Saturday, August 18, 2018
American food is in crisis, and rarely has more disruption loomed before us.
People are rebelling against the current food-production methods involving long-distance shipping, fertilizers, and genetically modified organisms. Many people have returned to eating locally grown food from small farms, and there is a fear that our agricultural practices lead to mass-produced food products that are bad for our health and worsen climate change. But is this fear well founded? Is local food a good thing?
On the other side of the ledger, we are spending more and more on fancy restaurants. At a time when many economic sectors are struggling, the choices for fine meals are expanding in most American cities. But are we spending our money in the best way possible, or are we overlooking cheaper and possibly superior alternatives?
In a world with some pretty big problems, is it even appropriate to think of food in aesthetic terms as much as we do? The backlash drove a recently published article in the Atlantic Monthly to suggest that foodies are evil for aestheticizing the experience of eating. But what could be morally wrong with eating good, even beautiful food?
-Tyler Cowen, An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules For Everyday Foodies
The contents of this document are of profound interest to the student of Talleyrand's foreign policy, and provide an invaluable testimony to the perspicacity of his vision and the consistency of his views. The new France that has been created by the Revolution must, he maintains, adopt a new policy which will be in accordance with the philosophy of her Constitution. The basis of this policy mus be the abandonment of the old ambition to be the greatest Power in Europe and of the old endeavour to acquire aggrandisement of territory. "We have learnt, a little late no doubt, that for States as for individuals real wealth consists not in acquiring or invading the domains of others, but in developing one's own. We have learnt that all extensions of territory, all usurpations, by force or by fraud, which have long been connected by prejudice with the idea of 'rank,' of 'hegemony.' of 'political stability,' of 'superiority,' in the order of the Powers, are only the cruel jests of political lunacy, false estimates of power, and that their real effect is to increase the difficulty of administration and to diminish the happiness and security of the governed for the passing interest or for the vanity of those who govern. ... France ought, therefore, to remain within her own boundaries, she owes it to her glory, to her sense of justice and of reason, to her own interest and to that of the other nations who will become free."
-Duff Cooper, Talleyrand. The document in question was written by Talleyrand in November of 1792.
"Consider, for example, the middle-aged men, their stomachs well-stocked against starvation, ..."
-as culled from this essay, which concludes:
"What also strikes me is that the capacity to choose to do things for their own sakes defines a free people. Alexis de Tocqueville long ago praised Americans’ associations, which he considered a schoolroom of liberty and initiative. Perhaps our capacity to do useful things well and with grace comes from the joy we take in the intelligent pursuit of our pleasures—the reason that Josef Pieper called leisure “the basis of culture.” The highest arts of the mind, most freely pursued, as our whole tradition has recognized until lately, are paradoxically the most useful of all."
"Being alone and connecting inwardly is a skill nobody ever teaches us. That’s ironic because it’s more important than most of the ones they do."
-as culled from here, with an assist from here
.................................................or, be careful what you wish for:
In all of these cases, we may be giving up control in order to have convenience. The cumulative effect may be to give away our independence.
-from here, but check this one too
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosions and pampered elites. The average farmer worked harder than the average forager, and got a worse diet in return. The Agricultural Revolution was history's biggest fraud.
Who was responsible? Neither kings, nor priests, nor merchants. The culprits were a handful of plant species, including wheat, rice, and potatoes. These plants domesticated Homo sapiens, rather than vice versa.
Think for a moment about the Agricultural Revolution from the viewpoint of wheat. Ten thousand years ago wheat was just a wild grass, one of many, confined to a small range in the Middle East. Suddenly, within just a few short millennia, it was growing all over the world. According to the basic evolutionary criteria of survival and reproduction, wheat has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the earth. In areas such as the Great Plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10,000 years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of miles without encountering any other plant. Worldwide, wheat covers about 870,000 square miles of the globe's surface, almost ten times the size of Britain. How did this grass turn from insignificant to ubiquitous?
Wheat did it by manipulating Homo sapiens to its advantage.
-Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
The situation in which Talleyrand now found himself was even more difficult than that in which he had been placed at the beginning of the year. Pitt was as anxious to avoid war as he had ever been; Talleyrand was as sincere in his repudiation of all forms of propaganda and in his assurances as to the pacific intentions of the French Government. But already the 'war on kings' had been declared in the Assembly; already the missionary spirit was abroad in the streets of Paris and finding noisy utterance in the press; already the first soldiers of the revolutionary crusade had crossed the border into the Low Countries; and already the English people were irritated, indignant, and alarmed. Wise and moderate individuals were still struggling for peace, but ignorant and passionate mobs were sweeping all obstacles before them as they surged irresistibly forward to their own destruction in war.
-Duff Cooper, Talleyrand
“We tend to see the troublemaker as something outside ourselves. If we reflect deeply, however, we discover that the real troublemaker is within us: our true enemies are our own destructive tendencies.”
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
..............................................found in self-actualizing people.
Maslow was pretty smart, studying well-adjusted and mentally healthy people. To give you a taste, here are three of the nine traits:
With pen and paper, you have a chance to bring order to that development, that creativity, that intelligence that comes with a human being. To neglect that ordering process is to give reign to worry, anxiety, stress; each and every one an electrical impulse which is out of control. For goodness sake, write. Or risk simply Mondays as a human doing.
-Nicholas Bate, as copied from here
Monday, August 13, 2018
"I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: 'Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.' … The twenty-five percent is for error."
At the book store..........................Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice
"And why does it make you sad to see how everything hangs by such thin and whimsical threads? Because you're a dreamer, an incredible dreamer, with a tiny spark hidden somewhere inside you which cannot die, which even you cannot kill or quench and which tortures you horribly because all the odds are against its continual burning. In the midst of the foulest decay and putrid savagery, this spark speaks to you of beauty, of human warmth and kindness, of goodness, of greatness, of heroism, of martyrdom, and it speaks to you of love."
...................................................foundations still matter:
ὥσπερ γὰρ οἰκίας, οἶμαι, καὶ πλοίου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν τοιούτων τὰ κάτωθεν ἰσχυρότατ᾽ εἶναι δεῖ, οὕτω καὶ τῶν πράξεων τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ὑποθέσεις ἀληθεῖς καὶ δικαίας εἶναι προσήκει
"For a house, I take it, or a ship or anything of that sort must have its chief strength in its substructure; and so too in affairs of state the principles and the foundations must be truth and justice."
Sunday, August 12, 2018
"In the modern world, if communities are unhappy, it is because the choose to be so. Or, to speak more precisely, because they have ignorances, habits, beliefs, and passions, which are dearer to them than happiness or even life. I find many men in our dangerous age who seem to be in love with misery and death, and who grow angry when hopes are suggested to them. They think that hope is irrational and that, in sitting down to lazy despair, they are merely facing facts. I cannot agree with these men. To preserve hope in our world makes calls upon our intelligence and our energy. In those who despair it is very frequently, the energy that is lacking."
-Bertrand Russell, excerpted from his essay Reflections on My Eightieth Birthday
"In many cases, saving a little money on taxes will bring people much more joy than earning a lot of money on their investments."
This is even more true:
"I’m a huge proponent of deferring or avoiding taxes whenever possible but you never want to make an investment decision based purely on the tax benefits."
-both quotes from here