Friday assorted links

1. “…broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and collard greens are all technically the same species, Brassica oleracea.” Link here.

2. “Our bland, featureless Midwest—on some level, it is a fantasy.

3. Does a study of indicate net neutrality is a bad idea?

4. A dozen business lessons from Waffle House.

5. Tweetstorm on Cheesecake Factory design.

6. “Jones’ choice of hosiery proved most offensive, according to the editor. For the occasion, Jones had chosen a pair of tights — not in a neutral black or gray as is common in the halls of Vogue — but rather a pair covered with illustrated, cartoon foxes.”  Link here.


The Cheesecake Factory is white exoticism run amok!

People who communicate via "tweetstorm" need to be kicked in the taint.

This, like all tweetstorms, will be quickly forgotten, but I did enjoy this line:

"It feels like a relic of another era, one where such a vision was sold to the American public as a utopian concept. It, like the brief period of neoliberalistic prosperity that made it possible, is a fever dream made manifest. Enjoy it while you can."

In other words, more '90s than the '90s. Got it.

I found that an unbearably stupid line. It's kitschy and the result of fusion cuisine and assimilation, but "fever dream" makes no sense.

Has the poor dear never been to Vegas?

He makes some good points, even if he does commit the heinous sin of unironically using empty buzz phrases like "neoliberalism."

The Waffle House homage was quality stuff, though.

Did someone say "neoliberalism"? I call bullshit! That said, I agree the architecture of TCF is horrendous and their menu is way to complex.

2. That took an unexpected turn. But yup, I can attest that the California experience is different. When your elementary school has a Spanish name (originally given by the property developer as a cool street name), you know you are in a cultural mix, even before you build a Spanish Mission out of sugar cubes (perhaps the major use of sugar cubes in the state).

A place near me is selling "banh mi tacos." Of course.

Just a pathetic attempt at something or other.

I think the insight might be that while much of the country is about actively creating a cultural mix, the Trump rallies were about "returning" to something that was regional.

The author goes further, but that part seems solid.

And that Spanish-named elementary school is far less diverse, much poorer in quality, and, when you add in the various bonds and special assessments, actually more expensive than the private fully-accredited Montessori school your children attended in the mid-south-slightly-west cheap flyover country you recently vacated for the Left Coast. But it's pretty and has great weather!

I lived in SoCal for 4 years. The people in SoCal couldn't understand why I would ever move back to Alabama. Folks in Alabama couldn't understand how I ever survived in California. Of the two, I'll take the South. Yeah, there's problems, but those same problems exist in CA and the cost of living is much, MUCH cheaper.

Alabama has native hardwoods and people who know what to do with them.

I am not sure what that fantasy was supposed to accomplish, but we can certainly compare it to "worst moments in modern political history."

Less than six hours after securing the endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican nominee said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” due to his ethnic background, adding, “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” according to a interview in The Wall Street Journal.

Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana, to Mexican parents. He spent years prosecuting drug traffickers coming across the U.S.-Mexico border as a top official in the Justice Department's South District of California, and was later appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama.

That was all pretty shocking to someone from a Spanish named school, with Hispanic teachers, and Hispanic fellow students. In America. My America.

And yet it got traction where? In regions of the country where my experience seemed "foreign?"

Curiel was a member of La Raza - the race. Imagine if he joined the KKK it'd be OK with you.

I am a good citizen, and respect any serving judge, with the expectation that bad ones will be removed.

As a Mexican-American whose ancestors came to this country in 1910 fleeing their haciendas in the wake of the Mexican Revolution, there is so much odd baggage with the term "La Raza."

"La Raza" means "the race," yes. So, many Latinos flock to it as a way to refer to themselves with varying amounts of vehemence, in much the same way that being white is not the same thing as being a white supremacist. However, La Raza carries a classist component as well, a "not the 1%" meaning. It's a way to suggest that everyone can bond in their common status, safe in numbers.

