|September 7, 2008
An article in the Economist that has me thinking about
|August 2, 2008
Found this photo and caption on a
random website - posted anonymously.
Stopping to think about it, it's just astonishing.
Kowloon Walled City. Before it was demolished in 1993, this area of Hong
Kong was the densest urban slum in the world. Nearly 50,000 people lived on
6.5 acres. More than 7,000 people per acre.The buildings grew so tall that
sunlight couldn't reach the bottom levels and most residents never saw
daylight. It was a place where brothels, casinos, opium dens, cocaine
parlors, food courts serving dog meat and secret factories ran unmolested by
|November 21, 2007
An addictive little world quiz...
|July 9, 2007
"They felt so entitled," he recalls, "and it just hit me. We can blame
Fred Rogers was evil incarnate. According to the theory, no... make that the
spoutings off of a finance professor named
Don Chance, at Louisiana State University, it suddenly occured to him one
day that the self centered-ness of the current college generation was
symptomatic of the attitude instilled in them by growing up with Mr.
Rogers' Neighborhood, the amazingly long lived - 33 years of sheer
boredom - show that told kids they were special just the way they were.
Thankfully, I guess, I grew up on Bob Keeshan of Captain Kangaroo,
who for 29 years of silly stories, hijinks, and cartoons, just simply
entertained us. One can't quite count Romper Room, as I was initially
tempted to do, only to find out that not only over its 41 years did it have
three different hostesses, Miss Nancy, Miss Sally, and, good golly, Miss Molly, but that
was only on the national version - local stations were free to franchise the
show and refilm their own versions with their own hostesses as long as they
stuck to a reasonably similar format, which several did - including New York
This, by the way, is not to say there's not some food for thought in the
idea that kids today do seem to be
a little bit too me-centric
- but perhaps it's a phenomenon more serious than making flippant
remarks on camera?
|April 9, 2007
|March 19,. 2007
Some collected backlash against "molecular gastronomy". It's fun and easy
to, well, make fun of it. Though, I admit, I'm trying to explore some of
it's principles and techniques...
"Two nights later, I went to the new restaurant down from them and chased
bits of bloody caribou in blueberry cocoa sauce around a platter. And foam.
The foam trend began with carrots at El Bulli in Spain. I had tomato foam in
Paris two years ago, after a four-kilometre hike on a hot day, and I
remember it with a shudder. How expensively unsatisfying is foam. Now foam
is foaming. Some things shouldn't be foamed — mustard, beetroot, leotards,
kraft paper envelopes. I've had it with foam. Cease this." - Heather
Mallick, March 2, 2007, Rabble News
"Eye Weekly’s own Alan A. Vernon has a theory as to why the city’s fine
restaurants just can’t seem to get their molecules oscillating. “It’s too
intimidating to Toronto foodies,” Vernon says. “Very few people are daring
to base a menu around molecular gastronomy, and the ones that do end up
dumbing it down, because if the less sophisticated come in and think they’re
being served a science project, they aren’t coming back. So it’s a business
The only aspect of this futuristic fare that seems to have had any
popularity in the city is food foam — molecular gastronomy’s most infamous
creation. Adria is rumoured to have discovered this light as air “food,”
which requires a thickening ingredient such as gelatin or xanthan gum, a
flavoured liquid and a whipped-cream dispenser or high-tech foamer powered
by nitrous oxide canisters, almost by accident. Depending who you talk to,
his discovery was either an act of divine intervention or the work of the
devil himself." - Meghan Eves, March 15, 2007, Eye Weekly
"We need more of Cooking 101 before going into molecular gastronomy. So
many people are going into it without knowing how to actually cook, so it
may look good, but it's not tasty." – Morou Ouattara, chef-owner, Farrah
Olivia in Alexandria, VA
"We need less... molecular gastronomy in the hands of amateurs who don't
know how to use it.." – Robert Gadsby, chef, Noé in LA and Houston, among
“Historically, when women move into men’s work it loses value,” she said.
“Maybe we’ll see the pay drop, and the science suddenly getting called
‘soft.’ I’ll say this: If you see me doing foams at Prune, you’ll know the
whole thing has gone down the tube.” - Gabrielle Hamilton, owner/chef, Prune
"The guiding principle is to create dishes based on the molecular
compatibilities of foods. For instance, unripe mango and pine share a
molecular structure, so they might be tasty if combined. That's the theory,
anyway. Molecular gastronomists combine white chocolate and oysters for the
same reason. Geek gourmet began with experiments by professional chefs at
high-end restaurants like El Bulli in Spain and the Fat Duck in England,
where steam baths, centrifuges and microscopes share counter space with more
traditional cooking tools." - Xeni Jardin, National Public Radio
“The ideal customer doesn’t come to El Bulli to eat,” Adrià has declared,
“but to have an experience,” inadvertently revealing not just the purpose of
the operation, but also that there is an ideal customer, which may very well
not be you, who merely wanted to eat. The fact that eating is rather low
down the priority list of molecular cooking is evidenced not just by the
proliferation of foams and froths, crumbs and powders, but by the global
obsession with serving a multiplicity of tiny courses, for which the
inaccurate analogy is usually Spanish tapas." - Stuart Walton, The World of
Fine Wine Magazine
|March 3, 2007
I haven't been generally posting things here because most of the oddities
have gone to my blog since I started it; but, this one fits the page so
well... My friend Cecilia sent this to me after she spotted it out front of
a restaurant in La Boca:
If I choose the wrong three, do I fail? At least it wasn't accompanied by
a "cheese bored"...
|July 25, 2006
I generally stay out of the world of politics in terms of commentary. It's
just easier. Even people I agree with want to argue the fine points. But
this cartoon was too good to pass up, no idea where it originated, so all
kudos to whomever drew it:
recent interview, General Norman Schwartzkopf was asked if he
thought there was room for forgiveness toward Hezbollah.
