Category Archive 'Uncategorized'
30 Aug 2016

Lots of Trigger Warnings

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trigger-warning1

Toni Airaksinen lists some of the trigger warnings she’s encountered these days at Barnard.

As a student at Barnard, a private women’s college in Manhattan, I come across trigger warnings daily. Most often, I see them in campus Facebook groups, but occasionally too in campus magazines or during in-class conversations.

Online, where I encounter them most frequently, these warnings take the form of captions at the top of posts. They say “trigger warning” or “content warning,” or simply, “tw” or “cw.”

Here are some of the topics I’ve recently seen trigger warnings on. (And no, trigger warnings aren’t given ironically. To do so would be insensitive, you jerk.)

Pokemon GO

PokemonHuh? Pokemon GO is problematic? Yes, of course it is. Everything is problematic. But why? Well, some people believe Pokemon GO is a racist and classist game. Not only that, but people have alleged that it’s ableist, too. So much for “it’s just a game.” (Pictured, screenshot of actual trigger warning)

U.S. Constitution

I did a double take when I saw “tw: constitution” placed on a post rejoicing the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The logic is simple: the U.S. is, according to some students and professors, a tyrannical and colonialistic empire founded via the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans. For students, particularly those of color, the Constitution needs a trigger warning because it could prompt thoughts of oppression, persecution, genocide, and other social ills.

‘White men’

Contemporary feminism deems men as oppressors and threats. And in the hierarchy of oppressors, white men sit atop the food chain. So not only do I come across trigger warnings on posts about men — what they’ve said or done — but I also saw this one: “TW: white men” — used on an article on fraternity brothers behaving badly.

Donald Trump

At my school, contempt for conservatives is de rigueur. Anyone to the political right is considered not just bad, but dangerous. Thus, mentions of politicians such as Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Paul Ryan, or conservative values (such as gun rights), often come with a trigger warning attached. For example, it’s not uncommon to see a news article with something Donald Trump said tagged with “trigger warning: Trump, racism.”

The Police

Need I say more? I live in New York City; whenever the police are spotted on campus, my timeline erupts in trigger warnings. Statuses such as “Trigger warning: Just seen on Broadway Ave and 116th Street, NYPD vans. Stay inside!” are common. Police are associated with police brutality, racism, and the historical legacy of black oppression in America.

Traditional Gender Roles

The traditional male/female binary is oppressive, according to far-left logic. It limits women, we’re told. So, any references to gender roles can be hurtful. For example, it may be triggering to ask a female student if she wants children when she’s older, because to ask would be to play into the stereotype that women have an inherent maternal instinct, we have been warned.

There are other topics, of course. Thanksgiving. The Second Amendment. And so on. But to cite them all would be like trying to list all the “isms” — it’s an endless parade of affronts that seemingly has no end in sight.

30 Aug 2016

Smallsword Gifted by Benjamin Franklin

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BenFranklinSmallsword

Christie’s Sale 12186
Important American Furniture, Silver, Outsider and Folk Art

20 September 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Lot 854
THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SILVER-HILTED SMALL SWORD
PROBABLY SPANISH, CIRCA 1760

Estimate USD 200,000 – USD 300,000

with tapering Colichemarde blade of hollow triangular section, etched at the forte with scrollwork, and engraved inscription (a 19th century addition) in French Epée que portait Benjamin Franklin dans les combats livrés en Amérique pour la cause de la Liberté. / Il la donna depuis à son ami P.J.G. Cabania (sic) [Sword worn by Benjamin Franklin in the battles fought in America in the cause of Liberty. / He then gave it to his friend P.J.G. Cabanis], silver hilt comprising symmetrical shell-guard, quillion-block, knuckle-guard and pommel (rear-quillion missing) pierced with scrollwork and stylised trophies, and grip bound with silver wire and ribbon; with brown leather scabbard with silver locket decorated en suite with the hilt and struck on the reverse with a silversmith’s mark, and later silver chape with iron finial; and later close-fitted velvet-lined leather-covered case with brass mounts
The sword: 33 ½ in. (85 cm.) blade; 40 3/8 in. (102.5 cm.) overall
The case: 42 5/8 in. (108.3 cm.) long

The locket (upper scabbard mount) bearing a silversmith’s mark of SS in a rectangle, determined to be that of Samuel Soumaine (1718-circa 1769) of Annapolis, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More here.


larger version here

30 Aug 2016

Death, the Final AFK

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Death&theInternet

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are already littered with the accounts of members who have passed away. Inevitably, some decades in the future, the number of accounts of the dead will exceed those of living users. What should social media sites do about that?

