June 27, 2017

"This 3,000-Year-Old Wooden Toe Shows Early Artistry of Prosthetics."

"Crafted from leather and wood, the ancient Egyptian prosthesis was was adjusted to precisely fit its wearer’s foot."

"Between new shops, expansions, and menu upgrades, 2017 is set to be the breakout year for edible cookie dough."

"Dō — based in New York City, where there is a line for everything — certainly garnered a lot of publicity during its January opening, but it wasn’t the only doughy debut of the year. In February, Tart Sweets bakery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, started selling its dough in 'doughwiches' and by the scoop through its cookie dough bar.... Earlier this year, Yoyo Berri frozen yogurt shops in Nebraska and South Dakota started offering raw cookie dough to liven up yesterday’s snack craze...."

Eater reports, giving the answer to my main question and using that word I've told you not to use.

My main question about eating cookie dough is: What about the problem of raw eggs and salmonella? The answer is they use "pasteurization and heat treatment" — i.e., the eggs are not raw. So if you like your cooked eggs with lots of sugar and flour mixed in, you're ready to enjoy this trendy dessert.

The word I told you not to use is, of course, "garner."

Urban Dictionary Word of the Day: Broflake.

"Straight white male offended by any feminist or ethnic activity which is not directly designed for him."

"Zillow is threatening to sue me if I don’t delete most of the posts on this blog."

Says McMansion Hell (a very funny and useful blog).

ADDED: The blogger is not deleting the blog. Start here and scroll to see the posts. I'm pretty sure I've linked to it before. If you like mockery of bad architecture and interior decoration, it's great.

Reason.com presents LSD Microdosing as "The New Silicon Valley Productivity Hack."



That's mostly an interview with George Burke, who takes a tenth of a "typical dose" of LSD every day.
"I notice that my brain seems to be able to solve problems a little bit better than...before," says Burke, who runs a startup called Fuel that helps its clients custom tailor their diets to their unique genetic makeups.
I notice that his noticing is under the influence of LSD and that he's subtly acknowledging that by saying "my brain seems...." Why should we believe his perception? I'd like to see some scientific studies of how LSD affects problem solving ability.

Also, Burke talks about taking medication for ADHD and LSD working as a substitute for that drug. So he's struggling with something that is or has been diagnosed as a mental disorder. He's not beginning at normal/"normal" and edging away from that, but at disordered and attempting to replace whatever drug someone in the medical profession prescribed.

So the video isn't very convincing except as an appeal to freedom: We should be allowed to experiment with our own brains. We feel strongly entitled to affect our mind through reading, talking, and thinking about ideas, whether these ideas are at all likely to be useful or true and even if the ideas are shown to be plainly false and actively dangerous. If you can read, say, "Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose," why can't you take a daily microdose of LSD? Whatever the actual value of either of these things to the human mind — even if it's nothing or less — it's a matter of freedom of thought, and it belongs in the realm of the individual.

June 26, 2017

Obama "didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."

4 Trump tweets from a few hours ago:

1. "The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win.."

2. "...and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."

3. "The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia..."

4. "..under a magnifying glass, they have zero 'tapes' of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!"

Police seem to confirm what most viewers of the viral video were saying.

That girl was to blame for falling out of the Sky Ride gondola.

Of course, it was decent and good for people to gather underneath and risk injury to catch her, even if she was to blame for getting herself into that dangling-from-a-gondola predicament.

Here was a memorable comment that appeared on the WaPo article that appeared yesterday (before the police blamed the girl):
As a past ride operator at an amusement park I am going to chime in here. The way she was situated at the beginning of the video suggests to me she somehow got herself into that predicament. I'm not saying definitively this is true. But, I've seen people do pretty risky things on rides. One trick is to lift your knees as the staff is checking the bars are secure. This allows the bar to not be as tight as it should be. I've caught hundreds of people doing that in my years as a ride operator. Another thing people do is try to rock carriages to scare each other. I don't know if it is possible on that ride. In terms on the knee bar lift, it is the responsibility of the ride staff to catch people doing it. It is also the responsibility of the staff to not let people ride who are super anxious. Who knows if she was or not. At the end of the day, I'm sooo happy she is ok! How amazing the people who caught her!....

"CNN is imposing strict new publishing restrictions for online articles involving Russia after the network deleted a story and then issued a retraction late Friday..."

Buzzfeed reports, citing "an internal email," from Rich Barbieri (CNNMoney's executive editor), which read:saying "No one should publish any content involving Russia without coming to me and Jason." (Jason Farkas is a CNN vice president).

