Links: Food, odd campus culture, ebikes, quality literary feuds, and more!

* “Quinoa is the new Big Mac: Can Eatsa succeed in delicious and inexpensive plant-based fast food?”

* The inventor of the red Solo cup has died. Real tragedy.

* “Student Accused of Rape By ‘Mattress Girl’ Sues Columbia U., Publishes Dozens of Damning Texts.” See a related discussion in this post.

* “The personal is political” (note: the personal is not necessarily political and if someone tells you it is, tell them to get stuffed).

* Low Definition in Higher Education: When college students are told what to think and what not to say, who suffers in the end?

* Ebikes: I Sing the Ride Electric.

* “When did Literary Feuds Become So Boring? Duels between writers were once epic. Now they’re just petty.”

* “The long political history of sneakers;” the article sounds dumb but is actually good.

* Trump’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

* “Why People Vote for Counterproductive Policies.” And: “‘What the Russians Did Was Utterly Unprecedented.’” Voter irrationality has always been an interesting topic but it’s become more interesting and salient since 2010, with a special rise this year.

* Open societies are facing major crises. I don’t think Soros’s answer is the right one or that most people even know who or what they might mean by “elites,” but the problems are clear and not going away.

One response

  1. That “Eatsa” article was maddening. It’s like a restaurant designed by the autistic with no understanding of what the non-autistic want from fast food or why. There are cultural and political issues here that go way beyond “sourcing, labor, and price points.”

    For one thing, a guy who worked 80 hours a week and subsisted on Soylent is never going to understand the small, familiar pleasure of a squishy, salty Big Mac; the reluctance of McDonald’s/Taco Bell customers to try something radically different; and how weird and unsatisfying a bowl of quinoa is going to be for them. He also may not understand that the vast majority of Americans have never eaten quinoa and have no idea what it is. Last week I was at a Christmas dinner where quinoa was part of a salad; several people there were eating it for the first time. He may get the young, the urbane, the vegetarians, but I hope he doesn’t seriously think he’s going to decimate McDonald’s. If that’s not marketing hype, it’s delusion.

    The article also glosses over the politics of quinoa, and the fact that it’s a crop the people in the Andes need far more than we do, and how difficult it’s been to grow outside the Andes. (At least the New Yorker admits that the Canadian-grown stuff isn’t very good; terroir matters.) There’s also the matter of Eatsa hiding their food workers behind a wall and hiring no one to interact with the public. The former feels to me like a desire to shield customers from watching poor people make their food, the latter a way of avoiding the social responsibility of providing more jobs for the poor. It’s as if Eatsa is trying to camouflage some of the worst aspects of the food industry with virtuous vegetarianism and the Apple aesthetic, but with none of the humanity of Jobs-era Apple.


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