NDKane discusses the possibilities.

30 Aug 2016

Italian Volunteer During Spanish Civil War?

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OneLessRed

29 Aug 2016

Another Survivor of Custer’s Last Stand

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CusterStaghounds
George Armstrong Custer with his original staghounds, Blucher and Maida. The Indian Scout Bloody Knife is at Custer’s righthand side.

Between 1867 and 1875, George Armstrong Custer contributed fifteen letters, published under pseudonym “Nomad”, to the New York-based sportsman’s journal Turf, Field and Farm. His letter indicate that Custer spent most of time, when not fighting Indians, hunting big game on the Western plains accompanied by a couple of Scottish staghounds.

Dutch Salmon reports finding a letter in an old issue of Forest & Stream that contends that Captain Miles Keogh‘s horse Comanche may not have really been the sole four-footed survivor of five companies of the 7th Cavalry’s Last Stand, 25 June 1876.

Most accounts have it that when Custer and the Seventh Cavalry rode to their doom at the Little Bighorn, his hounds were left behind in camp. However, in a 1907 letter to the old Forest and Stream magazine, a reader wrote that he had seen one of Custer’s hounds—”one of the pair that came from Queen Victoria”—at Ft. Washakie in September, 1882. The correspondent added:

    “Three days after the fight, when a scouting party reached the battle ground where Custer and the few survivors had made their last stand, the greyhound was found lying down near his dead master. A rifle bullet had struck him near the eye which made him blind on that side, but otherwise he was uninjured. He was taken good care of by the party and finally found a master in Lieut. R.E. Thompson, of the Sixth Infantry, who was stationed at Washakie when I was there. It was the lieutenant himself who gave me the above details concerning the dog.”

Was the dog truly a greyhound? Or was it one of the staghounds, a greyhound in rough coat?

29 Aug 2016

Restaurant Damon Baehrel

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BaehrelMeal
A Baehrel tasting menu.

One of the World’s Top 50 Restaurants, perhaps the most difficult venue to obtain a reservation for in America, is apparently operated by one man out of a basement in a village (Earlton, New York) half an hour south of Albany. Servings are reputedly fully booked up through 2020, or possibly 2025.

Nick Paumgarten, in the New Yorker, reports:

[T]he place was now simply called Damon Baehrel, after its presiding wizard and host, who served as forager, farmer, butcher, chef, sous-chef, sommelier, waiter, busboy, dishwasher, and mopper. Baehrel derived his ingredients, except meat, fish, and dairy, from his twelve acres of yard, garden, forest, and swamp. He made his oils and flours from acorns, dandelions, and pine; incorporated barks, saps, stems, and lichen, while eschewing sugar, butter, and cream; cured his meats in pine needles; made dozens of cheeses (without rennet); and cooked on wooden planks, soil, and stone. He had christened his approach Native Harvest. The diners who got into the restaurant raved about it online. But at the time it was booked through 2020. …

The dining room was snug, seating no more than sixteen guests, with a table set up in the middle as though for a single party of six. It was tidy, not really rustic, more varnished than one might expect. The walls were painted a brushed ochre. A stained-glass panel in the wall read “Good Food” backward. Baehrel had installed it that way so you could read it in a nearby mirror. Along the back wall, a broad table was arrayed with bowls of seeds, nuts, leaves, roots, berries, and mushrooms; Mason jars of sap and flour; and vials of oil, all marked with painter’s tape describing the contents and the vintage—“Acorn oil 8/15,” “Golden Rod flour ’14.” The Native Harvest tag had been his wife’s suggestion. “I was inspired by Native Americans,” he said. “I wanted it to be based on the people who were here in this country before we were.” Supposition was his guide: he said that he had never actually read anything about Native American cuisine.

He worked through the items on display. Lily tuber, cattail stems, milkweed, bull thistle. By watching deer in the woods, he had discovered that the inner barks of certain trees have a salty taste. While chopping wood, he found that a particular lichen takes on an oniony flavor for three weeks a year. He made a cooked powder from it. “You’re gonna love it!” Baehrel relies heavily on starch and stock made from rutabagas. He uses wild-violet stems as a thickener. He inoculates fallen logs with mushroom spores. He’ll spend seven hours gathering three-quarters of a pound of clover—enough to fill a steamer trunk. “I do it at night, with a headlamp,” he said.