The General said, "I believe that forgiving Hezbollah is God's
function. The Israeli's job is to arrange the meeting ."
|June 20, 2006
Beer and Pizza Cure Cancer
6/12/2006, 3:18 p.m. PT
The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — For many men, a finding by Oregon researchers sounds
too good to be true: an ingredient in beer seems to help prevent prostate
cancer, at least in lab experiments. The trouble is you'd theoretically
have to drink about 17 beers a day for any potential benefit. And no one's
Researchers at Oregon State University say that the compound xanthohumol,
found in hops, inhibits a protein in the cells along the surface of the
prostate gland. The protein acts like a switch that turns on a variety
cancers, including prostate cancer.
Dr. Richard N. Atkins, CEO of the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, said
the experiments are encouraging and "perhaps men could take it in pill
He noted an ingredient in tomatoes, lycopene, has previously been linked
to prostate cancer prevention.
"It's every man's dream to hear that beer and pizza can prevent cancer,"
he said. "However, the 17 beers and four large pizzas needed to get enough
xanthohumol and lycopene to help prevent prostate cancer is unfortunately
Atkins noted that drinking 17 beers a day can lead to alcoholism and
cirrhosis of the liver, and overdoing it on pizza can lead to obesity and
other health problems.
Strange, this "new discovery" published just a few days ago.
Especially when one looks at things like this report from more than ten
years ago (excerpted, there was a lot of scientific "stuff" in the report):
Scientists Recommend 120 Gallons of Beer Per Day
By Adam Marcus
FRIDAY, Aug. 18 -- It's news that would make Homer Simpson say "No Duh!":
The chief ingredient in beer apparently helps guard against heart
problems, cancer and even Alzheimer's disease. But there's a catch. (Of
The molecule is so rare that a person would have to drink about 120
gallons of beer -- or roughly 1,300 12-ounce bottles -- every day to reap
the benefits. The problem, Buhler says, is that xanthohumol is such a
small component of hops that it doesn't make sense to rely on beer to get
it. It would be better, he says, to increase the xanthohumol content of
hops, presumably through selective breeding or genetic engineering, or to
make a nonalcoholic brew that's rich in the compound.
But the best method in Buhler's mind would be to synthesize the molecule
into a pill. "And if you want to drink a little beer with it, that's
fine," he says.
Interesting, that idea to increase the amount of xanthohumol in
beer... a few years later, in 2002...
Cancer-fighting beer developed in Germany
VIENNA (Reuters Health) - It sounds too good to be true, but German
scientists say they have developed a beer that could help fight cancer.
The brew contains high levels of a potent antioxidant called xanthohumol,
which is found in hops and has been shown in previous laboratory studies
to stem the growth of tumour cells.
The compound is found in very low concentrations in normal beer, so the
German Cancer Research Institute in Heidelberg asked researchers at the
Technical University of Munich to see if they could enrich the compound.
Using a method they are keeping secret, the scientists brewed beer with 10
times the normal content of xanthohumol, but a calorie and alcohol content
similar to that of standard beer, the university said in a statement on
And by 2005, it had popped up again in an ABC News report:
Beer May Fight Disease
It turns out that beer hops contain a unique micronutrient
that inhibits cancer-causing enzymes. Hops are plants used in beer to give
it aroma, flavor and bitterness.
The compound, xanthohumol, was first isolated by researchers with Oregon
State University 10 years ago. Initial testing was promising, and now an
increasing number of laboratories across the world have begun studying the
compound, said Fred Stevens, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry
at Oregon State's College of Pharmacy.
Earlier this year, a German research journal even devoted an entire issue
to xanthohumol, he said.
What Stevens and others are discovering is that xanthohumol has several
unique effects. Along with inhibiting tumor growth and other enzymes that
activate cancer cells, it also helps the body make unhealthy compounds
more water-soluble, so they can be excreted.
Most beers made today are low on hops, however, and so don't contain much
xanthohumol. But beers known for being "hoppy" — usually porter, stout and
ale types — have much higher levels of the compound. Oregon's microbrews
ranked particularly high, Stevens said, which is not surprising: U.S. hops
are grown almost entirely in the Northwest.
Still, no one knows how much beer is needed to reap the benefits.
Really? So the scientists who published the amounts of beer necessary
to reap the benefits, the ones who discovered the compound, don't know what
they're talking about? Most fascinating for me is the progression from 120
gallons of beer a day down to 17 beers (plus four pizzas) per day. I predict
it will not be long until some brewery offers up health claims of a slice
and an ale for all that ails us. The headline I wrote above will most
certainly show up in a tabloid one of these days. Hmm... pizza and beer. I
can live with that.
|February 12, 2006
Bush To Discuss Health Care During
Visit To Wendy's
- AP Wire -
Does this really need a comment?
Okay, from the Wendy's International website:
We care deeply about the quality of our food. Since Dave
Thomas opened the first Wendy's® restaurant
in 1969, we've served great-tasting, freshly prepared food, just
the way you want it.
You manage your daily intake of food according to what's important
to you. Experts agree that it is important to maintain balance.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages regular physical
activity; eating a variety of grains and plenty of fruits and
vegetables; and choosing foods sensibly for good health.
Wendy's, in collaboration with the American Dietetic Association,
has created a guide, "Eating Better Together", to help you and
your family make menu choices for a healthier lifestyle. You'll
find tips about exercise and calorie intake, the importance of
dairy and calcium and how to choose a healthy meal while dining
At Wendy's, you can choose from a wide variety of great-tasting,
satisfying meal options regardless of how you want to eat. Perhaps
you want to look and feel fit. Or you have dietary restrictions
for medical reasons. Or you're controlling your weight.
In this section of wendys.com®, we show you how Wendy's can help
address some of your specific dietary concerns. Armed with the
right information, you can choose meals that taste great, but also
meet your personal goals.
