"One thing is for sure," declared an influential American critic and record industry analyst, Bob Lefsetz, in a recent post on the topic of streaming music. "One service will dominate, it’s where we’ll all go, because we want to share, we don’t want to be left out." Music is now undeniably an internet industry—more than 70% of the…
Another cultivar story, about the best bean I have ever eaten. The common bean-Phaseolus vulgaris- is native to the Americas and was likely domesticated in Mesoamerica, in what is now Mexico. For the past seven thousand years or so, Native Americans have been cultivating and cooking beans, so by the time Europeans arrived there were hundreds of cultivars spread throughout the Americas. Enthusiasts and ethnobotanists have been collecting these beans for generations, and one variety was collected in 1935 from the Zuni tribe in New Mexico. It became known as Hopi Purple (the Hopi are the sister tribe of the Zuni) because of its distinct purple color: the dried beans are a kind of deep magenta with distinctive dark stripes running the length of the bean. These beans are beautiful in appearance, but they are also incredibly delicious: cooked as a soup bean like pintos, the liquid is sweet and compelling, the beans are at once delicate and robust. The first time I ate these beans I had the distinct feeling I would never think about beans the same way again.
Here’s where the story gets interesting. In the 1960s, archaeologists found a cave near the Rio Zape in Durango, Mexico. The cave was in a remote, dry area, and when explored revealed a chilling secret: the bodies of seven small children were buried within, sealed behind adobe along with offerings of food and precious items. Because of the climate, everything was well preserved, including the beans. The remains at the cave- now called la Cueva de los Muertos Chiquitos- were dated to about 600 CE, but archaeologists could clearly see that the ancient beans had a distinct purplish brown color and lateral stripe, just exactly like the Hopi Purple, collected a few hundred miles north and many hundreds of years later. Although we can’t yet know for sure, it seems like this cultivar may be at least 1400 years old! Since this discovery, the Hopi Purple is often called “Rio Zape” by bean enthusiasts who are both crazy for the flavor of it- as I am- and captivated by the idea that it seems to be a truly ancient cultivar. (Photo credit: Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo which is absolutely positively where you should buy Rio Zapes to cook for people you love)
If you’re uncomfortable with GMOs, imagine this: a new technique of plant breeding where instead of all the fussy precision of gene splicing, you just bombard the plant with radiation and see what random mutations arise, hoping for ones you like. Surprise! This technique exists, and it’s called radiation mutagenesis. Except it’s not new at all; it’s been around since the 1950s.
Texas has been growing grapefruit since the late 19th century, but these were white or pink cultivars. In the 20s, farmers started discovering red mutations, which were sweeter and more compelling. Texas “Ruby Red” grapefruit was the result. The only problem was, the red, sweet characteristic wasn’t super stable and could fade over time. Enter Dr. Richard Hensz, who decided to try radiation mutagenesis to develop new red grapefruit cultivars. He wound up creating a handful of new cultivars, including the Rio Ruby (aka Rio Sweet and Rio Star), which was ideal: super sweet, mouthwateringly delicious, and deep red in color. If you love Texas grapefruit as I do, you love Rio Ruby; it’s become the iconic Texas red grapefruit. So, thank you, Monsanto! Oh, except it wasn’t developed by Monsanto. Dr. Hensz worked for the Texas A&I Citrus Center (now known as the Texas A&M Citrus Center) and Rio Ruby seeds were given away for free to Texas farmers starting in 1984.
Strangely, though “GMOs” are forbidden by organic regulations and in Europe, radiation-bred mutations like Rio Ruby are not: you can (and I do!) buy these grapefruits certified organic, and they are a major cultivar grown in Spain. How’s that for a cultivar story?
If you’ve eaten an avocado and instantly fallen in love, it was probably a Hass. This cultivar of avocado is named after Rudolph Hass of La Habra, California, about 20 miles south of here. Rudolph, an amateur avocado grower, got three seeds from a friend, of mysterious origin. He planted them, and one made it into a seedling. Since the origin of seedling was unknown, Hass tried to graft other cultivars of avocado onto it. None worked. He decided to kill the tree, but another friend convinced him to let it grow. When it started to bear fruit, the avocados were black and nubbly, a clear failure. But they tasted kind of delicious, and Hass’ kids loved them. Soon, he started selling the unusual avos, and they caught on. By the 1930s he was selling them for $1 a piece, which today would be about $15 per avocado. Today, 80% of avocados grown worldwide are of the Hass variety, and every one is directly descended from that one tree in La Habra. Even today, nobody knows exactly where the Hass came from and why its fruits are so delicious. Imagine what life would be like had Hass successfully killed that seedling.
