SERTARUL CU GANDURI

04/04/2017

Jack Seward – „Hara-Kiri” 2

Filed under: FRAGMENTE DIN CARTI SI BLOGURI — afractalus @ 16:57
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   – Highlight Loc. 649-50 : The standard length of the knife for seppuku was 0.95 shaku, or about eleven and a half inches. It was wrapped in two folds of a Japanese tissue paper called sugihara paper, leaving the point exposed slightly over half an inch.
– Highlight Loc. 661-64 : As soon as the seppuku performer opened his kimono, he stretched out his right hand to seize the knife. Without allowing a moment’s delay, he cut into his abdomen from left to right. It was counted more courageous to make a slight cut upwards at the end, which was called the jumonji or crosswise cut. The exact moment of decapitation was arranged beforehand and the assistant had to know whether or not the condemned would make a crosswise or straight cut.
– Highlight Loc. 671-74 : It was considered expert not to cut the head completely off in one stroke, but to leave a portion of uncut skin at the throat, so that the head would not roll away but would hang down, concealing the face. This technique was called daki-kubi or „retaining the head,” and was taken as proof of excellent swordsmanship. The kaishaku-nin would later make the last separation at leisure, either with the same long sword or with his short knife.
– Highlight Loc. 858-60 : Confucianism teaches, „The male and female shalt not sit together even at the seventh year.” The whole relation between men and women was colored with this concept. Under the iron rule of feudalism, it was unalterable. Romance or elopement could mean death by fire or crucifixion.
   – Highlight Loc. 861-70 : In Tale of the Genji written by Lady Murasaki a thousand years ago, there were numerous stories of romance enjoyed by the Japanese of those days before the influence of Confucianism began to be felt. But, in the Edo Period, the only place where one could have free contact with women were the officially licensed gay quarters called yukaku, wherein the women were owned by the establishment or „house” and could be visited after payment of a fee. Even in such quarters, only sex—not love—was allowed. However, it sometimes did happen that men and women fell in love, even in houses of ill-fame. When such girls fell in love, they secretly sent letters protesting their devotions to their sweethearts or tried to demonstrate their feelings by avoiding carnal intercourse with other guests or even sometimes cutting off their little fingers and sending them as tokens of their love. Sometimes, when their love was thwarted at every turn, the lovers resorted to suicide to „reveal the heart.” Properly, the word was shinju-shi, but shi, meaning „death,” came to be omitted. This manner of suicide spread among the townspeople very quickly, and the latter part of the Edo Period came to be characterized by this phenomenon.
– Highlight Loc. 889-91 : Whereas seppuku could be described as the crowning culmination of Bushido and perhaps of the feudal society from which it grew, shinju arose as a form of desperate resistance and opposition to a civilization that negated humanity.
   – Highlight Loc. 966-69 : Opposition to this suppression of the freedom to love whom one pleased was expressed by shinju, where the lovers put themselves beyond the control of society. Not only was shinju a denial of feudal authority, but, when it was done by a samurai and a woman, it also meant a significant change in basic attitudes. In the Japanese code of Bushido, there is the inherent disdain of women (an influence of Confucianism) which is quite different from European chivalry.
– Highlight Loc. 1173-76 : Oddly enough, Bushido reached its zenith, in a sense, after feudalism was abolished at the start of the Meiji Restoration. Main factors contributing to this were the concentration of loyalty on the Emperor, the enactment of the conscription law (leveling the difference between samurai and chonin), and the Imperial Rescript to Military Men which helped to strengthen the code of Bushido among soldiers and sailors.
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02/04/2017

