Best of the Moment
The Autistic Brain
Temple Grandin | Slate | 1st May 2013
Book extract. "In 1947, the diagnosis of autism was only four years old. Almost nobody knew what it meant. When Mother noticed in me the symptoms that we would now label autistic—destructive behavior, inability to speak, a sensitivity to physical contact, a fixation on spinning objects, and so on—she did what made sense to her. She took me to a neurologist. The diagnosis: brain damage"
Jonathan Ledgard: There Is Another World
Philip Gourevitch | New Yorker | 30th April 2013
Conversation with novelist, foreign correspondent, Shetlander, visionary. "Some critics have compared J. M. Ledgard’s novels to the writings of W.G. Sebald, Italo Calvino, and J.M. Coetzee. Others have found his books overly cosmic in their preoccupations and ambitions, and too lavishly written. They are, in fact, more original, more singular, and more surprising than either of these camps suggest"
Eating In London’s Chinatown
Fuschia Dunlop | Lucky Peach | 30th April 2013
Ungated republication of article nominated for James Beard Award, on how Chinatown food has changed over three decades. "China’s opening up has brought over a new wave of immigrants from Fujian and other provinces. Mandarin has begun to rival Cantonese, and regional cuisines have begun to infiltrate kitchens. The district may still be nibbling at the edges of China’s regional diversity, but it’s come a long way"
Times Literary Supplement | Michael LaPointe | 29th April 2013
Portrait of the novelist as "an authentic American lunatic". Left home for San Francisco at 12. Ginsberg called him "a neurotic creep". Disdained the hippies as "granola heads". But they loved him and made him rich. Alcoholic. Moved to Montana. "Fishing consumed his life". Unwieldy party guest: “One, he brought uninvited guests. Two, he was already drunk. Three, he had a .357 Magnum with him”
Decoding The Range: The Secret Language Of Cattle Branding
Jimmy Stamp | Smithsonian | 30th April 2013
One of those "I never knew that!" pieces, full of quotable facts. Branding dates back to ancient Egyptian times. In the American West, letters with added wings are called "flying"; those lying sideways as "lazy". Same brand can be registered by different owners of the country so long as it is on different parts of the cow. Brand protection lapses if you don't pay your taxes. One Texas rancher refused to brand: his name was Maverick
Peter Leeson | 30th April 2013
Scholarly paper (PDF). From the abstract: "I use economics to analyze Gypsy law. Gypsy law leverages superstition to enforce desirable conduct in Gypsy societies where government is unavailable and simple ostracism is ineffective. According to Gypsy law, unguarded contact with the lower half of the human body is ritually polluting, ritual defilement is physically contagious, and non-Gypsies are in an extreme state of such defilement"
Video of the day: Carla Bruni: Mon Raymond
Thought for the day:
"Every journey of a thousand miles begins with some fat cabbie moaning about the economy"— Ian Martin