Strange American Food
The sight of black pudding sort of made me feel sick. But then I thought of all the strange American foods, including:
1. Hotdog = ground meat + fat + preservatives
2. Chicken nuggets = pink slime + oil + breading
3. Pickle = fermented cucumber
4. Jello = boiled animal bones and hide + chemicals + food coloring
5. Veggies in jello = vegetables + boiled animal bones and hide + chemicals + food color
Order, Conflict, Violence: the Malayan Emergency
The beginning stages of writing a paper can be scary. You sink yourself knee deep in a new topic and don’t know where to go. For the past few days, I have started on a project about the Malayan Emergency. I spent yesterday at the National Archives, looking at some newly released documents. The day before, I read Stathis Kalyvas’s “The Logic of Violence in Civil Wars” and a million papers on the Malayan Emergency. So far, I am developing a political economy model of counterinsurgency in my head, or rather I’m adapting Kalyvas’s model to fit my case.
Basically, I think “winning hearts and minds” a value added to a counterinsurgency campaign. The supreme goal of the campaign to to secure populations and territory. Local population switching sides (supporting the counter-insurgents) might even be endogenous to security. But securing people and territory is very costly, whereas economic development is cheap. The British were very fortunate because they had the ability to uproot the Chinese squatter population (the group most likely to support the Communists) and settle them in guarded territory. I don’t see how this thing of strategy can work in other situations, except in Kenya during the 1950s.
Places I want to visit #2: Liberty of London
When people think of shopping in London, they usually think of Harrods. But there is another upscale department store in the City.
Liberty of London
Liberty has a more exotic history than Harrods, due to its association with various aesthetic movements. William Morris, the famous 19th century textile designer and artist, created fabric patterns for the store. Because I always thought the Pre-Raphaelites were cool, I hoard many clothing and accessories made using Liberty fabric. Since post-recession chic calls for frugality, I get many such items, used from Etsy or New York thrift shops. (With $60, you can find a collection of vintage Liberty silk scarfs.)
One of my favorite patterns (and many people’s) is Morris’s “Strawberry Thief” (see above). Liberty has since bought up Morris & Co., which originally carried it. I have a laminated pouch in that design.
Here is a little background from the Victoria & Albert Museum:
This printed cotton furnishing textile was intended to be used for curtains or draped around walls (a form of interior decoration advocated by William Morris), or for loose covers on furniture. This is one of Morris best-known designs. He based the pattern and name on the thrushes which frequently stole the strawberries in the kitchen garden of his countryside home, Kelmscott Manor, in Oxfordshire. Despite the fact that this design was one of the most expensive printed furnishings available from Morris & Co., it became a firm favourite with clients.
Don’t you love it when textile patterns have real history? It’s funny how many American mall-store brands try to fake their “heritage.”
I probably won’t buy anything from Liberty when I’m there. (Plain Barbour Scottish wool scarfs are much more economical gifts — and practical for New England winters.) But it would be nice to finally see the Tutor-style building and its beautifully decorated windows in real life.
Clever does not even begin to describe this essay comparing “The Wire” to the works of Charles Dickens.
The genius of The Wire lies in its sheer size and scope, its slow layering of complexity which could not have been achieved in any other way but the serial format. Dickens is often praised for his portrayal not merely of a set of characters and their lives, but of the setting as a character: the city itself an antagonist. Yet in The Wire, Bodymore is a far more intricate and compelling character than London in Dickens’ hands; The Wire portrays society to such a degree of realism and intricacy that A Tale of Two Cities—or any other story—can hardly compare.
This is the giant bike parking lot outside of my dorm. I have never seen so many bikes concentrated in one area before. Don’t worry I can find mine…I think.
Sleep is for losers
The morning for the departure has come and I am still cleaning up. Sleep is for losers. Must complete my packing. I am taking a big suitcase, a small suitcase, a backpack, and a general camera-bag type of thing that holds a lot. My teddy lion Alex will be traveling with the video camera and other electronics. Stuffed animals makes for excellent padding.