“There is no one, no matter how wise he is, who has not in his youth said things or done things that are so unpleasant to recall in later life that he would expunge them entirely from his memory if that were possible.”
I think with ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Wes Anderson has made his best film yet, and in the character of Gustave H, his best, most enigmatic character. He’s taken all his unique flourishes and channelled them solely into the service of the story, which underneath the usual wry humor and charming set design is a somber elegy to the lost Europe of the pre-war period and a reminder of the universal tragedy of conflict.
Cumbia Mix from Oi Polloi: Cumbia is an amazing folk/popular music found mostly in Columbia, its like a more percussion heavy Samba with a strong mix of West African & Latin influences and ranges from very minimal to full on big band. Its rad.
In light of the recent Oregon Medicai study, severalpeoplehave discussed the idea of taking parts of the social insurance system and replacing them with cash benefits. This naturally brings up the debate about whether it should be a policy goal for the United States to adopt a universal basic income (UBI). These poverty-level targeted incomes are universal and unconditional, so everyone would get them regardless of their income, status or work participation. Wonkblog’s Dylan Matthews wrote an overview of universal basic incomes and some proposals for such a system last year.
Though establishing a basic income was once at the forefront of politics, it has since become more of a Utopian, abstract project. But sometimes it is helpful to step back from the day-to-day wonk work and think Utopian.
First, what are some advantages of providing a universal basic income? To those on the left, a UBI would create greater equality by ending poverty and providing a minimum living standard. It would also increase bargaining power for workers, who could demand better working conditions with a safety cushion. As Erik Olin Wright argues in Envisioning Real Utopias, such bargaining power “will generate an incentive structure for employers to seek technical and organizational innovations that eliminate unpleasant work,” which would “have not just a labor-saving bias, but a labor-humanizing bias.”
The fact that it is universal is crucial. This eliminates income traps that can cause severe work disincentives. A UBI answers the Foucauldian critique about the welfare state being a way for the state to stigmatize and control marginalized populations. There are no state officials determining whether or not a single mom “deserves” help or drug tests and other invasive, humiliating requirements. Others see UBI as a way of recognizing the value of decommodified caregiving and other cooperative, non-labor activities, by making sure there is space in the economy to both reward and carry them out.
Meanwhile, a few conservatives have advocated a form of basic income for a different set of reasons. The right likes basic income because it would allow for the removal of many overlapping and piecemeal government programs, such as food stamps and unemployment insurance, as well as programs the government directly runs. Charles Murray has advocated a universal basic income of $10,000 for every person, and paying for it by ending Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, virtually all transfer programs and certain tax breaks. Also, if you squint really hard, you could see a libertarian argument that a basic income compensates for the private appropriation of common, natural resources.
Eliminating poverty is an essential part of any egalitarian project, and a universal basic income could finish that in one move. But the question then becomes: What projects would still animate the left? And how would a universal basic income influence those projects?
French food has become a sort of a byword for all that is tricky, pretentious and old fashioned in dining, the excitement it once held for food lovers has migrated to Spanish, Mexican and Korean food among others and the typical French (outside of France) restaurant still tends to serve Haute cuisinein elegant, expensive environs that live up to it’s staid reputation.
That’s a shame, my great culinary joy of 2013 has been in preparing the typical food of the bistro: the bar-come-diner that dominates Paris’s street scene and still the place to get a reasonably priced meal out for the city’s many kitchen space deprived citizens.
The secret of good bistro food is that it has the simplicity, warm comfort and lack of pretense to compete with the best of American or British food, I mean look at theCroque monsieurabove (Mr. Crunchy to English speakers) the thing is a grilled cheese with ham covered in even more cheese and if your feeling extra gluttonous you can put a fried egg on top and you have aCroque Madame which could easily be a post on this is why your fat.
The other factor in the bistro cooks favor is that in a world where your increasingly asked to track down bok choi, chipotle peppers and soba noodles before you attempt a new dish (none of which you will use again) bistro food for the most part sticks to simple western European ingredients and spices: potatoes, tomatoes, chicken, cheese, rosemary, thyme, Dijon mustard and red wine are found again and again making them economical and sensible.
What else to say? The best of bistro food is simple, pairs well with robust wine and cheap beer, can be dressed up for dinner (roast chicken with ratatouille) or down for a lunch (Croque monsieur with pomme frites) and made in a pinch or left stewing all day.
Four of my Favorites:
Salad Nicoise:Felicity Cloake has made a fine, tasty and authentic version of this dish with a nice summation of the variations that exist.
Potatoes Gratin: This is a great side dish for almost anything, simple and delicious.
Croque Monsieur:I had this almost every day last time I was in Paris, its ridiculously satisfying with a beer after a day spent walking the streets, pro-tip: always use gruyere cheese!
Roast Chicken:While this dish has a million variations this French preparation with olive oil, lemon juice and little else is damn near perfect, easy and impressive looking despite.
I’ve been snatching bits and pieces of the tome that is 'Stanley Kubricks Napoleon' a movie he never made but nonetheless spent years trying to realize, the book contains thousands of slides, photographs, uniform test shots, scripts and historical notes and is a pretty substantial piece of work itself.
One thing that caught my attention early on was how different the colour palate of the Napoleonic era was, with robust yellows, pinks, blues and greens, that are so era specific. It turns out that this was largely to do with the slow ongoing process of cloth dying, colourfast dyes were rare and fiercely guarded national and regional secrets, usually a combination of a natural pigment with a chemical compound (ie. Indigo and sulphuric acid to make Saxon blue which is really more of a aquatic green)
in the spirit of these deep 18th century tones, I’ve put together what Imagine the casual hussar of 2014 should like to wear:
As for the honey bee above, it was part of Napoleons royal sigils, and Louis the 14th’s before him, but it actually predates them both by hundreds of years, being a symbol of Egyptian Pharaoes denoting immortality.