The Wednesday Curator – 9/9/2015

September 8, 2015

Shy Trucker Emerges as Democrats’ Pick for Mississippi Governor, written by Campbell Robertson and appearing in the September 7 New York Times, reports on Robert Gray, an African American truck driver who spent no money on a primary campaign, and was so “under the radar” that his own mother did not know he was running. Now, Mississippi has elected only three Republicans to serve as governor since the turn of the last century, but it’s also highly unlikely that any Democrat had a chance against incumbent Governor Phil Bryant. Still—and with lots of skepticism about the inherent value of electing career politicians—there’s something akin to nihilistic behavior when people just vote for anyone, with or without credentials, knowledge, or any evident interest in the job he seeks.

And speaking of almost nihilistic choices, how about the Donald? Too much, but his situation brings to mind Seinfeld episode No. 86, aka The Opposite. Like George Costanza, who attributes successes to actions which seem 180° from what they should be, the nuttier Donald Trump gets, the better he does. To explain some of it, maybe, Michael Tomasky has reviewed Donald Trump’s Time to Get Tough: Make America Great Again! for the New York Review of Books. Because, of course, if we were just tough, America would be great … again!!!

Not much makes me crazier than evident lack of number knowledge. (The Donald is right in there, but I think he will pass.) It’s all around us, and in our dumbed down world, the dumb rarely gets challenged. Slate published Laura Miller’s article, What Are the Odds? on August 31. The subtitle really tells the story: To learn to think critically, take a statistics class. Yep … and by the way, I got a B.

From Tim Harford, a delightful writer, here’s Multi-tasking: how to survive in the 21st century, published in FT Magazine on September 3. The piece is very entertaining, and it comes with six practical tips for success.

Oliver Sacks was busy in his final days. Here’s Filter Fish from the New Yorker on September 14. It’s a lovely piece—some writer he was, and so much more—about the pleasures of gefilte fish. Also from the food desk, I’ve been looking at Mimi Sheraton’s 2014 book, 1000 Foods to Eats before You Die. Counting is hard, and I read so much about food that separating foods I know about from foods I’ve actually tasted is a challenge, but I’m about 35% of the way to completion. So much food, so little time.

One of the 1000 foods Ms. Sheraton calls out is the db burger, found at db bistro moderne in New York City, Miami, and Singapore. Daniel Boulud is a rock star chef, with tons of major awards—James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef of the Year in 1994 is one of them—and lots of restaurant around the world. And his burger? You can get it at lunch or dinner—$35, either way—and the menu reports it this way: Sirloin burger filled with braised short ribs, foie gras, and black truffle, served on a Parmesan Bun with pommes frites. Looking at it may be as dangerous as peeking at the sun during a solar eclipse, but it’s a free country. Here’s the picture:


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