Friday, February 10th, 2023


Wing Nuts

If someone grilled you about the history of humans eating chicken, you might offer up some stock answers that would leave egg on your face. The best way to explain the meteoric rise of this food staple by way of the age-old question: Why did the chicken cross the road? The answer: It was probably due to a clerical error, one that has been largely ignored by humans, but one that lives in infamy among chickens—especially on Super Bowl weekend. Vox: How a shipping error 100 years ago launched the $30 billion chicken industry. "Some archaeologists believe that when future civilizations sort through the debris of our modern era, we won't be defined by the skyscraper, the iPhone, or the automobile, but rather something humbler: the chicken bone. The reason? We eat so many chickens. So, so many. In 2020 alone, people around the world consumed over 70 billion of them, up from 8 billion in 1965. Just this Sunday, Americans will likely eat a record-breaking 1.45 billion chicken wings as they watch the Eagles take on the Chiefs at Super Bowl LVII."

+ AP's Ted Anthony on How the ‘boneless wing' became a tasty culinary lie (and why it matters). "They're delicious, they're convenient. So why poke into things that pair so perfectly with beer and make the sports-watching world a better place? Here's one possible reason: Could they be a microcosm of the national willingness to accept things that aren't what they purport to be? And isn't that something that this country struggles with mightily, particularly in the misinformation- and disinformation-saturated years since the 'boneless wing' entered our world?"


Buy Buy Baby

"In these conditions, understanding what it is you're buying, where it came from, and what you can expect of it is a fool's errand. E-commerce giants have pushed to the point of absurdity a problem that's central to the consumer system: It's basically impossible to be an informed consumer, and it always has been." Amanda Mull in The Atlantic: The Death of the Smart Shopper. Maybe AI will finally be the technology that gives us smart buying advice. (Don't buy it.)


Crushing It

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. Some would argue that with that, Gabriel García Márquez wrote literature's best opening line. But the truth is that we're still discovering ice. There have been ups (crushed ice, Icees, Sonic Ice) and there have been downs (Vanilla Ice), but the search goes on. NYT (Gift Article) on the scientists who followed in the footsteps of Colonel Aureliano Buendía (sans the firing squad). Shaking Ordinary Ice (Very Hard) Transformed It Into Something Never Seen Before. "The research illustrates how much scientists still have to learn about a molecule as simple as water."


Weekend Whats

What to Read: "Lots of young men like my father play high school quarterback, roughly 16,000 starters in America each year. Only 746 men have ever played the position in the modern NFL and just 35 of them are in the Hall of Fame. What my father knew when he gave me that jersey was that only one of them was Joe Montana." The great Wright Thompson with a feature as timely and poetic as The Catch. Trust me, you don't have to be a football fan to want to read every word of Thompson's latest piece. Joe Montana Was Here.

+ What to Doc: "All That Breathes, directed by Shaunak Sen follows two brothers who run a bird hospital dedicated to rescuing injured black kites, a staple in the skies of New Delhi, India." This documentary is getting rave reviews. All that Breathes on HBO.

+ What to Read: "Around his first birthday, we learned that Leo loved to be outside. When we took him to the boardwalk along the Saint Croix River and to local state parks, his eyes lit up and the laughter flowed. Time in nature seemed to energize him. That quickly became an evening and weekend routine: family walks, with Leo loving all the sunlight and fresh air he could get." Lewann Babler in Outside: The Brief, Wondrous Life of Little Leo.


Extra, Extra

Waiting for Help: As if years of wars followed by a devastating earthquake weren't enough, now quake victims in Syria have to wait days or weeks while its villainous government moves to allow international aid to cross the border. Here's the latest from BBC.

+ Senior Trip: During one his State of the Union ad-libbed moments, Joe Biden got off this zinger: "As my football coach used to say, 'Lots of luck in your senior year.'" It wasn't a senior moment. He's used the line for decades. But no one, and I mean no one, has any idea what that idiom means.

+ Crust Never Sleeps: "If I had a choice of having my scoring record remain intact for another hundred years or spend one afternoon with my grandchildren, I'd be on the floor in seconds stacking Legos and eating Uncrustables." This is either an example of how evolved Kareem has become or just how f--kin good Uncrustables are. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What I Think About LeBron Breaking My NBA Scoring Record.

+ SpaceX Marks Its Spot: "The milestone game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, represents America's — and the NFL's — vastly evolved stance on gambling." Axios: For the first time ever, the Super Bowl is being held in a state where sports betting is legal — and at a stadium with its own sportsbook. Yesterday, I wrote about my past experiences betting sports and why I'm really, really worried about today's landscape. You Bettor, You Bettor, You Bet.

+ Maybe They Just Kicked the Habit: "Bristol City has gone 65 games since its last penalty kick, a drought that has baffled the team and its fans. It has to end eventually, right?" NYT: The English Soccer Streak That Is ‘Just Statistically Ridiculous.'

+ Bowl Cuts: A little pre-game prep. From Slate: This Super Bowl Has the Makings of an All-Time Classic. And from SFGate: XIV things to hate about Super Bowl LVII. Since the 49ers aren't in the game, I really couldn't give II hoots about who wins.


Feel Good Friday

"These two football fans may be mortal enemies when their teams meet in the Super Bowl, but they are on the same side when it comes to saving a life." A Chiefs fan donated a kidney to an Eagles fan. Now they're going to the Super Bowl together. (Just for a kidney? These guys aren't real fans!)

+ The flyover before Sunday's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs at Phoenix's State Farm Stadium will be piloted by an all-female team.

+ "More than 1,000 volunteers across the world complete unfinished projects, such as blankets and sweaters, for grieving loved ones." WaPo (Gift Article): They died leaving labors of love undone. Strangers complete their work.

+ It's not easy to find good news in Turkey and Syria this week. But there has been some. Six remarkable rescues in Turkey and Syria amid earthquake chaos.

+ An Iowa teen, strangers helped save man and dog from an icy lake — and a drone caught it all.

+ "I was more comfortable at failing than succeeding, because I was great at quitting — I quit on my family, I quit on my community, I quit on myself. Unfortunately it took me coming to prison to learn my worth and unlock my potential." San Quentin prisoners celebrate training program graduation.