Before I start writing up this week’s Fringe shows, let me clear out a bit of news chum. Here are a bunch of articles, all related to Los Angeles (the city I love) and its environs:
- Interchange Transformance: “A Simple Change Transformed One of LA’s Busiest Intersections Into One of its Safest“. At one intersection in Hollywood, LADOT made a simple change and dramatically transformed the intersection’s safety profile. What did they do? They changed Hollywood and Highland into a scramble-crosswalk interchange.
- Finding Food in the City: “Urban Foraging: Unearthing The Wildcrafted Flavors Of Los Angeles“. One wouldn’t think you could find food growing wild in Los Angeles. You can… if you just know where to look.
- Bar-be-que Yum Yum: “12 Smoky Barbecue Destinations in the San Fernando Valley“. What’s most interesting is that I don’t know most of these, and they omitted a number of my favorites. I still think their first item is overrated. In general, their choices for the west, central, and east valley are just bad or non-existent. What places do I think of? I wrote a bunch up in a February post, although it looks like Roger’s may have succumbed to the Pho-King Curse of Kenny Rogers. Related to the main BBQ article is this list of “Four New School Barbecue Options to Try Right Now in LA“
- Lovin’ the Valley: “70 Things to Love About the Valley“. Ah, the valley. Where it is going to reach over 115 this week! But the valley is still a great place to live, and the article demonstrates why.
- Burmese Food: “New Silver Lake Restaurant Finally Brings Burmese Food To Los Angeles“. While we were in Berkeley, our daughter took us to a Burmese restaurant. Interesting food. One just opened in LA; we’ll have to give it a try.
- Development the First: North Hollywood / “Here Are the Two Possibilities for Huge Transit Hub Development“. They are talking about doing some massive development in and around the North Hollywood Red Line station. It is just going to be miserable while they do it, and I’m not sure I’ll like the results.
- Development the Second: Westchester / “340 Acres Near LAX Getting Total Overhaul“. Over near the airport, the community of Westchester may also see new development: this time, it is the space that is between the residential neighborhood and the runways.
- Development the Third: Burbank / “Revealed: Big Plans to Redevelop the Burbank Ikea Site“. There is a massive overhaul coming up to the Burbank Mall and the soon to be former Ikea facility. There’s going to be the new-style residential/business mix (first major residential push in Burbank in a while). There will also be an attempt to re-think and re-work the mall.
- LA Theatre News: Two theatre related items. In the first, LA Stage Alliance has announced an Allies program for those that aren’t member theatres. I’ve signed up for it; hopefully you will as well. Second, it has been announced that Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo will be the lead in the upcoming Broadway version of Amalie. Why is this LA news? Amalie will be getting a pre-Broadway tryout in Los Angeles with Soo.
- For CSUN Lovers: Lastly, seen on Facebook: A Sweatshirt that says “Never underestimate an old woman that went to CSUN“. I’d get one for my wife, but she’s not old.
This is another busy weekend, so I should probably put this pot of news chum on the stove to simmer. What’s in it? A collection of articles and other items I’ve seen on the web this week that have stuck in my head. Let’s lift the lid and find out what is in this pot:
- “The Ever-Tightening Job Market for Ph.D.s“. It is graduation season. This means that metric tonnes of newly minted graduates with Bachelors, Masters, and PhDs are going to be flooding the job market, and in many professions, it will be bad for the PhDs. The linked article talks about a recent report finds that many newly minted Ph.D.s complete school after nearly 10 years of studies with significant debt and without the promise of a job. Yet few people seem to be paying attention to these findings; graduate programs are producing more Ph.D.s than ever before.
- “How Unions and Regulators Made Clothing Tags an Annoying Fact of Life“. Clothing tags. Those things at the back of your shirt that annoy you. Did you ever wonder where they came from? Wonder no more.
- “Bookstore down: Mystery and Imagination & Bookfellows in Glendale“. Another independent bookstore bites the dust: Mystery and Imagination, which was across the street from another recent closure, Brand Books. Although some independent bookstores are thriving, others are closing… and it is a sad thing. Amazon may be great for music, but it is a pain for discovering new books. It is not just bookstores that are closing: Orphaned CDs, which was around the corner in Northridge, has been put on the market, sold, and moved to Sunland.