Jack Seward – „Hara-Kiri” 1


   – Highlight Loc. 112-15 :Bushido had become firmly established in Japan as the Way of the Warrior by the beginning of the long and successful reign of the Tokugawa Clan (1603-1867). Within its framework, seppuku was not only meted out as an honorable sentence of death to violators of certain of the Tokugawa laws but also was practiced to demonstrate and emphasize resistance, remonstrance, loyalty, and affirmation of the correctness of one’s position.
– Highlight Loc. 121-24 :In Japanese society today, the accepted rule is to render official terms in the on or Japanese way of pronouncing the original Chinese character, and such is the case with seppuku. The same two characters, in reverse order, can also be read hara-kiri in the kun or native Japanese style of pronunciation. The word hara-kiri is used only in conversation, and not for official purposes or in formal speech or writing.
– Highlight Loc. 243-46 :The ancients, therefore, put huge stones on the burial spot so that the spirit would not come out to haunt the living in a dream or in the shape of a ghost. The custom of immolation originated at such a stage in civilization. Beloved wives, concubines, servants, and even horses were buried with the deceased, so that he might keep on „living” peacefully and comfortably in the nether world, which was called in Shintoism, yomi.
– Highlight Loc. 317-20 :The word hara or abdomen has a common root with the word hari which means tension. Ancient Japanese associated tension in the abdomen with the soul. The abdomen is the place where the soul resides; the more vital the action, the greater the tension. At the same time, it is the physical center of the body; hence they were led to look upon the abdomen as the cradle of one’s will, thought, generosity, boldness, spirit, anger, enmity, etc.
   – Highlight Loc. 344-46 :According to Zen doctrine, Buddha-hood is achieved only after acts of austere self-mortification. It is a state that must be actively pursued and won by the individual. Thus, the ordeal of seppuku would give high merit toward the attainment of Buddha-hood.
– Highlight Loc. 348-50 :Finally, the samurai attached great importance to the manner of dying and to the moment of death. According to their code, the death sentence of simple decapitation brought eternal shame to the memory of the warrior. In seppuku, however, the samurai died of his own accord, at least in the ritual sense, and this was a fitting end to a valiant life.
– Highlight Loc. 444-49 :a moving example of junshi: On the eve of Shimizu’s seppuku, his favorite vassal Shirai sent a request that Shimizu visit his room. When Shimizu arrived, Shirai apologized for having his master visit his humble quarters and explained that he had wanted to reassure his master that seppuku was not difficult and that he, Shimizu, should not be concerned about what he would have to do on the morrow. So saying, Shirai bared his abdomen to show that he himself had completed the act of seppuku only a moment before Shimizu’s arrival. Shimizu gave Shirai his deepest thanks for his loyal devotion and assisted him in kaishaku, i.e., he beheaded him with his sword.
– Highlight Loc. 450-52 : the Buddhist custom to place a corpse with its head to the north. This ceremonial custom derives from the belief that Buddha entered Nirvana facing the west with his head to the north and his right arm underneath his head.
– Highlight Loc. 468-72 :Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, there were about 60 feudal lords, great and small, throughout the country. These lords were not permitted to live permanently in their own fiefs but had to maintain mansions and spend much of their time in Edo. They could not stay in their own fiefs longer than one year at a time and, even then, they had to leave their wives and children in Edo during their absence from the capital. This strategy on the part of the Shogun had certain controlling effects: Each lord could not stay in his own fief long enough to adequately prepare for and foment rebellion; his family were hostages in the Shogun’s capital;
   – Highlight Loc. 515-21: The kenshi’s next function was to pronounce the sentence. He began with the following announcement: „I hereby pronounce the supreme command of the Shogunate.” Thereafter, he would read the sentence: „Considering the charge that [name of the condemned] did [the offense for which he is to be punished], the subject is herewith commanded to commit seppuku.” Thereupon, the person ordered to commit seppuku bowed and uttered briefly but respectfully a few words of gratitude for having been given this honor. Then the seppuku rite itself began,
– Highlight Loc. 627-29 : The farewell greetings were all so ceremonialized and stereotyped that they served as some relief at such a doleful time. In reply to the command to commit seppuku, the condemned man would answer, „My crime should have deserved a more severe punishment, whereas I have been allowed to commit seppuku, for which my gratitude is boundless,”
– Highlight Loc. 646-47 : The seppuku knife was not long. In the first place, a long knife would be dangerous. It might happen that the condemned man would suddenly change his mind and decide not to die.
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19/03/2017

Culinar-literar: Kate Christensen – „How to Cook a Moose”

Filed under: Culinar-literar,FRAGMENTE DIN CARTI SI BLOGURI — afractalus @ 12:09

Kate Christensen - How To Cook A Moose

Kate Christensen – How To Cook A Moose

   – Highlight Loc. 149-58 :In 1942, the great food writer M. F. K. Fisher published a treatise on how to survive poverty and hardship called How to Cook a Wolf. Written during the wartime era of rations, shortages, and scrimping, the title refers to the proverbial beast with open jaws that shows up, slavering with hunger, in times of need and poverty, privation and sacrifice. To keep the wolf from the door means to have enough money, barely, to eat and live. Throughout the book, Fisher provides techniques and recipes with limited ingredients for surviving the lean times the country had fallen into in the 1930s and early ’40s. These recipes have humble names like Quick Potato Soup, War Cake, Addie’s Quick Bucket-Bread; there’s also a very basic but serviceable Boeuf Tartare. Chapter headings include “How to Keep Alive,” “How to Comfort Sorrow,” and “How to Be Content with Vegetable Love.” It’s an unusually (for Fisher) straightforward, didactic book about “living as decently as possible with the ration cards and blackouts and like miseries of World War II.” But her tone is anything but grim, or rather, any grimness it contains is undergirded with humor. In the introduction, Fisher writes, “War is a beastly business, it is true, but one proof that we are human is our ability to learn, even from it, how better to exist.”

– Highlight Loc. 162-66 : In one of the book’s final lines, Fisher writes, “I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war’s fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy, and ever-increasing enjoyment.” This last sentence echoes one of my own most deeply held convictions: that eating both well and wholesomely, insofar as it can be done within one’s budget and means, with elegant balance and the occasional indulgent luxury, is an expression of hope and dignity as well as a cause of happiness.

– Highlight Loc. 623-34 : Buckwheat Blini with Crème Fraîche and Salmon Roe Acadians in northern Maine and Canada have a long tradition of eating crepe-like buckwheat pancakes called ployes. Every Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, I make blini for breakfast. I use Acadian buckwheat flour fine-milled by Bouchard Family Farms in Acadia, all the salmon roe I can afford to buy from Browne’s Trading Company on Commercial Street in Portland, and thick, buttery crème fraîche that comes in a little pink tub. I serve these crepes with mimosas made of cava and blood-orange juice. They are festive and delicious, filling but light, the perfect kickoff to a day of occasional eating, and a tip of the hat to Maine tradition. 2/3 cup buckwheat flour 1/3 cup gluten-free baking flour 1/4 tsp baking soda 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp salt 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 2 egg yolks 2 egg whites, beaten till stiff 1 T melted butter Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the buttermilk and egg yolks and stir until it’s a smooth batter. Fold in the egg whites, then stir in the melted butter.

