Some things are just not worth it

So it’s been found that a substance that gives microwave popcorn its buttery flavor, diacetyl, is not especially good to breathe. Are you likely to breathe it at home? Probably not, but the workers who make microwave popcorn have been hurt by it, and now many need lung transplants. More here: That buttery aroma might be toxic, too.

Now, people can ingest a lot of things they can’t breathe (see, for example, water). And diacetyl can occur naturally in dairy and wine. This suggests it should be safe to eat. That said, why isn’t the FDA testing it and why hasn’t the EPA released the results of its studies? Worrisome behavior from an administration famous for being less than forthright.

While companies like Pop Weaver are responsibly turning to alternatives, if you have a stove, you don’t need microwave popcorn at all. You can make perfectly good (and far better tasting) popcorn in just a few minutes. Coat the bottom a large, lidded pot with oil. Put in just enough popcorn to coat the bottom of the pot. Turn on the heat (I find medium works pretty well). Pop the corn until the popping’s finished. Voila, homemade instant popcorn. If it’s something I can make, it’s got to be really easy. And the workers will appreciate being able to focus on turning out products which won’t kill them.

Best McDonald’s Site Ever

From MetaFilter. The poster’s description is succinct but accurate:

McDonald’s UK goes Web 2.0 with a site answering user’s questions. Apparently, all of them.

Some of the questions are silly:

Why did my banana milkshake turn bright orange after a few hours stored in the fridge?
[They didn't know]

Why do I get the Spurlock McGurgles everytime I eat at your resturants?
McDonald’s is not aware of the ‘Spurlock McGurgles’ as being a specific phenomenon. Everyone has a different digestive rate and can be affected in different ways by the things that they eat.

Some are cultural:

Why doesnt England do the Shamrock Shake? We celebrate St.Patricks day too!

McDonald’s feels that the Shamrock Shake would not be as popular outside of Ireland. [I hadn't realized I was living in Ireland.]

Some are poignent:

How do interest rates (rising and falling) affect McDonald’s?
As with any business, interest rate changes affect McDonald’s. McDonald’s globally is predominantly a franchised business and franchisees will often finance the purchase of a McDonald’s restaurant through a bank or other lender. This loan is set at a fixed rate, above the country’s base rate, and consequently, as the base rate rises and falls so too will the cost of the financing. Here in the UK, the Bank of England sets the base rate. This is currently 5 percent (November 2006). This will impact those franchised restaurants where a loan is still outstanding. Company-owned restaurants are not affected by movements in the UK base rate as they are funded by the US and so will be subject to variations in US interest rates.

Wow, that’s almost a real answer.

Many are political:

Do your farmers use any Genetically Modified animal feed? Do you use any Genetically Modified ingredients? Is is possible to have a personalised answer which actually answers my questions instead of the usual “we value your comment”?
McDonald’s does not use any does not use any genetically modified (GM) ingredients in the food it serves.

Notice that McDonald’s answered the second question, but not the first (or, for that matter, the third).

Have you stopped poisoning people?
McDonald’s is a legitimate business and sells food and drink acting fully within the laws of the countries where it operates.

Still, not answering the question.

My question: What on earth did you do to the poor animal to make your chicken sandwich so vile? And more McRib, please.

What the World Eats

Time ran a photo essay showing how much food various families around the world eat in a week. The differences from country to country in quantity and selection are striking.

If You Knew Sushi

A nice piece at Vanity Fair about sushi. I know the sushi I eat is pretty pedestrian, but I still like it. Someday, I’d love to eat at one of the back street sushi restaurants described in the article. Be sure to read the section about the history of sushi in America, too, from the time it was universally despised until its ascent as the ultimate fast food.

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?: Really, really pretty. And more food than I thought.

Candy is gross

Top 10 Grossest Candies: I bet these candies would put David of sweets forever.

Can you make it in an Easy-Bake Oven?

No Knead Bread – A Rustic Loaf!: it seems so easy!

Look at the ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/2 cups water

How hard could this be? I have all of these ingredients but yeast. It takes 5 minutes of prep time and away we go!

But I don’t have a large glass mixing bowl.

Or an appropriate baking pan.

Or what seems to be the several hours needed to FINISH the darn bread. Hrm. I think it’s easier to just buy pre-made stuff at the store. If anyone tries this, let me know how it goes.

Guaranteed to contain no bits of chewed-up armor

Because they don’t contain real dragon meat, Welsh Dragon Sausages need a new name.

Socks, Macs, Volcanos, Elections, Superheroes, Math, Wasabi, and Cat Poop

I’ve found these sites in various places:

In case you wanted to know, Socks is still purring up a storm.

Things only I care about: Extremely Useful Macbook Freeware.

A whole new island: Tonga volcanic eruption

An informative election site: Election 2006.

This game looks fun: Eat Poop You Cat!

Whose side is your favorite superhero on?

Some numbers are more interesting than others.

All About Wasabi: I’ve never had real wasabi? Who knew?

A link fest for you

A really long break — I’ll try to post a little more often. If I don’t post, how would you know what’s on the Internet?

PC World likes lists: 100 Fearless Forecasts (some more fearless than others) and also 99 Unknown sites (you probably know a lot of them; a couple of links below come from the list)

Abandoned Bicycles of New York: Who left them all? Cook with what you already have — will it tell me what in my house is still edible?

Etsy: Buy and sell crafts. Thought Dana might like this one.