Sears, Trade, Bottom Pot, Colour, Lola Montez

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Sears Deserves To Die With Dignity

Megan McArdle | Bloomberg View | 9th December 2016

Sears built “a great business for an America that no longer exists”. The historic champion of pre-war catalogue sales and post-war department stores is desperately trying to stem its losses — $748 million last quarter — by closing its worst-performing stores, but “it will eventually discover that the equilibrium number of Sears locations is zero”. Listening to a Sears earnings call in 2016 is “like realising that the twinkling light you’re admiring in the night sky is from a star that died 50 years ago” (900 words)

The Human Side Of Trade

Russ Roberts | 11th December 2016

Innovation and free trade have similar effects. They reduce the cost of goods, and so put some existing producers out of work. The falling cost of goods frees up spending power which then gets redeployed elsewhere in the economy, creating new work. That’s the model, at any rate — and it’s a much easier sell when framed in terms of innovation. If a scientist invented a $10 pill which gave everybody perfect health for life, we wouldn’t worry too much about putting doctors out of a job (3,500 words)

Around The World In Bottom Pot

Ozoz Sokoh | Kitchen Butterfly | 12th December 2016

Depending on where you live, you may know it as kanzo, socarrat, xoon, tahdig, bay kdaing, tutong, guo ba, co’m chay, hkaka, kazmag, pegao, concón or bottom pot. All refer to the best part of any rice dish — the layer of rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot. And it gets even better if you turn up the heat late in the cooking for a Maillard effect. “Characteristics of good bottom pot: Flavour – smoky, not burnt; Texture – crispy and crunchy; Colour – golden to dark caramel; Value – priceless” (2,050 words)

The Colour Of Consciousness

Riccardo Manzotti & Tim Parks | New York Review of Books | 8th December 2016

Second in a series of conversations between a writer and a scientist about consciousness and perception. “The unsuspecting layman will assure you that objects simply have colors as attributes. Isn’t our banana, for example, very yellow, in exactly the same way it’s six inches long? Well, unfortunately not, because it could easily be shown that bananas are only yellow under a certain light. Change the light and the banana might look green. But it will always be six inches long” (2,500 words)

Lola Montez: Her Life And Conquests

Bee Wilson | London Review Of Books | 7th June 2007

“Lola Montez was a dancer who couldn’t dance and a Spanish temptress who came from County Sligo. She was a fake: the world knew it, and so did she. Her conquests included Franz Liszt, Marius Petipa, the Earl of Malmesbury, the Count of Schleissen, and King Ludwig of Bavaria, whose long entanglement with Lola brought disgrace on the city of Munich. How did she do it? It’s a baffling question, and the surviving photographs, taken in the 1850s when she was in her thirties, don’t help” (3,620 words)

Video of the day: Godard In Fragments

What to expect:

Moments from the 1960s work of Jean-Luc Godard, highlighting signature themes and devices (6’34”)

Thought for the day

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned
Richard Feynman

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