Possibly eating somewhere that doesn't serve fast food? Not that I
don't like, and when I was back in the States, occasionally ate at, Wendy's,
but I went in kind of figuring that a double burger with mayo, extra large
fries, and a frosty, weren't exactly high on the health food list...
|January 24, 2006
University of Florida has opened its benefits plan to domestic partners, gay
or straight. The application for benefits requires that the two people swear
to the following:
1.We are each other’s sole Domestic Partner and intend to remain so
2.We reside together in the same principal residence and intend to
reside together indefinitely;
3.We are emotionally committed to one another, share joint
responsibilities for our common welfare, and are jointly responsible for
each other’s financial obligations as demonstrated by the presentation of
two of the following:
a. joint ownership of real property;
b. common ownership of an automobile;
c. joint bank accounts;
d. a will, retirement plan, or life insurance policy designating the
other as primary beneficiary;
e. a rental agreement showing both parties;
f. driver’s licenses showing the same address for both parties; or
g. IRS tax returns showing the same address for both parties
h. durable property or healthcare power of attorney granted by either
party to the other
4.We are each at least 18 years old and mentally competent to
consent to a contract:
5.We are not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the
State of Florida;
6.We are not legally married to anyone else and are not involved in
any other Domestic Partnership.
7.We have been in a non-platonic relationship for the preceding 12
First off, I'm all for domestic partnership benefits, and I totally
understand that any organization granting them wants to avoid situations
like a couple of friends or roommates deciding to apply for them just to
save money. But, a couple of thoughts...
#1 & #2 - the word indefinite means: "unclear, vague, lacking precise
limits, uncertain, undecided." Although in common speech people often use it
to mean "forever" or "a really, really long time," that isn't what it means,
and this is a legal document.
#3 - I know married couples, especially those where both people work, who
couldn't qualify with two of those, though I do think it's a reasonable
#4 - If someone happens to be mentally incompetent to consent, but
consents, how does that affect the contract? Not being a lawyer, I haven't a
#5 - Though on the face of it completely sensible, it brings to mind a
wide array of jokes, many of which are often told about folks in the
#6 - Shouldn't there be some way of phrasing this in the singular for
#7 - Already the butt of internet jokes making the rounds on this one,
and selected out for particular taunting by Randy over at This Is True this
week. As he pointed out, many married couples swearing to that would be
lying. As I pointed out to him in return, the statement doesn't require them
to swear to being in a sexual relationship with each other, nor does it
require they be monogamous, merely that they state, in essence, that they've
been engaged in sexual activity during the preceding year...
|November 19, 2005
This is the Pyx
Door. It is part of Westminster Abbey. It is mostly important because
earlier this year it was identified officially as the oldest door in
Britain. The details of the process are unimportant, but for those
interested, you can find them on the
What I found most interesting were reports on both the website, and the
website of Heritage Today magazine, the magazine of the English Heritage,
who had a part in the dating process. The part that caught my eye:
archaeological study of the "Pyx" door, which opens into the outer vestibule
of Westnimster Abbey's octagonal Chapter House, reveals that the wood in the
door was felled between 1032 and 1064AD, and that the door was made some
time in the 1050s."
There's more to the reports than that. But I'm a
numbers kind of person. God is in the details and all that. Take a look
Hmmm... let's see, I understand that the archeological process is
inexact, and was only able to narrow down the range to between 1032 and
1064. But from other records, they know that the door was manufactured in
the 1050s. One might think that the period from sometime in the 1050s until
1064 could be eliminated as a possible date for the "felling of the wood."
Not that I'm an expert carpenter, but my guess is few doors are made from
wood while it's still in the middle of the tree.
|November 15, 2005
"I am here to make an
announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out
of Ronald Reagan Airport." --Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001
"Too many good
docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to
practice their love with women all across this country." --Poplar Bluff,
Mo., Sept. 6, 2004
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never
stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither
do we." --Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
"There's no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world's worst
leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our
friends and allies with the world's worst weapons." --South Bend, Indiana,
Sept. 5, 2002.
"There's an old...saying in Tennessee...I know it's in Texas, probably in
Tennessee that says Fool me once...(3 second pause)... Shame on...(4 second
pause)...Shame on you....(6 second pause)...Fool me...Can't get fooled
again." --Nashville, Tennessee, Sept. 17, 2002.
"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each
other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." --Milwaukee,
Wis., Oct. 3, 2003
"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the ... the vast
majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find
these people and we will bring them to justice." --Washington, D.C., Oct.
"I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend."
--on visiting Denmark, Washington D.C., June 29, 2005
"Wow! Brazil is big." --after being shown a map of Brazil by Brazilian
president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 6, 2005
"Rarely is the question asked, 'Is our children learning'?" --Florence,
S.C. Jan 11 2000 and "The illiteracy level of our children are
appalling." --Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2004
all quotes from President George W. Bush
|November 11, 2005
Proving that it's not just us "Americans" who are obsessed with bizarre
child development ideas...the British are considering a new Childcare Bill
that is aimed at the improved development of "children" aged 0 to 3...
In theory, a child who is not yet able to sit unaided, speak or
ingest solids is going to be expected to express “joy, sadness,
frustration and fear, leading to the development of strategies to cope
with new, challenging or stressful situations”. Assuming that either the
child or its carers can fathom what this means, the former is then going
to be required to perform the above for the benefit of state inspectors.
Great. Hey, Junior, no pressure, but now that you have been breathing on
your own for almost 12 hours, isn’t it time that you started working up
those recognition skills? What’s that you say? More milk? Milk is for
wimps! How about flashcards?
Now I’m not about to bore on about the sanctity of childhood, but only
because nought to 3 is not childhood, it’s babyhood. It’s the one brief
window of opportunity where it is perfectly OK to eat sand, suck people’s
noses and shout “I haven’t got a willie!” at complete strangers in the
street. It is, and should remain, as spontaneous as possible. It is
certainly no place for invasive legislation (under the proposals
childminders and nurseries will be under a legal obligation to teach this
wretched Early Years Foundation Stage). And it’s certainly no place for
Mothers don’t need the Government to make them competitive and paranoid
about their babies’ development. We already manage that very well on our
own. Assuming that one’s nerves survive the gruelling series of tests that
now define the various stages of pregnancy, the range of edifying
activities open to preschoolers is frankly terrifying. Baby yoga, baby
French, baby signing, aqua-babies, baby ballet, potty training, crafty
babies, baby massage — all these classes and more thrive wherever the
mighty Maclaren roams the streets. It seems that the defining trait of our
generation of parents is to obsess about every tiny aspect of our
children’s development. In part, it’s the legacy of this generation of
working mothers: too busy, too guilt-ridden, too controlling. But it’s
also the product of too many experts and their wretched research.
