Contingencies in history, 1848 edition


The Sicilian Revolution, the first one of the many revolutions of 1848, was kicked off by a single person putting up flyers in the name of a revolutionary committee that didn't exist.

You could argue that if something this small could kick off a revolution, then it was going to happen anyway... and yet, what if no one else had thought to do it?

Via The Rest is History.

Why are there so many Thai restaurants in the US?


One of my favorite stories of the year. From Vice:

Comparatively, according to a representative from the Royal Thai Embassy in DC, there are just 300,000 Thai-Americans—less than 1 percent the size of the the Mexican-American population. Yet there are an estimated 5,342 Thai restaurants in the United States, compared to around 54,000 Mexican restaurants; that’s ten times the population-to-restaurant ratio. So, why are there so many Thai restaurants in the US?

The Thai government has created a company, the Global Thai Restaurant Company, to make it easier to start and run Thai restaurants. If I understand correctly, they aren't quite franchised (as in sharing a brand name), but effectively provide a pre-planned out restaurant. More from the article:

The Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Export Promotion, most likely run by bureaucrats rather than restaurateurs, drew up prototypes for three different “master restaurants,” which investors could choose as a sort of prefabricated restaurant plan, from aesthetic to menu offerings. Elephant Jump would be the fast casual option, at $5 to $15 per person; Cool Basil would be the mid-priced option at $15 to $25 a head; and the Golden Leaf prototype would cost diners $25 to $30, with décor featuring “authentic Thai fabrics and objets d’art.”

Why go to the trouble? To increase exports and travel to Thailand through gastrodiplomacy.