June 14, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 8:11 PM

Leftover Salmon On Mountain Stage (NPR, 6/14/12)

After playing a handful of concerts and embarking on several successful side projects, Leftover Salmon has reunited for its first proper tour in nearly a decade, as well as a new album titled Aquatic Hitchhiker. Before leaving for Colorado in the late 1980s, singer and founding member Vince Herman was a college student in Morgantown; the excitement he and the audience felt upon his return can be heard throughout Leftover Salmon's five-song set.

Posted by orrinj at 7:54 PM


King Arthur introduces self-rising flour (Eric Schroeder, 6/14/12, FoodBusinessNews.net

King Arthur Flour has added a new flour to its line for home bakers: King Arthur Self-Rising Flour. The flour is a soft, unbleached, southern-milled flour that is combined with aluminum-free baking powder and salt.

"Bakers, especially southern bakers, have been adamant in their requests for us to add self-rising flour to our line," said Tom Payne, marketing director for King Arthur Flour. "After careful formulation and extensive testing, the flour has launched to rave reviews."

Posted by orrinj at 5:29 AM


Eugenics, Past and Future (ROSS DOUTHAT, 6/09/12, NY Times)

[G]iven our society's track record with prenatal testing for Down syndrome, we also have a pretty good idea of what individuals and couples will do with comprehensive information about their unborn child's potential prospects. In 90 percent of cases, a positive test for Down syndrome leads to an abortion. It is hard to imagine that more expansive knowledge won't lead to similar forms of prenatal selection on an ever-more-significant scale.

Is this sort of "liberal eugenics," in which the agents of reproductive selection are parents rather than the state, entirely different from the eugenics of Fisher's era, which forced sterilization on unwilling men and women? Like so many of our debates about reproductive ethics, that question hinges on what one thinks about the moral status of the fetus.

From a rigorously pro-choice perspective, the in utero phase is a space in human development where disease and disability can be eradicated, and our impulse toward perfection given ever-freer rein, without necessarily doing any violence to human dignity and human rights.

But this is a convenient perspective for our civilization to take. Having left behind pseudoscientific racial theories, it's easy for us to look back and pass judgment on yesterday's eugenicists. It's harder to acknowledge what we have in common with them.

The Daughter had a question in 7th grade this year, after reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, where the teacher asked which side she'd have been on in the abolition debate.  She answered that she couldn't know because she doubted the Southerners thought themselves bad people even if they supported slavery, so, maybe if she'd been one of them she'd have shared their views.  The teacher didn't like it.

Posted by orrinj at 5:06 AM


Romney Scaling the Blue Wall (Josh Kraushaar, June 13, 2012, National Journal) 

For much of the presidential campaign, President Obama's top strategists have outlined their numerous paths to 270 electoral votes: win Florida, sweep the Southwest, or pick off a Southern state or two. But they didn't prepare for the possibility that working-class white voters in the Rust Belt could abandon the president en masse, throwing his well-laid plans into disarray.

With the economy struggling to pick up steam, three must-win "blue-wall" states are looking increasingly winnable for the Romney campaign: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Both election results (from the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall) and reputable polling show that all three states are shaping up to be highly competitive, and that both campaigns will be devoting significant resources there.

Posted by orrinj at 5:01 AM


Obama loses veneer of deniabilty with intelligence leaks (Richard Cohen, 6/12/12, Washington Post)

Pity the poor Obama administration leakers. They impart their much-cherished secrets to make their man look good and then, at the first chirp of criticism, are ordered to confess their (possible) crimes by the very same president they were seeking to please. In this, they are a bit like the male praying mantis. He does as asked, and then the female bites his head off.

What is remarkable about the recent leaks is the coincidence -- it can only be that -- that they all made the president look good, heroic, decisive, strong and even a touch cruel; born, as the birthers long suspected, not in Hawaii -- but possibly on the lost planet Krypton. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:32 AM


Karl Storchmann reports from the front: French wines vs. Jersey wines (Tyler Cowen, June 13, 2012, Marginal Revolution)

At the Princeton tasting, led by George Taber, 9 wine judges from France, Belgium and the U.S. tasted French against New Jersey [TC: that's the New Jersey] wines. The French wines selected were from the same producers as in 1976 including names such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Haut Brion, priced up to $650/bottle. New Jersey wines for the competition were submitted to an informal panel of judges, who then selected the wines for the competition. These judges were not eligible to taste wines at the final competition The results were similarly surprising. Although, the winner in each category was a French wine (Clos de Mouches for the whites and Mouton-Rothschild for the reds) NJ wines are at eye level. Three of the top four whites were from New Jersey. The best NJ red was ranked place 3. An amazing result given that the prices for NJ average at only 5% of the top French wines.

A statistical evaluation of the tasting, conducted by Princeton Professor Richard Quandt, further shows that the rank order of the wines was mostly insignificant. That is, if the wine judges repeated the tasting, the results would most likely be different. From a statistically viewpoint, most wines were undistinguishable.