What if consciousness is not what drives the human mind?

01/06/18 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: General

Link: https://theconversation.com/what-if-consciousness-is-not-what-drives-the-human-mind-86785


If the experience of consciousness does not confer any particular advantage, it’s not clear what its purpose is. But as a passive accompaniment to non-conscious processes, we don’t think that the phenomenon of personal awareness has a purpose, in much the same way that rainbows do not. Rainbows simply result from the reflection, refraction and dispersion of sunlight through water droplets – none of which serves any particular purpose.

And after all.  Rainbows are pretty.  Isn't that a purpose, he said tongue-in-cheekily.

Do poor white Republicans really vote against their self interests?

01/04/18 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: Bread

Link: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/31/trump-white-working-class-history-216200


Southern liberals in the 1930s and 1940s applied a sharp class focus and concluded that wealthy Democrats wanted, in historian Gavin Wright’s words, to keep labor “cheap and divided.” The white liberal writer Lillian E. Smith famously captured this thinking in her short story, “Two Men and a Bargain,” which began: “Once upon a time, down South, a rich white man made a bargain with a poor white ... ‘You boss the nigger, and I’ll boss the money.’”



Don't call it racism - call it cultural anxiety

01/02/18 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: General

Link: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/white-working-class-trump-cultural-anxiety/525771/


In the wake of Trump’s surprise win, some journalists, scholars, and political strategists argued that economic anxiety drove these Americans to Trump. But new analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found something different: Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump. Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety—feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment—that best predicted support for Trump.
This data adds to the public’s mosaic-like understanding of the 2016 election. It suggests Trump’s most powerful message, at least among some Americans, was about defending the country’s putative culture. Because this message seems to have resonated so deeply with voters, Trump’s policies, speeches, and eventual reelection may depend on their perception of how well he fulfills it.


The justification behind tax cuts for the wealthy

12/21/17 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: General

Link: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/opinion/tax-bill-gop-democracy.html?login=email&auth=login-email

I don't know why - there is nothing new here - but for some reason this article caused me to have a small epiphany behind the reasoning conservatives use for tax cuts. I think it was borne out of realizing that there was a fear of taxing us into mediocrity -- in light of the communist (aka proletariat) threat of the 50's. The one thing that made America great was its industry.

The fly in the ointment is democracy: can't have pesky unwashed masses voting themselves entitlements that detract from the greatness of the thing that made America great: corporations and the wealthy. A perfect modernist manifest destiny!

Thus the party of the wealthy becomes anti-democratic. There is outrage among all except those who believe this ideology. There, outrage is inconsequential because they believe in their mission, and thus aren't ashamed of anti-democratic policies, and tax cuts for the wealthy. In fact they believe these are moral imperatives for society to survive!

In the 20th century, and in particular after World War II, with voting rights and Soviet Communism on the march, the risk that wealthy democracies might redistribute their way to serfdom had never seemed more real. Radical libertarian thinkers like Rand and Murray Rothbard (who would be a muse to both Charles Koch and Ron Paul) responded with a theory of absolute property rights that morally criminalized taxation and narrowed the scope of legitimate government action and democratic discretion nearly to nothing. “What is the State anyway but organized banditry?” Rothbard asked. “What is taxation but theft on a gigantic, unchecked scale?”

The hostility to redistributive democracy at the ideological center of the American right has made standard policies of successful modern welfare states, happily embraced by Europe’s conservative parties, seem beyond the moral pale for many Republicans. The outsize stakes seem to justify dubious tactics — bunking down with racists, aggressive gerrymandering, inventing paper-thin pretexts for voting rules that disproportionately hurt Democrats — to prevent majorities from voting themselves a bigger slice of the pie.

When does a watershed become a sex panic?

12/21/17 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: Bread

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/when-does-a-watershed-become-a-sex-panic

The affirmative-consent and preponderance-of-the-evidence regimes shift the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused, eliminating the presumption of innocence. If the presumption of innocence is rooted in the idea that it is better to let ten guilty people go free than risk jailing one innocent person, then the policing of sex seems to assume that it’s better to have ten times less sex than to risk having a nonconsensual sexual experience. The problem is not just that this reduces the amount of sex people are likely to be having; it also serves to blur the boundaries between rape, nonviolent sexual coercion, and bad, fumbling, drunken sex. The effect is both to criminalize bad sex and trivialize rape.

When saying yes is easier than saying no

12/21/17 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: General

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/16/sunday-review/when-saying-yes-is-easier-than-saying-no.html

Sometimes “yes” means “no,” simply because it is easier to go through with it than explain our way out of the situation. Sometimes “no” means “yes,” because you actually do want to do it, but you know you’re not supposed tolest you be labeled a slut. And if you’re a man, that “no” often means “just try harder” — because, you know, persuasion is part of the game.

“A lot of what we as young men learn as seduction is really more like preparatory sexual assault training,” the sociologist Harry Brod, a longtime lecturer on the topic of consent, once told me. (Or as a 37-year-old male friend observed: “In a man’s mind, ‘no’ is always negotiable.”)


Consider the drinking analogy: Most of us understand, or at least we should, that a blackout drunk person cannot consent to sex. On some campuses, that inability to consent applies even if someone has had just a sip or two. But what about a woman who doesn’t feel that she can speak up because of cultural expectations? Should that woman be considered unable to consent, too?

Best dutch oven loaf ever

12/13/17 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: Bread

For the past few weeks I've been making dutch oven loaves, which is essentially a quick and dirty loaf - a no-knead load without the no-kneading:

1) mix the dough -- start with 80% hydration, but ending up with 90% just to make sure I've got a soupy poulish

2) Into the mixer, and then wallop it in standard fashion until it clings to the paddle

3) One rise - in a bowl that's been filled with a fair bit of oil -- originally to keep from sticking but then I realized that bread impregnated with oil is GOOD.

4) Into the dutch oven - @ 500F for 15 minutes, with the lid closed, and then down to 350F for another 1/2 hour or so until I can't stand it and have to get it out of there.

5) actually I've taken to just shutting off the oven and leaving the bread to keep cooking / drying -- 90% hydration makes for a seriously WET bread.

ANYHOO-- tonight was a little different...

1) Mix ingredients -- 1kg flour, and 80% hydration - but leave it rest for a while until the liquid all gets absorbed. Stir by hand and slowly by hook - making sure it's all mixed in

2) SLOW mixing with paddle -- adding very little more water -- trying to keep it down, but with slow mixing, I still get it looking pretty mushy and integrated. Keep up the mixing but slowly -- it goes and goes --- I can see it tightening up, but not outrageously. After about 10 minutes or so, I increase the speed to get it to firm up.

3) Into the dutch oven for standard baking -- 15 minutes @ 500 and then back it off to 350. The result? AMAZING crust -- just amazingly crusty!

Oh - and I mistakenly grabbed the pepper flakes instead of the onion/ garlic bagel topping -- so it's this awesome hot bread! SCORE!

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