- “Offbeat L.A.: A Cherry on Top- Fosters Freeze, the History of California’s Original Soft Serve“. I had never realized that Fosters Freeze had originated in Los Angeles, the product of an attempt to bring Dairy Queen to LA. I’ve enjoyed them over the years (particularly, the fudge dip that crunches afterwards). Interesting read.
- “Want to Make America More Inclusive? Start With Stamps“. I used to be a stamp collector. I guess I still am, although I haven’t updated the collection in years. Stamp collecting has gone out of favor as a hobby, with the advent of self-adhesive stamps (that don’t soak off), pre-printed postage, and the decline in physical mail. Stamps are interesting, and have always been a reflection of a country in its values. The linked article looks as how America and other countries demonstrate their inclusivity through the images they put on their stamps (and the people that end up collecting them).
- “Pacific Bus Museum in Fremont: showcasing a piece of Bay Area history“. I’m into transit history: be it trains, planes, automobiles or buses. I’m a member of a train museum, but I haven’t seen a similar attempt to save buses. Well, until I read this article.
- “Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with food allergies“. As a reference for those attending this year’s ACSAC — an article on dining at Universal with allergies. Alas, the picture isn’t the greatest at the present time. Disney still wins hands down in this competition.
This is a busy weekend, with the start of the Hollywood Fringe Festival (we’re seeing 5 shows this preview weekend), a Bat Mitzvah this morning, a MoTAS meeting with Erin speaking tomorrow, and picking up the new car tomorrow afternoon. So its probably best to clear out the accumulated links before all the posts related to the above begin:
- “Op-Ed: History isn’t a ‘useless’ major. It teaches critical thinking, something America needs plenty more of “. Although perhaps grammatically challenged (ending a sentence with a preposition), a good point is being made: History teaches loads of skills, including the ability to think critically. It also teaches its students to see that simple solutions are often not the right answer; life, like history, is often complicated by a myriad of factors. As the article notes: “A historian, however, would know that it is essential to look beyond such simplistic logic. […] The utility of disciplines that prepare critical thinkers escapes personnel offices, pundits and politicians (some of whom perhaps would prefer that colleges graduate more followers and fewer leaders). But it shouldn’t. Labor markets in the United States and other countries are unstable and unpredictable. In this environment — especially given the expectation of career changes — the most useful degrees are those that can open multiple doors, and those that prepare one to learn rather than do some specific thing.” An op-ed piece well worth reading. PS: If you want to exercise the critical thinking skills of a history major, especially one that knows Yiddish, Jewish Studies, and Native American studies, I know of one looking for work.
- “Op-Ed: Why I hate Waze“. I agree with this article quite a bit. The point is not that Waze is useless, but our growing dependence on it and similar aps is leading people to lose their connections with where they live. Waze reduces navigation to points on a map. It is not a substitute for knowing your city, how it is laid out, the neighborhoods, the character. As the author writes: “Navigation, to me, is what the city is all about, and not just navigating the streets but the people. It’s one of the secret thrills of urban living, knowing how to get along, how to carve a passage amid the millions with whom we share the territory. […] This is why I avoid the apps; they strip us of authority, adaptability. They replace the subtleties of memory, of hard-won knowledge, with a device whose skills are generic — even, at times, incorrect.”
- “Date of First Riviera Tower Implosion Confirmed: June 14“. And more Vegas history goes down into a pile of rubble. The Riviera is one of the last hotels still standing from 1950s Vegas. All that will be left on the strip will be the two-story wings of the Tropicana. Next is Caesars and Circus-Circus, dating to the 1960s. I’m not arguing to save the Riv — that ship has sailed. Rather, this is a recognition that Las Vegas is a town where the past is bulldozed, tilled under, and reborn. Vegas does not create memories that can be revisited; it creates experiences that are lived in the moment.
