Andy Clark left Massachusetts in 1994 and wormed his way into one of the iconic bakeries of Boulder, Colorado. After that, he spent 15 years running bakeries for Whole Foods Market. All the while, he was squirreling away ideas and thinking of his own place, where he could focus on 30 great loaves a day, instead of 30,000 for The Man. The result is Moxie Bread Co in Louisville, Colorado, as warm and welcoming a place as I have ever had the pleasure to visit. We talked about bread, and grain, and about creating a welcoming experience. Oh, and perhaps the most decadent pastry I have ever tasted.
That pastry is the kouign amann, an impossibly delicious amalgam of yeasted dough, butter and sugar that comes originally from Brittany in northern France. All the write-ups of Moxie agreed that their kouign amann was out of the world, and I was somewhat miffed that I had never heard of the things.
Now that I have …
Huge thanks to Andrew Calabrese for making the introductions and the arrangements. What a great day.
Also to our family and friends in Colorado for their friendship and hospitality.
Ah! The kouign amann! I hadn’t heard of it myself until the last year or so when it turned up on an episode of the British Baking Show, but even there it was featured as a specialty and rare dish (in a technical challenge if I recall, which makes things harder if you’ve never seen or eaten one). I’ve yet to see any in pastry shops here in the LA area, but I have pulled off a few myself at home and they are quite lovely. Sadly most home bakers are unlikely to work with heavily laminated dough much yet a yeasted version.
For the lost, here’s a short segment from BBS with a quick introduction:
Today’s guest, Michael Victor, has spent the past 16 years living in Laos and getting to know its farming systems and its food. To some extent, that’s become a personal interest. But it is also a professional interest that grew out of his work with farmers and development agencies in Laos. Most recently, he’s been working with The Agro-biodiversity Initiative, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The idea is to make use of agricultural biodiversity in a sustainable way to reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of people in upland regions. One thing the project has done is to collect all the information it can about agricultural biodiversity and make it available online. When Michael visited Rome recently, I grabbed the chance to find out more about Lao food and diversity.
The Pha Khao Lao website is available in English and Lao.
I think that the restaurant Michael mentioned is Thip Khao in Washington DC. Duly noted for next time. Any reports gladly received.
Some interesting tidbits here, particularly about a society seemingly on the cusp of coming and greater industrialization. I can’t help but thinking about Lynne Kelly’s thesis about indigenous peoples and cultural memory. I suspect that Laotians aren’t practicing memory techniques, but because of technological and cultural changes they are loosing a lot of collective memories about their lifeways, food, and surrounding culture that have built up over thousands (or more) generations.
Lipstick designer Poppy King is a devoted OTM listener. In collaboration with our own Brooke Gladstone, she has designed a lipstick called Well Red. How to get one? Just listen!
While this segment is assuredly about lipstick, I also hear it as a discussion of identity and how we present ourselves. I can’t help but thinking about a version that’s a bit closer to my heart of online identity. Sometimes I’ll use website themes in the same way Poppy discusses her lipstick and how it makes her feel internally.
Millions tuned into impeachment hearings this week — the first two of five already scheduled. On this week’s show, why shifts in public opinion may not necessarily sway the GOP. Plus, what we can learn from the predatory tactics that enriched Bill Gates.
2. John Dean [@JohnWDean] former White House counsel, on the lessons he's applying from Watergate to the impeachment hearings for President Trump. Listen.
3. Former Labor Secretary Rob Reich [@RBReich] and Goliathauthor Matt Stoller [@matthewstoller] on how billionaires like Bill Gates use their power and wealth to force their vision on society. Listen.
IndieWeb is the beginning of the end of the gilded age of social media. Major corporations like Facebook, Twitter, et al. have made having an internet presence and communicating with others simple and free. We now know that their definition of “free” is far from our definition.
It’s like the drug dealer who says you can get bribed or you can get a bullet. […] What you always see with monopolists who control an important platform: they use control of that platform to take control of markets that have to live on that platform.
— Matt Stoller, a Fellow at the Open Markets Institute, in On the Media: Designed to Intimidate [November 15, 2019]
Previously, Stoller was a Senior Policy Advisor and Budget Analyst to the Senate Budget Committee and also worked in the US House of Representatives on financial services policy, including Dodd-Frank, the Federal Reserve, and the foreclosure crisis.
Facebook profits off of its 1.4 billion daily users in a big way: According to its most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the average revenue per user in 2017 was $20.21 ($6.18 in the fourth quarter alone). Users in the U.S. and Canada were worth even more because of how big the markets are.
Now that you know what you and your data are worth, why not invest in yourself instead?