– Highlight Loc. 634-37 : Drop spoonfuls of batter into very hot butter in a skillet to make small, thick, round pancakes. As soon as you drop the dough in, turn the heat down to low and let the pancakes sit until they bubble on top, then turn and cook them till browned. Slather crème fraîche on top and garnish with plenty of salmon roe and chopped chives. Serve them 3 to a plate. Serves 4, with a few blini left over for snacking on later with cheese.
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28/01/2017

Culinar-literar: Jan Martenson – „Natura moarta pentru flasneta mecanica”


Natura moarta pentru flasneta mecanica

Natura moarta pentru flasneta mecanica

   – Highlight Loc. 719-21 : Valetul cu mănuşi albe apăru discret, îmbrăcat în vesta sa vărgată, şi ne servi desertul. Masa fusese în armonie cu casa. De la sufleurile cu moluşte, până la cotletele de miel condimentate cu usturoi şi până la şerbetul răcoritor de ananas. Cu un intermezzo de brânzeturi şi pere zemoase.

– Highlight Loc. 1021-23 : Ar trebui să vezi. Texasul. Locuiesc în apropierea unei ferme de şaizeci de mii de acri. Se numeşte X.O. şi a împlinit de curând o sută de ani: erau două mii şapte sute de oaspeţi în smoking şi cizme. Gazda a venit călare pe un taur cu coarne lungi în vârful cărora avea legate bile de alamă. Am mâncat antilopă, omletă de struţ, crotal şi multe altele.

– Highlight Loc. 1027-31 : Pe lista mare de bucate din hârtie groasă, nu figurau hamburgeri, în schimb exista păstrăv. Deşi aici se numea Omble Chevalier du lac braisée au vin rouge. Dar m-am abţinut. Drumul lui a fost la fel de lung ca şi al meu pentru a ajunge aici pe malul lacului Geneva şi am preferat păstrăv dintr-o sursă mai apropiată. Am început cu o supă uşoară de broaşte. Sună ciudat? în suedeză poate, dar numele din lista de bucate suna mai atrăgător: Consomme val de Grenouilles Cressonette. Supa era verde de condimente, uşoară şi ademenitoare. Avea de fapt gust de pui. Felul principal a fost Escalopes de Turbot nappées à la Glace de Moules parfumée à l’écorce d’orange.

– Highlight Loc. 2874-81 : — Supă de homar? Şi, mă rog, cum ai fi pregătit-o? — În primul rând te-aş fi servit cu peşte. L-aş fi fiert înăbuşit după care l-aş fi pus pe farfurii şi aş fi ras deasupra mult parmezan, după care aş fi adăugat o bucăţică de unt proaspăt. Aş fi pus farfuriile la cuptor câteva minute până când parmezanul ar fi căpătat o culoare rumenie. — Parmezan adevărat? Am dat din cap afirmativ. — Apoi, aş lua homarii fierţi şi aş face un amestec din patru linguriţe de unt, doi căţei de usturoi pisaţi, puţin piper alb, mult pătrunjel tocat mărunt, un vârf de cuţit de curry şi o lingură de sherry. Aş fi amestecat totul punând deasupra crutoane de pâine. După toate astea, aş fi băgat compoziţia la cuptor timp de cinci minute. Se serveşte imediat.

– Highlight Loc. 2882-85 : O tartă cu brânză. Hai să-ţi spun cum aş fi făcut-o. Aş fi tăiat brânza rotundă în două jumătăţi, după care părţile interioare, mai cremoase, se acoperă cu bucăţele de nuci măcinate. Ai mai fi primit şi o pară, probabil, ca să nu mai spun c-ai fi băut la supă un vin Sancerre, iar la tarta de brânză Château Smith Haut Lafite 1961.

– Highlight Loc. 3128-30 : În mijlocul mesei erau castroane mici de argint pline cu unt, omletă cu ciuperci, chifteluţe şi pâine. Mai erau şi pateuri cu castraveţi muraţi mici. În două frapiere mari se răsfăţa o sticlă de Herrgárd şi o butelie de Loitens linjeakvavit, ambele în spatele unui cub mare de gheaţă.

11/12/2016

Culinar-literar: „Bastarda Istanbulului” – Elif Shafak


Imagini pentru karniyarik   – Highlight Loc. 438-41 : Meniul din seara aia îi părea minunat de cunoscut. Pe lângă un pui uriaş, mai erau supă de iaurt, karniyarik , pilaki , kadin budu köfteler rămase din ajun, turşu, çörek  făcut în ziua aia, un borcan de ayran şi, o, da, ardei umpluţi.

– Highlight Loc. 464-72 : De fiecare dată putea ghici foarte uşor cine gătise ardeii – Banu, Cevriye sau Feride. Dacă îi gătea Banu, ardeii erau umpluţi din belşug cu tot felul de chestii care altfel le-ar fi lipsit teribil, printre care alune, anacard sau migdale. Dacă îi gătea Feride, ardeii erau umpluţi din belşug cu orez şi atât de umflaţi că era imposibil să-i mănânci fără să se crape. Când tendinţa ei de-a umple ardeii până la refuz se adăuga plăcerii de a-i condimenta în fel şi chip, dolmalar gătite de Feride dădeau pe dinafară de atâtea ierburi aromate şi mirodenii. În funcţie de combinaţie, îi ieşeau ori foarte bune, ori de-a dreptul groaznice. Iar dacă ardeii îi gătea Cevriye, erau întotdeauna mai dulci, fiindcă avea obiceiul să pună zahăr pudră în orice lucru comestibil, de parcă ar fi vrut să compenseze prin asta acreala universului său. Şi se întâmplase ca în ziua aia să fie ea cea care gătise.   Imagini pentru ayran

