Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Batch of links

- We now know more about nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which affects roughly 6% of Americans. It may have nothing to do with gluten at all and instead be related to different proteins in wheat and other grains.

- Ever wondered what Michaelangelo’s grocery list might have looked like?

- I also like this interview about how blind people cook.

- Why we should stop using the word “veggie”. (I sometimes use it out of habit, but I have to say I agree with the piece.)

- Watch these spices explode in slow motion with music – awesome video.

- Did you know that 4-MeI, found in some sodas, is a potential carcinogen? It’s often part of “caramel coloring” or “artificial coloring”. Based on the article, though, the issue isn’t just whether or not it causes cancer; the issue is that some sodas have WAY more of it than is listed on the label, and in California, that’s illegal.

- An article in Slate claims that conventional fruits and vegetables are no more harmful to children than their organic counterparts. But Civil Eats has a rebuttal. In fairness, both articles make valid points.

- Which is worse, fat or sugar? Identical twins decided to find out.

- I feel like I have to talk about the pedophilia allegations against Woody Allen. You should read Dylan Farrow’s open letter. This put me in a moral quandary, because I usually really enjoy Woody Allen’s movies and his sense of humor, but at the same time, I don’t want to be supporting a man who (allegedly) raped a 7-year-old girl. In the past, I’ve rationalized that certain things can be compartmentalized about people. For example, I’ve had university teachers who weren’t all that good at teaching, but outside the classroom, they were great people, so my overall impression of them was good. Similarly, I can strongly dislike certain aspects of a celebrity (the example I always use is that John Lennon was a drug addict, cheated on both his wives and was not a good father to his first-born) and still like others (I like his music and his activism), and then I have an overall impression (in this case, I feel positive about John Lennon overall). But the distinction here is that addiction, adultery and poor parenting are not illegal, and even though they can create victims, the effects are nowhere near as damaging as the kind of abuse suffered by children who were molested. In all fairness, Woody Allen’s guilt has not been proven, and there’s actually a really interesting article by Robert B. Weide that makes a good case against his guilt. However, the article that to me gives a clearer picture of the situation, while taking both sides into consideration, is Aaron Bady’s article in The New Inquiry. So I’m still not totally sure where I land on this whole thing, but I certainly cannot ignore the allegations.

- A really good tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

- I read a very interesting article in Time not too long ago about America’s pest problem. In a nutshell, I’ve always been under the impression that the reason we have so much wildlife here in suburbia is that we (humans) have encroached on the territories of wild animals by building further and further out. Therefore, it isn’t really the animals that are in our suburbs, it’s us who are in their territory. However, it turns out that for some animals, that simply isn’t true. Take deer, for example. We have tons of them in the area. Well, human presence has basically driven out their predators, so they have multiplied. Also take into consideration the fact that we have planted a bunch of ornamental plants that they like to eat, not to mention the people who buy bags of corn to feed them. So human presence has actually created the abundance of deer that we have now, and those deer WERE NOT THERE before the humans moved in! In light of this, humane hunting seems more acceptable to me than before…

- And as long as we’re talking about pests, here’s a cool video about fire ants: they are capable of acting both as a solid and as a liquid when they are out and about!

- A radiation physicist colorizes X-ray images of nature and the results are beautiful.

- A family is photographed every year for 18 years.

- 40 maps that will help you make sense of the world.

- I liked this quiz, What city should you actually live in? I got Portland, which really isn’t surprising.

- I may officially have to start boycotting Hobby Lobby. I like the store itself because of its great selection and, in my case, because of its extremely convenient location. Employees have good working conditions. I have no problem with the fact that its schedule (closed on Sundays) is tailored on the CEO’s religious faith. What I do have a problem with is the fact that he is unwilling to provide emergency contraception to employees as part of its health care coverage as mandated by federal law. This shouldn’t even be an issue anymore, and if Hobby Lobby shuts down over it, too bad. I’d be sorry to see them go, but I can’t support the company if it’s going to be that backwards.

- Famous movie scenes in the style of the Ottoman Empire: this is really neat.

- And finally, Neil Gaiman reads Green Eggs and Ham.


The Engineer said...

I looked at some of your links on Woody Allen. The last one contains the interesting assertion that "It works both ways, or should: if one of them has to be lying for the other to be telling the truth, then presuming the innocence of one produces a presumption of the other’s guilt. " and then it talks about "rape culture" being the assumption that Woody Allen is "the innocent one".

I thought about this for a minute, and realized the critical error in its logic. They can both, in fact, be "innocent" without any problem. Considering the age of Dylan at the time of the incident and the strong influence of her mother (who had powerful reasons to hate Woody already), it would actually be shocking to believe she is "lying". She may sincerely believe in something that happens to be a fabrication. Being in error is not a "lie". That makes her innocent, I think, of any crime if it turned out to not have happened. She would certainly not be "guilty". Therefore it is entirely possible for all the actors in this situation to be "innocent".

The piece goes on to say "you can admit that you have no basis for casting doubt on Dylan’s statement, and then you can ignore her account of herself." But in fact there is and has always been a reasonable basis to cast doubt on Dylan's statements, as explained in the other article (e.g. the video editing, the recanted and inconsistent testimony, signs of obvious coaching, and Mia's previous relationship with Woody providing a reason). This isn't "no basis".

In short, a lot of people are talking about this case, and nobody can prove anything, and the best evidence they had got them nowhere. I am loathe to accept this author's conclusion that we should simply take rape accusations as "true" because we have a "feeling" about it. To treat someone as guilty without evidence is to me a great injustice.

And finally, I grimly wonder who here has actually caused the most harm to Dylan's development. If indeed Mia's anger for Woody caused her to poison him in Dylan's mind for decades - is that harm somehow no less serious and not worthy of discussion?

Amélie said...

That's very well said. :)