Raw power: Britain’s changing appetite for veg

Who would have thought that cauliflower – which was traditionally served under what chef Jean Conil described in his 1953 book Haute Cuisine as “a merciful disguise of sauce” – might one day be so celebrated it would be served proudly whole and slow-roasted, like a prime cut of beef? For a while it felt as if the vegetables that inspired love in Britain were Mediterranean ones such as red peppers that were roasted and safely removed from anything we had grown up with. But there is a renewed appetite for locally grown root veg too. From 2016 to 2017, sales of beetroot in the UK grew by £34 million, an increase of 6% year on year. Still more startling is the rise in people who centre their entire diet on vegetables, gathering under the hashtag #plantbased. The number of self-declared British vegans has risen by more than 360% since 2006.

Great. Vegetables are increasingly the star of the show. But a diet rich in fresh produce is still out of reach for far too many:

At the vegetable summit, Kerridge said her teenage daughter often begged her for pre-packed spiralised courgettes in the supermarket because she had seen it idolised on social media. The problem is that Kerridge can’t afford to buy it.

Granted, it’s much more affordable to buy courgettes and spiralise them yourself. (If you must.) But the broader point is painfully clear—vegetables are cool again, yet large swathes of the population are missing out.

(Aside: I learned recently the that author of this piece, Bee Wilson, is the sister of classicist Emily Wilson, whose translation of the Odyssey is currently on my bedside table.)

Source: Raw power: Britain’s changing appetite for veg | Life and style | The Guardian

Why is New Zealand sparing crayfish but torturing rabbits?

Nikki Mandow:

Lobsters have a total of 100,000 neurons. In the overall scheme of things, this isn’t many. It’s less than half those of an ant and a tenth of those of a cockroach.

By contrast, a rabbit has nearly 500 million neurons. (Humans, in case you are interested, have around 86 billion.)

So it seems inconsistent at the very least that it is illegal in New Zealand to cause a couple of minutes of bubbling suffering to an animal with almost no feeling, on the basis that they nevertheless do have a functioning nervous system. Yet it is fine to cause up to four days of suffering to an animal with a sophisticated nervous system.

This seems an appropriate place to drop in a link to DFW’s Consider the Lobster (pdf).

 

JG Ballard predicting the rise of social media

All this, of course, will be mere electronic wallpaper, the background to the main programme in which each of us will be both star and supporting player. Every one of our actions during the day, across the entire spectrum of domestic life, will be instantly recorded on video-tape. In the evening we will sit back to scan the rushes, selected by a computer trained to pick out only our best profiles, our wittiest dialogue, our most affecting expressions filmed through the kindest filters, and then stitch these together into a heightened re-enactment of the day. Regardless of our place in the family pecking order, each of us within the privacy of our own rooms will be the star in a continually unfolding domestic saga, with parents, husbands, wives and children demoted to an appropriate supporting role.

—JG Ballard in 1977

Kurt Vonnegut’s extra seasons

One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize
that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn’t feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on. Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. That is when nature shuts everything down. November and December aren’t winter. They’re Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold! What comes next? Not spring. ‘Unlocking’ comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They are Unlocking.

Fact checking tools in the browser

Mike Caulfield has some ideas about how the humble browser could be used to combat mis- and disinformation. For example:

Site info: Browsers expose some site info, but it’s ridiculously limited. Here’s some site info that you could easily provide users: date domain first purchased, first crawl of URL by Google or archive.org, related Wikipedia article on organization (and please financially support Wikipedia if doing this), any IFCN or press certification. Journal impact factor. Date last updated. Even better: provide some subset of this info when hovering over links.

Likely original reporting source: For a news story that is being re-re-re-reported by a thousand clickbait artists, use network and content analysis to find what the likely original reporting source is and suggest people take a look at that.

Other suggestions: in-built reverse image lookups, OCR of image memes, related sites.

 

Apple is going against Facebook as a proxy for Google

Astute observations from Mills Baker:

The theme of the criticisms Apple has made against Facebook are true of Google too: data collection; advertising model; “you are the product, not the customer”; etc. Rhetorically savaging your opponent is generally a “bad look” in marketing for all kinds of reasons —it substantiates them; it looks desperate and angry and gross; etc.— but savaging Facebook at a time when everyone is doing so lets Tim Cook attack Google implicitly. Whenever he says “companies that sell your data violate your human right to privacy,” the press covers it as him knocking Facebook; readers and the public, however, may recall it when thinking about Google and Android.

Source: Answer to ‘Why are Apple and Facebook feuding in early 2018?’ – Quora

A new generation of food magazines thinks small, and in ink

Despite some off-putting names — like Toothache or Mold — many of these publications are beautiful and inviting, with ink-saturated pages filled with original art, and nuanced, complex stories you want to spend time digesting. Their cover prices are fittingly high, with many around $20, and a few don’t even bother to post their content online, focusing entirely on print.

Staffs tend to be tiny (often just one or two people), as do circulations (150 to 15,000). But what these titles lack in size or legacy, they make up for in originality and ambition, often zooming in on stories that have been overlooked or misrepresented in traditional magazines, and publishing them on their own terms.

Source: A New Generation of Food Magazines Thinks Small, and in Ink – The New York Times

I’ve bought and read a few of these—Mold, The Gourmand and Put a Egg on It spring immediately to mind, delivered as part of my Stack subscription—and they are things to treasure. Worth seeking out if you are in any way interested in food and culture.

Janus words are their own opposites

Frequently described as “words that are their own opposites,” Janus words are also known as contronyms, antagonyms, or auto-antonyms. These are words that have developed contradictory meanings. Cleave is often cited as the go-to contronym: it can refer to splitting something apart and uniting two things. But it’s not the only one out there, and there is usually some sort of logic behind most auto-antonyms.

Source: Contronyms, Janus Words, and Auto-Antonyms | Merriam-Webster

As well as cleave: clip, fast, oversight, sanction. All have contradictory meanings which arise from a word’s original specific definition becoming much broader. Or, somewhat appropriately, the opposite.

Writing as collage

You might think of my novel as a short book composed entirely of a long book’s quotable passages. Where stolen words are concealed within the body of the narrative. Writers are magpies. The prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood. A man will turn over a library to make one book. Skim off the cream of other men’s wits, pick the choice flowers of their tilled gardens. Reassembling fragments of pre-existing images in such a way as to form a new image. Art is theft: the singularity of thievery.

Source: Notes on Craft | Jeremy Gavron | Granta

Jeremy Gavron’s novel, Felix Culpa, is a detective story composed mostly of fragments taken from one hundred other works of literature. This is a type of remix or collage that I’ve not encountered before; a sort of intentional, full-throttle plagiarism of words in order to create something new.