Monday 14 August, 2023

Why food tastes different in France?

Quote of the Day

“Why bother dethroning DeSantis as the heir apparent when he’s already doing such a good job of it himself? Nobody has needed to reboot as frequently as DeSantis since the days of Windows 95.”

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

The theme from’Chariots of Fire’.


Long Read of the Day

The Curse of Cane

David Edgerton’s review of Ulbe Bosma’s  The World of Sugar: How the Sweet Stuff Transformed Our Politics, Health, and Environment over 2,000 Years. It’s a very good review, by a distinguished historian with pretty exacting standards.

There was a time when commodity histories were everywhere. They tended to focus on consumption and trade over very long distances. Ulbe Bosma’s The World of Sugar is much more than this sort of book. It is one of the most accomplished longue durée case studies in the history of capitalism that we have, concerned not just with trade and consumption but with production also. At every turn it subverts both critiques and celebrations of capitalism, and our understanding of much else besides. It is an extraordinary achievement.

On the whole, maybe the world would have been better without the sweet stuff.

Worth a read.

A tsunami of AI misinformation will shape next year’s knife-edge elections

My column in yesterday’s Observer.

The consequences of a Trump victory would be epochal. It would mean the end (for the time being, at least) of the US experiment with democracy, because the people behind Trump have been assiduously making what the normally sober Economist describes as “meticulous, ruthless preparations” for his second, vengeful term. The US would morph into an authoritarian state, Ukraine would be abandoned and US corporations unhindered in maximising shareholder value while incinerating the planet.

So very high stakes are involved. Trump’s indictment “has turned every American voter into a juror”, as the Economist puts it. Worse still, the likelihood is that it might also be an election that – like its predecessor – is decided by a very narrow margin.

In such knife-edge circumstances, attention focuses on what might tip the balance in such a fractured polity. One obvious place to look is social media, an arena that rightwing actors have historically been masters at exploiting…

Do read the entire piece.

My commonplace booklet

Fleeting encounters in Mrs. Dalloway’s London

A data scientist who loves Virginia Woolf’s novel gathers data from it to show how space and time are used in its construction.

Neat: I’m reminded of Vladimir Nabokov’s lecture on Ulysses.

“Instead of perpetuating the pretentious nonsense of Homeric, chromatic, and visceral chapter headings”, he said,

“instructors should prepare maps of Dublin with Bloom’s and Stephen’s intertwining itineraries clearly traced.”

Here’s his one.

Source: OpenCulture

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