My grandmother made it very clear to us that we were not "La Raza." But, it's also why you can find the term on both political and apolitical organizations, with a "we are all one" vibe, and varying amounts of "and so are you, bub."

IVV, don't bother. To TMC you are a filthy brown invader.

La Raza may be benign, but it is disingenuous that to believe that Trump's was being racist rather than identify a conflict of interest in the judge. Optics alone were terrible and the judge should have recused himself before it became an issue.

In regards to you non sequitur, I'm with you about Moore. The complaints seem credible.

TMC, do you even remember what the case was?

A federal judge has approved a $25 million settlement President Donald Trump agreed to late last year in a bid to head off a civil fraud trial over his Trump University real estate seminar program.

What are you going to do now, say that it was "bias" and Trump University was a noble institution serving both students at a fair price and the national interest?

Let's lay this out, just because it is such a fun example of Trump and his followers.

1) Donald Trump founded a skeezy "Trump University" which preyed upon, of all people, those who believed in Donald Trump.

2) The University got in trouble in an number of ways, piling up to be "fraud."

3) Faced with this legal threat, Donald Trump, the Presidential candidate, attempted to skate by telling his followers that "it's all Mexicans, I tell ya!"

4) This fails.

5) Some still believe.

It's ok to be La Raza?

The issue was that the judge was biased about Trump because of the 'build the wall' campaign promise. He was fervently against it and therefore Trump. So yes, I remember.

msgkings, My son's godfather, my best friend, married a Mexican lady. She's part of the family. Her mother, who doesn't speak a lick of English loves me.

The "one of my best friends is black" defense. That's original.

Not original, but it does make msgkings claim sound like bullshit.

"A place near me is selling “banh mi tacos.” Of course."

What's special about Californians is that they're too insular to know this really isn't special -- restaurants and food trucks selling those kinds of things are found all over the country. As a result, visiting 'flyover people' are mysteriously not as impressed as Californians perhaps think they ought to be.

There are enclaves certainly, but .. don't you even remember "taco trucks on every corner?"

That was funny, but it started in a sad and fearful place.

FWIW, I never saw a pure taco truck in the Bay Area until after the Trump Election.

Fusion stuff yes, straight tacos no.

Yeah, the pure taco trucks dwindled as one left the Central Valley. You still found one or two around Livermore, but it was already too expensive to operate by then.

And the taco trucks were good. That's one of the things about the Central Valley I miss. Yes, there's bizarrely grinding poverty out there. But there's also some of the best, freshest food on the planet.


I am not talking about the culture of the midwest, I am talking about how my culture was viewed during the campaign:

During an interview with MSNBC, Gutierrez referred to his Mexican heritage, stating that “My culture is a very dominant culture, and it’s imposing and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

#6: I thought that one would be about Garett Jones.

Solid links today.

The problem is in Akron, which is more the rustbelt, and so like Pittsburgh, and New Wark, places where the perfidy of rolled up jeans is anathema, these places are mid-atlantic more than Midwest, and so we do not like classical music. Jay-z and is his elk have usurped a once honorable stage. It's sad that this is what classical music has become in America.

Is the author of #1 in touch with David Friedman? I bet the two of them have much to discuss.

The "same species" thing is not as simple as it sounds.

There are multiple definitions of "species". The one they teach in school (ie, ability to successfully interbreed) is called the biological species concept, and is the one most people think of when they hear "species". However, it has some major problems. Most important among these for this discussion is that it was developed for sexually reproducing animals--it is useless for organisms that reproduce asexually, and plant reproduction is so alien to animal reproduction that the concept is inapplicable. The mere fact that we can discuss hybrids demonstrates that. (Other definitions of species include the morphospecies concept, used extensively by paleontologists and field biologists, and various genetic species concepts. The Wiki article on this is actually really good, and the links are even better, for anyone curious about this.)

This makes defining plant species extremely difficult. It also makes defining animal species extremely difficult--populations of lions and tigers can reproduce, for example, it's just fairly complex and not common. The biological species concept is generally inapplicable to microbes of all sorts--bacteria that exchange plasmids are particularly problematic.

