Thursday, December 08, 2016
Robert McCrum in The Guardian:
A Room of One’s Own is both a landmark in feminist thought and a rhetorical masterpiece, which started life as lectures to the literary societies of Newnham and Girton Colleges, Cambridge, in October 1928. It was then published by the Hogarth Press in 1929 in a revised and expanded edition that has never been out of print. Barely 40,000 words long, addressed to audiences of female students in the hothouse atmosphere of interwar creativity, this became an unforgettable and passionate assertion of women’s creative originality by one of the great writers of the 20th century. Ironically, she herself never favoured the term “feminist”.
Virginia Woolf, no question, transformed the English literary landscape. But how, exactly? Was it through modernist innovation (Mrs Dalloway; To the Lighthouse)? Or flirting outrageously with historical fiction (Orlando)? Or in the provocative argument – in part a response to EM Forster’s Aspects of the Novel – of a book like A Room of One’s Own? Well, all of the above. As many critics have noted, Woolf’s writings – from letters and diaries to novels, essays and lectures – are of a piece. Open any one of her books and it’s as though you have just stepped inside, and possibly interrupted, a fierce internal monologue about the world of literature. Woolf herself assists this response. “But, you may say, we asked you to speak…” is the opening line to A Room of One’s Own that backs its author into the limelight of an initially rambling, but finally urgent, polemic. “England is under the rule of a patriarchy,” she declares on about page 30, and then proceeds to lay bare the structure of male privilege and female exclusion – from independence, income and education.
At first, she masks the narrator of her argument in the guise of several fictional Marys: Mary Beton, Mary Seton or Mary Carmichael, an allusion to a 16th-century ballad about a woman hanged for rejecting marriage and motherhood. This “Mary” narrator identifies female writers such as herself as outsiders committed to jeopardy.
Quite soon, however, Woolf seems to abandon this contrivance. Now she is on fire, writing in her own voice: “One might go even further and say that women have burnt like beacons in all the works of all the poets from the beginning of time – Clytemnestra, Antigone, Cleopatra, Lady Macbeth, Phèdre, Cressida, Rosalind, Desdemona, the Duchess of Malfi, among the dramatists; then among the prose writers: Millamant, Clarissa, Becky Sharp, Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, Madame de Guermantes – the names flock to mind, nor do they recall women ‘lacking in personality and character’. Indeed, if woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance; very various; heroic and mean; splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a man, some think even greater. But this is woman in fiction. In fact … she was locked up, beaten and flung about the room.
Robert F. Service:
It has been nearly impossible to get a good look at Rommie Amaro's favorite protein in action. Called p53, the protein sounds the alarm to kill cells with DNA damage and prevent them from becoming cancerous—one reason why it has been called the "guardian of the genome." But it is big and floppy, a molecular shapeshifter that is hard to follow with standard imaging tools. So Amaro, a computational biologist at the University of California (UC), San Diego, turned to supercomputers. She plugged in new x-ray snapshots of p53 fragments and beefed up her program to make a movie of the quivering activity of each of the protein's 1.6 million atoms over a full microsecond, an eternity on the atomic scale that required about a month of supercomputer time. She watched as four copies of p53 linked up and wrapped themselves around a DNA strand, an essential dance the protein performs before it sends off messages for cellular self-destruction.
Amaro wasn't just interested in the behavior of healthy p53: She wanted to understand the effects of mutations that the gene for p53 is prone to. In dozens of simulations, she and her colleagues tracked how common p53 mutations further destabilize the already floppy protein, distorting it and preventing it from binding to DNA. Some simulations also revealed something else: a fingerhold for a potential drug. Once in a while, a small cleft forms in the mutated protein's core. When Amaro added virtual drug molecules into her models, the compounds lodged in that cleft, stabilizing p53 just enough to allow it to resume its normal functions. For Amaro and a few other researchers, those computer simulations are an inspiration. "A long-standing dream of cancer biology is to find small molecule drug compounds to restore the activity of p53," Amaro says. "We're very excited about this."
The Morning’s News by Wendell Berry
To moralize the state, they drag out a man,
and bind his hands, and darken his eyes
with a black rag to be free of the light in them,
and tie him to a post, and kill him.
And I am sickened by the complicity in my race.
To kill in hot savagery like a beast
is understandable. It is forgivable and curable.
