aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Holy Mackerel: sushi as global good
I guess, since I don’t go to Wharton, I just don’t get it, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. From a Knowledge@Wharton review of Sasha Issenberg’s ode to globalization, The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy:
For Issenberg, the story of the sushi economy is the story of tuna. Originally reviled in Japan (so greasy it was only good for cat food), the bluefin was the beneficiary of a post-World War II shift in the Japanese diet toward heavier, fatty meats. The overwhelming popularity of the bluefin’s buttery flesh meant that by the early 1970s, the Japanese had overfished their waters and were on the lookout for new sources of their favorite dish. The moment coincided with the rise of Japan Airlines (JAL), which was doing a tidy export business but needed to find something to fill its freight cabin on return flights. In an inspiration that would change the culinary profile of the planet, a JAL executive partnered with the fishermen of Prince Edward Island, Canada, who caught plenty of bluefin, but who had no use for it. Devising a means of gently freezing bluefin to preserve it during the long journey back to Japan, JAL inaugurated the era of global sushi.
Issenberg devotes considerable time to charting Japan’s internal sushi economy, with special emphasis on Toyko’s Tsukiji market, where fish imported from around the world are auctioned daily to bidders well versed in the arcane science of evaluating meat they have not tasted. At Tsukiji, we learn, a single bluefin regularly goes for $30,000 or more at auction; once all but worthless, bluefin has become one of the world’s hottest and most wholesome commodities. Detailing how Tokyo’s Narita International Airport has become—paradoxically—Japan’s most important fishing harbor, Issenberg explains how even in Japan, sushi is a jet-age commodity. While sushi’s roots go back hundreds of years to an era when fish was packed in rice to ferment and preserve it, the nigiri and maki that signify sushi today are only as old as the technological means of transporting highly perishable fish swiftly and efficiently from one end of the world to the other.
In the end it’s acknowledged that “the growing global passion for sushi has led to massive overfishing of bluefin” but there’s not word one on how flying all these fish around is sustainable or good for the environment.
Through detailed, highly localized accounts of restaurants and chefs, fishermen and middlemen, markets and appetites, Issenberg casts sushi as an enormously positive example of globalization. An exceptionally unusual ethnic food that has kept its integrity while spreading its appeal, sushi melds the hunter-gatherer purity of long-line fishing; the sophistication of state-of-the-art transport; the hands-on, humane exchange of the auction; and the immense act of international trust undertaken by the millions who are willing to eat raw fish without knowing its origins or history. An index to a nation’s worldliness, sushi expresses not only the sophistication of a country’s taste, but also an equally sophisticated confidence in the procedural purity of an industry with great potential for corruption and adulteration. [...]
Issenberg is at his most fascinating when he outlines how sushi is at once preserved and reinvented in every new market it meets: Crab and avocado found their way into rolls in California, because that’s what was available. In Brazil, California rolls are made with mango rather than avocado, again because that’s what’s available. In Singapore, one can find California rolls with both avocado and mango—and one can also find curry rolls and halal sushi bars. Hawaiians retain a World War II-era taste for sushi made with Spam. In Marrakech, one can eat maki made with couscous.
Contradicting the scare stories proffered by other recent chroniclers of global foodways (think Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma), Issenberg serves up a singularly appealing picture of how our almost insatiable globalized hunger for new experiences, new things, new services—and, crucially, new foods—might be able to co-exist with our increasingly urgent desire to preserve local traditions and protect the environment. Combining a hunter-gatherer purity with a sophisticated international market organized around swift transit and state-of-the-art refrigeration, wealthy consumers and artisan chefs who continually reinvent sushi according to local tastes and ingredients, sushi seems to reconcile the conflict between [Thomas Friedman’s] Lexus and the olive tree. Sushi extends the possibility that we might actually be able to have our globalization and eat it, too.
I do have to admit I’m glad to have it here in landlocked rural Georgia. Catfish sushi anyone?
Embeddable Google maps now live
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Cool! Google Maps now come with copy-paste code to embed (or email) anywhere you’d like. Click “link this” on any map to get the code.
Via Lost Remote where a commenter wonders, “For news sites, and even LR, wouldn’t the embed violate the Google Maps term and conditions?”
I don’t know near enough. I want to learn more:
Once upon a time lived a young woman from a St. Louis suburb. She was an honor roll student, she played the violin, she donated blood and volunteered for American Heart Association walks. She elected to put off college for a while and joined the Army once out of school. At Fort Campbell, KY, she was assigned as a weapons supply manager to the 129th Corps Support Battalion.
