15 May 2021
Paul Levy, in the Spectator, reviews Norman Kolpas’s Foie Gras: A Global History, which defends the rich delicacy and its creation via the practice of gavage (the fattening of geese and ducks by tubular feeding) against a recent wave of Puritanism and snobbish morality posing that got the product banned in California and removed from the shelves of Fortnum & Mason in Britain.
[T]he main opposition claim is that the production of the hyper-fatty livers of ducks and geese is physically cruel and therefore immoral.
The factual argument is just plain wrong, and so is the ethical judgment that depends on it. I have witnessed the ‘force-feeding’ of ducks, and it is not a case of animal abuse. What actually happens is that the nicely behaved ducks (imprinted à la Konrad Lorenz) form an orderly line to take their turn swallowing a flexible tube that in seconds whooshes pellets of maize or mash of cereal down their gullets. They appear to relish this, and are, in my experience, fussed about and petted affectionately by the farming women of the south-west of France who perform what is called the gavage.
The problem, says Norman Kolpas, is that our celebrities and anti-foie gras activists ‘immediately and understandably tend to anthropomorphize the birds, imagining how it might feel for a human to have a feeding tube jammed down the throat’. This image of oral rape comes from an ignorance of bird physiology. The human esophagus is a more rigid structure of muscle, cartilage and bone, and inserting a tube down it means getting past the epiglottis, which triggers the human gag reflex. These waterfowl species do not have a gag reflex.
The gavage, in fact, mimics the birds’ natural pre-migratory behavior; following the seasons, they gorge themselves with food in preparation for their long flights. This had been remarked at least as early as 400 BC, when, says Kolpas, ‘well-fattened geese were deemed sufficiently worthy to be presented as a gift when Agesilaus, king of Sparta, visited Egypt’. The Greeks and Romans force-fed geese with figs rather than grain, a practice later adapted for rich pork liver, as recommended by Apicius. Foie gras found its way to south-western France with the conquest of Gaul (121-51 BC), and then Jewish slaves, cooks and farmers spread it east across Europe. Though goose makes the most appreciated fat liver, the amount of goose foie gras now produced globally has become minuscule (about 5 percent) compared with duck foie gras, mostly from (pond-shunning) hybrid male Moulard ducks, whose meat is also succulent and valued.
15 May 2021
“A jug of rice wine infused with two hundred baby rodents; a dessert made of millions of crushed flies. Jiayang Fan spoke with the creator of the Disgusting Food Museum, in Sweden, which is located in a shopping mall and is designed with an eye for Instagram. But the playful surroundings belie the museum’s more serious messages about who gets to decide which foods are “disgusting,” and how, if we want to live more lightly on the planet, we need to broaden our palates. Just maybe don’t start out with cans of surströmming, a fermented herring. The museum director informed Fan that these fish have induced more vomiting than any other item at the museum.”
14 May 2021
Rebecca Mead serves up the traditional expansive New Yorker essay on the Cerne Abbas Giant in response to recent dating efforts making the news.
The Cerne Giant is so imposing that he is best viewed from the opposite crest of the valley, or from the air. He is a hundred and eighty feet tall, about as high as a twenty-story apartment building. Held aloft in his right hand is a large, knobby club; his left arm stretches across the slope. Drawn in an outline formed by trenches packed with chalk, he has primitive but expressive facial features, with a line for a mouth and circles for eyes. His raised eyebrows were perhaps intended to indicate ferocity, but they might equally be taken for a look of confusion. His torso is well defined, with lines for ribs and circles for nipples; a line across his waist has been understood to represent a belt. Most well defined of all is his penis, which is erect, and measures twenty-six feet in length. Were the giant not protectively fenced off, a visitor could comfortably lie down within the member and take in the idyllic vista beyond.
Outline version (outside paywall).
13 May 2021
Zero HP Lovecraft refuses to be assimilated.
We have watched each click of the ratchet, as mindless pod people tell us that each new change isn’t really happening, it’s a crazy conspiracy, and also it’s good that it’s happening.
Have you ever seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Don’t waste your time on any version but the original from 1956. It’s a truly chilling film, one of the great classics of sci fi horror, and also a political allegory, as poignant today as it was then.
In the story, alien seed pods grow exact replicas of the people all around you, and when you fall asleep, an alien consciousness grown from your pod takes over your body. At first it seems like a mass hysteria of Capgras delusion, but the aliens and pods turn out to be real.
“I will not eat the bugs, I will not live in the pod” – this far right hate slogan exists because we know the people in charge want to make us eat insects and house us in bug hives. But Invasion of the Body Snatchers offers us a different way to imagine pod life.
