Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Way We Live Now

'Twas the season for spending time in airports over the past couple of weeks, so I've been mulling some of the oddities of air travel. Let's start with "International" airports. To go visit the female parental unit I fly into Jackson-Evers International Airport. I had always assumed that any airport that called itself an international airport had at least one direct flight to somewhere outside the U.S--whether it be a landing strip in the Bahamas or a cow pasture just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville. One Christmas my sister was waiting for me at Jackson-Evers and decided to ask a desk attendant what flights from Jackson landed in other countries. She was told, "San Juan, Puerto Rico." My sister replied,

"That's part of the U.S."

"It's not a state."

"It may not be a state, but it's still American territory."

"It's not one of the United States."

My sister decided there was nothing to be gained from pursuing this line of inquiry.

After printing my boarding pass for my return flight to Boston, I began looking around on the airport website and found a pull-down menu link called "Cities Served:"

Note all the destinations. As you can see there's no flight to San Juan. I can only assume that a) the desk attendant my sister spoke to was new on the job (as well as shaky on geography) and b) Jackson-Evers International Airport is endorsing the long-held view of many that Florida really isn't part of the United States.

But seriously: I did some research and discovered that international flights are not a requirement to be considered an international airport. The only requirement is customs-checking facilities, which, I gather, Jackson-Evers does have.

On another topic, I noticed the Threat Level was Orange. And it occurred to me to wonder if the Threat Level has ever not been Orange. No--at least not for the last three years. Of course, since no one knows what the criteria for Threat Levels are, no one is quite sure what Orange means anyway. I had once entertained the idle hope that it suggested al-Qaeda was planning to attack us with citrus fruit, but no dice. As former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge pointed out in 2005, the colors that designate Threat Levels don't mean anything: "It could be colors. It could be numbers. It could be animals."

On the upside, how much cooler would it be to walk into an airport and see this:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quote of the Week

"None of us like Christmas. That's sort of bad if you're a pastor."
--Reverend Rick McKinley of the Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, recalling a recent conversation with fellow clergy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Week in Food

You want someplace to put your money that will provide big returns? Forget gold. Think garlic.

Canned tomatoes, microwaved popcorn....find out what health experts won't eat.

In other news, competitive pie eating refuses to follow in the steps of cycling and baseball. Officials are taking anti-doping measures....

A Big Mac vs. a burger at your local high school cafeteria. Guess which is safer....

It's a problem we've all had: you've got a suckling pig handy, but what you really feel like is making pizza.....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quote of the Week

Regarding the supposed War on Christmas:

I never cease to be amazed by how little the Bible-believing Protestants, who constitute most of the soldiery in the Christmas wars, know about their own tradition. Under the rule of the Puritan Revolution in the England of Oliver Cromwell (ancestor in many ways of the Pilgrim Fathers) the celebration of Christmas was banned outright. This was for three reasons: the December fiesta was actually the honoring of Paganism in disguise, and a descendant of the old rites of the Winter Solstice. Then, it was also a manifestation of Popery and superstition (the "Christ-Mass"). Finally, it was an excuse for the riff-raff to get drunk and over-indulge in general. Only the last part seems to have truly survived into our present day.

Christopher Hitchens in The Washington Post.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Way We Live Now

When I got to work today the first email I noticed in my Inbox informed me that our Internet connection was down.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Week in Food

If you find yourself hosting some ancient Romans for dinner, this should get you started.

In a follow-up to a recent post about lab-grown meat, some Dutch scientist have cooked up (as it were) the other white meat.

Some people better get up to speed on their TSA regs: a) Homeland Security doesn't like it when people fly with fully cooked birds and b) HS really frowns on certain kinds of stuffing.

Have you been looking for a good recipe for tree bark? Can't decide what to do with that leather jacket you don't wear anymore? You can find your answers here.

In closing, there are some things you just shouldn't eat, even if French chefs tell you to.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

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