Posts from 2nd November 2003

Nov 03

The photograph in Linda McCartney’s

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 604 views

The photograph in Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking of ‘exciting non-meat products’ is frankly quite scary. The copyright of the books says 1987, but these products have a look that’s pure 70s. Vegetarian food packaging has improved tremendously in the past twenty years. Veggie food now looks fun! And edible. Although now faux meats get named ‘Black Bean Burger’ and ‘Deli Style Ham’ instead of ‘Stripples’, ‘Bolono’, and ‘Wham’. Why did no one every market lamb substitute Blam?

I bought the Cutco Knives cookbook…

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 728 views

I bought the Cutco Knives cookbook for the possibility of garish fifties food photos. After buying it, and actually reading the recipes, I realise, oh, it’s a MEAT cookbook, it won’t be overly useful as a cookbook to me. But oh, it’s so twisted the entertainment value is worth the $1.

Yes, yes, there’s the variety meats photo spread (bleurrgh) and the MEAT IS GOOD propaganda. But! The illustrations! Frank Marcello is an insane genius.

The piece de resistance is his full page illustration of an outdoor barbecue. Laws of physics are flagrantly violated. The sun not only has a face, it’s a slightly demented one. There is the weirdest interpretation of a cat ever to grace a mainstream publication (Louis Wain’s got nothin’ on old Frank.) There’s a man with very hairy forearms. There’s a woman holding the world’s largest baby. There’s a dog that is apparently wearing galoshes. And people think drugs were a sixties thing! Frank, would you mind sharing with the rest of the class?

Elsewhere is the old standby of anthropomorphized food. (And god knows how weird THAT is) Pork gets the most of this treatment, and these pigs are crazy. ‘Cooked smoked ham’ has a pig reclining on a circular couch while puffing a on cigarette in a holder. Barbecued ham steaks show a Drunk Pig sitting next to a bottle of cider. I know people were total alcoholics in the fifties but pigs, too?

Unlike Martin, I don’t actually think the problem facing the

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 325 views

Unlike Martin, I don’t actually think the problem facing the Theory of Everything is that certain aspects are difficult to describe or explain, I think it’s that the programme-makers – on showing so far – take for granted that non-specialists will find the SAME things tricky to grasp that were obstacles in the actual history of maths and science. For example, they made a ridiculously tremendous meal of how counter-intuitive Quantum Mechanics is, so weird that EVEN EINSTEIN refused to accept it: but when they invented a dramatised visualisation of how it was “stranger than any science fiction”, well, it just wasn’t. Either it was like quite routine science fiction (things can sometimes pass through other things zzzz) or it was like ordinary life (sometimes things you are sure will happen don’t). In the Quantum Caf’, when you ask for Orange Juice, you sometimes get something else entirely DUH-DUH-DAAH!! Er, hello, have you ever been in a non-quantum caf’, Brian?

Yes the Quantum World is possibly counter-intuitive IF you’ve internalised other previous theories: but this is just what non-scientists HAVEN’T done. For example, the idea that the rules of very big objects and very small objects might be extremely different isn’t hard to grasp at all – since we were all smaller once than we now are (and the rules WERE different) it’s kind of built-in. They should waste less time ooh-ing and aah-ing over things which are only shocking if you’ve spent a lot of time training yourself to be shocked.

I watched some sort of medical mystery show about Toxic Shock Syndrome

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 715 views

I watched some sort of medical mystery show about Toxic Shock Syndrome on Discovery Health. If the show is supposed to be a suspenceful mystery, it’s a bit of a failure as there’s not much mystery if you have been paying attention to women’s health issues for the last 30 years. What is this bad orange makeup mystery disease epidemic affecting young women? And how are they all contracting toxic shock? Gosh, I don’t know! Will the doctors and epidemiologists ever figure it out? The kicker is when all the CDC types finally do figure out the link between the sick women and say “well it was this certain brand of tampon, and it got recalled” without naming Rely and naughty, naughty Proctor and Gamble! (Hmmm, maybe I should start paying attention to what commercials are on Discovery. P&G’s Swiffer gets a lot of ad time on Discovery’s TLC.) And the show implies that the industry responded with an absorbancy standard immediately. Hey! Guess what! It didn’t! (Are you surprised?) While this TSS crisis occurred in 1980, according to Karen Houppert in The Curse, it wasn’t until 1990 that the FDA and the tampon industry implemented the now familar standard. But, oh my, let’s not get into the politics of women’s health on tv, shall we?

A new Channel 4 show entitled

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 354 views

A new Channel 4 show entitled The Theory Of Everything is about the search for a unified theory of physics. Current thinking focusses on 10-, 11- or 26-dimensional vibrating strands (superstrings) or sheets (m-branes) of energy. The introduction to the show claims it will turn this “into something we all can understand”. Good luck to them.

They start by oversimplifying, explaining that “everything in the universe, from a grain of sand to a distant star, is made of the same thing,” which rather misses the urgent and key point that these superstrings make more than matter – they make space and time and energy and all the forces too. That’s where it gets hard to understand and explain, and I hope they aren’t dodging it. I’ll keep watching because it’s something I care about, but they have really their work cut out.