- excerpted from a column by Sarah Vine, The Times (UK)
I can't really express the ridiculousness of this new bill any better
than she did.
|November 1, 2005
I love these little quizzes...
|October 26, 2005
The most recent reports on the number of psychologists per 100,000
inhabitants "in the Americas...". Along with a rising trend in the overall
number of psychologists here in Argentina.
|October 1, 2005
It was a day of street signs...
|September 28, 2005
I hate to bring up the catholic church a second time in a row, but does it
seem to be getting more and more bizarre?
HIV Fears After Priest's Bizarre Mass
by The Associated Press
Posted: September 17, 2005 4:00 pm ET
(Austin, Texas) The Catholic Diocese of Austin is investigating
after a priest called about 15 children to come forward during evening
Mass so he could prick them with an unsterilized pin to demonstrate the
pain Jesus suffered during crucifixion.
"What I was trying to teach them is that suffering is a part of life,"
said the Rev. Arthur Michalka, 78, on Friday.
No one reacted strongly during the incident at evening Mass at Holy
Trinity Catholic Church in Corn Hill on Wednesday, said Helen Osman,
communications director for the Austin diocese. Osman said that the priest
pricked both adults and children.
"What were you thinking?" said Debbie Sybert, a Jarrell resident whose
11-year-old daughter, Amanda, was pricked during Mass. "Apparently our
father has lost his mind."
Sybert said the pinpoint drew Amanda's blood. But Michalka said none of
the children bled.
Regardless of whether blood was drawn, Osman said, pricking children with
a needle is "not appropriate religious training."
Osman said workers at the Williamson County and Cities Health District
will conduct confidential interviews with the Mass attendees to find out
whether they have any communicable diseases and whether skin was broken.
Officials will then determine whether the children might be at risk for
exposure to diseases such as HIV or hepatitis and whether a blood test is
Dr. Ed Sherwood, health authority for the Williamson district, said the
likelihood of transmitting blood-borne diseases by a pinprick is "real but
quite small." He said the risk would increase if adults and children were
pricked with the same pin because adults are more likely to be sexually
"As a parent, I would not be happy about it," Sherwood said. "But I would
be consoled by the fact that statistically, the overwhelming probability
is that these kids will be just fine."
Michalka said he plans to apologize in church this Sunday for not
sterilizing the pin.
"I didn't think it was that big a deal," Michalka said. "I can see the
point now. I'll see to it that it doesn't happen again."
Now, I can say that I can sort of see
Michalka's point (no pun intended). First off, the man is 78 years old.
He grew up in a world without things like AIDS. He also grew up in a world
where things like a spanking or a rap on the knuckles with a ruler were not
only common, but expected from teachers, parents, etc. But the man clearly
is out of touch with the world in general and the concerns, even if often
exaggerated, of parents today. And that seems to be often typical of the
church (and not just the catholic one). I also find myself, regardless of my
views on Jesus, wondering how this man could remotely think that a pinprick
on the hand would in anyway lead children and/or adults to an understanding
of the suffering of Christ, or even as he said in his post-action statement,
that "suffering is a part of life."
It's certainly generated a some conversation on the net, on sites that
range from news commentary to
thoughtful religious discussions to a
UFO related site!
My initial reaction to the concerns about AIDS is that it's a "tempest in
a teapot." After all, we're talking children, not many of whom are likely to
be sexually active. But then I thought, there are other things that could be
transmitted by an unsterilized needle (hepatitis for example); what was it
used for before this incident; and of course it is certainly possible that
one of the children is HIV infected; and then I caught the line from the
communications director for the diocese that there were adults pricked as
well. Maybe the concerns aren't quite so unfounded?
Not that we can all go through life worrying about every tiny thing, as
we'd only drive ourselves nuts (as I think many parents these days are), but
given the recent history of the church...
|September 13, 2005
The new "recruitment" poster for the Catholic priesthood, featuring
28-year old Father Jonathan Meyer ready to fight the forces of evil. He got
the idea after seeing a sketch during seminary that pitted a group of older
priests battling Satan in martial arts fashion. The poster is being given
out to teens everywhere in hopes that it will entice them into the
priesthood; and thousands of those teens are grabbing them up. Well,
certainly a sexy poster of a priest hanging on their walls will entice teens
The Catholic church has such a good record on priests, teens, and sex ...
what could possibly go wrong?
|June 27, 2005
Sent to me by my friend Phillip. No doubt this is what is meant by
multicultural sensitivity in the workplace...
|June 18, 2005
Personally, I recommend letting go a moment or so before...
|May 27, 2005
From today's New York Times:
British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Warning: Long, pointy knives may be hazardous to your health.
The authors of an editorial in the latest issue of the British Medical
Journal have called for knife reform. The editorial, "Reducing knife
crime: We need to ban the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives," notes
that the knives are being used to stab people as well as roasts and the
odd tin of Spam.
The authors of the essay - Drs. Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike
Beckett of the West Middlesex University Hospital in London - called for
laws requiring knife manufacturers to redesign their wares with rounded,
The researchers noted that the rate of violent crime in Britain rose
nearly 18 percent from 2003 to 2004, and that in the first two weeks of
2005, 15 killings and 16 nonfatal attacks involved stabbings. In an
unusual move for a scholarly work, the researchers cited a January
headline from The Daily Express, a London tabloid: "Britain is in the grip
of knives terror - third of murder victims are now stabbed to death." Dr.
Hern said that "we came up with the idea and tossed it into the pot" to
get people talking about crime reduction. "Whether it's a sensible
solution to this problem or not, I'm not sure."
In the United States, where people are more likely to debate gun control
than knife control, partisans on both sides sounded amused. Wayne LaPierre,
executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, asked, "Are
they going to have everybody using plastic knives and forks and spoons in
their own homes, like they do in airlines?"
Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,
which supports gun control, joked, "Can sharp stick control be far
behind?" He said people in his movement were "envious" of England for
having such problems. "In America, we can't even come to an agreement that
guns are dangerous and we should make them safer," he said.
