Image: Levels of Meaning

October 23, 2018

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The Full English

October 23, 2018

About eight years ago, I wrote a small piece about the demise of the Full English Breakfast.  It appeared to be on the rocks at that time.  However, a  video I recently discovered from 2016 is certain it has survived.

Apart from the detailed description of the Breakfast itself, this piece is interesting for the cultural asides about London streets, cafes, “builders’ tea”, and eating habits.

Back in the day, when we enjoyed a few Mediterranean cruises, I discovered that some of the finest English breakfasts were to be had on the cruise ships catering to the packaged English vacationer.  Long buffets filled with all the sides you could imagine, generally well-cooked and always available!


Happy 6,022nd Birthday, World!

October 23, 2018

According to the calculations of Archbishop Usher of Armargh, today is the earth’s birthday.  His calculations led him to believe that God created the world on October 23rd, 4004 BC.

Now, there are those who say his math is wrong, but let’s not quibble on our birthday!


Another Side to The Invasive Species Stories

October 23, 2018

We see a lot of stories on the media these days about the negative impacts of invasive species, dominating anf decimating “local” species. But what happens if the invasive species actually becomes a fan favourite? Here is the lede to an interesting cultural history of smelt fishing:

“40 years ago, smelt fishing on the Lester River [Minnsota] was something else entirely. “There were people all over the place, bumper to bumper on London Road,” said Don Schreiner, fisheries specialist with the Minnesota Sea Grant. These now-tranquil shores were once home to a circus tent that housed an all-night smelt fry and a party atmosphere so wild that Schreiner’s parents wouldn’t even take him and his siblings down to the beach. In addition to hangovers, the smelt also brought a tourism industry. There were professional fishermen catching and selling smelt. It was a huge cultural event. “And then,” Schreiner said. “It crashed.”

Starting around 1979, smelt numbers in Lake Superior plummeted. In ’78, commercial fishing companies took in nearly 1.5 million pounds of smelt. A decade later, the haul was 182,000 pounds. There is no commercial smelt fishing on Lake Superior today. But because the smelt in Lake Superior are an invasive species, their decline is actually a sign that the lake is becoming healthier, ecologically speaking. From a cultural and economic perspective, though, the North Shore isn’t what it was. So is the decline of smelt something to celebrate? And if so, who should be throwing the party?

This excellent article goes o to show that, as with so many things in our complicated world, it is useful to have second thoughts about one’s first impressions.