Archive for September 18th, 2009

Some things for the weekend

18 September 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Famine Eviction SceneA couple of things to keep you distracted for the weekend. Well, five minutes of it at least.

The best history-related writing I happened upon this week came not from the stack of foreign aid books and articles that I’ve been (enjoyably) making my way through, but from a piece in The Economist on the privatisation of the space industry:

The past, despite the disclaimer often found on advertisements for financial products, often can be a guide to the future.

How apt for our own ‘interesting’ times.

My second discovery is something that I’m sure those of you with a superior knowledge of nineteenth century Irish history caught up with a long time ago, but, hey, it’s new to me. On the 10 September podcast from Nature magazine, there is a discussion of the newly revealed genetic sequence of Phytophthora infestans, more commonly known as potato blight, in which one of the report’s authors Sophien Kamoun describes how the disease originated in wild potatoes in Mexico, made its way somehow into North America before being brought to Europe and Ireland, with all of its disastrous consequences. You can listen to the discussion at the start of the podcast below or read about it here.