He had me sit at a table in the corner, a two-top, from which I couldn’t see the door to the kitchen. He wanted me to have the dining experience. He said, “Don’t worry, I’m a professional. I’m not going to kill you.” He filled my glass from a pitcher. “It’s sap. Sycamore sap.” It tasted like water, with a hint of something. A few minutes later, he came out with another pitcher. “This is sparkling maple sap, with dried lemon verbena. I have lemon trees in containers, but I don’t get many lemons. Just the leaves.” He said he harvests about a dozen saps: maple, birch, sycamore, hickory, walnut, butternut, beech, hardwood cherry. “Sycamore sap, when concentrated, is a little salty. You can brine things in it. Hickory sap is very briny and salty. Good for long cooking. I’ll brine a pork shoulder in hickory sap and pine needles for nineteen days. Cherry sap is salty and sweet, bitter, with herb hints like marjoram and lavender.

“My biggest challenge is creating enough flour,” he went on. “I make it from cattails, pine—the inner bark—dandelions, clover, goldenrod, beechnut, hickory nuts, acorns. A huge part of my life is making flour. It takes one to one and a half years to make acorn flour. Acorns from the red oak have bitter tannins. White oak is more like a nut. In fall, I gather the acorns up in burlap sacks. Around New Year’s, I put the sacks in the stream, tied up. I leave them there all winter, under the ice. By spring, the tannic bitterness is gone.”

I asked him how he’d figured this out.

“Soaking didn’t work. I tried a circulation tank, and that didn’t work, either. I press them by hand, in a vise, or with stones. No machines.”

The first course was served on a slab of sawed wood. It was a small rectangle of what looked like salami atop a curled cracker. He said, “It takes me sixteen to eighteen months to make cedar flour. I use a pull knife, a two-handled grater, to shave off some cedar under the bark. The shavings are bitter, tannic—inedible. I soak them in water. Every four to six weeks, I soak them. After a year or a year and a half, I can grind it into cedar flour. So the crisp is made from cedar flour, with a little hickory-nut oil, duck-egg-white powder, water, sea salt, which I sometimes render.” He produced a jar of sea salt from the sample table. “I made the batter and baked the crisp today.” The rectangle of meat, he said, was blue-foot chicken cured in pine-needle juice, pulp, and powder for eighteen months.

The morsel was delicious, though it was difficult—and would continue to be, during the next four hours—for an amateur and glutton like me (in fact, for anyone who is being honest with himself) to tell whether my appreciation, fervent as it often became, had been enhanced by the description of the work and the ingredients that had gone into it. The tongue is suggestible. New words register as new flavors. As numerous blind wine tastings over the years have demonstrated, you taste what you want to taste.

He cleared the slab and arrived with a plate with a spoon on it, and in the spoon a piece of fish with a chip on top.

“I wanted to show you the power of the sycamore sap,” he said. It was Scottish salmon, which had been brined for thirty-nine days. The chip was a slice of black burdock root. “I peel off the fibrous outside of the root, slice the inside, and bake it.” A drizzle of sauce bisected the plate and spoon. It consisted, he said, of pickerel-weed seeds and unripened green strawberries stored in homemade vinegar of a low acidity, then blanched in water in a stone bowl. “With another stone, I mashed them into a paste. Added homemade green-strawberry vinegar and wild-sorrel vinegar and grapeseed oil. That’s the paste. The copper-colored powder is the ground leaves of wild marsh marigold.” Of course. Every milligram seemed hard won. …

Over the next several hours, as he brought in course after course, he appeared and disappeared (“I’ll get you some more sap!”) like a character in a resort-hotel farce. But the dishes were a dizzying array of tastes and textures. Oyster mushrooms, palate-cleansing ices (one was made of wild carrot juice, stevia tea syrup, pickled baby maple-leaf powder, violet leaves, and lichen powder), cured turkey leg, mahogany clams, lobster, prawns, swordfish ham, brined pork with goat sausage—all of it subjected to a jumble of verbs and nouns, many of them new to me. Bull-thistle stem, chopped barberry root, ostrich fern. I deployed an index finger to dab up every woodland fleck. The platings were whimsical and inspired. The sprigs and needles that adorned the mid-meal platter of cheese and cured meat brought to mind Saul Steinberg or Paul Klee.

