Hey, that tastes like someone I know

For the benefit of all you cooking show fanatics out there -- and I live with one, so I know you're out there -- this is my humble contribution to the genre; a one-word crash-course in modern Hawaiian cuisine: SPAM. Hawaiians, it seems, eat more of it than anyone else in the U.S., an average of 16 tins per person per year. It's so popular, you can order it at McDonald's in Hawaii and even get it in sushi form. Turns out American G.I.s imported the stuff as rations during WWII, and a state-wide craze was born "“ as well as a state-wide epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and strokes. A 2001 Department of Health study found that 71% of deaths of Hawaiians aged 25 and older were "nutrition-related." But that doesn't explain the Hawaiian's atypical love of Spam, which is readily available in the rest of the U.S., but nowhere near as popular. Famous travel writer Paul Theroux has posited this theory:

"...the former cannibals of Oceania now feast on Spam because Spam came the nearest to approximating the porky taste of human flesh. `Long pig' as they called a cooked human being in much of Melanesia. It was a fact that the people-eaters of the Pacific had all evolved, or perhaps degenerated, into Spam-eaters. And in the absence of Spam they settled for corned beef, which also had a corpsy flavor."

Facing some criticism for his statement (apparently some people found it, uh, offensive) Theroux has since brushed it off as a joke. But it makes you wonder -- how corpsy does it taste? (Lacking any basis for comparison, I will have to take his word for it. Unless some brave (and depraved) reader would like to share a deep dark secret with us ...

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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