Thursday April 24, 2014




New television show all about knitting

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Norwegian public television (NRK), which introduced the now-legendary continuous, live log-burning show (12 hours long, with “color commentary” on the historical and cultural importance of fire), scheduled a new program for this week in its appeal to serenity (labeled “Slow TV”). On Nov. 1, NRK was to televise live, for five hours, an attempt to break the world record for producing a sweater, from shearing the sheep to spinning the wool and knitting the garment (current record: 4:51, by Australians). (In addition to the log, NRK viewers have been treated to live cams on a salmon-fishing boat and, for five days, on a cruise ship.) Said an NRK journalist, “You would think it’s boring television, but we have quite good ratings for these programs.”

 Extract of cockroach is a delicacy among some Chinese, believed able to miraculously reduce inflammation, defy aging and cure tuberculosis, cancer and cirrhosis. Quartz reported in August that Yunnan province is a Silicon Valley-type business center, where pulverized roaches can sell for the equivalent of about $89 a pound, and five pharmaceutical companies have contracts with ranches that have formed the Sichuan Treasure Cockroach Farming Cooperative. (In August, a start-up farm in Jiangsu province was, police suspect, vandalized, allowing at least a million cockroaches being prepared for market to flee to adjacent neighborhoods.)

 Hipster Haven: Two fearless entrepreneurs inaugurated services recently in faux-fashionable Brooklyn, N.Y. Lucy Sun, a Columbia University economics major, began seeking work as a $30-an-hour “book therapist,” to help readers find the “right” book to read or give as a gift, with attention to clients’ “specific situations.” In Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood in September, the stylish Eat restaurant began reserving certain nights’ meals to be experienced in total silence. On opening night, a Wall Street Journal reporter noted one throat-clearing and a muffled sneeze, but barely any other human sound. Some diners were won over; another said it felt like “being 50 and married.”

It’s expensive to go broke in America. Detroit, which most acknowledge acted wisely in filing for bankruptcy protection in July (in the face of debts estimated to be at least $18 billion), will nonetheless be on the hook for bankruptcy legal fees that could total $60 million under current contracts (according to an October New York Times report), plus various expenses, such as the $250,000 to Christie’s auction house to price and sell some assets.

A “scatological force field” is how a Reuters reporter in September described the way ordinary house termites are able to increasingly resist extermination. They use their own feces to build their nests, and the pathogens seem to form a protective shield that attacks unfriendly bacteria trying to invade the nests.


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