The important thing to remember is that the concept of "species" is a human construct imposed on the biological world. It works most of the time, when properly applied. But you get a lot of complicating factors, because frankly biology doesn't care about species (it cares about populations--groups of organisms actually sharing genetic information).

So while it's true that all those plants are the same species, it's only true in one sense; in other senses, it's NOT true. It's the kind of thing that makes biology fun.

Please comment more often.

#2 "My freedom so to drive is afforded, in part, by my whiteness." huh? Who's not free to drive around? Maybe I'm a simple midwesterner, but is this some kind of signal to the coasties that he's really one of them?

" I can’t stay up too late." Sure you can, a lot of people do.

The midwest is simple. A little more live and let live, but not too different than the east coast. Just less packed in, better housing prices. I spend too much time in the Tysons Falls are and in NYC. Not impressed by the food or anything else. Food options got boring soon. Not that I dislike either that much. Well, people seem fine, but it's nice the leave the over crowding.

I live in the same town he does, and I staid up till 2 am last night.

Who’s not free to drive around?

If a non-white person drives around in the "wrong place", they're likely to find themselves constantly getting pulled over,

I've heard of white drivers getting pulled over in black neighborhoods because cops think they're there to buy drugs.

"The midwest is simple."

I think this is the exact mentality that he's arguing against. You aren't 'simple': you're repressed. There's a complex and unaddressed element of humanity that sits in midwesterners, and it never gets acknowledged. They just drink it away. They divide themselves up into neatly segregated neighborhoods. They are overly obsessed with superficial ideas since complex ones will force them to address problems they don't want to acknowledge exist.

Yeah, don't think you'll find a lot of repressed people around here. Maybe tired of the hissy fits from the coastals. Tired of the childish behaviour too. Maybe it's just that most people around here eventually grow up. Pretty nice actually.

Perfect example of the phenomenon, thanks.

Maybe I am. I don't have the over the top devotional button that some here new to have pushed every day. Preference for a rational debate is now repression? So be it. I bet my blood pressure is better than most here though.

Sorry. 'emotional button'.

"Preference for a rational debate" demanded the scholar whose arguments have ranged from "hissy fits" to "grow up"

At least they weren't wrong. Sometimes you eventually have to communicate with someone at his own level when they can't reach yours.

Well, dude, you can keep your definition of growing up. Choose any square mile in the bay area, and it's more economically and socially relevant than the whole Midwest. But hey, you're a mature grown up and all, I'm sure your ancestors are looking down on you proudly as you chill with your bros and pound half a fifth of scotch each night, while the childish people in California create Google and Facebook and Uber.

Uber was founded by a Canadian, and Facebook at Harvard, Mulpward.

So I guess you weren't done. What else do you not know? Nevermind, I don't care.

You apparently don't know that Google was founded by a midwesterner, which is common knowledge, or else you would have said that. Also I mentioned Robert Noyce, whom I'm sure you'll have to look up. And several others who all were born and raised in the midwest, but left because they wanted to experience a better life, surrounded by people who wanted more from life than to win the Glencoe club championships.

Listen, I'm not trying to say that you're a bad person. Or even a dumb person. I'm sure you're happy with your life. The midwest just happens to not be a place that great people want to live in.

You're not even an example of what I'm talking about. More like a caricature of it.

Vote: This is like what _______ looked like when he was 22.

A Mulp

B. Rayward

You done yet?

I imagine he could keep effectively mocking you if he wanted to, Matthew, but he might be bored.


"they divide themselves up into neatly segregated neighborhoods. "

As opposed to all those other regions of America which are never segregated.....

Well, I could be wrong, but a drive from anywhere in Texas to anywhere in Michigan will take more than 11 hours. I did a few tests.

#6 That's the strangest thing I've read in a long time. I feel I'm completely missing something...

Really? Frankly, the fashion editors of a fashion magazine judging their new editor-in-chief on the basis of her fashion seems completely normal (I don't pretend to understand their standards) and arguably more normal than judging on the basis on outside politics or whatnot.