Progressives feel a salacious thrill when they imagine what common, ordinary things will be prohibited in the future. This is the sacrifice that the god “progress” demands – each generation gives up a slice of humanity – and they call this “humane.”
We’ve all heard them say it, that perverted thrill they feel when they imagine their own futureshock. “one day, people will see meat-eating as cruel and barbaric” – These cancerous prohibitions are always latent in the progressive mind, then one day they metastasize.
The first time I was politically awake for it was the normalization of homosexuality. Public opinion flipped over night. One day, Obama himself was against it (lie) and the next day your very own friends were taking you aside in private to tell you to stop calling things gay.
Since then it’s happened two more times in rapid succession: first with transsexuality, and second with Bowels Loose Movement. In 2014 they were a minor nuisance, in 2020 everyone spontaneously bent the knee. They did that because people instinctively submit to power.
Watching my friends and coworkers install the latest kernel updates for progressivism makes me feel like everyone around me is being replaced by Alien pod people. For some, the feeling is mutual, but these are people whose slogan is “Change”, who insist WE are the radical ones.
Whether you can be body-snatched by a rapid norm reversal is pretty much the criteria for whether you are fully human or just some kind of animal. True nihilism isn’t hopelessness, it’s having no anchor.
People who believe in nothing also believe in everything, it’s why cults proliferate in times of social collapse, which is what you are living through. Physical collapse isn’t here yet, but cultural collapse, meta-political collapse, has arrived.
13 May 2021
The US Army:
Russian Military Recruitment Video from NORSKK on Vimeo.
Which side do you think would do better in a life-or-death armed conflict?
12 May 2021
Interesting news from the National Trust:
Generations have speculated about the age and meaning of the club-brandishing giant hewn into a Dorset hillside. Was he a depiction of the legendary demi-god Hercules, an ancient fertility symbol, or even the soldier and statesman Oliver Cromwell? Another theory holds that the figure was carved around the body of a giant who was slain by local people after he terrorised the countryside.
Now, after state-of-the art sediment analysis jointly funded by the National Trust, the University of Gloucestershire, Allen Environmental Archaeology and the Pratt Bequest, National Trust archaeologists have concluded the giant was probably first constructed in the late Saxon period.
Independent geoarchaeologist Mike Allen, whose research is helping the Trust understand more about the landscape in which the giant was created, said the result was surprising.
‘This is not what was expected. Many archaeologists and historians thought he was prehistoric or post-medieval, but not medieval. Everyone was wrong, and that makes these results even more exciting.’
Phillip Toms, Professor in Physical Geography at the University of Gloucestershire, studied the samples using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), which shows when individual grains of sand in the sediment were last exposed to sunlight. Material taken from the deepest layer (1m) yielded a date range of 700-1100AD which suggests the giant was first made by late Saxons.
National Trust senior archaeologist Martin Papworth said: “The archaeology on the hillside was surprisingly deep – people have been re-chalking the giant over a long period of time. The deepest sample from his elbows and feet tells us he could not have been made before 700AD, ruling out theories that he is of prehistoric or Roman origin.
‘This probable Saxon date places him in a dramatic part of Cerne history. Nearby Cerne Abbey was founded in 987AD and some sources think the abbey was set up to convert the locals from the worship of an early Anglo Saxon god known as ‘Heil’ or ‘Helith’. The early part of our date range does invite the question, was the giant originally a depiction of that god?’
But other samples – taken with permission from Historic England and the Secretary of State – gave later dates of up to 1560, which presented Martin and his team with a conundrum, because the earliest documented record of the giant is a church warden’s account of repairing him in 1694.
‘The science suggests he could be medieval, but intriguingly, surviving documents from Cerne Abbey don’t mention the giant. In the 16th century it’s as if the giant’s not there, and John Norden’s survey of 1617 makes no mention of him. And why would a rich and famous abbey – just a few yards away – commission, or sanction, a naked man carved in chalk on the hillside?’
Martin’s working theory is that the giant may have been a medieval creation but then – for reasons we may never know – was neglected for several hundred years, before being rediscovered.
‘I wonder whether he was created very early on, perhaps in the late Saxon period, but then became grassed over and was forgotten. But at some stage, in low sunlight, people saw that figure on the hill and decided to re-cut him again. That would explain why he doesn’t appear in the abbey records or in Tudor surveys.’
11 May 2021
The new species of trap-jawed ant was discovered in the Chocó region of Ecuador.
The College Fix reports that a Yale researcher, in a new first, has decided to violate Linnaean nomenclature in order to make a political statement.
A Yale University researcher has given a newly discovered ant species the first of its kind — a “non-binary” scientific name.
According to New Scientist, taxonomic expert Douglas Booher, suggested to ant discoverer Philipp Hoenle of Germany’s Technical University that the new species get the “gender non-binary identifier ‘they,’” in this case Strumigenys ayersthey.
