Category: Food and Drink
Here is the link, and here is part of the CWT summary:
Barkha joined Tyler to discuss how Westerners can gain a more complete picture of India, the misogyny still embedded in Indian society, why family law should be agnostic of religious belief, the causes of declining fertility in India, why relations between Hindus and Muslims seem to be worsening, how caste has persisted so strongly in India, the success of India’s subsidized institutes of higher education, the best city for Indian food, the power of Amar Chitra Katha’s comics, the influence of her English liberal arts education, the future of Anglo-American liberalism in India, the best ways to use Twitter, and more.
And from the conversation:
COWEN: Many outsiders have the impression that relations between Hindus and Muslims and the aggregate in India have become worse over the last 10 to 15 years. If you put aside particular actions of particular political personalities, and you try to think of a structural reason why that might be true — because normally the intuition is, people grow richer, they’re more tolerant, there’s more commercial interaction, there’s more intermingling — what would be your structural account of why, in some ways, that problem has become worse?
DUTT: You just spoke of intermingling, Tyler. I think that one of the biggest reasons for the worsening relations, or the othering, as it were, of communities that are not your own is the ghettoization of how people live. For example, if there were neighborhoods where people live cheek by jowl — that still happens, of course, in many cities, but it also happens less than it used to, and that is true. We are seeing a Muslim quarter, to give an example, or a Christian quarter in a way that we wouldn’t have before our cities were so ghettoized.
I think that kind of intermingling, of living in the same housing societies or neighborhoods, participating in each other’s festivals as opposed to just tolerating them — those are the structural changes or shifts that we are witnessing. It’s also true that it is tougher for a person from a religious minority — in particular, an Indian Muslim — to get a house as easily as a non-Muslim. I think I would be lying if I did not acknowledge that. Also, the last point is interfaith marriages or interfaith love. This is a deeply politicized issue as well.
While I’m talking to you, in the last 24 hours in the Southern city of Hyderabad, one of our big technology hubs, we’ve had reports of a Muslim family that attacked a Hindu man for marrying a Muslim woman. In reverse, we see Muslim women also targeted all the time if they choose to marry Hindus. This is not helped by the fact that you’ve had several states now talking about what they call love jihad. That’s the phrase they use for marriages that are across religious communities, in particular between Hindus and Muslims.
The percentage of Indians marrying not just outside their religion but also outside their caste — which in Hinduism is a hierarchical system of traditional occupation that you’re born into — is woefully low. I don’t know if I remember my data correctly, but I think less than 5 percent of Indians actually marry outside of their own communities. I would need to go back to that number and check it, but that’s what I remember off the top of my head.
Those are the structural reasons: the fact that people don’t love or have relationships outside of their community, don’t live enough with people of diverse faiths, and don’t participate in each other’s lives.
We used to have this politically correct phrase called tolerance, which I actually just hate, and I keep nudging people towards the Indian military. The Indian military actually has a system of the commanding officer taking on the faith of his troops during religious prayers. The military has multireligious places of worship. It even has something called an MMG, which is not just a medium machine gun but a Mandir Masjid Gurdwara, which is all the different faiths praying together at the same place. We don’t see a lot of that kind of thing happening outside of the military.
Another survey done by Pew reinforced this when it spoke of Indians today being more like a thali than khichri. Let me just explain that. A thali is a silver tray where you get little balls of different food items. Pew found that Hindus and Muslims — when surveyed, both spoke of the need for religious diversity as being a cornerstone of India. They like the idea of India as a thali, where there were different little food items, but separate food items. The khichri is rice and lentils all mixed up and eaten with pickle. The khichri is that intermingling, the untidy overlapping.
We are just seeing less and less of that overlapping. In my opinion, that is tragic. Where there is social interdependence, where there is economic interdependence, where there is personal interdependence is when relationships thrive and flourish and get better. But when they remain ghettos, separations just tolerating each other — that, I think, remains in the realm of othering.
Recommended, interesting throughout.
It is a lovely town to walk in, seems to have better weather than Dublin, and Honan Chapel is to my mind Ireland’s single greatest sight. Most of the time, you can look around in any direction — not just the best direction — and see pleasing sights. So I can heartily recommend a visit.
But I am puzzled by the near-complete absence of restaurant food, at least in the city centre. You can walk for half an hour and maybe see only one or two places you would even consider eating in. Especially at lunch time. So many places open at five. Other places close at three. I’ve not been looking for “a standard mid-level pizzeria,” but at times I would have settled for one but I never saw one. Not once. There are a reasonable number of coffee places that serve some sandwiches. Only a small number of pubs serve much food. I saw two Chinese restaurants, neither of which seemed appealing. I walked for at least ten minutes from the main cinema down a main street — nothing, not one place to eat. Many neighborhoods, whether residential or commercial, seem to have zero restaurants whatsoever. No fish and chips takeaways either.
