July 14th, 2017

Eating from the Earth: Hank Shaw's Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog


"Grain, or more accurately dependence on grain, is what separated farmers from foragers, Jacob from Esau. Grains underpin civilization: portable, easily renewable, nutritionally dense foods that can be grown in surplus and stored — or kept from those the holder deems unworthy...So how did grain fall from sacred to commonplace? To become something tossed about without thought, wasted, even scorned?" Hank Shaw, proprietor of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, considers the miracle of seeds from grasses in "A Grain of Wheat."

Shaw's blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, is a treasure trove for readers wondering what to do with their freshly-killed wild game (on hanging pheasants; beer can pheasant), freshly-caught fish and seafood (classic fish and chips), or freshly-foraged finds (wild greens).

His writing on what it takes to get from a grain to a loaf of bread is one of a number of essays on topics such as:

* Enough: Thrift, Equilibrium and a Full Freezer
* Mortality: A Garden(er's) Middle Age
* Work: The Hands of a Gatherer
* The Hunter's Paradox: Loving What You Kill

Shaw's writing is thoughtful and instructive, and his site—named Best Food Blog by the James Beard Foundation in 2013—is worth exploring, whether you're interested in learning more about charcuterie, or just reading a few fish stories. (Hank Shaw, previously and previously.)

nobody knew sustainability could be so complicated


The world's most ubiquitous vegetable oil and growing in popularity as a biofuel, palm oil's impacts</a> have been dire and dramatic. Habitat devastation, child labor violations, displacement of indigenous peoples and climate change acceleration is worsening as palm oil production spreads from Southeast Asia to South America and West Africa. The award-winning film Frontera Invisible (2016) documents the human cost of the rush by big landowners' to convert acreage to palm oil to produce 'green' fuel for the European market. The 2016 Oxfam report Feeding Climate Change on food commodities found that palm oil industry has the fourth highest greenhouse gas emissions footprint; in late 2015, the forest fires in Southeast Asia, many set to clear rainforests and peatland for palm plantation, had daily emissions higher than the daily emission output of the U.S.

Activist pressure on the supply chains producers and buyers has had some results. In April of this year, the European Parliament passed a resolution aiming to limit the import of palm oil that has caused deforestation. In June, Unilever suspended sourcing from an Indonesian-based palm oil supplier due to proof of the company's continued policy of deforestation and peatland clearance. WWF's Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard and Rainforest Action Network's Snack Food 20 Scorecard seek to hold global firms accountable through consumer pressure -- PepsiCo is singled out in Rainforest Action Network's latest report. A coalition of environmental groups are following the money "to highlight the role that finance plays in enabling tropical deforestation." For example, New Zealand's largest government investment funds have more than $20 million invested in foreign palm oil companies. Engage the Chain provides an investor guide to environmental and social challenges associated with eight major food commodities. Individual consumer action at the point of purchase is insufficient, "solutions lie in shaping the context within which individuals make their choices."

Winter will not be coming


The 69th EMMY Awards nominations are out.

We have most of them covered on FanFare.
*not on FanFare
Better Call Saul
House of Cards
Stranger Things
The Crown
The Handmaid's Tale
This Is Us

Master Of None
*Modern Family
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Big Little Lies
FEUD: Bette And Joan
The Night Of

Martha Stewart & Snoop Dogg as Hosts - *Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party - clips only.
Gordon Ramsay as Host - *MasterChef Junior - clips only.
Alec Baldwin as Host - Match Game
Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn as Host & Co-Host - Project Runway
RuPaul Charles as Host - RuPaul's Drag Race
W. Kamau Bell as Host - *United Shades Of America With W. Kamau Bell - not having any luck with an internationally accessible link for this.

*Brown Girls
*Fear The Walking Dead: Passage
*Hack Into Broad City - not having any luck with an internationally accessible link for this.
*Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training - MetaFilter post
*Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot

Clean water --> plankton --> menhaden --> URBAN WHALE RENAISSANCE


"Last November, a humpback whale swam up the Hudson River. The animal was spotted slapping its fin near the Upper West Side and then splashing below the Statue of Liberty's effervescent mint skirt. [An expert] assured reporters that it was likely not lost but hungry." Cleaner water in the Hudson has cleared the way for whales to return to New York City for the first time in 100 years, in such numbers that you can take urban whale-watching cruises. And citizen scientists are on the case (and on the boats)!

Why are we so Unwilling to take Sylvia Plath at her word?


