What’s in a Bag? – January 21, 2019

What’s in a bag?

National Geographic

Designs change as plastic bags banned


As plastic bags are banned in more cities, some replacement reusable bags echo the designs of their predecessors, which were a symbol of thrift and luck to some immigrant communities. “Countless businesses use thank-you bags around the world, of course, but the bags have a special nostalgia for some communities. Over the decades, many of the designs used on the bags have become associated with these communities, particularly Chinatowns, and have been repurposed in other contexts,” writes Bonnie Tsui. “As plastic bags are now being phased out due to environmental concerns, designers are reimagining them in new forms that still carry cultural significance—of immigrant thrift, of friendly imagery, of the desire to fit in.”

Trump’s fast-food feast for football players was, of course, all about Trump

The New Yorker
President Trump caught a lot of grief over his decision to serve the national champion Clemson football team fast food when they came to the White House this week, a decision he “spun … as the fault of his political opponents, an inevitable result of his own elective government shutdown, which has left hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed—including, presumably, the White House kitchen staff,” writes Helen Rosner. But Rosner suggests it was simpler than that: “An attempt, however opportunistic, for a man who loves fast food to fulfill his straightforward desires—a gilded hall filled with as many fried and griddled patties as money can buy, more Filet-o-Fishes and Quarter Pounders than one body could possibly consume, the teetering towers a quantifiable testament to his Presidential power.”

To win rural America, Dems must take on monopolies

Washington Monthly
Democrats are fixated on how to win votes in rural places, but their strategy has yet to take on one of the biggest issues facing rural communities: extreme corporate consolidation. “The biggest cause of growing regional inequality isn’t technology; it’s changes in public policy, embraced by both parties, that have enabled predatory monopolies to strip wealth away from farmers and rural communities and transfer it to America’s snazziest zip codes,” writes Claire Kelloway. “Until Democratic leaders and candidates find their voice on the key issue affecting rural communities’ economic fortunes, even the biggest blue wave won’t be enough to take back the map.”

Investing in water cleanup pays dividends

The Conversation
In the 1980s, anywhere from 8 to 15 percent of flounder caught in Boston Harbor had tumors related to pollution in the water. A resulting cleanup effort has made the fish stock dramatically healthier, and has provided economic benefits well beyond the cost of the initial cleanup investment. “Boston Harbor’s turnaround shows that heavily damaged ecosystems can recover and provide benefits far larger than their cleanup costs,” writes Michael Moore. A study estimates that the harbor now provides between $30 and $100 billion in “ecosystem services,” like recreation opportunities and habitat for fish, when the cleanup effort cost just $4.7 billion.

What would make someone give up a job reviewing restaurants?

Atlanta Magazine
For one former restaurant critic, the thrill of critiquing meals has gone. In part, this is due to the times we live in. “On the days when we’re collectively coping with another mass shooting, another climate-related disaster, another mandate from our xenophobic president, I’ve had a harder time wording my complaints about the cheese dip or wine list or whatever,” writes Wyatt Williams. But beyond politics, his love of the quest for a great meal had simply dissipated. “Somewhere along the way, I lost my appetite…I’m walking away right now while I still can.”

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