Cider Lovers are happy people
Cider Lovers are happy people
On January 6, two new trains joined Amtrak’s Oregon fleet, making commuting exponentially more convenient between Eugene and Vancouver, B.C.
The Talgo Series 8 trains were added to the Amtrak Cascades corridor, which already featured three trains owned by the Washington Department of Transportation and two owned by Amtrak.
With the added trains come the replacement of several bus routes, new bus stops, and new bus services. The trains also add more departure options, so that passengers aren’t as limited when traveling north from Eugene or south from Portland. This means a roundtrip can happen by train in one day, which was previously impossible.
“The passengers I talked to were really excited,” said Kathy Homes, Program Coordinator for ODOT who rode one of the trains, dubbed ‘Mt. Jefferson,’ on Monday. “The new trains allow us to have the new schedule, which is something that people have been asking us for for a long time.”
Early forensic science helped solve a train robbery outside of Ashland, OR in 1923. It was one of the first uses of what would become an essential crime solving tool.
It’s Friday! Time for the possibly-soon-to-be-regular feature Cocktail of the Week!
Tonight, a house variation of a very old school cocktail called The Aviation. The combination of gin and cherry brandy or maraschino liquor (no relation to those God-awful bleached-and-died cherry things) is better than it sounds.
Our house variation is a bit sweeter, but still a light, balanced cocktail that goes down nicely without being cloying. Because we make ours with house-infused Washington-state Bing cherry liquor and Washington-state made gin, we have renamed our Aviation variant The Boeing Cocktail, a nod to the aviation company that resides here, too.
You will need gin, cherry brandy or good cherry liquor (the latter will be sweeter), fresh lemon, and whole cherries in syrup to garnish.
Shake hard with crushed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and a few whole cherries in syrup to garnish. No bright red “maraschino-flavored” cherries. Ever. Cheers!
eh, at least they aren't piled high with frosting?
On January 6, Epiphany day— the official beginning of king cake season—Asheville baker Jodi Rhoden had her own epiphany, turning the classic Mardi Gras king cake into a handheld treat.
Photograph by Jodi Rhoden
Rhoden, owner of Short Street Cakes, took her “old school, real deal, made-from-scratch” king cake dough, coiled it, sliced it into medallions, and fit them into a cupcake tin. “People like individual bite-sized things,” she says. “It’s party friendly and it’s less of a mess.”
The French-style dough is rich like a stollen, raised with yeast, and buttery like sin. Jodi modified her recipe from the 1983 Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook.
The cupcakes are stuffed with one of three things—cinnamon, strawberry, or pecan praline cream cheese. Once cool, they’re topped with a powdered sugar lemon glaze. Rhoden doesn't miss the most important detail. Inside every dozen or so cupcakes rests a plastic baby.
Short Street Cakes King Cake Cupcakes
Makes 15 cupcakes
2 ¼ tsp. yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 tsp., plus ¼ cup sugar
2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. lemon zest
¼ cup warm milk
3 egg yolks
3 oz. melted butter
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until yeast and sugar are completely dissolved, then let rest until the yeast is foamy, bubbly, and active, about 5 to 10 minutes. Combine flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer. Fit mixer with dough hook attachment, turn on low speed, and add milk, egg yolks, and melted butter, a little at a time, until all ingredients are combined; continue mixing on low about 10 minutes.
At this time, if the dough has not formed a sticky ball in the bowl, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, no more than ½ cup total. Scrape down sides and bottom of mixer and let mix again for another 10 minutes. Turn onto oiled surface and knead by hand into tidy little ball, 5 minutes or so. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 to 2 hours. Stretch and roll your dough into a long rectangle. Combine filling ingredients and spread mixture onto the surface of the rectangle. Roll dough into a roulade and slice into 15 medallions. Place medallions flat side down in lined cupcake tins. Cover, set aside. Let rise again until double. Bake at 325 for 10 to 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Combine icing ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until it achieves desired consistency (adjust with more liquid or more powdered sugar if necessary).
Glaze after the cupcakes are cool, making sure to hide a baby trinket or charm inside one of the cupcakes before icing. Decorate with Mardi Gras Beads or yellow, purple, and green sprinkles.
The great bee die-off in the U.S. and Europe has been known about for a while. A shortage of honeybees, it's feared, threatens various crops that depend on them as pollinators. But now some research has put numbers on just how bad the bee deficit is in Europe. And the numbers are alarming, to say the least.
In the study of 41 countries, published yesterday, researchers found that between 2005 and 2010, demand for so-called "pollinator services" grew nearly five times faster than the supply of bees. In the UK, researchers estimate that there are now only enough beehives to meet a quarter of demand. Through a broad swath of Europe, they can meet only 25 percent to 50 percent. Overall, almost half the countries studied had bee deficits. "We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now," researcher Simon Potts of the University of Reading in the UK, told The Guardian.
