I don’t get it

Plastic straws will soon be banned everywhere, just like how putting chloroform in your coffee was banished to oblivion. But then I see this thing at a place that sold me food and drink for a nominal fee and it broke my brain:

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What the heck is this thing? It looks and feels like a plastic straw. But apparently it’s not. It’s made out of plants or something. So this thing will be legal, but the plastic straw will not.

I’m so confused, what precisely is the haters’ issue with the plastic straw? I thought it’s that it was plastic, and too small to be recyclable. So they want it banned.

But how is this plant based straw any better?

1) Uses plant material likely better used to feed humans or make compost or animal feed

2) Still takes up the same volume of space in the landfill/trash cycle as a plastic straw

3) Although the product claims ‘renewable and compostable’ what this really means in practice is it will compost in a landfill over 734 years instead of the 3,382 years that a plastic straw would take

4) Makes the ill-informed feel better about themselves when they actually should not

5) Illustrates the absurdity of feeling good instead of actually doing good

6) Is a hallmark of the future downfall of all Humanity as we struggle and bicker over foolish things while our culture, planet, and politics descend into the gutter

By the way, I’ve never used straws. I don’t get them. Just drink out of the glass/cup/whatever.

Please, help me.

Jacques and eggs

Eggs are back in the hater aisle.  Once again some study by somebody says they’re bad for you, way more dangerous to you than driving, drugs, drinking, dragons, or druids.  I don’t pay attention to these things.  It always seems like a study that says something about [insert anything here] is made up.  Probably because it’s made up.

Never fear, Jacques is here to demolish such nonsense with facts, wit, and plain happiness.  Definitely worth the read.

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“Fortunately, for the sane cook, butter and eggs will never be passe, even if some moderation proves to be wise. The egg is just too perfect.”

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I always try and have eggs around.  I needed a short meal before my hike today.  So all I did is scramble some eggs with harissa.  Nothing else, just eggs and harissa in some butter.  Then I toasted some wheat bread and melted some French morbier cheese on it.  Simple, easy, win.

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“Until then, if you don’t like my defense of eggs, go ahead: Throw some my way.”

Oh don’t worry, Jacques, no problems over here.  I’m sure I’ve written it too many times on the blog by now, but man do I ever love Pepin.

the plastic straw ban is futile

We’re back! We have no idea why. We’ll speak no more of it. Did you miss us? Please hold your applause [claps hands in an empty room].

So, what the most consequential recycling (“re-cy-cling”) news of the year? Is it:

a) That science still hasn’t solved replication technology thus forcing us to constantly throw away empty food packages when we want them instantly refilled with their sweet goodness?

b) That members of both American political parties still cannot be melted down to make something more useful, like office building support beams?

c) That beer brewers consistently still use glass even though much of glass isn’t recyclable and cans are 100% so, and still hold the same tasty beer? (more on this later)

d) I would hope nobody said plastic straws. But I’m sure a whole bunch of people would say plastic straws.

For you see, plastic straws were once fine. Now they are evil. For some reason.

We already wrote about this last year, but it’s gotten worse since then.

It’s now gotten to the point where the government (in Washington DC, of course) has to employ their own Brown Shirt goon equivalent to threaten your local neighborhood restaurant.

Here’s the reality check:

1) Plastic straws make up about 0.000004% of discarded non-recyclable plastic waste

2) The vast, vast, vast majority of plastic waste that gets into the ocean or into landfills is due entirely to the extremely poor basic waste collection practices of East Asian countries

3) The major recycling news of the year is not straws, but the Chinese government’s ban on the importation of high error rate recycled waste from aboard. Almost nobody is talking about this, but it’s a big deal folks. Every municipal recycling program in America is impacted, as in, yours. But because standard American news sources are terrible, you have to go bathe in an article written by Gizmodo of all places to get a good story on the issue.

Every aspect of American recycling is currently in flux. But, for some reason, in early 2019 the hate is on plastic straws.

One of the goals (cue laugh track) of this degenerate blog has always been to question the easy answer, or the lunacy of the current fad. The fallacy of being seen, or being felt, to “do good”. Often to the exclusion of larger problems, or more concrete action.

The municipal recycling planner at your local town hall (who probably makes $34K a year) will make major decisions this year that have a greater impact to the planet than any one of the rest of us will do the rest of our lives. These folks at least deserve our attention.

Fixing China’s non-existent recycling program is hard. Getting into the nitty gritty of recycling costs per ton per waste category per overall waste gathered by your local town hall is hard to get around. But banning plastic straws is easy, and refusing to use them is an instant self-check gratification for somebody who has decided (because they were told so by somebody else) that said straws are now a big problem.

But easy answers don’t save the planet. Hard work does.

