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Things I have learned this week

January 27, 2016

The patron saint of coffee is St. Drogo. But it’s unclear why he’s the saint of coffee or coffeehouses. Because his life had nothing to do with coffee, and indeed he predates the widespread drinking of coffee in his home of Belgium.  Perhaps, his sainthood came about because he had a mystical ability to be in two places at once, or maybe because he survived almost being roasted alive when his home caught fire.

bonjourkalebookjacketThere is a forthcoming book called Bonjour Kale. An American woman moved to Paris, and was absolutely shocked to find that the French didn’t have kale anywhere, or cook with it. So she launched a campaign to bring kale to Paris. I read the description of this book on Edelweiss and really wanted it to be a romance novel. But it’s a memoir, of a thing a woman actually did, and what happened afterward. That might be even weirder than a romance novel with the same premise. Kale’s publicist must weep for joy at moments like this. I want the cover of this book on a t-shirt.

The list of Words of the Year from different countries is both a window into concepts and words that have been important, and how different languages construct new words. Exactly in my sweet spot.

Nobody tell Mark Watney: NASA has trialled an engine that could take us to Mars in 10 weeks. This is some seriously Star Trek level news. But morning people need not apply. They have the wrong kind of biological clock to adjust to Mars’ day length, and night owls would fare better.

Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and friends invented the road trip, touring around together between 1914 and 1924. Here are some pictures. Related: I should read Smithsonian magazine and The Vault blog more often.


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