– Highlight Loc. 761-67 : Avea să gătească feluri de mâncare cu adevărat specifice Kentucky-ului pentru fetiţa ei! Preţ de o clipă interminabilă, Rose rămase pironită în loc, storcându-şi creierii să găsească un exemplu de fel de mâncare perfect. Chipul i se lumină la gândul unor hamburgeri. Categoric! se asigură în sinea ei. Ce mai e, ochiuri şi clătite cu sirop de arţar, hotdog cu ceapă şi grătar cu carne de oaie, da, în special grătar cu carne de oaie… Şi în locul băuturii ăleia îngrozitoare pe bază de iaurt pe care se săturase până-n gât s-o vadă la fiecare masă, aveau să bea cidru de mere! De acum înainte avea să aleagă meniul lor zilnic din bucătăria sudistă, chili iute sau costiţă afumată… sau… boabe de năut.

– Highlight Loc. 976-81 : Dikran Stamboulian privi cu ochi pofticioşi mâncarea aşezată pe masă şi se întinse după un borcan cu ayran. Era o reţetă americanizată, cu prea multe cuburi de gheaţă. În castroanele de lut de nuanţe diferite se aflau multe din felurile sale de mâncare preferate: fassoulye pilaki, kadin budu köfteler, karniyarik, churek abia făcut şi, spre încântarea unchiului Dikran, bastirma1. Deşi spumega încă, furia i se domoli la vederea castronului cu bastirma şi se topi cu totul când lângă acesta zări celălalt fel preferat al său: burma

 Imagini pentru churek  – Highlight Loc. 1885-92 :  În plus, îi plăcea mâncarea armenească. Mama ei, care se afla în Arizona, voia s-o ţină cât mai departe de graniţele bucătăriei armene şi se delecta extrem de mult denigrând-o în faţa vecinilor şi a prietenilor ei. Îi plăcea în mod special să atragă atenţia asupra a două feluri de mâncare pe care le discredita public de fiecare dată când i se ivea ocazia: picioare de viţel şi intestine umplute. Armanoush îşi amintea că Rose i se plânsese o dată doamnei Grinnell, vecina de alături. — E strigător la cer, a exclamat doamna Grinnell cu o urmă de dezgust în glas. Şi chiar mănâncă intestinele alea? — O, da, a încuviinţat Rose din cap cu multă însufleţire. Le mănâncă, credeţi-mă pe cuvânt. Le condimentează cu usturoi şi ierburi aromate, le umplu cu orez şi le înfulecă imediat.

– Highlight Loc. 2039-41 :  După numeroase încercări nereuşite de a hotărî ce aveau să mănânce, Armanoush alese tartar de ton ahi cu crustă de susan şi foie gras yakiniku, iar Matt decise să încerce un cotlet de vită cu sos de muştar picant şi smântână pe un pat de salată de maracuja şi jicama.

Imagini pentru börek   – Highlight Loc. 2068-70 : Felurile de mâncare ce le fuseseră aduse erau replici ale unor picturi expresioniste. Cel al lui Armanoush avea la bază o pictură de Francesco Boretti intitulată Târfa oarbă. Cel al lui Matt era inspirat de una dintre picturile lui Mark Rothko, intitulată pe bună dreptate Fără titlu.

– Highlight Loc. 2072-75 : …atunci când a sosit desertul, Matt nu a mai simţit nici o reţinere să strice aranjamentul impecabil al afinelor din Albastrurile de aprilie aduc galbenurile de mai de Peter Kitchell, iar Armanoush nu a avut nici cea mai mică ezitare când a înfipt linguriţa în crema de zahăr ars tremurătoare şi catifelată ce reproducea tabloul lui Jackson Pollock, Substanţă pâlpâitoare.

– Highlight Loc. 2367-71: Ca şi covorul, masa de deasupra părea decorată. Erau aşezate pe ea măsline negre, măsline verzi umplute cu gogoşari, brânză albă, caşcaval împletit, brânză de capră, ouă fierte, faguri de miere, smântână de bivoliţă, marmeladă de caise făcută în casă, gem de zmeură făcut în casă şi roşii cu mentă în ulei de măsline, puse în boluri chinezeşti. Mirosul delicios de börek abia scos din cuptor adia dinspre bucătărie: brânză albă, spanac, unt şi pătrunjel care se topeau şi intrau una în alta printre foile subţiri de aluat.
– Highlight Loc. 4046-48 :Bunica Gülsüm era o femeie căreia nu-i fusese niciodată întoarsă iubirea; una din acele femei care nu îmbătrâneau treptat, ci dintr-odată, sărind de la virginitate la riduri, căreia nu i se dăduse niciodată şansa să zăbovească între aceste etape.

– Highlight Loc. 4099-4102 : Are nevoie de cineva care să fie alături de ea la bine şi la rău, în sănătatea ei mintală şi nebunia ei. Poate de aia nebunilor le vine mai greu să-şi găsească pe cineva – îşi spune –, nu pentru că sunt complet duşi, ci pentru că e greu să găseşti pe cineva dispus să accepte atâţia oameni într-unul singur.

– Highlight Loc. 4716-18 : Urmări amuzată un chelner albinos aducând felurile fierbinţi – biban vărgat prăjit pe un pat de ardei verzi, drac-de-mare marinat cu busuioc şi cremă de spanac, somon la grătar cu verdeţuri şi creveţi prăjiţi la foc mic în sos picant cu usturoi.