I want to point out the cultural bias against women's voices and the domestic truths of women's lives and the deep role this has played in painting Plath as both a pathetic victim and a Cassandra-like, genius freak. It is only in a culture where these two things be claimed simultaneously that Hughes, a known philanderer and violent partner, can spend forty years botching the editing of, or outright destroying, his estranged, now dead wife's work, then win every conceivable literary prize and be knighted by the Queen. It is only in this culture that Plath can tell of his abuse, in print, for the better part of the same 40 years, only to have the same reports in a handful of letters recognized as "shocking."

Man gets stuck inside ATM room rescued by note


Officer Olden says," he leaves his phone in his truck, he's installing a new lock on the door, and he gets locked inside the building where the ATM is."

Since the ATM still works, people were stopping by to get cash, and the contractor decided to slip out notes through the receipt slot stating,"Please Help. I'm stuck in here, and I don't have my phone. Please call my boss."

"Countless unfair deaths, mostly caused by a horribly haphazard jump."


Crash Bandicoot: An Oral History [Polygon] "Naughty Dog released Crash Bandicoot [YouTube] for Sony's original PlayStation in September 1996. In it, the team took an old idea and changed its point of view, redesigning the idea of a 2D sidescroller and planting the camera behind its protagonist's back for the majority of the game. To learn more about what happened along the way, we recently spoke to the entire development team, contractors, musicians, marketers and others, hearing a story of long nights, groundbreaking technology, unbearable crunches and expensive parties. However, not every story lines up the same way, with some feeling that Naughty Dog discredited their contributions by burying who actually created the flagship character. One thing rings true throughout: The tales culminate in the creation of a game that redefined the platformer genre and laid some of the early cornerstones for making Naughty Dog the juggernaut development studio it is today."

• Crash Bandicoot is gaming's ultimate nostalgia act, and that's okay [AV Club]
"We so often get hung up on assigning importance to innovation and influence that we forget that cultural context is just as, if not more, relevant to a work's legacy. From reading all the jubilant appraisals of the N. Sane Trilogy and talking to our own William Hughes, the closest thing to a Crash fan on our staff, one of the big reasons these games are so fondly remembered is that they filled a huge Mario/Sonic-shaped void in the lives of young PlayStation owners. The console's early years were flooded with iconic games, but Crash was the first real kid-friendly mascot it ever had. His games were more goofy and vibrant than any of his polygonal contemporaries, and when you throw in the fact that they were difficult and secret-filled enough to require tons of replaying, you get a series that resonated with a lot of people at a very specific time and asked them to invest so much of themselves in it."
• The (re)making of 'Crash Bandicoot' [Endgadget]
"In trying to understand what Naughty Dog was going for, and how it achieved so much with so little back in 1996, the team found itself constantly referencing a wealth of original concept art, audio files, level geometry and the legacy games themselves. With two decades' worth of advancements at its disposal, a simple touch-up didn't excite the team. "We felt the standard remaster approach, of moving geometry over and raising the resolution of textures, would not be the right course for such an iconic character," said Dustin King, the game's lead artist. "We're fans. We've spent a significant amount of time -- the previous six months before joining the Crash project -- working on the franchise, working on what makes Crash Crash," said lead level designer Leo Zuniga. "When we joined [this] team, we had plenty of lessons learned but were still thinking, 'How are we going to emulate [the originals] and do Naughty Dog justice?'""
• Crash Bandicoot: The Game That Loves to Rub Your Face in Failure [Kotaku]
"Punishing stages that stretch on and on, grinding down your enthusiasm with cheesy padding and crummy tricks. Terribly explained one-off mechanics that briefly surface, bemuse, infuriate, then slink back underground just as your blood is reaching boiling point. (I'm looking at you and your frustratingly random blackouts, Light Outs level). It's not that Crash is always necessarily super difficult — the first set of stages on N. Sanity Island serve up a fairly gentle introduction to the pit-jumping, crate-smashing action. The problem is, even when you're succeeding, there's a sense the game forever wants to take you down a peg or two. Example? Every level ends with a completion screen that literally brings Crash to his knees unless you break 100% of the crates lying around a stage. Considering how taxing the core meat-and-potatoes platforming is, you'll often miss a bunch of hard-to-reach crates in favour of pushing onto the next checkpoint. In most levels, I was lucky if I even smashed half of these apple-filled boxes — cue a 10 second stage-closing segment where Crash is pelted with every single crate he missed. Joy."
• Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review [Slant Magazine]
"What, then, does Crash Bandicoot have to offer audiences in 2017, on a platform that currently plays host to no shortage of creative miracles as far as platformers go? Yes, the video-game compilation Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy does breathe new visual life into Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and Warped. The slipshod, ancient polygons of these games have been given a top-to-bottom overhaul for the 21st century. Jungles are lush, vibrant places, and the textures and movements of every enemy live and breathe with realistic textures, while maintaining their trademark cartoonish animations. Water is crystal clear and inviting. But the gameplay throughout remains nothing short of bafflingly difficult. That fact is in sharp contrast with the actual mechanics of these games. The playing field is a limited-view corridor, with no way to get lost, and the controls are one small step above those of Super Mario Bros.: one button to jump, another to do a spin attack against enemies, and, starting with the second game, a third that let's you slide and crawl. A younger player wouldn't be wrong comparing Crash Bandicoot to Temple Run."