Buzzfeed also quotes an anonymous source saying the deleted story was a "massive, massive fuck up and people will be disciplined."

Meade texts me a photo of the backyard, and I squint at the image. Did a huge branch of the oak tree just fall down?

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Home, I hurry through to the deck that overlooks the yard from the second floor, and nothing seems to have changed. Meade is casually raking the semi-circular lawn. What was I seeing in that photograph? That's the view from the roof — which is 3 floors above the ground. I'd been out walking the shores of Lake Mendota one more time...

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He knows I don't like to think of him up on the roof, and I guess he took advantage of my absence to climb out there and clear the gutters.

Here's a view — from last February — of how that branch looks from the second floor — that is, how I see it for many hours every day — to give you an idea of how weird that texted photograph looked to me:

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"The justices, in effect, said that foreigners with ties or relationships in the United States would not be prohibited from entering the country."

"But, those applying for visas who had never been here, or had no family, business or other ties could be prohibited.... The justices said the distinction should be easy to administer. 'In practical terms, this means that' the executive order 'may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.'"

Trump's (modified) win in the Supreme Court this morning, explained by Adam Liptak in the NYT.

"Sleeping on the job is one of those workplace taboos — like leaving your desk for lunch or taking an afternoon walk — that we’re taught to look down on."

"If someone naps at 2 p.m. while the rest of us furiously write memos and respond to emails, surely it must mean they’re slacking off. Or so the assumption goes."

From a pro-nap article in the NYT.

I'm pro-nap, not that I think anyone else should have to pay you for the time you spend asleep, but what amazes me here is that there is now a culture — is there? — of disrespect for the lunch hour. Eating at your desk is required now?

That quote I put in the post title seems — I hope! — to have a real one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others problem. Lunch relates to a time, not just the non-work behavior. It seems to me that you can go out for a walk or find a discreet place to sleep during the lunch hour just as well as you can go to a restaurant. Eating seems different from walking and sleeping because it is pretty easy to work and eat at the same time. It's hard to walk and work simultaneously and almost impossible to sleep and work at the same time. [ADDED: I'm assuming a desk job.] But what's wrong with not working during the lunch hour? Do whatever you want with your free time.

You want to know how to walk and work? I read and walk all the time, so if reading is part of your work, you can do that. But if thinking is part of your work, you can do some great thinking while walking. You can also be walking with a co-worker or a client and getting something done.

But how to sleep and work? If you're thinking about a work problem during the day, you might find that, after sleeping, you've made new progress toward a solution. I'm not saying you should bill by the hour for the entire sleep period (or even the estimated REM part of it), but I'd count that as work.

Back to the NYT article:
The Japanese even have a word for strategically sleeping on the job: “inemuri,” roughly translated to “sleeping while present.”...
That reminded me of this idea I find intriguing: "Mind-wandering/The rise of the anti-mindfulness movement." Excerpt:
[M]ind-wandering is showing every sign of becoming a thing, buoyed to the surface of popular culture by the overlapping interests of business and self-help. At the root of this turnaround: the idea that mind-wandering is not a waste of attention but simply a different kind of focus....

[M]ind-wandering is offered not as an alternative to mindfulness, but as a complement to it: "One mental mode is potentially just as beneficial as the other," as Fast Company puts it. A better question would be: why are these opposing philosophies of mind gaining popularity at the same time? What does it tell us about ourselves that we desire simultaneously to focus and escape?
ADDED: To sleep at your desk and help the Althouse blog, buy Nap Pillow, BotituDouble Layer Head Office Pillow with Arm Support, for Noon Break Desk Pillow at Amazon.

SCOTUSblog live-blogs the Supreme Court.

Here. 
Because today is the last day the court will issue opinions, we can actually predict which six opinions will come today.
ADDED: "The court has denied review in Peruta, over a dissent from Thomas and Gorsuch." From the sidebar descriptions of cases:
Peruta v. California Whether the Second Amendment entitles ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense in some manner, including concealed carry when open carry is forbidden by state law.
"Justice Thomas dissented from the denial of review in Peruta, joined by Gorsuch."

AND: They took the cake!
Masterpiece Cakeshop has been granted....

The big addition today is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This is a challenge by a Colorado man who owns a bakery and regards himself as a "cake artist." He objects to having to create cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies, on the ground that it would violate his religious beliefs.
AND: The Court summarily reversed Pavan v. Smith, "a challenge to an Arkansas law that requires a married mother's male spouse to be on the birth certificate, even if he is not the biological father" but does not require the same fro married same-sex couples." The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the law.

