Wandering Eye: Hydrogen cars, food media's lack of coverage on black chefs, and more

The senior police officer involved in the Freddie Gray case had his gun taken away for erratic and threatening behavior and tried to get his ex-girlfriend's husband "locked up" just weeks before the Gray incident, according to The Guardian newspaper. Lt. Brian Rice, who supervised Gray's arrest after Gray allegedly "made eye contact" while standing on North Avenue on Sunday, April 12, had a son with a fellow police officer, Karyn McAleer, who subsequently married another man, Andrew McAleer. On March 15, at three in the morning, Rice went to the Westminster police department to file a report claiming Andrew McAleer was violating a restraining order that Karyn had filed on him. "Rice, who was placed under a temporary restraining order in 2013 after being accused in court filings of threatening to kill Andrew during a series of aggressive encounters, claimed he had spotted Andrew's car in Karyn's driveway after 'driving by,'" The Guardian reports. Westminster police checked the house; Andrew was not there, but Rice insisted he must have run out the back door, the report says. He insisted that Andrew McAleer be arrested immediately and gave Westminster officers a false phone number and stormed out when they declined to do it. The Guardian talked to ex-cops and other experts to try tio understand how a man who did this was still a supervisor of patrol officers: "Professor Samuel Walker, emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, branded the revelations 'concerning' and 'appalling,'" The Guardian piece says. "'Threatening to kill somebody is a crime and he should have been referred for prosecution and immediately suspended and probably terminated,' Walker said." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Last week, online magazine First We Feast published an essay by culinary historian Michael Twitty that ought to be required reading for everyone who works in food media or food writing. "The Invisible Chefs" argues, "The ranks of black culinary professionals are expanding, not disappearing, but this shift isn't being documented or, in many cases, even considered in U.S. media. Of all the issues facing contemporary food, the power and meaning of race is the least explored, especially in the United States." Twitty talks about the ways that black chefs are either ignored in food media even as African-American cuisine gains a gourmet twist from white chefs ("The fact of contemporary barbecue" is white chefs, he says), or, if they do gain attention, their narratives are forced into particular harmful tropes: "When black chefs get covered, the stories drown in reductive pre-fab narratives: the soul food 'hustler' who rides again; the tropes of the legally and financially troubled inner-city black who is saved by cooking; the cook who learns recipes and sassy wisdom from Grandma down in (former Confederate state of your choice); or the black cook who has a magical or instinctual (but certainly not technical or intellectual) connection to gastronomy." (Anna Walsh)

 

We haven't even entered a time when electric cars are close to the norm, and Toyota may have already found a better alternative, according to The Washington Post. Enter the Mirai, a sedan that runs on a hydrogen fuel cell. The Post writes that the Mirai "can drive 300 miles on a full tank and be refueled in about five minutes — instead of needing to be plugged in overnight — making it an easier fit for the typical commute." Here's how it works: The engine gulps "in air and mixing it with hydrogen in a stack of fuel cells. The reaction cleanly powers the motor and belches out no exhaust, save for a thin trickle of water." There is a bit of a gamble, of course. Only a dozen stations currently offer hydrogen, and as the Post notes, "it still evokes the Hindenburg and the hydrogen bomb." (Brandon Weigel)

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