Things I Saw This Week - Friday, November 12
TISTW is a collection of reads, visuals, and music, curated by Elle Perry, a Memphis-based journalist, featuring art and culture, food, cities, and more. (Issue No. 126)
The A.V. Club reviews the second season of one of my favorite shows, “South Side,” which debuted on HBOMax on Thursday. (As you might remember, the show was originally on Comedy Central.)
Part of the charm of South Side also lies in other ensemble comedies like Cheers and NewsRadio: They’re all workplace-driven, but at their cores are about the different, often super-weird personalities that come together when everyone is forced to assemble for eight hours a day. South Side takes characters that would most likely be painted with a broad brush by a non-Chicago, non-Black writing staff and gives them nuance. Not every Black girl from around the way is the same, and we get to see that. Not every Black police officer is the same, and we get to see that. Hell, the lifestyles of the characters played by Kareme and Quincy Odom prove that not even every identical twin is the same. (Labor versus management can tear a family apart!)
A selection of news on cities, hosted by “The Big Chicken.”
From Curbed: Perfecting the New York Street
From Bloomberg: Scooter Rides Have Turned Into a Data Privacy Issue for Cities
I recently had bibimbap from a local restaurant. As I stirred together the ingredients, some of the rice stuck to the bottom of the steaming hot pot, leaving it crispy and very delicious. Since that day I’ve often thought about that rice and how I would like to eat more of it.
In a recent rice series, Ligaya Mishan covered the worldwide importance of “scorched rice.” (There’s lovely animation within.)
Almost everywhere in the world where rice is eaten, as a staple and an inheritance, people have names for this prized crust, among them xoon, tahdig, com cháy, socarrat, pegao, nurungji, hikakeh, graten, kanzo, guoba, concón, cocolón, okoge, raspa, kerak nasi, bun bun, tutong, dukot, cucayo and bay kdaing. Some of these names are derived from, variously, words for the location of the rice (in Farsi, “tahdig” is literally “the bottom of the pot,” and in parts of Africa, English has been co-opted into the terms “bottom pot”and “underpot”), the tenacity with which the rice clings to the vessel (“dukot” comes from a Cebuano verb meaning “to stick around too long”) so it must be taken by force (the Cuban “raspa” is from the Spanish “raspar,” “to scrape”) and the act or state of burning (“socarrat” is believed to have roots in the Basque sukarra, or “fever”; “com cháy” is commonly translated from the Vietnamese as “burned rice”).
NPR profiles Nfamara Badjie, a Gambian musician who is now farming rice in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Velveeta has a new logo for the first time in 20 years, reports AdAge.
Manfred Steiner, of East Providence, Rhode Island, has earned his Ph.D. and become a physicist at the age of 89.
As a teenager in Vienna, Steiner was inspired to become a physicist after reading about Albert Einstein and Max Planck. He admired the precision of physics.
But after World War II, his mother and uncle advised him that studying medicine would be a better choice in turbulent times. He earned his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1955 and moved to the United States just a few weeks later, where he had a successful career studying blood and blood disorders.
The Wall Street Journal has a (subscriber-only) story about how the average home in the U.S. sells in just a week. The story’s lede:
American home buyers are having to pounce faster than ever to clinch a deal, forcing many of them to make snap decisions about what house to purchase and where to live.
On a related topic, Wired delves into Zillow’s home buying.
Zillow believed it had the secret to the iBuying world: the Zestimate. Launched in 2006, the highly touted algorithm had been trained on millions of home valuations across the US before it was put to work estimating the possible price of property Zillow itself bought. In theory, it was a natural confluence of two things: Zillow’s expertise in pricing homes, and a new method of buying properties that relied on accurate estimates.
For three years it worked, according to John Wake, who has been a realtor and real estate analyst around Phoenix since 2003. In that time, he’s seen the market collapse several times, including during the 2008–09 financial crisis, set off by the problems with subprime loans. But he’s never seen anything like the past 18 months.
Big changes are on the horizon, says Adweek: