Friday, May 22, 2015



Taste Tests

0614PHMPF02From yuck to yum: ASU’s Conditioned Feeding Lab aims to change your plate by changing your palate.

Boiled Brussels sprouts pile on a plate, emitting an acrid funk. Waterlogged cauliflower hulks menacingly. Salmon smells too fishy, churning up stomach acid and memories of seasickness. You can’t get up until you clean your plate.

Everyone has these epicurean nightmares, these childhood food phobias dogging palates well into adulthood. At Arizona State University’s Conditioned Feeding Lab, a research course for select post-graduate students, three scientists seek to dismantle your distastes and teach you to like – even love – your dietary demons and eat more of the healthy food you fear. They claim they can help you eat less of the junk you love, to boot.


Read more: Taste Tests

Stellar Vacation

PHM0614Flash-1-2Valley-based travel agents sell tickets to space aboard Virgin Galactic.

At 50,000 feet, the countdown begins. The six-passenger rocket plane detaches from the mothership and shoots up, shuddering as it breaks the speed of sound. The force of 3Gs pins you against your seat. The blue sky purples into black. The engine cuts, and suddenly: silence. You release your seatbelt, and the pilot announces you are free to float about the cabin. You are now an astronaut. You perform a zero G somersault and gaze at the curved planet and its slim sapphire halo, glowing against the backdrop of the galaxy.


Read more: Stellar Vacation

Slaughterhouse Jive

0614PHMPF05**This story has been amended from its original version to correct an error regarding the legislative progress of HB 2587.

Last-minute, pro-rancher provisions in an animal abuses bill get hacked amidst an uproar from animal rights groups.

Don’t look while laws or sausages are being made, Otto von Bismarck supposedly said. But who knows what witticism the Iron Chancellor might have coined about laws regulating animals that could end up as sausages. Especially when those laws are made in Arizona.

House Bill 2587, originally intended to prevent pet-hoarding, squeaked through the state house with a 33-24 bipartisan vote. The once-benign bill was made controversial by provisions it picked up in the legislative chute that opponents say shield the livestock and poultry industries from animal cruelty charges. Though stripped of its more radical provisions, HB 2587 still has fangs. Supporters like the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association call the current bill a compromise between rural and urban interests. Animal-welfare groups see a bill hijacked by the livestock industry.


Read more: Slaughterhouse Jive

¶lim¶Citizen Fred

PHMFRED01aHe’s never held elected office, but could well be Arizona’s next governor. Who is Fred DuVal?

In the foyer of Fred DuVal’s home, there’s a framed photo and piece of paper with names scrawled on it. From a passing glance, it could be a family heirloom – a well-preserved photo of spiffy, suit-clad ancestors in front of a big building, with their handwritten notes beneath. A closer look, though, reveals a scene of international magnitude: The photo was taken outside the White House on September 13, 1993, at the signing ceremony of the Oslo I Accord. President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and a host of highly-placed officials are gathered around the table where representatives signed the peace accord. The paper underneath the photo bears their signatures. DuVal was there that day and, in fact, led the procession of political powerhouses out onto the lawn.


Read more: ¶lim¶Citizen Fred

Brain Drain?

PHM 500x500 FPOArizona continues to lag behind the national average in areas like poverty and per-pupil school expenditures – fourth lowest in the U.S. in 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal – but we’re thriving in at least one category: the zombie-survival index. According to real estate website, Arizona ranks seventh nationally among states best equipped to survive a Walking Dead-style apocalypse (see list). “You’re in pretty good shape in Arizona,” says Estately lead blogger Ryan Nickum, who based the list on 12 different metrics ranging from the obvious (gun ownership) to the somewhat abstract (Ironman triathlon participation). “I’m in Washington, so we’re doomed. None of us do the Ironman, so we can’t outrun [the zombies].” Still, he cautions against neglecting “a good education system and low poverty levels” in the event the brain-eaters never come: “I wouldn’t cancel K-12 just yet.”


Read more: Brain Drain?

Run, Forest

PHM0514Flash-2One year after the tragic Yarnell Hill Fire, Arizona’s forest rangers and firefighters brace themselves for another wildfire season.

“Nervous.” That’s how Lakeside forest ranger Ed Collins feels about the upcoming fire season.

“We’re very concerned because of the lack of winter precipitation that we would normally have,” adds Darrell Willis, Prescott Wildland Division Chief.

Jim Zornes, forest supervisor of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, is concerned, too: “Before the rain [in March], we were as dry or drier than we were in 2002, the year of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. They’re forecasting that we might have a wetter than normal April and May... If not, we’ll make the necessary preparations for what could be an interesting fire season.”


Read more: Run, Forest

Hero Sandwich

PHMPF05As Phoenix Comicon bulges with global celebrities, are local artists losing out?

Iron Man chases a horde of zombies down Third Street in Downtown Phoenix, followed by Captain Hook and men dressed as women from Japanese animation films. Iron Man creator and Marvel maven Stan Lee is on hand to see it happen.

No, it’s not the set of Iron Man 4. It’s Phoenix Comicon (PCC), where costumed fans flood the Phoenix Convention Center every year to meet an array of comic creators and pop culture purveyors. But they’ll have a harder time finding local artists, because as the convention increasingly balloons from its humble roots into a big-time celebrity rodeo, Valley creatives – once a “discovery” draw for the event – struggle to snag exhibitors’ tables. Booths are sold-out every year, and many local artists are relegated to far-flung areas.


Read more: Hero Sandwich