Bleats

The Creator Of The Xbox Has The Most Bizarre Hobby - Baking With 4000-Year-Old Egyptian Yeast

Let's get this (cursed) bread.

‘Casual gastroegyptologist’ is not the kind of qualification you’d see listed on most techie resumes, but Xbox inventor Seamus Blackley – who pitched the console concept to Bill Gates himself – has truly broken the mould and made @ClubYeast my new favourite Twitter account.

The physicist-cum-game-designer posted a thread on Twitter detailing the process behind baking with ancient ingredients, but I cannot imagine confidently eating anything that came from an ancient tomb. We should be used to hearing about weird food discoveries, but this is next level. Did I hear someone mention cursed bread?

I have to be honest here and say that I find the concept of a sourdough starter pretty gross. ‘Feeding’ a jar of bubbling bacteria like it’s some kind of gloopy pet? No thanks.

But I’m not going to yuck Blackley’s yum, because it is genuinely impressive how much patience and study goes into this particular pastime. From gaming innovation on the Xbox team to bread innovation in his kitchen, it’s quite the 180. Not to mention how good at it you’d have to be to convince a bunch of museums to loan you antiquities that are thousands of years old and from half a world away.

This one belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The inspiration for this particular endeavor was Blackley’s dissatisfaction with the taste of his previous loafs. “[S]omething was missing” he tweeted, “The fundamental flavor of wild yeast bread comes from the yeast. And our modern air has TOTALLY different microbiology than it did in antiquity!” Thus, using a specially developed, non-invasive technique, teensy ancient Egyptian bread micro-organisms were extracted from previously entombed vessels.

After doing a bit of lab analysis, Blackley and his team should be able to reverse engineer the classic Egyptian recipe. Jumping the gun a little, he used a sample to culture a batch of yeast for his own future use – a process that required a mill, an autoclave and a UV lamp. Turns out it’s not the most accessible hobby when you’re that committed to perfecting the art.

Blackley has been posting pics of his ancient bakes on Twitter since 2016, and his accurate reproductions have become so popular that he’s now posting his grains around the world to other history buff bakers.

I cannot even begin to imagine what a Customs officer thinks when they see these on the X-ray.

So there you have it – in a completely wild turn of events, you too might eventually be able to sample the foodstuff of people long gone from the world, thanks to an Xbox developer’s eccentric hobby. As long as you’re not too stressed about the idea of you and your descendants being pursued by the restless spirit of a pharaoh forever, that is.

Where Are People Storing All These Ridiculous Single-Use Kitchen Appliances?

Why is it always eggs?!

Cable TV and free-to-air breakfast shows have one awful thing in common, and it’s advertising for unnecessary products.

Some infomercials have become so infamous that they’ve established a cultural zeitgeist, and ads for kitchen appliances are often the worst of a bad bunch.

Mainly because as useless as they are, you know that your ageing mother is filling her home with them as you read this.

Sometimes, these cursed objects are both a massive waste of space and an unholy crime. Such as the case of the vertical egg cooker.

Looking into it is like staring into the void, only things do reemerge from it (and you’ll wish they hadn’t). No one needs a long egg on a skewer! You don’t need to eat an egg like a shish kebab! It’s not okay! Just make a damn omelette like the rest of us!

Source: Ebay

And speaking of pointless egg-related purchases, have you seen ‘Egglettes’? How can you be so pedantic about eggshell that you’d rather boil your eggs in silicon condoms than in their natural sheaths?

Don’t even get me started on the ‘ShakeNegg’ and its ‘unique cooking dome’ technology (spoiler: it’s a lid) which is somehow even more unnecessary – y’all, eggs are not supposed to be this complex!

Go one step further and you find yourself in the realm of the gadgets made to accommodate peak laziness, things like the ‘Nutrislicer’ or ‘Nicer Dicer’, which despite the enticing names are essentially an automation of the most basic cooking skill there is – cutting. Just use a knife you demons!

Let’s not forget to shame the ‘Pasta Boat’ here either – you cannot fool me into thinking that’s anything other than a plastic container. I’m not even convinced that strainer would work without all your spaghetti flowing out and down the sink.

Debra, please. They’re just onions. De-stress.

Then there’s a special variety of products I like to call ‘Things I Want And Don’t Need’, all of which are hyper-specialised gadgets that get used a handful of times at best, before being wedged in a corner to accrue dust til the next garage sale.

In this category you’ll find popcorn machines, ice-cream machines, yoghurt makers, doughnut makers, pancake makers, deep fryers, air fryers, fondue fountains… the list is endless.