- “There’s an Art Deco Airport Lying Ruined in Brooklyn“. Name your New York airports. You probably think JFK, La Guardia, and Newark. How about Floyd Bennett Field, New York’s first airport in Brooklyn. This article is a fascinating exploration of that field, which is still standing. “Long before JFK and LaGuardia, there was Floyd Bennett Field, New York City’s first municipal airport. Designed in stunning Art Deco style, it was once the most modern airport in the world, a glittering gateway into America’s principal metropolis. Many of the leading aviators of their day started daring adventures here during the golden age of aviation—pilots like Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh and Roscoe Turner, the latter of whom flew with a lion cub as his co-pilot. […] But today many of the old hangars lie empty and abandoned. The deserted control tower looks over runways covered in weeds.” Fascinating read; c’mon 99% Invisible, how about a story?
- “How The FAA Shot Down ‘Uber For Planes’“. The sharing economy. We’ve seen apps for sharing unused space in cars, unused space in houses, and unused spaces at the dinner table. What about that unused seat on a private aircraft? The links in this discussion explore a startup that tried to address that space… and that got shot down when the FAA said it was a common carrier and would need to follow all of the rules of the big boys. Yet another example of the laws not catching up with our technology.
- “((( How Twitter Is Teaming Up to Mess With the Nazis )))“. You may have seen the articles going around at the end of the week about a Chrome App that was being used by White Supremacists to identify “Jewish names” on the Internet so they could attack them. This app surrounds Jewish names with ((())) [the app has now been pulled by Google]. This article, which might be OBE, explores how a group of Twitter users decided to combat the antisemites in a different way: by everyone — Jewish or not — putting (((around))) their names. As the article noted: “It’s worth noting that the internet’s anti-Semites hate when their culture is appropriated by their opponents.”. How they must have felt when “It turned out a lot of people—not just Jews—liked the idea. Some anonymous accounts even outed themselves as Jews to show solidarity. Muslims, Christians, and Hindus changed their names to show their support. As of now, hundreds of accounts have appropriated the Nazi symbols as their own.”
- “Audio fandom: exploring the ambient noises of stfnal spaceships“. Have you ever watched Star Trek, and thought about the background noise? The Enterprise had a distinct hum (at least in TNG), which was very different than the background noise on DS:9. Those noises come from somewhere, and this article is an explanation of that “where”. It discusses how the sound and art designers come together to create an almost subliminal image statement about the ships.
- “How a Lost Marx Brothers Musical Found Its Way Back Onstage“. I know, you think I’m talking about the Marx’s interpretation of Chekov’s The Bear, as seen in “A Day in Hollywood, a Night in the Ukraine“. I’m not. There’s another Marx musical — one that has been unseen since the 1920s, when it was the Marx’s first show. This article explores how “I’ll Say She Is” — the first Marx Bros. musical (before Cocoanuts), which has been reconstructed and is about to reopen off-Broadway.
- “The Long Quest to Find Ashkenaz, the Birthplace of Yiddish“. As I type this, I’m digitizing some Yiddish cassettes for my daughter. Have you ever wondered where Yiddish might have come from? Where the “Ashkenaz” in Ashkenazi comes from? “The place name Ashkenaz occurs three times in the Bible, but by the Middle Ages the exact origin of Ashkenaz was forgotten. Because of the migration of the Ashkenazic Jews it later became associated with Germany. This led to all German Jews being considered “Ashkenazic”, a term which was then applied to central and eastern European Jews who follow Ashkenazic religious customs and who speak Yiddish.” This article attempts to explore that question, and is a very interesting read.
- “How to Listen to and Delete Everything You’ve Ever Said to Google“. You might not have realized it, but Google records and keeps everything you say: “Every time you do a voice search, Google records it. And if you’re an Android user, every time you say “Ok Google,” the company records that, too. Don’t freak out, though, because Google lets you hear (and delete) these recordings.” This article explains how to do that.
- “City Museum: A 10-Story Former Shoe Factory Transformed into the Ultimate Urban Playground“. If you are ever in St. Louis, this is a fascinating place to explore … and isn’t just for kids. “Housed in the former home of the 10-story International Shoe Company, the sprawling 600,000 square-foot City Museum in St. Louis is quite possibly the ultimate urban playground ever constructed. […] So what can you find at the City Museum? How about a sky-high jungle gym making use of two repurposed airplanes, two towering 10-story slides and numerous multi-floor slides, a rooftop Ferris wheel and a cantilevered school bus that juts out from the roof, subterranean caves, a pipe organ, hundreds of feet of tunnels that traverse from floor to floor, an aquarium, ball pits, a shoe lace factory, a circus arts facility, restaurants, and even a bar… because why not? All the materials used to build the museum including salvaged bridges, old chimneys, construction cranes, and miles of tile are sourced locally, making the entire endeavor a massive recycling project.”
