This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.
Gorgeous day for a Fair, no? Ah well. Hope you got out of the office for lunch; it’s a perfect summer day. Or at least we’d think so, if Labor Day came later. See why I want Labor Day to come in the middle of this month? C’mon, this is the second day I’ve mentioned this, and no one’s proposed a law yet. Makes one doubt the power of the internet.
AIIIIEEEEe I still think you could get sued for these commercials.
2 SIGNS YOU’RE READING A LISTICLE BuzzFeed had a story yesterday titled “23 Insane Things You Should Probably Know About Snack Foods." Doritos were found to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, and thus absolved of responsibility? Because that’s “insane” as the term is commonly understood. Well, let’s look: turns out that grocery stores have designed their layout in order to make you buy things. SERIOUSLY. It’s like they’re using Jedi mind-tricks to make you buy soda; it’s right there when you walk in. One year they put huge bottles of vinegar in the same spot, just for fun, and people bought it and drank it. We’re powerless!
But getting their goods inside our grocery carts is only half the battle. These companies want us to buy their stuff again and again.
Yes. Yes, I imagine they do. Just as websites want us to visit their site again and again.
Frito-Lay, for example, has a research team of nearly 500 scientists dedicated to fine-tuning their snacks for maximum deliciousness (and addictive power).
Not literally addictive. “Wanting more of something you find delicious” is not an addiction. No one gets the shakes and cold sweats if they don’t get a Triscuit in time before they come down.
Cadbury’s scientists tested 61 different formulas to come up with the perfectly addictive Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper.
Amusing they should mention that; I bought a 12-pack a few weeks ago, in the Diet variety. I bought it because I had a vague memory that I didn’t mind it, and daughter liked it, and it was on sale.. Hadn’t bought any for a year, perhaps. That’s a rather imperfect form of perfectly addicting. You never hear anyone say “I didn’t buy cigarettes this week because they weren’t half-off.”
Studies show that salt is addictive in some of the same ways as cigarettes or hard drugs, and food companies pack it into their products in astonishing amounts.
Studies from as far back as 1991 show that salt activates the same neurological pathways that narcotics do, triggering the brain’s ‘pleasure center.’
Ergo it’s the same as heroin. Other things that activate the brain’s “pleasure center” range from “sex” to “balancing your checkbook,” if you’re anal-retentive.
And then there’s a lot about sugar, which can be avoided. Want to know how? Read the label. Eat less. There.
Next up, fat:
Fat’s allure is a little bit more complicated than salt or sugar. There are no taste buds on the tongue that specifically respond to it, but nonetheless it has been shown to trigger similar reactions to cocaine.
The fact that junk food could provoke this response isn't entirely surprising, says Dr. Gene-Jack Wang, M.D., the chair of the medical department at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, New York.
"We make our food very similar to cocaine now," he says.
So the next version of “Breaking Bad” will have a guy making Fritos in his garage. Also:
Wang also cautions that applying the results of animal studies to humans can be tricky. For instance, he says, in studies of weight-loss drugs, rats have lost as much as 30 percent of their weight, but humans on the same drug have lost less than 5 percent of their weight. "You can't mimic completely human behavior, but [animal studies] can give you a clue about what can happen in humans," Wang says.
Although he acknowledges that his research may not directly translate to humans, Kenny says the findings shed light on the brain mechanisms that drive overeating and could even lead to new treatments for obesity.
Here’s the thing: I have two bowls of ice cream a week. Friday and Saturday night. I probably have ten potato chips every other day. About the only sugar I get comes from Raisin Bran in the morning. I look forward to my nightly bowl of greens more than anything, because I add some cheese and pepper. I have one can of diet soda after lunch. I could have more of all of these things, but choose not to. Don’t know much about cocaine addiction, but the phrase “nah, I’m good” probably doesn’t come up much in the course of a binge.
The biggest food company in the country, Kraft, was controlled by the biggest tobacco company, Altria (formerly Philip Morris) until 2007.
You can draw the delightful parallels yourself!
And if you’re as intellectually lazy as the author of the post, it’ll be easy. By “lazy” I mean Buzzfeed-strength lazy: stringing together words extracted from more substantial posts and putting a number and the word INSANE in the title. As well as “you.” But this is a site that also has 18 undeniable ways to know you’re becoming a grown up,” and you’re pretty sure the author is able to drink, marry, own property, and become a member of the Armed Forces, but is part of the demographic that believes “becoming” a “grown-up” isn’t about assuming new interests and responsibilities, but outgrowing juvenile concerns.
The tags on the piece: twenties, getting older, grown-ups, life, thirties, thirtysomething, twentysomething.
