No Redeeming Social Value

December 1, 2010

First, some background for those of you who have never lived in North Carolina: We have centralized state control over alcoholic beverage sales. Most “strong spirits” here are sold through official ABC stores. Apparently, all licensed liquor stores in NC get their supply from the state-controlled warehouse. All of which makes for the right conditions for this news story I heard on the radio yesterday afternoon. I have highlighted my favorite line.

North Carolina’s ABC Commission has decided that liquor stores in the state will no longer sell 95% grain alcohol. The state warehouse currently stocks two 190-proof brands, Everclear and Diesel. A recent study by the Mecklenburg ABC board found that most of its grain liquor is sold at stores near college campuses, where the potent spirits are especially popular. State ABC spokeswoman Agnes Stevens says the Commission decided the high-alcohol drinks had no redeeming social value.

Does anyone else get a feeling of time-warp from these sentiments? I mean, I do kind of agree, I have no personal use for high-proof alcohol, (or any alcohol, for that matter,) but do we really need this level of centralized regulation of it? But as the spokesperson went on to say:

Agnes Stevens: It’s really – it’s a decision that the Commission has made with regard to concern for public health, and with an eye toward being protective.

I feel very protected now.

Actually, what I most feel like doing now is making up a longer list of things I think have no redeeming social value. What do you think we should try to get banned next?

-posted by Dana

Chinese Food: The Open Source McDonald’s

January 8, 2009

Jennifer 8 Lee gave a TED talk on the rampant spread of Chinese food throughout the US and the world, which is as entertaining as it is informative.

For those of you who have never heard of Jennifer 8 Lee, she’s the author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. I first heard about the book from the NPR review of the book last year, but fellow Geek Buffeteer Jennie also reviewed it over at Biblio File. I have yet to read it, but I really, really want to.

Now I’m hungry…

-posted by Dana

Vote for Laura Masterson and local food

October 31, 2008

In Portland, Oregon, Laura Masterson of the 47th Avenue Farm is an urban farmer and advocate for local food, food security, and soil management. This year she’s on
the Multnomah County ballot as a candidate for East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Director, Zone 2, as I learned from a friend in Portland who enthusiastically voted for her.

Those of us who don’t live in Multnomah County can’t do that. Luckily, there’s another way for us to support Masterson and the causes she represents. In addition to running for public office, she’s also one of 11 finalists for the Dreamers into Doers Award, which is apparently a $10,000 award sponsored by the website which honors an entrepreneur or activist who has turned her hobby into a business or nonprofit organization. Not only can anyone vote, we can vote multiple times — once a day until voting closes on November 18, in fact. Of the eleven finalists, she’s currently in third place.

Unfortunately, voting requires making an account on, which is annoying, but at least it’s not very hard. From the Dreamers into Doers page, click “meet the finalists”, then click “vote” next to Laura’s name. If not signed in, you’ll be asked to register/sign in at that point.

Please do vote — early and often! — and pass it on.

Basque Gastronomy and History

July 11, 2008

I seem to have stored up a backlog of book reviews that I’ve been meaning to post, so I’ll start trying to clear them out of my head and onto the internet now. This first one is somewhat unusual, in that it’s actually non-fiction, which I haven’t been reading much of lately.

This book actually has to be paired with a radio story. Back in May, before I had to leave for my 3-week business trip to Asia (I’m chronicling that over on my personal blog), I heard this piece from the Kitchen Sisters on NPR, from their Hidden Kitchens series: The Sheepherder’s Ball: Hidden Basque Kitchens. While my own cooking skills are notably underdeveloped, I find this series fascinating for the way it explores history and culture through the initial touchstone of recipes and food. In this case, they revealed the existence of a sizable Basque community in the US that I had never heard about before.

Francisco and Joaquin Lasarte came to America in 1964 from Basque country in northern Spain. Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who repressively ruled the country for nearly 40 years, made life miserable for the Basque people, suppressing their language, culture and possibilities.

The result was a massive exodus, and the only way to come to the United States for many Basque was to contract as sheepherders. There was a shortage of shepherds in the American West, and Sen. Patrick McCarren of Nevada helped craft legislation in 1950 that allowed Basque men to take up this lonely and difficult job.

Neither Lasarte brother had any sheepherding experience when they arrived in America.

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Public Service Announcement: Free Ice Cream!

April 29, 2008

Yum!I don’t know how many people will see this in time, but today, April 29, is Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day! Check the official site for the shop nearest you. I’m seriously considering stopping on my way home from work.

Now, the requisite poll question: What’s your favorite flavor?

I am, unoriginally, a huge fan of Cherry Garcia.


Do you live in an “agriculture state”?

November 7, 2007

And (while we’re on the subject) another thing about Iowa…

Is it really a farm state? Is any state really a farm state?

Fun fact: Agriculture provides 3 percent of Iowa’s gross domestic product. (Manufacturing provides 21 percent.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Only 56 shopping days left!

October 30, 2007

I love the holidays as much as the next person.

In fact, I might love them *more* than the next person. I have so many plans for Thanksigiving that I can’t wait the three weeks and two days until it actually happens.

I have most of my Christmas presents figured out.

But… things are a little ridiculous. I’m growing used to seeing Christmas in stores before Halloween. (Especially after living in Europe, where they lack the Thanksgiving holiday buffer.) But tonight was not cool. Not cool at all.

What I’m not used to is living someplace where we might actually get trick-or-treaters, so tonight I stopped off at the grocery store to get some candy for tomorrow.

Only, all the Halloween candy was gone, and there was only Christmas candy.

Dear Children of Northern Virginia,

I apologize for the Christmas colored York Peppermint Patties you will be recieving if you come to my house this year. Next year, I will buy my candy in September. It might be a little stale, but it won’t feature snowflakes.

Forgive me,


–posted by kidsilkhaze

Dinner at Chez Geek

September 27, 2007

In an echo of Jennie’s cry of “I’m an adult, I swear!,” as well as an amusing revisit of our previous conversation about dinosaur to chicken evolution, a picture of the dinner Mark and I had the other night:

Dino Nuggets!

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I’m an adult, I swear!

September 19, 2007

When I was a kid, being a grown-up seemed like the ultimate. You could stay up as late as you wanted, eat chocolate cake for dinner, never have anyone tell you what to do, and have money all the time to buy whatever you wanted.

Of course, now I have so much to do I can’t get to bed as early as I’d like, I have to tell myself not to eat chocolate cake for dinner, and I now know that the checkbook doesn’t magically make money– it’s actually tied to something. Yes, my paycheck is bigger than my allowance, but after bills and gas and food and the like, not much.

Still, there are a few times when I catch myself going “heck, I’m an adult now! What’s stopping me?” Read the rest of this entry »

Our State Fair is the Best State Fair

August 20, 2007

You want an awesome day of cheap wholesome fun? A day that’s good for the whole family but not nearly as lame as it sounds?

I have two words for you: STATE FAIR.

Yeah, they sound dumb and boring. But, really? The State Fair rocks. It’s like Niagara Falls–has a bit of an old fogey lame-o reputation, but actually quite neat and fun and awesome.

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