 Imagini pentru asure  – Highlight Loc. 4994-99 : Acum, aerul din bucătărie era plin de miresmele grele ale mâncărurilor abia scoase din cuptor. Copsese deja două feluri de börek – cu spanac şi cu brânză feta – şi fiersese la foc mic supa de linte, înăbuşise cotletele de miel şi pregătise amestecul de köfteler care avea să fie pus la prăjit în momentul sosirii musafirilor. Deşi era hotărâtă să aibă gata încă o duzină de feluri de mâncare până la sfârşitul zilei, fără îndoială piesa de rezistenţă a meniului bunicii Gülsüm avea să fie desertul: ashure.

– Highlight Loc. 5296-99 : Oricât s-ar fi abţinut să-şi amintească astfel de amănunte, Mustafa nu putea şterge imaginea unei duzini de boluri din sticlă pline cu ashure, aranjate pe rafturile frigiderului, gata să fie distribuite vecinilor. Spre deosebire de alte deserturi, ashure era întotdeauna gătit la fel de mult pentru alţii ca şi pentru propria familie. De aceea, trebuia gătit din abundenţă, fiecare bol fiind un simbol al supravieţuirii, solidarităţii şi belşugului.

10/12/2016

Culinar-literar: „Lacrima lui Buddha” – Madeleine Brent

Filed under: Culinar-literar,FRAGMENTE DIN CARTI SI BLOGURI — afractalus @ 16:28
Tags: , , ,

Imagini pentru tsampa

Tsampa

   – Highlight Loc. 293-97 : „L-am auzit pe Ghenling spunând lângă mine: „Când ne oprim la Galdong, am să fac tsampa şi o să mâncăm amândoi şase blide, Jani, tu şi cu mine”. Tsampa era principalul aliment în Smon T’ang şi în Bod, deopotrivă. Se făcea încălzind boabe de orz pe nisip foarte încins într-o tingire de fier până ce plesneau, după care se cernea nisipul şi se măcinau boabele foarte fin. Luam cu noi boabele astea foarte mărunţite şi le amestecam făcând o pastă cu lapte acru sau cu zer pregătit din unt înăcrit, iar pasta care rezulta astfel se numea tsampa.”
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06/09/2016

Keith Veronese – Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth (3)

