Thinking, Restaurants, Screws, Aspropyrgos, Skiing, Sandwiches

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The Pizza Thought Experiment

Riccardo Manzotti & Tim Parks | New York Review Of Books | 26th November 2017

Writer and philosopher discuss the nature of thought. “Over the last fifty years computers have been developed that play chess far better than you do, not to mention solving mathematical problems, driving cars, and so on. But do computers have thoughts? Of course not. computers show that cognitive skills do not require thoughts. You do not need immaterial thoughts to choose in a chess game which move is best. It is a physical chain of causes and effects that starts with external objects and ends with actions. (2,650 words)

Inside Restaurant Menus

Richard Gray | BBC | 20th November 2017

Enlarged and updated account of the nudgery engineered into restaurant menus to persuade customers to spend more. Italic type “conveys a perception of quality”. Customers like to see six items in each category on the menu — but more in “fine dining establishments”. Giving dishes descriptive names “can increase sales by up to 27%”. Longer descriptive words correlate with higher prices: “For each additional letter in the average word length, the price of the dish went up by 18 cents” (2,200 words)

When A Phillips Is Not A Phillips

Arctic Penguin | Instructables | 14th August 2017

A history of screw heads. If you have an aversion to screw heads, pass by. The first modern screws were made by hand in the early 16C, the first by machine in the late 18C. The cross-headed screw was introduced in the 1930s by Henry Phillips, who bought the patent and optimised it for car and aircraft production lines using electric screwdrivers. “The Phillips is designed so that when excess torque is applied it will camout rather than ream the recess and destroy the bit” (5,760 words)

Europe’s Heart Of Darkness

Alexander Clapp | 1843 | 24th October 2017

Report from Aspropyrgos, the Naples of Greece, settled by returning Pontic Greeks and Roma, largely captured by organised crime. “A fledgling human-trafficking trade takes in refugees from the Aegean Sea, hustles them over to the Adriatic and on to Italy. Guns come by boat from Albania or Ukraine. Hash arrives from Crete, heroin from the Turkish border, cocaine in car parts imported from South America. The contraband cigarette business makes €1bn of illegal profit in Greece alone” (4,300 words)

Mikaela Shiffrin Does Not Have Time For A Beer

Elizabeth Weil | Outside | 21st November 2017

Profile of the world’s best alpine skier. “Mikaela has won 31 World Cup races, the 2017 World Cup overall title, four World Cup slalom titles, three World Championship slalom races, and an Olympic gold medal in slalom. And she’s on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever. Mikaela’s quads look capable of leg-pressing entire alpine villages. Her glutes, halfway up her five-foot-seven frame, are abrupt, definitive forces of nature, the Rockies rising out of the Midwest” (4,250 words)

The Sandwich That Ate Britain

Sam Knight | Guardian | 24th November 2017

In 1980 Marks and Spencer started selling ready-made sandwiches — and reinvented the British work-day diet. “The industry has its own 80:20 rule: 80% of sales come from 20% of the flavours. These are often referred to as “the core” – the egg mayonnaise, the BLT, the chicken salad. Pret’s best-selling sandwiches (the top three are all baguettes: chicken caesar and bacon, tuna and cucumber, cheddar and pickle) have not changed for seven years. M&S’s prawn mayo has been its No 1 for 36” (6,700 words)

Video of the day Happiness

What to expect:

A short, funny, touching, sad film about the rat race, as lived by rats. Animation by Steve Cutts (4’15”)

Thought for the day

Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness
John Cage

Podcast of the day Human Nature — Philosophy Bites

Sir Roger Scruton talks to Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds about what separates humans from other animals

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