. In fact, as a biological nutrient, it would nourish nature. The fabric went into production. The factory director later told us that when regulators came on their rounds and tested the effluent (the water coming out of the factory) they thought their instruments were broken. They could not identify any pollutants, not even elements they knew were in the water when it came into the factory. [ ... ] When a factory’s effluent is cleaner than its influent, it might well prefer to use its effluent as influent. [pg 107]

Henry Ford practiced an early form of upcycling when he had Model A trucks shipped in crates that became the vehicle’s floorboards when it reached its destination. [pg 110]

In a startling use of solar power, hundreds of one [ant] colony’s workers may cluster on the forest floor to soak up sunlight before carrying its warmth in their very bodies back down to the nest. [pg 121]

Wind towers have been used for thousands of years in hot climates to capture airflows and draw them through dwellings. In Pakistan, chimneys topped with “wind scoops” literally scoop wind and channel it down the chimney, where there might be a small pool of water for cooling the wind as it moves downward and into the house. Iranian wind towers consist of a ventilated structure that constantly drips water; air comes in, flows down the chimney with its dripping sides, and enters the house, cooled. At Fatepur Sikri in India, porous sandstone screens, sometimes intricately carved, were saturated with water to cool air passing through. In the Loess Plains of China, people dig their homes in the ground to secure shelter from wind and sun. ¶ But with modern industrialization and its products, such as large sheets of window glass, and the widespread adoption of fossil fuels for cheap and easy heating and cooling, such local ingenuity has faded from industrialized areas, and even in rural regions it is in decline. Oddly enough, professional architects seem to get by without understanding the basic principles that inspired ancient building and architecture orientations. When Bill gives a talk to architects, he asks who knows how to find true south – not magnetic or “map” south but true solar south – and gets few or no hands (and, stranger still, no requests to learn how). [pg 130]

As we have pointed out, soap as it is currently manufactured is designed to work the same way in every imaginable location and ecosystem. Faced with the questionable effects of such a design, eco-efficiency advocates might tell a manufacturer to “be less bad” by shipping concentrates instead of liquid soap, or by reducing or recycling packaging. But why try to optimize the wrong system? Why this packaging in the first place? Why these ingredients? Why a liquid? Why one-size-fits-all? [pg 142; this subject was already covered in the ground-breaking 1985 environmental documentary filum, The Sure Thing].

2008sep27. Excerpts from The Fruit Hunters (2008) by Adam Leith Gollner.

As with most expeditions, fund-raising was a problem at first. When we finally explained that our intent was to only hunt the largest species of fruit and return several samples to our benefactors, the money came easily. The money men thought they were dealing with your ordinary, run-of-the-mill fruit hunters. No. No my friend. We were the fruit hunter’s fruit-hunters. I wanted to call the book that but they wouldn’t let me. [pg 23]

The semi-ferocious rat-tailed papaya has a particular habit of nesting near slow-moving, narrow rivers. Some say the noise of a nicely-paced source of water soothes the fruit, makes it more docile. Whatever the case, it made for easy pickings. We bagged seven that evening, and a great feast was prepared. [pg 34]

What is the cry of the mango? What about it moves man? It is probably because it sounds very much like Slim Whitman. [pg 56]

Even while dealing with the mosquito-infested swamps we constantly had to slog through, the porters maintained good marching order and helped keep morale high. There was even a song one of them sang about us, it went something like “the fruit hunters, oh the fruit hunters, hunting ... hunting ... ” and there was something about a pear frothing at the mouth after that and us ambushing it. It was a really good song. [pg 73]

“HELP ME JAKE! IT’S GOT ME BLOODY LEG!!!” No one moved an inch. Not Norcrombe, not the porters, and certainly not I. When an orange that size is devouring someone, there’s nothing that can be done ... you just pray it doesn’t turn on you. I can still hear the flesh being ripped from the bone at night. I mean, when it’s night for me. It didn’t happen at night. The ripping. [pg 103]


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