Except the magazine shares the old New Yorker's personality split. It wants to have serious articles and those decadent fashion advertisements, with some personality pieces about aristocracy and stars, etc., thrown in. Sounds like the war between the sides is going as usual. For an example of how the other side can be stupid, just remember Wintour's disgrace by running a puff piece in Vogue that I think included pictures of the man and his wife just as Assad began using chemical poisons in Syria.

Still, even if they want to be about fashion as well as politics, how can one be surprised when the fashion part comes out, particularly from the fashion side of the magazine?

Women really are other women’s worst enemies. At least the Women’s Wear Daily writer at least recognized this with her comment that no one commented on what Carter was wearing.

Political feminism will remain a fundamental disaster until this is recognized.

3: Most (but not all-- see Sen. Franken) net neutrality advocates make a distinction between traffic shaping by the owner of the pipes and an application riding on top. Many of the most adroit among them will make a concession of "In a truly competitive market, we wouldn't need it, but Internet access is monopolistic in a way that applications are not." I don't see how this will persuade them.

The distinction might be between a provider offering a value added (good) or using a pinch point to exclude competition (bad).

We don't want Time Warner taking a tire iron to Netflix, Sandra Harding style.

That's Tonya Harding. Her sister Sandra prefers guns.

I’m a Beta cuck looking for a telecom CEO to fill my ass.

#1: similarly, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants are all actually mutated nightshade plants.

#6 So that is how people are judged in America... by their looks, not by the content of their character.

#2: great read

"It also leads us to one of the other great stereotypes of Midwesterners, one that I think has a little more truth to it than the nonsense about hard work and humility: We are repressed. Any emotion spiky or passionate enough to disrupt the smooth surface of normality must be shunted away."

As an aside, midwesterners conjure up an imagine in my mind of a controlled fusion reaction. That is, the place is so restrictive and conforming with a massive, seemingly inescapable force pushing everyone into some restricted place, and it keeps 99.999% of its particles "in line" (for people, that means being a boring cog of capitalism in a very not self actualized life), but the whole system is actually chaotic, and every so often people great like Dylan or Robert Noyce or David Foster Wallace break out of its suffocating culture to truly impact the world, much like the fusion reaction never staying controlled, and blowing the whole apparatus up.

Shorter Matthew "Ive never been to the midwest for any length of time, here is the stereotype i believe about them"

I've lived there for a decade. My father grew up there, My grandparents live there.

Before living in the midwest, I thought the people were just nice. I never thought about them much, but being greeted with a friendly smile and a fresh pie was the stereotype in my mind. It wasn't until living there that I realized it's a deeper, far more insidious and sad, culture.

Ive lived in the midwest my whole life, save a small stint in Florida. Nothing you describe rings true to me.

If what I describes is accurate, then it shouldn't ring true to you. No?

Same here--lived there my whole life (my family lived there for the last 10 generations or so, in fact), and nothing describes anything I saw, with one exception: Teenagers wanting to sound deep spouted out this sort of nonsense. Then they grow up, and realize that the Midwestern lifestyle is actually a pretty good one, all things considered. It's not going to win you any awards, nor is it going to get your name remembered for ten thousand years, but on the flip side there's a stability, a community, and a way of life.

The comments about emotional repression are particularly ignorant. I've seen very, very passionate people growing up. The thing is, they express emotions differently than the more flamboyant Coastal regions, and they get excited about different things. My grandfather rarely raised his voice and never marched for any cause, but he worked 80 hours a week because he deeply enjoyed the work--he'd work 40 hours a week on his job, then come home and do the same things in his downtime because he liked it. To say that he's "emotionally repressed" is to fundamentally misunderstand the purpose and expression of emotions.


I don't think anything you said is inconsistent with anything the author of the essay wrote or with things I've said.

What you pass off as "growing up" we just call other things, and when we talk about them, we try not to use language like "growing up" to be condescending in order to shame people into agreeing with us. I think of the midwestern version of "growing up" as getting interested in a lifestyle of alcohol-centered community and various sorts of material competitions (e.g. who has the bigger house, nicer car, &c).