AND: The first case announced is decided by Thomas, which elicits a "Whoa!" from SCOTUSblog because it reveals that all the decisions today will be written by either Thomas, Kennedy, or Roberts. (The opinions are announced in reverse order of seniority.)

AND: Trinity Lutheran — the case I'm most interested in — is written by the Chief Justice. The state loses its effort to exclude the religious school from a program of distributing shredded tires for use in playground resurfacing. This is the legal problem of separation of religion and government versus the principle of not discriminating based on religion:
Roberts writes that, although the state's policy "is nothing so dramatic as the denial of political office," "the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand."
Here's the opinion. I'll have more to say about this later.

I'd like to think how Trinity Lutheran might affect Masterpiece Cake. Trinity Lutheran is about treating the religious entity the same as other applicants for a government benefit. Masterpiece Cake is about wanting a special exception because of religion. Do you want a nondiscrimination principle or a pro-discrimination principle or do you think religion should win both ways: Government can't give us special treatment to hurt us, but it also must give us special treatment to help us?

AND: Trinity Lutheran has 6 votes in the majority on the Roberts opinion. (Kagan is in there.) But there is a footnote, footnote 3, that's not the majority (because Thomas and Gorsuch don't join). It says: "This case involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing. We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination." [ADDED: There are 6 votes on the Roberts opinion, with T & G opting out of that footnote. And Breyer also concurs. So there are 7 votes for the outcome. Only Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissent.]

AND: In Trinity Lutheran, Gorsuch (joined by Thomas) addresses footnote 3. Thomas writes a separate concurrence (joined by Gorsuch) to call Locke v. Davis into question. ("This Court’s endorsement in Locke of even a 'mil[d] kind,' id., at 720, of discrimination against religion remains troubling.") Locke allowed the state to withdraw a scholarship from an otherwise qualified college student because he declared a major in devotional theology. [ADDED: It was important in Locke that the discrimination wasn't based on animus against religion but, supposedly, a benevolent tradition of separating religion and government. Thus, you should see the importance of footnote 3: There was animus in this case, and these were not the good-hearted government discriminators who prevailed in Locke.]

AND: "The [immigration ban] cases weren't included in this morning's orders.... The justices might rule on it separately later today or they might include it in an orders list tomorrow morning."

AND: "We have action on the travel ban. 'We grant the petitions for certiorari and grant the stay applications in part.'" THE STAY IS GRANTED! in part.
On the stay in part: "We grant the Government's applications to stay the injunctions" blocking the implementation of the ban "to the extent the injunctions prevent enforcement of Section 2(c)" -- the provision suspending entry from six countries -- "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.... "We leave the injunctions entered by the lower courts in place with respect to respondents and those similarly situated."...

So this means that the government can enforce the travel ban with regard to people who don't have a relationship to the United States, but not with regard to the named challengers or people like them -- for example, who have relatives who want to come.

How to lose your job in higher education: Speak freely and cause offense... about white privilege.

1. The University of Delaware is declining to rehire the "part-time professor" Katherine Dettwyler who wrote on Facebook (and later deleted): "Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved... His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea. And of course, it's Ottos' parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives." She spoke of privilege, perhaps relying, ironically, on the privilege of freedom of speech.

2. Essex County College fires adjunct professor Lisa Durden after she defended a blacks-only Black Lives Matter event (on Tucker Carlson's show). She said: "What I say to that is, boo hoo hoo... You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white-privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter all-black Memorial Day celebration." She said white people have had "white days forever," and this was one day when black people were saying "stay your asses out... We want to celebrate today. We don’t want anybody going against us today."

Both women voiced a critique of "white privilege." Is it evidence of white privilege that this is the offense that gets you fired? I observe that both of them spoke clearly and with edge but were inviting or participating in dialogue.

Dettwyler posed a question, beginning "Is it wrong of me...?" Are people so afraid to have that conversation? Yes, it was a time of overflowing empathy for the unfortunate man and his grieving family, but Dettwyler wasn't showing up to yell at Warmbier's funeral. She was showing her thoughts on Facebook and exposing an issue that some people might want to discuss, even if others want to slam the door on that line of inquiry.

Lisa Durden had the nerve to go on Tucker Carlson's show, where guests must know they are going to be hounded. Carlson had the easy side of the debate: Racial discrimination is bad. And Durden gamely jousted: The traditionally discriminated-against group is justified promoting and participating in a one-race festivity; can't you white people back off for one day and give us that?

Dettwyler and Durden should not have lost their jobs over this.

The mystical morning light.

Just now, in the backyard, as the sun rises:

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I don't know why the light is taking that form. I assume the sun is reflecting off of something. But I am fascinated by the seeming shape of a jawline and ear. 