Thirtysomething. Sign #15: "Your experience shopping at Urban Outfitters has totally changed. You used to come here, like, once a week."
Things learned so far at the Fair today:
The Fresh French Fry booth (by MPR, not the Midway) has Fresh French Fry Fairies who preside over a spinning wheel that dispenses prizes. When not spinning, they dance to “Ice Ice Baby.”
The Spin-A-Painting guy has a new booth; more on that to come. He seems proud of it, as he should be. I’d lament the loss of a piece of the bygone Fair; the old spin-art booth seemed right out of 1967, but the new one keeps the homey spirt. Doesn’t look like some fancy expensive place with a backlit plastic sign.
There are no moist towelettes at the Strib booth, alas. It’s one of those days where you get sticky quickly; towelettes would be nice. Someone would do grand business opening up a misting station. Even more business if it misted beer.
Had a brat for lunch, because I had to compare it to the taste of the Brat Balm., $5.50. For a brat. I paid $3.99 for five at the store the other day. New motto: Fair Quality, Airport Prices!
More later; we’re just getting started.
But we do have burgers - Fargo style! Bizjournals says we’re going to get a NoDak burger chain:
JL Beers, a Fargo, N.D.-based restaurant that's expanded to several locations throughout the Dakotas, will open Twin Cities locations as part of a new franchising deal.
I’ve been there. Long narrow joint with 3,264,829 beers. Give or take. Hence the name, I guess; it’s not JLBurgers, so adjust your expectations accordingly. The burgers were pretty good, though; one of those places that offers innumerable customization options.
But why don’t we have an In-and-Out Burger? Good question.(TM)The 'CCO article notes that we don’t have a Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme, and that’s true. But we did. Right? I didn’t hallucinate that half-decade Krispy Kreme incursion, did I? And I know there was a Dunkin’ Donuts at 70th and Penn before it became a bagel shop. This was before Dunkin’ became famous for its coffee, as opposed to its confectionary pastries, and I'm still trying to figure out how that happened.
Somehow, someone discovered that this particular institutional roast, mass-produced on an unimaginably fast scale, is superior to the boutique coffee offered by an upscale chain so conscious of its image it sells CDs that seek to align the independent, thoughtful, tasteful sounds of certain artists with your conception of the company and its products. As opposed to just giving you a cup of joe.
Most coffee-shop coffee strikes me as burnt and winey. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is for people who want just coffee, okay, hot and fresh and good, and they don’t want anyone to think they went to McDonald’s.
As for Dunkin’ Donuts in this market, I have a suspicion (journo-speak for “too lazy to even Google it") that they bought Mister Donut, converted them to DDs, and left us bereft. So I remember, anyway.
Okay, I'll google it. Jeez.
Well, I’m right. DD bought Mr. D and converted the North American stores. The brand remains popular in Japan, which has ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED stores. Sorry to shout, but that means there will be peculiar commercials. Let’s see what they have.
Hold on, you say: aren’t Japanese brands required to have cute mascots with simplistic facial features? Coming right up:
PARODY The Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator:
Don’t know if that’s a generator in the true sense of randomizing things for infinite combos, but you’ll probably tire of it before it repeats itself. Via this New Yorker article on the decline of book-cover art. The author has a good point, and the rise of self-publishing means it’s only going to get worse. It also means it’s less relevant, since the titles are just thumbnails on an e-reader. On the other hand, the author says:
Getting to design your own book cover is the sort of ultimately maddening power that probably shouldn’t be entrusted to vain mortals. It’s a little like getting to choose your own face. What kind of face would best express your inner self? Maybe more important, what kind of face will make other people like or respect or want to sleep with you? Do these two hypothetical faces bear any resemblance to each other? Can you imagine a face that would combine their best features?
There’s often an embarrassing disconnect between how people try to present themselves and how they’re actually perceived, which is why they ask their friends to tell them honestly how they look in something—and why publishing houses hire professional designers for books’ covers and allow their authors very little say over them.
William Shawn’s ghost just put his hand over his eyes and shook his head from side to side, almost imperceptibly.
ARCHITORTURE i09 says:
The Brutalist architectural style was popular in the mid-twentieth century. Any time you see a giant, cement building with a thick, angular silhouette — you can thank Brutalism.
Almost right. It was popular with no one but a few architects and taste-deprived clients who forced the monstrosities on everyone else, and you don’t thank Brutalism, you blame it.
That said, they have pictures of Brutalist buildings that might be good settings for sci-fi dystopias. Some aren’t Brutalist, but just . . . bad. I don’t even have to read the comments to know there’s some people who say “actually I think these are cool” complete with Confession Bear.