I pretty much never get tired of cultivar stories.
Copyright scholars have long been pretty certain that “Happy Birthday to You” is in the public domain, despite the fact that Warner/Chappell claims copyright on it and charges impressive licensing fees to use it in public performances.
Opening Reception & First Public Performance By CMHHTD: Saturday, July 26 · 8-11 pm
Exhibition Dates: July 26 – August 23, 2014
SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS is pleased to present Vita E Morte, the first solo show of new work by multimedia art collective Cross My Heart Hope To Die(CMHHTD). The collective consists of Sean Bonner, Brevi, Andrew Kline (Strife), and DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill). The idea for forming CMHHTD was the result of casual discussions about the excitement that at one time came with discovering new music. The group consensus was this sense of excitement has been somewhat lost with the always on, always connected world we live in today.
With Vita E Morte (which is Latin for life from death), CMHHTD is challenging ideas of what music and art, delivery and discovery, actually mean. By bouncing between the physical and the online, between wide release and hidden secrets, between artist and band, the group hopes to bring wonder back into art and music. The purpose of the project is to create a cross platform between the sonic experience and the visual experience. How one intercepts each medium (sonic versus visual) will impact their perception of the project as a whole.
The works that constitute the core visual component of the Vita E Morte are images of nature (or images of man’s representation of nature) that have been databent. Databending is a process where the context of the digital (visual) file is disregarded and it is instead analyzed as pure data. This data is then imported into an audio editor and the file is modified as if it was a song being edited. The file is then re-exported as raw data and an image editor is ‘tricked’ into opening it as if it was a photograph. The resulting glitches are representative of disjointed context and crossed boundaries, fueling the primary intention of the entire CMHHTD project, which is to challenge preconceived classifications of art versus music. According to CMHHTD, the final imagery provides a tangible way to explore this topic because they are essentially photos being treated like songs.
In addition to the photographs, the exhibition will feature plastic sculptures printed using a 3D printer that have then been hand painted, a multi sensory sound installation, and 10 gallery versions of the music boxes that CMHHTD have displayed in random locations across the city of Los Angeles. The sound installation will react according to the viewer’s location, playing different parts of each CMHHTD song from their new EP based on the proximity and placement of the individual in relation to the wall sensors. All aspects of Vita E Morte—from the opening night performance to the street installations to the artwork—highlight the interactivity of this body of work and the interconnectedness that extends between various members of the group, between CMHHTD and the public, between time and location, and between subject and object.
The recent SCOTUS decision in support of the evangelical Christian owners of Hobby Lobby has prompted religious leaders to drop their pretense at being a force for general solace and succor, revealing their usually masked hostility towards any who do not agree with and practice their beliefs. On the surface, to some people the consequences seemed at first to be only a minor limiting factor, denying their female employees a few of what the business’s owners consider to be forms of “abortive contraception”—defined by their principles, not those of current law. Some argue that this corporation will support other forms of birth control and that it is a question as to whether everyone should have a “right” (governmentally fostered privilege) to have every option covered, but the ramifications go beyond the significant issue of women’s access to equal contraceptive options and should be examined.
Looking closer at this specific situation, note that these Christians’ objection is solely to certain female forms of birth control. Male contraception is not dealt with at all, so, despite their claiming to support a biblically-inspired view for their concerns regarding sexual activity as basis for this denial, “Onan’s sin” of seed-spilling—which could be applied to define forms of contraception that promote non-procreative ejaculation—seems not be a concern for these folks. Fundamentally, their bible is not keen on contraception of any sort, but they use it as authority to deny only a narrow range of techniques. And where their “Holy Scriptures” address other sexual issues we all should know these texts decree, among other barbaric practices, a diminished societal status for women and that adulterers and male homosexuals should be put to death. If “sincerely held” fundamentalist bible-based sexual attitudes become grounds for this and other corporations’ treatment of their employees, then where might this precedent lead? Hobby Lobby’s owners clearly have selected which biblical admonitions would be “painful” for them to ignore from a much wider range. The owners of other corporations might not be inclined to similarly restrict themselves.
