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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Gastronomy Of Genius: History's Great Minds And The Foods That Fueled Them, by Eric Weiner, NPR

Genius and food have a lot in common. Both nurture, inspire and occasionally intimidate. Some appeal to almost everyone instantly. Others are acquired tastes. So perhaps it's not surprising that, scanning history's greatest minds, we find many were inspired by certain food or drink, repulsed by others —or had some very peculiar dining habits.

Shouldering The Burden Of Utilitarianism, by Bryan Druzin, The New Rambler

Sam Harris sets out an ambitious project for himself. Harris—a neuroscientist and atheist who has argued militantly against religious belief—hopes to meet head-on a common response to the atheist position, that, as Dostoyevsky famously put it, in the absence of God anything is permitted. The fear is that without religious belief to guide us, we are flung at once into the quicksand of moral relativism dispossessed of any firm footing upon which to claim that anything is truly right or wrong. For a public intellectual who has made his bones using religion as philosophical target-practice, this is a logical move. Harris wants once and for all to vanquish the challenge of moral (and cultural) relativism. Unfortunately (and I mean that sincerely), the assault of moral skepticism upon the notion of objective moral truth cannot be swatted away quite as easily as Harris implies.

‘Innocents And Others,’ By Dana Spiotta, by Joshua Cohen, New York Times

Dana Spiotta has now spent four novels proposing and revising her own definitions of friendship. “Lightning Field” (2001) centered on the rivalrous affection between an ambitious restaurateur and her friend/employee; “Eat the Document” (2006) on the bond between fugitive Vietnam-era radicals; “Stone Arabia” (2011) concerned filial friendship, specifically that between a single-mother sister and the brother who relies on her to be the sole audience for his music and visual art. Now comes “Innocents and Others,” a brilliant, riddling clip-montage of the friendship between two very different filmmakers.

Why Don't They Make Shoes For Black Ballet Dancers?, by Kirstie Brewer, BBC

Ballet dancer Eric Underwood was on tour last summer in the south of Italy when he had finally had enough.

He's black, and as a soloist for the Royal Ballet often needs to wear flesh-coloured shoes for his performances. But walk into a ballet store and the only options are beiges and pinks. There is usually nothing for non-white ballet dancers.

Japan's Food Artisans: In Pursuit Of Perfection, by Matt Goulding, The Guardian

here are a dozen factors that make Japanese food so special – ingredient obsession, technical precision, thousands of years of meticulous refinement – but chief among them is one simple concept: specialisation. In the west, where miso-braised short ribs share menus with white truffle pizza and sea bass ceviche, restaurants cast massive nets to try to catch as many fish as possible but, in Japan, the secret to success is choosing one thing and doing it really fucking well. Forever.

Milking The Rest Of It, by Dorothea Lasky