Restaurants, Brilliance, Air Miles, Tonya Harding, Bureaucracy

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Spies, Dossiers, And Food Critics

Jessica Sidman | Washingtonian | 6th December 2017

Entertaining and faintly alarming account of the lengths to which ambitious restaurants will go to spot, and optimise the food they serve to, influential critics — in this case, Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post. “In the manager’s office was a sign listing all of Sietsema’s known aliases and every phone number and e-mail address he’d ever used to make a reservation. Sietsema’s photo, along with those of dozens of other food writers and editors, was posted in the kitchen” (3,400 words)

Two Cultures: Merit Versus Brilliance

Alex Harrowell | Yorkshire Ranter | 11th December 2017

There are two ways of justifying your power — merit and brilliance. You make a show of working hard to get results (merit); or you make a show of getting results without working hard (brilliance). “The Merit Culture’s tropes are quantitative research, evidence, credentials, and detail. The Culture of Brilliance believes that success is a matter of personal and spontaneous genius. It values felicitous answers, quick responses, and narrative excitement. Too much work is a tell of mediocrity” (838 words)

The Longest Miles

James White | Baffler | 28th November 2017

Air miles are for fun and fascination; but not for profit. The airlines are better at this game than you are — and they write the rules. “I allow myself three new credit cards a year. They’re a special indulgence, like brunch cocktails or trashy novels. I don’t have extravagant consumer habits to support with those new charge accounts. I just need fresh credit cards to accrue frequent flyer miles, a hobby I picked up because it seemed like a fun way to protest the stranglehold of global capitalism” (1,260 words)

There’s No Such Thing As Truth

Katie Baker | Ringer | 8th December 2017

Well-paced and never-dull backgrounder on the making of a film about the American ice-skater, Tonya Harding, who allegedly encouraged the knee-capping of her superior rival, Nancy Kerrigan, in the vain hope of winning an Olympic gold. “Harding was, at the time, the only American woman capable of landing a triple axel in competition (while skating to the theme from Batman); a particularly satisfying middle finger to the sport. Like her or not, she had the goods” (4,540 words)

Life In American Health Care

David Chapman | Meaningness | 8th December 2017

While American healthcare technology advances into the mid-21st century, American healthcare bureaucracy regresses towards the medieval. “Hospitals can still operate modern material technologies (like an MRI) just fine. It’s social technologies that have broken down and reverted to a medieval level. Working in a medical office is like living in a pre-modern town. It’s all about knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone who can get something done” (3,080 words)

Video of the day Order From Chaos

What to expect:

How life might emerge from a random pattern of raindrops, by Max Cooper and Maxime Causeret (4’18”)

Thought for the day

My standpoint is armed neutrality
Søren Kierkegaard

Podcast of the day Sisterhood | New Statesman

Laurie and Eleanor Penny talk about sisterhood, literal and figurative

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