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Lileks @ Lunch

James Lileks writes about everything - except sports and gardening


It seems that everything that can be faked has been faked.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut say they're getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, making them the latest big food companies scrambling to distance themselves from ingredients people might find unappetizing. Instead of "black pepper flavor," for instance, Taco Bell will start using actual black pepper in its seasoned beef, says Liz Matthews, the chain's chief food innovation officer.

Why would anyone invent black pepper flavor, when there’s black pepper? Probably because it doesn’t go stale, but when you use as much of the stuff as Taco Bell presumably uses, that’s not a problem. Perhaps it’s cheaper. Just makes you wonder what the main ingredient in Black Pepper Flavor really is. Whether it’s a chemical made in huge vats and sprayed on minced chuck bound for Taco Bell.

By the way, happy bulk consumer demographic, your masters have your welfare in mind:

Brian Niccol, the chain's CEO, said price increases are based on a variety of factors, and that the company would work to keep its menu affordable.
"I do not want to lose any element of being accessible to the masses," Niccol said.

The Massies! You’d think they’d use the term only in private, when testing contemptuous things like, oh, black pepper flavor.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It’s a beautiful thing, Winston, the destruction of language.

. . .We are still without a simple ‘wing’ emoji. We will now have newly minted ‘owl’ ‘eagle’ and ‘duck’, in addition to the ‘pigeon’ () and five different kinds of chicken ( ), but most of those are just heads without wings. If you want to express ‘flying’ or ‘soaring’ or ‘feeling light’ or ‘winged’ you have very few options. If you’ve ever tried to communicate exclusively in emoji, you know the language desperately needs more ways to express action.

While that’s true, the solution would seem to be communicating in ways that do not rely entirely on tiny pictures. The list of new emoji is here, and the proposals include the Shrug:

Loses something in the translation.

VotD Wassa matter you? Hey! Gotta no respect. What-a you t'ink you do? Ay, slappa you face. 

Remember, when slapping an employee awake, set up the camera first. 

How to be mad at buildings

What’s your reaction to this building?

If it’s mild interest, as in “where is it going and how much does it cost?” then you would seem to be normal and well-adjusted. If you think “this might be a missed opportunity; what else was proposed?” then you might be an architect. If it makes you angry, then you might be an internet comment writer.

Yes, angry. I’ve lost the link and it probably doesn’t matter, but you can imagine the response: give it up downtown is crime-wriddin who wants to live in these boxes wake up sheeple It’s just bizarre. The downtown housing boom will peak, but that has nothing to do with some grand conspiracy to make people live downtown against their will. Everyone gets in on the act, supply exceeds demand,

Then there are people who angry with a building for different reasons: the latest attempt to build something in Linden Hills got a thumbs-down from the neighbors. You’d think the developer was putting in a 30-story concrete block. Pity the people who do move into the building, if it’s constructed; cold shoulders from everyone. Oh you moved into THAT THING? Pardon me if I don’t drop over with a hot dish any time soon. Interloper. Anyway, here’s the design:

You can see exactly what the building is trying to do. It’s made with neighborhood hate in mind. “I’m four stories, yes, I admit it, but don’t I sorta look like there’s just two? C’mon! I’m doing my best!”

In related news: before ISIL blows up Palmyra, here’s why the site is so important.

As long as we’re going back in time: MPR has a nice round-up of late-Depression shots of Minneapolis, including some great shots of the Gateway.

It was low-rent bumtown by the end of the 30s, and staggered on like that for another decade and a half before it was razed. No one thought to save it. If the urban planners of that era had their way in Palmyra, it would have been demolished long ago for featureless blocks of housing.