The authors of the editorial argued that the pointed tip is a vestigial
feature from less mannered ages, when people used it to spear meat. They
said that they interviewed 10 chefs in England, and that "none gave a
reason why the long, pointed knife was essential," though short, pointed
knives were useful.
An American chef, however, disagreed with the proposal. "This is yet
another sign of the coming apocalypse," said Anthony Bourdain, the
executive chef at Les Halles and the author of "Kitchen Confidential."
A knife, he said, is a beloved tool of the trade, and not a thing to be
shaped by bureaucrats. A chef's relationship with his knives develops over
decades of training and work, he said, adding, "Its weight, its shape -
these are all extensions of our arms, and in many ways, our
He compared the editorial to efforts to ban unpasteurized cheese. "Where
there is no risk," he said, "there is no pleasure."
Note, we're not talking about the usual sorts of "knife control" laws,
like not letting kids buy them, or banning certain types of knives (well, I
guess in a sense we are talking about banning certain kinds of knives), like
switchblades, or gravity blades, or the latest in samurai sword attacks
(which seem to be quite common if one does a google search) or things of
that sort. This is more in the line of:
"Sharp, pointy objects shouldn't be available to anyone." said Sen.
Lieberman, D-Conn., a key figure in the knife-control movement
|May 19, 2005
Not really a surprise that no one has rented it, is it?
Apparently realizing their mistake, they've "corrected" the spelling...
Meanwhile, at another theater... spelling is all good... juxtaposition is
|May 8, 2005
Okay, this isn't my own, it's an excerpt from a new book called All
Marketers Are Liars by Seth Goldin. The excerpt appeared in the May 2005
issue of Fortune: Small Business, so I'm not sure if it's exactly what will
appear in the final book (to be published this month). But, since it relates
to my career, and I liked it, I'm just posting it. By the way, the rest of
the excerpt is truly fascinating - look for the book in stores soon!
A good story makes the product better.
Georg Riedel is a fibber—an honest spinner of tales. He tells his
customers something that isn’t true—his wineglasses make wine taste
better—and then the very act of believing it makes the statement true.
Because drinkers believe the wine tastes better, it does taste better.
Georg is a tenth-generation glass blower, an artisan pursuing an age-old
craft. I’m told he’s a very nice guy. And he’s very good at telling
stories. His company makes wineglasses (also whiskey glasses, espresso
glasses, and even water glasses). He and his staff fervently believe that
there is a perfect (and different) shape for every beverage. According to
Riedel’s website, "The delivery of a wine’s ‘message,’ its bouquet and
taste, depends on the form of the glass. It is the responsibility of a
glass to convey the wine’s messages in the best manner to the human
Thomas Matthews, the executive editor of Wine Spectator magazine, said,
"Everybody who ventures into a Riedel tasting starts as a skeptic. I did."
The skepticism doesn’t last long. Robert Parker Jr., the king of wine
reviewers, said, "The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic
purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine
wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make."
Parker and Matthews and hundreds of other wine luminaries are now
believers (and as a result, they are Riedel’s best word-of-mouth
marketers). Millions of wine drinkers around the world have been persuaded
that a $200 bottle of Opus One (or a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck) tastes
better when served in the proper Riedel glass.
Yet when tests are done scientifically—double-blind tests that eliminate
any chance that the subject would know the shape of the glass—there is
absolutely zero detectable difference among glasses. A $1 glass and a $20
glass deliver precisely the same impact on the wine: none.
So what’s going on? Why do wine experts insist that the wine tastes better
in a Riedel glass at the same time that scientists can easily prove it
doesn’t? The flaw in the experiment, as outlined by Daniel Zwerdling in
Gourmet magazine, is that the reason the wine tastes better is that people
believe it should. This makes sense, of course. Taste is subjective.
Riedel sells millions of dollars’ worth of glasses every year. It sells
glasses to intelligent, well-off wine lovers, who then proceed to enjoy
their wine more than they did before. Marketing, in the form of an
expensive glass and the story that goes with it, has more impact on the
taste of wine than oak casks or fancy corks or the rain in June. Georg
Riedel makes your wine taste better by telling you a story.
|March 2, 2005
imagine looking through a telescope into space and God is looking back in
the other end of the telescope?
Fun to contemplate, no? Okay, this isn't really a current event, though a
friend just sent it to me today. This picture was posted on NASA's
"Astronomy Picture of the Day" website back on May 10, 2003. Internet folk
have been passing it around ever since with the added notation above, and a
follow-up that NASA refers to this as "The Eye of God". Urban legend...or
Net legend - this pass-around is one of those chain letter type things that
resurfaces every now and again.
Here's NASA's official caption for the picture:
Explanation: Will our
look like this one day? The
Helix Nebula is the closest example of a
planetary nebula created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star.
The outer gasses of the star
expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are
looking down a
The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a
white dwarf star, glows in light so
energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to
Helix Nebula, given a technical designation of
NGC 7293, lies about 650
light-years away towards the
Aquarius and spans about 2.5 light-years. The
above picture is a
of newly released images from the
ACS instrument on
Hubble Space Telescope and wide-angle images from the Mosaic Camera
on the WIYN
0.9-m Telescope at
Kitt Peak National
close-up of the inner edge of the
Helix Nebula shows complex gas knots of
To put that in English...
The Helix Nebula is about 650 light-years from Earth. It's a popular
target for astronomers because it's easily viewable through binoculars or
telescope. The phenomenon above is real. The image, however, is not, at
least not in the technical sense of the word "picture". It is a
computer-generated and enhanced mosaic based on nine individual photographs
taken by both the Hubble telescope and the National Science Foundation's
telescope at Kitt Peak Observatory near Tucson.
Despite the resemblance to an eye in this image, the Helix Nebula is a
spiral cylinder more than one trillion kilometers long. It points directly
toward Earth and therefore looks like an eye to us, rather than the
tube-like structure that it is. To the best of anyone credible's knowledge,
no one at NASA has ever referred to this in any official capacity as "the
eye of god". In fact, this phenomenon and similar ones are common enough
that both professional and amateur astronomers have dubbed many object "the
eye of god" over time.