But to kill by design, deliberately, without wrath,
that is the sullen labor that perfects Hell.
The serpent is gentle, compared to man.
It is man, the inventor of cold violence,
death as waste, who has made himself lonely
among the creatures, and set himself aside,
so that he cannot work in the sun with hope,
or sit at peace in the shade of any tree.
The morning’s news drives sleep out of the head
at night. Uselessness and horror hold the eyes
open to the dark. Weary, we lie awake
in the agony of the old giving birth to the new
without assurance that the new will be better.
I look at my son, whose eyes are like a young god’s,
they are so open to the world.
I look at my sloping fields now turning
green with the young grass of April. What must I do
to go free? I think I must put on
a deathlier knowledge, and prepare to die
rather than enter into the design of man’s hate.
I will purge my mind of the airy claims
of church and state. I will serve the earth
and not pretend my life could better serve.
Another morning comes with its strange cure.
The earth is news. Though the river floods
And the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer’s garden continues its descent
through me, toward the ground.
by Wendell Berry
from Farming- a Handbook
Harcourt Brace, 1970
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Rajat Singh in Literary Hub:
During unspeakably dark moments, where do we turn? To facts? Beliefs? Or to someplace else? Facts organize the world, which we go mad to control. When we cling to our beliefs out of fear, they in turn dull our minds. But poetry, specifically that of the revolutionary poet, can both soothe our disquiet and awaken us to our complacency. Within the revolutionary poet’s words lies the potential not only to speak of our discontents, but also to bring us together, move us to action, and help us imagine how to create new futures.
This past month, we have been taking stock of the catastrophic loss that Donald Trump’s triumph has hollowed out among our nation’s people of color, among its minorities, among those who fear their further disenfranchisement and loss of voice. The night of the election, as I crawled into bed, unsure of what kind of America I’d wake up to, a slim volume of translated poems lay on my bedside table: verses written by the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
In 1947, the British, hastening to grant the people of the Indian subcontinent their independence, split the region of Punjab between Hindus and Muslims so that each religious group could have their own state: India and Pakistan. Faiz documented the Indian subcontinent in the throes of uncertainty, tension, and horrific violence. Since the election, his poems, both nourishing and rousing, have kept me company as I’ve struggled to find words to articulate my anger, grief, and indignation at the nightmarish reality that awaits us.
UNDERSTANDING THE OTHER SIDE: Only a fraction of the articles we post are normally about politics but it is also true that the editors of 3QD are all (to a person) liberal progressives and none of us supported or voted for Donald Trump. In the interest of dialogue and trying to understand the conservative point of view better, I have decided to start occasionally posting relatively well-argued articles from the right side of the political spectrum. Some of these are sent to me by friends who did vote for Trump. (And, yes, I have such friends and hope you do too.) Trust me, it will not hurt you to read them. I hope that people will keep the comments civil and focused on the issues, and not engage in ad hominem attacks.
Jason Tucker and Jason VandenBeukel in C2C Journal:
Can you give us a brief background of your academic career and your interests?
For the first two years of my undergraduate degree I studied Political Science and English Literature. I was very interested in politics, but what I was learning in economics and political science was just not correct. There was too much emphasis placed on the idea that economic interests were the prime motivators for human beings, and that was not obvious to me at all. I was spending a lot of time thinking about the Cold War, and the Cold War was not primarily an economic issue. So I started taking psychology, and I was interested in clinical psychology. I did my PhD under Dr. Robert Pihl, and I worked on drug abuse, alcoholism, and aggression – there was a heavy biological emphasis. I did my post-doc with Dr. Pihl, and Maurice Dongier. Then I taught at Harvard for six years, and I’ve been at the University of Toronto ever since then.