Filed under: FRAGMENTE DIN CARTI SI BLOGURI — afractalus @ 17:51

rare-4   – Highlight Loc. 1326-29 : The title „wonder drug” is thrown around frequently in the pharmaceutical world, but a small-molecule drug that can effectively treat lung, ovarian, bladder, cervical, and testicular cancer with fewer side effects than radiotherapy? The integration of platinum atoms in a small molecule to create a drug yields a tool effective at treating a wide variety of cancers. Cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II), which moonlights as the much-easier-to-say trade name cisplatin, is a simple molecule at the forefront of cancer treatment starring a single atom of platinum at its core.
– Highlight Loc. 1344-47 :  Cisplatin brings about apoptosis in cancer cells shortly after reacting with the cell’s DNA. Once bound to DNA, the information-carrying molecule becomes cross-linked and thus unable to divide—a step necessary for the cell to undergo its form of reproduction: fission. If tumor cells cannot reproduce, the runaway train of unbounded growth is halted.
– Highlight Loc. 1347-50 : Cells can stimulate the repair of DNA after determining that it can no longer divide, however, once the repair efforts are unsuccessful—thanks to the presence of cisplatin—the cell starts its own self-destruction sequence—apoptosis—resulting in the destruction of the tumor cell. If apoptosis can be successfully triggered in enough cancer cells, the tumor will begin to shrink.
– Highlight Loc. 1364-68 : Thulium, one of the seventeen rare earth metals (and one of the rarest, period), is a possible candidate for use in brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is a form of radiation treatment wherein the metal of import, in this case thulium, is placed in proximity to the tumor. The thulium-170 isotope emits x-rays and has a relatively short half-life, allowing for the placement of a steadily firing atomic gun in the vicinity of cancerous cells, particularly in the case of prostate cancer.
– Highlight Loc. 1832-34 : In 1911 Charles James reacted the remnants of ore containing thulium with bromine and crystallized the compound in water to obtain a slightly purer form of thulium, repeating the process a reported fifteen thousand times before he obtained a sample of metallic thulium that met his standards for purity.
– Highlight Loc. 2116-20 : De Ulloa noted a particulate found in riverbeds that drew the ire of gold miners in Colombia and Ecuador. The silver and black specks would not melt in the heat of a kiln. If introduced to molten gold, the particulates would discolor the final purified ingot and lower the value in the eyes of prospective purchasers. De Ulloa noted that miners and metal workers would often throw this metal back into the river, giving the silver and black sand the description it carries today—platina del Pinto, a phrase translating to “little silver of the Pinto River,†or what we now call platinum.
– Highlight Loc. 2120-22 : De Ulloa’s observation of platinum would go overlooked at this junction in history, but by no fault of his own. Spain soon sent de Ulloa to Peru and placed him in charge of their cinnabar mines, a series of deadly caverns storing the mercury Spain needed to mine silver deposits in other parts of Peru.
– Highlight Loc. 2140-41 : De Ulloa proved to have an impressive resume and offered a concrete identification of platinum. But historians have lifted up as his adversary a bewildering sixteenth-century Italian physician and scholar known best for his ego: Julius Caesar Scaliger.
– Highlight Loc. 2164-66 : General use of the metal we now call platinum dates back thousands of years earlier, thanks to artifacts found in the Egyptian city of Thebes. The foremost relic is the Casket of Thebes, a sarcophagus dating to 700 BCE and featuring platinum alongside gold and silver hieroglyphic inlays.
– Highlight Loc. 2204-9  : What set Antonio de Ulloa and Julius Caesar Scaliger apart in the discovery of platinum is their mention of the metal in texts each wrote later in life. What may be more telling, intellectually, is information pointing us in the direction of those who championed the use of platinum by manipulating its uniquely stable characteristics. British scientist Charles Wood smuggled a small cache of platinum from South America in 1741 and distributed the metal among colleagues in Europe, proselytizing its characteristics with so much vigor that the scientific community of his day added platinum as the eighth known metal, making it the first added since ancient times (iron, gold, silver, tin, mercury, lead, and copper round out this primitive roll).
– Highlight Loc. 2214-16 : The ability of a large piece of platinum to remain inert—an overall resistance to chemical reactions—led France to painstakingly manufacture a platinum bar of exactly one meter in length to use as the universal standard of length in the metric system. 9
– Highlight Loc. 2365-67 : Neodymium ”one of the two elements derived from Carl Gustaf Mosander’s incorrect, but accepted, discovery of didymium in 1841—is the most widely used permanent magnet, with the rare earth metal being found in hard drives and wind turbines as well as in lower-tech conveniences like the button clasp of a purse.
– Highlight Loc. 2369-70 :  Niobum receives its name through a quirk of Greek mythology. Traditionally, Niobe is known as the daughter of Tantalus (for whom the rare metal element tantalum is named).
– Highlight Loc. 2374-76 : Niobium, a metal typically used to make extremely strong magnets, is also quite stable and has the added bonus of mild hypoallergenic properties—a boon to the medical world in which niobium became an obvious choice for use in implantable devices, specifically pacemakers.
– Highlight Loc. 2421-24 : Hafnium is a rarely used metal, but the seventy-second element on the periodic table could change the future of warfare, thanks to the outcome of a handful of experiments conducted in a small Dallas, Texas, lab. The experiments involved exposing a minute amount of a nuclear isomer of hafnium-178 to a beam of x-rays.
– Highlight Loc. 2432-33 : Collins reported that the energy released exited as gamma rays—gamma rays and x-rays are simply forms of energy—and appeared to have shown that the long-speculated possibility of induced gamma emission was now a reality.
– Highlight Loc. 2657-61 : Polymetallic nodules—baseball-sized deposits of minerals and metals—line stretches of the ocean floor. These deposits form in a manner similar to pearls, with the layers of a polymetallic nodule slowly added over time, while the cores are created out of bits of bone or tooth from recently deceased sea life. 27 The layers are primarily composed of manganese, but copper and cobalt are also present, along with small amounts of eleven of the seventeen rare earth elements.
– Highlight Loc. 2807-11 : Armed with a bottomless checkbook and a lifelong love of science and the final frontier, Garriott purchased the Lunokhod 2 for $68,500 in 1993 from Sotheby’s New York. Lavochkin, a state-owned Russian aerospace company, signed the rover to Sotheby’s in an auction devoted to selling memorabilia from the Russian space program to North American bidders just over twenty years ago. In addition to the 239,000 miles separating Garriott from the Lunokhod 2, Lavochkin did not know the exact location of the rover, since the Soviet Union lost communications with the craft in 1973.
– Highlight Loc. 2817-19 : The Lunokhod 2 is far from the only spacecraft sitting on the moon; close to seventy-five other craft in various states of assembly reside on the surface, abandoned for decades. What is unique about the Lunokhod 2? The purchase made Garriott the sole publicly known private owner of an item outside of Earth’s orbit.

29/06/2016

Keith Veronese – Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth (2)