Here is a non-composite photo of the Helix Nebula from NASA's website
(still vaguely eye-ish):
And, just because they can be really, really pretty, here are a couple
more, respectively, the Catseye Nebula and the Wings of a Butterfly Nebula:
|February 22, 2005
New York City is all abuzz about "The Gates". For those of
you who haven't heard about it (I was away when it opened and didn't know
about it until a few days after returning), it is an "art" installation in
Central Park. I place the word art in quotes because it is called as such by
the artists, though I can find little to fit the description. If you can,
imagine a large number (to paraphrase the Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy... a really, really, really large number) of roughly 20 foot high
steel frames with shower curtains hanging from them (okay, actually there
are 7,500 of them). Lining 23 miles worth of walkways in the park. Flapping
in the breeze. Oh, did I mention they're the color of a an orange prison
uniform? (The artists refer to the color of saffron, but I'd throw out any
saffron of that color.)
I spent an hour or so wandering amidst this unfortunate use of materials
(10.5 million pounds of steel, 60 miles of vinyl tubing, 1 million square
feet of nylon fabric, plus all the associated nuts, bolts, etc., to hold it
all together). The park was thronged with folks there to gawk, to marvel, to
criticque. One friend of mine said he got a visceral thrill from it. A woman
I passed wondered what was to be done with all the steel and plastic after
the installation ends (I do too... what does one do with more than 5000 tons
of bright orange steel and several thousand bright orange shower curtains?).
Don't forget about the 1 millions swatches of specially made nylon fabric
that the artists had commissioned to be given away on a first-come,
first-served basis to visitors... figure most of those will end up in the
landfill after a few years... months... weeks... days... In an op-ed by Ted
Caplow, an environmental engineer, in the New York Times, he mused:
According to the United States Department of Energy, the steel
industry in this country consumes about 18 million B.T.U.'s of raw
energy to produce one ton of steel. If the cast steel in "The Gates" is
typical American steel, then making it has required 97 billion B.T.U.'s,
an amount equivalent to the entire annual energy consumption - including
that used to run cars, furnaces, air conditioners and home appliances -
of nearly 500 New York state residents.
Energy for the steel industry is supplied in roughly equal thirds by
coal, natural gas and electricity from the grid. Based on generally
accepted rates of carbon dioxide emissions for these three sources, it
appears that making steel for "The Gates" churned out 7,000 tons of
carbon dioxide, equivalent to the combined output of about 1,600 average
American cars for a year (carbon dioxide is viewed by most scientists as
a threat to the global climate system). We would have to plant more than
200 acres of trees and grow them for 10 years to remove this carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere. Central Park has an area of about 800
acres, but only part of this has trees; and the mature trees that
dominate the park do not absorb carbon dioxide effectively, so we cannot
look to the park to clean up the mess.
In terms of sheer mass, the amount of plastic in "The Gates" is dwarfed
by the steel, but emissions of carbon dioxide, dioxins and other toxins
from plastics manufacturing are also a concern. The plastic chosen for
the supports, polyvinyl chloride, or P.V.C., is an increasingly
controversial material that releases dioxins and other carcinogens to
the air and water during manufacture (and possibly afterward). Polyvinyl
chloride has been singled out as "the poison plastic" by Greenpeace and
other environmental groups. We now have 60 miles of it in the park.
Clearly, the squirrels were not consulted on this choice.
Is it art? Who knows. I could almost see that if viewed from the air I
could, perhaps, find something artistic about it (see picture below). From
the ground it was little more than an interesting feat of very basic
engineering - interesting for its scope rather than its content.
The artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, have stated that it was all paid
for by themselves and took them 26 years to create. Perhaps, perhaps not.
The city seems to feel that it is bringing in a burst of needed revenue.
Most likely true... on this last Sunday, a week after the installation,
there still must have been several tens of thousands of tourists there to
see it. It certainly is a revenue builder for some folks. Why wasn't I the
one to think of buying up yards of orange nylon (in varying shades, none of
which matched the installation) and selling square yards of it for $20 a pop
as one enterprising young man was doing? I didn't come up with the orange
ponchos (well, really more of pieces of nylon with a string tying two
corners together... very cape-like) for $25 each either. Nor the t-shirts,
nor sweatshirts, nor the orange soda sales...
Thankfully, there are those out there with a good perspective on it... I
refer you to "The
Somerville Gates", or perhaps to "The Crackers", far more intriguing to
I leave you with an excerpt from New York Magazine:
“Nobody speaks to Christo!” says his wife and collaborator,
Jeanne-Claude, in her dramatic Parisian accent. “Christo is working
seventeen hours a day on the drawings we must sell to pay for The Gates.
Without these sketches, there will be no Gates!”
So every morning Christo climbs the stairs from the couple’s
fourth-floor apartment to his fifth-floor studio. He works, standing,
for several hours on wall-size drawings that illustrate the plans for
The Gates, the enormous installation he and his wife have planned for
Central Park, and which is scheduled to open in mid-February. Sometimes
he moves to a table to work on one of six or seven smaller collages, all
at various stages of completion. Or he spreads out a drawing on the
floor and works, wearing gardener’s knee pads. “Sometimes he comes down
to eat raw garlic, which he eats three times a day,” says Jeanne-Claude.
“A total of one head of garlic a day, raw, like candies. With some
yogurt. And sometimes a glass of soy milk. That takes him about three
minutes. Then back to the studio.”
He leaves Jeanne-Claude downstairs to conduct interviews and schedule
visits by collectors, several of whom now visit their studio each day.
The works are priced by size: The small collages, measuring eleven
inches by eight and a half inches, sell for $30,000; the wall-size
drawings, at four and three quarters feet by eight feet, go for
$600,000. The Gates, which is being financed entirely by the Christos,
with not a penny of grants, city money, or donations, is budgeted at $20
million—which translates to a lot of collages, drawings, sketches, and
models. “Nobody comes up here unless they are buying!” Jeanne-Claude
says. “Are you buying?”
|January 29, 2005
In tribute to Johnny Carson, I merely reproduce one of my favorite pieces of
his, sans commentary. When this was originally delivered on the air
in 1991, The Battle Hymn of the Republic was playing in the
background. You'll have to imagine it...
