Today, after making home-made kimchi, my partner and I decided to listen to this podcast on Sinica about the history of the chile pepper in China. In the episode Kaiser Kuo talks with historian Brian R. Dott about his latest book “The Chili Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography.” A summary from the book’s web page:

Brian R. Dott explores how the nonnative chile went from obscurity to ubiquity in China, influencing not just cuisine but also medicine, language, and cultural identity. He details how its versatility became essential to a variety of regional cuisines and swayed both elite and popular medical and healing practices. Dott tracks the cultural meaning of the chile across a wide swath of literary texts and artworks, revealing how the spread of chiles fundamentally altered the meaning of the term spicy. He emphasizes the intersection between food and gender, tracing the chile as a symbol for both male virility and female passion. Integrating food studies, the history of medicine, and Chinese cultural history, The Chile Pepper in China sheds new light on the piquant cultural impact of a potent plant and raises broader questions regarding notions of authenticity in cuisine.

One of the nice things about podcasts is that usually you can usually still subscribe to them via RSS without being tracked. Advertisers however are trying to find new ways to track your listening habits and target users for ads:

Advertisers are projected to spend more than 800 million on podcasts in 2020, and companies are devising ways to provide them with data that will persuade them to spend more. The most common tactics include using IP addresses to identify users, adding tracking URLs to ads, and abandoning RSS in favor of proprietary platforms that already track their users.

Read the full article from The Markup here.

A quote from the Freakonomics podcast “How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War”:

[Peter Timmer]: I used to ask my class, I’m talking 1985, “Where is the world’s largest supercomputer?” And the correct answer was, “It’s at the Pentagon.” Okay. “Where is the world’s second largest supercomputer?” Bentonville, Ark. Home of Walmart. They used that computer to track every single item on every single Walmart shelf. That information technology is what revolutionized food marketing. And it was pretty much invented by Walmart.

The episode is terrific if you are interested in the history of food production, the creation of supermarkets and the use of science and technology to create an abundance of food.

Listened to two great podcasts from the BCC series “In Our Time” related to political economic theory from the late 18th century:

Both episodes are interesting to understand the historical context and moral elements in their theories. Crudely summarised I would say that both of their theories are dealing with the abrupt transformation of economies during the Industrial Revolution. And both authors bringing their moral philosophy of what should be done in that tumultuous time.

I have been getting into the ideas of critical theory with some great podcasts and videos. Stephen West from Philosophize This did an extensive 7 part series on The Frankfurt School, with a large focus on Herbert Marcuse. I especially liked his introductions of Marcuse’s works and the parts on culture industry. I also watched this interview Bryan Magee did with Marcuse in 1977 for his BBC program. In the interview Marcuse gives an overview of the thoughts of the members of the school and his involvement with the New Left movement. The whole discussion with Magee is great as can be expected from him and who also very critical. And lastly I listened to an episode of The Philosophers Zone titled “Are we enlightened?” that came out today by chance. In the short timespan of thirty minutes the podcast provides a fanstatic overview of critical theory and, as the title suggests, focuses on the theory’s roots against enlightement style thinking.

Fantastic podcast from France Culture’s “Les chemins de la philosophie”. Professor Patrick Wotling discusses on the podcast the philosophy of Nietzche and how forgetting can be a condition for the well functioning of social life:

Nietzsche nous apprend que l’oubli est positif, s’éduque, peut se contrôler et surtout qu’il est la condition qui rend possible énormément de choses, comme la vie sociale : le second traité de la “Généalogie de la morale” est fondé sur cette affaire de la tendance à l’oubli qui est une régulation fondamentale du vivant et la manière dont cette tendance à l’oubli peut être régulée, éduquée, contrecarrée, canalisée, représente pour Nietzsche le fondement même de la possibilité d’une vie communautaire. L’oubli est vraiment un processus positif si on le comprend bien.

Listen to the full podcast here.