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Jeen Na

A Short History of the Apple

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Jeen Na

Photograph by Flickr user Jeen Na.

In September, thoughts turn to different seasonal foods. As the tomato prices start to climb and the garden peters out, we look forward to a winter of turkey, pumpkin, and sweets. But in between, apples are abundant, ripe, and delicious. The apple (Malus domestica) is a member of the rose family. Believe it or not, there are thousands of cultivars of apples. The United States is the second-biggest producer of apples, behind China. Apples originated in central Asia, probably in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, or western China. They were taken to Rome and Greece by Silk Road traders, and came to the rest of Europe with the Romans.

Apples have been documented as food for thousands of years. They are often associated with the Garden of Eden. However, the fruit from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was never named as any particular fruit we would know. The apple became associated with the fruit because the written form of the Latin word malum means both "apple" and "evil." The word malum was used in a fifth-century Latin translation of the Bible, and the apple has been associated with the Garden ever since. Modern scientists point to increased nutrition as the reason human brains developed to the point of self-awareness and the "knowledge of good and evil," but the current theory is that meat was the key food in human brain development. Especially cooked meat

Apples are present in mythology and culture from ancient times. Apples made of gold feature prominently in Greek myths, like the story of Atalanta, who would outrace any suitor until the wise Hippomenes slowed her down with the temptation of golden apples. Aphrodite, Hera and Athena argued over who deserved the golden apple, and set off the Trojan War. Hera owned the Garden of the Hesperides, in which golden apples grew that would confer immortality to those who ate them.

European settlers brought apples, and apple seeds, with them to America. Colonial apple trees were cultivated to produce cider more than for eating the fruit, because apple cider was tastier than water, safer than whiskey, and cheaper than beer. The sour apples of the time were better suited for cider, anyway. The focus on eating apples instead of drinking them is traced to Prohibition, when apple producers were afraid of losing their market and began pushing apples as a delicious and nutritious food.

Johnny Appleseed is a legendary figure in American folklore: the man who walked barefoot through the American frontier, planting apples wherever he went, because he believed in their value and wanted everyone to eat apples. There's truth in the legend, although John Chapman's life was a bit more complicated. Chapman was born in 1774 in Massachusetts. He became an orchardist and nurseryman as an apprentice to a farmer who grew apples. Stricken with a lifelong case of wanderlust, Chapman moved ever westward through the American frontier, preaching the Gospel as a New Church missionary. Meanwhile, he made his living selling young apple trees. He would move deep into the frontier, plant a field of apple seeds, and make his rounds, returning to tend his nurseries every year. When settlers arrived in those areas a few years later, he would sell them apple trees. Chapman did not believe in riding horses, hunting, or eating meat. He lived simply, and made friends with settlers and Indians alike, becoming very popular in his time. Although he never had a permanent home, he was welcome in many homes. Still, he would have had a difficult time selling apple seedlings today. The trees he grew from seed were fairly sour compared to modern eating apples, but it didn't matter because they were mostly made into apple cider. His trees took root and provided quite a variety of apple genes to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Photograph by Flickr user Mary Beth Griffo Rigby.

It has been estimated that during the 19th century, Americans drank an average of 32 gallons of apple cider every year. In the early 20th century, German immigrants made beer popular, taking away some of cider's market. Then in 1919 the Volstead Act outlawed all alcoholic beverages. Many apple orchards went out of business. But there were apples that were good for eating instead of making cider. The Delicious apple was born in 1870 in Jesse Hiatt's orchard in Peru, Iowa. A tree seedling that refused to die eventually bore the apple variety, which Hiatt nursed to maturity and sent samples to the Apple Fair in Louisiana in 1893. Clarence M. Stark, President of Stark Nurseries, dubbed it "delicious" and that's how the apple got its name. Stark bought the propagation rights. The Delicious apple was no good for cider, and too soft and bland for cooking, but it was good to eat raw. With the popularity of the Delicious and other sweet apples, the industry regained its market after Prohibition. Other cultivars were offered for making pies, apple butter, and applesauce.

Photograph by Flickr user Bill Barber.

The apples you see in grocery stores today are clones. Apple trees will reproduce readily in the wild, but there is no simple way of controlling reproduction, and the offspring of any two apple trees may produce fruit that has no resemblance to either parent. So to get a certain kind of fruit, growers will graft limbs from an existing tree onto a younger, sturdier trunk, called the rootstock. The fruit will be the offspring of the grafted branch. Such grafting allows large orchards to deliver a consistent product, but it also limits the variety of apples available in grocery stores. Fortunately, there are people devoted to discovering trees that produce a wider variety, with the aim of resurrecting and preserving those apples by grafting branches to younger rootstock. The future of apples may be a return to the heirloom varieties our ancestors knew -plus varieties never eaten before.

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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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