"What Democracy Means to Me"
by Johnny Carson
To me, democracy means placing trust in the little guy, giving the fruits of
nationhood to those who built the nation. Democracy means anyone can grow up
to be president, and anyone who doesn't grow up can be vice president.
Democracy is people of all races, colors, and creeds united by a single
dream: to get rich and move to the suburbs away from people of all races,
colors, and creeds. Democracy is having time set aside to worship -- 18
years if you're Jim Baker.
Democracy is buying a big house you can't afford with money you don't have
to impress people you wish were dead. And, unlike communism, democracy does
not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two
ineffective political parties.
Democracy means freedom of sexual choice between any two consenting adults;
Utopia means freedom of choice between three or more consenting adults. But
I digress. Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them
something to hold onto -- usually a mop or a leaf blower. It means that with
proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the
government a huge amount of money.
Democracy means a thriving heartland with rolling fields of Alfalfa,
Buckwheat, Spanky, and Wheezer. Democracy means our elected officials bow to
the will of the people, but more often they bow to the big butts of campaign
Yes, democracy means fighting every day for what you deserve, and fighting
even harder to keep other weaker people from getting what they deserve.
Democracy means never having the Secret Police show up at your door. Of
course, it also means never having the cable guy show up at your door. It's
a tradeoff. Democracy means free television. Not good television, but free.
Democracy is being able to pick up the phone and, within a minute, be
talking to anyone in the country, and, within two minutes, be interrupted by
Democracy means no taxation without representation, and god knows, we've
just about had the hell represented out of us. It means the freedom to bear
arms so you can blow the "o" out of any rural stop sign you want.
And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13
arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars
over its head. This signifies that when the white man came to this country,
it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the
wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle.
I thank you.
|January 16, 2005
The Gay Bomb
Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That's our national military's
policy on homosexuality. (By the way, I was in ROTC back in college in the
mid-70s, I told when asked, it didn't stop them from admitting me to the
program - though, of course, that was before the policy, it was during the
"no way you're getting in" era. I was also once interviewed by the CIA,
originally for a position in psychological profiling, but then was offered a
position in data analysis - they asked, I told, they still offered. Who
Regardless, the policy is clearly for our military, not our enemies:
"Category # 3: Chemicals that affect
human behavior so that discipline and morale in enemy units is
adversely affected. One distasteful but completely non-lethal example
would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused
This from the Wright Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in
Ohio, part of a 1994 study paper entitled "Harassing, Annoying, and "Bad
Guy" Identifying Chemicals. The paper came to light this week as a result of
efforts from the
Sunshine Project, a biological/chemical
warfare watchdog group. According to the officer in charge of such things,
neither this nor any of the other silly ideas in the paper were pursued,
they were merely proposed and discussed.
There's clearly not enough detail in the paper released to figure out
things like: How did they plan to test this one?
"Conduct tests to determine safety/toxicity for humans, then conduct
field trials to determine initial and lasting effectiveness in various
climates and conditions...."
(Some commentators have suggested that San Francisco's Castro district
and New York's Greenwich Village might have been test sites...)
If homosexuality is a combination of "nature and nurture", as is
generally believed, just exactly what sort of chemical was going to convert
heterosexuals to homosexuals? Did someone really think that just by making
soldiers super-horny (aren't they already?) they would drop their weapons,
stop listening to their orders, and jump each other in the foxholes... so to
On the flip side of this, and in a clearly clairvoyant moment,
Weekly World News reported way back in
August of last year that:
"Extremist Muslim scientists are developing a bomb that turns
anyone within a 30-mile radius of its blast into a homosexual, say
U.S. Intelligence insiders."
|January 14, 2005
The Flying Shrimp of Death
Food allergies are on the rise. In the U.S.
alone, they are responsible for some 30,000 emergency room visits per year,
and somewhere between 150-200 deaths! Shrimp allergies are among the more
serious. Not a good thing. Not a joke. But some folks can't seem to tell the
difference between serious and a joke...
In December 2000, a Long Island furrier and his family gathered at a
Benihana restaurant to enjoy the show and dinner. The chef sliced and diced,
tossed things in the air, all the usual sort of thing. As they often do, he
tossed a shrimp here and there to the eagerly watching crowd. Now, here's
the disputed part. Jerry Colaitis, the furrier in question, apparently
ducked to avoid being hit by the shrimp. Or at least that's what his widow
says. Her claim, in a $10 million lawsuit filed against Benihana, is that he
ducked (after having asked the chef not to flip the shrimp at him... but
wait, isn't that part of the show that they were there for?), and injured
two of his neck vertabrae. Over the course of the next ten months, he had
two operations on those neck vertabrae, and died of surgical complications
after the second one. Now, the chef claims that Mr. Colaitis was attempting
to catch the shrimp in his mouth, lunged in some direction or other, and
perhaps injured his neck that way - if there was even any relationship
between his vertabrae and the dinner. There seems to also be some question
as to whether or not the vertabral injuries were a pre-existing condition...
There's too much good stuff out there on this on the internet. The best
"You have to admit, of all the ways a Benihana chef could have killed the
man--his expert wizardry with knives, his ability to dice raw meat midair,
his precise spatularic stylings--he cleverly used a common shrimp. Those
ninjas that disguise themselves as Benihana chefs are as cunning as they are
And as long as we're looking at shrimp deaths:
A Florida jury has awarded $12.3 million to an Ecuadorian shrimp
farming company that claimed DuPont's Benlate fungicide poisoned its
harvest. Aquamar S.A. contended that Benlate and other pesticides seeped
into the water after being used on banana plantations and killed their
shrimp. The case mirrored one that DuPont lost in Florida in November. In
that case, a shrimp farmer was awarded $10 million. (Needless to say, DuPont
is appealling these decisions.)
I also refer you to
God Hates Shrimp... "Pinch the Tail,
Suck the Head, Burn in Hell"
|January 1, 2005
Happy New Year Everyone!
Tales of the Naked City
"To be offended by the visual appearance of
another person is prejudice, akin to racism. The right to exist, uncovered,
should hold precedence over the right not to view this, for the objection is
irrational." - Terri Sue Webb - nude cycling activist...
