Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The hummus crisis. Unknown (to me anyway) politicians. Influencers. And rich men.

When I retired from teaching and we came and spent a couple of years living in Vigo we were unable to find hummus anywhere here. My Spanish sister down in the south of the country tells me that her sister in law, yoga expert and something of an alternative lifestyle enthusiast, used to make her own, long before eating hummus was a trendy thing, but whenever I tried to explain to people here in the north what I was looking for they were mystified. Mind you, that does not surprise me given that Galicians seem to be extremely Galician in their eating habits - lots of fish and shellfish, the best potatoes in the world (in their opinion), greens (grelos) and cocido for a special treat.

Nowadays you can buy an excellent hummus from the Mercadona supermarket nextdoor to our flats. How things change! You can also buy cold coffee-flavoured drinks to take out and packs of unappetising-looking sliced-bread sandwiches turkey, cheese and spinach was the combination that caught my attention this morning. Who buys these things?

However, the UK I read is still one of Europe’s biggest consumers of this delicious dip. And now there has been a hummus crisis with supplies to certain UK supermarkets being recalled because of a salmonella scare blamed according to the supplier on contamination from “an ingredient supplied by an unnamed third party”.

Is it very childish of me to be amused by the fact that the suppliers of the recalled hummus involved in this crisis are called “Zorba Delicacies”?

And the UK now has a new Speaker in the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle. At the point when I read that Chris Bryant and Lindsay Hoyle were supposedly front runners for the position I had to look up both of them! Am I getting out of touch?

I read a lot about “influencers”, social media personalities whose instagram and twitter accounts are followed by many and their ideas presumably copied by their followers. One of the anomalies of modern life. Now parents are being warned of a fresh online threat to children from social media influencers who look real and post photos of themselves with other celebrities, but are in fact digital creations of the advertising industry. How are you supposed to work out what is real and what is not?

 “Advertising industry sources said that within two or three years, artificial intelligence would allow virtual influencers to generate their own fresh Instagram posts using machine learning to analyse data about followers and work out how best to manipulate them.”

I find this science-fiction type stuff worrying and frightening. Artificial intelligence is taking over! I am a lot happier in a world where all I have to worry about is the group of women sitting in the corner of the bar speaking all at the same time and much too loudly and excitedly. At least they are real people. 

In this article Owen Jones writes about the need to get rid of the billionaires. Not really self-made rich men at all but inheritors of wealth and exploiters of seriously underpaid workers, there are too many of them and we need to remove them  An excellent sentiment, for how many cars and dwellings does one person need? How much money does one person need?

Putting an end to greed is a fine idea but how to do it?

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