I mean every word.


"The bombing of the little girls in Alabama and the murder of Medgar Evers were like the final pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that made no sense until you had fitted the whole thing together. I suddenly realized what it was to be Black in America in 1963, but it wasn't an intellectual connection...it came as a rush of fury, hatred and determination." Nina Simone's husband and manager, intervened. "You can't kill anyone. You are a musician. Do what you do." An hour later, Nina Simone had composed a song called Mississippi Goddam.

SoundCloud's in trouble


SoundCloud lays off 40% of its staff, only has enough money to make it to the next quarter. The audio streaming service, while popular with amateur and semi-professional musicians and podcasters, has struggled to find a viable business model that would make it competitive with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. If it shuts down, it would mean the loss of a huge repository of music not found elsewhere. Perhaps Chance the Rapper (one of the many rappers who have achieved fame via SoundCloud) will save it?

Coal Miners Are 0.019% Of All Workers


"The working class that actually exists bears little resemblance to the fantasies of the affluent, highly educated hacks who are paid to vomit their thoughts into newspaper columns. The new American working class is far more likely to be bussing tables at Applebee's than wolfing down reheated appetizers until their Dockers rip. But many columnists put outsize focus on the most traditionally masculine blue-collar professions, many of which make up a negligible percentage of the total workforce." Stop Patronizing The Working Class, Alex Nichols for eThe Outline.

Tanks For The Memory


The Tank Museum at Bovington Camp in Dorset, England, is the largest collection of tanks in the world. They have the only running Tiger I in the world (which had a starring role in Fury), and the world's oldest surviving tank, the First World War Mark I. They The have an annual TankFest where they show off their tanks operating outdoors. Their YouTube channel is full of fun: Top Five Tanks with Lindybeige, Top Five Tanks with Stuntman Jim Dowdall, and David Fletcher's Tank Chats.

Parliamentary fights!


Taiwan's feisty parliament, the Legislative Yuan, descended into fistfights, water balloon launches, and chair throwing again this week over a massive infrastructure spending plan. Members of the opposition Kuomintang clad in blue swarmed the podium. against the green-wearing Democratic Progressive Party, the latest in decades of dust-ups between the two camps.

After the end of one-party rule, Taiwanese politics was locked in struggle between, simplified, the largely pro-indepedence DPP and the pro-reunification KMT., with fights most often started by the opposition party when other avenues have been exhausted. Fights have broke out over a fourth nuclear power plant, trade deals with mainland China, featuring slapping speakers, eating legislation, and food fights. The Legislative Yuan was awarded an Ig Nobel "demonstrating that politicians gain more by punching, kicking and gouging each other than by waging war against other nations."

Elsewhere around the world, South Koreans have barricaded doors to prevent quorums and launched tear gas (previously) into the chamber. Fights have also happened in Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, and Russia.

Other nations have also had legislative violence, which was more common in America's younger days. In 1856, South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks savagely beat Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane. One Alabama state representative punched another. More recently, scuffles broke out at the Texas state house when one legislator called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protesters.

Earthquake Safety Bed: The Bed That Eats!


Do you live in a high seismic activity area? Are you not in any way claustrophobic? Then the Dahir Insaat Earthquake Safety Bed is for you! It's just one of the many innovations from Dahir Insaat, including quadcopters for destroying entire air forces, drive through grocery stores, and whatever this is.

Note: The even more bizarre movie referenced in the title is Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Jupiter's Great Red Spot


The Great. Red. Spot. "On July 11, 2017, at 00:55 UTC, the armored tank of a space probe Juno reached perijove, the closest point in its orbit over the mighty planet Jupiter. Screaming above the cloud tops at over 200,000 kilometers per hour — fast enough to cross the continental Unites States in a minute and a half — it took eleven minutes and 33 seconds to reach the Great Red Spot. Looking down from its height of a mere 9000 km above the clouds, what it saw was ... glorious."

More on Jupiter from Phil Plait: We knew Jupiter was weird. Now we're finding out HOW weird.

How old is Jupiter?

The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's.


Humans are so disappointing lately. Here are some stories of remarkable dogs:

Bonus: Cassie is such a good singer [not kidding].