She was LaVena Johnson, private first class, and she died near Balad, Iraq, on July 19, 2005, just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. She was the first woman soldier from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The tragedy of her story begins there.
After an investigation, the Army declared LaVena’s death a suicide, a finding refuted by the soldier’s family. In an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lavena’s father pointed to indications that his daughter had endured a physical struggle before she died - two loose front teeth, a “busted lip” that had to be reconstructed by the funeral home - suggesting that “someone might have punched her in the mouth.”
The military said that the matter was closed.
- Indications of physical abuse that went unremarked by the autopsy
- The absence of psychological indicators of suicidal thoughts; indeed, testimony that LaVena was happy and healthy prior to her death
- Indications, via residue tests, that LaVena may not even have handled the weapon that killed her
- A blood trail outside the tent where Lavena’s body was found
- Indications that someone attenpted to set LaVena’s body on fire
And yet, the Army continues to resist calls by LaVena’s family and by local media to reopen its investigation.
SEE ALSO: The Lavena Johnson Petition blog.
YouTube’s answer to video ads
The three things I hate about ads: irrelevance, interruption, and clutter. The YouTube answer doesn’t violate even one.
It’s totally terrific:
Finally, in a long-anticipated move, YouTube is debuting its solution to video ads — and no, they’re not pre-rolls. The new ads are semi-transparent overlays that cover the bottom fifth of the screen and then disappear after 10 seconds. If you click it, a video ad will play in the same player, only a slightly smaller size. At the end of the ad — or when you click the close icon — the original clip will resume playing. So far, the ads only apply to partner videos (and as of this writing, only a handful of them), and they’re selling for $20 CPMs. Take it for a test drive with the clip here (notice the yellow marker in the timeline when you play the clip). Also, the ads do not play on embedded clips — just when you play them on YouTube. Smart.
More impressions: I’d like to see advertisers pay out for BOTH branding impressions and clicks. And a link to the ad should be included at the end of the clip. I won’t be clicking mid-clip, and when I navigate back, I don’t easily find the ad. I want a direct (graphic?) link to the ad somewhere easy.
Craigslist and Atlanta prostitution
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has called on a popular Web site to take responsibility for what she said is the company’s role in promoting child prostitution.
“Children are being marketed through craigslist,” Franklin said Tuesday during an update on the mayor’s “Dear John” campaign, a crackdown on the city’s child prostitution industry.
Craigslist, found on the Web at craigslist.org, may be best known as a bulletin board for people who want to sell a car, buy a home or meet people. But Atlanta vice officer Kelleita Thurman said Tuesday that craigslist and similar sites account for 85 percent of the sexual liaisons men arrange in Atlanta with boys and girls.
I’d like to see a parsing of that 85% figure. And if they’re going to claim that Craigslist is “promoting child prostitution” you’d think they might have some proof.
You’d be wrong. Maggie at Of Counsel:
The evidence? Photos of a woman requesting money for sex who claims to be 21. They don’t think she’s really 21. But they don’t know who she is or how old she is.
I look forward to a more thorough discussion with better research data to address the issues. Such a difficult and complex problem should be handled with more care and thought by the city. I don’t know what this kind of announcement is supposed to accomplish.
Franklin’s savvy; I’m guessing good old pandering pol PR is her goal. Maggie suggests The Juvenile Justice Fund as a source for better information about the problem.
Today that same market is telling rappers to please shut up. While music-industry sales have plummeted, no genre has fallen harder than rap. According to the music trade publication Billboard, rap sales have dropped 44% since 2000 and declined from 13% of all music sales to 10%. Artists who were once the tent poles at rap labels are posting disappointing numbers. Jay-Z’s return album, Kingdom Come, for instance, sold a gaudy 680,000 units in its first week, according to Billboard. But by the second week, its sales had declined some 80%. This year rap sales are down 33% so far.
Longtime rap fans are doing the math and coming to the same conclusions as the music’s voluminous critics. In February, the filmmaker Byron Hurt released Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a documentary notable not just for its hard critique but for the fact that most of the people doing the criticizing were not dowdy church ladies but members of the hip-hop generation who deplore rap’s recent fixation on the sensational.
Both rappers and music execs are clamoring for solutions. Russell Simmons recently made a tepid call for rappers to self-censor the words nigger and bitch from their albums. But most insiders believe that a debate about profanity and misogyny obscures a much deeper problem: an artistic vacuum at major labels. [...]
Hip-hop now faces a generation that takes gangsta rap as just another mundane marker in the cultural scenery. “It’s collapsing because they can no longer fool the white kids,” says Nickels. “There’s only so much redundancy anyone can take.”