What I'm Reading (Nov. 18)

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Risk, the carbon footprint of eating local, Happy Birthday Betty Crocker, and an employee review.

This past year, more than any other, we have all become acquainted with risk, a concept that has had a significant role in my chosen career as a surgeon. What is the source of that word we so casually toss about these days?

“The Arabic rizq is Quranic. It refers to God’s provision for creation. This verse, for instance, uses the noun and a verb derived from the same lexical root, and refers to the sustenance that God provides for all of creation: ‘And how many a creature does not carry its own provision [rizq]! God provides for them and for you: he is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.’ During the Middle Ages, the word was used to name the daily subsistence pay given to soldiers. In the dialect of al-Andalus (Arab Spain), it referred to chance or good fortune. Rizq, it seems, bounced from port to port around the Mediterranean, until it landed on the worktable of a scribe in Genoa recording a strategy used to share out the risk of trans-Mediterranean trading ventures by betting against catastrophe.”

From Psyche, How 12th-century Genoese merchants invented the idea of risk


“If you care about your carbon footprint, then eating local might not shrink it.

Yes, food miles do create greenhouse gases. But a study reported in Science tells us that the environmental impact of transporting food is relatively minimal. Less than 10 percent of the emissions from the global food supply (and .5 percent for beef), transport is not the answer. Neither is processing, retail, or packaging. Rather, the real culprits are dairy, meat, eggs, and the deforestation and cow burps (and farts) they create.”

How can that be? From Econlife, Reducing Your Carbon Footprint By Not Eating Local


“Though she celebrates her 100th birthday this year, Betty Crocker was never born. Nor does she ever really age.”

My wife and I are foodies, and she is an excellent cook. The house is littered with cookbooks, including a broken-down copy of Julia Childs and The Joy of Cooking. But here’s to Betty, one of the founders of the feast. From The Conversation, Betty Crocker turns 100 – why generations of American women connected with a fictional character


Can your pet undergo an employee review?

“I know you only do the little circle movements when you’re anxious. I also know why you are anxious. You have sensed, correctly I think, that there has been a certain level of disharmony among the senior members of staff (me and Gavin) and much of that unhappiness has stemmed from our disappointment in your most recent work.”

Truly very funny. From The Irish Examiner by way of the Browser, How I imagine an annual performance review with the dog would go