The Fertile Crescent, the Yangtze basin, Meso America, South America: those are the places that spring to mind as birthplaces of agriculture. Evidence is accumulating, however, to strengthen eastern North America’s case for inclusion. Among the sources of evidence, coprolites, or fossil faeces. Fossil human faeces. And among the people gathering the evidence Kris Gremillion, Professor of Anthropology at Ohio State University. She was kind enough to talk to me on the phone, and I made a silly mistake when I recorded it, so please bear with me on the less than stellar quality. I hope the content will see you through. And I’ll try not to let it happen again.
Henry Hobhouse’s book Seeds of Change: Five Plants That Transformed Mankind (now six, with the addition of cacao) contains the remarkable fact that at the height of the slave trade a single teaspoon of sugar cost six minutes of a man’s life to produce. Reason enough to cheer the abolition of slavery, I suppose. But that doesn’t mean that everything is sweetness and light in the business of sugar. Or salt. A photo gallery in The Big Picture made that very clear, and inspired Rachel Laudan, a food historian, to write in praise of industrial salt and sugar.
We often don’t know how lucky we are to live in the modern highly linked world. The concept of industrialized foods like salt and sugar and their prior histories will certainly bring our situation into high relief. The history here and its broad effects could certainly be fit into the broader category of big history as well.
DeepMind learns to be aggressive as it gets smarter. Verizon reintroduces unlimited data. Leo reviews the Samsung Chromebook Plus. Amazon releases a Skype competitor called Chime. Space X will launch over 4,000 satellites to cover the world in broadband internet. Google Fiber is back. Bill Gates is the nicest man on Earth. Recorded February 15, 2017
Jeff's Number: 120 Million children's lives saved
Stacey's Thing: Pew report on Algorithms
Leo's Tool: Keybase Chat
The story about DeepMind learning to be aggressive as it gets smarter is quite interesting and could provide an interesting model of larger interconnected societies. Smaller groups require more civility while larger may not. The question is how to interconnect groups to help cut down on the aggressiveness. Perhaps some of the network ideas in the toy mathematical models from Stuart Kauffman could be useful here? This could be a very interesting problem to work on.
The LG Sport and Style, the first Android 2.0 watches, come out this week. ACLU Amazon Dash Button. Vizio TV settles with FTC for $2.2 million over secret viewer tracking. House passes email privacy act. Facebook filters fake news in France. Google and H&M team up to design dresses.
Stacey's Things: Sergeant Tabata and Logitec ZeroTouch with Alexa
Jeff's Number: 1003 #resist Meetups
Leo's Tool: Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special on Netflix
Bacon reserves at a 50 year low. Our picks for the best tech billionaires' apocalypse bunker islands. Musical Trump tweets. Club Penguin shuts down. Super scary walking robots with wheels. Facebook de-verifies God. Google beats Q4 estimates; Facebook stomps all over them. Released: Feb 1st 2017
Jeff's Number: 97% of voice apps are used for one week
Stacey's Thing: Flash Forward Podcast
Leo's Tool: June Oven
Guests: Mathew Ingram
Trump's new Chairman of the FCC and the implications for net neutrality. Oscar nominations announced, a first for Amazon. Vine is dead, but you can still watch them. Google I/O and speculation about possible announcements. Dropcam's co-founder jumps ship and is headed to Apple. Elon Musk has a possible new venture. Samsung and LG report earnings. What phone does Trump use at night and how secure is it?
Jeff's Number: How Many Ads -- including for fake news -- Google killed in 2016
Stacy's Thing: Eve Light Switch
Matthew's Pick: 60DB
Playing a bit of catch up…
There’s a particularly nice discussion of the potential future of net neutrality here. Surprisingly Leo sounds hopeful about the whole thing.
I just ran across this podcast and it’s totally awesome!
