Skip to content

A nice nose

September 17, 2014

Neuroscientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science think that small amounts of alcohol improve people’s ability to discriminate scents, and connect that with lowered inhibition. (Cite.) Which leads to all sorts of interesting speculation about the choice and manner of drinking.

Recently, Carolyn and I bought a wine to try, we had never tasted. I returned it, because it was corked. The replacement was much better, and we bought some on sale. I suspect those who can’t distinguish “corked” would just figure it wasn’t a good wine. Of course, “good” is quite subjective, and dependent on context. Dwight Furrow defends wine tasters:

What is puzzling about this whole debate about the objectivity of wine critics, however, is why people want objective descriptions of wine. We don’t expect scientific objectivity from art critics, literary critics, or film reviewers.

Maybe there is an illusion that wine, unlike say food or film, is “just chemistry”?

Alsohol is chemistry, and its effects on people is biology. Stanton Peele argues that we should admit that moderate consumption of alcohol is healthy. I’m not as certain as he is, given the complexities of prospective studies. Expect this debate to rage at least another decade.


September 15, 2014

It may be a cold winter in Belgium, which has lost two of its nuclear reactors. Perhaps permanently. My friends there were talking about the threat of rolling brown-outs.

It also will be cold in New Hampshire. At least there, people can console themselves with wine both good and cheap. There is wine in Belgium. But not much there is cheap.

Groundskeeper Willie (youtube) argues for Scottish independence.

Sinful donuts

September 14, 2014

NaughtyGirlsLogoNaughty Girls Donut Shop, started by young entrepreneur Tiana Ramos when she was but 16, in Front Royal, Virginia, is being harassed by the local Sharia police.

Oh, wait. I got that wrong.

It’s being harassed by a Catholic group.

Another day, another new phylum

September 10, 2014

This animal came from the deep, and it is strange.

Maybe it is a new phylum.

Maybe it is just one weird example of an existing phylum.


Damning and defending for-profit “universities”

September 9, 2014

John Oliver does the damning (youtube). Bobby Jindal does the defending. John Oliver is mostly spot on. When I see a resume with Phoenix or DeVry University, it tells me only that the applicant got suckered. As for Bobby Jindal… well, he makes Edwin Edwards look like a straight arrow.

The Edison correlation?

September 7, 2014

Thomas Edison filed a lot of patents. And famously, was an atheist. So likely he would enjoy that Princeton economists find, both nationally and internationally, that there is an inverse relationship between people’s religiosity and the number of patents they file. As is always the case with such things, that data is interesting, but doesn’t say much by itself. There are so many possible causal connections that it would be foolish to claim it as evidence of any one. Though the article tries to do that.

Labor politics

September 5, 2014

The Texas Supreme Court, in a case involving Koch Industries, has ruled that our state’s right-to-work laws imply that a company may lie to its employees about its intentions regarding layoffs, without repercussion.

The Koch brothers help fund ALEC, which writes many of the state laws that Republican legislatures obediently pass. Someone who associates ALEC with economic rather than social issues might be puzzled that it has been pushing tougher prison sentences for non-violent offenders. It also has been pushing laws to privatize prisons and to turn prisoners into lucrative labor for private industry.

That should be enough to cause anyone with a libertarian bone to spurn ALEC. Alas, many who wear that label support some policies that are quite authoritarian. Kudos to Microsoft, which has decided to spurn ALEC.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 135 other followers