(Roughly) Daily

“Surrender to it. It’s nacho time.”*…

As Mark Dent explains, anytime you order nachos at a sporting event, there’s a good chance they came from a molten-cheese empire in San Antonio, Texas…

Ballpark nachos are a concession stand staple… For all of Major League Baseball, that statistic would translate to ~13m orders.

And for every order, there’s one key figure to thank: San Antonio businessman Frank Liberto.

Decades ago, he added a twist to a popular Mexican appetizer and originated the concept of the ballpark nacho. If you’ve purchased nachos at a sporting event or a movie theater, odds are you’ve bought chips, cheese sauce, or jalapeños from the Liberto family’s longtime business…

The fascinating story of “The family that built a ballpark nachos monopoly,” from @mdent05 in @TheHustle.

For a somewhat more (or at least differently) aspirational appreciation of nachos, see “Toward a Theory of Perfect Nachos,” from @rosecrans in @SAVEURMAG.

* Kristen Bell

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As we crave the crunch, we might recall that it was on this date in 1971 that Walt Disney World, outside of Orlando, opened. The property covers nearly 25,000 acres (39 sq mi; 101 km2), of which half has been used. The resort has grown to contain four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two water parks, 31 themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, several golf courses, a camping resort, and other entertainment venues, including the outdoor shopping center Disney Springs.

Nachos are served.

The Hub of Magic Kingdom

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 1, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Take this job and shove it”*…

Chauncey Hare, “Self Portrait at EPA” (1980)

Chauncey Hare hated his job, so he captured the drudgery of office life in order to protest it…

Photography started as a hobby for Chauncey Hare. For 27 years, he worked as a chemical engineer at the Standard Oil Company of California, using his camera to escape the tedium of the office. By 1977, he couldn’t take it anymore. But before he declared himself a “corporate dropout” and committed to art full-time, Hare trained his camera on the world he hoped to leave behind…

“Head of Female Worker Seen Over Office Cubicle, Standard Oil Company of California” (1976–77)
“Office worker seated at a desk, ‘Standard Oil Company of California refinery, Richmond, California’” (1976-77)

Paradoxically, the same medium that once served as a respite from the banality of Hare’s professional life soon came to feel oppressive in its own right. In Quitting Your Day Job, a forthcoming critical biography of Hare, the scholar Robert Slifkin connects Hare’s sly, arresting portraiture to the artist’s critiques of capitalist power structures, including the cultural institutions that embraced him. (Hare won three Guggenheim fellowships, an honor shared only by Ansel Adams and Walker Evans.) The photographer went on to disavow “official art” and accept a part-time job at the Environmental Protection Agency to support himself. A self-portrait from that time [the photo at the top]shows Hare back in an office environment, where a poster hanging on a cubicle wall poses a question that its surroundings implicitly answer: What’s bugging you? By 1985, Hare had given up photography altogether and become a therapist specializing in “work abuse.”…

More of Hare’s remarkable work, and of his equally-remarkable story, at “Under the Fluorescent Lights,” by Hannah Giorgis. See also “These Photographs Were Made in Protest.”

* songwriter David Allan Coe (made famous in a recording by Johnny Paycheck)

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As we gag at our gigs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1911 that the first motion picture “stunt man” was hired, when Lt. Henry “Hap” Arnold, a pioneer military pilot, was brought onto director William J. Humphrey‘s production of The Military Air-Scout to do stunt flying for the film; the two-reeler was released the following December.

Lt. Arnold went on to become an Army General (head of the Army Air Corps) and then the commanding general of the U.S. Air Force; he remains the only person every to hold a five-star rank in two different U.S. military services. On retirement, he helped found both Project RAND, which evolved into one of the world’s largest non-profit global policy think tanks, the RAND Corporation, and Pan American World Airways.

“Hap” Arnold, stunt pilot

Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 30, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Space is to place as eternity is to time”*…

Josh Worth (@misterjworth), with a mesmerizing interactive reminder that space is vast: “If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel.”