I’ve been thinking a lot since just before IndieWebCamp LA of creating a podcast for the IndieWeb movement, but sadly haven’t been able to carve out the time to make it happen. Things have been coming to a proverbial boil lately as I’ve been thinking about podcasts/IndieWeb more and listening to back episodes of fellow IndieWebber Jeremy Cherfas‘ excellent food podcast Eat This Podcast. The trouble is that he makes doing fantastic little podcasts seem all too easy in part because of how effortless his seem to be while still maintaining a production quality level of major content producers like NPR.
I had imagined doing a short interview version with individual people in the IndieWeb world to see what they’ve been up to, what they’re working on, and examples of how they’ve gotten things working. In some sense I also wanted it to be a mini-history that highlights the personal stories of the people based movement. (If anyone is interested in being interviewed, let me know and perhaps it’ll motivate me, and possibly others, to get it off the ground.)
But the ever-resourceful Marty Mcguire has obviously been thinking about the intersection as well. His take revolves around the weekly IndieWeb newsletter [subscribe] and covers not only the highlights, but he delves into the seemingly inconsequential individual changes in the wiki and to an even greater level helps to uncover some of the most worthwhile gems hiding within the growing number of links. What a fantastic resource! It doesn’t seem like it’s got a dedicated, subscribe-able RSS feed (yet), but the page does have an h-feed and Marty helpfully tags them on his site. As Aaron Parecki points out, one can also use Huffduffer to create an RSS feed if necessary.
Every year there are millions of podcasts published by tens of thousands of people in hundreds of languages, yet there are really just three podcast directories where people are able to go and look for new shows to enjoy. The vast majority of podcast players will read a directory listing from iTunes in order to provide the most comprehensive search, but none seem particularly good at recommending shows. Given how just about every other service we use online has some sort of algorithm in place to show us music, movies, TV shows, advertisements, and social accounts we might be interested in, why is podcast discovery still such a complicated endeavour?
There are obviously a lot of problems with the podcast ecosystem, and primary among them is podcast discovery and curation. I really wish there were more people working on this problem. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an indieweb solution?
It also makes me wonder what happened to audio platforms like Seesmic, Audioboo.fm, and Cinchcast which made uploading audio pretty simple, though I suppose that there wasn’t much of an audience for that type of audio, in part because the production value and actual content often wasn’t very good. Perhaps things like Soundcloud or streaming video/audio services like UStream have replaced them, but for any kind of bandwith, the cost of hosting goes up, but this also has the economic value of making the quality go up because it requires a bigger investment in production too.
I did not know that that the famous Monty Python spam sketch was recorded on 6 June 1970. At least, that’s the claim of a Tumblr obsessed with Minnesota in the 1970s. (Wikipedia says only that “[i]t premiered on 15 December 1970”.) However, I need no encouragement to share a programme on Spam that I made for BBC Farming Today back in 1997, a programme that was both very well received and a blast to make. the people at Hormel couldn’t have been nicer, and the butterfly spam balls weren’t bad either.
There’s so much more to spiced ham than one could have ever thought. It’s not only a great slice of Americana, but there’s some science and interesting economics behind the things that go into making it. Both a fun and fascinating episode.
Listened toSeed Law by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast
Introducing a blog post with the words “The European Commisssion recently decided …” is possibly a guaranteed turn-off, unless the decision concerns something really important like straight cucumbers. Illegal seeds, though, that might just stir some interest. And so it was, three weeks ago, with a proposal for a new draft of the laws that govern the marketing of plant reproductive material – seeds, among other things – in the European Union. I wrote about this over at the other place, but I also thought it would be worth doing something here, because for much of the food we eat, everything starts with the seed. You can’t have a really sustainable, locally-adapted and diverse diet if you can’t have a diversity of seeds. Bottom line: the new EU proposal is an improvement, and is not nearly as bad as some people seem to think, but it could be better still.
Not everybody is as interested in the arcana of seed law as I am, so I may have taken too much for granted in the podcast. There’s more information at a couple of the links below, which would be a good place to start if you want to explore further.
