Bug eating in the Wall Street Journal

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The Wall Street Journal gets on the bug-eating bandwagon with an article titled “The Six-Legged Meat of the Future.” Edible insects are becoming trendy, with London’s Archipelago restaurant topping their creme brulee with a bee and Manhattan’s Tolache offering grasshopper-stuffed tacos. The image above is from the blog of Japanese bug sushi maker, Shoichi Uchiyama. The WSJ article includes sample recipes from “The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook” by David George Gordon:

 Files 2008 07 Eat-A-Bug-Cookbook Recipe: Crispy Crickets Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Strip the antennae, limbs and wings (if any) from 20 to 30 clean, frozen adult crickets, or 40 to 60 cricket nymphs. Spread the stripped crickets on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until crickets are crisp, around 20 minutes. Yield: one cup.

Sprinkle these on salads or put them through a coffee grinder to turn them into bug “flour.” You could even combine the crickets with Chex Mix for a protein-rich snack.

The Six-Legged Meat of the Future(WSJ, thanks Bob Pescovitz!)

Eat-a-bug Cookbook (Amazon)

The Price of Everything


“According to Eduardo Porter of The New York Times editorial board, prices are more interesting than most of us realize. And the prices that never appear on a price tag are the most fascinating of all. In his new book The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do (2010, Portfolio), Porter explores the surprising ways prices affect every aspect of our lives, including where we live, who we marry, how many kids we have, and even how religious we are.”

Here is the introduction to Porter’s book.


Anybody who has visited a garbage dump in the developing world knows that value is an ambiguous concept. To most people in the developed world, household waste is worthless, of course. That’s why we throw it away. Apparently, Norwegians are willing to pay about $114 a ton for somebody else to sort their recyclables from the general garbage. A survey of families in the Carter community of Tennessee several years ago found they were willing to pay $363 a year, in today’s money, to avoid having a landfill nearby.

But slightly beyond our immediate experience, waste becomes a valuable commodity. In Kamboins√©, outside Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, farmers pay municipal trash haulers to dump unsorted solid waste on their sorghum and millet fields as fertilizer — bits of plastic included. The going rate in 2003 was 400 francs per ton. In New Delhi, a study in 2002 found that waste pickers earned two rupees per kilo of PET soda bottles and seven rupees per kilo of hard plastic shampoo bottles. A child working on foot on Delhi’s dumps could make twenty to thirty rupees per day.

Waste, in fact, confronts us with the same value proposition as anything else. The price we put on it — what we will trade to have it, or have it go away — is a function of its attendant benefits or costs. A bagful of two-rupee PET bottles is more valuable to an Indian child who hasn’t eaten today than to me, a well-fed journalist in New York. What she must do to get it — spend a day scavenging among the detritus of India’s capital, putting her life and health at risk — is, to her, not too high a price to pay because life is pretty much the only thing she has. She has little choice but to risk it for food, clothing, shelter, and whatever else she needs. I, by contrast, have many things. I have a reasonable income. If there’s one thing I have too little of, it is free time. The five cents I could get for an empty PET bottle at the supermarket’s recycling kiosk are not worth the trouble of redeeming it.

Continue reading “The Price of Everything”

NY-based Iraqi artist to implant camera in the back of his head for Qatar museum

A photography professor at NYU plans to install a camera in the back of his head for an art project commissioned by a new modern art museum in Qatar.

Artist Wafaa Bilal (shown below), who was born in Iraq, will stream images captured by the device to the museum; visitors there will be able to peruse whatever is to be seen out of the back of his head. Snip from WSJ:

bilal.jpg Wafaa Bilal, an Iraqi assistant professor in the photography and imaging department of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, intends to undergo surgery in coming weeks to install the camera, according to several people familiar with the project. For one year, Mr. Bilal’s camera will take still pictures at one-minute intervals, then feed the photos to monitors at the museum. The thumbnail-sized camera will be affixed to his head through a piercing-like attachment, his NYU colleagues say. Mr. Bilal declined to comment for this story.

The artwork, titled “The 3rd I,” is intended as “a comment on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and experience,” according to press materials from the museum, known as Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Mr. Bilal’s work would be among the inaugural exhibits of Mathaf, scheduled to open next month.

If flying in the US with an Iraqi name wasn’t already fun enough, I can only imagine Mr. Bilal will have an even more delightful time at TSA screenings once the device has been implanted in his head.

News coverage: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNET, CNN, PopSci.

The artist’s website is here—poke around, some intense previous projects involving body modification, the internet, jihad, the US occupation of Iraq, and surveillance. His brother was killed at a US security checkpoint in Iraq five years ago.

Here’s his 3rdI (third eye / third “I”) project site.

The museum’s website is here, Facebook, Twitter.

(via the BB Submitterator, thanks TimDrew)

Tim Wu on the new monopolists: a “last chapter” for The Master Switch

I reviewed Tim Wu’s great history of media consolidation and regulatory capture The Master Switch earlier this month; now Tim says, “This piece I wrote for the Wall Street Journal is an important one. It is like a last chapter for my book.”

We wouldn’t fret over monopoly so much if it came with a term limit. If Facebook’s rule over social networking were somehow restricted to, say, 10 years–or better, ended the moment the firm lost its technical superiority–the very idea of monopoly might seem almost wholesome. The problem is that dominant firms are like congressional incumbents and African dictators: They rarely give up even when they are clearly past their prime. Facing decline, they do everything possible to stay in power. And that’s when the rest of us suffer.

AT&T;’s near-absolute dominion over the telephone lasted from about 1914 until the 1984 breakup, all the while delaying the advent of lower prices and innovative technologies that new entrants would eventually bring. The Hollywood studios took effective control of American film in the 1930s, and even now, weakened versions of them remain in charge. Information monopolies can have very long half-lives.

Declining information monopolists often find a lifeline of last resort in the form of Uncle Sam. The government has conferred its blessing on monopolies in information industries with unusual frequency. Sometimes this protection has yielded reciprocal benefits, with the owner of an information network offering the state something valuable in return, like warrantless wiretaps.

In the Grip of the New Monopolists