No one's submitted our own Brutalist building . . . yet.
This is the day we dread: too much summer. When we dream of summer in the middle of winter, it’s the warm dry days with a slight breeze. Lakeside perfection. We know we’ll get 90s & humidity, but hey, it’s part of the deal. Then it comes and we start to think: it would be nice if it was cooler. Just a bit. Makes you think of fall as just a short crawl from the oven to the fridge.
Here’s what’s not happening on the web today. If it’s happening, you know about it; why bother you with the obvious?
Los Angeles-based artist John Knuth has created a series of paintings with the help of over 250,000 common houseflies.
Trapped inside canvas-walled enclosures, the flies were fed a mixture of sugar, water, and colored pigment.
The paintings were created as the result of the flies regurgitating the mixture a “million times” over the course of six weeks.
According to the video description, Knuth is “drawn to the tensions between the controlled environment of his studio and the inherently non-social insects’ unpredictable mark-making; a process that he feels mirrors contemporary society”.
Pictures of the tension-drawing and society-mirroring here.
EDITOR’S NOTE WATCH The Washington Post has a shocking story on a shocking video about shocking behavior:
The video is only 78 seconds long, barely enough to establish the nationalities of the two young club-goers in the frame and the third holding the camera. But what it shows is so disturbing, so charged with deeply sensitive issues of gender and race, that in the week since it was posted to Facebook it has generated a growing debate on the Korean Web and even coverage in the South Korean press.
The video shows two Western guys humiliating a Korean woman. Sounds bad. The still frame in the piece looks bad. Second-to-the-last comment on the page says it’s from a movie. Korean Herald says:
Two men, however, separately contacted The Korea Herald claiming that the video was edited and was in fact part of a series of short horror films shot in 2011. One of the men said that the video had been shot to show the “horror” of how society treats people with physical deformities. In the controversial video, the men are also shown ridiculing the young woman over the condition of her teeth.
One of the alleged actors, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, provided a screenshot from a Facebook conversation showing the alleged director admitting that the video was staged. The apparent director of the video studied film at a university in Seoul, according to his Facebook account and a university webpage from 2004.
A comment at 9:14:
This is a video made in Bedlam bar in Itaewon in January 2011. All the people were paid actors / actresses. The director is Korean and wanted to get famous for doing some edgy viral videos. This is one of them. He tried to release this over 2 years ago and nothing happened all the websites took it down for its graphic content. I know all this because I am one of the men in this video. I do not condone the actions that I did. But this was a paid acting job no one was hurt. The actress was wearing fake gums to make her teeth look bad and everyone left the shoot smiling and shaking hands.
And still people comment away afterwards, deploring it. Wonder how long before the piece is amended? Let’s check back tomorrow.
FOLLOW-UP The iPhone Electrocution story is in its second and final day. Quartz says it reminds people - meaning, writers looking to invest the story with more meaning than it actually has - that there was the incident of the Exploding iPhone. It’s recounted here by Storm Williams, a UK “technology enthusiast” who presumably has experience with the English language he is holding in reserve for some reason:
According to a new report from Tech Sina, Wang Kai, young professionals, has reported that his iPhone 4 exploded.
The most likely caused for this explosion is probably due to poor storage of the device. Wang Kai told reporter that he sleeps with his iPhone under his pillow. According to the report, smartphone users should:
Do not look at the video when charging
Please do not put the pillow at night.
During the Summer is best not to charge in enclosed places.
Well, that’s news you can use. Charge your phone outdoor. And please, please! do not put the pillow.
PORTABLE MEATS I have been a guinea pig for several months, it seems. This article discusses REV, a new Hormel product that wraps various varieties of meat and cheese inside bread-like substances. They are marketed towards the AXE crowd, obviously, being RADICAL in their appearance - to use a word so old it dates me and makes me unfit to comment further, really - but the company says they’re popular with everyone. The article states that they’ve been available locally since May, but will be going wide soon.
May? I’ve seen them for a lot longer than that. I swear I’ve seen them at Target for a year, since I considered buying one as a plane snack, only to think “nah,” because it didn’t look particularly satisfying. So it’s possible that the Target where I shop contains all sorts of secret products that aren’t available elsewhere, and they’re performing highly-targeted marketing experiments based on the choice demographics of the area.
OUCH X2 Today’s dashcam video reminds you how to be safe on a scooter in city traffic. It’s simple. Don’t ride one. Make kids who want a scooter see this, just so they know the drill.
