I’m placing this blog on haitus as I prepare for what’s next.

In the meantime, here’s some food for thought.


Ed Glaser in the The Boston Globe:

We must weigh the environmental benefits from shipping less food against the environmental costs of producing and storing local food in a state that doesn’t exactly have ideal conditions for every kind of produce. One recent UK report found that the greenhouse gas emissions involved in eating English tomatoes were about three times as high as eating Spanish tomatoes. The extra energy and fertilizer involved in producing tomatoes in chilly England overwhelmed the benefits of less shipping. Even New Zealand lamb produced less greenhouse gases than English lamb. Berkeley graduate student Steven Sexton estimates that an American switch to more local corn production would require 35 percent more fertilizer and 22.8 percent more energy.

David Streitfeld and Christine Haughney on Jeff Bezos in the Times:

No one, apparently including Mr. Bezos himself, seems to know what he intends to do with that fabled newspaper. This is, after all, a man who once said the quality he most wanted in a wife was the ability to spring him from a third-world prison. He can probably be counted on to think unpredictably.

What more could a guy want?

Language changes, and so must we. But I’ll reserve use of the word “impact” for the astronomer, the jackhammerer, and the dentist.

A fascinating look inside the new Tesla factory.

From The Kickstarter Blog:

In 1713, Alexander Pope set out to translate 15,693 lines of ancient Greek poetry into English. It took five long years to get the six volumes right, but the result was worth the wait: a translation of Homer’s Iliad that endures to this day. How did Pope go about getting this project off the ground? Turns out he kind of Kickstarted it.

Hugo Lindgren writing for the Times:

Ideas, in a sense, are overrated. Of course, you need good ones, but at this point in our supersaturated culture, precious few are so novel that nobody else has ever thought of them before. It’s really about where you take the idea, and how committed you are to solving the endless problems that come up in the execution.

An excellent essay throughout.

NPR listens to some fascinating excerpts from newly released Supreme Court audio recordings going back to 1955. The clip from Roe vs. Wade is especially interesting.

Tim Kreider on quietude:

“I’m not going to leave the Quiet Car,” I told him, “but since it’s bothering you, I will move to another seat.” He thanked me very courteously, as did the woman in front of me. “It really was quite loud,” she whispered.

When the train came to my stop I had to walk by his seat again on my way out. “Glad we could come to a peaceful coexistence,” I said as I passed. He raised a finger to stay me a moment. “There are no conflicts of interest,” he pronounced, “between rational men.” This sounded like a questionable proposition to me, but I appreciated the conciliatory gesture. The quote turns out to be from Ayn Rand. I told you we talked like this in the Quiet Car.

[via Kottke]

Is this the main reason we don’t have better mass transit in the U.S.?

American taxpayers will shell out many times what their counterparts in developed cities in Europe and Asia would pay. In the case of the Second Avenue line and other new rail infrastructure in New York City, they may have to pay five times as much.

Amtrak is just as bad. Its $151 billion master plan for basic high-speed rail service in the Northeast corridor is more expensive than Japan’s planned magnetic levitating train line between Tokyo and Osaka, most of which is to be buried deep underground, with tunnels through the Japan Alps and beneath its densest cities.

An interesting fact that’s mostly shoehorned into this David Brooks article:

Robert Oprisko of Butler University found that half of the jobs in university political science programs went to graduates of the top 11 schools. That is to say, if you have a Ph.D. from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and so on, your odds of getting a job are very good. If you earned your degree from one of the other 100 degree-granting universities, your odds are not. These other 100 schools don’t even want to hire the sort of graduates they themselves produce. They want the elite credential.

[via MR]

Simon Schama on Ian Fleming and British spy writers:

What these hoary pensioners all have in common is the talent to send up Britishness even as they affectionately rejoice in it. On this side of the pond (with the honorable exceptions of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and The Onion), you don’t dare celebrate America by mocking it. In Britain, where during the Olympics the queen became the latest of the Bond girls to surrender to the gentle joke, it’s virtually a patriotic obligation.

I didn’t plan on posting two look-at-America-through-British-media links today, but so it goes.

James Parker in this issue of The Atlantic on the appeals of Downton Abbey:

Americans eat this stuff up, of course. Why wouldn’t they? Class in America is not the ancient, neurotic, and quasi-magical apparatus that it is in Britain… Class in America is a greasy pole: you go up, you go down.

The first season was quite good, but the second did go too heavy on the soap.

Brown faculty and students crack the code Roger Williams used for marginalia. Fascinating.