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1  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How many airports have you been to? on: January 29, 2015, 09:11:04 pm
¡Mate de coca!  Never turned it down.
Mostly a pleasure trip.  It was a combined Peru-Bolivia trip.  Four weeks.  I'd always wanted to greet the sunrise at the Inti Punku.  I also was pretty keen on visiting Tiwanaku.  We hiked the Inca Trail from Sacsayhuaman to Machu Picchu back in '02.  That segment was four long days, with my 55-pound Jansport strapped to my back the whole time.  Sleeping in tents in the frigid, 4400-meter high air.  Good times.  You bet I started every day with a touch of the leaf.

LaPaz was particularly bizarre.  Like you said, what a place!  LAB was the cheapest flight back to Miraflores.  Also a very interesting venue.  
2  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Texas shows its ever-true colors on Muslim Capitol Day on: January 29, 2015, 09:05:49 pm
"I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws," she posted on Facebook.

This makes zero sense whatsoever. Either she assumed all Muslims are raging, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semites who would melt at the sight of a Magen David or she's just one of those AIPAC-ers who thinks Israel is the 51st and most important state in the US.

That paragraph struck me as well.  Really embarrassing, but let's be honest:  her attitudes don't just represent Austin, and frankly it's not just in the United States.  As I recall it wasn't long ago that most posters on this forum were extolling the virtues of a bigoted French publication which demonizes not only Islam, but all religion.  Muslims are pretty much Public Enemy Number One.  If you're a Muslim, then you're really not welcome here.  Sad, but true. 

I really don't think she made assumptions about Muslims, though.  She simply made assumptions about her constituents.  She's not a diplomat, she's a politician.  She has figured out what it takes to get elected, and will ride it to get re-elected.  Apparently in her district that means figuring out who to scapegoat.  My guess is that this doesn't distinguish her from the other 434 other members of congress.  Note that most of the visitors were children.  This is a pretty realistic civics lesson for them, probably more brutally honest than their teachers had anticipated.

3  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How many airports have you been to? on: January 29, 2015, 08:40:32 pm

La Paz

Been there; done that.  Exhilarating, isn't it?  Apparently it's the highest major airport in the world.  That's why the runway is so long.  (Sparse air and all that...) 

Did you fly Lloyd Aero Boliviano, with the chickens and goats?  I did.  Thoroughgoing experience.  I'd definitely do it again if presented with the opportunity.
4  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Political Map on: January 29, 2015, 08:20:12 pm
I don't categorize warmongering as "right-wing."

Neither does this test, apparently.  In fact, its goal seems to be to devise several simultaneous metrics, each of which is independent.  Right and Left refer strictly to economic philosophy in this quiz, and that scale is the only one so labeled.  I find it refreshing.  Other political quizzes have attempted this before, but this seems like the most successful attempt so far.
5  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Political Map on: January 28, 2015, 09:20:33 pm
okay, anyway the test wasn't too bad.  53 questions.  Since we're just copying stuff down, here's my result:

You are a centrist social libertarian.
Right: 0.67, Libertarian: 6.85

Foreign Policy:

On the left side are pacifists and anti-war activists. On the right side are those who want a strong military that intervenes around the world. You scored: -5.65


Where are you in the culture war? On the liberal side, or the conservative side? This scale may apply more to the US than other countries. You scored: -7.1

I reckon that sounds about right.  Compared to others with whom I've discussed this sort of thing, I'm just a tad right of center I think, and on foreign policies I'm fairly isolationist.  On "cultural" issues I suppose that I come across fairly Netherlandish.  It all checks out.
6  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: On Friday, the 2015 Far-Right "academics/fraternity" ball takes place in Vienna on: January 28, 2015, 08:56:32 pm
Will krampus be there? 
7  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Political Map on: January 28, 2015, 08:54:40 pm
It's interesting to see how much Maine diverges from some of its neighboring states.


