The 2017 Tournament of Books begins March 8.

The 2017 Tournament of Books is coming.

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Homemade avocado burger. Credit: Marco Verch.

At high altitudes, only umami—the pleasant, savory “fifth” taste beloved by Japanese chefs—is enhanced for reasons that are not entirely clear. So Bloody Marys, which contain the umami-rich tomato and Worcestershire sauce, taste far better in the sky than on the ground. It’s the most consumed cocktail on passenger flights, airlines say.

An interesting article in the Times on how white noise, low humidity, and low pressure affect the way and the order in which molecules travel to our senses.

Credit: Bente Jensen

What good is it to save one fish while we’re still destroying the ocean with pollution and acidification? ...Is a sushi restaurant that serves bluefin under the table any better than an oil company that refuses to talk about climate change?

Mid-century Japanese referred to tuna as not good enough for the cats. Now it's a delicacy driving bluefin to extinction.
↩︎ The Ringer
2h

One thing that France's Le Pen gets right: The flawed fundamental architecture of European economic policy.

Marine Le Pen and the National Front probably have no chance of winning France's upcoming presidential election. But according to Matthew Yglesias at Vox, they get one thing right: Europe's problems with a single currency.

Beyond this ideological grab-bag is a thoroughgoing and persuasive critique of European monetary arrangements (they also have a persuasive critique of the EU's deeply misguided directive on passenger railroad regulation). They cite Milton Friedman as an authority on the idea that the Eurozone is not an optimal currency area, and this is in fact the professional consensus. They rightly say that the inability of Eurozone member states to conduct independent monetary policy "condemns the people to austerity plans that do nothing but exacerbate the crisis." They say that "France should prepare, with its European partners, a return to national currencies that will permit a return to competitive devaluations" and this would, indeed, be a boon to the French (and Spanish and Italian and Belgian, etc.) economies.

As he adds later, "Le Pen deserves to be confronted where she's making the most sense, not the least."

3h
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The thing is, he’s behaved so badly that if he doesn’t behave badly, people think he’s getting better.

Was the more polished Trump of last night's address a Trump that can win again in 2020?
↩︎ Politico
3h

Breadcrumb trail grows linking Honduran government to murder of famous activist.

Court documents obtained by the Guardian suggest indigenous activist Berta Cáceres was killed by affiliates of the country's American-trained special forces, not an ex-lover as previously contended. Among the arrestees is the former chief of army intelligence.

Cáceres won the Goldman Prize, the world's foremost environmental award, in 2015.

3h

The Marines didn’t read Playboy for what it revealed, but for what it didn’t. The charms that Playboy withheld, the ones models in Hustler or Penthouse did not, left an aura of intimacy we all craved in those days. It created a bit of feeling, something in short supply during that violent time. Playboy wasn’t just nude pictures. Through its pages we slowly returned to an emotional neutral.

That's novelist Elliot Ackerman on the healing benefits of Playboy for soldiers.

See also: historian Amber Batura on how Playboy explains Vietnam; and novelist Jessica Francis Kane interviews her mother about working at Playboy when it started.

Photographs of some of the millions of residents of underground nuclear bunkers in Chinese cities, built during the Cold War and now used as unsanitary, cheap housing.

The night that Stone Cold Steve Austin played out all our fantasies about beating Trump up in front of thousands of people.

An extensive history of Trump's history with the WWE and the night that he took a Stone Cold Stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin.

19h

Fascinating case in which an Amazon Echo unit, aka Alexa, becomes witness to a murder and tests the bounds of Amazon's dedication to consumer privacy.

Credit: Ken Erney

More Features at TMN