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August 20, 2008

Oops: Wine Spectator gives award to imaginary restaurant

What does it take to get a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence? -- Osteria L’Intrepido di Milano

As part of the research for an academic paper I’m currently working on about standards for wine awards, I submitted an application for a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. I named the restaurant “Osteria L’Intrepido” (a play on the name of a restaurant guide series that I founded, Fearless Critic). I submitted the fee ($250), a cover letter, a copy of the restaurant’s menu (a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes), and a wine list.

Osteria L’Intrepido won the Award of Excellence, as published in print in the August 2008 issue of Wine Spectator. (Not surprisingly, the Osteria’s listing has been removed from Wine Spectator’s website since I posted this.) I presented this result at the meeting of the American Association of Wine Economists in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, August 15.

It’s troubling, of course, that a restaurant that doesn’t exist could win an Award of Excellence. But it’s also troubling that the award doesn’t seem to be particularly tied to the quality of the supposed restaurant’s “reserve wine list,” even by Wine Spectator’s own standards. Although the main wine list that I submitted was a perfectly decent selection from around Italy meeting the magazine’s numerical criteria, Osteria L’Intrepido’s “reserve wine list” was largely chosen from among some of the lowest-scoring Italian wines in Wine Spectator over the past 20 years.

Metallica's James Hetfield: Complete douchebag

PoE News | Heavy Metal Rocker Fences Out Marin Hikers
A famed heavy metal rocker's plans for a new home and recording studio in the Marin hills has triggered an angry dispute with hikers and cyclists over a popular hiking trail that is now off limits. James Hetfield, co-founder of the legendary heavy metal band Metallica, has erected a barbed-wire fence on his property near San Rafael, cutting off a fire trail that has been open to public use for decades.
Metallica Napster Controversy

France bans TV for babies

France bans broadcast of TV shows for babies - Yahoo! News

PARIS - France's broadcast authority has banned French channels from airing TV shows aimed at children under 3 years old, to shield them from developmental risks it says television viewing poses at that age.

The High Audiovisual Council, in a ruling published Wednesday, said it wanted to "protect children under 3 from the effects of television."

France's minister for culture and communication, Christine Albanel, issued a "cry of alarm" to parents in June about channels dedicated 24 hours a day to baby-targeted programming. In a newspaper interview, she called them "a danger" and urged parents not to use them to help their children get to sleep.

August 17, 2008

The White Flight of the Dead

Flight of the dead: Suburban families move loved ones from Detroit cemeteries

Detroit has lost half its population since its heyday of the 1950s, and every year the city hemorrhages an estimated 5,000 people more. First it was white flight to the suburbs; then with the city's continued spiral into poverty and violence, blacks began to flee to those same suburbs. And while census figures show that whites are returning to some of the nation's largest cities, Detroit is experiencing a flight of a different kind. As the Imbrunones' second funeral demonstrates, Detroit is experiencing the flight of the dead.

The movement of the dead from the nation's largest black city to its overwhelmingly white suburbs is a small, though socially symbolic phenomenon, revealing the grinding problems of race, crime and economics that plague both sides of Eight Mile.

From 2002 through 2007, the remains of about 1,000 people have been disinterred and moved out of the city, according to permits stored in metal filing cabinets in the city's department of health. Looked at in another way, for about every 30 living human beings who leave Detroit, one dead human being follows. Moreover, anecdotal evidence compiled by a Detroit professor suggests the figure may be twice as high, meaning city records may be incomplete and that thousands upon thousands of deceased people have been relocated from the city over the past 20 years.

Texas school district allowing teachers to carry guns

Texas school district to let teachers carry guns | Reuters

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas school district will let teachers bring guns to class this fall, the district's superintendent said on Friday, in what experts said appeared to be a first in the United States.

The board of the small rural Harrold Independent School District unanimously approved the plan and parents have not objected, said the district's superintendent, David Thweatt.

School experts backed Thweatt's claim that Harrold, a system of about 110 students 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth, may be the first to let teachers bring guns to the classroom.

Thweatt said it is a matter of safety.