Archive for September, 2010

the decline of the american empire.

22 September 2010

decorum dictates that i update you about the house next door since it’s been almost two years since i’ve written about it.

both parents moved out (he took their younger son to his partner’s pad; she moved in with her new boyfriend), leaving the house to the older son and society’s rejects. more cars appeared at night, more kids stood on the front lawn during the day, and i continued to avoid them while simultaneously hoping they would talk to me.

soon after, the house was raided, the officials leaving a list of things that had to be completed to bring the place up to code. for a few days, the kids loaded a pick-up truck with garbage bags, before retreating to the roof of the shed to smoke. one night, as i stood outside, hiding myself behind the garbage can, i watched a car slow down and then stop as it was passing the house. the older son and a friend approached through the shadows towards the front door. another car stopped before continuing its route when the older son chased after it with a baseball bat.

apparently their efforts at renovating weren’t sufficient, as a large lock appeared on the door one day. they returned once to carry off the trampoline, presumably the only item necessary for starting their new civilization. the police who visited the property advised us to call if we witnessed anything suspicious. they brought us inside to view a museum of trash and damaged furniture. the carpets were stained. clothing burst from the closet like a glutton who had eaten too much. the smell was overpowering, like a roomful of corpses that had vomited themselves to death after eating a roomful of corpses.

boards were placed over the front bedroom window and a blue tarp over most of the roof to prevent further leaking. i took a bird bath and feeder from their back yard, gifts for my dad; he took one of those gazing balls for his garden. i offered the grill to my friends but it was too rusty to be of any use. when i went to check on its condition, i found a bong sitting on its side shelf.

everything i’ve described above has taken place over the last three months. a few days ago, i discovered that the back door to the garage is unlocked, so maybe there’s a part three to this story.


great apes.

15 September 2010

i’ve long been a reader of earthweek which bills itself as a diary of the planet and features short pieces on science, health, weather, environment, and nature from around the globe.

a recent report on apes caught my attention so i’m reprinting it below:

some of humankind’s closest relatives are literally being eaten to extinction, according to wildlife experts.

a new study of human settlements in the most remote parts of the democratic republic of the congo shows that chimpanzees have become the victims of a wave of killing by bushmeat hunters.

meat from the primates is sold openly in the markets of kisangani and smaller towns, where officials are failing to enforce the ban on killing chimps.

I was actually astonished to see the sheer quantities of bushmeat being taken out of the forest, researcher cleve hicks of the university of amsterdam told the u.k.’s the guardian newspaper.

hicks says that the killing of adult chimps has left a large number of young orphans, many of which are captured and kept as pets.

the spread of christianity across the congo basin has swept away many traditional tribal beliefs, including taboos about eating bushmeat.

the barisi tribe used to never harm the primates because they believed they were the descendants of a union between a man and a female chimp.

one of the things i like about earthweek is that they do not operate under any sort of agenda, which is evident in the above excerpt (well, unless you treat evolution as an elitist concept that undermines your intelligence). their tone does, however, often take an apocalyptic slant: the world is probably not going to end as the result of a few landslides or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so temper some of the talk about tons of mud and rock burying scores of people.

the most compelling part of this post is the conclusion that intrusion into this area by missionaries, whose efforts at proselytizing the savages rather than trying to understand their culture, has had some dramatic side effects. it’s a shame that we learn nothing after years of blindly insisting that our civilization is the only one that matters and subjecting individuals to our ways at all costs to their environment. earthweek’s greatest success is presenting these ideas and emphasizing areas of the world that are regularly avoided and elicit shoulder shrugs.

fair winds and safe voyages.

8 September 2010

i’ve always been skeptical of cap’n crunch’s claims that oops! all berries were the result of an accident, as if human or mechanical error had resulted in a surplus of artificially-colored and -flavored fruit cereal that left quaker oats scrambling for a way to unload them.

in response to my recent query, a representative from the company was very forthcoming regarding both the truth and the legend behind the origin of their product:

we appreciate the opportunity to let you know more about cap’n crunch’s oops! all berries cereal. I’ll be happy to help.

as the story goes, while the cap’n is on vacation, the kids have been put in charge of his cereal factory. to satisfy their craving for crunch berries, they decide to make what kids have always wanted — a 100 percent crunch berries cereal. even the original package had appeared to have been made by kids. it had cut-and-paste package graphics with hand-lettered-in-crayon words, smudged fingerprints, cellophane tape and scraps of lined yellow writing paper.

but, that was just the story. In reality, we just know that we have a lot of fans that really enjoy the crunch berries. we’re always striving to offer the types of products that can appeal to them, so we introduced oops! all berries in 1997.

we later discontinued oops! all berries. however, based on the feedback we received from our fans over the last few years, we decided to bring it back as a special limited time offer at the beginning of the year. based on the big response we received, we extended the availability. we hope you’ll look for oops! all berries. it will be available nationwide exclusively in wal-mart, target, and meijer stores through the remainder of 2010.

i hope this information is helpful for you, scott. we appreciate your interest in the origins of cap’n crunch’s oops! all berries and hope that you’ll enjoy the cereal.

the story is compelling, certainly, but it does make one question cap’n crunch’s stance on child labor.

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