PRASEODYMIUM

PRASEODYMIUM

– Highlight Loc. 182-85: As copper communication wires are replaced with fiber-optic cable, erbium is used to coat fiber-optic cable to increase the efficiency and speed of information transfer, and the permanently magnetic properties of neodymium lead to its extensive use in headphones, speakers, microphones, hard drives, and electric car batteries.
– Highlight Loc. 197-98: All our heavy metal elements, to which many of the rare metals belong, were born out of supernovas occurring over the past several billion years.
– Highlight Loc. 200-203: Afghanistan and regions near the Chinese border are wellsprings for technologically viable rare metals due to the disproportionate spread of these high-demand metals in the planet’s crust. In an interesting move, the United States tasked geologists with estimating available resources of rare metals during recent military actions in Afghanistan.
– Highlight Loc. 209-10: Discovery of extensive deposits of a not-so-rare metal, tin, was enough to send a part of Africa into a bloody war at the turn of the millennium.
– Highlight Loc. 213-14: During his rule of fourteenth-century BCE Egypt, King Tushratta declared gold to be „more plentiful than dirt” due to its abundance in Northern Africa.
– Highlight Loc. 224-25: An ounce of gold in the days of ancient Rome was worth twelve ounces of silver, with this divide becoming a chasm in the intervening fifteen hundred years as an ounce of gold is now worth roughly sixty ounces of silver today.
– Highlight Loc. 244-48: The fifteen rare earth elements separated and placed below the periodic table are known in historic chemistry circles as the lanthanides. This awkward name is taken from their first member, lanthanum, with each of the remaining fourteen rare earth metals in the row having one more proton than the previous, exhibiting basic properties similar to lanthanum. Overlapping properties in consecutive elements as you look from left to right on the periodic table is an anomaly—elements typically exhibit radical changes with the addition of a proton.
– Highlight Loc. 251-53: The rare earth elements suffer from an unfortunate happenstance—the adjective that takes the spotlight in their name. „Rare” suggests that the metals are nigh impossible to find in any form, but this is not really the case.
– Highlight Loc. 259-61: The elements are spread so well that they appear in very small, trace quantities „a gram here, a milligram thereâ” in deposits and are rarely, if ever, found in a pure form. Extracting and accumulating useful, high-purity quantities of these seventeen metals is what lends them the “rare earth†name, as their scattered nature spreads them throughout the planet, but in tiny, tiny amounts.
– Highlight Loc. 368-73: The seventeen rare earth elements are often separated further from the periodic table, with the seventeen split into two groups: the light rare earths and the heavy rare earths. As can probably be guessed from the name, mass of the element plays a role in this separation. The light rare earth elements (LREEs) are lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, and samarium, while europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, and yttrium make up the heavy rare earth elements (HREEs). As a general rule, an HREE is harder to find in substantial usable quantities than an LREE, making the heavy rare earth elements more valuable.   
– Highlight Loc. 465-67: The rare earth metals dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, and lanthanum are the four-pronged linchpin of efforts to create an environmentally friendly transportation sector, with each metal needed in massive quantities if the electric car revolution succeeds in removing combustible engines from our roads and highways.
– Highlight Loc. 486-89: The first of the seventeen rare earth metals discovered was yttrium, a discovery that began with the teamwork of a scientific “odd couple.†Johan Gadolin, a thirty-one-year-old native of Finland who abandoned a career in mathematics to become a chemist, examined the composition of a black rock he received from Carl Axel Arrhenius, a lieutenant in the Swedish Army.
– Highlight Loc. 495-97: Gadolin is believed to be the first professor to create hands-on laboratory exercises for his pupils, the forerunner of the modern university laboratory courses that provide valuable instructional time for undergraduates and give graduate students an opportunity to sharpen their teaching skills.
– Highlight Loc. 509-10: To honor Gadolin’s work, the rare earth metal gadolinium was named for him; it is used to create the memory-storage components of hard drives.
– Highlight Loc. 516-21: Scientists emanating from Sweden and Finland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made a disproportionate number of findings when compared to the rest of Europe and the world, in part because of the early movement to organize scientists in the region through the 1739 founding of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, a group that leads the selection for the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry to this day. The two countries, both allied under the Swedish flag at this time in history, also benefited from a comparatively strife-free nineteenth century while England, France, and Spain were continuously embroiled in war at home and abroad.
– Highlight Loc. 535-37: Like Gadolin before him, Mosander’s oversight is no indication of his ability as a chemist. He discovered three elements—the rare earth metals lanthanum (eventually teased from the aforementioned lantana), erbium, and terbium—cementing him as one of the preeminent but sadly overlooked scientists of the modern era.
– Highlight Loc. 573-76: During the 1950s and 1960s, the United States and the USSR dedicated resources to discovering new elements, particularly metals. US scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Soviet researchers at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions along with enormous amounts of money were dedicated to these projects in the hope of finding a substance similar to uranium that could be manipulated to build weapons of mass destruction.
– Highlight Loc. 609-13: The cyclotron is responsible for the most important elemental discoveries of the twentieth century: the 1940 discovery that plutonium and neptunium are created when neutron-heavy forms of hydrogen traveling at near-relativistic speeds impact a uranium target. The United States kept the creation of plutonium a thinly veiled secret and in the five years after its discovery built and funded the Manhattan Project in order to scale up production of plutonium and create the atomic bombs that would fall on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945.
– Highlight Loc. 633-36: Glenn Seaborg, who would later have an element named in his honor, brought plutonium into the modern purview through a series of experiments carried out by his research team at the University of California–Berkeley at the dawn of World War II. He reported his successful experiments, in which he bombarded a sample of uranium-238 with atoms of deuterium, a form of hydrogen that carries with it an extra neutron in 1940, changing the world.
– Highlight Loc. 642-43: Current estimates place the world census of naturally occurring plutonium at a whopping one-twentieth of a gram.
РHighlight Loc. 702-7: Twelve years after Noddack reported the finding of masurium, credit for the discovery of element forty-three had been transferred to a pair of Italian scientists, Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segr̬. The duo successfully detected and isolated element forty-three by performing experiments on radioactive discards from a cyclotron decommissioned from the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Perrier and Segr̬ studied a piece of foil created from element forty-two, the metal molybdenum, which researchers bombarded with neutrons in the process of cyclotron use, hoping to find atoms of molybdenum transmuted into a new element. Success came quickly, with the pair naming this new element technetium.
– Highlight Loc. 747-50: Neodymium and its neighbor on the periodic table, samarium, are relied on to manufacture critical components of smart bombs and precision-guided missiles, ytterbium, terbium, and europium are used to create lasers that seek out mines on land and under water, and other rare earth elements are needed to build the motors and actuators used for Predator drones and various electronics like jamming devices.
   – Highlight Loc. 766-68: Each element from position eighty-four to the end of the periodic table at one hundred and eighteen is radioactive, and of these thirty-six elements, only twelve are available in large enough quantities to be useful to humans.
– Highlight Loc. 965-66: …a small group of astrophysicists in the Netherlands posited in 2013 that a natural nuclear reaction gone awry led to the ejection of a massive portion of the planet, which went on to exit the earth’s atmosphere and become the celestial object we call the moon.
– Highlight Loc. 1248-5: Once scientific analysis showed polonium to be the cause of Alexander Litvinenko’s death, forensic explorations were made to detect polonium in the remains of one of the most controversial leaders of the twentieth century. Swiss scientists studying the exhumed body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in November of 2010 found nearly twenty times the baseline amount of polonium in his bones, along with traces of the radioactive element in his clothes and the soil where he was laid to rest.
– Highlight Loc. 1252-54: Arafat died in 2004 from what is described as a stroke by his attending physician after a bout with the flu characterized by vomitingâ €”a symptom that plagued Litvinenko immediately after his poisoning. The discovery of such a large concentration of polonium has changed the way historians and political scientists view Arafat’s death,
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10/05/2016