Maine borders only one state.  Singular:  state.  Also, it only diverges from that neighbor by one color shade, and it does so in a predictable manner, since the political culture of Maine, as understood by Daniel Elazar nearly a century ago, is more similar to that of the intermontane west than to that of Southern New England.

other than that, your post fairly well summarizes the data (although it offers no analysis.)
8  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Future of Greece on: January 28, 2015, 08:28:24 pm

The real question is would they rather get minor concessions or leave the Eurozone entirely?

I agree.  

I wouldn't put too much stock in an unscientific poll of yankees who value political fora over having social lives, and I wouldn't put too much stock in one data point gathered by one obnoxious yankee from a green card-holding permanent US resident from Greece.  

I am a little bit sympathetic toward the greeks given the fact that the interest rates suggested are so high compared to most other rates of return nowadays.  Portugal seems a little on the high side as well, but that's probably best reserved for another thread.

I do think that if I were Greek I'd rather have a drachma that my own government could at least partially control.  Then again, I also think that if I were German I'd rather have a Deutschesmark that my own government could at least partially control, so you may not want to take my opinion too seriously.
9  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Intrastate Rivalries on: January 28, 2015, 03:40:54 pm
Before anyone says the opposite, aside from politics and Hockey, there isn't a true Philly-Pittsburgh rivalry...

I haven't noticed much either.  Since I have moved to the area the main comment I notice is that folks from SE Pennsylvania always comment on how Pittsburghers talk.  I've even heard folks originally from Pittsburgh commenting on their own speech when they move to this part of the state.  

There does seem to be a perception among Steelers fans that the Eagles are snooty or snobby.  To my surprise, the Steelers seem to be slightly more popular here, even though we are 65 miles from Philadelphia but 240 miles from Pittsburgh.  On the other hand, Phillies fans far outnumber Pirates here.
10  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Ask the next poster a question (second thread) on: January 28, 2015, 03:30:53 pm
The thing that we used to call French-fried potatoes.  Later it was shortened to French fries.  Nowadays, it's just fries.  Especially fries from Burger King.

Do you typically lean over on one cheek when experiencing flatulence while in a seated position, or do you just let it out without adjusting your posture?

11  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Future of Greece on: January 28, 2015, 02:33:48 pm
I voted for the first option a couple of days ago without thinking much about it, but this morning I had a conversation with a Greek colleague about this.  She had spoken with her mother, who lives in Greece, on the telephone yesterday and they talked of this topic at some length.  What I found most striking is that she used the phrased "kicked out of" the eurozone rather than the phrase "exiting" the eurozone.  She also talked quite a bit about the Church, which apparently has enough holdings to pay off the entire national debt.  Anyway, she and her mother favor major concessions over all other alternatives.
12  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do you think democracy can actually work in China? on: January 28, 2015, 01:46:46 pm
We have had a number of china/democracy threads and it is invariably the tendency of this forum to overrate democracy, or at least to underrate its alternatives.  There are probably different ways to read the question, but I think from the chinese point of view all democracy is liberal democracy.  Certainly during the Cultural Revolution democracy was considered Western by virtue of its history.  In any case I merely made the implicit explicit.  

As for freedom, Janis Joplin called it another word for "nothin' left to lose."  Whether or not they have tasted it, I'm sure that China doesn't want to be India.  

Also, we cannot say for certain that the air quality would be any better in a democracy.  In fact, it could be far worse.  Beijing cleaned up as much as it did and as quick as it did for the olympics precisely because they don't have to put up with democracy.  We cannot know whether the Three Gorges dam would have been built if the millions of people who were displaced from their ancestral homelands by rising waters had any input in the decision, but it probably would not have been built as quickly and as efficiently.