Joseph Joubert

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As we scrutinize scale, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that NASA, undaunted by distance, launched the Space Shuttle Discovery (which had been out of service for three years), marking America’s return to manned space flight following the Challenger disaster. By its last mission in 2011, Discovery had flown 149 million miles in 39 missions, completed 5,830 orbits, and spent 365 days in orbit over 27 years.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 29, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”*…

It’s all too easy to believe that slavery is a thing of the past. The reality is different…

Slavery officially ended in 1981, when Mauritania became the last country to ban forced labour. But in practice it remains surprisingly common. On any given day, at least 49m people are in modern slavery, according to a new report by the UN and Walk Free, a human-rights group. The report defines modern slavery as people either forced to work or forced to marry. Such issues are often seen as a problem confined to the world’s poorest countries. But the authors of the report reckon that more than half of the global incidents of forced labour last year happened in what the World Bank defines as upper-middle and high-income countries (though poorer countries had a higher rate per 1,000 people).

To estimate the prevalence of forced labour, the authors interviewed around 78,000 people from 68 countries. In some places, such as North Korea, it is impossible to conduct such surveys, so estimates are less reliable than in more developed countries. According to the report, countries in Asia and the Pacific are host to more than half of all incidents of forced labour. Though as a proportion of the population Arab states were the worst offenders, with the equivalent of 1% of their populations enslaved.

The already grim situation is getting worse. Between 2016 and 2021 an additional 2.7m people worked in forced labour, taking the total to nearly 28m—more than 3m were children, though the data show that number is falling. Forced marriages increased by 6.6m over the same period, to a total of 22m. That may be an undercount: respondents were asked if they consented to their marriage, meaning that people who were forced into a relationship but later accepted it would not be counted in the data. Women and girls made up the biggest share of forced marriages, though one-third of those coerced into wedlock were male.

The most common type of coercion faced by workers is non-payment of wages. The fact that covid-19 lockdowns decimated many people’s incomes made it easier to exploit that vulnerability. In wealthier countries, sectors including agriculture, construction, domestic work and fishing were found to have the highest rates of forced work, with the private sector responsible for the majority of cases…

The plague is getting worse: “The number of people in modern slavery is increasing,” from @ECONdailycharts.

* Abraham Lincoln

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As we stamp out servitude, we might send free birthday greetings to David Walker; he was born on this date in 1796. The North Carolina born son of a slave father and a free African American mother, he was born free and made his way to Boston, where he became an outspoken abolitionist. From 1827-29, he was the Boston representative and correspondent for New York City’s short-lived but influential Freedom’s Journal, the first newspaper owned and operated by African Americans.

In 1829, he published An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, a call for black unity and a fight against slavery. African Americans throughout the South got hold of Walker’s Appeal, enraging Southern governments. Less than one year after the publication of the Appeal, Walker was found dead of unknown causes. A $1,000 reward had been offered for his death.

The issue of Freedom’s Journal containing the first version of the “Appeal”; subsequent editions followed (source)

“It is the special province of music to move the heart”*…

From the estimable Ted Gioia

Here’s one of the best music videos you will see this year.

Bach’s score for The Art of Fugue—perhaps his last work—does not specify the instrumentation, thus giving later musicians tremendous creative latitude. It’s based on [the motif pictured above].

This new video performance, released last week by the Netherlands Bach Society, features an impressive range of settings—starting with solo voices, and working through combinations of a dozen other instruments…

Bach– as Wagner proclaimed, “the most stupendous miracle in all music!”: The Art of the Fugue

* Johann Sebastian Bach

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As we appreciate patterns, we might recall that it was on this date in 1738 that Handel, Bach’s contemporary (he, Bach, and Domenico Scarlatti were all born in 1685), finished his his oratorio Saul and starts Israel in Egypt.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 27, 2022 at 1:00 am

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