"If she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world... That doesn't mean I don't think Serena is an incredible player..."

"I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it'd be a little higher, perhaps it'd be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she's so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke 'cause she's been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit - the men's circuit - that would be an entirely different story."

Said John McEnroe, and I guess this is making the news because 700 is so low. 

Interesting factoid: "President Donald Trump approached McEnroe 17 years ago about playing a $1 million, winner-take-all match against Venus or Serena Williams at his Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City."

I remember the "Battle of the Sexes" matches in the 1970s, with Bobby Riggs bragging tauntingly about the superiority of men and then trouncing Margaret Court. (Later, under questionable conditions, he was beaten by Billie Jean King.)

I see Margaret Court is in the news within the last month. She said: "I mean, tennis is full of lesbians because even when I was playing there was only a couple there but those couple... took young ones into parties and things. And because they liked to be around heroes and what you get at the top is often what you will get right through that sport."

Court, 74, is a Christian pastor, and she was speaking on Vision Christian Radio.

June 25, 2017

Mendota and museum.

Today, in Madison, it was not summery, but we loved it down by the lake:

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And we browsed the Samurai exhibit at the Chazen:

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"A secretive Washington firm that commissioned the dubious intelligence dossier on Donald Trump is stonewalling congressional investigators trying to learn more about its connections to the Democratic Party."

The NY Post reports.
Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources says it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump agenda....

The "Gong Show" is back, and it's terrible.

I was a big fan — possibly the biggest fan — of the original "Gong Show" (back in the 1970s). I was interested that they were reviving the show (and would have recorded it if I'd noticed when it was on). It's not easy to make a great show about being a terrible show. The original show achieved that miracle. But how can you do that again? And how can you do it 40 years later, after decades of going meta- about badness? Here, take a look:



More here, explaining the role of Mike Myers made up into a new character with a name I'd tell you if I could remember but I'm not going back to that link to find out.

"Death" framing worked so well for Republicans, so Hillary Clinton tries to deploy it for the Democratic side.

Oh, Hillary. It seems so sad. She attempts a tweet:
Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.
Will DEATH!!!! work as a political message?

The Republicans famously, successfully used "death" to reframe political issues: death tax, death panels. But those were more precise issues that really had to do with death. "Death tax" was a reframing of "estate tax," and "death panels" had to do with end-of-life medical decisionmaking.

"Death party" asks us to believe the Republican Party is happy to let us die.

I would think that crudely shouting DEATH!!!! would cause many people to turn away from the whole discussion. And for many others — especially people facing life-threatening conditions or with family members who are dying or have died — the harping on death causes pain and anxiety.

Is this the right way to try to talk to people?

"Fifty years on from the Casual Revolution, the dream of wearing shorts forever has faded."

"Frustrated by the demands of individual expression, some have begun to yearn again for a shared and public happiness. Behind their desire lies a realization that was once universal: A society hospitable to the down and out will not be afraid to dress up."

The last few sentences of "Dress Up/What We Lost in the Casual Revolution," a longish article at First Things, by G. Bruce Boyer. Gee, Bruce, I don't know. A reader sent me this link, thinking I'd be sympatico, because, you know, I've got this longstanding "men in shorts" problem. But my problem with men in shorts is that the proportions of big baggy shorts and a loose untucked shirt cause an adult man to take the form of an inflated boy, and that's not what anyone ought to think of as sexually attractive.

But that might be your message. Feel free to whole-body announce that you are not to be thought of in sexual terms. But I've taken on the mission of stating outright what the message is.

But I've got nothing against casual clothing in general. G. Bruce Boyer (pronounced Boy-YAY?) is railing against jeans and work shirts:
[T]here has been the gradual gentrification of the proletarian wardrobe since mid-century: the work-wear of what used to be known as “blue-collar” workers, clothes that included blue chambray and denim work shirts and trousers (jeans), civilian uniforms of various types (postal workers, garage mechanics, etc.), farm and range clothing, and active field-and-stream outdoor sports clothing....

How is it that we have gone from wearing suits and ties to the office to wearing T-shirts, baseball caps, and a variety of military garments and ranch hand wardrobes?...
I have zero problem with any of these clothes. The only reason a man might look more sexually attractive in a suit is if he is physically out of shape. The man's suit restructures the body into the best approximation of the ideal by building out the shoulders and disguising the belly. The suit is the reverse of the shorts: It imposes the proportions of an adult male. But if you have these proportions, visible in what G. Bruce calls "the proletarian wardrobe," the message is just fine.