Why hasn’t there been a catastrophe already? Because "wild pollinators"—bumblebees, hoverflies and others—have picked up the strain. That’s the good news. The bad news is that scientists have little hard data on wild bee numbers and their pollinating habits. Worse, wild bees may be just as much at risk as honey bees. "Recent studies have demonstrated widespread declines in wild pollinator diversity across much of Europe due to a combination of agricultural intensification, habitat degradation, the spread of diseases and parasites and climate change," the researchers wrote.
That's partially a result of the biofuels boom of the past decade. Farmers have rushed to plant corn, canola and other crops that serve as feedstocks for ethanol and biodiesel, to replace fossil fuels. But as farmers clear the land to grow these crops, they remove many of the wild flowers and other plants whose pollen bees collect to feed beehives. Weakened by the lack of food, bees become more susceptible to disease and pesticide poisoning, studies have shown. That contributes to the affliction known as Colony Collapse Disorder, where entire beehives suddenly die. Whether enough bees survive in the future to pollinate food crops depends, in part, on how much land continues to be reserved for biofuel production, the researchers wrote.
This post originally appeared on Quartz. More from our partner site:
Holy Corgi! Are these cookie cutters not the cutest ever?? Jen from Three Cheers for Corgis has a small but oh-so-adorable shop featuring various Corgi-inspired goodies, including mugs, car decals, magnets, and more — check it out!
In the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate’s vast orchid collection begins its peak bloom this month, washing the Conservatory's Orchid House in a welcome explosion of vibrant color that will last through March. But among the nearly 500 plants on display, one head-turner stands out not so much for its tropical beauty as for its warm, heady, and unexpectedly earthy aroma.
Stanhopea wardii. Photographs courtesy of the Biltmore Estate
LeeAnn Donnelly, who works for the Biltmore, noticed the strong smell of figs and cinnamon wafting from the rare Stanhopea wardii orchid when she walked through the Conservatory last week. Found natively in South American cloud forests, this particular variety’s yellow flower grows upside down. Wrinkled and lemon-colored, she’s more complex than elegant. “She’s not the prettiest girl, but she’s charming in other ways,” Donnelly says. But catch a whiff quick. This plant has about a week left of bloom time, and is awaiting just a few more buds. Once fully open, the flowers last three days before their spicy aroma disappears.
The Biltmore’s Stanhopea has been producing flowers for more than 60 years. She once belonged to staffer and orchid specialist Jim Rogers’ brother. As a teenager, the brother worked for a florist who passed along the plant. It now resides among the orchids in the conservatory where high arched windows overlook the estate’s gardens.
Part of the original design for the Conservatory, the Orchid House was owner George Vanderbilt's dream for housing the fashionable plant. In the homes of wealthy Brits and Americans, the flowers symbolized exoticism and status. Vanderbilt enlisted the services of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and together they made a list of 800 orchids to fill the room. At least 16 of the varieties from the original purchase list can still be found at the Biltmore.
Can't make it up to the Biltmore before March? Don't worry. Gardeners display plants as they bloom throughout the year, ensuring there will be something beautiful to see during all four seasons.
via firehose. meanwhile in beaverton
Attention RS: as seen in Boston http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S16278210
The way the animal world is trending, owl pellets might soon become as common as pigeon poop. North America is experiencing a vast migration of snowy owls from the north, with spottings in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Providence, and many other cities in the Northeast.
The grouping points for these owls frequently involve airports. "Experts say the birds often stop at airports because the airfields look similar to the Arctic tundra where they live," explains The New York Times. In December, authorities at Kennedy International Airport started blasting owls with shotguns after five airplanes collided with the creatures. (They later switched to using traps.) Baltimore also had to remove an owl squatting at BWI Airport. Wildlife groups at Boston's Logan Airport report catching and relocating an "exceptionally high" number of visiting owls – the creatures are bulky and fly low, making them especially dangerous to jets.
The creatures' voracious hunger is driving them far south this winter. A snowy owl needs up to 12 small rodents a day to survive, and there's presumably a deficit of Arctic lemmings, one of the species' key food groups. If you're the birdwatching type, be on the look out for ivory-white birds that like to dine in the most gruesome manner possible:
There's also the option of following the movements of the owls with this helpful spottings map from eBird, a project supported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The crowd-sourced map shows a vast Owl Belt stretching below the Canadian border, with individual sightings as far south as North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. Have a look – darker purple regions indicate a higher density of spottings:
In regards to that Florida owl, an observer reported last week that it's been hanging around for at least four days, staying in "the sand dune posing." It looks like it's wilting in the heat:
This guy was noticed a couple days ago chilling on the roof of a Boston restaurant:
An owl-eyed observer caught this one strutting around on the field at D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, seemingly oblivious to the planes taking off and landing:
And in Brooklyn, somebody saw this smug-looking individual crouched in the grass at Floyd Bennett Field:
Singer and guitarist Annie Clark shares exclusive previews of brand-new music and recounts how meeting a live rattlesnake and the specter of a dead political activist inspired her fourth LP.
