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19 june 2015

As battles involving oar-powered warships go, Arginusae (406 BCE) isn't exactly Salamis, Actium, or Lepanto. Which is to say, it isn't one of the handful I'd ever heard of before Debra Hamel's The Battle of Arginusae arrived in the mail this week.     read more

17 june 2015

In Esperanto and Its Rivals, Roberto Garvía takes a sociological approach to the rise and fall of invented languages in late 19th-century Europe. I'd read some about this phenomenon from the linguistic and historical perspectives, and from the popular and journalistic angles (including Arika Okrent's smart and entertaining In the Land of Invented Languages). Garvía's study teaches me much more about the contexts for the international-language debate, and generalizes in interesting ways about why and how people adopt new inventions.     read more

16 june 2015

I'm honestly unsure whether I've ever eaten truffles. I've seen truffles, at specialty markets, and I've consumed things that were purported to have contained truffles, like pâté with bits of truffle in it, which might have been bits of rubber gasket for all the taste they added. I've cooked with truffle oil, but apparently the whole point of truffle oil is that it has never touched a truffle.     read more

15 june 2015

The other day, I found an odd item in the clearance bin at my supermarket: gourmet syrup from the Dominican Republic. It contained no high-fructose corn syrup, no honey, no sorghum or agave or other potential allergens – let alone lactose or gluten or other currently-evil things. It was a new kind of healthy light sweetener: 100% pure cane sugar syrup.     read more