I’m in the same boat as Jeremy and think that seed law is a really important but highly overlooked area. Some of the first seed laws were written about in the old testament, sadly we’re not doing a very good job of keeping pace with the changes and the morality of these laws in the present day. One might even argue that far before there was free speech, there were free seeds…
We know about the power of clothes to affect how others see us. But does clothing have the power to actually change us on the inside? To boost our intellectual skills or melt our fear? Co-hosts Hanna Rosin and Lulu Miller, along with new contributors, explore the invisible ways clothes can seep into our skin and change us in surprising ways. This hour, stories about a guy who uses sunglasses to fight off bullies, the science of how wearing a doctor's coat can make you smarter, a tailor who may or may not have survived the Holocaust by wearing a Nazi officer's shirt, a family for whom what outfit to wear is a life or death decision, and why shoes may be the root of all human evil. Maybe.
Among the more miraculous edible transformations is the one that turns raw meat, salt and a few basic spices into some of the most delicious foods around.
Time was when curing meat, especially stuffed into a casing to make a sausage, was the only way both to use every part of an animal and to help make it last longer than raw meat. Done right, a sausage would stay good to the next slaughtering season and beyond.
The process relied on the skill of the sausage-maker, the help of beneficial bacteria and moulds, the right conditions, a great deal of patience, and sometimes luck. Luck is less of a factor now, because to keep up with demand the vast majority of cured meats are produced in artificial conditions of controlled precision. Here and there, though, the old ways survive. Jan Davison spent months touring the sausage high-spots of Europe looking for the genuine article, and shared some of her favourites at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking last year.
This tempts me greatly to consider decommissioning an incubator from science related use to food related use…
Listened toBog Butter from Eat This Podcast, March 4, 2013
Peat diggers in Ireland and elsewhere have occasionally unearthed objects, usually made of wood, that contained some kind of greasy, fatty material with a “distinctive, pungent and slightly offensive smell”.
Butter. Centuries-old butter.
Who buried it, and why, remain mysteries that motivated Ben Reade, an experimental chef at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, to make some himself. He brought some of his modern-day bog butter, still nestled in moss and wrapped in its birch-bark barrel, to share with the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery last year.
Ben mentioned two plants that have been found around bog butter, hypnum moss (Hypnum cupressiforme) and bog cotton (Eriophorum angustifolium).
The Nordic Food Lab research blog details all of their astonishing edible experiments.
I found Seamus Heaney reading his poem Bogland at The Internet Poetry Archive.
Caroline Earwood (1997) Bog Butter: A Two Thousand Year History, The Journal of Irish Archaeology, 8: 25-42 is available at JStor, which has a new scheme allowing you to read up to three items at a time online for free.
Music by Dan-O at DanoSongs.com.
An awesome little podcast I found recently, so I’m going back to the beginning to catch up on all the past episodes. Science, food, heaps of technical expertise, great interviews, and spectacular production quality. Highly recommend it to everyone.
We are naturally drawn to finding solutions. But are there ever problems we shouldn't try to solve? Lulu Miller visits a town in Belgium with a completely different approach to dealing with mental illness. Families in the town board people – strangers - with severe mental illnesses in their homes, sometimes for decades. And it works, because they are not looking to cure them.
A stunning idea, and one that could do well not only for the mentally ill among our friends and families, but some interesting psychology for parenting and expectations of parents for their children.
We like to think of our own personalities - and those of our spouses, children and friends - as predictable and constant over time. But what if they aren't? In this episode, Alix Spiegel visits a prison to explore whether there is such a thing as a stable personality. And Lulu Miller asks whether scientists can point to a single thing about a person that doesn't change over time. The answer might surprise you.
Not explicitly said, but this episode points out the heavy nurture side of the nature/nurture question in relation to the stability of one’s personality over time. In some sense, you are who those around you expect you to be. This also makes me think I ought to go back to working for a larger company with more people around me.
Yet another great episode, though to me not as intriguing as some of their other prior efforts. Still overall, a stellar podcast series.