A regular spot to share some ideas about what’s good and what’s not on the interwebthingy. But, you know, it’s your life, so feel free to agree, disagree or ignore what follows.
What caught my attention last week
A Story For Our Times
Tim Moynihan of Wired tells the story of Hitchbot, a small ‘robot’ built in Canada that was designed to hitch-hike. As one of the project manager’s described it:
As researchers, we were asking the question, ‘can robots trust humans?
Hitchbot went 6,000 miles across Canada and Europe before it started its United States road trip on 16 July in Salem, Massachusetts, heading for San Francisco.
It didn’t make it. On 1 August it was found dismembered in Pittsburgh.
Benjamin Thompson was variously a royalist spy during the American Revolution, a Bavarian civil servant, and the founder of first modern soup kitchens.
Lapham’s Quarterly reprises Thompson’s 1796 recipe for ‘A Very Cheap Soup’: which is to say each portion costing one-third of a penny.
Take of water eight gallons, and mixing with it five pounds of barley meal, boil it to the consistency of a thick jelly. Season it with salt, pepper, vinegar, sweet herbs, and four red herrings, pounded in a mortar. Instead of bread, add to it five pounds of Indian corn made into samp, and stirring it together with a ladle, serve it up immediately in portions of twenty ounces.
A Writer Talking
Hilary Mantel, author of the remarkable Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, was interviewed by Mona Simpson for The Paris Review, confessing that “I only became a novelist because I thought I had missed my chance to become a historian.”
I suppose if I have a maxim, it is that there isn’t any necessary conflict between good history and good drama. I know that history is not shapely, and I know the truth is often inconvenient and incoherent.
I’m hanging out for the publication of The Mirror and The Light, which will complete the Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Fabulous, in every good sense of the word.
What I’m Trying To Ignore Next Week
Stories about the boyfriend of the child of someone who was a singer 30 years ago. FFS Telegraph.