Bernard DeVoto on the Sad State of Paring Knives (as featured in Julie & Julia)
From “The Paring Knife at the Crossroads,” by Bernard DeVoto in the April 1939 Harper’s Magazine
For it is quite true that in some goods there is no longer any such thing as quality. I buy a new pocket knife before going to the country every summer, for instance–I have to buy a new one. It has been years since I had one that would keep an edge, and stainless steel, which most of them are made of nowadays, won’t even take an edge. The interesting thing is that stainless steel rusts before the summer is over too, when other steel objects carried in the pocket don’t rust. The same conditions hold for kitchen cutlery. It is practically all made of stainless steel now, which means that it is practically all no good. At approximately twice the price you paid ten years ago you can get a good butcher knife, but you can’t get a good paring knife at any price. True, you can get a paring knife for a nickel and a butcher knife for a quarter, as you couldn’t in grandmother’s time–but grandmother wouldn’t have bought them at any price. They are beautiful of course: the handle is bright green and the blade has been streamlined, air-resistance being a great problem in the kitchen; but they will not cut.
From the Web
Hardly anyone noticed this summer when former president Jimmy Carter explained why he had decided to leave the Baptist Church. However “painful and difficult,” wrote Carter in an essay that appeared in the Guardian, his break with the denomination to which he had belonged for sixty years had begun to seem like the only possible response to past opinions expressed and codified by the Southern Baptist Convention. “It was an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be ‘subservient’ to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors, or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief—confirmed in the holy scriptures—that we are all equal in the eyes of God.” —“The Original Sin,” Francine Prose, Lapham’s Quarterly
More Francine Prose: “Love For Sale: Appraising the relics of a relationship” in the May 2009 Harper’s (free) and “You Got Eyes: Robert Frank imagines America” in the current issue (subscribers only) (SUBSCRIBE!);
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U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds. In the summer 2009 incident, the military found “days and days and hours and hours of proof” that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. “It is part of their kit now.” —“Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones: $26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected,” Siobhan Gorman, Yochi J. Dreazen, and August Cole, the Wall Street Journal
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