Pretty much any baked good you can think of has an accompanying cooker, all of which are basically mini ovens with specifically shaped grooves.

They’re great for a party trick and not much more, but boy oh boy is it easy to get addicted to collecting them. And I am 100% certain they only exist so you can gift people with an eternal burden.

Me being crushed to death by all eighty of my appliances sometime in the near future.

But the cream of the crop (ha, food pun) has to be *drumroll* the ‘Hover Cover’. I have no words for how mad this makes me. Every selling point is something that you could achieve with anything that isn’t this product. Look, I’m just going to embed the ad and let you draw your own conclusions.

50 Years On From The Moon Landing, These Conspiracy Theories Are Still Kicking Around

When the Moon hits your eye like a big hoax and lie, that's amore.

It’s been half a century since Neil Armstrong said those famous words, but there’s still a shockingly large number of people who think that giant leap for mankind was a Hollywood fabrication. Estimates go as high as 20% among the US population, that’s not even including the tinfoil hat-wearing critics of the American government around the world.

There’s a whole bunch of interesting psychological phenomena behind conspiracy theories. Despite the enormous amount of evidence disproving them, moon landing truthers are locked into their beliefs by confirmation bias – basically, it’s a hell of a lot easier to be convinced by the ‘proof’ if you already suspect that something suss is going on. Plus, when believers are confronted by the facts, they’ll do anything to avoid the cognitive dissonance of changing their minds.

This is what y’all sound like.

It must be frustrating for the heroes of the Apollo 11 mission to have to defend their careers from armchair expert skeptics all the time. In fact, Buzz Aldrin eventually got sick enough of the harassment to punch a very confrontational conspiracy theorist in the face in 2002. NASA itself has to repeatedly issue a fact sheet in the moon landing’s defense.

So as a homage to Buzz, Neil, and Michael, and all the other astronauts who followed in their footsteps, here’s a brief debunking of some of the most ridiculous theories about the moon landings.

The Crosshairs

When scientists take photos from space they use reticules to provide a point of reference for distance, which comes in handy if the images get distorted. That’s why most of the photos from the Apollo missions had ‘crosshairs’ all over them. Theorists have pointed out that some of the crosshairs appear to be behind pieces of equipment, as if the pictures had been later edited. But there’s a simple reason for it- the camera technology being used to project the reticules onto the image was very susceptible to exposure issues, and as a result sometimes they aren’t fully visible.

The ‘Props’

Continuing with the theme of photographic over-analysis, theorists have drawn a tonne of red circles around suspicious objects in the pictures from the moon’s surface. One of them is the ‘C-rock‘, allegedly a set designer’s mistake (or alien trolling). Then there’s the apparent reflection of a stage light in the visor of Apollo 12’s Pete Conrad. The explanation for the crosshairs works here too- it’s probably nothing more than a photo development flaw, or a helmet scratch in the case of the visor.

The Missing Impact Crater

It seems obvious that the jet propulsion of a landing spacecraft would create a crater in the ground, or at least a huge dust cloud- especially on a gritty surface like the moon’s. But this falsehood comes out of several very obvious scientific misconceptions. For one, the atmosphere is a vacuum, plus the lunar soil is way denser than it looks. Then there’s the weight of the module itself- on the moon, it weighs about one-tenth of a car tyre.

The Van Allen Belt

The boldest claim of them all is that no astronaut could even survive the trip to the moon. This was the logic that inspired Bill Kaysing to start the conspiracy theory in the first place, and it argues that the radiation-filled field around the Earth known as the Van Allen Belt was a deadly force that NASA had no clue how to overcome. There’s only one problem with that. Astronauts would only be exposed to a sixth of the lethal dose of radiation on a four hour trip- and that’s if they were floating around outside of their spacecraft, a la Sandra Bullock.

Who better to film the fake landing than celebrated film director Stanley Kubrick? After all, his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey would more than qualify him for the role.

The US government certainly did a good job of keeping him quiet if he was involved in such a secret project, but artists are brilliant at finding creative loopholes. People who believe the moon landing was a hoax think that Kubrick left easter eggs in his later films, and that The Shining was an extended metaphor for Stanley suffering in silence with the secret. It’s actually kind of compelling.

Kubrick’s Clues

A documentary maker named Jay Weidner pieced it all together. The twins in The Shining represent Apollo’s predecessor, Project Gemini. The haunted room is number 237, and the Moon is 237 000 miles from Earth (only it’s not, it’s actually 238 855 miles but don’t let that stop you, Weidner). And of course, the centerpiece of the theory: Danny is wearing a sweater with Apollo 11 knitted on it. Seems a little on the nose for a creative genius like Kubrick.

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