I looked for Indian food, and was pleased to walk by Eastern Tandoori across from the opera house. The wooden sign out on the street says they open at 5 p.m. But they don’t, and if you dig deep enough on the web you will find they are closed until July 1. I didn’t find any other (actually open) Indian restaurant to eat at. I ate at Ignite (Pakistani, and quite excellent). Their Facebook page says they open at noon, but alas no they open at 5 p.m. Many other restaurants exist on paper but seem to never open, and this is in a prosperous and bustling town. It is easier to find a barbershop here, or a book store.
The English Market, the main place to buy raw ingredients in town, is excellent. It has one OK cafe upstairs, and that closes well before dinner time. It is fine for a chowder and some smoked trout spread, but not too much more.
Nor is the city inundated with American fast food. Nor does Dublin have this problem.
Within an hour of Cork city centre, there are numerous excellent restaurants, including with Michelin stars. Cork is set in the heart of Irish food country, believe it or not. Breads and cheeses are excellent.
So what gives? Why are the corporate entities here so reluctant to sell me cooked food?
…the economic decline is not as precipitous as some experts had expected it would be after the Feb. 24 invasion. Inflation is still high, around 17 percent on an annual basis, but it has come down from a 20-year peak in April. A closely watched measure of factory activity, the S&P Global Purchasing Managers’ Index, showed that Russian manufacturing expanded in May for the first time since the war began.
Behind the positive news is a combination of factors playing to Mr. Putin’s advantage. Chief among them: high energy prices, which are allowing the Kremlin to keep funding the war while raising pensions and wages to placate ordinary Russians. The country’s oil revenues are up 50 percent this year.
Here is more from the NYT. Most of the story focuses on how a Russian-owned version of McDonald’s has reopened, serving what is broadly the same food. But they don’t serve Big Macs because…the sauce is proprietary. Presumably they already were making the sauce on their own? It is funny which parts of international law a country will or will not break.
Yes, Cork Ireland. What should I do and where should I eat? Your advice is most welcome, thank you in advance.
Finally, I offer a comment on the shuttered street level shops and mall tenants that have been gleefully reported by Western journalists: yes, major Western branded stores have closed down, not all, but a great many. Their loss is felt on the most prestigious shopping streets and malls, where they bought market share for their products by lavish spending on promotion, including prestige premises. However, outside these limited addresses, one does not see gaps in the street level stores in Petersburg. I see more empty store fronts in shopping streets in Brussels than here.
And more specifically:
This store chain [Azbuka Vkusa] puts the previous tenant to shame. The sheer variety and luxury of the present offering in fresh produce, cheeses, meats, fish, tinned conserves of all varieties is stunning. The fresh fish section offers swordfish from Sri Lanka, wild salmon from the Faroe Islands (presumably Russian caught), some unidentified white sea fish from Egypt, and dorade from Turkey. In a tank, there is a two kilogram live Kamchatka King Crab waiting for a buyer at 200 euros. Live oysters in another tank are brought from both Crimea (large) and from the Far East (very large). Farmed mussels are brought in from Crimea.
Although previous studies have made claims for an early origin of chickens, our results suggest that unambiguous chickens were not present until ∼1650 to 1250 BCE in central Thailand. A correlation between early chickens and the first appearance of rice and millet cultivation suggests that the production and storage of these cereals may have acted as a magnet, thus initiating the chicken domestication process.
Expanding agriculture has been the biggest driver of the destruction of the world’s wilderness.
This expansion of agricultural land has now come to an end. After millennia, we have passed the peak, and in recent years global agricultural land use has declined…
Here I have brought together the three leading analyses on the change in global land use – these are shown in the visualization.1 Each uses a different methodology, as explained in the chart. The UN FAO produces the bedrock data for each of these analyses from 1961 onwards; however, the researchers apply their own methodologies on top, and extend this series further back in time.
As you can see, they disagree on how much land is used for agriculture, and the time at which land use peaked. But they do all agree that we have passed the peak.
Here is more from Hannah Ritchie at Our World in Data. Of course food production continues to rise.
I am interviewed by James Pethokoukis at his substack Faster, Please! Here’s one Q&A:
JP: American political debates are generally more interested in redistribution than long-term investment for future innovation. What are the incentives creating that problem and can they be fixed?
A big part of the incentive problem is that future people don’t have the vote. Future residents don’t have the vote, so we prevent building which placates the fears of current homeowners but prevents future residents from moving in. Future patients don’t have the vote, so we regulate drug prices at the expense of future new drug innovations and so forth. This has always been true, of course, but culture can be a solution to otherwise tough-to-solve incentive problems. America’s forward looking, pro-innovation, pro-science culture meant that in the past we were more likely to protect the future.