Keep in mind there is nothing about this particular ant’s characteristics which actually warrant a “non-binary” designation; as the Daily Mail notes, only humans can describe themselves as such based on how they perceive their gender.
Traditional species names are either masculine (suffix “-i”) or feminine (“ae”).
Booher wanted to honor Jeremy Ayers, an Andy Warhol protégé and human rights activist, with the new discovery. He enlisted the band R.E.M.’s frontman, Michael Stipe, to assist him in writing the etymology section for the paper on the new ant.
“[Ayers] identified as a gay man [note: not non-binary] outside of his Warhol character, but I’m naming it after him with the suffix added to include all non-binary people for his activism,” Booher said. He added that Ayers actually “would’ve shied away from himself being honoured.”
11 May 2021
Nautilus looks at the left’s obsession: victimhood through the lens of social science.
In a polarized nation, victimhood is a badge of honor. It gives people strength. “The victim has become among the most important identity positions in American politics,” wrote Robert B. Horwitz, a communications professor at the University of California, San Diego.
Horwitz published his study, “Politics as Victimhood, Victimhood as Politics,” in 2018.1 He focused on social currents that drove victimhood to the fore of American political life, arguing it “emerged from the contentious politics of the 1960s, specifically the civil rights movement and its aftermath.” What lodges victimhood in human psychology?
In 2020, researchers in Israel, led by Rahav Gabray, a doctor of psychology at Tel Aviv University, conducted a series of empirical studies to come up with an answer.2 They identify a negative personality trait they call TIV or Tendency toward Interpersonal Victimhood. People who score high on a TIV test have an “enduring feeling that the self is a victim in different kinds of interpersonal relationships,” they write.
The study of TIV is built around four pillars. The first pillar is a relentless need for one’s victimhood to be clearly and unequivocally acknowledged by both the offender and the society at large. The second is “moral elitism,” the conviction that the victim has the moral high ground, an “immaculate morality,” while “the other” is inherently immoral. The third pillar is a lack of empathy, especially an inability to see life from another perspective, with the result that the victim feels entitled to act selfishly in response. The fourth pillar is Rumination—a tendency to dwell on the details of an assault on self-esteem.
You only need to spend only a few minutes watching or reading the news, in any country, to hear and see victimhood raging. We caught up with Gabray to get the science behind the headlines.
Is TIV an aberration in the personality?
Sometimes it may be, if one is high on the TIV scale. But we didn’t research clinical patients. That’s not what interested me. I’m interested in how this tendency appears in normal people, not those with a personality disorder. What we found was that like in a bell curve, most people who experience TIV appear in the middle range.
You found a correlation between TIV and what you referred to as “anxious attachment style”, as opposed to “secure and avoidant” styles. What is the anxious style?
Another way to say it is an “ambivalent attachment style.” So when a child is very young, and care is uncertain, perhaps the caregiver, or the male figures in the child’s life, don’t act consistently, sometimes they may act very aggressively without warning, or they don’t notice that the child needs care. That’s when the anxious attachment style or ambivalent attachment style is created.
So victimhood is a learned behavior after a certain age.
Yes, normally children internalize the empathetic and soothing reactions of their parents, they learn not to need others from outside to soothe themselves. But people with high TIV cannot soothe themselves. This is partly why they experience perceived offenses for long-term periods. They tend to ruminate about the offense. They keep mentioning they are hurt, remembering and reflecting on what happened, and also they keep dwelling on the negative feelings associated with the offense: hopelessness, insult, anger, frustration.
10 May 2021
Henry Grabar addresses a question currently puzzling Americans.
On the demand side, the lumber issue is relatively straightforward: Americans are flush. Interest rates are low. Wealthier households are buying pandemic-proof second homes or diving into long-awaited renovations. Younger families are trying to buy starter homes and settle down. Many multifamily builders have turned to timber as well, which is now commonly used to frame five- or six-story buildings. All that has created enormous demand for wood.
But the case of lumber supply is a little more perplexing. True, shipments from Canadian forests, which contribute about one-third of U.S. lumber consumption, have been constrained by tariffs, beetle infestations, and wildfires. But there is plenty of wood on both sides of the border, and fast-growing pine in the U.S. South is actually cheaper than it’s been in two decades. …
Instead, the culprit is the decade of instability and low prices that followed the Great Recession, when America stopped building homes, leaving the lumber trade out to dry. The stunted recovery stripped the industry’s crucial middlemen—the mills themselves—to the bone. Building a new deck is expensive now because mills can’t ramp up to meet the demand surge—or won’t, nervous they’ll get caught with millions in underused machinery when prices crash back to earth.
HT: Karen L. Myers.
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