The fifteenth, and final, course was something he called Earlton Chocolate. It consisted of the fermented leftovers of his “coffee,” which he makes in the autumn from hickory nuts and acorns. (He does not serve actual coffee.) The nut dregs become a kind of paste. “It gets gloppy after three months, then it relaxes.”

Read the whole thing.

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Black Book was pretty enthusiastic.

Chef Baehrel’s autumnal “Native Harvest” menu was heavenly. His lifelong obsession with food and nature pours out of every dish. The plates he served were developed, well-composed, and thought-provoking. The meal consisted of about 14 courses plus several extras, some of which Baehrel had been perfecting for decades and some of which were invented that day. In fact, many of the ingredients were seasonal and picked from his gardens that very morning, while a variety of ingredients had been preserved for years, waiting to be utilized at just the perfect time in their aging process.

One of Baehrel’s new concoctions on the day we visited was a bowl of clams, warm pressed with wild hickory nut oil infused with spruce needles and “cooked” in a sauce made from ostrich ferns and topped with burdock root chips. Later, we sampled a dish that Baehrel has been continually refining: chicken thigh brined in staghorn sumac powder, then cooked in a blend of concentrated sycamore sap and Baehrel’s fresh grapeseed oil, surrounded by a sauce of rutabaga cooked in the soil it was grown in.

Baehrel does not use butter in his dishes, nor does he use flour in his sauces. Instead, his sauces are often thickened with rutabaga. The buttery quality of a mouthwatering lobster dish served was deceivingly cooked instead in white oak acorn oil that was roasted with fresh white oak acorn, giving it a rich flavor.

Inevitably, the process of creating each dish is the daily manifestation of a lifetime dedicated to food, nature, and self-sustainability. Damon Baehrel remains open even through the cold New York winter months, and Chef Baehrel manages to source most ingredients from his own property. To accomplish this, five to seven foot deep cold frames are dug around his property and filled with compost that ferments during the winter, helping to prevent the cold frames from freezing. In the extreme cold, Baehrel utilizes a form of radiant heat from a 10-watt solar panel connected to heating rods in water containers about 4-5 feet underground. Baehrel actually claims that with the sunshine, fermentation, and radiant heat that warms up the cold frames, “winter in Earlton, New York is the best time of year for root vegetables.”

Each and every dish we ate that evening told a story.

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Restaurant homepage

29 Aug 2016

Definitions of Musicians

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Violinist

13 more here

28 Aug 2016

Pants on Fire

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Ramirez50

28 Aug 2016

From Twitter

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Tweet192

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Aug 2016

50 Years On

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Yale2020
The Yale Class of 2020 arrived yesterday.

I felt older than dirt yesterday, when I (a member of the Yale Class of 1970, which arrived in New Haven in early September, 1966) got to read, via the Yale News:

(emphasis added)

Members of the Yale College Class of 2020 will arrive on campus today, taking part in one of the university’s most beloved traditions: freshman move-in day. The 1,373 new freshmen traveled from all 50 states and 50 different foreign countries to New Haven, where Yale President Peter Salovey, Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway, the deans and heads of the 12 residential colleges, and hundreds of student volunteers will officially welcome the newest members of the Yale community. …

More than 12% of the class attended high school abroad, and more than 60% of students from the United States attended a public high school [Up a whopping 2% in 50 years! –JDZ].

Students in the class speak more than 60 different languages, and 36% of freshmen speak a language other than English at home. Their hometowns range in size from fewer than 200 to more than 10 million. More than 200 freshmen are eligible for a federal Pell grant for low-income students, and 52 will receive a new Yale College Start-up Fund as part of the new $2 million undergraduate financial aid initiative announced last December. …

The Class of 2020 will include more U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify as a member of a minority racial or ethnic group (43%), more students who will be the first in their family to graduate from college (15%), more international students (12%), and more students who are planning to major in a science or engineering field (46%) than any previous class in the university’s history. The class was selected from Yale’s largest-ever freshman applicant pool, which saw record numbers of applications in all of the above groups. A detailed profile of the Class of 2020 is available on the undergraduate admissions website, admissions.yale.edu. …

[T]he new freshmen all share an impressive record of academic success, extracurricular accomplishment, and community engagement, said Quinlan, noting that admitted students have reached some of the highest possible levels of achievement in the performing arts, scientific research, creative writing, global and community-based service leadership, athletics, entrepreneurship, technology, and political activism.