We could solve many more of our problem if both sides stowed some of their cultural agendas to focus on areas of agreement. I think, for example, that we could solve the climate change problem with a combination of a revenue neutral carbon tax and American ingenuity. Nuclear, geo-thermal, hydrogen–these aren’t just clean fuels they are better fuels! Unfortunately, instead of focusing on innovation we get a lot of nonsense about paper straws and low-flow showers. I hate paper straws and low-flow showers! There is a wing of the environmental movement that wants to punish consumerism, individualism, and America more than they want to solve environmental problems so they see an innovation agenda as a kind of cheating. Retribution is the goal of their practice.
In contrast, what I want is for all of us to use more water, more energy and yes more plastic straws and also have a better environment. That’s the American way.
Subscribe to Faster, Please! for more.
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:
The next time you are attending a formal presentation at a conference, ask yourself these questions: Is this better than all of those Zoom calls I am turning down? Is this better than the next best YouTube clip I might be watching? For most people, the answers are obvious. Conference organizers need to be willing to pull the trigger and usher the presentation into a gentle retirement.
Charismatic presentations still can be important to motivate a sales force or to build the unity of a crowd. But informational presentations are obsolete.
Earlier in my career, I went to presentations not to listen, but rather to meet the other people interested in the topic. That made sense at the time, but these days information technology provides superior alternatives. For instance, I have been to conferences that have “speed dating” sessions (without the date part, to be clear, and with vaccine and testing requirements) where you meet many people for say two minutes and then move on to the next meeting. This should become a more regular practice. Conference organizers also can create “speed dating pools” where everyone interested in a particular topic area has a chance to meet.
Another marvelous practice prompted by the pandemic that should be continued and indeed extended at all conferences: outside sessions, especially with group discussions.
Recommended, there is more at the link. What other ideas do you have?
Could you please recommend or ask your readers’ recommendations for books about Hawaiian history and culture?I am visiting the state for the first time and like to approach my travels with a deeper understanding as you exemplify in your MR travel posts. Thank you for your time and help and especially for MR and Conversations!
Your assistance for James would be much appreciated!
The so-called “Lisbon earthquake” of 1755 in fact occurred near Tavira, which explains why so much of the city was rebuilt in a relatively consistent Portuguese Baroque style.
The best parts of town are scattered along the edges of the center, not in the center itself. The overall Moorish feel remains, and oranges are grown in the surrounding countryside.
There is in fact nothing to do here. That said, the town is consistently lovely and you will find few chain stores or fast food outlets. The real problem is that Portugal is depopulating, and within depopulating Portugal Tavira is itself depopulating in both absolute and relative terms. Many buildings are uninhabited and they are beginning to fall apart.
I am not sure I have seen an older town, and that includes a variety of stints in Japan.
It is very difficult to use one’s credit cards here, and it is not because they have leapfrogged to some more advanced means of payment.
For dining, I recommend the snack bar attached to the seafood market, on the far left corner as you look at the market. They serve what is perhaps the best broccoli I ever have had. It is also full of “characters,” salty men of the sea types.
More generally, I recommend the orangey snacky pastry thing, famous locally. Pork and clams is a classic regional dish, cod to me is overrated. Garbanzo beans are deployed profusely. The seafood is excellent in quality, though too often it is put in a decent but not really interesting tomato broth. It is worth a cab ride to the food market in nearby Faro, a larger town.
There are numerous Indian restaurants, but I haven’t run across a single Chinese locale, nor seen a single Chinese person here.
Visitors to Tavira do not regret it, but neither do they say “I wish I had come many years earlier!”
The channel behind this operation is called AroundMeBD, and its success has created a whole new economy in Shimulia, which has since been dubbed the YouTube village of Bangladesh.
The YouTube village is a prominent example of a niche but is also part of a growing online trend across South Asia: As the internet reaches villages, rural societies are finding ways to showcase and monetize their unique food cultures to audiences across the world, using platforms like YouTube and Facebook. In India, Village Cooking Channel, which posts videos of large-scale traditional cooking, has over 15 million subscribers. In Pakistan, Village Food Secrets has 3.5 million subscribers. Villagers who previously had little presence in media are now using these platforms to take ownership of the way their culture is portrayed — and building businesses that support dozens, and occasionally hundreds, of individuals.
Here is the full story, via Zach Valenta. The article is interesting throughout, and yes YouTube remains underrated.
Here is the audio, video, and transcript. Here is part of the summary:
He joined Tyler to discuss the Sam Bankman-Fried production function, the secret to his trading success, how games like Magic: The Gathering have shaped his approach to business, why a legal mind is crucial when thinking about cryptocurrencies, the most important thing he’s learned about managing, what Bill Belichick can teach us about being a good leader, the real constraints in the effective altruism space, why he’s not very compelled by life extension research, challenges to his Benthamite utilitarianism, whether it’s possible to coherently regulate stablecoins, the implicit leverage in DeFi, Elon Musk’s greatest product, why he thinks Ethereum is overrated, where in the world has the best French fries, why he’s bullish on the Bahamas, and more.