My primary interest has always been the psychology of belief. Partly religious belief, and ideology as a sub-category of religious belief. One of Jung’s propositions was that whatever a person values most highly is their god. If people think they are atheistic, it means is they are unconscious of their gods. In a sophisticated religious system, there is a positive and negative polarity. Ideologies simplify that polarity and, in doing so, demonize and oversimplify. I got interested in ideology, in a large part, because I got interested in what happened in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the Cultural Revolution in China, and equivalent occurrences in other places in the world. Mostly I concentrated on Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. I was particularly interested in what led people to commit atrocities in service of their belief. The motto of the Holocaust Museum in Washington is “we must never forget.” I’ve learned that you cannot remember what you don’t understand. People don’t understand the Holocaust, and they don’t understand what happened in Russia. I have this course called “Maps of Meaning,” which is based on a book I wrote by the same name, and it outlines these ideas. One of the things that I’m trying to convince my students of is that if they had been in Germany in the 1930s, they would have been Nazis. Everyone thinks “Not me,” and that’s not right. It was mostly ordinary people who committed the atrocities that characterized Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Part of the reason I got embroiled in this [gender identity] controversy was because of what I know about how things went wrong in the Soviet Union. Many of the doctrines that underlie the legislation that I’ve been objecting to share structural similarities with the Marxist ideas that drove Soviet Communism. The thing I object to the most was the insistence that people use these made up words like ‘xe’ and ‘xer’ that are the construction of authoritarians. There isn’t a hope in hell that I’m going to use their language, because I know where that leads.
Video length: 5:07
In June 1948, as part of their occasional, comradely exchange of erotic literature, Wilson sent Nabokov a 106-page document, “Confession Sexuelle d’un Russe du Sud,” which the psychologist Havelock Ellis had appended to the sixth volume of the French edition of his Studies of Sexual Psychology. Deemed to be an authentic document, the memoir recounted the sexual odyssey of a young, wealthy Ukrainian who lost his virginity at the age of twelve, having been seduced both by girls his age and by older women. Knocked off the path of conventional education by his sexual compulsion, the narrator rights himself as a young man and obtains an engineering degree and a respectable fiancée in Italy. Alas, during a business trip, fate conspires to introduce him to Naples’ worldly and aggressive corps of teenage prostitutes. He becomes addicted to their services, succumbs to the compulsions of his youth, and sees his marital prospects disappear. The confession ends on a note of despair: “He sees no hope of ever mastering his drives in the future,” according to Simon Karlinsky, who researched the Ellis connection in detail.
We know that Nabokov read the Ellis tale closely, because he referred to it twice, once inSpeak, Memory and a second time, in greater detail, when he translated and reeditedSpeak, Memory as Drugiye Berega [Other Shores], into Russian.
The Moth Snowstorm is one of the few books I know that tries to grasp how the thinning of nature changes our experience of the natural world. The book takes its name from a visual illusion that has disappeared in England: the way the headlights of a speeding car on a summer night turned moths flying above the roadway into a blizzard of insects. When that happened, McCarthy notes, “the true startling scale of their numbers was suddenly apparent.” People in their fifties and older remember the moth snowstorm vividly, once they’re reminded of it, “as if it were locked away in a corner of their minds.”
The memory of the insect whiteouts seems extraordinary now, but in those days “it just seemed part of the way things were.” This is the trick that time and human nature always play on us. The way things are—no matter how they are—quickly comes to seem normal. It’s as unremarkable not to see moth snowstorms now as it once was to see them. As a species, we too are passing through the bottleneck of the present. It’s stunning to realize that the ampleness of nature in 1970, however you measure it, isn’t even a memory for most Americans. For every generation, nature seems full enough no matter how empty it becomes.
“Even more than the single species,” McCarthy writes, “it’s the loss of abundance itself I mourn.” But it’s a mistake to think of this lost abundance happening only in the past, beyond the memory of youth, as ancient as the plight of the American bison.
A SPECTER is haunting the Levant — the specter of Hobbes.
As the democratic upheavals that swept the Arab world in 2011 have given way to bloodshed and instability, Western mavens are reverting to old verities. The Arab world is “not ready for democracy” they say. To restore order, to contain passions, and, above all, to protect the West from the twin dangers of terror and migration, the Arab world will need its Leviathans. For most of the post-colonial era, friendly autocrats had protected the West from these threats; they are being called into service again. If dungeons and dictators are the price of security, they reason, at least the costs are borne by others.
The United States’s dalliance with “democracy promotion” was brief and had already ended in Iraq by 2010. The Arab Spring was a blip. In Iraq, despite Nouri al-Maliki’s determined effort to shape the outcome of the 2010 parliamentary elections, his sectarian bloc had secured fewer seats than a cross-sectarian alliance led by Iyad Allawi. In a surprise move, the US government backed Maliki to serve as prime minster for a second term. “Iraq is not ready for democracy,” General Ray Odierno was told by Chris Hill, an Obama Administration official, “[it] needs a Shia strongman.”