I have nothing to say about your grandfather or the specifics of his life. But if you think that telling me about a man who worked 80 hours a week is a good example of how to express the emotional range of a midwesterner, I think you actually have supported the points in the essay.

Sounds like Matthew is the repressed one. Get out sometime meet people. Get back on your meds.

tldr, midwesterners are northern european, coastals are southern european

Does your father and the rest of your family agree with this analysis?

He's probably angry at his father but was too repressed to tell him.

sounds like Scandinavia where everyone professes to be "happy" because they think that's the correct answer and everyone is suffocatingly conformist.

Midwest is full of it makes sense.

You should read Tom Wolfe's brilliant article on Bob Noyce, first published in Esquire's "Fifty Who Made a Difference" anniversary issue in 1983, and later slightly rewritten and published in Wolfe's "Hooking Up" collection in 2000. Part of Wolfe's take is that Noyce and those like him, who came from that Dissenting Protestant Midwest, succeeded in significant part because of that background (as always, Wolfe has a memorable phrase for this phenomenon that I won't spoil here - you can get the book or read the original essay at the Esquire web site).

Printed it out for the train ride home. Thank you!

Thanks for the pointer.
First impressions of the US were made 40+ years ago in the Mid-west and all I remember is the generosity. Us foreign students had a week orientation , host families and trips to week-end host families etc. A family I lived with for a month before going to school , I bonded for christmas visits and still in sporadic touch wiith one of their children. And a classmate's family , where christmas correspondence with his mother went on for decades till she passed away.
Transferred to an east coast Ivy league a year later and the Dept of Intl students was indifferent and cared less. Though they also set up a host family.

As a native Midwesterner, Nebraska, American Honey, and Winter's Bone are a few semi-recent movies that give a good representation of the culture and feeling of the Midwest for me. I've found that movies tend to do a better job of this than books.

For those outside the U.S. visiting, I think Midwest college towns (Ann Arbor, Madison, etc.) are "hidden gems." They tend to have good food, interesting people, and they showcase the red/blue dichotomy of the U.S. in closer quarters than anywhere else in the country.

I recommend "American Movie" as well

I've spent essentially no time in Ann Arbor, but a great deal of time in Madison. Red/blue dichotomy? In Madison? lol

Yes, solid links. Sorry to be late.

1. I suppose every decade or so someone needs to point this out.

2. Former midwesterner - I've lived in MN, IL, and OH. They are all very different. Not only geographically. One anecdote. I used to walk past a high rise in Minneapolis. I dreamed one day I would be able to live in such a place. Turns out it was subsidized housing.

3. Dunno.

4. Doesn't FEMA use some kind of Waffle House indicator? I think the WH is the first business to reopen after a storm. Or something.

5. Yeah I don't get it. But I owned the stock for a while. (*waggles eyebrows*)

6. RIP Si Newhouse.

5. Wonder what he really thinks.

4. After every golf tournament victory, my team celebrates at Waffle House. In Odessa.

Or maybe it's in Midland.

2. So basically what I'm seeing in the comments is that people who don't like the Midwest (either never lived there, or who lived there then left) think everyone is repressed and fake, and everyone who likes the Midwest (continues to live there, or thinks of their time there fondly) thinks that people there are basically fine, and everyone who insists otherwise is pretentious and convinced they understand what you're feeling more than you do. No matter which view you express, the other side will feel validated in their own.

"2. So basically what I’m seeing in the comments is that people who don’t like the Midwest (either never lived there, or who lived there then left) think everyone is repressed and fake,"

Or as a contrast and compare:

""2. So basically what I’m seeing in the comments is that people who don’t like the South (either never lived there, or who lived there then left) think everyone is repressed and fake,""

""2. So basically what I’m seeing in the comments is that people who don’t like the California (either never lived there, or who lived there then left) think everyone is repressed and fake,""

""2. So basically what I’m seeing in the comments is that people who don’t like the NYC (either never lived there, or who lived there then left) think everyone is repressed and fake,""

It's a Chinese fortune type of comment.