And an excerpt:
COWEN: Now, for mathematical finance, as you know, we at least pretend we can rationally price equities and bonds. People started with CAPM. It’s much more complicated than that now. But based on similar kinds of ideas — ultimately arbitrage, right? — if you think of crypto assets, do we even have a pretense that we have a rational theory of how they’re priced?
BANKMAN-FRIED: With a few of them, not with most. In particular, let’s talk about Dogecoin for a second, which I think is the purest of a type of coin, of the meme coin. I think the whole thing with Dogecoin is that it does away with that pretense. There is no sense in which any reasonable person could look at Dogecoin and be like, “Yes, discounted cash flow.” I think that there’s something bizarre and wacky and dangerous, but also powerful about that, about getting rid of the pretense.
I think that’s one example of a place where there is no pretense anymore that there is any real sense of how do you price this thing other than supply and demand, like memes versus — I don’t know — anti-memes? I think that more generally, though, that’s happened to a lot of assets. It’s just less explicit in a lot of them.
What is Elon Musk’s greatest product ever, or what’s his most successful product ever? I don’t think it’s an electric car. I don’t think it’s a rocket ship. I think one product of his has outperformed all of his other products in demand, and that’s TSLA, the ticker. That is his masterpiece. How is that priced? I don’t know, it’s worth Tesla. It’s a product people want, Tesla stock.
COWEN: But the prevalence of memes, Dogecoin, your point about Musk — which I would all accept — does that then make you go back and revisit how everything else is priced? The stuff that was supposed to be more rational in the first place — is that actually now quite general, and you’ve seen it through crypto? Or not?
BANKMAN-FRIED: Absolutely. It absolutely forces you to go back and say, “Well, okay, that’s how cryptocurrencies are priced. Is it really just crypto that’s priced that way?” Or maybe, are there other asset classes that may claim to have some pricing, or purport to, or people may often assume it does, but which in practice is not exactly that? I think the answer to that is a pretty straightforward yes.
It’s a pretty straightforward answer that you look at Tesla, you look at a lot of stocks right now, you think about what determines their market cap — the discounted cash flow? Yeah, sort of, that plays a role in it. That’s 30 percent of the answer. It’s when we look at the meme stocks and the meme coins that we feel like we can see the answer for ourselves for the first time, but it was always there in the other stocks as well, and social media has been amplifying this all over the place.
COWEN: Is this a new account of how your background as a gamer with memes has made you the appropriate person for pricing and arbitrage in crypto?
BANKMAN-FRIED: Yeah, there’s probably some truth to that. [laughs]
Interesting throughout, and not just for crypto fans.
A good book, think of it as a more general (non-technical) economic history of wheat, authored by Scott Reynolds Nelson. The sad thing is the book’s subtitle: “How American Wheat Made the World” — yes it covers America, but a lot of the book, and I would say its best parts, focus on Russia and Ukraine.
I guess the publisher figured American readers don’t care that much about Ukraine? Here is one excerpt:
Before Odessa [which had just been described as a major grain port], the Russian Empire had expanded slowly and defensively, one line of forts at a time. After Odessa, Russia — just like the United States — possessed foreign exchange and could expand dramatically. Wheat exports allowed the Russian Empire to fund its foreign wars, and so it surged into Poland, across the Caspian Sea, and toward China. Nothing seemed capable of stopping the yeasty, kvassy expansion of the Russian Empire. In fact, the spread of a different invisible creature, an invisible water mold, would further entrench Odessa as Europe’s city of wheat.
Fish sandwiches emerged as a regular meal for workers in Britain around 1870 once American grain arrived; a decade later this became fish and chips.
A fun book for me.
This paper evaluates the impact of a sudden and unexpected nation-wide alcohol sales ban in South Africa. We find that this policy causally reduced injury-induced mortality in the country by at least 14% during the five weeks of the ban. We argue that this estimate constitutes a lower bound on the true impact of alcohol on injury-induced mortality. We also document a sharp drop in violent crimes, indicating a tight link between alcohol and aggressive behavior in society. Our results underscore the severe harm that alcohol can cause and point towards a role for policy measures that target the heaviest drinkers in society.
That is new research from Kai Barron, Charles D.H. Parry, Debbie Bradshaw, Rob Dorrington, Pam Groenewald, Ria Laubscher, and Richard Matzopoulos. To be clear, the “policy measure” I favor is absolute individual boycott, not some kind of soporific Pigouvian tax scheme that won’t attract any real extra attention.