Caffeinated conspiracies and indie economics (1)

May 2, 2010
Intelligentsia coffee beans commonly served in Toronto indie coffeeshops

  (This is the first of two posts looking at Toronto indie coffee shops. My next post will talk about the recently launched Toronto Coffee Conspiracy.) When was the last time you applauded the opening of a new Tim Hortons or a Starbucks? Now think about your reaction anytime a new independent coffee shop opens…

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The Holocaust and Facebook – When Anne Frank got her own page

April 30, 2010
The Holocaust and Facebook: Collage of Anne Frank and other Holocaust victims Facebook profiles

[Note – the Anne Frank Facebook page has been changed from a fan page to an author page since this post on the Holocaust and Facebook was first published.] I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did—Anne Frank is now on Facebook. And I’m sure she’d be thrilled to know that a boy…

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Edible authenticity puts class politics on the plate

April 21, 2010
Authentic cuisine: Jewish Artichoke alla giudia in Rome

Just who does “authentic” cuisine serve? Anya von Bremzen, writing in the April issue of Saveur, isn’t so sure. I don’t normally buy food magazines for the articles on Italian food, but the April Saveur has a piece on Roman food, “Eternal Pleasures“, by von Bremzen, who also wrote one of my favourite cookbooks, Please…

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Three generations, three languages: A former refusenik on language and identity

April 19, 2010

Ha’aretz has an interview with Soviet refusenik writer David Markish, who immigrated to Israel in 1972. Thirty-six years later, Markish still writes all his books (15 so far, though almost none available here) in his native Russian. Markish’s father, Peretz Markish, a prominent Yiddish writer, was executed by the Soviet regime and the family was…

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Crimes against language: A guide to gendered food terms

April 9, 2010
Butch Bakery website screengrab for gendered food terms

We may have replaced stewardesses with flight attendants and firemen with firefighters, but that’s ok because food is getting its man on these days. It’s the “manification” of food? Not to be confused with that “mancession” we’re slogging through. So cute, you just want to pat him on the head. This slow creep of gender-specific,…

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Roman Vishniac’s photography: The impoverished life that wasn’t quite

April 5, 2010
Roman Vishniac Exhibit at Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam; photo by the Persian-Dutch Network

A few years ago, I was at a lecture on Jewish immigration where someone asked why Soviet/Russian Jewish immigrants were so smug about their academic credentials. The response? Academics was just about the only thing they had to feel good about, since, as a group, Russian-Jews were not well accepted by the established Jewish community.…

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The kitchen-bot revolution 2—And a robo-chef in every kitchen

March 24, 2010
Cover for The I Hate to Cook Book by Peggy Bracken

(This is the second of two posts on “Mombot.” In my first post, I talked about the gender dynamics of kitchen-bots and found that there was surprisingly little to say about it, compared to other models of service robots that have been developed.) The New York Times headline that first grabbed my attention—“Just Like Mombot…

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The kitchen-bot revolution 1—this ain’t your mama’s kitchen

March 18, 2010
The Jetsons with their robot housemaid

(This is the first of two posts on “Mombot.” It may not be quite the gender apocalypse that is the catwalk fembot, but the possibility of a kitchen robot raises some interesting issues about who is, and who should, be doing the cooking in our sustainability obsessed food culture. The next post will be up…

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Soviet and Jewish and stateless

March 1, 2010

1980. I was just barely two years old, but already a stateless refugee when my family arrived in Canada that winter. Six months earlier, we’d left the Soviet Union, travelling first to Vienna and then, by train, Rome. That year, we were among the 50,000-odd Jews who’d been permitted to leave the USSR. We were…

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