They say an army travels on its stomach. We’re traveling as well, so are some articles related to what we eat:
- 24601. In Les Miserables, Jean Val Jean was punished for stealing a loaf of bread. He should have gone to Italy. The Italians have decided that the hungry should not be punished for stealing small amounts of food. Five years ago, Ukrainian national Roman Ostriakov was homeless in Genoa when he was caught stealing cheese and sausage worth less than $5, the Telegraph reports. He was fined $115 and sentenced to six months in jail in 2015, a sentence that he appealed. On Monday, the Italian Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Their opinion: “People should not be punished if, forced by need, they steal small quantities of food in order to meet the basic requirement of feeding themselves.”
- Care Packages. One of the ways that soldiers in WWII won over the hearts of the populace was through care packages. Care packages were a vital lifeline for thousands of displaced families in post-World War II Europe. May 11 marks the 70th anniversary of the first delivery. The packages were shipped by CARE, a humanitarian group formed by 22 American aid and religious organizations. The first packages sent to Europe were surplus military rations left over from the war. When those ran out, CARE started putting together its own packages. At first, the boxes came furnished with just the basics — rice, beans, powdered eggs and milk. Soon, CARE started customizing packages to suit regional tastes. There were parcels tailored for Asian palates (with beans, miso and soybean oil), a kosher CARE package delivered to Jewish refugees and an Italian package (which came with spaghetti and assorted spices). NPR has a really interesting article about these packages.
- Have You Met My Friend Harvey. If you were a traveler, however, your best choice for food was the Harvey House, operated by Fred Harvey. Boing Boing has a pointer to a nice article on this railroad dining empire. This caught my eye because OERM just opened a new Harvey House museum. The article itself is very detailed and quite a good read.
- Salt of the Earth. Here’s an interesting piece about when to use that fancy, pricy, salt, and when not to do it. For me, I don’t fine-finish that many dishes that I think the fancy stuff is useful… but my wife has a different opinion.
- Alternatives for What You Crave. One of my migraine groups posted this handy chart, about alternatives for those cravings you get when you have a headache. As a PS for those not familiar with migraines, here’s information on the four phases of a migraine.
I’ve been on travel for my daughter’s graduation, and so I haven’t had a lot of time to write about the articles I’ve seen. I’ve got two themed collections of chum that I’ll write up after last night’s theatre review (not sure when I’ll post them). But first, here’s the stuff that wouldn’t theme, but that caught my eye:
- Bang. Bang. Bang. Anyone who has attended Drum Corps, or likely even seen a band will recognize this name: Remo. The news in recent weeks included an obituary of the man behind the name: Remo Belli, who invented the synthetic drum head. Before Remo, drums were animal skins, highly variable. As the obituary notes: “Belli was a young professional drummer in the 1950s, backing singer Anita O’Day and others, when he grew frustrated with the limitations of animal-skin drumheads, which could wilt or expand depending on the weather. In 1957, he and his collaborators perfected and began marketing one of the first artificial drumheads made of a resilient polyester film manufactured under various brand names, including Mylar, made by DuPont. He dubbed that first product the Weather King, a signal that it was durable no matter the atmospheric conditions of the gig, unlike finicky cow-skin drums.” Since then, his product has become the standard.
- Long Commute. This article caught my eye because it deals with Las Vegas and teachers. Specifically, there is a group of teachers who live in Las Vegas, and commute daily to teach in the small community of Baker, at the gateway to Death Valley. Why? Pay, of course. The starting salary for teachers in Baker is $44,000. In Las Vegas it’s $34,000, though it will be $40,000 next year after a new contract takes effect. At the same time teacher shortages are ravaging America’s cities, however, rural schools have arguably been hit hardest. Teacher turnover is high, and many small towns are finding it hard to attract teachers. While many are attracted to Baker because of the pay, they stay because the work is satisfying, the way teaching should be but often isn’t in large urban school districts. Class sizes are extremely small: compared with the 30-50 in the large school districts, we’re talking 4-10.