I agree with this assessment, but it doesn't disprove the point. Maybe the takeaway is that there are people who like where they are (or where they came from) and people who don't. Sooner or later you'll find someone who feels the opposite, and can't believe that you don't feel the same way.

I would quibble though in that fake is a term I've heard describing people from anywhere, but I'm not sure I've heard people say that New Yorkers are as a group "repressed."

+1. I think the claims about the Midwest are generally nonsense, but there's definitely a difference between large city people and rural/medium-to-small MSA people, and that holds across the country.

1: I was expecting the map of the "Columbian exchange" to be like those high school maps showing the triangle trade of colonial times. But the arrows showing the "goods" being exchanged have entries such as this one from SE Asia to N Africa:

"sugar, plague, rice, tea"

It's certainly true that exploration and colonialism caused dispersion of disease as well as foods. But I'm not sure if it's good graphical design to throw plague in with the foodstuffs, all on the same arrow.

And this passage

'But we're also eating modern foods. ... Early versions of cauliflower may have been mentioned by Pliny and medieval Muslim botanists, but as late as 1600, a French author was writing that cauli-fiori "as the Italians call it" was "still rather rare in France."'

reminded me of Tyler's post a few months ago about how the ancient Roman wonder-plant sylphium is either extinct, or maybe it was just an ancient version of asafoetida.

And that Cooking in the Archives/ website reminds me this classic LA Times article about trying to make the medieval Arabian sauce/condiment murri, made from rotted barley loaves:

5. I'd heard of the Cheesecake Factory, but from its name I had assumed it was people eating off a conveyor belt in an industrial setting.

I always feel sad when the real America doesn't live up to my dreams.

Nice idea for a startup! An actual cheesecake factory would be much more fun and interesting than the Cheesecake Factory.

"Does a study of indicate net neutrality is a bad idea?"


Net neutrality is primarily a network layer concept. You could maybe stretch it up to the layer of proxies and CDNs (content delivery networks). But it has no meaning at the application layer and it's just an abuse of the concept to even talk about whether or not is "net neutral" or not.

Dream better, Crikey. The USA may not have a Paris or a Riviera, but of the 20 billion or so people who have lived in this world in the last couple of millennia, no country has hosted a larger percentage of fortunate people, with the opportunity to make others happy and healthy. "Cheesecake Factories" may confuse you if you have a tendency to thinking such things are important, but really, even "strip malls", which are exponentially more prevalent than "Cheesecake Factories", are just a small detail in the very interesting story of why so many Americans have led enviable lives of kindness: perhaps, after some future Shakespeare has gotten the credit for describing all this, those who choose to dream about America will dream better, and with more and more picturesque and accurate hopes

Don't get me started on American strip malls. After learning from Hollywood crime movies that the United States had a stripping based economy I went to US strip mall and there was not one single purveyor of nudity.

Also, Americans don't swear like sailors, as we were led to believe by your emissary, Eddie Murphy. What the hell is up with that?

6. A more favorable take from Ann Althouse (bringing together Bill Clinton, Archilochus, the Festrunk Brothers and more):

#2. This is a good point when it comes to Pittsburgh.
You get the impression from it's description as the "capital of the rust belt", that it would be a flat, white, homogenous place, but it's actually a hilly, almost mountainous city compose of numerous diverse ethnic enclaves, Italians, Poles, Jews, and other Eastern Europeans primarily. Distinct neighbhoods separated by steep hill and ravines. Yes, they are white, but they are white people who have hung onto their particular ethnic origins, in the sort of multicultural way that conservatives love to criticize. The blacks are if anything more normal mainsteam Americans than half of the white people. Except that everyone is really into their sports teams, which I suppose is the one thing that make Pittsburgh definitvely midwestern.

Separate but equal.. I like that...

2. The bland midwest has lots of fresh water.. Eat your hearts out...

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