For a change, I’ve been able to build a theme mid-week. Today’s news chum brings together a collection of articles about food and shopping, providing some facts you probably didn’t think about…
- Playing Chicken. We’ve all been there: too tired to cook, so we stop by the market and pick up a cooked chicken. Now, what’s odd about this is these cooked chickens are often cheaper than the raw birds, let alone adding in the cost of spices, labor, energy, etc. Have you ever wondered about this? Wonder no longer. The reason those chickens are so cheap is the same reason that stores have salad bars and other prepared food — you don’t make a profit on food you throw in the trash because it is no longer shelf-worthy or is at near the expiry date. What do you do? Repackage it and sell it.
- Pizza Pizza. Some interesting pizza related articles. The first looks at two Detroit millionaires, who both got rich off of pizza. One focused on delivery, promising “30 minutes or less”. The other focused on price. One founded Dominos, the other founded Little Caesar. Neither are in the pizza business, and the two are leaving very different legacies. One is focusing on the next life, emphasizing religion. The other is revitalizing downtown Detroit. Does this get you annoyed? How about this — here’s what happened to the Noid, once the mascot of Dominos.
- Betcha’ Didn’t Know. Here are two lists of interesting facts. The first is a bunch of tips regarding shopping at Amazon that Amazon doesn’t advertise. These tips should help you optimize your shopping, or at least save some money. The second is a collection of facts the big-box home repair stores won’t tell you. Again, these provide useful insights into how these stores separate you from your money, and how to get the most when you need home repair products.
Well, it’s Saturday, and that means it is time to share the collected links of the week with you. Hopefully you’ll find something tasty in the mix:
- Another One Bites The Dust. Brand Bookstore is closing. I think I mentioned this on Facebook last week. We were in Glendale last weekend when they were starting the closing sale. Whereas my wife loved the place for the books, they also had a great selection of records in good condition, including obscure shows and hard to find material. I found LPs there for $6 that were at least an order of magnitude more on Amazon. As an example, last Saturday I found the soundtrack to “Robin and the 7 Hoods” (which is hard to find), as well as loads of Sammy Davis Jr and Chet Atkins albums. I will miss this store, much more than I miss Cliff’s.
- And Then Sum. Since Empress Pavillion closed, we’ve been on the hunt for a good replacement Dim Sum spot. We’ve tried NBC, and we last went to Seafood Harbor. Here’s a good guide to Dim Sum in the San Gabriel Valley, and it talks about the move to menu-based Dim Sum. I still prefer the carts, but I understand what they are saying. There are some places here that we really must explore.
- Neverland. Abandoned places are fascinating. I still remember wandering around some homes that were about to be torn down near my grandparents when young. Here’s an interest exploration of an abandoned amusement park you might have heard of: Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara.
- The Bible Says What? Those of us on the progressive side of the scale often have trouble understanding the orthopractic and how they sincerely hold their beliefs. As for me, I view it with bemusement, and have no problem with orthopractic beliefs as long as they are not imposed on others (cough, Hobby Lobby, cough). Here’s an article on Orthopractic beliefs you might have missed: A Severer Chasidim village in New York has provided books to students in a girls school that cuts out some R rated passages in the Torah. It also leaves a word blank in each passage being studied, because it is forbidden according to this groups interpretation of Torah for women to study the whole Torah.
- Coming Together. Before you think I’m picking on the Orthodox above, I’d like to share two excellent commentaries on the recent murder of three teens in Israel from two Orthodox friends of mine. In the first, Rabbi Micha Berger of Aishdas highlights something very important — although the various sects of Judaism may disagree between themselves, we come together in unity for tragedies like this. This is a demonstration of the Jewish family — although the family may bicker internally, and there may be times where one doesn’t talk to another or writes someone off, we call come together when we need to. In another post from Rabbi Yaakov Menken, he also talks about how this brings the community together, and discusses what the Torah means when it refers to avenging the deaths. It is not a quick and swift military retribution — the deaths are avenged by the survival and perseverence of the Jewish people. All those cultures that have attempted to wipe out Judaism haven’t survived; Judaism has. That’s the best revenge.