Moyers and Winship in billmoyers.com:
My Fellow Americans:
On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. As mandated by our Constitution, he received a majority of the votes in the Electoral College and thus for the next four years will be given the powers and responsibilities of our nation’s chief executive. But I believe that I, too, have a mandate, one given to me by the 65 million of you who supported me over Donald Trump in the popular vote, some 2.6 million votes more than he received. If we are to continue as a democracy, for the next four years and beyond, those voices cannot stay silent. I urge every one of you who voted for me to help express that mandate and make sure our voices are heard. As each of them comes up for re-election, we will field candidates to run against Donald Trump and his friends in Congress and the statehouses, and we will run against them hard. But until then, let us prepare by joining together as a movement and creating the constituency of what will be, in effect, a shadow government — one that will serve to track and respond to every single bad action undertaken by the Trump administration and its monolithic Congress.
This shadow government will forthrightly express its opposition to such actions and not only call them out as the damaging policy they are, but also offer constructive alternatives that we believe will serve and advance the proper agenda for our nation. No proposal or executive action will go unanswered. We’ll even voice support if it’s warranted — but I fear so far there is little evidence that will be the case. Historically, this follows the British tradition of a shadow government created by the party in opposition that monitors the ruling party and creates greater transparency, encouraging an honest dialogue based on facts and a thorough knowledge of history and policy. Our shadow government will reflect the experience and knowledge of a core group of men and women who understand how policy is made in Washington, but it will also call on the wisdom and experience of elected mayors, state legislators, public servants, activists and organizers who know the needs of our municipalities, counties and states across the country. I propose that for every Cabinet officer named by Donald Trump and confirmed by the United States Senate, we in the opposition will have a shadow cabinet member who will monitor the work of that department and comment as needed.
Barbara Kiser in Nature:
The nature of materials is being rethought. Bio-materials such as fungal webs (mycelium) can be used to ‘grow’ bricks, pots and even dresses on wood-chip, clay or textile frames. Amsterdam-based ecodesigner Maurizio Montalti of Officina Corpuscoli described how, after working with University of Utrecht microbiologists on scaling up these fungal creations, his studio began to look more like a lab. University College London materials scientist Mark Miodownik invoked a future devoid of roadworks if self-healing asphalt becomes reality. The Anthropocene offers new geologically inspired materials. ‘Fordite’, or ‘detroit agate’, is made from fine layers of hardened car paint and can be cut and polished like semi-precious stone. We may one day dig up deposits of ‘bone marble’, retrieved from the metamorphosed skeletons of culled farm animals. The fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world, but sportswear company Adidas is scooping waste plastics out of the ocean to make its knitted footwear.
Crafts people are sensitive to people’s emotional responses to materials and objects. Yet few designers are included in research teams examining interactions between robots and humans, for example. Caroline Yan Zheng from London’s Royal College of Art is using soft robotics to make wall panels and accessories that swell or reshape in response to facial emotions. People tell her they find them comforting; one day they might be used to promote calm in hospitals. Surgery is a craft – you don’t want your operation done by someone who has only read a book. Richard Arm from Nottingham Trent University brought in gorily realistic models of parts of the thoracic cavity that he has been making in silicone for surgeons to train on – complete with slimy finish, spurting arteries and the slash across the chest for you to dig your hand into. But introducing design innovations into the healthcare sector is difficult, Jeremy Myerson from the Royal College of Art noted; the sector is risk averse. His redesigned ambulance interior reduces the time it takes for paramedics to treat a patient’s wounds, by giving them better access to the patient and equipment. Yet, despite running it through ‘clinical trials’ successfully, it has yet to be taken up.
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Nikil Saval in n + 1:
The "NO" vote triumph is being assimilated in the Anglo-American press to the broad journalistic narrative of “anti-establishment populist revolt.” But the message to be derived from it is distinct from the votes for Brexit, or for Trump; for once this year (twice, if you include the narrow escape in Austria), a vote brings good news.
