July 24, 2015

Written by

Chris Gonzales


David Lanham

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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Illustration: Holly Allen, Slate

Illustration: Holly Allen, Slate

The Misleading War on GMOs »

William Saletan of Slate shows, at length, that genetically modified foods are more often than not safe to consume, regardless (even in spite of) what Greenpeace and other anti-GMO advocates would have you believe. It’s the rhetoric that can be dangerous:

If you’re like me, you don’t really want to wade into this issue. It’s too big, technical, and confusing. But come with me, just this once. I want to take you backstage, behind those blanket assurances about the safety of genetic engineering. I want to take you down into the details of four GMO fights, because that’s where you’ll find truth. You’ll come to the last curtain, the one that hides the reality of the anti-GMO movement. And you’ll see what’s behind it.


The more you learn about herbicide resistance, the more you come to understand how complicated the truth about GMOs is. First you discover that they aren’t evil. Then you learn that they aren’t perfectly innocent. Then you realize that nothing is perfectly innocent. Pesticide vs. pesticide, technology vs. technology, risk vs. risk—it’s all relative. The best you can do is measure each practice against the alternatives. The least you can do is look past a three-letter label.

Wherever you stand on this issue, you owe it to yourself to read through this entire piece and thoroughly examine its points.

Video contains NWS language.

John Oliver on Food Waste »

Speaking of food, John Oliver of the always-brilliant Last Week Tonight focused his attention this week on the issue of food waste in America. Sadly, we as a country are throwing away a third or more of our food, some of it in perfectly good condition.

It’s not just on a personal level with consumers, either; food sellers and even food producers themselves throw out an alarming amount of food, often for no better reason than it’s shaped funny or today is its arbitrary ‘sell-by’ date.

The problem extends beyond just the mere wasting of food, for many reasons listed in the video and then some — not the least of which being other people need that food. According to a USDA report published in September 2014 (p. 18):

In 2013, 49.1 million people lived in food-insecure households…[including] 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children.

Photo: Denise Crew, Bloomberg Business

Photo: Denise Crew, Bloomberg Business

Why Are Los Angelenos Lining Up for Jessica Koslow’s Food? »

One more food link this week, though this one’s more on the positive side.

Ryan Bradley of Bloomberg Business recently profiled Jessica Koslow about her L.A. restaurant/shop Sqirl (pronounced “squirrel”). She’s apparently renowned for her unique seasonal jam recipes, which I hadn’t heard about before reading this article but am suddenly craving. I mean, Liberty Raspberry & Tahitian Vanilla Bean? Blueberry Rhubarb? Blackberry & Meyer Lemon? I’ve got to try this stuff.

The interviewer himself evidently liked it:

“The jam had a lot going on, and for the rest of the day and weeks and months after, I would think about how many seemingly simple things are actually quite complex if only you stopped to consider them, which the jam had made me do.”

Photo: Hiro Tanaka, The California Sunday Magazine

Photo: Hiro Tanaka, The California Sunday Magazine

After Pixar »

Roland Kelts of The California Sunday Magazine spoke with former Pixar artists Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo about their own animation studio, Tonko House:

Pixar is a hard place to leave. But Tsutsumi and Kondo have never regretted the decision to strike out on their own. “We weren’t there when Pixar was being built. It had already happened,” says Tsutsumi. “Now people are trying to protect the legacy that Pixar has created.” It is such a well-oiled system, and so big, he explains, that it’s almost impossible to fail there — which also means that it’s hard to take the kind of invigorating creative risks that come with making your own art. Work, now, is an adventure.

Their goal is to bridge the gap between Japanese and American animation, despite inherent cultural differences between those two worlds. Watch this trailer of their short film, The Dam Keeper, to get a glimpse of their hand-painted animation style. It’s lovely.

Sci-Fi Movie Sound Effects »

Aaron Reese of Hopes&Fears explores the creation of a bunch of iconic sound effects throughout sci-fi cinema history. This one about King Kong (1933) shows the lengths sound engineers will sometimes go to create the perfect sound:

[RKO sound supervisor Murray Spivak] stressed the gravity of perfecting Kong’s angry chest beating, saying to his staff, “Gentlemen, this is our most important noise in King Kong. If it’s okey [sic], the rest of our problems will be simple.” Initial attempts hitting a fixed kettle drum with paddled-drumsticks didn’t work, with Spivak saying the sound wasn’t “fleshy” enough. An experiment beating the floor failed as well. So Spivak decided to beat one of his assistant’s chests with drumsticks instead, saying “If wood will not take the place of flesh, then let’s use flesh.” Sure enough, this was the sound used for production.


The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips »

Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez of Atlas Obscura created a pretty cool map:

The above map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel, from Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872) to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (2012), and maps the authors’ routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer’s descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times.

Photo: Martin Parr

Photo: Martin Parr

Everything I Am Afraid Might Happen if I Ask New Aquaintances to Get Coffee »

We started off on the serious side in this week’s QL column, so let’s end on a humorous note! Hallie Cantor of The New Yorker lists all the totally possible consequences of asking someone out for coffee:

5: They’ll say yes, but on the way to the coffee shop I’ll be abducted, and they won’t know so they’ll think I stood them up and be really angry at me, and also I’ll be abducted.

Seriously though, I actually related to several items on the list.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.