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Five things - 12/03/2020

1. Mildreds

I’ll kick this week’s picks off with a favourite restaurant. I think I first went to Mildreds 5 years ago this week, when I was in London for QCon last time. I’ve since been back a number of times, most recently this week. My pictures of the food don’t really do it justice, so I won’t add them here - you can see their own ones on Instagram. Every time I’ve eaten there I’ve been extremely impressed, and I’m not surprised they have a long waiting time in the evenings. I was surprised how little on the menu was non-vegan - it was limited to Halloumi, optional cheese on burgers, and dairy milk in coffee.

Highlights for me were the chick’n kebab with a preserved lemon marinade, and the chocolate cherry lava cake (the picture here is a slightly different recipe, but similar theme with the coconut cream and cherry).

2. Paul Mason: The Budget showed Labour has won the spending debate – but a new economic model is needed

I started following Paul Mason a while ago. He’s gone from being a public service broadcaster economics journalist to being a quite a partisan Labour supporter, but with lots of interesting ideas. I need to get back to reading Postcapitalism

This week we had a new budget in the UK, the first since 2018. Lots of the press was lavishing praise on the govenment for spending some money, turning its back on austerity. Mason takes a more nuanced approach, talking about how this budget relates to Labour’s policies such as the National Investment Bank and plans to invest in social housing.

... there’s a growing consensus that by slashing interest rates and printing money, central banks are contributing to the low-growth environment that Britain and other major countries are trapped in...

We need a whole new economic model – and there is no way we can get one unless Treasury and central bank economists cut the crap they have been talking for more than a decade. Mainstream economics is opposed to borrowing to invest in skills, or to boost public health outcomes, because these are not classed as “investments”.

It’s worth a read. There’s a lot going on in the financial world right now, and it feels like we’re at a tipping point of sorts.

3. Early Thoughts on a Pandemic

Last week I mentioned being at the QCon conference. This morning I had an email saying that 2 attendees had tested positive for Covid-19, and now I’m going to be working from home for the next week.

There’s a lot of hysteria about the virus at the moment. My local Aldi has got very low stock of a lot of products (all toilet paper and kitchen roll is gone, many fresh vegetables, minced beef, tinned veg, bread, and eggs are running low).

This podcast was recommended by @ricburton and it is an interview with Amesh Adalja from Johns Hopkins. It’s a good overview of this pandemic and how it compares with previous viral outbreaks. I do feel somewhat reassured about it having listened to this, although it sounds like the health systems around the world aren’t that prepared to deal with it.

4. How to write usefully

A lot of people dismiss Paul Graham, but one thing he does well is writing essays. This meta-essay covers a recipe of sorts for writing. Importance, novelty, correctness and strength. I hope at some stage to get back to writing longer posts, and I’ll bear in mind this advice if I feel like venting my opinions.

5. Gogo Penguin

I seem to be a sucker for jazz trios with piano, bass and drums. Ever since I saw Esbjörn Svensson Trio live, I’ve looked for other groups with a similar dynamism. Gogo Penguin do reference EST on their first album with the track “Seven Sons of Bjorn”, but they never quite live up to the Swedish group. That said, I do enjoy some of their music, and their latest track is worth a listen.

Here’s a couple of other good tracks that I picked out:

Thanks to Steven for recommending them to me about 5 years ago!