Keith Veronese – Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth (1)


rare   – Highlight Loc. 77-79 : To put the amount of platinum on Earth in an easier-to-visualize light, imagine if one took all the platinum mined in the past several decades and melted it down; the amount of molten platinum would barely fill the average home swimming pool.
– Highlight Loc. 81-82 : Osmium, rhenium, iridium, ruthenium, and even gold exist in smaller quantities, much less than one part per billion, while some are available in such small concentrations that no valid measurement exists.
– Highlight Loc. 82-87 : On the extreme end of the scarcity spectrum is the metal promethium. The metal is named for the Greek Titan Prometheus, a mythological trickster who is known for stealing fire from the gods. Scientists first isolated promethium in 1963 after decades of speculation about the metal. Promethium is one of the rarest elements on Earth and would be very useful if available in substantial amounts. If enough existed on the planet, promethium could be used to power atomic batteries that would continue to work for decades at a time. Estimates suggest there is just over a pound of promethium (the most recent estimates suggest five hundred and eighty-six grams) within the crust of the entire planet.
– Highlight Loc. 95-97 : A number of the rare but extremely useful metals we will be talking about are siderophiles. Siderophile is an odd word, meaning „œiron loving” and like metallon, it is of Greek origin. Osmium, gold, palladium, and platinum are four of the twelve metals classified by scientists as siderophiles: elements that seek out iron and bond with this common metal.
– Highlight Loc. 151-54 : In 1886, a chemist in his early twenties ended a five-year academic journey when he discovered a simple but unique process to separate aluminum from ore impurities using electricity. Charles Martin Hall, a professor at Oberlin College, would continue a career as an educator and spend several years teaching in Imperial Japan, but along the way he formed an aluminum-processing company to make use of his newfound process. In time, the company became the industrial giant Alcoa, with Hall serving as vice president.
– Highlight Loc. 178-81 : An extremely recent and highly relevant example of a little-known metal that jumped to the forefront of demand is tantalum. Tantalum is in almost every smartphone, with a sliver in each of the nearly one billion smartphones sold worldwide each year. Prior to this valuable alternative use, tantalum’s only major use was as a conducting filament in turn-of-the-twentieth-century lightbulbs, with the metal quickly replaced by tungsten.
– Highlight Loc. 181-82 : Europium is used to create the color red in liquid-crystal televisions and monitors, with no other chemical able to reproduce the color reliably.

05/03/2016

Anne Applebaum – „From a Polish Country House Kitchen” (2)

Filed under: Culinar-literar,FRAGMENTE DIN CARTI SI BLOGURI — afractalus @ 18:01
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Polish Country House   – Highlight Loc. 1454-56 : When all twenty-seven European foreign ministers met for a celebratory dinner in a fabulous villa in the Old Town of Gdansk, the Polish hosts served tiny cabbage rolls, stuffed with buckwheat kasha, as a first course.

– Highlight Loc. 1757-60 : Danielle’s husband, David, had a great-grandfather, Louis Hirschowitz, who ate the same meal for dinner every day throughout his adult life: boiled chicken with a potato and celery. He lived to be ninety-seven years old, kept every hair on his head, and retained all of his faculties to the very end. When it was occasionally suggested to him that he try to eat something different, he would reply, “If it was any good, I would have tried it already.”

– Highlight Loc. 2306-10 : It is no surprise that the word pierogi appears in half a dozen Slavic languages. Wrapping meat, cheese, or fruit inside pasta dough and then dropping the resulting dumpling in a pot of boiling water seems to be one of the oldest ideas in Slavic cooking. And not only Slavic: Pierogi are also made throughout the Baltic states, eastern and southeastern Europe, Germany, and central Asia, though sometimes they go by different names. History has not recorded the nationality of the original inventor, but in the broader scheme of things, they are clearly related to Chinese dumplings—think wontons—and Jewish kreplach and Italian tortellini as well.   Polish2

– Highlight Loc. 2687-91 : Things that are called “Lithuanian” in Polish cooking often involve honey (note the recipe for Spicy Lithuanian Vodka on page 276). The Lithuanians were famous beekeepers, and before the Polish king Jagiełło helped convert them to Christianity in 1387, the Lithuanians had a bee goddess. Poland was once the imperial power in Lithuania, and in the eastern part of the country, it’s hard to say where Polish customs end and Lithuanian customs begin. Elaborately carved beehives, for example, are a feature of both the Polish and Lithuanian landscape.

Polish 3   – Highlight Loc. 2769-73 : Poppy-seed cakes are ubiquitous in Poland, and are a traditional part of both Polish and Jewish (and indeed Central European) cooking. The most famous Polish poppyseed cake is the makowiec, which is eaten with special gusto at Christmas. The most famous Jewish poppy-seed cake is probably the traditional hamantaschen, the triangular pastry that is eaten at Purim. Since the former is tricky to cook at home, and the latter often come out hard and dry, we’ve decided, instead, to include a recipe for poppy-seed torte, which is perfectly straightforward and equally delicious.
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