Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Week in Food

With colder weather coming, you might start wearing a hat more often. Why not buy one that expresses your love for dairy?

Or maybe you would rather say it with sculpture.

Go to McDonald's for a burger, leave with a criminal record. Just another day in small-town America.

Do you hate whale meat? Good news: you're not alone.

For the past week, thousands of people have waited in line in the streets of Reykjavik. At midnight tonight, one of them will be able to say, "I ate the last Big Mac in Iceland."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Way We Die Now

In 1978 Wal-Mart branched out from selling standard department store items into pharmaceuticals. In 1983 it expanded into the wholesale market. In 1987, Wal-Mart began selling produce. Now it's 2009--and they're selling caskets. According to Reuters, you can get an Our Lady of Guadalupe casket for $895.* If you want to go more high end, Wal-Mart will sell you a sienna bronze for $2,899.

Both are almost certainly a savings on the funeral home price for caskets. If I had to guess, I would say both prices are well below the 800% markup that's standard for funeral home caskets--but that Wal-Mart is still making a handsome profit.

And be forewarned: if you buy a Wal-Mart casket online, you don't get free shipping.

* Which is only marginally better than the $925 Costco is asking for same.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Way We Live Now, Part 3

The UN is assuming that people who don't have homes or food have cell phones:

Iraqi refugees in Syria will receive UN food vouchers through text messages on mobile phones, the World Food Programme said Tuesday.

In a test project targeting 1,000 Iraqi refugee families, the United Nations agency will send a 22-dollar (15-euro) voucher every two months by SMS to each family, who will be provided with a special SIM card.

The beneficiary can then exchange the electronic voucher for rice, wheat flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil, canned fish, cheese and eggs at selected shops.

At "selected shops?" The phrase reminds of the promo copy for retail gift cards:

"Good at participating Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, and LongHorn Steakhouse locations."

But wait, it gets better:

Addressing concerns about mobile phone ownership among the refugee population, WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella said all the 130,000 Iraqi refugees currently receiving food aid from the agency in Syria have mobile phones.

Well, that's just spiffy--except that figures provided over the past two years by Amnesty International and the Syrian government indicate there are over a million Iraqi refugees in Syria.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Week in Food

Sauteed mealworms, deep-fried scorpions, and lizard on a stick. What else can it be but the Arizona State Fair?

Use common sense, people: nothing says looking for trouble like putting in an order for mozarella caprese.

If you're in California or Nebraska, and you bought beef tongue recently, check for tonsils. Repeat: check for tonsils.

Mmmmmm. Watermelon sausage.

With the recession, demand for alligator hide purses is down. Alligator burgers? That's another story.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quote of the Week

NPR political editor Ken Rudin on the war in Afghanistan:

It is the longest war in U.S. history except for Vietnam. I don't know how long the Thirty Year's War was, but it seems a lot longer.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Way We Live Now, Part I

As those of you with gmail know, when you're using it ads appear at the top of your screen that relate in some way to the contents of your currently opened gmail message. Earlier this week a friend sent me a link to the Reuters article about the Italian scientist who successfully created a replica of the Shroud of Turin.

The ad? For stain removal products.

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