Yet again this has been a busy busy week. In particular, I’ve been so busy at lunch and when I get home I haven’t had the time (or energy) to share my accumulated links with you. So here’s a quick link post before I write up the review from last night’s show:
- At The Top of Her Class. Here’s an interesting story about a high school valedictorian… in a high school class of one. She lives in a central Nevada town, and is the only graduating senior. She’s at the top of her class… and I guess also at the bottom. It’s all how you look at it.
- Hidden Design. I’ve grown very fond of the podcast “99% Invisible“, which looks at hidden design issues in everyday items we never think about. Here are a couple of hidden design questions I’ve spotted this week. For example, have you ever thought about the share button, and why there are so many variants of it. Here’s another: Why is blue such a predominant color on the Internet? Wonderful design questions.
- History. History fascinates me, especially obscure history. For example, here’s a link that came across a maps reddit that presents an animated history of the Boston Subway system (click on the thumbnail of the map to see the animation). Here’s another: an article on one of the first drafts of the screenplay of “The Wizard of Oz”. What is especially interesting is the author: Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked.
- Security. Two interesting articles on security and privacy. The first is very important for everyone who uses AT&T — it appears your mobile phone can put you at risk by being a promiscuous slut. The other is a warning for everyone who loves to complete those Buzzfeed quizzes — remember that quizzes are a great way to collect loads of personal information.
- News You Can Use. Here are some links to news you can use. The first talks about middle class relief for UC tuition; alas, we didn’t file the FAFSA this year as we never get anything anyway, and now it is too late for us (we may also be above the cutoff). The second is a useful list of Windows tips and tricks, including the information on how to create God Mode.
- Theatre Things. Here are two theatre related things about some parody musicals. First, “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical” is returning to NYC. Alas, I think it is after Erin returns to LA. Secondly, the parody musical we saw in Las Vegas, “Evil Dead: The Musical“, is working on their own cast album and funding it on IndeGoGo.
- Everyone Loves Pizza. Here’s a last singlet item: an article on the bakery behind most of the GF pizza dough in restaurants in LA.
This has been another busy busy week, both at work (where there is always something on the review stack or a control to analyze) and at home (where the week was filled with concerts, headaches, and MoTAS). But a few articles have caught my eye, so let me come up for air and share them with you:
- Puppets and Theatre. When you think of theatre and puppets, what comes to mind? Bob Baker? Flahooley? Carnival? Avenue Q? Indonesian Puppets? Here’s another one for you: Team Land. A noted marionette artist, Bill Land, has moved to Las Vegas and was profiled in the Las Vegas weekly.
- Disneyfied Sondheim. If you didn’t know, Disney is working on a movie version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods“. Alas, they have insisted on changes. Stephen Sondheim talks about them in this article. Let’s put it this way: Disney does not recognize infidelity, and wolves do not have sexual appetites.
- Wax On Wax Off. Disney is the in San Fernando Valley (Burbank and Glendale), so an article about the Valley is in order. Here’s a look back at The Karate Kid, which was mostly filmed in the valley. The article includes some current-day pictures of movie locations.
- The Backlot. Let’s move a little bit south to another studio: 20th Century Fox. In the early 1960s, they needed lots of money, so they sold off their backlot to pay for Cleopatra. What resulted was Century City. Century City was a planned “downtown” of high-rises, residences, shopping and entertainment, all fed by the convenient Beverly Hills Freeway, Route 2. What’s that you say? The BH Freeway was never built. Alas, Century City was, and in fact it is almost built out. So where is the traffic to go?
- A Moving Thought. Talking about bad planning and traffic, how about building light rail to near an airport… but not in. That’s LA’s problem: The Metro doesn’t go to the airport. But there are now plans to change that, connecting the new Crenshaw Line and the Green Line with an LAX station, which will connect to a train that will feed the rental car lots, and integrated transportation hub, and some terminals. By the way, as we’re speaking of Airport transportation, FlyAway is expanding again, this time to Santa Monica and Hollywood. The latter is good — it is near a Red Line stop and much more convenient than Union Station.