One might ponder if a commission of biblical scholars needed be convened for this case to determine how sincere such a stance might be, whether “all or nothing” should be the bottom line for any claiming duty to scriptural admonitions as reason for exemption from federal laws meant to apply to everyone. Is it heresy for believers to pick and choose amongst their deity’s canonical dictates? We might have thus seen a reductio ad absurdum come into play considering some of the contents of these religious texts. Additionally, Hobby Lobby’s apparent investment in businesses that manufacture contraceptive materials that they now refuse to pay for where their female employees are concerned does point out that their commitment to religious doctrine can be overlooked when it is financially convenient, making their lawsuit an act of hypocritical posturing.
Far more alarming than the support of the plaintiffs’ obviously inconsistent principles, the SCOTUS decision has opened the door for other religious groups with businesses beyond those related directly to their acts of worship to seek exemptions from supporting people whose lifestyles they condemn. For “people of faith” with government-contracted business an executive order signed by President George W. Bush in 2002 granted exemptions allowing for hiring discrimination essentially for their strictly religious undertakings, but that does not seem to satisfy them any longer. The July 1 letter to President Obama from a number of apparently Christian leaders requests a “faith-based” exemption from employing openly LGBT people. Therein, they call Obama on a past statement demonstrating that at one point be did not support same-sex marriage based on his own Christian faith. Those words are thrown in his teeth now that he has changed his mind and decided that he should not use his personal religious views to limit the rights of people who do not share them.
As we faith-free folk know from history, many religious individuals are eager to influence others into accepting, or at the very least complying with, the dictates of their own superstition-generated principles so such a letter does not surprise us. I encourage you to read it to appreciate the elaborate guise used when putting forth this request to act in an exclusionary manner. It is quite a grotesque mummery that should be recognized for what it actually portends. Remember that in the past, Christian inquisitors used many elaborate Latin phrases to excuse their then legally-endorsed torture, murder and property theft inflicted on many who did not share their beliefs. The pain they administered was meant to forcibly convert the victims into submission to their faith. Never be fooled by these self-proclaimed “believers,” as their ultimate purpose is to promote themselves and their irrational, inhumane doctrines, though less physically invasive techniques are now in vogue. If they have money and thus the power to back up these efforts, their “faith-based” precepts can be imposed on others under the pretext of “religious freedom.” They mean their freedom to proselytize or otherwise enjoin others to conform to their beliefs. They are never content to be the only ones practicing their nonsensical ideologies.
Subsequently, President Obama has fortunately rejected the entreaties of that letter and signed an executive order that apparently bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity among federal contractors and also protects all federal employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. However, this new order does not abrogate the Bush executive order allowing religiously affiliated contractors preferential hiring practices of applicants who hold to their favored religion. Unsurprisingly, a Fox News piece claims that this order “endangers religious liberty” and confirms my above observations about folk who think that their values come not from reasonable consensus but from a mythical supernatural entity.
Since Christianity is the majority faith in the US there are many who tacitly agree with its principles and often seem to feel that non-Christians should just shut up and accept them. They patronizingly think that adopting Christian ideals would improve everyone’s lives whether individuals are adherents of Christianity or not. It strikes me that the justices who decided in favor of these Christian evangelicals may likely have this underlying attitude. I find it regrettable, if such was their motivation, that they did not set aside their prejudices towards favoring what may be their own religious beliefs when deciding on this case as their sworn duty is to promote equal treatment for all under their jurisdiction. The Founding Fathers made it clear that Christianity was not the basis for our nation and our government officials should be bound by that standard.
If multi-billion dollar corporations owned by Muslims with a desire to implement Sharia law were the ones bringing suit before SCOTUS, one wonders what their conclusions and the supporting reasoning might have been? Certain humorists have posted pieces in the wake of this decision describing sacrifices towards Cthulhu worship as being newly sought corporate endeavors amongst other recourses to bizarre beliefs and how they might impact a workforce. These comical exaggerations emphasize that religious principles are not based on reason and could lead to absurd or deplorable results should they be used as grounds for corporate policy. The irrational is never susceptible to rational argument. If the precedent is made for legally implementing anti-LGBT, anti-female, or possibly anti-apostate exemptions (fantasize Fortune 500 companies run by those in agreement with Boko Haram), we secularist Americans will see severe erosion to the very wise concepts employed by the architects of our boldly experimental secular government.
Satanist owned and run corporations (yes, they exist and do not include Procter & Gamble) are not leaping to defend the SCOTUS decision in support of faith-based discrimination. We are atheists who embrace the idea that we willingly cooperate with our secular government in working towards equitable treatment of all subject citizens. Satanists understand that our society is not a free market and thus the government is deeply entangled in efforts to enhance social welfare through business regulation. Thus the consequences of this decision to allow special permission for businesses to discriminate excused by “religious freedom” need be examined with utmost care. This seems to be an effort to circumvent the separation of church and state which is fundamental to American society and was implemented to prevent any religion from forcing others into its precepts.