They came on the tides by the hundreds – big, spherical clods of ice whose dirty-brown exteriors made them look like a platoon of Tribbles.
Presumably they're still around, entertaining people around Lake Michigan with their fun appearance and possible usage as nuclear-grade snowballs. Locals call them "ice balls" or "ice boulders," and though they might seem an unnatural, ominous formation to much of the world – something to be pushed back into the water with a bulldozer, perhaps – they've made many appearances in the history of the Great Lakes. Last February, for instance, a flotilla of basketball-sized orbs washed up in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, allowing Traverse City meteorologist Joe Charlevoix to explain how they're formed:
"The water temperature on the Lake Michigan is just a little bit below freezing, so you get a small piece of ice that forms in the water and as waves move back and forth it adds additional water and freezes in layers. It gets bigger and bigger, and eventually you get big balls of ice, that are pushed to the shore by the wind."
Sometimes the accumulations of ice balls get so dense that they cover vast areas of the lakes like lumpy carpets. They're just one of the stranger winter presences indigenous to the region: Others include pancake ice, icefoots, and (aaahhhh!) the dread "ice volcano."
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With the Eleventh Doctor now passed into Whovian memory, it would seem that the Era of River Song has ended as well. And while it should be bittersweet, it is also honestly something of a relief.
Let me be clear—I happen to love River Song. Well, let me be clearer... I love what River Song might have been. And it’s telling that what she became is a symptom of everything that fans are lately bemoaning about Doctor Who.
The mysterious introduction to River Song in season four’s “Silence in the Library”/“Forests of the Dead” two-parter leaves a trail of clues that paints a fascinating picture of her relationship with the Doctor. We find out that she knows the Doctor intimately, that they might even be married, that he comes whenever she calls him, that she’s an archaeologist with a taste for adventure and her sexuality has more in common with Captain Jack Harkness than any other character on the series. (Remember, she states that Mr. Lux is the only remember of their expedition that she doesn’t fancy and that she’s dated androids before. Not too picky, then.) We know that her Doctor is a future incarnation, and it seems possible that she has bounced off of other versions as well, given her lack of surprise at running into Ten.
What makes River interesting is the fact that she is remote for the Doctor. Rather than living on the TARDIS, we learn that she is largely in charge of their time together; she calls the Doctor, he attends, they run off and enjoy the time. Then he deposits her back where she was. It was potential for the Doctor to have a relationship with a companion that was nearly angst-free. If River didn’t travel with him fulltime, there was no danger of losing her too quickly. The next time a note reached him on the psychic paper it could have been three days from the last trip for her, but decades for him.
In River’s introduction, she has all the power: she is the one who calls the Doctor, she is the one who scolds him when he’s being obstinate, she is the one who rallies the group and moves them along. In a telling move for the Davies era, it is she who grabs the Doctor’s hand when the first run together, not the other way around. She is taking him on as a companion in that first meeting. Ten is so moved by her near-death plea to preserve their time together, to never rewrite a word, that the loss of her hurts him as though he has known her for centuries. We’re left with the impression that she is one tough act to beat.
Then River returns.
And she’s still feisty and competent and one step ahead. But everything that makes her special, that recommended her from the get-go is stripped away from her step by step in the service of complex plotting. It starts with the revelation that she is in prison for a terrible crime—the murder of the Doctor. He’ll come when she calls, certainly, but only to free her from the tedium of a dark cell. So much for having a life of her own on the other side. To make things more involved, the Doctor finds out that River has a closer connection to him than he had anticipated; she’s the daughter of his current companions. And then she is kidnapped as an infant and brainwashed to kill him. So River essentially spends her formative years with an existence that orbits around the Time Lord. She has no ambitions of her own, no purpose beyond his destruction.
Once River realizes that killing the Doctor might be a mistake, she promptly gives up all of her regenerative energy to save his life. (You can’t really blame her for the choice; she’s just beginning to recover from her conditioned psychopathy and her parents essentially tell her to save him.) So she winks away thousands of years of her own future for a man she really doesn’t know, having no idea how that’s going to turn out for her. And then in order to get to know that man she saved better, she becomes an archaeologist... so she can find out everything possible about the Doctor.
Let me reiterate; River Song’s occupation as an archaeologist is retconned so that it’s all due to her obsession with a man who is nearly a stranger to her. Not because she adores history, or loves to explore, or needs to answer unanswerable questions. It’s because she doesn’t know her future boyfriend all that well, and textbooks are the easiest place to find him at the start.
Because outside forces still want her to do the job she was programmed for from birth, River is press-ganged kill the Doctor once again. But rather than let that happen—she went to school to learn to love the guy, come on!—she decides that she’d rather destroy the universe than fulfill that function. But the universe has to be righted, so to appease her, the Doctor agrees to marry her.