Yikes. But here’s the thing about the world to come: when everyone has cameras going all the time, you’ll expect to see uploaded video from the scooter-driver’s helmet-cam as well. To say nothing of the perspective from the car that rolls into the frame on the left side.
Speaking of which:
The days of single-perspective crash videos will seem like early Edison Kinetoscopes.
I’m king of the world! Admire me! Throw laurels at me! Bedeck my heck with garlands! Name your kids after me! Place Zod behind me in the list of people to whom you should kneel! I won! I won! I - hey, who’s that?
GUESS THE SUBJECT The Cheesegrater, the Walkie-Talkie, the Can of Ham, and of course the Gherkin. The last one might give it away. Hint: half of them were probably demolished by Khan.
HUMAN INTERACTION IMPROVED Yes, thanks to this new type of drinking glass, people may make eye contact once again. More likely they will spill beer everywhere. Or ask for wine. It’s a nice reminder, though: unless you are expecting a text whose importance reaches the level of “your transplant organ is now available, but the dry ice keeping it cold is beginning to deteriorate” then you don’t need to check your phone every minute.
THAT’LL LEARN HIM He’ll learn that authority is capricious as it is witless, I mean. That’s the lesson he’ll take away, if he remembers anything at all. Probably not. From the WaPo:
Calvert County school officials on Friday denied a request to clear the school record of a 5-year-old boy who was suspended for bringing a cowboy-style cap gun onto a school bus last month.
The kindergartner, who tucked the orange-tipped toy gun inside his backpack so that he could show it to a friend, was suspended May 29 for 10 days. After a disciplinary conference that scaled back his punishment to three days, he returned to Dowell Elementary School in Lusby.
First of all, I’ll have to make a note to drop by the sporting goods store and get me one of those Cowboy-Style guns. Just walk in and ask for something Cowboy-Style and they’ll wave you over to special case and if you’re lucky the clerk will use a Slim Pickins voice during the transaction and call you Podner.
Second, the orange tip means it’s fake. Third, wouldn’t you want the school’s policy on contacting parents not to consist entirely of “oh, eventually”?
The incident highlighted concerns about the length of time in which parents are notified of school offenses. The mother said she was called more than two hours after the bus ride. The boy was questioned without a parent and uncharacteristically wet himself, she said.
School officials said that the incident was handled appropriately and that the child was questioned for five to seven minutes. Calvert officials did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Of course they didn’t! They rarely do. Schools always clam up when someone calls from the media to ask about some example of cranial calcification like this
On the other hand: here’s a school responding to a parent’s complaint with proper alacrity. Read “The photo that broke a mother’s heart,” and see if it doesn’t do the same for you.
HEY YOU Today’s gratuitous use of the internet headline cliche:
BARATUNDE THURSTON LEFT THE INTERNET FOR 25 DAYS, AND YOU SHOULD TOO.
The article is by Baratunde Thurston, who wants you to read his piece. On the Internet. Well, let’s see what he’s peddling.
I’m an author, consultant, speechifier, and cross-platform opiner on the digital life. My friends say I’m the most connected man in the world. And in 2012, I lived like a man running for president of the United States, planet Earth, and the Internet all at once.
Never heard of him. But he had a hectic year and tweeted a lot and took a lot of pictures and sent a lot of messages, so:
I considered fleeing to a remote island for a few weeks, but I realized I wasn’t craving physical escape. I didn’t actually want to be alone. I just wanted to be mentally free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves in some digital fashion. I decided to stay still, find an Airbnb residence right in Brooklyn (technically homeless, remember?), and step back from digital interaction.Yes, me. The recipient of the 2011 Shorty Award for Foursquare Mayor of the Year would not check in. At least for a few weeks.
I KNOW! THE 2011 SHORTY AWARD WINNER! It’s amazing you guys but maybe if he can leave the internet for 25 days, you can too. If you want to. Totally your call. Anyway, here’s an interesting definition of “leaving the internet:
I didn’t want to completely abandon the Internet. I love, depend on, and frankly am made a better human being by the convenience of streaming movies, online food ordering, and Google Maps. I did not want to sever ties with friends; in fact, one of my goals was to strengthen relationships with pre-Facebook pals. I wanted to go to lunch, attend holiday parties, and host people for dinner. So I decided I could use my phone for personal calls and texts, and could schedule these encounters with Google Calendar.
Detox AND you can still drink? Awesome! I recommend the article for three reasons:
1. The picture of the author looking into the future while holding a quill pen
2. A logistical account of the process of leaving the internet, which makes the Normandy Invasion look like jumping over a puddle
3. The flowersthat infest the browser window until the piece is unreadable.
Any more of this and the internet won’t be something you leave as much as something that just drives you away.
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