The campaign for Italian constitutional reform was characterized by lies, wishful fantasies, and projections. Immensely complicated and virtually incomprehensible as a written document, the constitutional reform had nonetheless a simple goal: to eliminate an entire chamber of the legislature and reduce the proportional representation of Italian voters, and thereby increase the power of the centrist parties and the prime minister, on the idea that it would make Italian governance easier. The details of the referendum were hashed out by Silvio Berlusconi and the vacuous puffin Matteo Renzi, current leader of the centrist Democratic Party (PD), before the latter had even entered Parliament.
The nature of the support made it obvious who expected to benefit. “Basta un sì” was pushed by Confindustria, the major business federation; JP Morgan; Wolfgang Schäuble; Jean-Claude Juncker; Sergio Marchionne; Barack Obama. (Berlusconi, cannily, turned against his own deal, once he recognized that its passage would tilt forces away from the Right in favor of Renzi.)
Sheherzad Preisler in Nautilus:
In May this year, Curtis Cetrulo, a plastic-reconstructive surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, performed the first penis transplant in the United States. Previously his patient, Thomas Manning, 64, had most of his penis amputated to stem penis cancer, a rare form of the disease. Since the transplant, Manning has received a wave of media attention, and been a remarkably good sport about it. After the amputation, he told the New York Times, “I couldn’t have a relationship with anybody. You can’t tell a woman, ‘I had a penis amputation.’”
Cetrulo is thankful that Manning has been so good-natured about the media attention . “He’s doing it because he wants people to realize there’s some hope, despite the fact that no one’s talking about it,” Cetrulo says. And they should be. “The penile transplant-seeking patient population is desperate,” Cetrulo says. According to Cetrulo, more than 1,500 soldiers have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan who are awaiting penile transplants.
We spoke to Cetrulo about Manning’s operation, how Manning’s faring, and about the future of penis-transplant surgery.
How did you get involved in transplanting penises?
We had done a hand transplant here in 2012, and I was presenting that case in our transplant rounds when two people approached me and asked if this was possible for penile transplants.
Phil Torres in Motherboard (at Vice):
Motherboard: Trump has repeatedly painted an apocalyptic picture of contemporary America. He has talked about (black) people getting shot while walking down the street, about terrorists disguising themselves as refugeesfleeing the atrocities of Syria, and about Mexico sending its “criminals” and “rapists” across the southern border. Could you briefly explain why this characterization of the contemporary US is factually wrong?
Steven Pinker: Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for newsreaders to believe that apocalyptic picture. The news media give lavish coverage to violent incidents, seldom follow up on negative reportage in the past, and rarely put events in statistical or historical perspective. Worse, they allow themselves to be played by violence impresarios, namely terrorists and rampage killers, who correctly anticipate that they can attract the world’s attention by killing a number of innocent people at once. This is true not just of tabloids and cable news chasing eyeballs and clicks, but of high-quality outlets who feel that by highlighting what goes wrong, they are discharging their duty as watchdogs, muckrakers, and afflicters of the comfortable.
The facts are as follows. The rate of violent crime is lower now than it was at any time between 1966 and 2009. Immigrants have a lower rate of violent crime than American citizens. Terrorists kill just three-tenths of one percent of all American homicide victims. The rate of death from terrorism in the United States was higher in the early 1970s than it is today. And since 2002, more Americans have been killed by right-wing American terrorists than by Islamic terrorists. It’s true that the rate of violent crime went up between 2014 and 2015, most likely a consequence of the retreat of active policing since Ferguson. But it’s a small uptick in the context of the massive downward trend since 1992.
Video length: 3:53
I know this sounds crazy—believe me, I know—but I just saw 19 Errol Flynn movies in a row (from Captain Blood, the 1935 film that made him instantly famous, to 1953’s The Master of Ballantrae, his last decent film and good performance before he died in 1959, only 50 years old), and I just read all three of the books he wrote, and I have read an awful lot written and said about him by other people.
One, Errol Flynn is one of the greatest actors I have ever seen, and I have been utterly absorbed in movies and movie actors since I was five years old when my sister took me to a movie theater for the first time (to see the new hit The Swiss Family Robinson). I am no professional critic, I am no scholar, but anyone who has seen thousands of actors in maybe 2,000 films has an informed opinion beyond his own taste.