So to put it another way, their marriage is not due to any sort of trust built or great romance between them. It is to mollify River the way one might a tantrum-throwing child. “Hey, if I put on a fake ceremony and agree to make you important to me, will you not let every living thing die? Thanks.” Didn’t River get her education in the 51st century? Isn’t is possible (or even likely) that 3000 years from now there will be passages and rights outside of the marriage that allow people to show their affection for and dedication to each other? But apparently being the Doctor’s wife is everything that she was ever hoping for, and she promptly puts the timeline right once they give their ‘I do’s.
In addition, River Song’s sexuality is practically never addressed again. Who knows about those liaisons that she claims in the future? They’re clearly irrelevant once her importance to the Doctor is established. Which isn’t to say that River Song’s sexuality ever needed to be important to her character—but establishing a person with a wide range of tastes in that regard and then proceeding to ignore those tastes once that person is in a heteronormative relationship… well, it sort of leaves a bad taste in the mouth. As though it was used in the first place to make her ever-so-intriguing and then discarded as soon as she finally had the man in her life.
River’s journey, while heartbreaking, exists as a simple countdown. When we first meet her, she is surprised to find that Ten doesn’t know her, and that lack of recognition is immediately painful. But once we get to the heart of that dilemma in Season 6, we learn that River has always existed in this odd limbo with the Doctor, waiting for the inevitable point in their history where he knows her less and less with each encounter. Her confusion in their first meeting no longer plays—it should have been resignation, perhaps, but not the shock that we see in the Library. Is she just acting, then? We know she is pretending through half of her time with Eleven and Amy because there are things she is not allowed to reveal for fear of confusing the whole timeline.
Everything that makes this character interesting and dynamic is pared down so she makes a good mystery, something to fit into Steven Moffat’s puzzle box universe. What’s distressing is that every time he explains a bit of her away, we’re left with the clarified image of a woman who is entirely defined by her relationship to one person, specifically to one man. And while the Doctor does clearly have feelings for River, they are not of the same caliber, not nearly so encompassing. So on top of all this, she’s putting all of her life’s energy (quite literally) into a person who doesn’t focus the same sort of passion on her. It diminishes River, makes her so much less than she seemed in the beginning, an adventurer with her own plans and dreams, someone who the Doctor had to respect and acquiesce to on occasion. Because Gallifrey forbid the Doctor ever has to answer to anyone other than himself.
And this is in keeping with many problems fans pick out as Steven Moffat continues building his own mythology with the show. The Weeping Angels, one of the most terrifying villains on television after a single appearance, have now been reduced to gimmicky pop-ups that barely hold up under scrutiny. They are meant to “kill you nicely,” but suddenly in Season 5, they have an army and will blow a hole in the universe. One of them is the Statue of Liberty, and can apparently amble through New York City without being seen by a single person. Angels are waiting in a forest to grab Clara in “The Time of the Doctor” because… just because. Because scary. Because danger. Danger that has nothing to do with the central plot of the episode.
Silence arc is the same. Those besuited fellas desperately needed explaining. So in the twilight hour we get something to grab onto—Why are they working with an organization that wants to kill the Doctor? They were commandeered by a splinter sect of a religion that we’ve never heard of previously. A religion with a great deal of power that we’ve never seen before. A one-off, the same as the splinter sect that snapped the Silence up (because we only find out that Madame Kovarian and her cohorts are a religious lot in “A Good Man Goes to War” and it is never really brought up again). These ideas are not laid out ahead of time—they are decided in the moment, for whatever the plot needs to create a lot of explosions and heroism.
Take this example: The Pandorica will open and Silence will fall. Except then the Pandorica did open and there was no Silence, so now… Silence will fall when the Question is asked! Except it didn’t the first dozen times we were told that the Question was Doctor Who, so now… the Question comes on the Fields of Trenzalore, at the Fall of the Eleventh? These aren’t clues—they are morphing tag lines to keep people interested and guessing. But they have to shift every time the story shifts and no longer accommodates the same mystery.
The same as most details surrounding River Song’s entire character.
Which isn't to say that there are no affecting moments on the show where River is concerned—it’s quite the opposite, in fact. But those moments are not grounded in any sort of devotion to her continual development as a character. You see the frustration, don’t you? It’s easy to gloss over, to just watch and enjoy, but on more careful inspection you find that nothing means anything. Everything just gets written over for a bigger speech, more tears, another world/universe saved because the Doctor is brilliant and that’s what he does. And the Doctor is brilliant, but so are the people he loves. So are Amy and Rory, so is Craig, so were Sarah Jane and the Brigadier, Rose and Martha and Donna, so is Captain Jack Harness. So is River Song.
So was River Song. But she never quite showed us her real potential. We never got to see her date an android or excavate a lost civilization or save an entire species because the Doctor comes when she calls and no one else.