- Old Streets. Before we leave LA Streets entirely, here are some famous LA streets when they were just dirt roads.
- Belly Up To The Bar. Since we’re at the airport, let’s talk about hotels. Specifically, what do hotels do with the partially used soap you leave behind. In Las Vegas, they are recycling it.
- Such a Pill. OK, I can’t connect this one it: They are working on a pill to help those with Celiac. It won’t allow you to eat gluten, but it can help with the accidental exposure.
- That’s Disgusting. Lastly, an article from Politico about Hobby Lobby and their plans. Hobby Lobby’s owners just don’t want to win their Obamacare case; they want a Christian Nation. They are building a huge museum dedicated to the Bible a few blocks from the Mall in Washington , with as much public space as the National Museum of American History. They’ve financed a lavish traveling exhibit as well, complete with a re-created Holy Land cave, a “Noah’s Ark experience” for kids and animatronic characters such as William Tyndale, who was burned at the stake for daring to translate the New Testament into English. The Greens are sponsoring scholarly study of the Bible and hosting forums such as a recent panel on faith’s role in shaping early America, which they hope to package for national broadcast. Most provocatively, they’ve funded a multimillion-dollar effort to write a Bible curriculum they hope to place in public schools nationwide. It will debut next fall as an elective in Mustang High School, a few miles from Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City headquarters. A draft of the textbook for the first of four planned yearlong courses presents Adam and Eve as historical figures.
It’s Saturday and it’s late, but hey — I’ve been at a Bat Mitzvah and fighting a migraine, so give me some slack. So here’s some news chum stew that’s been simmering on the stove for a while:
This has been another busy week, what with trying to get the truth out about the kerfluffle at the REP in Santa Clarita (#IStandWithTheREP), my daughter Erin being in town getting ready to go off to a summer Yiddish program back east, installing and setting up a new password manager, and loads of stuff at work. Still, I grabbed a few articles of interest:
Yesterday morning, while putting on my shoes, my lower back slipped out of whack again. This, of course, has put a kink into day. So while I work up the gumption to move, here are some news articles from the week. All of these deal with different ways of seeing things.
- What If I Sailed West? Quite a few years ago, I posted a link to a site that asked the question: Where would you get if you dug a hole straight through the middle of the earth? The answer, for most places, is “in the middle of the water” somewhere (most of the US ends up in the Indian ocean). Here’s a map that answers a different question: Suppose you were at the beach and swum in a straight line across the ocean — where would you end up? Unlike digging, the answer for most place is someone interesting (only rarely do you end up on the same continent you left). Further, there are few spaces where it is a complete circle of water.
- And They’re Watching “I Love Lucy”. You’ve heard, of course, that our TV broadcasts have been going out into space? But how far? Here’s a map that shows what star systems are watching what. Aldebaran is about to watch the first Emmy awards, while Acrturus is up to “The Facts of Life” and Formalhaut is watching “The Arsenio Hall Show” (the first one, not the one just cancelled). But of course, they are always watching “I Love Lucy” somewhere.
- Hiding in Plain Sight. Army Times is reporting that the Army has chosen a new camouflage pattern. This replaces the unpopular Universal Camouflage Pattern; supposedly, the service has elected Scorpion W2 as its next Army combat uniform camo, a pattern born out of Army Natick labs. According to Army Times, the new pattern will serve as the service’s primary camo pattern, but Army uniform leaders have said they envision a “family” of patterns with a dark jungle-woodland variant and a lighter pattern for desert environs. The main camouflage pattern would be worn in garrison, and the others would go to deploying troops. Why a new pattern? The problem is that the services have seen an explosion in the number of camo patterns, and Congress is reining them in.
