Function’s Anil Dash joins Matt to discuss how Big Tech broke the web and how we can get it back.
What did a meal taste like nearly 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia? Pretty good, according to a team of international scholars who have deciphered and are re-creating what are considered to be the world’s oldest-known culinary recipes.
The recipes were inscribed on ancient Babylonian tablets that researchers have known about since early in the 20th century but that were not properly translated until the end of the century.
The tablets are part of the Yale Babylonian Collection at the Yale Peabody Museum. Three of the tablets date back to the Old Babylonian period, no later than 1730 B.C., according to Harvard University Assyriologist and cuneiform scholar Gojko Barjamovic, who put together the interdisciplinary team that is reviving these ancient recipes in the kitchen. A fourth tablet was produced about 1,000 years later. All four tablets are from the Mesopotamian region, in what is today Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.
For a long time, says Barjamovic, scholars thought the tablets might be medical texts. In the 1940s, a researcher named Mary Hussey suggested the writing was actually recipes, but "people really didn’t believe her" at the time, he says.
"The tablets all list recipes that include instructions on how to prepare them," the authors write in a piece about their work published in Lapham’s Quarterly earlier this year. "One is a summary collection of twenty-five recipes of stews or broths with brief directions. The other two tablets contain fewer recipes, each described in much more detail. "
The researchers write that the "stews represent an early stage of a long tradition that is still dominant in Iraqi cuisine" — specifically, aromatic lamb stews "often slightly thickened, enhanced with rendered sheep’s tail fat, and flavored with a combination of spices and herbs and members of the Allium family, such as onion, garlic, and leek. These seem to be direct descendants of the Babylonian versions found on the culinary tablet with stew recipes."
So far, the cooking team — which also includes a food historian, a curator, a chemical biologist specializing in food, a professional chef and an expert on cultural heritage — has re-created three stews. "One is a beet stew, one is vegetarian, and the final one has lamb in it," says Barjamovic.
NPR’s Scott Simon spoke with Barjamovic about the research. A transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity, follows.
Rick Rubin and Malcolm Gladwell talk with David Byrne (formerly of Talking Heads) about protest music: some of his favorite protest songs, the earliest ones he heard, how they affected his songwriting and, what makes them effective.
David and Helen talk to Nobel Prize-winning economist (the youngest ever!) Esther Duflo about how to do economics better. From investing in left-behind places to helping people adapt to change, we discuss good and bad economic ideas about some of the biggest challenges we face, and how it all connects back to politics. Plus we talk about what some of the world’s richest countries can learn from some of the poorest. Esther’s new book, with Abhijit Bannerjee, is Good Economics for Hard Times https://bit.ly/33q6uOm
Why do economists believe “Invest in People not Places?” And why are they wrong? - The idea is that it’s better to target interventions at individual people than places, in part because people will move. - But research shows that people are remarkably sticky. They don’t really move. - Even faced with really high costs, and the complete freedom to move to another place, people don’t. During the Greek financial crisis, very few people left. - Mobility is easier at younger ages.
Why do people stick? - In the U.S., one of the biggest factors is real estate. Wages may be higher on the coast, but housing is much more expensive. - People are not driven only, or even primarily by financial incentives
The U.S. has not treated people who were left behind by manufacturing very well. - There is an implosion of economic activity in one place because people don’t move.
The class and place categories are marred. The people who can afford to live in the big cities tend to be relatively well off. - This was at the root of the Yellow Vests movement in France. - Although there is also a lot of poverty in big cities. - Class is no longer defining political lines in the same way.
How, as a society, can we prepare better for transitions? - It starts at birth: an excellent preschool education, followed by an excellent primary and secondary school education, and finally equal access to University. - When shocks happen, being willing to spend. - Some people will never move and we should make their lives honorable where they are.
Mentioned in this Episode: - Esther’s book, Good Economics for Hard Times - “The Gift of Moving” (more on the Iceland case)
Further Learning: - Esther and Abhijit Banerjee in The Guardian - And on economic incentives in The New York Times
The creative process; competitive fiddling; trying people on for size; listening for the rhythm of a session; and playing without expectations.
Also how do you do TODO?
Filmmakers and novelists love asteroids, especially if they’re heading for Earth.
Attempts to improve the audio this time but still a few plosives in places. Pop!
It’s all the usual gubbings: Housekeeping; Font of the Week; UX Technique of the Week and of course Listener Questions. If we didn’t answer yours this time, we’ll probably get to it next time.
Happy listening and remember, send us your questions.
Leaving Ireland, foundry work, Cardiff sessions and leaving your banjo at home. Oh, and Bush Bands, mandolins and marches.
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