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In the News 07.30.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 07.30.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 07.30.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 07.30.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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10 Of The Best Words In The World (That Don’t Translate Into English)

One of the many great things about languages worldwide is the sizeable number of words for which there is no real English translation. Often they tell us about concepts and ideas that we are missing out on in the anglophone world.

As the northern hemisphere heads abroad in the coming holiday season, here are a few to be looking out for:

SPAIN: sobremesa
You may have witnessed the ritual, knowingly or not, while on the hunt for a coffee or a cold beer towards the end of another long Spanish afternoon.

Sitting clumped around tables inside restaurants or spilling out on to their terrazas, are friends, families and colleagues, preserved in the post-prandial moment like replete insects in amber.

Lunch – and it is more usually lunch than dinner – will long since have yielded to the important act of the sobremesa, that languid time when food gives way to hours of talking, drinking and joking. Coffee and digestivos will have been taken, or perhaps the large gin and tonic that follows a meal rather than precedes it here.

The sobremesa is a digestive period that allows for the slow settling of food, gossip, ideas and conversations. It is also a sybaritic time; a recognition that there is more to life than working long hours and that few pleasures are greater than sharing a table and then chatting nonsense for a hefty portion of what remains of the day.

The world may not have been put completely to rights by the end of the sobremesa, but it will seem a calmer, more benign place.

Ask Mariano Rajoy. At the end of May, as it became clear that he was going to be turfed out of office in a no-confidence vote, the then-prime minister did something very Spanish: he and his close circle retreated to a private room in a smart Madrid restaurant. Lunch was followed by a seven-hour sobremesa, and, reportedly, a couple of bottles of whisky.

After all, what does the loss of a premiership matter after a fine meal, a good cigar and some booze-soaked reminiscing? ¡Salud! Sam Jones in Madrid

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

A Flower In The Debris: The Legacy Of Benihana, Rocky Aoki’s All-American Empire

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As he wandered around the bombed-out streets of Tokyo, Yunosuke Aoki stumbled across a lone red safflower blooming from beneath the rubble. It was March 1945, just months before the end of World War II. America had firebombed the city to a near-crisp in a campaign carried out over the course of a single night. For Yunosuke, that safflower, or benihana, stood as an auspicious symbol in the wreckage, a small sign of hope sprouting in a debris field.

He and his wife, Katsu, had opened a coffee shop called Ellington, named after Duke, a decade earlier in that same stretch of Tokyo known as Nihonbashi. Inside, they played American jazz for patrons. This was a time of widespread affection for American culture. Then came the war. The constant threat of American aggression squeezed the family out of the city. In early 1944, Yunosuke, Katsu, and their four small sons departed Tokyo to live with Katsu’s parents in Gunma Prefecture until they could safely return to Tokyo.

When they came back to the city the next year, the family discovered that American bombs had destroyed their home. Yunosuke wanted to start a new business, but he knew he couldn’t possibly call it Ellington. The wounds from the war were still raw, and animus for anything American was at its apex. That flower was the next thing to come to mind.

Benihana wasn’t the only shop to serve coffee, tea, and sweets in that post-war landscape. But what set it apart was that Yunosuke allegedly biked 20 miles just to barter on the black market for real sugar. The ingredient had, through scarcity, become a commodity. Yunosuke and Katsu baked cakes with the sugar and spooned it into cups of coffee. Surrounding cafes stocked their kitchens with more readily available and low-cost substitutes, so when Yunosuke and Katsu placed a bowl of the real stuff on each table, customers just gazed at it, slack-jawed in awe.

The couple’s firstborn, Hiroaki, was similarly spellbound by his parents’ ability to make money in a post-war period when capital seemed rarer than the sugar their customers were enjoying. Soon enough, at the recommendation of a chef they’d met, the couple turned Benihana into a restaurant, a decision that catapulted them to the city’s upper class. The Aoki family became rich, and young Hiroaki got a taste of what was possible for his own future.

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

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No, You Probably Don’t Have A Book In You

Has anyone ever said you should write a book? Maybe extraordinary things have happened to you, and they say you should write a memoir. Or you have an extremely vivid imagination, and they say you should write a novel. Maybe your kids are endlessly entertained at bedtime, and they say you should write a children’s book. Perhaps you just know how everything should be and imagine your essay collection will set the world straight.

Everyone has a book in them, right?

I hate to break it to you but everyone does not, in fact, have a book in them.

I am a literary agent. It is my full-time job to find new books and help them get published. When people talk about “having a book in them,” or when people tell others they should write a book (which is basically my nightmare), what they really mean is I bet someone, but probably not me because I already heard it, would pay money to hear this story. When people say “you should write a book,” they aren’t thinking of a physical thing, with a cover, that a human person edited, copyedited, designed, marketed, sold, shipped, and stocked on a shelf. Those well-meaning and supportive people rarely know how a story becomes printed words on a page. Here’s what they don’t know, and what most beginner writers might not realize, either.

Every story is not a book.