Two, Flynn’s colorful life off screen—as dashing lover, epic seducer, irrepressible rake, suave man-about-town, innocent defendant in a spurious rape trial (the charges trumped up by a corrupt Los Angeles Police Department furious at Warner Bros. for not paying the usual bribe), legendary imbiber, and penniless star who lived his last years cruising the world on his boat—overshadows the superb acting he did on screen.
Contrary to what, Googling around, you might assume, obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. “There is a bone in my prick six inches long. I will ream out every wrinkle in your cunt.” Those sentences are from the opening pages of Henry Miller’s first novel, “Tropic of Cancer,” which was published in France in 1934. Are they obscene? It took thirty years, but American courts eventually decided that they are not, and therefore the book they appear in cannot be banned. To get to that result, judges had to ignore the usual understanding of “obscene”—most people probably think that if “cunt” isn’t obscene, what is?—and invent a new definition for constitutional purposes. But the decision changed the way books, and, soon afterward, movies and music, are created, sold, and consumed. Depending on your point of view, it either lowered the drawbridge or opened the floodgates.
“Tropic of Cancer” is not a verbal artifact to everyone’s taste, but it made a deep impression on two people in a position to advance its fortunes. The first was Jack Kahane. Kahane was born in 1887 in Manchester, the son of Romanian Jews who had settled in the North of England and made, then lost, a fortune in the textile business. He was a Francophile, and, when the First World War broke out, in 1914, he went off to France to fight for civilization. He was gassed and badly wounded in the trenches at Ypres. But he had fallen in love with a Frenchwoman, Marcelle Girodias, from a well-off family; they married in 1917, and remained in France. In 1929, he decided to go into the book business.
He had plenty of company. Between the wars, Paris was home to many English-language presses. There were two basic types. The first specialized in modernist writers.
I became utterly in thrall to London. I wanted nothing more than to think of myself as legitimate there. To be real. To be a “Londoner,” or at least to be able to say, “I live in London.” I kept dwelling on the vague temporal qualifications each of these identities required. How long till you’re living there, and not just visiting? Is it three months? Six? How long till you’re a “Londoner”? Is it five years? Seven? Or do you have to be from there? I attempted rampant assimilation. Having pointedly refused anything but instant coffee in all my days, I became a filter coffee convert, in the way of my new people. I felt an immense satisfaction and sense of belonging when I could publicly cling to a paper coffee cup.
After a few months, my best friend arrived from Johannesburg. The year before we had declared that we were going to do this together: Big Ben, Beatles, pounds, center-of-everything, discover-the-world. We found our own place: it had bay windows; or, more accurately, it was a bay window. The space probably began life as a reading nook or something, back when there was enough London to go around, but by the time we showed up it had been transformed into a stand-alone studio. Likely it’s been subdivided again since then. We practiced, in these first efforts at running our own home, forgoing every imaginable tenet of domestic hygiene, without incident.
We stayed in the same room, we read the same books out loud to each other, and a few weeks in we managed to find the same job.
Roni Caryn Rabin in The New York Times:
Protein has achieved a venerated status in the dietary world for everything from building muscle to preventing weight gain. But can you get too much of a good thing? Protein powders that come in chocolate, strawberry, and cookies and cream flavors are doled out by the scoopful and mixed into smoothies, making it possible to effortlessly consume protein in amounts that far exceed dietary recommendations. A canned protein drink can contain almost as much protein as an eight-ounce steak, and snack bars or a small bag of protein chips can pack more of the macronutrient than a three-egg omelet. But while some nutritionists have encouraged the protein craze, a number of experts are urging caution. They point out that protein powders and supplements, which come from animal products like whey and casein (byproducts of cheese manufacturing) or from plants like soy, rice, pea or hemp, are a relatively new invention. The vast majority of Americans already get more than the recommended daily amounts of protein from food, they say, and there are no rigorous long-term studies to tell us how much protein is too much. “It’s an experiment,” said Dr. John E. Swartzberg, chairman of the editorial board of the University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter. “No one can tell you the long-term effects, and that’s what worries me as a physician. No one can tell you what the results are going to be in people’s bodies 10 or 15 years later.” People need sufficient protein in the diet because it supplies indispensable amino acids that our bodies cannot synthesize on their own. Together they provide the essential building blocks used to make and maintain muscle, bone, skin and other tissues and an array of vital hormones and enzymes.