And that’s the woman I feel cheated out of knowing.
Earlier this week, the city of San Francisco reached a detente with the Silicon Valley tech firms whose private buses have become a major source of traffic and civic discord. For several years, companies like Google and Apple have been running what amounts to a parallel private transportation network – with much nicer amenities – from the heart of the city to their far-flung campuses, often using public bus stops in the process. And the congestion has only grown worse as protesters have descended on the buses as a symbol of the mixed blessings of a new tech boom.
Now, under an 18-month pilot agreement, the tech companies and shuttle operators will have to acquire – and pay for – permits to use some designated public Muni bus stops (the busiest stops won't be available to them). And the shuttles will be required to yield to Muni buses while they're there. The city has said the average permit will likely cost each company around $100,000 per year, a figure that will surely prompt more dispute over what constitutes a "fair share" for private use of public infrastructure.
Nancy Scola describes the rest of the details over at The Shared City:
Beyond that, there’s a bid in the plan to identify buses according to which company is responsible for running them — despite the moniker, not all the shuttles belong to Google. The city, [Mayor Ed] Lee said, will also get data from the companies that it can use in future planning, a point of contention that has emerged again and again in debates over quasi-public, quasi-private transportation. (Uber’s fight to operate in Washington D.C., for example.) The city will also share that data back with shuttle bus operators.
Part of the public fascination (or scorn) with these buses has stemmed from their opaque nature. Even the city admits that it's had a hard time keeping tabs on exactly how many shuttles are operating, how many people they carry, and where their routes run. The private network has also been the source of much rogue mapping.
San Francisco will now no doubt get a better sense of the extent of this private transportation system. And then maybe we'll be able to better judge the net impact of these buses in taking private cars off the region's roads, while enabling so many people to live so far from their jobs (or, rather, enabling companies to locate so far from their desired workers).
In the meantime, Google is already at work on its next foray into commuter services: It's reportedly launching a ferry shuttle.
This will be us. Firehose & I are going to Osaka & Tokyo for 2 weeks. Now taking suggestions for eating/drinking/gardens/shibas etc. We plan to use pictures of Boudin (shiba/corg mix) as a way of ingratiating ourselves with the locals.
Traveling around Japan requires money, energy, and days off work. If you can't afford to spare those things, maybe sending a beloved stuffed bear in your stead is the next best thing?
That's the theory behind Unagi Travel, a tour agency for stuffed animals. For $35 to $55 a pop, your plush toy can visit Japanese hot springs, temples, and beaches. You'll have to fund their trip to Japan, but Unaqi takes care of the return voyage. Your buddy will also receive a commemorative DVD filled with travel photos.
Already, 200 stuffed animals have "participated," and the agency is gearing up for trips to Tokyo and a "mystery" destination. It just shared a photo of new arrivals today.
Admittedly, this whole thing sounds kind of silly. But 38-year-old founder Sonoe Azuma argues these tours can inspire reluctant travelers. Azuma points to one 51-year-old woman, whose illness made it difficult to walk. She was motivated to rehabilitate her legs after seeing her stuffed animal traveling.
Azuma says the tours have also cheered families who had recently lost a loved one, and helped prepare a child for independence from his stuffed animal upon starting school.
And as the following photos show, the tours are thoroughly planned and, well, heartwarming.
All images from Unagi Travel's Facebook page.
Marion Nestle, voice of reason
A reader writes: “Any chance you might weigh in on the latest GMO piece in the times?”
Sure. This article, in case you missed it, puts anyone who opposes GMOs in the same camp as climate denialists.
I haven’t commented on it because I wrote a book about the topic in 2003—Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety—in which I said everything I had to say about the topic. Nothing new has happened since.
In that book, I argued that the safety of GMOs is a surrogate for what people really worry about but aren’t allowed to discuss: corporate control of the food supply.
I drew on the literature of risk communication to explain what kinds of issues most worry the public: those that are technological, unfamiliar, and under someone else’s control.
Why should the public trust GMOs? They are under corporate control and not labeled.
By pouring money into fighting labeling, the biotech industry looks like it’s got plenty to hide.
For one possibility about what’s hidden, take a look at Tom Philpott’s take on the need for stronger and increasingly toxic pesticides to overcome the weed resistance to Roundup that is now widespread.
Now that GMO labeling initiatives are making some headway, guess what:
PoliticoPro tells us tells us that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) now wants the industry to do voluntary labeling. According to a leaked draft for discussion, the Association is working on legislation to send to Congress. This would:
While you are waiting for all this to happen, take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s perspective on this video: Can you spot the GMOs in your grocery store?
