Conversation Piece XIII

A weekly series.

Conversation Piece

Honey, we’ve lost the honey. Olive oil, honey, and bananas, foods that have traditionally helped humans combat colds and other ailments, may have an ill fate of their own. Italy’s pathogen-infested olive groves resemble a post-apocalyptic wasteland, meanwhile bee-bloodsucking mites are disastrous not only for honey, but all that rely on the buzzing pollinator (say adieu to almonds). We have already lost the delicious Gros Michel banana to a deadly fungus; will our current cloned Cavendish be next? Find out.

Golden throne. As of this month, visitors to the Guggenheim may find themselves answering to 18-karat solid gold toilet when nature calls. Created by artist Maurizio Cattelan, the New Yorker reports that the fully-functional toilet truly allows viewers a one-on-one relationship with a work of art. Not since Marcel Duchamp’s notorious porcelain urinal has a plumbing fixture been so grandly ennobled. Read more.

Political embellishments. This piece by Anne McElvoy for 1843 magazine chronicles the way politicians have used jewellery, over the ages, to convey subliminal messages about their ambition and sense of self. From Hillary Clinton’s charm bracelet to Angela Merkel’s un-showy, high-school-teacher-style amber beads, how are thoughtfully-chosen embellishments intended to make prospective voters feel? Read more.

Panda power. As of September 4, one of the world’s most lovable bears has been removed from the endangered species list. China’s giant panda has seen a gradual increase in population over the past few years, resulting in the species officially being downgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We did it! Well, not really. The IUCN warns one key factor could be responsible for demolishing the panda’s habitat and erasing the conservationist efforts of the past years. Find out what.