Read the rest of this article at: The Outline

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How An Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game And Stole Millions

On August 3, 2001, a McDonald’s film crew arrived in the bustling beach town of Westerly, Rhode Island. They carried their cameras and a giant cashier’s check to a row of townhouses, and knocked on the door of Michael Hoover. The 56-year-old bachelor had called a McDonald’s hotline to say he’d won their Monopoly competition. Since 1987, McDonald’s customers had feverishly collected Monopoly game pieces attached to drink cups, french fry packets and advertising inserts in magazines. By completing groups of properties like Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues, players won cash or a Sega Game Gear, while “Instant Win” game pieces scored a free Filet-O-Fish or a Jamaican vacation. But Hoover, a casino pit boss who had recently filed for bankruptcy, claimed he’d won the grand prize–$1 million dollars.

Like winning the Powerball, the odds of Hoover’s win were 1 in 250 million. There were two ways to win the Monopoly grand prize: find the “Instant Win” game piece like Hoover, or match Park Place with the elusive Boardwalk to choose between a heavily-taxed lump sum or $50,000 checks every year for 20 years. Just like the Monopoly board game, which was invented as a warning about the destructive nature of greed, players traded game pieces to win, or outbid each other on eBay. Armed robbers even held up restaurants demanding Monopoly tickets. “Don’t go to jail! Go to McDonald’s and play Monopoly for real!” cried Rich Uncle Pennybags, the game’s mustachioed mascot, on TV commercials that sent customers flocking to buy more food. Monopoly quickly became the company’s most lucrative marketing device since the Happy Meal.

Inside Hoover’s home, Amy Murray, a loyal McDonald’s spokesperson, encouraged him to tell the camera about the luckiest moment of his life. Nervously clutching his massive check, Hoover said he’d fallen asleep on the beach. When he bent over to wash off the sand, his People magazine fell into the sea. He bought another copy from a grocery store, he said, and inside was an advertising insert with the “Instant Win” game piece. The camera crew listened patiently to his rambling story, silently recognizing the inconsequential details found in stories told by liars. They suspected that Hoover was not a lucky winner, but part of a major criminal conspiracy to defraud the fast food chain of millions of dollars. The two men behind the camera were not from McDonald’s. They were undercover agents from the FBI.

Read the rest of this article at: Daily Beast

The Billionaire Yogi Behind Modi’s Rise

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On a hazy day in early February, some of the most powerful men in India’s government gathered at Chhatrasal Stadium in New Delhi, an arena famous for its boisterous wrestling bouts. The men had come for a different kind of spectacle — a biographical film epic, whose initial episodes (out of 57 total) would be shown for the first time that evening. At the center of a makeshift stage, surrounded by smiling politicians and cabinet members, was the person whose life was being celebrated: a slender figure in saffron robes with a long, dark beard, his chest-length hair tied in a bun. He needed no introduction. This was Baba Ramdev, one of the most famous men in India.

Ramdev took the microphone and introduced the phalanx of several hundred Hindu religious students, known as brahmacharis, sitting in neat rows on the field. Everyone repeat after me: “Bharat mata ki jai!” he shouted. The crowd raised their arms and pumped their fists as they chanted the words — “India my motherland is great” — that have become a defining slogan of the Hindu nationalist movement.

One by one, the dignitaries rose to recount Ramdev’s extraordinary career: how he brought physical fitness to the Indian middle class with his mass yoga camps and television empire; how he built his medicine-and-consumer-goods company, Patanjali Ayurved, into a multibillion-dollar colossus. “Swamiji has changed the direction of the world, the thinking of the world,” one speaker shouted, referring to Ramdev with an affectionate honorific. “That is how great he is. Swamiji has changed India, which was going toward the West — its dress and food and culture — and has changed its direction to yoga!”

At last silence fell, and the 50-foot screen flickered to life. For the next hour, India’s political elite watched in humble silence as Ramdev’s life unfolded, from his birth in a remote rural village to his early days as a lissome yogi (the remaining episodes had been condensed into trailer form). As a film, it was a shambolic melodrama that seemed to treat Ramdev almost as a divine messenger. But as an expression of the Indian public’s feelings, it wasn’t far off the mark.

Ramdev has been compared to Billy Graham, the Southern Baptist firebrand who advised several American presidents and energized the Christian right. The parallel makes some sense: Ramdev has been a prominent voice on the Hindu right, and his tacit endorsement during the landmark 2014 campaign helped bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power. He appeared alongside Modi on several occasions, singing the leader’s praises and urging Indians to turn out for him. Ramdev has called Modi “a close friend,” and the prime minister publicly lauds Patanjali’s array of ayurvedic products — medicines, cosmetics and foodstuffs. Although Modi campaigned heavily on promises to reform India’s economy and fight corruption, there were frequent dog whistles to the Hindu nationalist base, some of them coordinated with Ramdev. A month before Modi’s landslide victory, a trust controlled by Ramdev released a video in which senior leaders of Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.), including the current ministers of foreign affairs, internal security, finance and transportation, appeared alongside him with a signed document setting out nine pledges. These included the protection of cows — animals held sacred in Hinduism — and a broad call for Hindu nationalist reforms of the government, the courts, cultural institutions and education. After Modi won, Ramdev claimed to have “prepared the ground for the big political changes that occurred.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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