Saturday, June 10, 2006

Funkadelica

I ran across George Clinton's funk•cyclo•pedia and it's just about the best site i've seen all month. Did you know that a black hole is a prime zone of funkativity? This guide clears up a lot of long-standing questions I've had about the P-Funk universe.

And you know what, I bet all the definitions in the 'pedia are completely internally consistent, too.

Chicken....but also a PIE!

Today, instead of going for some eats at one of the many yuppie slophouses in my neighboorhood, I went to Mel's Drive-In and had a Chicken Pot Pie special.

I forgot hot much I liked Chicken Pot Pie. Next time i'm in Fresno I'll have to hit up the famous Chicken Pie Shop.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tamed 11,400 years ago, figs were likely first domesticated crop | Science Blog

Tamed 11,400 years ago, figs were likely first domesticated crop | Science Blog
The scientists compared the ancient figs to modern wild and domesticated variants and determined that they were a mutant selectively propagated by humans. In this variety of fig, known as parthenocarpic, the fruit develops without insect pollination and is prevented from falling off the tree, allowing it to become soft, sweet, and edible. However, because such figs do not produce seeds, they are a reproductive dead end unless humans interfere by planting shoots from the parthenocarpic trees.

'Once the parthenocarpic mutation occurred, humans must have recognized that the resulting fruits do not produce new trees, and fig tree cultivation became a common practice,' Bar-Yosef says. 'In this intentional act of planting a specific variant of fig tree, we can see the beginnings of agriculture. This edible fig would not have survived if not for human intervention.
The neighboorhood I grew up in Fresno is called Fig Garden, because in the early 1900s, a crazy farmer/developer had an idea to plant 10,000+ acres of fig trees in the area that is now north Fresno. When the trees didn't produce good fruit (because of the soil -- he had to blast through the hardpan with dynamite to plant the trees), he switched it up and marketed the land as residential lots. In backyards or on roadsides you can occasionally see a wild fig baby fig tree pop out of the ground from a long dormant root.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape

I'm reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters for the third time -- but this time, I also have a blog. This passage, from Letter 12, struck me:
As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday's paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes but also in conversations with those he cares nothing about, on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, "I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked." The Christians describe the Enemy as one "without whom Nothing is strong." And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.