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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

The U.S. House of Representatives holds its first meeting.
Some 300 American troops of the 6th Infantry leave Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, to confront the Sauk Indians in what would become known as the Black Hawk War.
In the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, Federals are routed by Confederate Gen. Richard Taylor.
General Robert E. Lee‘s retreat is cut off near Appomattox Court House.
British General Horatio Kitchener defeats the Khalifa, leader of the dervishes in Sudan, at the Battle of Atbara.
The 17th Amendment is ratified, requiring direct election of senators.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is approved by Congress.
Italy invades Albania.
The Soviets open a rail link to the besieged city of Leningrad.
President Truman orders the seizure of U.S. steel mills to prevent a strike.
Bay of Pigs invaders get thirty years imprisonment in Cuba.
Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.
Frank Robinson of the Cleveland Indians becomes first black manager of a major league baseball team.

A temporary marriage makes more sense than marriage for life

By Vicki Larson
In November 1891, the British sexologist Havelock Ellis married the writer and lesbian Edith Lees. He was 32 and a virgin. And since he was impotent, they never consummated their union. After their honeymoon, the two lived separately in what he called an open marriage. The union lasted until Lees’ death in 1916.
This is not what most would consider a model marriage. But perhaps because of its unusualness, Ellis was able to introduce an idea that remains as radical and tantalizing today as it was in his time: trial marriages, in which he envisioned couples exploring a temporary union of varying levels of commitment that allowed them to have sex, access birth control and have an easy divorce if desired, as long as no children were involved. The idea captured the minds of many progressives, including the British philosopher Bertrand Russell and the Denver judge and social reformer Ben B Lindsey, who embraced the new economic and cultural freedoms in the post-Victorian era.
While Ellis gave this type of temporary marriage a name, others had been talking about similar unions years before, including the German poet Johann von Goethe, who entertained the idea in his Elective Affinities (1809), and the American paleontologist E D Cope, who wrote in his book The Marriage Problem (1888) that marriages should start with a five-year contract that either spouse could end or renew with a further 10- or 15-year contract and, if all still went well after that, a permanent contract.
In 1966, the American anthropologist Margaret Mead suggested a two-step version of marriage – an ‘individual commitment’ that would fit college students of limited means and could be easily dissolved or else converted into a ‘parental commitment’ if they were ready and willing to take on the obligations of children. In 1971, the Maryland legislator Lena King Lee proposed a Marriage-Contractual Renewal Bill so couples could annul or renew their marriage every three years. In 2007, a German legislator proposed a seven-year contract; in 2010, a women’s group in the Philippines proposed a 10-year marital contract; and in 2011, Mexico City legislators suggested a reform to the civil code that would allow couples to decide on the length of their marital commitment, with a minimum of two years.
Clearly, lifelong marriage was due an overhaul. Despite all the talk, however, no laws were ever passed, and the idea of renewable marriages remained just that – an idea. But temporary marriages have actually been successfully practiced for centuries, among Peruvian Indians in the Andes, in 15th-century Indonesia, in ancient Japan and the Islamic world, and elsewhere. And it appears that we might be ready to put them into practice again.
In a recent survey, many Millennials indicated that they’d be open to a ‘beta marriage’, in which couples would commit to each other for a certain number of years – two years seemed to be the ‘right’ amount – after which they could renew, renegotiate or split, as Jessica Bennett wrote in Time magazine last year. While it wasn’t a scientific survey, it points to a willingness to see marriage as something other than ‘until death’, which, in fact, it is not. In 2013, 40 per cent of newlyweds had been married at least once before, according to the US think tank the Pew Research Center. Since 10 per cent of first marriages don’t even make it past five years, a renewable marriage contract makes more sense than ever.
Our current contract – ‘until death’ – might have worked when people didn’t live all that long (according to the American sociologist and author Stephanie Coontz, the average marriage in colonial times lasted under 12 years); or when many women died in childbirth, freeing men to marry multiple times (which they did); and when men of means needed women to cook, clean and caretake, and women needed men for financial security. But that isn’t why we marry nowadays. Still, we congratulate couples on their anniversaries and get nostalgic as the years add up – 15, 25, 50, 75. Are they years of wedded bliss? Not always; many long-term marriages are loveless and sexless, and sometimes full of anger and resentments. But if they make it until a spouse dies – success!
Longevity alone shouldn’t be the marker of a happy, healthy marriage. Rather than staying in marriages ‘until death’, renewable marriages would allow partners to tweak their marital contract accordingly, or agree that it’s beyond tweaking and end it without the shock or drama of a contentious divorce or lingering doubts about what went wrong. And as the late Nobel-winning economist Gary S Becker noted, if every couple had to personalize their marital contract based on what they consider important, there would be no more societal stigma or judgment over what are essentially private decisions.
If society is truly concerned about the decline in marriage, perhaps it’s time to rethink ‘until death’. And if brides- and grooms-to-be truly want a happy marriage, then it is time for them to take responsibility for defining their goals and expectations in a renewable contract, and stating – out loud or on paper – ‘I choose you again’ as often as they mean it.Aeon counter – do not remove