Here’s what JustLabelIt’s Executive Director Scott Faber says:
This ‘Hail Mary’ pass comes too late to deny consumers the right to know what’s in their food. Two states have already given consumers the same rights as consumers in 64 other countries around world, and 20 more states are poised to pass GE labeling legislation in 2014. Now is the time for food companies to work with JLI and others to craft a national mandatory labeling system, not make desperate moves to block states from protecting their consumers from misleading “natural” claims or to tie FDA’s hands in red tape.
Really, labeling would solve lots of problems, but let’s make it mandatory please.
Scientists have engineered a natural adhesive that can patch a hole in a pig's heart. The experimental glue is nontoxic, dissolves in the body and withstands high pressure inside a beating heart. But there's still a long way to go before the superglue could replace sutures in the operating room or on the battlefield.
Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley is a Portland, Oregon-based artist whose custom dog portraits are unlike any I’ve seen before. Her paintings have a magical, almost transcendental quality; the worlds and creatures that inhabit them seemingly depicted through a lens of childlike wonder — which makes perfect sense for someone who spent the days of their youth taking goats on walks though giant Redwood forests; creating communal banana slug, newt and centipede farms; and “dressing up pet rats and making them ride the dog”.
Kamala sells reproductions of her original paintings through her Etsy shop. If you’d like to commission an original portrait of your own four-legged friend, you can contact her directly through her website.
"It is culturally significant, if not admired."
One of Portland, Oregon's most important buildings is also one of its most detested. Now facing a $95 million renovation, some city commissioners are calling for its demolition.
The Portland Building, a 15-story municipal structure downtown, is the work of Michael Graves. A designer, Graves is more often admired for his household products than his edifices. But the 31-year-old Portland Building is one of America's first significant pieces of postmodern architecture. At the time it was built, it was seen as a refreshing rejection of modernism. It won an AIA award in 1983.
Still, most Portlanders never warmed to it. Late local architect Pietro Belluschi said at the time "it's not architecture, it's packaging."
Part of the problem was that the building was built on the cheap (Graves in a 2012 interview that the budget was "lower than a spec house would be built for in the suburbs."). This led to several structural problems. Its lobby and food court were renovated only eight years after opening. As for the upper levels, frustratingly tiny windows continue to depress its sun-deprived workers.
Since then, the building hasn't fared well. As architecture critic Alexandra Lange wrote after a visit last April, "it has not aged well. To be more precise: it looked like shit."
According to the Oregonian, mayor Charlie Hales has been mum on whether the building is worth the reinvestment. Meanwhile, one city commissioner says it's "a nightmare for people who work there," and another thinks there must be a better option than throwing so much money at a "white elephant."
Image via Flickr user Holly Hayes
It would probably be easier for a city to quietly rid itself of a banal structure with the same deficiencies, or to preserve a Victorian one in need of similar salvation. But the Portland Building's incredibly playful, attention-demanding facade represents what 1980s America wanted out of its architecture. It was the first of many more silly-but-stately office buildings Graves designed around the country. Like every other style that came before it, it too lost favor with time.
But it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, nominated by a local architect concerned about its future. It is culturally significant, if not admired.
In fact, the only thing most locals seem to care about when it comes to the building is its "Portlandia" statue, added a few years after the building opened. One local news report on the Portland Building's possible renovation makes the statue's fate seem like the most important concern.
A final decision among city officials will take months to reach. Determining the cultural value of postmodern structures like Graves's is a new frontier in the world of historic preservation. It'll be interesting to see what Portland decides to do with the building that local writer Brian Libby perfectly describes as, "so important and so poorly done, so eye-catchingly unique and so ridiculous, so historic and so in need of substantial alteration."
Top image courtesy Flickr user CamKnows
Nearly half of all children who live in America with a single mother also live in poverty. This is a particularly troubling statistic when paired alongside the demographic trend that the number of single mothers in America has been rising. This same seismic population shift also goes by another name: the much-discussed decline in marriage.
Taken together, these patterns have yielded a logic that underpins much of how we think about aiding the poor 50 years into America's "war on poverty:" Children are worse off and more likely to be poor when their parents aren't married. Therefore, if we encourage more low-income adults to wed, families will be economically stronger and more emotionally stable. Best of all, poverty will decline.
In fact, this thinking forms the premise in the first five lines of the 1996 welfare reform law:
The Congress makes the following findings:(1) Marriage is the foundation of a successful society.(2) Marriage is an essential institution of a successfulsociety which promotes the interests of children.(3) Promotion of responsible fatherhood and motherhoodis integral to successful child rearing and the well-being ofchildren.
That law provides federal funding (still worth $150 million a year today) to programs promoting healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood. Over the years, they've taken the form of PSAs extolling the virtues of marriage and high-school marriage-ed classes and relationship skills training.
There are two problems, however, with the basic logic here. It casts poverty as the result of a collapse in family values, not as the product of complex structural economic and social factors. And it's wrong.