Like I said, I voted yes, because I think it "can work" with democracy, but I am not sure it would work quite as well as it does without it.  I don't think you should underestimate the importance of utility value and economic indicators.  Justice and fairness don't put food on the table, and the Chinese have had a much longer time to think about what is important and what isn't than any other extant society.  Therefore, you also should not underestimate the importance of history.
13  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Ask the next poster a question (second thread) on: January 28, 2015, 12:07:28 pm

Why do men have nipples?
14  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do you think democracy can actually work in China? on: January 28, 2015, 12:04:55 pm
The mainstream view in North America is to split Europe in two: West and East, corresponding on which side they were during Cold War.

In the long run, that was only a short-lived phenomenon.  American articles written prior to about 1948 and after about 1992 referenced a "Central" Europe.  I would assume that a similar trend holds for Swedes and Russians.  Also, Poland has long had a democratic tradition.

Anyway, I voted for the second option, but that's not quite it either.  I think democracy might work there, but why in the hell would they want it?  Most Chinese I talk to don't seem to value it, and they certainly have gotten on very well for 40 centuries without it.  China is usually the richest nation in the world.  It was sixteen hundred years ago, it was six hundred years ago, and it is likely to be again within my lifetime the nation with the largest aggregate gdp.  At the height of the Roman Empire, under Marcus Aurelius circa AD180, then Han and Roman empires had roughly the same number of square miles and the same number of peoples.  Rome fell apart; the Han kept it together.  The largest city in the world is in China.  The most populous nation is China.  The language which has more native speakers than any other is China.  They are about as successful a nation as I can imagine.  The country that invented democracy, on the other hand, can't seem to get its head out of its ass.  It still boggles the mind that we have so many threads encouraging Western democracy in such a nation as China.
15  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you like garlic? on: January 28, 2015, 10:40:25 am
I have a hunch that factors other than garlic breath may better explain that phenomenon.

16  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: your favorite npr program? on: January 26, 2015, 08:19:38 pm
All Things Considered

I had forgotten that one, but I like it as well.  Very eclectic.  Sometimes they're talking about near-Earth astroid trajectories, sometimes it's Syrian rebles, and still other times it focuses on the marketing of violent video games to children, and to their parents.  It's no less agenda-driven than Fox News or MSNBC, but the way the announcer's smooth voice lulls me into a false sense of security even as he says "the world is horrible and getting worse and we're all going to die" is somehow reassuring.  Then again, that pretty much describes all NPR programming.  No wonder we all love it so much.

17  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Atlas Ministry of Purity Crimes Self-Reporting Thread on: January 26, 2015, 08:07:55 pm
the ability to check it out at zero risk is unique.

Indeed!  We look forward to a detailed analysis.
18  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you like garlic? on: January 26, 2015, 07:49:58 pm
You garlic lovers would probably appreciate the soup that this thread inspired me to make tonight.

Thinly slice 3 cloves of garlic and lightly brown them in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Remove and save the garlic but leave the oil in the pan. Fry 4 thin slices of bread in the oil (day old bread works well). Remove the bread when lightly browned on both sides and allow to cool. The bread should have absorbed the oil. When cool, cut the bread into 3/4" squares.

In a pot add 4 cups chicken stock, two teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add the fried bread and bring the broth to a simmer. After simmering 10 minutes, add the reserved toasted garlic. Continue simmering for another 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering beat 3 eggs until slightly foamy. After the soup is simmered, turn off the heat and add the egg letting it form strands in the soup (stracciatella). Serve hot.

I enjoyed my soup with a cold crisp Cote de Provence rose.

Interesting.  Imperial cooks from the Xia Dynasty discovered a similar recipe about 4000 years ago, sans Côtes de Provence Rosé.  We do something similar, but with thin slices of bean curd instead of thin slices of day-old bread, and with a splash of chinkiang black vinegar instead of chicken stock.  I take mine with room-temperature red wine, but then I take everything with room-temperature red wine.  

I assume garlic featured heavily in tonight's menu.  I didn't cook, as I was stuck in traffic.  My usual 25-minute drive home took over an hour tonight, with the snow and slow traffic.  By the time I got home, pork chops, vegetables, seaweed, and rice were already prepared, but I did observe that the garlic supply in the garlic basket appeared to be about an inch shorter than it was this morning, and all the dishes tasted garlicky.  Garlic is really a staple food in our house, and we never let ourselves run out of it.  That said, I'm the only one in the house who actually eats it by the clove raw.

