Link Round-up

23 Jan 2012

Some interesting things that passed through my RSS reader recently:

Food pairing and flavour networks
This is kind of interesting. Why do cheese and bacon (if you eat that kind of thing) go together so well? Or asparagus and butter? Or caviar and chocolate? (Apparently. If you’re Heston Blumenthal.) The hypothesis was that these “paired” foods had many flavour compounds in common. The data presented in this preprint seems to confirm that idea for Western cookery, but contradict it for Asian cuisine. There’s a lot more in there about the evolution of recipes, clusters of ingredients, and other network analysis goodness.

Economists doing something right?
The people at Crooked Timber always have a lot of interesting things to say. This is a summary and some discussion of a meeting at the New Economics Foundation talking about the need to cut consumption and spread wealth around by redistributing working hours. From a personal point of view, the idea of earning a reasonable salary from a 21-hour working week and having time to work on personal projects, do some volunteering, spend time with Rita and Winnie, all sounds great. From a social point of view, a gradual redistribution of working hours to reduce unemployment and spread income around more fairly also sounds fine. It seems unlikely to happen, if only because NEF seems to be the only group of economists who can bear to think about the end of economic growth and a transition to a steady-state economy. When I listen to mainstream economists speak, I have this image in my mind of a train racing along a bridge which is being frantically cobbled together bit by bit as the train approaches. Sometimes the train gets closer to the edge, sometimes it backs off a little way. But in the long run, the bridge builders can’t win. They’re just going to run out of stuff to build more bridge.

Some good news
To leaven the economics misery, this is really good. Polio is on the way out in India: not one new case in the last year!