"All of these marriage-promotion policies were based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the link between poverty and marriage," says Kristi Williams, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University and a research associate at the Council on Contemporary Families. "They’re assuming people are poor because they don’t marry, when I would say there's much more evidence that it’s poverty that deters people from marriage."
Fractured family structures don't cause poverty. Poverty causes these family structures. Reduce poverty through more direct means, and we might actually reverse the retreat of marriage along the way.
Fractured family structures don't cause poverty. Poverty causes these family structures.
"We know marriage has a wide range of benefits, particularly for raising children," Williams says. "And it's not unreasonable to think that it would be nice if all children could enjoy these benefits. The problem is that there’s no evidence that the kind of marriages that poor, single parents enter into will have these same benefits."
In her own research and elsewhere, studies have overwhelmingly found very few benefits to marriage for single mothers and their children. Williams has looked at more than 30 years worth of national data and found almost no physical or mental health benefits to children of single mothers who later married. Another national study found that nearly two-thirds of single mothers who did later marry were divorced by the time they were 35-44. A study of the marriage-promotion programs funded through welfare reform also found few long-term results.
Why would the institution of marriage be so much less beneficial for these families than for higher-income parents and their children? For one thing, the families of low-income single mothers differ from higher-income, two-parent families in so many ways that have nothing to do with marriage. These families must also contend with everything else that comes from (and contributes to) poverty, from higher unemployment and incarceration rates, to lower access to good education and quality jobs.
"It’s clear that married-couple families are better off economically, because there are potentially two workers in the family," says Margaret Simms, a fellow at the Urban Institute and director of its Low-Income Working Families Project. "But you cannot solve poverty by just marrying people if – jointly – they cannot generate sufficient income to raise a family above poverty."
The other problem low-income single mothers face is simply a shortage of men to marry who might bring stability and financial support to a family. Today, the Urban Institute is releasing in-depth research, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, looking at who these men are.
The research focuses on men aged 18-44, who have no more than a high school diploma, and who live in families making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line (that's a mere $23,890 a year). Across the U.S., 16.5 million men fit this description, and they are almost entirely located in urban areas. Based on American Community Survey Data from 2008-2010, the marriage rate among these men nationwide was 39 percent, with a low of 25 percent for low-income black men. Among higher-income men in this same age group, the marriage rate is 62 percent.
"Women worry that if they do get married, they’ll be worse off. And they may be right about that."
By the same data, more than a quarter of these men have dropped out of high school, decreasing their employment prospects and lifetime earning potential. Their unemployment rates are astronomical (it's 34.8 percent for the low-income black men). They're significantly more likely to be incarcerated. Half of low-income, working-age men without college degrees also have no health insurance.
Each of these disadvantages compounds the others: Unemployed men are more likely to come in contact with law enforcement, and men who've been incarcerated are less likely to be able to get a job. Earlier research also suggests that the average family's income falls by 22 percent in the first year a father is in prison.
Marriage-skills training can do little about any of that.
If we turned our attention away from such strategies, several other policies would be much more effective in improving the lives of single mothers and their children. Research says that unintended births are particularly detrimental, suggesting that we'd do better to fund and advocate family planning than marriage values.
For single women who do have children (intended or not), policies like paid family leave and high-quality public childcare would enable them to remain in the labor force and increase their earnings. But most of the research on the effectiveness of these strategies doesn't come from model initiatives in the U.S. It comes from comparable countries overseas, where poverty rates for single mothers are dramatically lower than in the U.S.
None of this means that marriage doesn't matter. But it matters in context.
"When you ask single mothers what they think about marriage, they overwhelmingly desire it and revere it in some ways," Williams says. "But in a very realistic way, they’re always aware of these barriers to having a beneficial union. And they worry that if they do get married, they’ll be worse off. And they may be right about that."
Top image of a mother and child in a homeless shelter in Charlotte, North Carolina: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Emily Johnson Dickerson, the last person to speak the Chickasaw language — and no other language — died at her home in Ada, Oka., last week. Dickerson, 93, was one of about 65 people fluent in the Chickasaw language. There were thousands of Chickasaw speakers as late as the 1960s.
Name: Monkshood (Aconitum napellus and Aconitum vulparia)
Also Known As: Wolfsbane, Devil’s Helmet, Blue Rocket, Leopard’s Bane
Found in: Native to western and central Europe, Monkshood grows in woodlands and meadows. It prefers rich, well-drained soils with lots of sun.
This powerful toxin disrupts nerve-to-muscle signals, killing a person by heart attack. At first, a victim will suffer from stomach pains and numbness of the tongue and mouth. Larger amounts will cause paralysis and convulsions. If the toxin gets into even a tiny cut, it could mean trouble.
Poison Plus: Greek herders used one species of Aconitum to protect their livestock, which is how the plant earned its nickname, wolfsbane (meaning “that which causes death to the wolves”). Herders rubbed the plant’s roots and stems onto their arrows and shot at wolves that threatened the herd. The poison quickly killed the attacking wolves.
