Sheep, Savour, Secret, Pasta, Philosophy

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Feeling Sheepish

Sally Coulthard | Lapham's Quarterly | 3rd March 2021

Why "black sheep" are proverbially unwelcome in the family. Black wool is hard to dye; so, over the course of centuries, shepherds selected among their flocks for sheep with white wool, which was easier to dye and thus to sell. But the gene for dark wool is recessive; a white sheep can carry a black-fleece gene and nobody will be any the wiser until the sheep gives birth to a black lamb (1,600 words)

The Savour Of Memory

Laleh Khalili | Merip | 9th February 2021

Delicious survey of Iranian cookery. Major Anglophone cookbooks in this cuisine have come in two waves: first from the Iranians who left after the 1979 revolution, and then in recent years as "the children of those original exiles come of age and begin to search for community, belonging and an unreachable Iranian past". These works contain coded clues about the tensions within the diaspora (3,979 words)

The Secret Of Nanda Devi

Pete Takeda | Rock And Ice | 1st January 2007

Arguably the greatest mountaineering yarn ever told. How the CIA hired a world-class climbing team in the 1960s to place a plutonium-powered spy radio on a Himalayan peak for intercepting data from Chinese missile tests. The device was swept away in an avalanche on the way up. It is still buried somewhere high on the mountain, leaking radiation into the headwaters of the Ganges (4,700 words)

Audio Of The Week: Just Twirl

Episode: "Spaghetti Sucks" | Podcast: The Sporkful | 30m59s

Beginning of a five part series documenting a food writer's years long attempt to create, produce and sell a new and better pasta shape than anything you can currently buy. This first episode is mostly about the problems with what's on offer now — long pasta doesn't hold enough sauce and cooks unevenly, short round shapes easily turn to mush in the pan — and how the process of marketing an alternative is much more complicated than he first imagined. It's all highly entertaining, although Italian culinary purists may disagree (28m58s)

Book Of The Week: How To Live A Good Life

by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary and Daniel Kaufman | Courtesy of Five Books

Fifteen contemporary philosophers describe a worldview they’ve embraced—Stoicism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Existentialism—and indirectly summarise two-and-a-half-millennia of human wisdom on well-being, relationships, morality, and death. “The real question is not whether you have a philosophy of life, but rather if stands up to scrutiny. That is, whether or not it’s a good philosophy of life” (295 pages)

“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?”
Ursula K. LeGuin

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