So much backed up to write about, but how can I not start with this?
I am sitting here with an opened bag of New York Style® Brand Original Plain Bagel Crisps®. It’s a blue and yellow themed bag with a bit of the New York skyline and the faint outline of a street map labeled MANHATTAN – these are the original New York style bagel crisps, after all.
I haven’t opened the bag because I already fell for that once. Plain bagel crisps seem an ascetic snack. Crunchy and tasty, yes (try the garlic or sea salt varieties, too) – but without butter or cheese or caviar, what could we be talking about here? Six ounces for the whole bag. (And, trust me, I would eat the whole bag.)
Well, the first thing to say about New York Style® Brand Original Plain Bagel Crisps® is that consuming the contents of that 6-ounce bag would set you back 840 calories. A like weight of filet mignon: 348 calories.
The second thing to say about New York Style® Brand Original Plain Bagel Crisps® is that they are distributed by a company called New York Style Brand based in – New Jersey.
But the main thing to tell you about New York Style® Brand Original Plain Bagel Crisps® – and as a guy born on 77th Street and Lexington Avenue I feel I know something about New Yorkiness – is that, according to an imprint on the side of the bag (and this is what impelled me to my keyboard) . . .
they are “MADE IN BULGARIA.”
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD – PART 3
I love that we are becoming one cozy human village, far too interconNetted by commerce and culture ever again to go to war (well, not with Bulgaria, anyway). But when it becomes economical to import original New York Style bagel crisps from Bulgaria, I do worry a little about our competitiveness. And about the ecological folly of eating food grown not in our own backyards but all over the world . . . (Where did the palm oil come from? New Jersey? Where did the sugar and locust bean gum come from? Bulgaria?) . . . and processed 7,000 miles away.
(Needless to say, I didn’t buy these bagel crisps; my young and handsome partner, who as a point of pride never reads labels or price tags, did.)
But just when you were maybe getting used to the threat of climate change (you’ve switched to CFLs, the rest is in God’s hands) and numb to our economic problems, the worst of which, the stock market seems to be saying, may be over (but I wouldn’t bet on it) and unconcerned about Bird Flu (summer’s here!) – and everything else we have to worry about (it’s always something) – now comes this.
It’s the June cover of The Atlantic Monthly, a completely fascinating story about the prospect for something really big hitting the Earth sometime in this century (about 10%) . . . how a probability like that can be calculated (it actually can be) . . . and just how small that big thing would have to be (and why it wouldn’t necessarily even have to hit the earth) to wipe out all of us, or a great many of us – and what we might be able to do about it, if we get cracking, if only NASA had not been instructed to focus on manned missions to the moon and Mars instead.
Granted, this is not keeping me up nights. Ten percent is a pretty small chance and any given century has roughly 100 years to run, by my calculation, which brings the chance this year down to one in a thousand, and the chance today (for those of us who live in the moment) to one in three hundred sixty-five thousand, also known as “simply not gonna happen.”
But it’s fascinating nonetheless – and a problem we could solve without having to kill anyone or spend a trillion dollars – so we really ought to try, and hats off to The Atlantic for making such an engaging, compelling case.
As I was reading it, I kept coming back to an e-mail I got last week from a friend who had been detained in Houston. Just another email like any other, on a day like any other, this one asking whether I might be able to put up his girlfriend, flying in from Germany, until Sunday night when he got back.
“I am in a bit of a bad situation,” he explained. “I was talking with two friends on the street early Sunday morning. A drunk driver hit a parked car and sent it crashing towards us. I and one of my friends were pinned under the car. I was able to wiggle my out from underneath him and the car and am fine. My friend died. I am staying in Houston until the memorial service.”
Ugh, ugh, ugh.
But do you see my point?
Whether it be a drunk driver out of the blue affecting one person, or an earthquake out of the blue affecting millions, or a space rock out of the blue affecting all life on earth . . . every miraculous day – I’m telling you nothing you do not know – is precious. The neat thing about the space rock is that you can see it coming and divert it. (Comets are harder.)