Learn more in The Power of Poison.
Weaver and designer Adele Stafford has taken the concept of farm-to-table and applied it to textiles. As she explains, "I've built a model that puts the farmer at the heart of what we're doing and relies on the expertise of other makers—pattern makers, tailors, designers, photographers—as a way of building a collaborative industry. I'm the weaver, but it takes this team to make the work happen."
Adele graduated from RISD in 1999 and spent the following five years in Rhode Island living in an old mill town along the Blackstone River that had one time been an important part of the domestic textile industry. Now based in Oakland, California, she found herself with direct access to farmers producing cotton and wool. As she explains, it was a visit to Northern California's pioneer organic cotton grower Sally Fox where "I saw a clear opportunity to make products that embody the stories of domestic fiber farmers with a unique approach to the way that they work." Adele launched Voices of Industry last month and was part of our Remodelista Holiday Market in San Francisco where almost all of her pieces sold out. You can view her limited-edition designs at Voices of Industry and contact her directly to receive notice of her next production: each month she's able to create 15 to 20 pieces of work.
Photography by Brian Ferry.
Above: Cloth 6 of 7, Warp 1, a design that can be used as a throw, wrap, or scarf; $465.
Above: Cones of organic naturally colored yarn on display. Adele tells us, "In a weaving class, I was introduced to Sally Fox's cotton and couldn't believe that it grew in such a spectrum of colors."
Above: Adele hand weaves on a mechanical loom. Every piece comes with a record of the farmer who grew the fiber, the warp on which it was woven, and the order it appeared on the loom.
Above: Views from the Voices of Industry studio in Oakland. When Adele lived in an old Rhode Island mill town, she avidly researched the history of the region and came across the story of Sarah Bagley, a factory loom operator during the mid 1800s who organized the first all-womens' labor reform movement and edited its publication, The Voice of Industry—the namesake for Adele's company.
Above: Painter Afton Love models Shirt 1 of 7, Warp 1, the Voices of Industry signature shirt, sewn from a single piece of woven cotton with selvedge-edged sleeves and a pleated shoulder; $390. "We are influenced as much by the modernist heroines, like Anni Albers, Agnes Martin, and Sheila Hicks, as we are by traditional textile makers like Harris Tweed and Swans Island," says Adele.
Above: Wooden shuttles and other weaving implements in Adele's tool kit.
Above: Cloth 6 of 7, Warp 1 worn as a wrap.
Above: The source for Voices of Industry's organic cotton: Sally Fox's California fields.
a really interesting read on the media dynamics/olympic politics/gender roles during the tonya harding/nancy kerrigan scandal.
Tonya was tiny, but her presence on the ice was powerful, undeniably muscular, and impossible to ignore. Commentators like to talk about skaters “fighting for each jump”; Tonya seemed to fight the jumps themselves. Later, much would be made in both the press and in parody about Tonya’s thighs: they werehuge! They were so fat! How could she pretend to be pretty, or even feminine? But they were, at the end of the day, nothing more or less than the thighs of an athlete. They were thick and powerful because she needed them to be that way to launch herself into the air.
In a sport where judges routinely give skaters criticism on their hairdos and costumes and earrings and eye makeup and teeth (and suggest that failing to change such details might well result in lowered scores); in a sport where, to this day, very few gay male skaters can afford to be openly gay and deal with inevitable backlash not just in the media but in their scores; in a sport where women are sometimes rewarded more for salability than skill; in a sport where gender roles are policed so rigidly, on and off the ice, that Tonya Harding, a petite, blond, white woman, was somehow butch enough to register as a threat to skating’s femininity—in a sport where all this went on, and was in fact common knowledge, the idea that the USFSA would attempt to control a skater’s marital status is hardly implausible. It wanted Tonya to be proper, or at least as proper as she could be.
Japanese tie-maker ARA has come up with a clever way to navigate the subway like a champ. Their new ties include a map of the entire Tokyo subway system on the back -- no fumbling on smartphones required.
The ties are 100 percent silk and currently sell for 6,090 yen (about $58) online. Another version for Osaka and Kyoto is also available.
All images via Rakuten.
(h/t Spoon & Tamago)
I am mostly thru the Orchardist and love it....
Finalists for this year’s Oregon Book Awards were announced Monday. The categories include fiction, poetry, nonfiction and children’s literature.
In the fiction category, Ursula K. Le Guin is nominated for the Ken Kesey Award for her book The Unreal and The Real. The prolific author is up against Amanda Coplin, nominated for her first novel, The Orchardist.
Coplin spoke with OPB’s Think Out Loud in 2012.
“Ever since I was a kid, I romanticized being a writer and being, you know, someone legitimate in the world of literature,” says Coplin.
Coplin says her book describes a landscape she loves in North Central Washington. It’s the place she grew up.
Winners will be announced March 17 at the Gerding Theater in Por