We’re finally getting some competition for Comcast in these parts. As Comcast has recently rewarded my years of customer loyalty with a $20 monthly rate hike, to give me services I don’t use, I listened when the WOW cable guy stopped by yesterday. Most intriguing offer: Real savings on the land line, thanks to the choice of three tiers of service. We use it so little I know that if it rings, it’s likely someone I don’t want to talk to. I’d drop it if it weren’t for my husband’s objections, and the fact the phone mount in my kitchen is huge and will require a large framed portrait of Alexander Graham Bell to hide. So this would work for us, and I’m pissed Comcast hasn’t stepped in with an alternative.
They also offer three tiers of internet service, but in this area I require Maserati-like speed, so no savings there.
But the real elephant in the business-model room would be true choice in cable TV. The doomsday scenario for that industry is when customers can craft their own package from the channels they actually watch. Farewell, Golf Channel, hello AMC, etc. We’re there, more or less, at least with anyone willing to watch TV on their computer. I’m not. I still practice the exhaustion model of TV consumption — slump in chair, pick up remote, surf — enough that it would bug me to not have the option.
Anyone with WOW experience, I’m all ears.
Someone sent me this article, more food apocalypse-porn from Gary Taubes. Headline: Is Sugar Toxic? Let’s see if I can guess what the answer might be, coming from a writer who’s been beating the drum for the low-carb, paleo diet for years. Do I even need to read it? Probably not.
New rule: I no longer listen to anyone who tells me a food that I, and millions of other human beings, have enjoyed for centuries, is “toxic.” If nothing else, I’d like to enforce a certain strict constructionism in language. A toxin is a poison. If I eat this cookie, will I fall to the floor in a writhing heap? No? Then I’m going to eat it. Taubes acknowledges as much in his opening paragraphs:
It’s one thing to suggest, as most nutritionists will, that a healthful diet includes more fruits and vegetables, and maybe less fat, red meat and salt, or less of everything. It’s entirely different to claim that one particularly cherished aspect of our diet might not just be an unhealthful indulgence but actually be toxic, that when you bake your children a birthday cake or give them lemonade on a hot summer day, you may be doing them more harm than good, despite all the love that goes with it. Suggesting that sugar might kill us is what zealots do. But Lustig, who has genuine expertise, has accumulated and synthesized a mass of evidence, which he finds compelling enough to convict sugar. His critics consider that evidence insufficient, but there’s no way to know who might be right, or what must be done to find out, without discussing it.
If I didn’t buy this argument myself, I wouldn’t be writing about it here.
The longer I live, the more I throw in with those nutritionists. I come from a long line of moderate people who lived into their ninth decade by practicing moderation, and eating a piece of birthday cake ever year.
However. Speaking of food, someone posted this on Facebook yesterday, and while its headline is immoderate — The 20 Worst Foods in America — it’s worth a click-through on your next coffee break. It’s not foods, exactly, but restaurant dishes, compiled by the folks at Eat This, Not That ™, yet another insta-book that became a franchise overnight. I don’t eat at places like the Cheesecake Factory and Blimpie’s often, but every so often circumstances will force us off the freeway and into an Olive Garden or some such. Just last week, Kate and I ate at a Chili’s nearby; I fired up the Fast Food Calorie Counter app on my phone, to get a sense of what we were in for.
And nearly fell on the floor. I’ve never seen so many 1,800-calorie appetizers in my life. Everything seemed to boil down to a fat stuffed into a carb, then deep-fried and glazed with more fat — crispy-cheesey tortilla bombs. I ordered the chicken tacos and ate half. Kate got the sliders and ate half. As these are not foods that reheat well, we passed on the go-boxes, but it reminded me of the other thing that is making us fat — portion size. Do you remember when restaurant plates became platters, when the goal was not to feed you so much as stuff you like a foie gras goose? I do. It was approximately the mid-70s. It started with Chi-Chis. I knew a woman who waitressed there; she was living in a hippie farm commune and asked the dishwashers to scrape the plates into a special garbage bag, which she took home at the end of every shift to feed to their pig. Fitting.
OK, the morning is fleeing, so let’s skip to the bloggage:
Longish, but worth a read, as Hugh Grant — yes, the actor — sits down with a former tabloid hack and gets the download on how prevalent surveillance techniques like phone-hacking and other digital eavesdropping is. Via hidden recording. Brilliant. P.S. And this is a developing story.
Speaking of food, Roy Edroso linked to this, and so am I: A few notes on modernist cuisine and molecular gastronomy, at both the restaurant and McDonald’s-lab level, from the Chicago magazine 312 blog. (Broken link fixed. Sorry.)
It’s not “Sophomore dies in kiln explosion,” but it’s close: Yale student dies when her hair gets caught in a lathe. Something to remember when you’re considering what factory work should pay.
OK, off to the bike, and outta here. The week, it’s nearly over!