Exquisite Chess Sets Once Captured the Game's Global Heritage

We see beautiful and creative chess sets on the internet, and then we go home to use a plastic set with abstract pieces that are as simple as they can be. But through the history of the game, there have been many chess sets made purely as works of art, with actual playability a low priority. The history of chess is even more complicated than the rules of the game. Of course, that game has changed over time, and is even played differently from place to place.
As the game moved across the globe, different patterns and rules became popular in different regions. “The Chinese version of chess is called xiangqi and there is sittuyin in Burma,” Crumiller says. “In Thailand and in Cambodia, there’s makruk. You can use those sets to play a game of chess, but those games are played with different rules.”
While some of these varieties included detailed figural chess pieces, so-called “Muslim sets” relied on more abstracted, geometric pieces whose size and shape indicate their roles. Crumiller explains that despite the name, scholars have found evidence that the style predates the existence of Islam in Persia. Regardless, the religion and popular game became linked, and chess often spread to new areas hand-in-hand with Islam.
In Persia, a piece known as the king’s advisor or “vizier” was also incorporated, which would later morph into the more powerful queen. “In 1283 there was a book published in Spain by Alfonso El Sabio, or Alfonso the Wise, called The Book of Games,” Crumiller explains. “The book still used the old chess rules, where bishops can only move every other square along the diagonal, or two squares, period. The queens were the weakest pieces—they had to stay near the king and could only move one square at a time.
“At the end of the 15th century, the rules changed dramatically. That’s when the queen became ‘La Rabiosa,’ or the Mad Queen, and the rules for bishops changed, too. At that point, it became more recognizable as our modern game, and several books were published that included both the old rules and the new rules, so clearly it was in a transition state.”
You'll see a wide variety of lovely historical chess sets, and get an overview of the game's history, at Collectors Weekly.

100 years after the US got involved in World War 1 — it’s time to acknowledge why

100 years after the US got involved in World War 1 — it’s time to acknowledge why

Techniques of 19th-century fake news reporter teach us why we fall for it today

Fake news flourished in the 19th century. During that period, newspaper and magazine circulation skyrocketed due to innovations in printing technology and cheaper paper.

A Price Analysis of Restaurant Food

Americans are now spending more at restaurants than they spend at grocery stores. We know that's more expensive, but eating at a restaurant means you save time, don't have to shop, cook, or clean up, and you can eat things that are difficult to prepare at home. Meanwhile, restaurant operators must carefully calculate the price of their meals to cover costs while still attracting diners.
The restaurant business is notoriously tough, and owners have a myriad of costs ranging from health permits to commercial rent. On average, 30% of a restaurants revenues go to labor costs, 30% goes to general overhead, and 30–33% is spent on ingredients. Making a decent profit in the restaurant industry is a high hurdle. As a consumer, when eating out you’re paying for a lot more than just the food; it’s the excellent waitstaff, unique ambiance, convenient location, in addition to the delicious dish that makes for a memorable experience. In order to cover all of these costs and still make a slim profit (generally 3–5%), restaurants need to mark up ingredients on average 300%.
That does not mean that every ingredient has an equal markup. Matt Hawkins did the math to show us the different markups on ingredients that go into foods such as hamburgers, omelets, burritos, pizzas, and other meals we get from restaurants quite often. Note that he uses West Coast prices. See the various comparisons at Plate IQ.

Humans Best Adapted to a High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet

Local Green Solutions With a Global Impact

Letting 'Geoengineers' Hijack the Earth's Weather Systems

Look Beyond Caitlyn Jenner

How Loneliness Begets More Loneliness

Loneliness is bad for your health, that much we know.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy once remarked that despite the ubiquity of social media, Americans are facing "an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation."
One of the worst things about loneliness is that it can be a self-perpetuating loop:
... in a cruel twist, the loneliest among us are set up to get lonelier still. People with few social connections experience brain changes that cause them to be more likely to view human faces as threatening, making it harder for them to bond with others.
In this interesting article over The Atlantic, Olga Khazan spoke with University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo about why people are getting lonelier and how to break the loneliness cycle:
Khazan: Why do people who are lonely interpret social situations more negatively?
Cacioppo: [...] If you look at early humans and other hominids, they were not uniformly positive toward each other. We exploit each other, we punish each other, we threaten each other, we coerce. And so it isn't that I want to connect with anyone, I need to worry about friend or foe. Just like bitter versus sweet, poison vs. non poison, if I make an error and detect a person as a foe who turns out to be a friend, that's okay, I don’t make the friend as fast, but I survive.
But if I mistakenly detect someone as a friend when they're a foe, that can cost me my life. Over evolution, we’ve been shaped to have this bias.
That sets up an expectation, because what I expect is often what I see. If I think you're going to be hostile, I'm going to answer questions very differently than if I trust you.
You’re motivated to connect. But promiscuous connection with others can lead to death. A neural mechanism kicks in to make you a little skeptical or dubious about connecting.
Read the rest over at The Atlantic.

Mania, Depression, Psychosis, Oh My!

How Not to Treat Drug Addicts

'I Was Shaking'

America Should Use Latest Tragedy in Syria to End the War, Not Escalate It

‘Nobody can escape’

There are reports that Sunday pews have gone from filled to vacant as people are scared to even attend mass.

Migrant Farmworkers' Cemetery in Arizona Vandalized

Going Undercover at a Slaughterhouse

Animal Pictures