I just saw this piece from a week ago:
The Associated Press
Updated: 7:04 p.m. ET Dec. 22, 2004
MEXICO CITY - There's a city in Mexico that's making it
illegal for citizens to be naked — inside their own homes.
Officials in the southeastern city of Villahermosa confirm that the
city council has adopted a law banning indoor nudity.
A council member who opposes the idea says he's not sure how it'll
But a councilwoman who supports it says she's confident that
citizens who catch a glimpse of violators while walking past their
windows will report them to police — even though the law also
threatens jail for peeping Toms.
She describes the law as "zero tolerance" for "a lack of morality."
© 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. (and my
apologies for bordering on violating that...)
"The majority of houses have a lot of ventilation and we give
ourselves the luxury of going naked. Because we walk past the windows,
you see a lot of things."
Councilwoman Blanca Estela Pulid
Opposition party Councilman Rodrigo Sanchez said in an
interview that the measure, part of a larger series of prohibitions,
"tramples on the rights of the citizens by taking laughable
measures such as contemplating penalties for citizens who walk around
nude inside their houses."
"I have no idea how you detect the naked. You'd have to have a big
operation to try to bring it under control," he added.
This law, like many that on the face of them are inordinately silly, has
generated lots of internet commentary (Google lists 20,400 references
to this topic over the last week!). It should be noted that the law
doesn't actually ban citizens from being nude in their homes or anywhere
else (despite the discussions I've found on whether one can still take one's
clothes off for doctor's visits, to shower at the gym, to shower at the home
even). It specifies that people are banned from "displaying themselves
nude intentionally in public and private areas or inside the home, in the
latter instances when it is in a way that is obvious to the public or to
adjacent homes." Nonetheless, it makes for great conversation!
Here's my favorite editorial on the topic:
http://www.progress.org/2004/fold384.htm where editor Fred
suggests, tongue-in-cheek, that we attach mini-cameras to horseflies and let
them fly around while police monitor what they see. By the way, the penalty for
violation of this law is either 36 hours in jail or the current equivalent
of a $120 fine.
In ancient Greece,
athletic exercise played an important part of daily life. In fact, the
Greeks credited several mythological figures with athletic accomplishments.
It was in the city-state of Sparta that the custom of exercising naked was
first introduced. From there, it spread to the whole of Greece, and the
athletes from all its parts, coming together for the Olympic Games and the
other Panhellenic Games, would compete naked in almost all disciplines, such
as boxing, wrestling, pankration, stadion and various other foot races, and
the pentathlon (made up of wrestling, stadion, long jump, javelin throw, and
discus throw). However, they did not perform in the nude during chariot
Evidence of Greek nudity in sport comes from the numerous surviving
depictions of athletes (sculpture, mosaics, and vase paintings). Famous
athletes were honored with a statue erected for their commemoration. A few
writers have insisted that the athletic nudity in Greek art is just an
artistic convention, finding it unbelievable that anybody would have run
naked. This view could be ascribed to late-Victorian prudishness applied
anachronistically to ancient times.
The word gymnasium (from Greek gymnasion), originally denoting a place for
education of young men, is another testimony of the nudity in physical
exercises; the word being derived from Greek gymnos, meaning "naked". The
more recent form gym is an abbreviation of gymnasium.
In Hellenistic times, Greek-speaking Jews would sometimes take part in
athletic exercises. They were then exposed to ridicule because they were
circumcised - a custom which was unknown in the Greek tradition.
The Romans, although they took over much of the Greek culture, had a
different evaluation of nakedness. To appear naked in public was considered
disgusting. However, athletic exercises by free citizens had partly been
replaced by gladiatorial games performed in amphitheatres. The gladiators
were recruited among slaves, war captives, and convicts. When fighting in
the arena, against one another or against wild beasts, they would be armed
with swords, shields, etc., but would otherwise be partly or totally naked
(see Gladiator for particulars).
When Christianity in the fourth century became the state religion,
gladiatorial games were soon abandoned, and the concept of nudity as
'sinful' took over.
In Japan, female sumo wrestlers wrestled in the nude. Today, females are not
allowed to sumo wrestle, and the sport in general is considered sacred under
Sport in the modern sense of the word became popular only in
the 19th century. Nudity in this context was most common in Germany and the
Nordic countries, where Body culture was very much revered by Nazi
ideologues. In the nordic countries also swimming in rivers or lakes was
very popular and traditional. In the summer, there would be wooden
bathhouses, often of considerable size accommodating numerous swimmers,
built partly over the water. Hoardings prevented the bathers from being seen
from outside. Originally the bathhouses were for men only; today there are
usually separate sections for men and women.
For the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912, the official poster was created
by a distinguished artist. It depicted several naked male athletes (their
genitals obscured) and was for that reason considered too daring for
distribution in certain countries. Posters for the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp,
the 1924 Olympics in Paris, and the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki also featured
nude male figures, evoking the classical origins of the games. The poster
for the 1948 London Olympics featured a classical nude sculpture of a discus
A group from the southern U.S., having been invited in the 1950s to
participate in a university students' swimming competition in Stockholm, was
surprised to find at their arrival at the (indoor) swimming pool that their
swimming trunks were out of place; they swam in the nude like everybody
It is not uncommon for private clubs with male-only or female-only
facilities to allow (for example) nude swimming. Some argue that in more
private environments (whether at home or in, say a single-gender bathhouse),
the less clothing one has on when exercising or doing any activity the
Stephen Gough, dubbed the Naked Rambler, in 2003/2004 made a long-distance
walk from one end of the UK to the other, wearing only boots. He was
arrested several times, and his walk was interrupted by two periods of jail
time, together five months. Including these, the journey took seven months.
He undertook his walk as a protest, in order to celebrate the naked human
form, and to try to convince the public to stop being paranoid about the
naked body. He observed that anti-nudity laws are more strictly enforced in
Scotland than in England.
On 12 June 2004 over 1,000 people taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride
in 24 mostly North American cities rode their bicycle either partially or
totally nude in a light-hearted attempt to draw attention to the danger of
depending on fossil fuels.