Sociology of Cultures

by Kieran Healy on December 12, 2003

Via Alan Schussman (it’s great when your RAs have blogs) comes an interesting review by Steven Shapin of Camembert: A National Myth by Pierre Boisard. The book shows how there’s rather more — and rather less — to the famous cheese than meets the eye and nose. Unlikely though it may seem, Camembert’s development mirrors the evolution of the French state.

A friend of mine once raised a skeptical eyebrow, and smirked a bit, when I told him about that there was a fascinating subfield on the sociology of food. But one only has to think of the place of food in all parts of life, from daily meals to key events like weddings and wakes, to see how rich a topic it is. My only contribution so far to the field is a 45 second talk occasionally delivered to Americans explaining that Irish people do not, in fact, eat corned beef and cabbage.

My Big Idea

by Maria from Geneva on December 12, 2003

It’s pretty vague and unformed so far, but here’s the Big Idea I came away with from the World Summit on the Information Society.

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I’m in Profile

by Brian on December 12, 2003

It’s a law of nature that whenever normblog moves to a new platform the first profile has to be of a Timberite. So today’s profile is of me.

Friday dog blogging

by Ted on December 12, 2003

I’ve occasionally mentioned that my lovely fiancee is a professional writer. She has been successful enough to hire some assistants and create a full-fledged corporate communications company, FrogDog Communications. It’s a terrific accomplishment.

Their webpage is up, and there are so many reasons to visit.

* GAZE upon the lovely visage of our adorable toy fox terrier, Ramona!
* WIN $100 by entering the “What is a FrogDog?” contest!
* HIRE her company for your corporate communications needs!

(That’s enough promotion. – Ed.)

Vive la France

by Maria on December 12, 2003

So the French are a bunch of lazy, Jew-hating communists whose new best friends are Arab terrorists. Right?

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Sen’s Development as Freedom

by Chris Bertram on December 12, 2003

I’ve been reading Amartya Sen’s magnificent “Development as Freedom”: this week. A more bloggable books would be hard to find: startling facts and insights jostle one another on every page. Even when you already know something, Sen is pretty good at reminding, underlining and making you think further about it. So this, for example on the life prospects of African Americans:

bq. Even though the per capita income of African Americans in the United States is considerably lower than that of the white population, African Americans are very much richer in income terms than the people of China or Kerala (even after correcting for cost-of-living differences). In this context, the comparison of survival prospects of African Americans vis-a-vis those of the very much poorer Chinese or Indians in Kerala, is of particular interest. African Americans tend to do better in terms of survival at low age groups (especially in terms of infant mortality), but the picture changes over the years.

bq. In fact, it turns out that men in China and in Kerala decisively outlive African American men in terms of surviving to older age groups. Even African American women end up having a survival pattern for the higher ages similar to that of the much poorer Chinese, and decidedly lower survival rates than then even poorer Indians in Kerala. So it is not only the case that American blacks suffer from _relative_ deprivation in terms of income per head vis-a-vis American whites, they are also _absolutely_ more deprived than low-income Indians in Kerala (for both women and men), and the Chinese (in the case of men), in terms of living to ripe old ages.

Shocking, for the strongest economy on earth to create these outcomes (which, as Sen reminds us, are even worse for the black male populations of particular US cities).

UPDATE: Thanks to Noumenon for “a link to this item”: . I closed the comments thread because I didn’t want to spend my weekend fighting trolls. But email suggests that there are some people who have worthwhile things to say so I’m opening it again (though I won’t be participating myself).

Hans Hotter

by Chris Bertram on December 12, 2003

The Guardian has “an obituary for Hans Hotter”:,12723,1105316,00.html , the great Wagnerian singer, who has expired at the age of 94. A sad day for all of us happily infected with the Wagner virus. The obit has the following nice anecdote:

bq. When he made a first visit to London after peace had been declared, he saw a headline in the Evening Standard proclaiming “Hotter In London”, and it took him a few minutes to realise that the newspaper was referring to the weather, not to him.

In a word

by Kieran Healy on December 12, 2003

I agree with Jesse. That man is unelectable.