- Hacking the Brain for Fun… and to Relieve Pain. In our life, pain is a constant. My wife deals with arthritis; I deal with migraines. What do you think we would do for a good solution for the pain? Here’s an intriguing direction: A group is playing with a non-chemical solution that involves hacking the Vagus nerve. The vagus nerve starts in the brainstem, just behind the ears. It travels down each side of the neck, across the chest and down through the abdomen. ‘Vagus’ is Latin for ‘wandering’ and indeed this bundle of nerve fibres roves through the body, networking the brain with the stomach and digestive tract, the lungs, heart, spleen, intestines, liver and kidneys, not to mention a range of other nerves that are involved in speech, eye contact, facial expressions and even your ability to tune in to other people’s voices. It is made of thousands and thousands of fibres and 80 per cent of them are sensory, meaning that the vagus nerve reports back to your brain what is going on in your organs. Research shows that a high vagal tone (strength of your vagus response) makes your body better at regulating blood glucose levels, reducing the likelihood of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Low vagal tone, however, has been associated with chronic inflammation. Said inflammation has been connected with arthritis and migraines. This article talks about using an implant to stimulate the vagus nerve to reduce pain. Fascinating.
- Pain and Empathy. Chemical painkillers can be insidious. For example, we all believe Tylenol (acetaminophen, paracetamol in the UK) is safe; safer than aspirin or other NSAIDs. But there have been numerous reports that even the slight overdose can cause serious liver damage, and slight overdoses are easy because it is in so many products because it is believed to be safe. Here’s another danger from Tylenol: In research published online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University describe the results of two experiments they conducted involving more than 200 college students. Their conclusion: Acetaminophen, the most common drug ingredient in the United States, can reduce a person’s capacity to empathize with another person’s pain, whether that pain is physical or emotional. In fact, I’m on it right now (just took two Excedrin). Ask me if I care ;-).
- It’s a Gas — Porter Ranch Causes . One group I do emphasize with are all the folks in Porter Ranch, the community next to where we leave. Not only did they have to deal with the Aliso Canyon gas leak for numerous months, being relocated and such, but they are still having problems even after the leak was sealed. They have now figured out why. Los Angeles County Public Health Department officials say its test of dust in Porter Ranch homes turned up the presence of metals, including barium, that could have caused the kinds of health symptoms some residents have reported experiencing even after the big gas leak was plugged. County officials said there appeared to be a pattern — or fingerprint — of metals to which all of the homes were exposed. Those metals were barium, vanadium, manganese, lead, strontium and aluminum. The county health official said the barium was in the form of a salt known as barium sulfate, which is not radioactive. It was found at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility, which is in the Santa Susana Mountains directly north of Porter Ranch homes. Barium sulfate is added to the fluids that are used in the course of oil well drilling. As I said when the leak first started, this is going to be a clusterf*ck of tremendous proportions — unfortunately, one that will affect our synagogue and many friends and neighbors.
- Taking Offense at Everything. There are more folks these days that are just finding any hint of skin or sex offensive. We’ve all seen the bathroom wars, where a subgroup of men either believe that men will just choose to dress as a lady to go into a ladies restroom to attack women, or that some woman dressed as a man will go into the mens room and see their shortcomings. Here’s another one: a female weather reporter wearing a beautiful black beaded dress on-air was handed a grey cardigan because some viewers complained they could see her bare arms. This didn’t happen in some backwater area either — this was in Los Angeles folks. Geez, get a life folks. If something offends you, change the channel. If you can’t control your urges, that’s your problem. ETA: Then again, perhaps it was all a joke. Perhaps. ETA#2: Yes, it was a joke.
- Cell Phones and Theatres. Here’s a very nice piece on Broadway vs. Cell Phones. It explains why they are such a problem. First, taking pictures is making copies of a copyrighted design (yes, the show and all the design elements are copyrighted, and represents significant artistic work). Second, the light these devices emit can distract the performers on the stage, and can distract and disturb other audience members. Thirdly, if they make noise, the noise can do the same: distract and endanger performers, and disturb the audience. Power them off, or silence them and put them in airplane mode. Why the latter? The signals sometimes interfere with wireless microphones.