Members of the freshman class hold patents and run their own businesses. Their scientific pursuits have earned recognition from Intel, FIRST Robotics, the Siemens Foundation, Google, and Apple. They have performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. They have designed software that thousands of people use around the world. Their activism has spurred the creation of new academic courses, new laws, and new international organizations. Their writing has reached thousands of people through international publications and prestigious award programs. They have won state, regional, and national athletic competitions. Many have balanced their academic and extracurricular pursuits with extensive paid work experiences and caregiving responsibilities to support their families.

Yale 1970 differed from Yale 2020 in being about a third smaller. Our class was made up of 1025 “male leaders.” No coeducation yet back then.

But Yale was no less boastful back then about Yale’s commitment to meritocracy:

[T]he Class of 1970, arrived on campus in the fall of 1966. It was composed of 58 percent public school students, the highest percentage of high school students of any class in Yale history, and a jump from 52 percent the previous year. The class drew on more public schools than any other class (478), but also more private schools (196).

For the first time, the rate of matriculation of financial aid applicants was higher than for non-financial aid applicants. Financial aid jumped to nearly $1 million, 30 percent above what it had been the year before; gift aid from the University increased by almost 50 percent. The class included more minorities of every kind. …

The Class of 1970 entered with the highest SAT scores in Yale’s history; a student who scored its mean SAT verbal mark of 697 would have been in the 90th percentile of the Class of 1961, and the 75th percentile of the Class of 1966. Put in a national context, half of the incoming freshmen scored in the top 1 percent nationally on the verbal SAT. These SAT marks were higher than those scored by the incoming class at Harvard, also a first for Yale. By year’s end, the Class of 1970 would score an average mark of 81, another school record. [Grades were numerical and very stingy back then. -JDZ]

How else were things different?

I expect you would have seen a lot fewer freshman moving in dressed in short pants.

There were a lot fewer African Americans, and those who were admitted got in much more on the up-and-up. Totally blatant Affirmative Action had yet to arrive. There were basically no Asians or Hispanics or Amerindians at all. A 43% class composition today of self-identified whiny minorities vulnerable to trigger warnings and looking for safe spaces, lest somebody fail to protect them from uncomplimentary Halloween costumes, strikes me as very possibly excessively large.

We certainly had nothing like a third of the class coming from non-English-speaking homes.

We had, we thought, pretty good geographical distribution from all over the United States, but nothing like 12% of foreigners. When, one wonders, did Yale acquire such a major and distinct responsibility for supplying international leadership?

Looking at the detailed 2020 Class profile, I see that 13% are legacies. I am smiling reading that, because the 1999 “Birth of a New Institution” article was bragging that Inky Clark reduced legacy admissions (for my own era) to between “14.5 percent and 12 percent.”

1970 vs. 2020:

58% public school vs. 60% public school

“between 12 and 14.5% legacies” vs. 13% legacies

La plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

27 Aug 2016

World’s Oldest Revolver, 1636 not 1597

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You are thinking “the Colt Patterson of 1836,” aren’t you?

This video and stories all over the Internet attribute this 8-shot very early flintlock revolver on the basis of the maker’s mark to Hans Stopler of Nuremburg, who apparently began working in 1597. They then date the weapon to 1597, despite the plaque listing its owner as Georg von Reichwein dated 1636.

1636 is early enough for me, making the date of the production of the first revolver an even 200 years before Samuel Colt’s Patterson model.

Hat tip to Guns America.

26 Aug 2016

Oh, Well!

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InTrumpWeTrust

Tweet191

26 Aug 2016

C.S. Lewis’s Reading List

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CSLewis

Intellectual Takeout:

Brenton Dickieson has done something kind of cool.

He has taken C.S. Lewis’ book An Experiment in Criticism—in which Lewis attempts to answer the question “what makes a great book?”—and listed in chronological order all of the great books that Lewis references.

The list serves not only as a window into the knowledge-base of one of the great authors of our time, but also as a reading program for those interested in preserving a Western tradition that is in danger of being forgotten.

26 Aug 2016

Top Ten Signs Your Child May Be Alt-Right

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Pepes

If you find any of these signs, take immediate steps.

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