But the average adult can achieve the recommended intake — 46 grams of protein a day for women, and 56 grams for men — by eating moderate amounts of protein-rich foods like meat, fish, dairy products, beans or nuts every day. There are about 44 grams of protein in a cup of chopped chicken, 20 grams in a cup of tofu or serving of Greek yogurt, and 18 grams in a cup of lentils or three eggs. American men already consume much greater amounts, averaging nearly 100 grams of protein a day, according to a 2015 analysis of the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January, cautioned that some people, especially teenage boys and adult men, should “reduce overall intake of protein foods” and eat more vegetables.
Monday, December 05, 2016
by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse
Still reeling from the unexpected outcome of the US presidential election, commentators understandably have begun diagnosing the political and intellectual condition of the country. One assessment that has been gaining traction especially among Left-leaning intellectuals is that, in electing Mr. Trump to the Presidency, the United States has embraced a "post-truth" politics. Though quickly becoming a predominant theme of political commentary, as yet the term does not have a unified meaning. Arguably, it refers instead to a several related but distinct phenomena. But if the term is going to serve any useful diagnostic function, it is necessary to disambiguate its central uses.
Most commonly, "post-truth" is employed to mark the fact that apparently a large segment of the electorate holds that although Ms. Clinton's alleged dishonesty disqualifies her for office, Mr. Trump's dozens of demonstrable lies, deceptions, and whole-cloth fabrications are acceptable, if not positively admirable. That is, our politics has become "post-truth" in that lying and dissembling no longer necessarily count against a politician. But when one regards lying as disqualifying only for one's political opponents, one reveals that one's concern isn't really with truth telling at all. One is appealing to truth in a strictly opportunistic way.
A second deployment of "post-truth" is closely related, though more radical. It concerns the newfound force of unrelenting denial. When caught in a lie or fabrication, Mr. Trump's leading tactic is to flatly deny that he ever said the lying or fabricated thing that, provably, he said. This goes beyond President Bill Clinton's infamously tortured semantics concerning "the meaning of ‘is'." Here, Trump embraces the view of Humpty Dumpty, whose words mean whatever he at any moment declares them to mean. When meaning is fixed wholly by the speaker's will, what the speaker has said is no long evaluable by anyone but the speaker himself. Hence our politics is post-truth not only in that lying, and even asserting falsehood, is conceptually impossible. There could be no such thing as lying for those who, like Carrol's egg, refuse to be mastered by words, even by their own words.
by Jonathan Kujawa
On the occasion of Richard Guy's 100th birthday.
Human beings have a talent for spotting patterns. No doubt this was handy in our early days. If both Ug and Oka were violently ill after eating purple berries from a particular bush, our clan was well served to notice and avoid those berries in the future. If anything, evolution encourages us to be overly quick to infer patterns. Better safe than sorry. No need for a double blind, randomized trial with a large sample size when life and death are on the line.
Our keen sense for what is random and what is not works both for and against us. After all, as we saw last month, it was Pick's keen eye for patterns which lead him to discover his beautiful formula. For an easier example, let's write down the first few numbers of the Fibonacci sequence:
It only takes a minute to spot the rule used to generate these numbers. With a little more time we can even guess exactly which ones are even and which ones are odd .
Now imagine I tell you that I flipped two coins twenty-one times and got:
Coin A: TTTTHTTHHTTHTTTTHHHTT,
Coin B: HTTHTTHTTHTTHTTHTTHTT.
You would have to be an awfully trusting person to believe that both are fair coins and that I faithfully flipped and recorded the results. Our pattern seeking brain notices the regularity of Coin B. It violates our sense of what a "random" sequence of coin flips should look like. Mathematically we know each string of coins flips is equally likely. But even the most steely mathematician would be hard pressed to bet against Coin B next coming up heads.
