Posts Tagged ‘China’
For years culinary detectives have been on the chili pepper’s trail, trying to figure out how a New World import became so firmly rooted in Sichuan, a landlocked province on the southwestern frontier of China. “It’s an extraordinary puzzle,” says Paul Rozin, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, who has studied the cultural evolution and psychological impact of foods, including the chili pepper…
How the chili pepper got to China (and lots of other stops around the world): “Why Revolutionaries Love Spicy Food.
* “Philosophers have often looked for the defining feature of humans–language, rationality, culture and so on. I’d stick with this: Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce” – Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, quoted in The New York Times
As we remind ourselves that water doesn’t help, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that John L. Mason of New York was issued U.S. patent No. 22,186 for a Glass Jar, “Improvement in Screw-Neck Bottles”– forever after known as “Mason jars.” That same year he also invented the first screw top salt shaker.
Every new step in the direction of simplification – toward monoculture, say, ore genetically identical plants – leads to unimaginable new complexities…”
― Michael Pollan
In any case,
Animal cloning has been around for nearly 20 years, but has mostly been done for the sake of research. Now, a new commercial venture in Tianjin, China, plans to clone 100,000 beef cattle a year for meat production beginning in the first half of 2016.
The enterprise, made up of several academic and commercial organizations with financial support from the Chinese government, has the ultimate goal of ramping up production to a million cow embryos a year…
* Douglas Coupland
As we ruminate on reproduction, we might send biological birthday greetings to Erasmus Darwin; he was born on this date in 1731. Erasmus was an accomplished doctor (he declined an offer to be personal physician to Charles III), but is better remembered as a key thinker in the “Midlands Enlightenment”– a founder of the Lunar Society of Birmingham and author of (among other works) Zoonomia, or, The Laws of Organic Life, which contained one of the first formal theories of evolution… one that foreshadowed the theories of Erasmus’ reader– and grandson– Charles… all of which may soon seem quaint.
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has recently digitized ten scrapbooks belonging to Harry Houdini. The books are divided into three groups: volumes compiled by other magicians about their careers; scrapbooks holding Houdini’s clippings on the practice of magic in general; and books that chart Houdini’s investigations of fakes, frauds, and conjurers. (Later in his life, Houdini became fascinated with the post-WWI fad for spiritualism—mediums, séances, and psychics—and took on a role as skeptical debunker of spiritualist performers.)…
* Tom Robbins
As we reach for the paste, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that Chairman Mao delivered his speech, “On the Correct handling of Contradictions Among the People,” to the Eleventh Session (Enlarged) of the Supreme State Conference in China. Calling for the free expression of criticisms of the Communist regime, Mao instigated what he called the “Hundred Flowers era” (as in “let a hundred flowers bloom…”).
It was a short-lived era. Some historians suggest that the outpouring of criticism that resulted spooked the powers-that-be; others believe that Mao’s invitation was from the outset a calculated move to draw out critics. (Mao later said that he was trying to coax snakes out of their dens so he could chop off their heads… but he may well have been saving face.) Either way, within months, the Hundred Flowers campaign had given way to the Anti-Rightest Campaign: 300-600,000 intellectuals were labeled as rightists, stripped of their jobs, and sent to labor camps, most on the evidence of their Hundred Flowers comments.
It’s not just the assembly-line worker who’s being replaced by automatons, it’s tough all over:
In the face of rising labor costs, Chinese restaurateur Cui Runguan is selling thousands of robots that can hand slice noodles into a pot of boiling water called the Chef Cui. Runguan says in the report below that just like robots replacing workers in factories, “it is certainly going to happen in sliced noodle restaurants.” The robots costs $2,000 each, as compared to a chef, who would cost $4,700 a year. According to one chef, “The robot chef can slice noodles better than human chefs.” News of Runguan’s invention hit the internet in March of 2011, but they’ve since gone into production and are starting to catch on: 3,000 of them have already been sold. But why do their eyes glow, and why do they look so angry?…
As we admire the precise proportions of our pasta, we might send well-insulated birthday greetings to Ray McIntire; he was born on this date in 1918. While working at Dow Chemical during World War II in search of a substitute for rubber (which was in short supply during the conflict), McIntire combined styrene with isobutylene and created polystyrene, a unique material that was solid yet light and flexible (due to the tiny bubbles formed by the isobutylene within the styrene). Dow patented the serendipitous invention in 1944 as STYROFOAM™. In 2008, McIntire was inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame.
…a Scottish born, San Francisco based artist. He keeps notebooks filled with scraps of paper, scribbled phrases, and other ephemera that he incorporates into his artwork. These elements represent the often overlooked stuff of daily life, which is the root of Fullarton’s inspiration. He sees beauty in the ways people manage to find joy and meaning in the minutiae. The artist paints vibrantly complex canvases whose elements jumble and mix together in a facsimile of modern life. Fullarton compliments these with smaller mixed media drawings on paper. These paper works are sometimes the genesis of the finished paintings, but are more often stand-alone vignettes featuring forlorn characters who find themselves in compromising situations.
Indeed. Consider his most recent Behance portfolio, “I Can’t Apologize Enough“– a calculated violation of Ben Franklin’s injunction, “Never ruin an apology with an excuse”– from which the image above and the one immediately below are drawn.
[TotH to Laughing Squid]
As we concentrate on contrition, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that the United Kingdom surrendered sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, and the island enclave became the first PRC’s first “Special Administrative Region.” (The second, Macau, was created two years later.)