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Too easy

eliminate most words (and other wise ideas)

So you’re at the grocery and you turn over some of your hard earned international gold reserves and in exchange are provided various food products.  You can then consume those various food products in order to sustain life.

And you stare down at the box containing (an ultimately mediocre) breakfast bars and they have this little nugget on the box:

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“New Look – Same Great Taste”

What exactly is the point of this?  Who on the planet could possibly care about the look of the box?  Even the text of this graphic is all squiggly and happy.  Like I’m supposed to assume the emotional core of a blissful meth elf because they updated the design of this box?

Does this sort of thing actually, really work on people?  It must, because it happens a lot.  Advertising goons do this all the time.  They throw out words in some desperate attempt to engage your brain.  For example, when they change the names of companies for no reason at all.

When The Onion isn’t busy shaming itself by getting in on the already overly tedious and incessant bash Trump wagon they put out some pretty darn hilarious stuff.  Years ago they put out something similar to this nonsense post when they wrote about “Under New Management” with this one.

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The only solution to this problem is to eliminate most words.  In order to put a word on a box of cereal bars, the advertising goons have to submit themselves to a trial by ordeal with a drunk thug from Valhalla.  The price goes up by each word used.

For example, if the ad executive uses the term “Great Taste” it’s 30 seconds in the ring with the thug.  Why is the thug drunk first thing in the morning?  It’s what he does.

Thus, “New Look – Same Great Taste” equals about one minute and 15 seconds of action with the thug.  Given that these folks are all losers (they work in advertising) I’m guessing they’d defer the thug battle.

And the rest of us would have less words to deal with in the daily course of our lives.  It’s win / win!

Please hold your applause at the display of brilliance contained within this post.  [claps hands in an empty room]

so I guess bread is back in; but juice is now out?

There’s a neat little statement as Edward Gibbon compares the doomed Romans to their future steppe tribe conquerors.  Gibbon makes the point that the tribes are composed of folks who had likely never tasted bread.

Granted, this is a pretty blatant stereotype.  Not every Hun or Vandal spent their lives drinking only goat milk and eating fire roasted meat right off the bone.  Gibbon is only using the idea to make a point about how a hard living martial culture can destroy a weak culture, even one as old as the Romans.

I think this is roughly what the paleo goons are going for.  It’s more a hardcore thing than a nutrition thing.  It’s a fad, a selling point to display generally how folks choose to live their lives.  The concept of living one’s life and food intake in the hard living martial culture category.  Rather than reaching for a box in the cereal aisle.

But I’d always found it weird when the paleo goons adopted the Gibbon model and shut down bread or grains or glucose in their diets.  Now the news reports that bread has been in the human diet for over 10K years and the headlines question whether the paleo folks can now eat bread again?

Well, sure, why not.  I guess?  But really, whatever, who cares?  Because honestly, please keep in mind the key thing the paleo folks should remember is that cars are only about a 100 years old.  So since humans weren’t using cars in 3746 BC, the paleo crowd should probably stop driving cars.

I’ve also begun seeing more and more ‘advice’ from ‘experts’ that humans beings have no business drinking straight juice.  The summary of this wisdom is that take an orange.  You can eat an orange or two and that’s a pretty decent sized snack.  But a glass of orange juice comes from like seven oranges.  The idea is that no human would ever be able to eat the natural sugars of seven oranges in one sitting.  So a person has no business drinking juice, at least in any large quantity whatsoever.

This is all well and good except that like bread, humans have been drinking juice for thousands of years and somehow we all haven’t burst into flames.  Hey I’m all for progress in culture and our diets, after all, life saving surgery is a pretty cool thing.

But I guess all this paleo or anti-juice stuff just kind of rubs me the wrong way.  Our lives and modern culture is pretty cool, but to think that all of a sudden we’ve got all the answers is pretty darn arrogant.  That somehow after say 5K years of food and drink, that we’re the first generation to be wise enough to forgo bread and juice.

If folks want to eat, drink, or not bread and juice then whatever.  That’s a personal choice.  I just can’t stand the self righteousness of it.  Or the need to redefine arbitrary standards when they’re confronted with reality.

Eat what they want.  Drink what they want.  Or not.  It’s all good.  Just don’t wear it on the sleeve, shove it in other folks faces, and think they’re better than others (and all of human history).

having had some time to think on it

I probably first discovered Bourdain in about 2007.  This was during his time at No Reservations back when I still had cable.  It was well before anybody really knew who he was.  At this point he was just another obscure cable television host.

Sure, those in the food scene knew him and he’d written a relatively famous book.  But most average folks had no idea who he was.  I got immediately hooked on No Reservations and ended up watching most episodes.

It was also at this point that Bourdain began to become a wider part of the food / travel scene and also our wider modern culture.  I remember he gave some interview online and I forwarded it to my brothers.  I think they thought this was weird, and were like, who’s this random guy?