A great icebreaker on the first day of teaching is to ask the students generate two lists of 100 coin flips: one by flipping a real coin and one by hand. Even though they do this while the instructor is out of the room, the instructor invariably can identify which is list is which. The secret is to look for long runs of heads, tails, or other patterns (like Coin B). Since all outcomes are equally likely to the coin it will happily generate strings of heads in a row. Human brains, however, notice such patterns and veto them in their effort to fake a random sequence of heads and tails. There is a running joke on this theme in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
when words make love sentences are born
the world’s heft is changed by the weight of nouns,
the hesitations of hyphens and commas,
like the space between breaths,
tell the rhythm of what’s new and what’s been,
the dead stops of periods spell the end of what a breath holds,
adjectives, like the blood blush of infants
color clauses, articles wrap things in skin,
pronouns, unlike the particular names of new beings,
often identify the generalities of their forms by inclusion,
by saying, “We,” suggesting that mine and thine share,
and verbs are the darting eyes of fresh life,
the spastic gestures of unfamiliarity, the random smiles
that pass in the features of infants, sudden, uncalled-for
and of course the cautious steps of the old
reaching for footholds that once came naturally,
without thought, before the foreshadows of final words
by Daniel Ranard
—A.R. Ammons, in Guide
The world is usually grasped by its pieces. We may speak of a "holistic" perspective, but it's hard to understand all of a thing at once, or even to talk about it all at once. So we delineate pieces within the whole; we analyze the pieces and their interactions. For instance, to understand the recent political changes in the United States, it is uninformative to treat society monolithically. On the other hand, it's impossible to consider the disparate lives of every citizen at once. Instead, we delineate groups within the whole of society – political groups, racial groups, geographic groups – and discuss their interplay. Some delineations are more useful than others; it's probably difficult to understand the 2016 election in terms of cat- and dog-lovers. And all delineations share some degree of blurriness or arbitrariness: race is already a blurry construction, and though it may be crystallized in a bureaucratic form, the distinction only makes it more arbitrary. Through these delineations, we come to understand the otherwise formless and chaotic world and even to create our experience within it.
Imagine viewing all of human history as a video on fast-forward; observed all at once, you see only the tangled scurrying human beings. You cannot usefully describe what you see, nor guess what might happen next. But to the historian, history is not formless, though it may require hard work and ingenuity to find the right units of analysis. The traditional divisions of global society into self-described nation states and political institutions may serve you well, but new divisions may also be informative. In What is Global History?, Sebastian Conrad outlines the view that historians must not "accept political entities a priori as the boundaries of analysis, but instead trace the actual scope of entanglements and interconnections and work form there." For instance, Marx chose to analyze history as an interplay of social classes. New perspectives might require more than the simple re-organization of people into different groups; historians might also invent new abstractions, such as the concept of capital, that help organize their observations.
These abstractions can be world-changing and world-making. That is, we live in the world of our chosen abstractions, which shape our narratives about ourselves and society. Although we choose these delineations and abstractions ourselves, I would not draw the radical conclusion that all choices are equal, or that the world is anything we make of it. Some choices are more useful, or maybe also more true or beautiful.
“Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design”, current exhibition at The Jewish Museum, New York.
"Commenting on Chareau’s work and the exhibition design, DS+R’s (exhibition design) founding partner, Elizabeth Diller, noted, “Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design is an opportunity to return to a significant figure in every architect’s education, but one primarily known through only one masterwork, the Maison de Verre. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see so much of Chareau’s creative output brought together in one place. The challenge in undertaking its design was to provide a multi-faceted and imaginative backdrop that would highlight, but not compete with, his exceptional mastery of detailing and assemblage. By engaging with Chareau’s furniture, interiors, and collected ephemera, we are able to absorb and represent his idiosyncratic voice, which has had relatively little exposure in the U.S.'"
by Olivia Zhu
A month ago, I wrote about haikus that wended their way through the Internet and found me. Really, truly—I hadn’t gone looking for them, had read them casually, and thought I might forget them. “And yet, and yet…” Chiyo-ni’s and Issa’s haikus kept nagging at me, so I looked for the translations that spoke most to me and wrote about them. Their mark lingers still, though, and when I passed by a used copy of Harold G. Henderson’s An Introduction to Haiku: An Anthology of Poems and Poets from Bashō to Shiki in a bookstore, I had to pick it up.
Relatively speaking, it’s quite an old book on haiku. Published in 1958, it now appears to be out of print—so I really felt quite fortunate stumbling across as a clueless neophyte. It’s so old that inflation dictated I pay almost double the $1.45 that’s listed on the duck-decorated paperback cover, even in the book’s well-loved condition—still well worth it, of course. From what little I’ve read online, it seems likely that Henderson might have contributed to initial interest in haiku in America, as he helped found the Haiku Society of America and published some of the earliest English-language works on Japanese haiku.