Get Excited!: In the Beginning Day 10

Mark your calendars, folks! There are just 10 days to go till the new book In the Beginning hits stores, and we're continuing the countdown today with some important information about SPAM, part II: (the e-mail genre).

SPAM, Pt II: SPAM (The E-mail Genre)

350px-MontySpam.jpg If you're sick of blaming dethroned Nigerian kings, triple-X porn sites and mail-order purveyors of Viagra for all the junk in your e-mail box, why not take issue with the real rascals behind the word.

SPAM (A Lot)

In 1970, the members of Monty Python's Flying Circus came up with one of their most beloved and inadvertently prescient sketches, in which a customer in a restaurant desperately tries to order something that doesn't contain SPAM, only to find that pretty
much everything on the menu features it (see below). Also in the course of his ill-fated dinner, a nearby party of Vikings "“ hey, we did say it was Monty Python "“ breaks into song: "SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, lovely SPAM! Wonderful SPAM!"Clearly, repetition is funny. Also, and more relevant for the relationship between SPAM and email, repetition is annoying. Apparently, the first people to make the connection
between repetitive SPAM and repetitive email were some clever geeks, by which we mean to say they were players in "multi-user dungeons," or very early predecessors of games like World of Warcraft. Brad Templeton, who has done meticulous research on the topic, writes:

"The term spamming got used to apply to a few different behaviors. One was to flood the computer with too much data to crash it. Another was to "˜spam the database' by having a program create a huge number of objects, rather then creating them by
hand. And the term was sometimes used to mean simply flooding a chat session with a bunch of text inserted by a program (commonly called a "˜bot' today) or just by inserting a file instead of your own real time typing output.... When the ability to input a
whole file to the chat system was implemented, people would annoy others by dumping the words to the Monty Python SPAM Song.... Another report describes indirectly a person simply typing "˜spam, spam...' in a Multi User Domain with a keyboard
macro until being thrown off around 1985."

51yai+MKH5L._AA240_.jpgEarly spam consisted of mass invitations to parties, broad anti-war messages ("THERE IS NO WAY TO PEACE. PEACE IS THE WAY"), and appeals for college tuition funding. The classic "MAKE MONEY FAST" appeared as a USENET post in the '80s, Templeton says, but as a one-off, not a constant barrage of email. Then, in 1994, USENET users were warned of a "Global Alert for All: Jesus is Coming Soon" in every single newsgroup. (Hey, if Jesus were coming, wouldn't you want to make sure everyone knew?) Until then spam had at least been somewhat avoidable. What a quaint era that was.

Psst... if you liked this post, here are some other delicious origins you might want to read about: The Birth of Roller Coaster, The Very Strange Origins of the Dishwasher, A James Bond Story (for your eyes only!), and the Fascinating Tribe behind the original Bungee Jump.

Remember: In the Beginning goes on sale November 1st, and will be available at (respectable) bookstores everywhere!

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The Simple Way to Reheat Your French Fries and Not Have Them Turn Into a Soggy Mess
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Some restaurant dishes are made to be doggy-bagged and reheated in the microwave the next day. Not French fries: The more crispy and delectable they are when they first arrive on your table, the more of a soggy disappointment they’ll be when you try to revive them at home. But as The Kitchn recently shared, there’s a secret to making leftover fries you’ll actually enjoy eating.

The key is to avoid the microwave altogether. Much of the appeal of fries comes from their crunchy, golden-brown exterior and their creamy potato center. This texture contrast is achieved by deep-frying, and all it takes is a few rotations around a microwave to melt it away. As the fries heat up, they create moisture, transforming all those lovely crispy parts into a flabby mess.

If you want your fries to maintain their crunch, you need to recreate the conditions they were cooked in initially. Set a large pan filled with about 2 tablespoons of oil for every 1 cup of fries you want to cook over medium-high heat. When you see the oil start to shimmer, add the fries in a single layer. After about a minute, flip them over and allow them to cook for half a minute to a minute longer.

By heating up fries with oil in a skillet, you produce something called the Maillard Reaction: This happens when high heat transforms proteins and sugars in food, creating the browning effect that gives fried foods their sought-after color, texture, and taste.

After your fries are nice and crisp, pull them out of the pan with tongs or a spatula, set them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Now all you need is a perfect burger to feel like you’re eating a restaurant-quality meal at home.

[h/t The Kitchn]

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Bone Collector
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