- Replacing Ikea. In Burbank, California, Ikea is moving down the street to an even larger facility. So what is going to happen to the existing facility? What will happen to the dying mall next to it. A report this week gave the answer. Crown Realty is proposing to build a six-story, mixed-use project with 765 apartments and about 40,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level of the current Ikea space. They also envision converting the site into a community gathering area where an outdoor ice rink could be built and a farmers market could be held. As for the neighboring mall, one of the major proposed changes will be redesigning the entryway at San Fernando and Magnolia boulevards. A section of the second-floor roof will be removed to create an open-space feel and an escalator will be installed to allow pedestrians to get to the upper level from the street. Other amenities — such as the food court, children’s play area and elevators — will be moved around to create a better flow and atmosphere in the mall.
- Yiddish in Poland. Lastly, in honor of my daughter’s graduation, here is a map of the Hebrew and Yiddish language frequency in Poland based on the Polish Census of 1931. Those of you who know her will understand.
Continuing to clear out the accumulated links… Here are three interesting articles all having to do with design. Tomorrow, you’ll get a chum post on computer stuff, followed by some tasty stew:
- Making Cities Hostile. Cities are increasingly becoming more hostile to the homeless and downtrodden. You see it if you know where to look. As the linked article notes, historically, landowners and city planners have kept sections of the population at bay by incorporating defensive design features into the architecture: spiked fences; barbed wire; a castle moat. In the 21st century, however, overt deterrents like these have given way to subtler features aimed at exerting social control, and keeping unwanted groups out. Hostile architecture, also known as defensive architecture, exists on a spectrum. At one end are the overt design features that are obvious to anyone walking by—like spikes and fences. At the other end, says Petty, are the design elements in which “the hostile function is often embedded under a socially palatable function.” A prime example is street furniture, particularly public benches. Think of all those strips that establish seats: they also make it impossible for someone to sleep there. The article goes into more detail.
- Bowling Alleys. We all remember the bowling alleys. Greasy coffee shops. Bright lights. Ugly shirts. Bowling leagues. That’s all changing. There is a movement afoot to transform bowling alleys into the-sexy. The renovations have preserved many elements of the classic midcentury designs of these sites, but ultimately left them with a more sleek and modern vibe. Flatscreens and projectors are everywhere, not only displaying goofy animations after a strike or gutterball, but broadcasting sports or TV shows. The lights are dimmed and the lanes are illuminated under a black light that makes the balls and pins glow. It makes for a clubby atmosphere meant to appeal to younger and more casual bowlers.
- Oakland Tribune Tower. Here’s an interesting article on how the Oakland Tribune tower was repaired and rescued. There are some really vertigo inducing photos in the mix.
What is truth? How do we tell black from white? Here are a collection of stories where the truth may not be what you read:
- Plain Vanilla. When you think of Vanilla, what color comes to mind. White, probably. From the color of vanilla ice cream to vanilla being a synonym for lack of flavor, vanilla is white. Isn’t it? Here’s the true story. It tells how a brown bean, cultivated and pollinated by a technique from a black man, became so white.
- Apple Stealing Music. You’ve seen the articles of late: Apple Music will steal your on-disk music, upload it to the cloud, and delete it. I’ve always worried about cloud music; that’s one reason I stick with my trusty iPod Classic. The last thing I want is iTunes thinking my music is in the cloud and deleting it. Turns out, however, that Apple doesn’t do this. At least for the primary device.
- Boaty McBoatface. We all heard about that research ship in the UK that was going to be named Boaty McBoatface. Well, it turns out the Brits decided that was too stupid, and named it after David Attenborough instead. Don’t worry, Boaty fans. The name will be used for an underwater research craft.
- Dieting. Dieting is a funny beast. We’ve all seen the news this week: Those folks on The Biggest Loser gain it all back. This comes on top of news that exercise won’t help you lose wait. Might as well give up. Perhaps not. It turns out that dieting for just one meal can change everything.
- Ripening Avocados. Last week, I shared an article about how you can ripen avocados in the oven. The only problem? Turns out that you can’t.