Rational people seeking to sustain an equitable environment for their fellows must continually be wary of this tendency of the religious towards attempting to influence people who do not embrace their faiths. Religious organizations may be free to be selective regarding employees in their own temples and churches, though what one believes about their mythologies may not be germane to performing tasks that have nothing to do with the dissemination of doctrines (cooking, cleaning and maintenance for example). But I and fellow secularists who support equal treatment under the law must question that the requirement of “like-faith” should be allowed to extend into businesses whose primary purpose is not religious indoctrination, regardless of the religious or philosophical beliefs of the owners of these corporations. Dealing with a pluralistic society is one of the costs of doing business, yet these supposedly spiritual people are trying to resist an egalitarianism that they often profess to uphold.
As has become baldly evident, the true agenda of followers of these supposedly humanitarian faiths is to promote those who share their beliefs and punish any who do not accept them. They would prefer a return to that “old time religion” which united churches and states to force acceptance of their principles under the guise that obedience to their deity’s dictates is better for everyone whether they like it or not. Let this revealing behavior that has emerged since the SCOTUS decision be a clear warning to secular people that many religions are simply biding their time until the opportunities arise to recapture their dominance over those who are not of their ilk. We must hold true to maintaining that American secular societal landscape which prevents forced obeisance to any religion while promoting pratical liberty and justice for all.
The U.S. government didn’t want the journalists at The Intercept to publish this article. Maybe that’s because it shows that intelligence agencies can label people as terrorists for … pretty much anything they want.
New Blog Post: Dear Friends, Please Help Me Spread The Word
Two things I’m not terribly good at and very uncomfortable doing: Talking about myself & Asking for help. Especially when there are so many other more important things to talk about these days, but this is me attempting to do both.
A little over a year ago I started talking about an art & music project I’d been working on with some friends called Cross My Heart Hope To Die. Almost non stop since then I’ve been working on physical art pieces – photos & sculptures – that I’d hoped to show off publicly in a real art world setting. That went from a crazy idea to a goal to a plan to a reality – the gallery exhibition opens this Saturday July 26th here in Los Angeles. Admittedly this project has been very hard for people to really wrap their head around – a band that makes physical art? An art collective that releases music? Treating music like photos? Treating photos like songs? It doesn’t make immediate sense to people looking to categorize it in the context of something else they are familiar with and I’ve been immensely lucky to have a handful of friends who believe in my crazy ideas and have been helpful and supportive of them. This wouldn’t have happened without them, for-fucking-sure.
This gallery show is 2 years in the planning, and I can’t even begin to tell you the sweat and stomach acid that has been generated putting it together. And on top of that, at the opening on Saturday we’ll be performing publicly for the first time ever as a band.
I’ve put on tons of gallery shows, but I’ve never been in one. Certainly never a gallery full of work I created.
I’ve put out records and toured with bands, but I’ve never been the one on stage performing.
I’m super excited about both of these things, and at the same time horrified. Not that people won’t like it, I’m completely confident in the work and what we’re doing, I believe in it 1000% – I’m scared I will have spent all this time and all this money making this work and no one will see it. I know that is fairly irrational because a lot of my friends will be there for sure, but still. I’m scared. And here’s the asking for help part – please, pretty please, help me get the word out about the opening and help me get people there to see the work and the performance.
The exhibition is called “Vita E Morte” and is being held at SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS gallery, 1331 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
The public opening is Saturday from 8pm until 11pm and the live performance will probably be around 8:45 and should last 30 minutes or so.
Here’s some more info and images of some of the works in the show – it’s not everything, but it’s a lot of it. Full images will be together soon, in the meantime hopefully this gives a good idea of what we’re up to. It’s very high concept, so much happening behind the scenes for each and every piece, but I trust it’ll make sense when you see it all together. And I trust that the whole project will make more sense after this show. Some people see it as a band doing some weird art thing on the side, I’m confident this show will illustrate that it’s so much more.
Also we have a new record coming out next week too, you can hear some of the songs already on Soundcloud, and it’ll be up on the pirate bay soon too. Amazon and iTunes too I guess and we’ll have CDs at the gallery opening, but only 100 of them.
But seriously – if you are in Los Angeles and can come out that would be amazing, and if you can pass the word on to your friends and audiences and anyone you pays attention to you, that would mean the world to me.