Okay, I’ve only managed to do one of these 5 Things posts so far, but I am determined to get back to it. It’s a nice way to keep a record of things that have interested me.
Let’s start with Sauerkraut. Somehow, my mother managed to persuade me to take home an enormous jar of Sauerkraut. This was because she wouldn’t “be able to finish it all herself”, although she was able to finish the chocolate biscuits and the ice cream. Now, I’ve always liked Sauerkraut, but I was just a little intimidated by the size of this particular jar. I turned to twitter for help and soon had recipe suggestions for Shchi (@PrimeJunta) and Bigos (@plumpieinthesun). We made the Bigos and it was fantastic. I had no idea that Sauerkraut could result in something so delicious. I want to make the Shchi as well, but the jar is now almost empty and I’ll have to get another one.
Continuing with the food theme, I liked this article from Mother Jones, Don’t do the Paleo Diet. As someone with history of food and eating problems myself, I’m always interested in strange ideas about nutrition. Affluent people, who can already afford to eat better than most other people on the planet, seem particularly inclined to buy into the idea of magical diets. But the good news in this article is that microbes play a key role in our health. You know what that means? More pickles. Pass the Sauerkraut.
I love this infographic about sleep, Dream On: Why Sleep is So Important. It’s full of fascinating and nicely presented research findings on the importance of sleep. I’ve always been a bit of sleep resister and, while I’m much better than I used to be, I’m still a little careless about it and often end up feeling exhausted by the weekend.
Last week I discovered The Conversation. This is a free, independent news site produced by academics and journalists. It’s basically an attempt to bring some academic rigour to journalism and it’s packed with informative articles. For example, ‘Hatred, envy, fear – it’s all in a day’s work for British tabloids‘ and ‘Preventing sexual abuse is a public health issue‘.
Finally, I was very struck by Terry Bisson‘s short story ‘Scout’s Honor’ (2004). I’ve read a couple of science fiction stories about Neanderthals recently, the other being Ted Kosmatka’s ‘N-Words’ (2008). While Kosmatka presents us with a future in which cloned Neanderthals turn out to be stronger and cleverer than Homo Sapians, Bisson explores the possibility that they were very different to us. In ‘Scout’s Honor’ a lonely scientist begins to receive strange messages that appear to have been sent by a researcher who has travelled far back in time to observe a group of Neanderthals. Both ‘N-Words’ and ‘Scout’s Honor’ are excellent stories with considerable emotional power. Both also suggest a sense of guilt about the Neanderthals. We suspect we may have played a part in the disappearance of these relatives, and perhaps we kind of miss them and wish they were still around. Maybe then we would feel a little less lonely as a species on this planet. The story is available in Gardner Dozois (ed.) The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 18 (2005).