‘A Writing Retreat by Rail, From Paris to the Côte d’Azur’

Doreen Carvajal, writing for the New York Times:

Back in the 1950s, a locomotive steamed along the same southeast corridor as this bullet train. It carried the name Le Mistral, for the cold wind that gathers strength in the Mediterranean and blows northwest to freshen the sky of clouds and free the light. By the 1960s, it billed itself as the “Aristocrat of Travel” — the fastest train in the world, with luxuries like onboard hair salons and rolling bookstores.

The trains grew speedier when the TGV replaced the Mistral in 1982. But the modern lines still offer the same basic therapy — a tableau of light and blue tones of turquoise, cobalt and azure as the train roars along the viaducts toward Cannes, Antibes and Nice. The view of the sheer drop from the jagged cliffs to the Mediterranean below invariably provokes a sea change in mood.

I made this trip by car last month. My recommendation: take the train!

The beautiful photos in this piece are well worth a glance.

‘Three Supreme Court Justices Return to Yale’

Adam Liptak, writing for the New York Times:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who has two Harvard degrees, was once asked whether it is healthy for the Supreme Court to consist of only justices with degrees from elite institutions.

“First of all, I disagree with your premise,” he responded. “Not all of the justices went to elite institutions. Some went to Yale.”

Two Harvard degrees and a biting wit.

‘A Bite to Remember? Chocolate Is Shown to Aid Memory’

Pam Belluck, writing for the New York Times:

The findings support recent research linking flavanols, especially epicatechin, to improved blood circulation, heart health and memory in mice, snails and humans. But experts said the new study, although involving only 37 participants and partly funded by Mars Inc., the chocolate company, goes further and was a well-controlled, randomized trial led by experienced researchers.

Tastiest result ever!

But unless you are stocking up for Halloween, do not rush to buy Milky Way or Snickers bars to improve your memory. To consume the high-flavanol group’s daily dose of epicatechin, 138 milligrams, would take eating at least 300 grams of dark chocolate a day — about seven average-sized bars. Or possibly about 100 grams of baking chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder, but concentrations vary widely depending on the processing. Milk chocolate has most epicatechin processed out of it.

New goal! On second thought, never mind.