In our latest issue we published letters about Norman Foster, the Easterlin paradox, Henry Clay Frick and the diet of Neanderthals
From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, January/February 2013
FLY ME TO THE ESTUARY
Re: The space he’s in (Features, Nov/Dec)
Norman Foster’s work, while not without its critics, displays courage, imagination and vision. Such qualities have been tragically absent from British infrastructure and industrial policy for the past century. There is no greater case in point than that of a new airport for London.
The Thames estuary solution, resurrected by Foster in considerable detail, has much to commend it. It was prototyped by him in Hong Kong, where the airport at Chek Lap Kok has been a great success since its opening in 1998. As with the Thames proposal, the airport was constructed on a man-made island far from the city yet only 30 minutes away by high-speed train.
Furthermore, the Heathrow airport site offers a fantastic opportunity for developing a dense and sustainable model to place London in the vanguard of 21st-century urbanism. Rich in parks and gardens with fast trains from Crossrail, south-west London would be revitalised.
David Fullbrook, Edinburgh
HAPPINESS AND WEALTH
Re: The uses of difficulty (Intelligence, Nov/Dec)
Ian Leslie wrote that "People often assume that more money will make them happier. But economists who study the relationship between money and happiness have consistently found that, above a certain income, the two do not reliably correlate."
This is known as the Easterlin paradox, from the original paper on this topic. However, a closer re-examination of the data used by Easterlin shows that his conclusions were flawed, because they were largely based on Japanese happiness surveys in which the style of questions changed over time.
It is clear that money gives diminishing returns of happiness—a dollar means a lot more to a poor man than to Mitt Romney. But there does not appear to be any cut-off point beyond which people aren’t made any happier by more money.
Leslie’s thoughts on difficulty also apply to raising children. When parents make things too easy for their kids, the kids often start taking things for granted, always expecting big allowances and presents, and not truly appreciating everything their parents give them. I was never given an allowance growing up—instead I started working when I was 15, and I learned to appreciate the value of money and the difficulty of working at a low-end job. Now I’m driven to move higher and make a living at something I actually enjoy doing despite the difficulty involved.
Natalie Dana Maletz
CREDIT AT THE FRICK
Re: Sanctum in the city (Culture, July/Aug)
There is no question that Henry Clay Frick built an astonishing home for his collection of art, which is now a very special museum. As Don Paterson noted in his article, the collection inspires "plain old-fashioned awe". However, he is wrong in illustrating his point that "Frick was a sucker for a strong personality". The painting by Ingres of the Comtesse d’Haussonville was bought in 1927, and the painting of John the Evangelist by Piero della Francesca in 1936. Frick died in 1919. These works, and some others in the collection, were acquired by the trustees after his death. It is true that Frick did select outstanding portraits for his collection, but these two paintings were not chosen by him.
Fanette Pollack, docent (on leave), The Frick Collection, New York
Re: Eats shoots and leaves clues (Intelligence, Nov/Dec)
There is no way to know that "The majority of [Neanderthals’] diet was beans and nuts", but what we do know is that they had a wider geographical and dietary range than we used to think. For example, it was once posited that they died out because they relied on meat and couldn’t adapt to more marine- or plant-based diets when the climate changed. More recent archaeological evidence shows that Neanderthals fished and gathered plants as much as Homo sapiens.
Wild plants present complex flavours which a modern cook is not used to dealing with. But they are increasingly trendy. Anyone who is serious about it should investigate the food of two Scandinavian chefs, René Redzepi and Magnus Nilsson, who both use them regularly.
BEEFING UP MULLIGATAWNY
Re: Stove Notes (Intelligence, Nov/Dec)
I have a recipe for mulligatawny soup that is almost identical to Simon Hopkinson’s, but I like to use a rich beef stock instead of chicken. The article prompted me to make some beef mulligatawny as soon as I read it, and I have to confess to adding a tiny amount of fresh root ginger to the garlic at the end. I served it with mini Peshwari naans.
HOLES IN THE ARGUMENT
Re: Going souterrain (Features, Nov/Dec)
I enjoyed Will Hunt’s article about navigating the secret tunnels under Paris. But when I read about the perforations in Gruyère cheese, I chuckled to myself a little. There are no perforations in Gruyère. This cheese has a smooth, plain surface. I think the Parisians talk about the perforations of Emmenthal cheese. Of course, this doesn’t sound French at all.
Daria Lötscher, Switzerland
DAZZLED BY DALI
Re: A treasure, not a beauty (This Season, Nov/Dec)
Olivia Weinberg said Dalí’s "paintings are not beautiful". I beg to differ. Brilliance is beautiful, and Dalí was nothing if not brilliant.
Susie Neilson, Seattle
DRESSING YOUR OTHER HALF
Re: Applied Fashion (Style, Nov/Dec)
When a wife dresses her husband she always does it so that no other woman would ever look at him. There can be no other explanation for the slaughter of taste.
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