This is where you really miss opebo.  You have to admit it, muon, that one of his redeeming qualities was his ability to describe the textures and tastes of his meals in ways astonishingly sensual.  One could almost smell (and taste!) the foods he was eating as he described them.

19  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Atlas Ministry of Purity Crimes Self-Reporting Thread on: January 26, 2015, 07:30:39 pm
each is only a four course online program!

An on-line degree!  From the University of Phoenix, perhaps?  That's the Harvard of on-line universities, you know.  How could you possibly turn that down?
20  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you like garlic? on: January 26, 2015, 03:33:49 pm
We go through about 3 bulbs per week at my house.  I really like it, but I can only eat a couple of cloves straight up because it starts to give my nose a burning sensation.  If it's cooked in food, then I usually do about five cloves per pound of meat or fish, more for chicken or pork. 
21  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Assign a Pokemon type to each State on: January 26, 2015, 12:41:13 pm
Gray = Steel

California gets Steel and all we get is normal?!

22  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: your favorite npr program? on: January 25, 2015, 08:52:39 pm
My local public radio station is WiTF.  I love that.

I kinda like Science Friday.  Everything including climate change, comets, medical devices, the future of space travel, and dinosaurs are covered, all hosted by a goofy, friendly voice attached to a dude named Ira Flatow, whose name I thought was Ira Plato until I saw it in print recently. 
23  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Atlas Ministry of Purity Crimes Self-Reporting Thread on: January 25, 2015, 08:23:12 pm
So now it's a contest.  It's MU verses NOAA versus whatever "European Model" means.  Go Millersville! 
24  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Atlas Ministry of Purity Crimes Self-Reporting Thread on: January 25, 2015, 10:11:09 am

AFAIK all Germanic languages have neutral pronouns.

The three with which I am familiar all do.  I've worked in Germany and Netherlands and although I have forgotten most of what I have learned, I still remember er, es, sie, etc.  What I don't know about is cultural norms.  We say he, she, and it, but "it" rarely refers to humans.  I tend to call babies "it" and I know others do as well, but once a person is big enough to have an instantly identifiable gender--assuming Nathan doesn't show up here to point out that this is a societal misapprehension and a great cultural wrong in need of correcting, let's agree that by age 2 or 3 it becomes possible with most children to label them "boy" or "girl" with confidence--then we stop calling them "it."  Addressing a university lecture hall, for example, an instructor might say that each student should submit "his or her" exams at a certain time.  

Of course, you do make an interesting point regarding physical development.  Languages have had longer to evolve--even relatively new languages like English--than reproductive microbiology studies.  Maybe one day our languages will catch up with our understanding of science, but for now we still say that "the sun rises" and such.  It doesn't seem to inhibit our understanding of astrophysics when we do that.  Similarly, our choices in personal pronouns needn't inhibit our understanding of developmental biology.  
25  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Atlas Ministry of Purity Crimes Self-Reporting Thread on: January 25, 2015, 09:16:58 am

IMO, they works much better than he and should replace he in that context, as it has already done in speech.

It has done so in some speech, but it is awkward owing to the disagreement in number between the plural personal pronoun and the typically singular antecedent.  I check myself if I find myself ready to create such an awkward construction.  I really don't have a problem with referring to male authors as he, female authors as she, and unknown ones as "he", or "he or she", or, as is done in some texts, s/he or (s)he. 

Also, the argument that nautical terms are racist on the basis that "underprivileged minority kids have never sailed a boat before" is specious at best.  I have never visited Saturn, how can I possibly be expected to know that it has crystalline ammonia in its upper atmosphere?  Or that its surface winds are faster even than those on Jupiter?  (which I also haven't visited) 

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