Another pavlova.

My third pavlova in about as many months, and the second success of the bunch.  Kumquats, raspberries, blueberries, and mint.  I flatter myself with the notion that these are probably slightly healthier than other desserts, but really I just like the way they look and taste.

I mentioned an unsuccessful pavlova, and in addition, there was one initial unsuccessful attempt that never even became a pavlova.  Egg whites are not an easy thing to work with.


Ma po tofu

A food photograph defiantly free of glamor.  Ma po tofu is a classic szechuan dish, featuring silken tofu, chile/bean paste, and szechuan peppercorns – a fascinating spice than contains a chemical, called hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, that stimulates certain touch receptors in the mouth.  It also has baby corn, because there was a can of that on hand.

Unfortunately, the dish was too spicy for my girlfriend to eat, so I plowed through the leftovers at work, lunch after lunch.


Conspiracies without theories, theories without conspiracies, and theories about conspiracies.

A post last month on /r/slatestarcodex asked whether professors who believe in conspiracy theories should get to keep their jobs. That question seems pretty easy to me – if their beliefs interfere with their teaching, then firing or some other kind of discipline is appropriate, otherwise not. What’s more interesting to me is one of the follow-up comments:

“MKUltra, the Gulf of Tonkin, Bohemian Grove, CIA involvement with the Dalai Lama, Cigarettes causing cancer, the testomony of ‘Nayirah’ before the Gulf War, Operation Mockingbird, CIA involvement in the importation of Cocaine, The Iran-Contra affair, even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster all started as conspiracy theories.”

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Guidelines for lower back pain?

Scott Alexander wonders why we don’t have “guideline” algorithms for more difficult-to-treat problems, in addition to depression. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the internet, the first steps toward establishing something like that for back pain.

That piece cites several journal articles, including lower back pain in spaaace!, but the most important one is this literature review – gated, but free.

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Book Review: The Nurture Assumption, by Judith Rich Harris.

The Nurture Assumption isn’t quite the book I expected. Amazon tells me that customers who bought it also bought The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker, and The Bell Curve, by Charles Murray, which is what I expected. Based on that, you might expect it’s a book about how human nature is influenced by genes rather than the environment, possibly with a racist chapter or two thrown in there. But Harris is less interested in the relative influences of nature and nurture than in changing how we look at the idea of “nurture.” As Steven Pinker says in the introduction, “We all take it for granted that what doesn’t come from the genes must come from the parents.” This book is about why that assumption is wrong.

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