- Empty Freeways. This week the new HOV lane on the 405 has been open, and the change has been dramatic — what had been an 85 minute ride home on good days has been, on average, 15-20 minutes shorter. The freeway has been free-flowing at Wilshire, which is something I’ve never seen. Here are some pictures from even earlier times — when freeways were first opened and were empty. So where did the traffic go? Most likely to LAX — as they are doing a major construction project there over the summer. Want the skinny? Here’s the LAWA page with updates.
- Something for Nothing. Two hacks in the news: one bad, one good. For those of us with WordPress sites — either self-hosted (as this blog is) or on wordpress.com (where tasnorthridge-motas.org is): it appears WordPress leaves cookies that make it easier to hijack an account. Hopefully, a patch will fix this soon. For those using Windows XP: it appears you can tell the registry to lie that you are XP Embedded… and still get updates. Of course, you do this at your own risk.
It’s Sunday again, and … what’s this? No stew on Saturday? We must remedy this, with this hastily thrown together pot of material collected during what was, again, a very busy week and an even busier weekend:
- It’s Too Big. Here’s a call from a congressional candidate in Los Angeles to break up LA Unified. What’s interesting here is how he wants to do it: His bill would make school districts with more than 100,000 students ineligible for federal aid. This would affect almost every major city school district, and result in lots of wasted money as many of the supporting school services — payroll, human resources, legal, and such… as well as school boards — get duplicated. The larger question, perhaps, is how much of LA Unified’s problem is LA Unified. After all, there are schools within the district that are excellent (many of them charters, such as Granada Hills or Pacific Palisades). There are lower performing schools, but these tend to be in lower performing neighborhoods. Often, the district’s hands are tied by state and federal requirements, as well as their own procedures. Breaking up the district doesn’t solve those problems. Decentralization (where appropriate) and local empowerment (when appropriate) does.
- It’s Everywhere. One little snippet in the latest from Donald Sterling was not emphasized in the news — where he repeated Jewish stereotypes. You might have thought or hoped antisemitism would be dead … but you would be wrong. A new ADL survey shows that pnly 54 percent of people polled globally are aware of the Holocaust — and an alarming 32 percent of them believe the mass genocide of Jews was a myth or has been greatly exaggerated. The survey found that 26 percent — more than one in four — of the 53,100 adults surveyed are “deeply infected” with anti-Semitic attitudes. Nine percent of Americans surveyed harbor at least six of the 11 anti-Semitic views. About 31 percent of respondents believe Jews “are more loyal to Israel” than the U.S.
- It’s Scary. Antisemitism is really scary. The Disney comedy Frozen, edited into a horror movie trailer, is less so. Still, it is a great example of how the Frozen mania is continuing unabated. I think the last Disney film that got this deep into the social context was The Lion King.
- It’s Dying. When they came out, CDs were touted as the perfect music medium. Crystal clear digital reproduction (as opposed to those scratchy vinyl records or tapes that wore out and broke), and they would last forever. Guess what? That was all a lie — CDs are degrading at an alarming rate. I have a large CD collection (and a large LP collection, and a large digital only collection … my iPod just crossed the 34,000 song mark). Of these, only the LPs have a long life — they degrade by scratches and stuff. All the tapes I made of records are long gone, and I rarely pull out the physical CDs anymore. Will they be there as backups, or will only the professionally made ones be readable. This, friends, is why people stick with analog data in the form of vinyl and paper.
- It’s Dead. The death of the Fountainbleu in Las Vegas is closer: the construction crane has been removed. It is now less likely that this 80% finished mega-hotel will ever be completed. More than likely, it will be an expensive scrap recovery project, with loads of material destined for landfills. What a waste. How much dead landfill space in Las Vegas is taken up by the remains of hotels?
- It’s, uhh, I forget. There might be some good news for those of you taking antidepressants. It turns out that certain antidepressants — particularly Celexa — is good a combatting memory loss. This may help combat Altzheimers Disease.
- It’s Back. Lastly, those in the Bay Area can rest assured in the safety of the Bay Bridge. Sure, the bridge might fall down in an earthquake due to newly discovered flaws. But the protective troll is back, protecting drivers from his barely visible perch.