For about $5 a month or $60 a year, you can pay for an account on micro.blog and have a full suite of IndieWeb tools at your disposal. It’s simple, beautiful, but most importantly it gives you control of your own data and an open and independent presence on the entire web instead of a poor simulacrum of it walled away from everyone else. Of course there are other options available as well, just ask how you can get started.
Delve into the linguistic relationships of Old English to its earlier German matrix. Look at key vocabulary terms—many of which are still in our own language—to trace patterns of migration, social contact, and intellectual change. Also, learn how Old English was written down and how it can help us reconstruct the worldview of the Anglo-Saxon peoples.
Maxwell’s Demon is a famous thought experiment in which a mischievous imp uses knowledge of the velocities of gas molecules in a box to decrease the entropy of the gas, which could then be used to do useful work such as pushing a piston. This is a classic example of converting information (what the gas molecules are doing) into work. But of course that kind of phenomenon is much more widespread — it happens any time a company or organization hires someone in order to take advantage of their know-how. César Hidalgo has become an expert in this relationship between information and work, both at the level of physics and how it bubbles up into economies and societies. Looking at the world through the lens of information brings new insights into how we learn things, how economies are structured, and how novel uses of data will transform how we live.
César Hidalgo received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Notre Dame. He currently holds an ANITI Chair at the University of Toulouse, an Honorary Professorship at the University of Manchester, and a Visiting Professorship at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. From 2010 to 2019, he led MIT’s Collective Learning group. He is the author of Why Information Grows and co-author of The Atlas of Economic Complexity. He is a co-founder of Datawheel, a data visualization company whose products include the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
It was interesting to hear Cesar Hidalgo use the concept of “big history” a few times in this episode. I’m not 100% sure he meant it in the David Christian sense of the words, but it at least felt right.
I was also piqued at the mention of Lynne Kelly’s work, which I’m now knee deep into. I suspect it could dramatically expand on what we think of as the capacity of a personbyte, though the limit of knowledge there still exists. The idea of mnemotechniques within indigenous cultures certainly expands on the way knowledge worked in prehistory and what we classically think of and frame collective knowledge or collective learning.
I also think there are some interesting connections with Dr. Kelly’s mentions of social equity in prehistorical cultures and the work that Hidalgo mentions in the middle of the episode.
There are a small handful of references I’ll want to delve into after hearing this, though it may take time to pull them up unless they’re linked in the show notes.
hat-tip: Complexity Digest for the reminder that this is in my podcatcher. 🔖 November 22, 2019 at 03:28PM
For the first time in nearly 30 years, Marty makes a phone call to an important person.
Phyllis Shapiro was visiting her daughter in Texas when her cell phone rang. It was hard to make out what the person on the other end was saying, she recalls, though it sounded something like “brother Marty.”
After all this time.
Shapiro had been bracing for this call for decades. Her brother, Marty Markowitz, hadn’t talked to her since the early 1980s, when he started seeing a Manhattan psychiatrist and severed ties with his family. Now it was New Year’s Eve 2010. Struggling to hear the caller, she wondered: Does Marty need a kidney? Is he dead?
Soon it became clear. Her brother was on the other end of the line — and he wanted back into her life.
Detective novels. Personal memoirs. Patient notes. Marty Markowitz spent hundreds of hours typing and retyping them all, until he finally had enough.
Isaac Herschkopf, Manhattan psychiatrist, had a literary alter ego — Jamie Brandeis, a Manhattan psychiatrist who solves crimes using the power of psychiatry.
Brandeis is the brilliant protagonist of seven unpublished murder mysteries written by Herschkopf, with titles including “Some Like It Big” and “Some Like It Modest.” And that was just the beginning of the doctor’s literary output. In addition to lectures and published letters to the editor and columns, there were self-help books about marriage and family and a 1996 memoir describing a difficult childhood in a household of Holocaust survivors — a dozen manuscripts in all written by Herschkopf.
There’s a growing movement on the left and right for prison reform. On this week’s On the Media, a deep dive into the strange bedfellows coalition working to close prisons down. Also, in speeches, testimony, and leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg has been trying to make a case for free expression — and for Facebook. Plus, what the TV show COPS reveals about our fascination with punishment.
1. Kate Klonick [@Klonick], assistant professor at St. John's Law School, on Mark Zuckerberg's pronouncements this month on democracy, free expression, and the future of Facebook. Listen.
2. David Dagan [@DavidDagan], post-doctoral political science scholar at George Washington University; Mark Holden, senior vice president of Koch Industries; and Brittany Williams, activist with No New Jails in New York City, on the closing down of prisons and jails.
3. Dan Taberski [@dtaberski], host of the podcast "Running From Cops," on what he and his team learned from watching hundreds of episodes of "COPS." Listen.