But years after that I remember my brother forwarding me a radio interview he’d done.  Bourdain in a few short years had gone from relative obscurity to being well known across a variety of circles.

I kind of kept in touch with what Bourdain was doing over the years but never really got into Parts Unknown.  Whenever I was at the airport or entirely bored in a hotel, if it was on, I’d watch it.  But I never sought it out.

Part of my issue with Parts Unknown is it had a poor food to travel ratio.  This was also the case with later episodes of No Reservations.  I could be entirely mistaken but it seems as time went on, more and more of each episode was just Tony eating.  Whereas in say 2007 most of the episode was travel focused.

Again I could be wrong, that’s just my impression.  I like food too, but the most compelling parts of No Reservations to me was never the food, but always Bourdain traveling and giving his thoughts on life and the local areas.

Ultimately what drew folks to Bourdain was his ability to to put himself into the shoes of anybody on the planet, understand them, capture that, and then explain it to somebody else not there.

This is not an easy skill to master and employ.  And one that if you spend eight seconds on social media and the news, that most folks don’t even care to learn.  Today’s culture seems to be about conquest, not understanding.

And that was never Bourdain.  And that’s why people like me who are just not into celebrities or modern culture sort of worshiped this guy’s message.

One of the most compelling episodes is where Bourdain spends time with Ted Nugent.  A guy who even his most fervent supporters could not deny is a total lunatic.  Bourdain had his politics too, but he always wore it with a light touch, something other entertainers could learn a lot from.

I forget the line, I’m summarizing, but Bourdain essentially says something like: I don’t have to agree with you, to like you.  If I’m remembering this right, then that line should be tattooed onto everybody’s skull cavity today.

I’ve avoided thus far writing about his death, so I could think on it.  In the end, sadly I believe he’ll be known to many as just another celebrity who killed themselves.  I don’t know why he did it.  Nobody ever will I suppose.  It doesn’t matter though.  Life is sacred, but suicide is all too easy.

My coworkers and I found another coworker at a gas station with a whiskey bottle and a loaded pistol in his lap.  I still get the shakes wondering what if we’d been a half-hour late.  Like most people who’ve been to the darkest of places, once or twice I was probably at very serious risk of suicide.  My family, my friends, my dogs, my coworkers helped me back.  But essentially, suicide is no joke, and it’s everywhere.  Even when somebody seems like they’re okay, you should always be there to help, always be there for somebody, because you never know what’s going on inside somebody’s head.  Nobody can do life alone.

I suppose in the end, all I can say is that there are many, many voices in today’s world.  Most of them are simply not worth listening to.  Anthony Bourdain was a voice to absorb, and to pass on.

We need more people like him.

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rocket vinaigrette

This one’s pretty straightforward.  I made this for me Ma off the top of my head, but was not 100% pleased with it.  So when she asked me for the recipe I had to play with it for a few months to get it where I wanted.  Sometimes the simplest of recipes are the hardest to muck with.

The term ‘rocket’ is an inside joke known only to me, and seven other members of an obscure cult funded by a Yugoslavian oil baron who moonlights as a vampire slayer.  But otherwise, it’s not meant to indicate this dressing is somehow special.  It’s not, it’s just a simple salad dressing you can make in 43 seconds.

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Enjoy the journey, bask in the exquisite plate presentation generated by a drunk-jaded-elf, observe only the finest and most complex ingredients, bask in the stupidity of food posts and garbage-level-food-photography provided by the most degenerate of blog authors.  You’ll not regret it!

My last go I used this dressing over a salad with bacon, hard-boiled eggs, peaches, blue cheese, sliced apple, and tomatoes.  I like this salad combo, credit where credit is due, it’s based off an old Emeril recipe that for some reason is now gone from the Food Network website, my printed copy says it’s called “mixed green salad with diced avocado, peaches, crispy bacon, feta cheese, and champagne vinaigrette”.

Let’s begin!

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rocket vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp mustard

salt & pepper

dash hot sauce

Pour all the ingredients into an airtight container, seal, and shake vigorously.  Spoon over the tasty salad of your choice.

Store in the fridge for up to one week.  Shake again prior to serving.

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I enjoy how it all looks before shaking, it’s science, chemistry, and pretty colors all rolled into one.

Use whatever version of oil, balsamic, honey, mustard, and hot sauce you prefer.  If you want a sharper taste, double the volume of balsamic, mustard, and hot sauce, though this might be too much for most folks.

I used standard Tabasco in this version, but in other more insane versions I’ve used hot sauces that melt metal and it adds a wonderful adventure to your salad journey.  Salad is more exciting when the dressing tingles your lips with burning.

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Enjoy life!