Food Insofar As They Give You Food

A tiny note on first class air travel

I fly a bajillion miles a year and as such I have access to the first class cabin on almost every flight, which makes me a lucky bastard as much as a privileged one. I thought I’d share, from a plane of course, just one humbling notes on modern first class travel just to assure the purported-rabble that things up… read more

Yurika Miki (R) and her mother Yoshiko take photos of raw beef liver sashimi before eating them at a restaurant in Tokyo June 28, 2012. While Japan has a reputation as the home of sushi and sashimi, one item is about to be taken off the menu as Japan's government looks to ban the popular dish of raw liver in sashimi style. The dish, which consists of raw beef liver sliced up into bite sized chunks and then served with onions and sauce had become a popular dish across the country. Picture taken June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD SOCIETY) - RTR34CQ5

Offloading Affective Labor to Customers

Companies once asked only their employees to feign heartfelt devotion to their products. Now their customers are expected to do so too.

Dining recently with friends, everything looked the way it always does. The menu boasted appealing but ordinary fare—antipasti and starters, wood-fired pizzas, freshly-made pastas, meaty mains. I noticed that a handful of the menu items were printed in red, and I asked the server why. “These are our signature dishes,” he explained. “They’re the ones that are most shared on… read more

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The Problem With Ketchup Leather

It's not the taste.

I didn’t know that burgers were broken. This week I was startled to learn otherwise. “Ketchup leather,” declares a Tech Insider “Innovation” headline on the matter, “is the solution to soggy burgers we’ve been waiting for.” So many questions. Are soggy burgers really a problem? Do they require a solution? And is ketchup leather—which is just a square of spiced, dehydrated tomato paste… read more

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Egg McNothin’

All-day breakfast undermines the true pleasure of the iconic sandwich: anticipating and then missing out on it.

The greatest luxury is the one we cannot have—or at least, the one we cannot have very often. This is the definition of luxury, really, and not just expensive, unreachable luxuries, but also cheaper, smaller ones. Thanksgiving turkey and dressing, a decadence limited to one day a year. And also, breakfast—real breakfast, with grains and eggs and meat and starch.… read more

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The Internet of Things You Don’t Really Need

Smart devices turn every industry into the computer industry, and dupe consumers into thinking their lives are better for it in the process.

Atlanta turns yellow for two weeks in April. Streets, driveways, terraces, cars—everything cakes with pollen. It’s the trees that cause the worst of it. Pine, oak, sweet gum, sycamore, mulberry, hackberry, birch, willow. Prolific itching, sneezing, and car-washing ensue. Grilling season officially begins when the pollen subsides. This year’s was particularly grievous, and perhaps that’s why I was so eager… read more

Steroid Slugger

Steroid Slugger

An unpublished 2007 New York Times newsgame

In 2007, my studio Persuasive Games embarked on a series of newsgames published by the New York Times. It was Kind Of A Big Deal At The Time, because it was the first real attempt for a major newspaper to publish videogames as news content (rather than as puzzles). We completed two games, Food Import Folly, about the effects of reduced… read more

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Video Games Are Better Without Characters

The real legacy of SimCity is its attempt—and failure—to make complex systems the protagonists instead of people.

In the mid-1980s, the easiest way to check out the latest computer games was to go to a bookstore in the mall. Past the John Grisham and the bargain history books in the B. Dalton Bookseller, you’d find Software Etc., a small island of boxes amidst bound volumes, and a few computers on which to play the latest releases. It… read more

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The End of the Big Mac

The burger's demise won’t be marked by a declaration in a quarterly report, but by a collective appreciation for the comfort it offered America.

If you like to lunch on two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, you’d better act fast: McDonald’s has announced plans to phase out the Big Mac. Okay, not really. But social media ate up the news of its axing, published by the satirical site Daily Buzz Live at the end of last… read more

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Academic Paydom

Tactical lessons from the Steven Salaita situation

For those of you who don’t follow university labor politics, Inside Higher Ed reported this week that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign apparently rescinded a job offer for a tenured professorship in Native American Studies to Steven G. Salaita, a Virginia Tech English professor. Well, not exactly rescinded. Rather, the UIUC chancellor decided not to advance Salaita’s appointment through a usually pro-forma approval process.… read more

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Welcome to Dataland

Design fiction at the most magical place on Earth

I am in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and I am standing in line. My family is awaiting entrance to Be Our Guest, a Beauty and the Beast-themed quick-service restaurant nestled into the recently-revamped Fantasyland. It’s late spring in central Florida, and it’s hot. A Disney “cast member” wheels out a cart with drinking water and disposable cups, and each family… read more